Wednesday, September 6, 2017

National Read a Book Day

Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever. Philip Pullman

One of these should do nicely.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Did McDonald's invent fast food?

I recently watched The Founder with Michael Keaton. I enjoyed the film. It’s an interesting character study and does a good job of telling the McDonald’s story. (I personally think McDonald’s has lost its way, but no worries, In and Out Burger picked up the business model and did it one better by delivering great burgers.) The story, of course, is about the invention of fast food, the bane of the calorie conscious the world over.

However, the concept of fast food reminded me of something I ran across in my research for The Shopkeeper. I wanted to make my western series different from the norm, so I focused on miners instead of cowboys and other traditional icons of the frontier. Mine workers start early in the morning, and I discovered they frequently ate biscuits standing up in a saloon.  This may be the real start of fast food. (McDonalds just slapped egg, sausage, and cheese inside the biscuit.)

Here’s how I used that tidbit of research in The Shopkeeper.
Other meals I eat for fuel, but I dawdle over breakfast—and Mary cooks a hell of a breakfast. Mary ran the restaurant across the street from my ragtag hotel. It was not a restaurant in a New York sense, but nonetheless it was the best place to eat in Pickhandle Gulch. Her small building, plank floors, and long tables were all made from unfinished lumber, but a few touches like lace curtains had softened the rough appearance. Breakfast for miners usually consisted of biscuits eaten standing up in some stale-smelling saloon. Not fancy, but quick. They needed to get to work. Mary catered to the mine owners, town merchants, and people like myself, who had the time and money to eat a slow, hearty breakfast.
As I entered her tidy café, the aroma pulled the trigger on my appetite. I took my usual seat at a table by the window, and Mary sauntered over with a cup of black coffee that suspended its own little cloud of steam above the rim.
“What’ll ya have today, Mr. Dancy?”
“Everything it is—over easy, crispy, and soaked in grease.”
“You got it,” I said.

Hey, I like that: Risk taker, Rule Breaker, Game Changer

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Get Connected to Bookbub

Bookbub is a free service that notifies you when books go on sale. Free to readers, that is. When authors run a discounted promotion, Bookbub sends you an electronic notification. When you sign up, you specify your reading taste and your notifications will only includes genres you have requested. Bookbub notifications include traditionally and indie published books.

Bookbub is the gorilla of book promotions. It maintains this status through rigorous quality control, reader-friendly communication, and continuous culling of their list. You can sign up here. I have a author page at Bookbub, and when you follow me here, you'll get a note whenever any of my books go on sale.

Thank you for following me on Bookbub.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Center Point Will Publish Crossing the Animas

Center Point will publish a hard bound, large print version of Crossing the Animas, A Steve Dancy Tale. They’re a great group of people, so I signed the contract immediately. 

I’m thrilled that Center Point will have published all six of the Steve Dancy novels. It also pleases me that the first five books earned past their advances. That probably explains why Center Point bought the large print rights to Crossing the Animas. That’s a compliment I feel really good about.

Trade paperback and ebook formats are available now.

Monday, August 7, 2017

no rules, no fences, no referees

Recently I tweeted an article I wrote about the Old West. Many people have weighed in on what the American frontier was really about. I think many miss a key point which, at least in a literary sense, ties Westerns, Science Fiction, and Fantasy together.

Here's one paragraph from my article, “Is the Mythology of the Old West Dead?”  . 
“The West, outer space, the future, or a make-believe land represents a new beginning in a fresh place away from home—the shrugging off of disappointments and a chance to start all over again. The romance and adventure of frontiers draws people desperate to escape the travail of their current existence. We've seen this in real life with the migrations to the New World and the Old West, but today many people satisfy this longing vicariously with fiction. If you're poor, your family makes you miserable, you've committed an act that offends society, or wanderlust has gripped you, then the adventure and limitless opportunity of a frontier beckons like a siren's call. Emigrating to a frontier means you get a do-over in a land with no rules, no fences, no referees.” 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Now what?

I've written ten books and contributed to another five. Millions of words, all typed with two fingers. I would have learned to touch type, but I don't think that fast. When I finished the sixth Steve Dancy Tale, I wanted a break, not from writing, but from Steve. Now, I writing a sequel to The Shut Mouth Society. Actually, it's not a sequel, it just uses the same characters. The title is Deluge, and it's a disaster story. I'll vent all my frustrations in relentless waves of destruction and mayhem so I can return to Steve fresh as a huckleberry.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Western Fiction Review reviews Wanted II

New review of Wanted II by the Western Fiction Review. This is a U.K. based website and it's great to get some overseas exposure.
You don’t need to have read any of the previous tales to enjoy any of the stories found here, but you may well find yourself rushing out to read more about some, or all, of them.
Here you will find stories that range from the traditional approach to western storytelling to one that borders on the mystical. There is plenty of action, some shocks, animal stars, and humour to be found in these fast moving tales, so there should be something to satisfy every western reader.
The Western Writer's Group is back, bringing you brand new,
original stories from characters you love. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Story arcs drive the popularity of TV series. Can it do the same for a book series?

In novels, a story arc usually refers to rhythm of a story from introduction, to big trouble, to resolution. Basically, the rise and fall of tension and emotion in a story. In most novels, this story arc is self-contained in a single book. Not so, for television.

How does a story arc work different for television? defines it as "a continuing storyline in a television series that gradually unfolds over several episodes." I would add "or seasons." Think about the hunt for Red John in the Mentalist, or the quest for the throne in Game of Thrones, or the feud between Deputy Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder in Justified. In television, a good story arc threads it's way through multiple episodes that tell self-contained stories with a beginning, middle, and end. 

Despite the pervasiveness of the term, everything carried along from one episode to another is not a story arc. "Space: the final frontier" from Star Trek is setting, not story arc. The solution of the crime in Bosch takes an entire season, but this television program is more akin to what we used to call a mini-series. Same for the old television program 24. These are dramatizations of a novel or single story over many episodes. A true story arc involves an embedded, larger mystery in a series of smaller stories. Without closure to this grand mystery, the series is hard to put aside. It's also important that a story arc can be resolved. In fact, it is the promise of resolution that draws in the audience week after week. They want the answer to this puzzle. 

So, can the television style of a story arc help pull along readers of a book series? I'm not an expert, but J. K. Rowling is. Each Harry Potter included a self-contained story, along with the gradual reveal of the Lord Voldemort mystery. Handled deftly, a long running story arc can pull readers through the entire series. The problem is you can't string along readers forever. Readers feel they are owed resolution. The trick is to present this resolution in a manner that is not the death knell of the story.

Crossing the Animas resolves the series-long story arc of the Steve Dancy Tales. It's yet to be seen if I did it in a manner that allows me to reboot the series with a wholly new story arc.

I bet I did. Just wait. See where the story goes next.