Thursday, April 24, 2014

Allergies

I've been denying my allergies for years.  But they've slowly gotten worse, until this year they are just really slamming me.

I grew up in a household where my mother announced, "No one in this family has allergies."

And so no one did.  Because Libby McGeary declared it so.  Such is her strength of will that here I am, a 61 year old man, still bending to her iron will.

Sorry, Mom.  This is a bad case of allergies...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Historically accurate?

Read the 5th chapter of The Dead Spend No Gold at writer's group, and it pretty much passed muster.

The thing the readers have the most problem with is my Indian girl character, who I have as made a well-spoken, well-read character --- opposite of the pidgin English cliche.  She was raised my missionaries from young age.

So I'm more or less doubling down on her being well spoken, and trying harder to show why.  I'm thinking of throwing in the occasional "thees and thous" into her conversation to make the difference even more noticeable.

The other thing that comes up when you write historical novels is attitudes towards sex and religion and race.  You can't really write the characters in the most accurate manner and have a modern novel, not unless you're Charles Portis. 

The trick is to hint at the differences, but not so that they distract from the story.  You want it to "feel" authentic, without going so far as to make is seem too anachronistic to enjoy.

So for example -- when reading Richard Stark or John D. MacDonald, the differences in attitudes toward race and sex -- and especially toward women, just leaps out at you.  It seems crazy that we had those attitude just 50 years ago, much less the 160 years ago that I'm writing about.

But you take the time and space into account when you read those stories.

However -- if you wrote a modern novel in that time-period, and you used the same "historically accurate" attitudes, I think the subject would be exactly that -- not whatever else you wanted to write about.  It would be "ironical."  It would be Little Big Man.  Which is a great book, but isn't what I'm writing.

So the trick is to acknowledge the differences, to show them in passing, but not let them take over the story.  You're writing for a modern audience.  You have to reflect modern attitudes, while at the same time being respectful of the actual events, trying not to tip too far in either direction.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Engaged in writing, or engaged in the world?

I was perfectly happy for that miracle year of writing where all I did was write and didn't worry about anything else. I just kept writing and writing.

Then I ventured to put a few of those words into the world, and met with a little success.  Ever since, I've been less engaged in writing, and more engaged in the world.

Can I get back to that pure writing?

Not completely.  I've broken the mold.  The world has taken hold.

I guess the trick is to try to regain some of that momentum and still be engaged, still get what I've already written polished and ready for publication.  

I think while I'm in the process of writing a first draft of anything, I need to disengage and simply write.  I've had a hard time clearing the decks for Ghostlander.  I've got the first two chapters down, but I'm hesitating to make the plunge until everything is ready.

Which isn't the way I was thinking during my miracle year.  During that year, I simply put writing above everything else.

Can I do that again?

I was aware of how unusual that was even while it was happening.  I just went with the flow.  But finally, after a year, I broke off and tried to put some of those words into the world -- and once I did that, I broke the chain.

I'm wishing I could just disengage again with the world for a year or something.  Not try to get my books into the world, but just put on blinders and write.

Unfortunately, I don't think I can do that.  I've got a small momentum in the published world, and I need to try to keep that going.   I need to try to get already written material ready for the real world.

So I'm struggling with that balance.

Just like everyone else.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What are ghosts?

I'm still trying to get a handle on my ghost story.

What does a ghost story mean?  Are ghosts bad memories, representing the past?  Are they vengeance and justice?   Are they just free-floating evil?  Are they from some portal into darkness?  Are they unrequited life?

I need to get a sense of what the book is, somehow.   Because I don't have a clear sense of what I'm trying to say, I haven't started yet, after a week of mulling it over.

But I've waited long enough, nothing has happened.  So I'm going to go ahead and start writing my 2000 words per day, starting today, and hope that something starts to develop.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Local bookstores.

And by local, I mean Central Oregon.

I took some copies of Led to the Slaughter to Sunriver Books and Paulina Springs Books (Sister's branch.)  I wasn't going to do more than mention my book, and if they were willing to take them on, do whatever felt comfortable to them.  Even to the point of giving them some copies.

They both took on some copies on consignment.

Once again I was impressed by both bookstores.  They are very well stocked, a nice curation of good books, and knowledgeable staff and owners.

I told both of them -- though perhaps not in my own best interests -- that I thought they would do well with a bookstore in downtown Bend.  I don't think either of them are interested, though.  I'm sure someone will take it on the task someday.  If I was just a tad younger and I hadn't already diverted my attention toward writing -- I'd be tempted myself.

But having opened and closed 3 stores, I'm well aware that the reality of starting a business is ten times harder than the planning.  And more expensive.

It's not just double the work to have two stores, it's more like triple or quadruple the work.

I could do it, and I'd love the challenge, but I must rein myself in.



Meanwhile, I was reading yet another "expert" on bookstores who made a long list of things he thought he'd do to open a perfect bookstore.

And they were all wrong.  They were all way beyond what any one person could do without burning out in a short time, and way too expensive for more than one person to do in a small town.  In other words, that beautiful store would be doomed.

I would advise the guy to drop every damn thing on his list and replace it with one bullet point:

* Books.

Lots and lots of books, good books, used books, mid-list books, quirky books, cult books, favorite books, best-sellers, classics...

You know books.  The more books the better.  The better the books the better.  Fill every possible inch of the store with books, and do nothing but take care of them.

Forget everything else and carry books.


Not that anyone will ever listen to me.  The "common wisdom" has gone in the opposite direction, and seems to be unstoppable.  Group think is a powerful thing.  So new bookstore owners will dissipate huge amounts of time, energy and space on things that will add very few sales to their store, and even if it doesn't hurt them monetarily it will be almost guaranteed to burn them out.  It's hard enough to run a business when you keep is simple.  Every complication you add, which you then have to continue, makes it that much harder.

Keep it simple and essential, and do a very good job of it.  People will respond.  You'll live to fight another day.  You might even make money.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Free Comic!



The 99 cent sale at Smashwords and Barnes and Noble and Apple is coming to a close on May 1, 2014. Then the books go to 3.99 each.

You'd think I'd want the 3.99, but all the .99 books come due on the same day and affect the rankings. And rankings and reviews are everything. 

So you guys would be doing me a huge favor by going to Smashwords or Barnes and Noble or Apple and searching for Duncan McGeary and buying the 3 Vampire Evolution books. 

It won't even cost you anything as long as you can get in the store over the next month or so -- you get a free comic! So the only cost is just the time and effort of going online and making the order. (I mean, you have to buy for 2.97, but I'm re-reimbursing for 2.99....)

Smashword  Links.

Death of an Immortal:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/423727
 
Rule of Vampire:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/423730

Blood of Gold:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/423732


Barnes & Noble Links:


Death of an Immortal:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-of-an-immortal-duncan-mcgeary/1119059121?ean=2940045798402

Rule of Vampire:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rule-of-vampire-duncan-mcgeary/1119059123?ean=2940045798426

Blood of Gold:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-of-gold-duncan-mcgeary/1119059125?ean=2940045798440

Friday, April 18, 2014

What are the stakes?

This is a kind of cluttered blog entry, but here it is anyways.

I'm thinking about the plot to Ghostlander today.

I have an idea that entails a bunch of ghostly situations, but that doesn't a story make.  For the story to matter, a character that the reader cares about has to be in jeopardy -- or at least a character that the reader cares about cares about a character in jeopardy.   Uh... someone has to be in danger.  There have to be stakes.

The general theme of each of the Lander books is:  Faery versus...

So Faery versus Cthuhlu.  Faery versus Werewolves.  Faery versus Ghosts.

But within that larger notion, there has to be people who the reader is identifying with who are getting in deeper and deeper complications, who the reader is rooting for or against.

Before I start a book, I need to have all the ingredients, that recipe that will make the plot matter.  It's better not to start until I have all the portions correct.  Filling the counter with all the things I need doesn't mean I use them all.  But it makes for a more interesting palate.