Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Tuskers III is live at last!

It's been a long wait for the ebook. This was supposed to come out in October, 2015, but my publisher, Ragnarok Publications got all ambitious and decided to distribute in bookstores, which set the whole process back.

The physical version of this book came out about a month and a half ago, but I know the vast majority of my readers are ebook readers, so it's been frustrating.

I hope people haven't lost interest in my pig saga. The evolution of Tuskers and the devolution of man continues, leading to the big climax of Tuskers IV.

My book sales are at their lowest point since I started. I think it's easy to lose momentun unfortunately, so once again I'm asking my faithful blog readers (I have 53 followers at least) will buy this book. Please.

And you might enjoy it!

Love you all,


Monday, December 5, 2016

Ideas often come to me in just little wisps of thought, like a slight breeze that you wouldn't ordinarily notice.

I have to pay attention. After already having done the rewrite of chapters 1 and 2, I had some further ideas and worked on those yesterday. I especially improved the character motivations in chapter 2, which has been a problem chapter from the beginning.

I decided I needed to introduce Nasim, the main terrorist protagonist in the third chapter, started to read the chapter, couldn't find much to change. By then, I was through for the day.

So really, didn't do what I set out to do, still stuck at 23 pages.

But just wandering around the house, (too cold and wet for my walk) a tiny little sliver of thought came to me--use only one of the flashbacks in the chapter, and save the second flashback for the next chapter featuring Nasim.

It's a thought that could have come and gone without notice, if I wasn't hypertuned to this kind of thing these days.

Ideas don't come solid and announced, they come as fleeting notions.

Often, they'll return. I had the idea of showing Cory's burns a few days ago, then forgot, and then yesterday remembered again.

It's interesting to me in this it is completely subconscious thought--given out of sequence, and that it doesn't announce itself firmly, but just as sort of "well, there's this..."

My original plan was to research for a couple of weeks and then give "Fires of the Djinn" a full rewrite. But it's been over a year since I wrote the first half of this book, so I decided I needed to familiarize myself with the story.

So I'm going through a full rewrite, adding 5 telling details per -page, THEN I'm going to do the research and add the elements as I come across them, and THEN do another (less intensive) rewrite.

Should take me between a month and a month and a half. I don't seem to be able to do more than about 25 serious pages of rewrites in a day. I don't know why it is so draining. But my brain just stops cooperating after 3 or 4 hours. I always think I'm going to take a few hours off and come back and do another 3 or 4 hours, but I rarely do.

Like I said, this work.

But really, I can see the improvements, to both the writing and the story. There is no excuse not to do it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

These are going to be boring blogs for a month or so--or at least, more boring than usual.

I'm rewriting "Fires of the Djinn." (The current favorite title, over "Lucifer's Forge.") I'm contemplating the tagline, "One terrorist, one match."  It's my firefighters versus terrorists thriller.

The dreaded rewrite. Linda says I should quit saying I "Hate" rewrites, because it makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but to me it's just confirmation.

The rewrites are absolutely necessary. Not only that, but they are part of my effort to improve my writing. Give the rewrite due consideration, lay out some time between finishing the first draft and rewriting to gain some perspective, and then systematically do the rewrite, giving it the time it needs.

Try not to ruin it.

I think the first draft is fun for me, but maybe not as fun for the reader. The second draft isn't fun for me, but probably produces a story that is more fun for the reader.

Managed 20 pages yesterday. That seems to be my limit, more or less, when I'm not just browsing. When I knuckle down. I set a goal of adding 5 "telling details" to each page, and I mostly did that.

I can see why the second chapter, which was originally the first chapter, didn't work. But it is totally necessary, so I've just got to try to make the characters more sympathetic and the action more interesting.

It has also become very clear to me that the introduction of the main villain needs to happen in the third chapter, not the seventh.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Wrote the first chapter of "Lucifer's Forge," so the first draft of the book is now complete.

I had this vague notion of trying to duplicate the feeling I got when I read "Young Men and Fire" many years ago, but the book wasn't what I remembered it to be. It was much more matter of fact than I remembered.

The artistic part of the book was impossible to copy, because he layers the same event over and over again from different angles. He creates motifs that only work because of that layering. For instance, he calls the significant physical locations "Stations of the Cross" which is brilliant in concept and execution. Very emotive because he has laid the groundwork.

I've always wondered how to telegraph great emotion in a few words or images. The best example I've ever seen of that is the first few minutes of the Pixar movie, "Up." Hell, any movie that can get me to cry about characters that I've only known for a few minutes is pretty brilliant.

Anyway, I wrote the chapter using some of the events of the Mann Gulch fire, such as the foreman lighting his own fire and laying down in the ashes, who lived. The speed of the fire, the run for their lives. Trying to sketch their personalities in a few sentences so their deaths mean something.

Tough to do. Probably didn't pull it off, but it's still a better beginning than what I had before.

10 Year Anniversary of Blog

Ten years ago, I was so concerned about housing prices in Bend that I Googled "Housing Prices" and "Bubble" and discovered that there were such things as "bubble blogs" and that there were several in Bend.

I read them for awhile, then made the joke that I was going to start my own and it would be titled "The Best Minimum Wage Job a Middle-aged Guy Ever Had" which was a joke I'd been using for years in my store when people asked "How are you doing?"

Then I went and did it.

I've never had trouble writing stuff. Hell, I restrain myself, mostly.

I wrote every day for the next nine years. EVERY day. It was only this  year that I finally let a few days go by without a posting. I probably still hit 95% of the days.

The nature of the blog has changed a lot over the years. First it was about the housing bubble, then it was about my business, and finally about my writing. With each change I shed a bunch of readers and picked up a few readers.

But this was always about self-expression more than anything. I'd been keeping business journals for years before I started the blog. The journals were probably a bit more candid, or at least there was a lot more bitching and moaning (believe it or not) because they were designed to relieve my need to tell everyone about everything. (Especially Linda, who'd hear me say the same thing a thousand times with small variations.)

But talking or writing this way is how I figure things out. On the tenth reiteration, something unexpected may happen, which sets me off in a whole new line of thinking.

A little obsessive and self-analytical, for sure. (You think?)

I still enjoy this, and people have been unexpectedly kind to me.

So I figure I'll just keep going.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The purgatory between books. Such a strange feeling, not to be writing.

So the sooner I start again, the sooner I'm out of purgatory.

The task of making "Lucifer's Forge" realistic--or at least, plausible--has been intimidating. But I like the characters and the plot, and I especially like the premise (wildfire fighers versus terrorists.)  It's not like that premise won't remain topical.

I just need to have faith that it will all come together.

This is the first test of my new process. I took a full two months away from this book, so hopefully I come back to it with a new perspective. I intend a full rewrite, beginning to end, devoting almost as much time to the rewrite as I did to the first draft.

This is about upping my game.

I think there are three stages  affecting the quality of a book.

Stage 1.) How much time and planning I put into it before I start.
Stage 2.) The actual process of writing.
Stage 3.) The rewrite.

All three stages are affected by how much time I devote to each one.

Stage 1, I still haven't managed to do much about, mainly because my writing tends to be rather impulsive.

For instance,  after He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was elected, I looked up "All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan because it had the right amount of foreboding to it. I posted it on Facebook with the line: "Bob Dylan: Seer."

For some reason, a short story started coming to me based on the song, so I wrote it. Than a second chapter, and before I know it, I'm writing a novella.

Most of my books seem to start with just these kinds of impulses, and I'm not sure I want to change that.

However, I do occasionally mull over a bigger idea, and for those books, I really need to just pull myself up short and spend a week or two writing notes. For instance, the next Virginia Reed book is going to be about murdered Chinese gold miners in Oregon. So, knowing that, I should sit down and think about it.

Stage 2: I'm happy with this. I've adjusted how much time and how many words I spend each day, how I incubate my creativity, how I fit my real life into the process and so on. I tinker with this, but mostly, I think I've found a very productive method.

Stage 3: This is where I think I can have the most effect. I already know that rewriting is always helpful. I already know that taking time to let it sit is helpful.

So I just need to follow through on this.

The trick for me to to find the proper balance between improving the story and ruining the story. By that, I mean I have a tendency to become rather obsessive, rewriting until I've ruined the story for myself.  It doesn't seem to ruin it for others, strangely...it may even improve it. But I can't ruin my own stories and keep on writing, so that is something I have to watch out for.

So...giving it time, both for perspective and to make it not drudgery, is really important. I think a fairly light touch on rewriting is what is needed, not going in and throwing out entire portions or changing things around excessively.

Each time I read a story, I find things to change. But if I do it too often, the words tend to lose meaning, the story fades. Above all, I want to avoid that.

So Stage 3 is a work in progress.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

They're having a sale over at Ragnarok, so you could buy Tuskers I and II for the price of one, just in time for the ebook version of Tuskers III (hopefully next week.)