Friday, October 9, 2015

Officially starting the 3rd Virginia Reed Adventure.

As of this week, I've started The Darkness You Fear: the Ghosts of the Lost Blue Bucket Mine. Roy at Books of the Dead has more or less given me the go-ahead.

It's set in eastern Oregon, so I'm going to try to fit in a couple of road trips before the snows fall.  Try to follow the path of the lost wagon train as best I can.

The first week has been about trying to outline the book. So far, it's been coming up with story ideas, which are coming relatively easily.

I'm pretty excited to do this. Virginia Reed is probably my favorite character I've written, and it's nice that she is the main character.

I've got a bunch of research books to go through, as well.

I think this has real possibilities. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Doing taxes.

Basically, I'm always using the extension period. What I do is throw everything into a cardboard box all year long, set it aside in January, then a week before seeing my accountant, I lay everything out on a table and fill up a Dome type bookkeeping book. 

Pretty easy. No accounts receivable. Just money in and money out.

We'd certainly make more money if we both worked 5 days a week, but that's the cost of writing. Plus, I tell myself that I worked superhard for decades -- 60 hour weeks, probably.

Ironically, I think having Cameron in charge has actually helped sales, because he's much more up on the current comics than I ever was. Matt too. I had a lot of hobby horses that cost me money (art books, indies, cards, designer toys) and he doesn't have that handicap. Marvel sales -- the big kahuna -- are way up. I could never figure out what graphic novels to order from them.

Plus both guys are way better with the public than I would be if I was working 6 or 7 days a week. Working the hours I am now, I can remain cheerful.

So it really works out.  It only took 30 years to happen. Heh.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Impulsive or patient?

For me, it takes a weird combination of both to get anywhere.

I need the impulsiveness to take the first big step. If I think about it too long, I'll usually talk myself out of it. Sometimes I'm not quite ready, but if I try to wait until I'm ready, it also never happens.

But once committed, if I actually get a response from the first impulsive move, then I try to be very patient.

So for instance, I've made some impulsive moves over the years in my business -- the biggest is jumping on a location and opening a business when I have the chance.

On the other hand, I've been very, very patient in my downtown location, through all the ups and downs, despite not having enough space, despite some of the inconveniences.

Once I set down a path, I'm very patient and rarely quit.

So too in writing. Almost all my approaches to publishes has been a spur of the moment thing. Then once there, I try to be very patient, wait for things to develop.

In the store, I'll often impulsively decide to carry a particular product line, but then I'm patient about developing that product lines, sometimes for years, before it finally takes hold.

So...I don't tend to move much, change much, but when I do it is generally impulsive.  But once I start, I just keep on going.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Outlining and rewriting: two things I don't like to do.

Two things I've been fighting the necessity of for a long time.

Outlining and Rewriting.

Of course, all the advice is that you should do both, but I just couldn't seem to work that way.

Well, guess what? After having written quite a few novels, I've come to the conclusion that I just can't afford not to do both things.

By outlining, I mean a pretty firm handle on the plot, the character, the theme.  By rewriting I mean -- when I think I'm finished, do it one last time.

So I'm trying to install both of these steps into my process.

My first full outline is going to be The Darkness You Fear. I want to know where I'm going before I start.

Obvious, no?

Well, I didn't like outlining for a long time. Oh, I'd do a rough outline as I went along, but I usually was only a few chapters ahead, until at least half the book, and then the rest of the story would come to me. Still rough, but a general idea. Sometimes this works fine. Sometimes it leads me down blind alleys.

I felt like I couldn't discover the story without writing it, and I was afraid outlining would detract from my creativity. So it's been a real Catch-22: I can't outline until I write the story, I can't write the story effectively until I outline.

I've now had enough experience to realize that the more I outline, the better off I am.  So I'm trying to think it through as much as possible.

For instance -- when I decided to rewrite of Blood of the Succubus, I had a very good idea of what I needed to do.  In other words, an outline. And it came so smoothly. I wrote to specifications. I didn't get sidetracked, I didn't mess with the continuity. It didn't seem to detract from the creativity at all.

As far as the rewriting is concerned -- in truth, I always ended up doing that final rewrite, but each time it was touch and go as to whether I wanted to do it or would do it or whether I thought it improved the book.

I've come to the firm conclusion that it helps.

What I feared was the dreaded Word-Jumble, which definitely happens, but I've decided it doesn't matter.  So what if I fall out of love with my book? -- I've improved it so that maybe other people will like it more. That's the price I pay.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Too sexy for my resume.

Woke up in the middle of the night worried about publishing Blood of the Succubus under my own name.

I had an image of someone  -- maybe a young person -- reading Led to the Slaughter going to BOTS and being offended, or vice versa and being disappointed.

I believe it's a worthy book. I think it deserves to be published. The sex in it is not gratuitous or over the top -- but there is a lot of it. The sex is integral to the story, not the reason for the story -- but it is still there almost in every chapter.

How much is too much? What is explicit? How will Amazon treat it?

One solution would be to publish it under the name D. M. McKinnon. Not try to hide the fact that it's me that wrote it, but distinguish it as a different creature. Of course, if it is successful, it removes any benefit to the Duncan McGeary brand.

Thing is -- I want to distinguish it, but not disown it. In other words, I want it to be proudly published, and I'm perfectly willing to own up to having written it, but I want to make sure that people know that it is a different beast.

I suppose it's not a problem until it's published, but I need to think about all the ramifications.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Getting into the Western mood.

I'm getting ready to start The Darkness You Fear: Ghosts of the Lost Blue Bucket Mine, which will be the third Virginia Reed Adventure.

Roy at Books of the Dead has assured me that he's ready to publish it.

So I've already spent a lot of time in Virginia Reed's head and world. It's the Western world.

I grew up there. I grew up in Bend when it was still a small logging town. I spent most of my childhood traipsing around the countryside, hunting, fishing, skiing, bucking hay, going on trail rides and otherwise living an outdoor life. (Pretty different from now, heh, but I always just wanted to stay home and read and now that I'm an adult, that's what I do.)

I'm glad for all these experiences. I feel, for instance, that I can often get the mountain scenes right, especially the snows, because I spent so much time there. Or the desert scenes. And if I need a reminder, well, I can just head out twenty minutes in any direction and get any kind of Western feel I need.

I also grew up when Westerns were ubiquitous on TV and at the movies, and when Western novels were more widespread.

All in all, I feel like it's in my bones.

So I want to settle into that particular mood, live in that particular world for a few months.

I liked The Dead Spend No Gold, but I made it harder than it needed to be by straying a little from what I did in Led to the Slaughter.

Virginia needs to be the primary character. She needs to be in 2/3rds of the book.

And using Journals was a great way to impart information and move the story and reach for a realistic feel to the West.

I'm going to map out the plot a little more than usual this time. Spend a week or two just thinking about it before I start.

I have taxes to do by mid-month, and I want to tidy up the garden for winter, and maybe get out of town for a couple of days. (Hell, head into the High Desert and take notes.)  I may even make a trip to Baker City and just get started.  Sounds like fun.

I'm ready.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

This publishing thing is complicated.

This whole publishing thing is more nuanced, complex and ambiguous than I expected.

I didn't go into it completely naive. I was published 35 years ago and I knew that the game wasn't what I thought it was. In fact, the more I researched it, the more complicated it got. That played at least a small part in my not writing for 25 - 30 years.

Of course, Amazon and ebooks have complicated that situation even more.

There are all kinds of things going on behind the scenes that I can't talk about, because it all takes so much time to play out. Their timeline is not my timeline. These developments look hopeful, but you never know. They at least look promising enough to try to go down that road.

But I do sort of miss the; Write a book, publish a book, thing that I had going there for awhile. Of course, this option always exists. If all these other avenues are explored and nothing comes of them, then I can always self-publish. I think self-publishing is gaining more and more credibility. For instance, did you know The Martian was self-published?

I don't go that route now because I like having other people do all the work, I don't have the skills, and I hate promoting.  But when the day comes, I can do all those things. That's always been my fallback position. Fallback positions that were almost first choices are a nice thing to have.

Besides, I've already succeeded beyond what I expected, so it's all bonus from here out.

Meanwhile, I keep reminding myself that writing the book is what counts. Nothing happens until I write the book, and the better the book, the more that happens.

So concentrate on that.