MASTER STORYTELLER, DUSTY RICHARDS


MASTER STORYTELLER, DUSTY RICHARDS

Natalie Bright

The Western Genre lost a legend, mentor, and award-winning author. DUSTY RICHARDS passed this week from injuries following a car wreck in December, just one week after his wife, Pat, died.

DUSTY RICHARDS wore a wide variety of hats including renowned rodeo announcer, auctioneer, teacher, author, tremendous storyteller, cattle farmer, and cowboy. His Byrnes Family Ranch Series (Pinnacle Publishing) is one of my favorites and highly entertaining.

dustyrichards.com

First introduced to Dusty as a newbie author by a mutual friend, I was a bit starstruck. Dusty and Pat were always at events and conferences for writers. Dusty would pick one of the most centrally located tables in the atrium or bar and spread out his books. With a personality as big as the endless western sky and a wide grin under that familiar cowboy hat, you couldn’t help but stop for a chat. In between the stories behind his stories and a good cowboy yarn or two, he’d ask about your work and tell you to keep at it. You’d end up buying a book, or usually the entire series, and he always autographed them with something clever.

To Natalie. Here’s the bathroom book.

At one event I had the pleasure of sitting next to his wife, Pat, at a luncheon. Quiet and unassuming, her wicked sense of humor surprised me. She pulled from her a purse a few treasures she had purchased for grand kids and we giggled and whispered away several hours. “I don’t write a word,” she said. “I just read.”

To Natalie. May the pages fly like a good horse.

Dusty handed me a 2nd place award for my Middle Grade western novel at the Oklahoma Writers Federation banquet many years ago, and I asked Pat to join us for a picture. That recognition and his encouragement motivated me to keep going, and today that manuscript is Book 1 in my Trouble in Texas Series.

After that award, Dusty relentlessly encouraged me to join Western Writers of America, an organization that he tirelessly promoted. Serving as President and on the Board for many years, Dusty believed in the power of the western novel and in the power of WWA to promote the creatives behind the genre. Finally with enough publishing credits I was approved for membership, and attended the WWA Conference in Lubbock, Texas, several years ago. On the final night, Dusty found me in the crowded banquet hall and handed me one of his books, which has become one of my treasured possessions.

“To a real Ranch wife at her 1st WWA conference. Lubbock TX June 2015 Dusty Richards”

Dusty inspired so many writers. I want to have a deeper understanding of the West like he did, and to have the ability like he does, to fill my stories with a richness and authenticity that assures readers it’s real. I am sad that his mentoring days are done; there are so many questions I have yet to ask him. Legendary Texas author Elmer Kelton said, “Dusty Richards writes … with the flavor of the real West.”

His first novel, NOBLE’S WAY, was published in 1992, and since penning 150 novels and winning numerous awards including two of the prestigious SPUR Awards from the Western Writers of America. Dusty and Pat lived on Beaver Lake in the Ozarks of northwestern Arkansas.

For more about Dusty Richards and his work, go to dustyrichards.com

Happy Trails, Dusty and Pat. See you around the next bend.

Advertisements

2018 Just Might be YOUR Year to Shine!


 

2018 Just Might be YOUR Year to Shine!

Natalie Bright

Goal setting for writers allows you to experience something positive and measurable. I understand how the weeks and months can be unbearable and discouraging. You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve over a year’s time.  Even if the only time you can manage is thirty minutes a day three days a week, by the end of 2018 you’ll have a completed novel! That’s exciting. Be flexible in managing your time, and have goals in mind that are achievable and realistic. Make this process easy on yourself. 2018 is YOUR year! With a little budgeting and planning, the next step is publication, but you can’t publish if you don’t have a finished manuscript.

Write. Then Publish.

It is true that putting your book on Amazon involves minimal expense, however you need to decide how to allocate those funds. Do you want to go the traditional route or Indie?

Do you want a literary agent and a traditional publishing deal?

o       Know your genre. Research editors and agents who might be interested in what you write. Do not send your serial killer horror to an agent who represents romance writers.

o       Plan a trip to a conference. You must go where the agents and editors are. That means you need to attend writer’s conferences. Pay extra for break-out editor workshops where you can meet industry professionals, enter contests with editors and agents as judges, and make certain you have a polished manuscript that can rise above the slush pile.

o       What is the unique hook for your book? What will make your work rise above hundreds of others to become a viable product in today’s market?

o       Do you have an online presence?

Indie Author.

o     Identify your target market.

o     Hire a professional editor, take a class on formatting or hire a service. The book must meet spec requirements so that it can be downloaded successfully.

o     Invest in a graphic designer who can create an original book cover, and make certain you have a polished manuscript that is ready for readers.

o     Do you have an online presence?

o     Enter your book into several contests to boost visibility.

o     Research and determine the best advertising options for your book and your target market.

Crazy Business, Crazy Life

In my own mind, I have everything under control and organized. I did take an online class about formatting only to realize that I will never be proficient at the task. I hate it and I’d rather be writing. The time and efforts of a professional is worth the money to me.

This past month, I laid out guidelines and entry forms for three contests along with my book copies and envelopes neatly addressed. All was in order, and then (thank goodness), I got an email from a reader who found a typo in the first chapter. A character’s name was wrong! What are the odds that a contest judge will find the error? Will it hurt my chances? Most likely. That little snafu, and the time it took to contact the formatter, upload the new version, and reorder corrected hard copies, wasn’t part of my plan. I just barely made the contest deadlines.

I don’t write fantasy, but sometimes I feel like I live in a fantasy world. This writing gig rarely works out according to my timetable. A demanding day job and family keeps me crazy busy, and yet I will keep moving forward because these stories are important to me. I really want to be a successful, published Author.

You’ll be thrown a lot of curve balls and obstacles whether you go traditional or Indie, but all your efforts are worth it when you host your first autographing event. Seeing your book cover on Amazon is exciting. Getting a pay summary and cash in your account is achievable. The ups and downs are normal with every business, because selling books is most definitely a business. Decide now. Is it going to be YOUR business in 2018?

MY 2018 GOALS

  1. Write 52 Monday blog posts for WordsmithSix (a blog for writers)
  2. Write 26 Friday blog posts for Prairie Purview (a Texas blog)
  3. Promote and market every day.
  4. Six books in the pipeline scheduled to be published in 2018.
  5. Write more, remain focused, and press onward.

Let us know what’s on your goals list for 2018.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous and productive 2018, and may you find an overabundance of readers in the New Year!

How is your NaNoWriMo going? 


How is your NaNoWriMo going? 

Natalie Bright
I didn’t start anything new, but I am making great progress on finishing my short story for our Route 66 Anthology. We were on the road during the holidays so I took pen and paper to stay on track for NaNoWriMo. Sometimes it helps to get a completely different perspective from a computer screen. A bumpy highway prevented me from writing legibly, so I began to make a list of major scenes, character thoughts, and plot points. The story came to me fast. It was completely in my head, each scene clearly visible and the list went fast because I wasn’t taking the time to make complete sentences. And now I have a full outline to THE END. During the last week of November I can begin fleshing out the scenes and adding sensory details.
Hope you had a productive November !

READER SURVEY


READER SURVEY

Natalie Bright

For the past six years, Mark Coker with Smashwords has shared results of their readers survey. Several of the topics covered include pricing, box sets, word count, social media, genres. The results of the 2017 Smashwords Survey can be viewed in total, see links below.

The Smashwords catalog offers over 450,000 titles and is fiction heavy. 87.5% of Smashwords’ sales during this survey period were for fiction. Romance, including YA romance, accounted for almost 50% of total sales.

Listen to the Podcast #7 here: https://www.smashwords.com/podcast/7

Watch his complete RWA slideshow presentation here: http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/06/smashwords-survey-2017.html

Here are a few of the major points that I found interesting:

Top Selling Genre

According to the 2017 Smashwords survey, the top selling genres for fiction were Romance, Erotica, Fantasy, Young Adult & Teen, and Science Fiction. The top five for non-fiction were Self Improvement at #1, Health, Well-Being and Medicine #2, Business and Economics, Religion and Spirituality, and Relationships and Family.  Obviously romance readers are the most veracious, and are loyal fans.

Presence on Social Media

Of the top 1000 bestsellers, close to 75% of these authors have a website or a blog. Over 60% of the bestselling authors are on Facebook and on Twitter. Readers like connecting with their favorite authors

Book Pricing

Books that are priced at free, on average, get about 33 times more downloads then books at any other price. More proof that FREE for a first book in your series is a powerful way to introduce readers to your work. By pricing your book at free, you make it easy for new readers to take a chance on you. Many authors write a shorter novella priced as free or as a give-away in newsletters, as an introduction to their series. The survey definitely shows that series with free first book earn more than series without that starter incentive book. I’m torn on this topic, because I wonder if our hard work has been devalued. Everybody thinks they can write a book, and it’s so easy to publish these days. The profession of writing has shifted away from the craft of writing a great story to publish your work now. As you all know, writing and editing is some of the hardest work you’ll ever do, and it has to be done first before you can have a book in hand. Then comes the publishing and promotion.

It’s Still about the Story

After last week’s critique meeting with the WordsmithSix gang, I can tell you that quality continues to be our focus. We are working on stories for a Route 66 themed anthology, and from what I read last week, readers are in for a treat. We leave no stone unturned when we critique each other’s work. We talk about character motivation, plot structure, and setting descriptions. Our meetings usually run about three hours, and we don’t waste much time on spelling and grammar issues. We really try to dig deep to assure that readers discover an entertaining story.

Word Count for Picture Books


Word Count for Picture Books

Natalie Bright

0-200 words. 8-24 pages. BOARD BOOKS have minimal text with thick pages for little fingers to hold.

About 600 words. 32 pages. PICTURE BOOKS for ages 2-5. Text and illustrations on every page.

Up to 1000 words. 32 pages. Ages 4-8. Fiction or nonfiction.

Up to 1500 words. 40 pages. Ages 6-10. Fiction story picture books have longer stories for older readers.

Up to 2000 words. 48 pages. Ages 8-12. Nonfiction PICTURE BOOKS for middle grade readers, usually illustrated with photographs, may or may not have chapters.