Sunday, May 16, 2010

Road to Publication : more research

Still in the preliminary stages. Just trying to get an overview of the time period (1800-1870) in Oregon for the moment. Even so, I've found many good leads. I'm giving myself 2 more weeks before I start narrowing my choices.

Getting some great ideas from Internet research on Oregon and Portland. For example, there was an Army fort in Vancouver across the river from Portland. Lots of interesting stories could be set there. It will definitely play a part in my story.

Other interesting tidbits gathered from research: the British and American governments each claimed half of  the Oregon Country in the early 1800s,  the Hudson's Bay Company operated as far as Oregon, the almost unknown Snake War was the deadliest of the Indian wars, and much more.

 I'm also reading a selection of Western fiction by Louis L'Amour, Matt Braun, Larry McMurty, Elmer Kelton. Ten novels in all, plus non-fiction such as, Cowboy Lingo and Finding Pleasure in the Old West.  I won't even start my outline until I've at read and taken notes on all these books.

Of course, this isn't the only prepartation I've done. Probably been doing that most of my life. Read many of the classics: Shane, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Virginian, Zane Grey, etc. and have seen a ton of Westerns, from the silent era to Silverado and more.  I've also lived out West and have done a fair amount of travel there. (You haven't lived until you've been in Yuma, Arizona in August. Was 115 degrees the day I passed through. The asphalt was so hot and sticky, it tore a big chunk of tread from one of my tires). Plus, I can ride a horse Western style and have done lots of hiking and camping in the woods. Used to belong to a gun club, but unfortunately never got the chance to fire a Peacemaker or a Winchester rifle.

I'm no expert by a long shot (pun intended !), but with my little bit of experience, more research and a lot of imagination, I think I can write a credible Western. We'll see if an agent agrees down the line.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

First draft machine

Although I have a shiny, new iMac and Scrivener software, I'm doing the first draft on my typewriter. Computers are great for research, etc. but I just can't write fiction on one. A big advantage of a typewriter is that you can do only one thing: write.

(pictured: my Olympia SM3)


Started outlining/researching the next story. Basically switching back and forth from writing up spontaneous notes and dipping into research. I know the story's going to be a Western set in the Pacific Northwest. Will probably be centered around Portland, Oregon during the Civil War. Brainstormed a tentative premise, storyline and some characters, so far. I'll continue teasing out the story and characters with quick freewriting until I feel there's enough material to start chapter one.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Amateur to Pro

Decided to take my writing to the next level. Writing for fun is all nice and warm and fuzzy, but not very satisfying. At least for me. And the initial buzz of seeing a "book" on Lulu, was quickly replaced by near-depression due to poor or no sales.

So I've switched mental gears from hobbyist to pro writer.  From now on, I'm concentrating on creating novels I consider good enough to sell and then actually trying to sell them. That means querying agents, dealing with rejection and writing and writing until I'm either hip deep in manuscripts or I start selling. Goodbye, comfort zone. . .

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