Friday, September 4, 2015

The Brazilian and the World Cup.

An old customer of mine who I hadn't seen in awhile came in looking for a book and said he was leaving the country.

I mentioned that I'd written a book, ahem, and showed him Led to the Slaughter.

He did the usual, "...hmmm, interesting..." as in Not.

As we're talking a young woman comes in and fixes eyes with me, and moves between us and says, "Are you Duncan?  I've driven here to get a signed copy of your book, which I loved."

"Well thank you!" I say.

"I wanted to tell you that my Brazilian cousin was so hooked by your book that he was reading it during the World Cup!  I'm sending him a copy as a gift."

"Wow," says my friend. "A Brazilian and the World Cup!" He picks up a copy of the book and places it on top of his pile.  "I've always loved the Donner Party," he says.

Sold out of my copies of Led to the Slaughter at the store.  I'm going to have to use my personal copies until I can get some more.  Such troubles...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

All I can ask for.

I've always found writing down on paper the story I've already thought of in my head to be anti-climactic. I want to just wave my hand and have it done already.

I've written five new chapters for Blood of the Succubus.  All of them have come, dare I say it, easy.  I already knew what I wanted them to do.  There are some surprising details and twists while I write, but mostly, you know, they are simply coloring within the lines.

The story exists in my head (and it exists in some extra dimension somewhere -- which is where I'm pulling it from in the first place.)

If writing is pure, then thinking of the story is even purer.  But just as writing the story is different from getting people to read the story, thinking of the story doesn't do me any good unless it is written down.

I know this seems obvious, but the more I write the more I realize that writing has nothing to do with what happens afterwards.

Writing the book is its own thing.  It is the book and nothing but the book.

Really hammering this home is the fact that I'm sitting on complete books. That experience is complete. The story is complete.

But it might as well be a black hole as far as meaning anything, because even though I had the experience of writing it, and even though it exists -- no one will ever know unless I can find a way to get it out where people can find it.

The Internet has changed the equation.  At least now I know if I write a book I can put it someplace where the possibility exists that someone will read it.

The possibility...

I think that is all I can ask for.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Extended length or expanded story?

Just like that, my 58K word novel is 68K words and I feel like I've barely started. Blood of the Succubus.

Linda says it's good, it's great; the best thing I've done since Led to the Slaughter, which was her favorite. 

It certainly is coming easy.  Too easy.  I'm pretty sure an asteroid is going to land on my head, because it is so easy and the universe demands balance.

Went for a walk in the Badlands yesterday. Thought it was going to be cool weather, but halfway through the walk, I realized I'd made a big mistake wearing a black shirt. It was about 80 but felt hotter.

Anyway, made my usual circuit, wrote half a chapter, and came back home.

The whole book with expansions is mapped out.  I just need to sit down each day and write at least one chapter and I'll be done in no time.

What's cool about it is that it doesn't contradict or disrupt the existing story in any way. Hopefully it only enhances it.  The only difficulty so far is trying to decide where the chapters fit best.  I'm making my best guess, but I'll need to read it through when I'm finished to see if it works.

I had a comment that Led to the Slaughter wasn't "long" enough for a mass market book. So I decided to push Blood of the Succubus into 80K words. The bonus is that I think it is improving the book, giving it extra layers of depth.

But last night I looked up Led to the Slaughter and it was 78K words, which I would have thought long enough for mass market.  I think the format -- a larger tradepaperback -- and the font -- Garamond -- made it seem smaller than it was...

Anyway, Blood of the Succubus will be the size it is -- probably around 85K words, I'm guessing now.  I might be able to push that to 90K words by further fleshing out.

Doesn't matter, I suppose. The book has been improved by expanding. Enough so that I'm determined to take the extra time to do that to all my books. But not so much because of the extended length but because of the expanded story.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Creativity is not a limited resource.

What works best for me is to not consider creativity a limited resource.

I get an idea and think, "I can do that."

Then I get started. Sometimes it takes longer than expected, sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's impossible, sometimes it's a false start.

But I never turn down the idea. I never think it's too much work.  I never worry about whether it's commercial or whether it fits anywhere.

I just try to write it. I think I can do it all. I try to do it all.

There is also the idea that if it doesn't work, no harm. I can set it aside, or change it.

There's always more where that came from.

This openness to writing, without filters, has been incredibly productive.

There is an important caveat.  I need to finish most of what I start.

It's probably only possible because of the digital world, with the assumption that if I finish and if it's any good, I can put it out. Nothing blocking me.

So write it.


Flashback city.

I chose a story element for The Blood of the Succubus that probably isn't going to go well with some readers.  I kind of wish I had come up with a different solution, but it's too late now. The "element" will take some convincing since it is so outlandish. The emotional response by the characters has to be believable. So I've been rewriting these chapters a lot.

I have 3 threads, more or less. The first thread is the original plot. The second thread is the introduction of another character, who is a good guy separate from the first characters. The third thread is the Succubae themselves.

In the first draft it was 50/30/20.

The addition of new chapters is going to make it more like 40/30/30, more equal in weight.  I'm hoping the story can maintain it's cohesion.  The main thread still has to carry the forward momentum, since so much of the other parts of the book are flashbacks. I'm thinking it will turn out 60% current, 40% flashback.

That's a heavy use of flashback, but I think I can make them interesting enough and pertinent enough to the story to not be too distracting.

I hope.

I may not know until I've finished the book.  If it doesn't work, I'll pare back the flashback chapters and have a shorter book again.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Very cool.

Man, I love the invention.

Doubts can come later, but I love the first drafts, especially when they are going well, especially when the words are just flowing.

I've written the first new chapter of Blood of the Succubus and I love it.  I feel totally energized by the potential of this book, and I'm so glad I decided to take another look at it.

Spent most of yesterday finishing Bren's critique.

Then somehow started rewriting the second chapter. It became quite the project, taking most of the evening, but in the end it was completely redone, beginning to end, and came out much, much better.

That's only the second chapter.

So, I do have a fair amount of work ahead, but I'm excited by the possibilities.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sex is a big idea, it turns out.

I'm going to be finishing Bren's critique of The Blood of the Succubus today, and I have to admit the book is improved.

I had thought it was already ready, and now it's more ready, but...

I have some ideas.

Sex is a pretty big idea, it turns out.  Lots of ramifications.

The original idea was that the Three Daughters of Lilith, the Succubae: Eisheth, Naamah, and Agrat Bat wander the earth to tempt man and drain him of his lifeforce. A group of men and women try to stop them.

So what about women? Are evil women temptresses a harmful stereotype? How about aggressive men? What about gays? When is sex wrong?  What about....so much more...

I'd sort of decided not to address many of those ramifications in an effort to keep things simple, but I'm beginning to think there is no way to avoid them. I at least have to say something.

Anyway, I've thought of a whole bunch of historical flashback chapters I can write, and a few new current chapters that won't disrupt the continuity too much. These should provide information, answer questions, but most of all add some depth and complexity to the story.

It's daunting.

There are so many landmines in this story that I probably can't escape at least some censure for getting something wrong in one way or another.  Not just the appropriateness of the sex, but more dangerously, the sexual politics. I'm bound to get the political correctness wrong, just because gender politics are so fraught.

It would be so much easier to let the book go the way it is.  It's "Good Enough" but that's just it -- I told myself going into this whole writing gig that I wouldn't let those words be my scale of success.  "Good Enough" isn't good enough.

So I'm sort of bound to do this further rewrite.

There is a added bonus of making this book longer, and I need to start writing longer books.

The advantage is the 90% of it is new material, and I do like writing new material.  There will be some adjustments, but hopefully the puzzle won't fall apart.

So off I go, doing something I hadn't planned on. Which pretty much describes my writing career.