Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Steampunk pigs.

Was walking in the Badlands yesterday and I had an irresistible image of a pig emerging from a deep tunnel with digging tools and goggles.  Very steampunk.

Thus I knew that my subconscious was itching to get writing again.

In Tuskers II, the pigs start to use technology.  Now, in Tuskers III the idea is that the good pigs and the good humans have to band together to fight off the zombie pigs and humans. 

Yes, I went there.

Zombie pigs.

Again, my instructions to myself is to have fun with this story.  Let it go where it will, and make it fast.

I've arranged to have the next 9 days off, so I'm going to try to get a running start at it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Following Meek's Cutoff.

Somewhat to my surprise, the famous Meek's Cutoff disaster was connected to the Lost Blue Bucket Mine, which is the focus of my next Virginia Reed adventure.

I'm purposely not watching the movie, Meek's Cutoff, because I don't want to be influenced.

Anyway, one of the wandering offshoots of the large 1000 person wagon train was supposedly the origin of the legend.  So like I did with the Donner Party Werewolves, I'm going to try to retain as many historical facts and dates and routes and characters as possible.

I have a theme in mind, which will fit the actual events very nicely.

I really enjoyed blending the historical and the fictional with Led to the Slaughter.  It made it realer to me, and hopefully for the reader.

Because the trail is so close by (eastern Oregon), I'm going to go and take a few days to retrace the route as best I can, mile by mile.

My intention is to stop all along the way and to take notes of the topography and details of the landscape.  Just write copious notes of what the actual land looks like.  Get a sense of it.  Start visualizing the incident.

Should be fun.

Now, if I could just make enough money on my writing to be able to write off the expenses on my taxes...

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Walked to the summit of Horse Ridge.  At least I think I did.  It was one of those situations where I would surmount a hill and there would be another hill so I'd climb that hill and there would be another and on and on.

But I finally reached a spot where it was flat for a quarter of a mile or so and then seemed to drop off.  Since I didn't feel like going down and then back up another level, I turned around there.

Pretty steep in spots, as least for me.  But I was determined to get to the top.  About two and half miles up, and I think it was about 2000 feet or so.  Couldn't have done it a month ago, I'm betting.

A coyote crossed my path about 100 feet ahead.  Just sort of sauntered by, not even looking my way.  Since I was talking to myself, I probably scared him off...

I've lost 12 pounds, with 3 days to go.  Now that I've hit this weight, I'm tempted to continue for another couple of weeks.  Not sure.  We'll see.  I was showing off my dexterity to Linda by striking the Mercury hood ornament pose, and then bending my one leg up and down.  Rather surprised myself by how easy it was.  It was easy to keep my balance. I'm in pretty good shape for my age, by golly.

Sleeping 8 hours, eating right, exercising, not drinking, not smoking.  Nothing too radical.

It's weird how every few years I pull myself together, before letting myself go again...heh.

Planning to dive into writing on Friday.  Tuskers III. 

Looking forward to it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Taking time off did me good.

I've got a sliver of a notion of how I want to proceed with Tuskers III.

During my daily walk yesterday, I also finally got a notion of how I want to finish Ghostlander.  This entire book is finished except for the last chapter or two because I just wasn't satisfied with what I was coming up with.  But the beginning of Tuskers III gave me an idea for the end of Ghostlander.

After struggling with what to do next, I've got the next three projects lines up.

1.) Write Tuskers III

2.) Start on the next "Virginia Reed Adventure."

3.) Rewrite Wolflander to match Faerylander and Ghostlander.  Bren is editing Faerylander, so I'm not sure how much rewriting I'll have to do on that.

4.) Sometime during the above stuff, write the last chapter of Ghostlander.

Because of timing issues with my editors, I'll be forced to mix some of the above actions, which is not the way I prefer to do things.  But I write so much and so fast that I have to make allowances for my editors.  I want to be able to hand Bren Wolflander as soon as she's finished with Faerylander, and then Ghostlander when she's done with Wolflander.

I want to be able to hand Lara the third Virginia Reed book as soon as she finishes with the Tuskers trilogy.

I'm going to write Tuskers III fast and intensive.  That's the whole point of these books.  Get the story started with a bang and move straight to the end in as clear and fast a storyline as I can manage.
The Wolflander edit may turn out to be an easy fix -- or it may become a quagmire.  I won't know until I start.

I'm hoping for a strong ending to Ghostlander.

I still feel the creative juices overflowing, and I think it did me good to take a month off to let them build up.


Friday, September 26, 2014

It makes a difference.

Cameron was at the Portland comic convention last weekend, and he visited a comic store while in the city.

"I don't understand it," he said.  "They were doing all the things that we don't do.  How can they do that?"

"Two million people," I said.

That's it, in a nutshell.

Here's the thing.  The Bend Metro area includes 200K people, and that includes all of Central Oregon, Lapine, Redmond, Sisters, etc. etc.

So we have a much smaller base of people, at least half of whom are not urban.  Actually, I would include most of Bend in that, and call them "small town."  There is a different attitude toward the arts in a "rural" or "small town" than there is in an "urban area."

So I have a base of customers which is in no way enough to support a comic store, or a game store, or a card shop, and perhaps not even a independent bookstore (since Bend currently doesn't have one.)

My solution was to try to be all those things.

Anyway, within a half hour drive, I have access to 200K customers, most of whom aren't ever going to be interested in comics.

Overlay that with tourists.  Being in an expensive downtown with access to tourists is the only thing that makes my store viable.

In Portland, they have two million people within half an hour drive.  Not only that, they have several four year universities, they have an interstate, they have an urban culture.

It makes an enormous difference. 

In every case, the towns in the valley have access to an even greater population pool within an hour, and then an hour and a half, and then two hours -- on an easy access interstate.

In an hour, an hour and half, and two hours of Bend, you hit wilderness.  Not only that, but mountains and desert.  Not so easy to drive, especially in the winter.

Even the Medford/Ashland and Corvallis/Albany Metro areas have access to twice as many people as Bend, along with legit four year colleges and an interstate.  Eugene/Springfield has access to three times that population.  (With the other Metro areas just an hour away.)

It makes a difference.  Anyone who comes to Bend needs to understand that difference.

I always say the lower population isn't the biggest problem, it's the isolation, the lack of an interstate and a true four year college. 

Tourism is what makes everything work.

There are many things that we are so very, very close to being able to do...but ultimately can't.  Perhaps in another five or ten years the population will have grown enough, perhaps when the college here is really humming, perhaps when Hwy 97 has been turned into a faux interstate.

But until then, it is better to recognize the realities and scale the store properly.  It is still possible to be a viable store here, but I think you just have to be slightly more efficient and careful.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

LeCarre, Lehane, and Leonard: a trio to reckon with.

I was noticing as I was filing that these three thriller writers are bunched together.

Three very good writers, but...

I don't much care for Lehane's later books, starting with Mystic River.  I despised Mystic River.  Just hated it.  Not because it wasn't well done, but because the message seemed to be "everything is hopeless."

I enjoyed his earlier books, but it was as if Lehane decided he had to be "Serious" with a capital "S" and the way to do that was to say, "You can't change your fate.  Despair!"  I fucking hate that message.

Similarly, LeCarre's later books have a nasty habit of the bad guys winning, which is bad enough, but he also basically humiliates the good guys.  Again the message seems to be "everything is hopeless" but the difference is, I think LeCarre means it, and Lehane is a poseur, who wants to be taken seriously.  Ugh.

Elmore Leonard?

He's just great.. 

Career or hobby?

When I first came back to writing, I realized right away that there were two paths I could take.

I could take it seriously, as a professional, and try to carve a career.  (Strange to start a new career at 62, but then again, it doesn't feel all that different than when I was 32.  I have plenty of energy -- obviously.)

Or I could treat it as a hobby. 

What's the difference?

1.)  By being a careerist in intention, it means being considerably more patient.

2.)  Making sure every book is as good as it can be before it is released.

3)  Having professional editing help, and asking for as many beta readers as possible.

4.)  Picking certain books above other books with the idea that each book is the next link in the career and will do me the most good at the time.

5).  Making sure the cover and presentation is as good as I can make it.

6.)  Looking for the best platform -- trying to find publishers, for instance.

7).  Doing as much promotion as I am capable of doing.  Asking people to read and review my books.  Spending more time on social media than I might ordinarily do.

8).  Being patient.  Releasing books in a measured way, when they will be most effective, and have the most impact on the next book.

9.)  Spending money to makes the books as good as they can be, as an investment.

10.) Basically spending twice the time, effort, and money to make my books just that little bit more professional.

So I gave myself five years to do this.  I'm two years into it.  I've got at least 12 more books lined up that will be done to the above standards.

After that, if nothing happens -- and the odds are against me -- I'll revert to treating writing as a hobby.  Just do my best, put them up when they are finished, make a brief announcement, and go on to the next thing.