Friday, February 21, 2014

See ya on the other side ...

Instead of writing and blogging, I've been moving. What a pain. It's been twenty-two years since our last move and I forgot how hard it is. Boxes everywhere, all filled with more packing paper than possessions. We gave away about a third of our library before moving and we still have boxes of books as far as the eye can see. I hate corrugated board.

The popular refrains around the house are:

What is this?
Where is the rest of this?
and Why did we keep this?

I've heard there's no rest for the wicked, but I haven't been that bad. Really.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Roundup Magazine reviews The Return, A Steve Dancy Tale

A book review of The Return, A Steve Dancy Tale appears in the February issue of Roundup Magazine—a publication of Westerns Writers of America.

After a plot summary, C. K. Crigger writes, “Well-written, fast-paced, interesting characters—what more can a reader want? Well I, for one, was taken with the excellent description of the late 1800s New York City. The look at Edison’s lab in Menlo Park struck me as right on, and putting the Western mentality into staid New York Society seemed fresh.”

Well, that made me feel good.

western fiction

Monday, February 10, 2014

Paper Books are Alive and Well!

I was looking at my recent book sales and saw that a vast majority of them were e-books. Was the oft predicted demise of traditional books upon us?  Luckily, I keep good records of my book sales and noticed January had traditionally been a poor month for printed book sales. January had also been a blockbuster month for e-books. I surmise that it's all the fault of Christmas. Many avid readers of printed books received over a month's supply of the old fashioned variety on Christmas and were not yet in the market to buy new reading material. On the other hand, e-reader enthusiasts got new devices and gift cards for Christmas, so they went on a buying spree.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Here's a popular television ad that kinda backs me up that paper will be around for a while longer.

 The ad reminds me of the old joke that the paperless office will arrive just after the paperless bathroom.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Was Curly from City Slickers right all along?

One thing. Just one thing.
The Telegraph in London reports that “Scientists find secret to writing a best-selling novel.” Boy, was I eager to read that story. What claptrap. It concludes by stating, “Previous work has attempted to gain insights into the ‘secret recipe’ of successful books. But most of these studies were qualitative, based on a dozen books, and focused primarily on high-level content - the personalities of protagonists and antagonists and the plots. Our work examines a considerably larger collection - 800 books - over multiple genres, providing insights into lexical, syntactic, and discourse patterns that characterize the writing styles commonly shared among the successful literature.”

In other words, they counted the number of nouns, conjunctions, and such. Yup, I’m sure that’s the trick—arithmetic. According to these scientists, bestsellers shun action for introspective protagonists.

There used to be an old axiom of computing, GIGO, which meant garbage in, garbage out. Computers are obedient creatures. They do what they are told at the speed of light. If a scientist starts with faulty logic or data, the results smell rank. There is some good news in the study. Since it occurred in England, American tax dollars didn’t fund this particular busy-work. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"There is no friend as loyal as a book.” Ernest Hemingway

We’re putting the finishing touches on our new home in Omaha. We bought a 1948 ranch style house that needed major updating.  In our last three homes we've had a library. Not this time. Instead we will a wall of bookshelves in our entry and another in a multipurpose basement. I plan on doing most of my writing on the sun porch.

Western fiction

This is a picture of Sting’s library in London as presented in Book Riot’s article “Libraries of the Rich and Famous.” None of our previous libraries ever looked anything like this. Darn. If I had piles of money, my new home would have a dedicated room for our book collection. It would include a very comfortable chair for me to sit in as I read my Kindle.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Time is stealing my future

I was reading BuzzFeed’s  “10 Lovable Things About Brick-And-Mortar Bookstores,” when I saw a photo that tugged my memory back to my days in Boston.  Boston is a great town. I lived there for a couple of years and commuted there for a decade more. Boston is brimming over with history. For instance, you can find buildings scattered all over that are more than two hundred years old. This was an eye-opener for a native of Southern California where everything over forty years old was torn down buildings, people, traditions, and anything else with poor survival instincts.

Boston also has a fascinating collection of new and used bookstores. They seem to be everywhere. The store in this picture from the BuzzFeed article was my favorite.  Situated across from the Commons, it was not the best used bookstore in Boston, but it was the most fun. I spent untold hours combing through the stacks. It had everything, but you had to find it yourself, making this outdoor book market a treasure hunt. After you found and bought a pearl, you could examine it over coffee at the Dunkin' Donuts a couple doors down. Fond memories.

Then a realization hit me. It has been six years since I’ve visited Boston. Where has all the time gone? Damn it. Time is the culprit. There’s a lot more behind me than ahead.

I once told my grandson that I was a time traveler. Needless to say, he didn't believe me. Then I told him I had traveled from March 4th, 1945 directly to this point in time. He looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, "I get it," and walked away. Darn, what's it take to impress a seven year old?

Now I'm retired, so if I don’t count writing as work, which I don't, my time is my own. That thought made me feel better. My time is my own. I no longer rent my time to someone else who can demand that I do things I may or may not like. Much of my life may be behind me, but I can craft whatever's left to do whatever I want. That is pretty damn good. Maybe getting older is not as much of a bummer as I thought.

I think I’ll sign off now and enjoy the day with people I love.