Monday, February 29, 2016

Finished the Dreaded Rewrite.

I'm sending The Darkness You Fear to Lara tonight for a final clean copy-edit and then on to Books of the Dead in about a week.

It came out well, I think. A worthy addition to the "Virginia Reed Adventures." And Virginia is still only 18 years old. Plenty of adventures to look forward to!

I used the Whitman Mission massacre in the beginning of the book, and then on to the Lost Blue Bucket Mine, which is local Central and Easter Oregon history.

Hopefully, this will be coming out in a couple of months or so.

The Dreaded Rewrite -- Epilogue

This will be the last Dreaded Rewrite post.

I really struggled with the last 50 pages or so. A couple of times I almost gave up, almost said "Good Enough" and  sent it off to Lara for final edit. But I stuck with it, and slowly but surely turned the ocean liner around.

I now think it is substantially better than before. It was mostly the clunky writing that bothered me. Turns out, the best solution in many cases was to simply take it out. If it can't be easily rectified, and it isn't necessary, take it out. It often makes it read better anyway.

The ending needs to have some emotional catharsis, and that is very hard to pull off. Especially in the Dreaded Rewrite.

At any rate, I feel like I've cleaned it up and it is finally ready to go.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Dreaded Rewrite VII

I found a really clunky chapter about 25 pages from the end. I worked on it, but it was balky.

So I did something I almost never do anymore.

I drank some wine, waited for that moment when I'm halfway between sloshed and hyper-competent, and spent a few hours trying to fix it.

It came out well, at least better than it was, and since I was stuck before, it was worth it.

As I said, this is not a great solution, and it's a bit of a rabbit out of the hat solution that can only be used sparingly. For one thing, most of the time it doesn't work...

So now I have 25 pages to go. The rewrite has definitely improved the book, so I'm glad I did it. It's strange how hard rewriting is, compared to writing a first draft. You'd think it would be the opposite.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dreaded Rewrite VI

After blowing through the rewrite of the first 75 pages of The Darkness You Fear, I thought -- "Hey, no sweat."

Hit page 80 and the problems began. I was confronted with a bad chapter. Just bad.

So it confirms that I should always do a rewrite. Period. There are always going to be parts that need more work. 

I completely rewrote the problem chapter. I've gone through only 25 pages so far. There is another chapter which I think needs to be expanded upon, especially since the epilogue gives it new importance.

Going for a walk to figure out what to do.

Will make another stab at it tonight. Try to get the full 75 pages I need to do. But now that I've actually started to mess with it, I'm tempted to go back and see if anything else needs more work.


Ended up doing 55 pages, which isn't bad. Wrote a couple short scenes that added to the story. I've now added 5000 words with half the book yet to do. I'm going to try to keep any more additions under 1000 words.

It just goes to show how important the rewrite is. I mean, I can always see the improvement. It just has to be done. I also need to remind myself that once I start doing it, it is never as hard as I think it's going to be.

I'm reading a S.F. novel, On The Steel Breeze, by Alastair Reynolds, and after a day of editing I really notice the writing. No ones perfect, heh.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Dreaded Rewrite V

I read through 75 pages of The Darkness You Fear, yesterday, making small changes. Nothing major needs to be done, it looks like. I've been saying that I don't rewrite until the end, but it turns out, I've done a fair amount already. Because of my moving things around, I was forced to make edits as I went along.

So I'll probably be able to finish this up in a couple more days, actually, then send it on to Lara.

Then I'm going to dive right back into my new book, which I'm very much enjoying writing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Dreaded Rewrite IV: No More Excuses!

Still didn't do the rewrite yesterday. I added in all the writer's group criticisms, which took most of the afternoon. I fit in my walk, and while I was at it wrote a new chapter in the new book.

Then I had writer's group, so I threw in the towel.

I read the last three chapters of The Darkness You Fear, including the new epilogue, and they seemed to like it. Felt a little clunky to me so I'm going to pay particular attention to that.

No more excuses!

All this procrastination just means I have to do more pages a day. I started out thinking I'd do 20 pages a day, then 30, now I'm up to 40 pages or more. Which means, pretty much, a 12 hour day.

Linda is on a trip, so I'm just taping all our regular shows. So that frees up the evening for work.

No more excuses!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Dreaded Rewrite III

The Darkness You Fear: Ghosts of the Lost Blue Bucket Mine is finished and edited, and I've gone through and added a timeline and research material.

Now all I need do is go through it line by line and make sure nothing is clunky. That it reads well.

I've successfully procrastinated for days now. Didn't do anything yesterday. Once again I am tempted to say, "It's good enough."

I've managed not to give in to that lazy little voice so far. After all, I'm asking people to read what I've written. They deserve my best effort.

So today I'm determined to start the rewrite and push my way to the end of the book. So far, everything I've published has been put through this process, whether I wanted to or not.

It would be easier if I was rewriting as I went along, but part of my process is to push on through and finish the book before I go back and do anything. As much as I dislike rewriting, I've learned that if I start doing it too soon, I get entangled and mired down. I destroy the original concept and lose the momentum.

So editing while I write is a no no. But that probably leaves a bigger job at the end.

Some of the editing is paring down and clarifying, as all writing probably needs that. But at the same time, I usually need to put a bit more description and explanation into my writing. I mean, I keep it to a minimum. I'd rather the characters and the plot carry the story, but I do need to put in telling details to make it feel more real. 

I believe that you have to try to do the right thing. Take the moral high ground as often as possible. (I admit, I don't say Always, because life is too complicated and ambiguous for that.)

I just have to keep reminding myself that once done, the book is going to have my name on it forever. I want to be completely proud of it. If the cost of that is a couple weeks of unpleasant but productive work, then that is what I need to do.

Starting today, dammit.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Dreaded Rewrite II

I added a Foreword and an Epilogue to The Darkness You Fear.

I put in historical dates on all the entries, (this is MUCH harder than it sounds, especially if I want them to be somewhat accurate)  and I added some of the little tidbits of research I'd gathered.

All in all, I added about 3000 words, which makes it 80,000 words, which was my goal.


I'm going to start on page one and read it all the way through and make whatever little changes will improve the writing. Should take me a week.

Then I'll send it to Lara, and after she returns it, send it on to Books of the Dead.

While I'm doing this, I'm not writing on my new book, but I want to make sure that this new Virginia Reed book is up to standard.

I just have to take a deep breath and do it, no matter how intimidating. Rewriting always helps, and I think it's a good book already, so it will make it all that much better. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Dreaded Rewrite.

I've been procrastinating the rewrite of The Darkness You Fear. I have some great research material to incorporate, and I don't really mind that part of the process. It's just reading the same kind of stuff I like reading anyway.

I don't mind incorporating the material.

What I dread is the page by page rewrite.

Thing is -- it makes the book better. That's undeniable.

So the only reason not to do it is because I'm lazy.

I try to remember that these books, once finished, will always be out there with my name on them. That a few weeks of rewrites will represent perhaps years of readers.

So it has to be done. Arrgghhh.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Found my ending.

I left the end of The Darkness You Fear kind of up in the air. I knew it needed an epilogue, but what I had seemed kind of tacked on, more of a prequel to the next book.

The other day, as I was on my walk, the solution popped into my head and it was amazingly pertinent and suitable. I mean, exactly what was needed.

So I wrote that chapter yesterday and now the book is truly complete.

I need to go through and insert the "dates" of the events. But as far as putting in all the research I've done, I'm sort of torn. I'm now at about 80K words, which is already bigger than the other two books in the series.

I'm OK with adding maybe 5K more, but that's not actually all that much, with all the material I have. So I just need to be choosy, make sure that the material helps the story and isn't just dressing it up.

Starting Friday, I'm going to bear down and do the rewrite so I can get it done. I've been procrastinating a little by writing a new book. Always more fun writing new stuff. But I'm proud of the Virginia Reed books and want to make sure the 3rd book in the series is worthy.

So work at it I will.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Playing hooky by writing.

So I've embarked on a new book. I loved a title I came up with and I decided I needed to write a book to match it. I'm about 10,000 words in and the plot thickens and I'm really enjoying it.

Really, I shouldn't be doing it, because I have a TON of rewriting to do. I've got to go over The Darkness You Fear in the next couple weeks if I want to have it published anytime soon. I've got to do a rewrite of Deep Sea Rising.

But that's work.

Writing a first draft is play. I swear, if I'm not going to get anywhere in this business, I should just write story after story and throw them up and be damned.

But I've gotten far enough in this business to back away, give it a second thought, and then -- with a heavy sigh -- put the rewriting work in. There is no doubt the rewriting improves the books.

I'm thinking maybe I can still write a short chapter earlier in the day, and then spend the afternoon and evening on the rewrites.

There's no pressure. This book is completely meant to be fun, a lark. I'm writing 1000 to 1500 word chapters, unlike my usual 1500 to 3000 word chapters. Just taking one at a time.

I've found a new walking path in the Badlands. It's a little more out of the way and there never seems to be anyone there, which is what I like. The route is exactly 5 miles, and if I set myself the goal to write a chapter, I've so far always written the chapter. The drive, the turnoff into the Badlands, the walking -- all are strong triggers to get writing.

You're not supposed to wait for inspiration, but I generally do nowadays. If I don't have inspiration, I have to luxury of waiting until I do.

So this is pure fun. But it's a little bit like playing hooky. A form of procrastination. I tell myself that I should strike while the iron is hot. That maybe I'll find myself blocked, without inspiration someday.

Thing is, I'm showing no sign of that. Within a day of finishing one book, I'm always impelled to write the next book. They are starting to pile up.

But...well, I want to have fun with this above all, so I'm going to play hooky every chance I get.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's the story, stupid.

I've told this story before, but it was the beginning of my writing, and it is such a simple idea it's worth repeating.

When I was about 22 years old, I was living in a quad up by COCC. I'd always wanted to be a writer, but I could never figure out how to get started. Once in junior high, I'd been assigned a homework assignment to write a story about a picture torn out of Life Magazine. So I got into a feverish story that night in bed, all emotionally resonant and deep and complex.

Woke up the next morning, realized there was no way to write that story, tossed something off instead.

So remembering that experience, I told myself.  "All right, just tell a story to yourself. Don't worry about the words or anything, just tell the kind of story you'd like to read."

After a sleepless night, I had most of "Star Axe" written in my head. It took me five more years to finally complete the book, with lots of missteps and false turns. Turned out, I did have to learn how to write.

But eventually I went back to the original mantra of "just tell a story."

Almost instantly upon finishing the long arduous struggle of "Star Axe," I turned around and wrote "Snowcastles," just like that. I had a beginning line, and a sense of what I wanted, and I wrote it quick and I liked it.

So anyway, the point is, while I'd begun with the idea that writing was some kind of arcane art, complex and complicated and mysterious, I'd sidestepped that whole concept by telling myself a story.

I then struggled after that. Got too caught up in the idea of "serious art" and blocked myself pretty thoroughly. (It's still the magic formula for me to stop writing -- getting serious.) Then I spent 25 years making a living.

I came back with the original pure intention of story.

Many books later, and I'm on the fourth chapter of a new book, and I'm back to telling myself to "tell a story."

Simple as that. The writing, the technique, characterization and plot and grammar, the embellishment -- all that kind of stuff is handy to have, and I've learned a lot by doing it.

But it always just comes back to the story.

Funnily enough, that seems to be true for the reader too. I've gotten few negative comments on my actual writing (not that the writing couldn't be better). Instead, most people find fault with the premise or the story or the beginning or the middle or ending of the story. No one says, "Oh, he uses way too many adverbs" or something technical like that.

Not liking the story is something I can handle, because my stories are told the way I want them to be told. If I was getting more criticism about my actual writing, I'd probably be more defensive. Maybe people are thinking it and not saying it.

Doesn't matter. I did put a lot of work into learning to write -- taking classes, joining writer's groups, reading tons of books. Mostly, learning by doing, taking editor's advice to heart. But when it comes time to actually write the book, I concentrate solely on story.

Of course, I'm aware that the story works or doesn't work depending on the writing. That is, the story is the foundation, the technique is what makes it work.

But first and last, there is the story. Just the way you sit around with friends and tell a story. A novel is just a longer more refined version of that.

When you stray from that, you make a mistake.

Often, in writer's group, someone will read something that seems kind of stilted, or convoluted, or unclear. So you ask them what they meant. Every single time, the explanation is 100% better than the original writing. That is, if the writer reproduced that verbal explanation word for word, it would be much better.

That's the thing I try not to lose sight of.

The best writing is the writing that tells the story best.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Winter Fest firepit contest.

Went to the Winter Fest last night. Yes, me...on a Friday night. My agoraphobia is in check these days, though I don't tend to push it.

Todd's firepit (Prometheus's Fire) was lit at 4:00 and Linda and I stuck around until 6:30 so we could see it in the dark. It looks wonderful, and I enjoyed standing around and saying, "My son did this."

There were about 20 more sculture/firepits on display and they were all pretty cool. Some were more flashy than others, some more conceptual. Todd's probably could have used a backdrop to show off the detailed filigree. Interesting, the kids all got it. They'd all go by and say, "Oh, look at the face!"

Strangely, as it got dark and it got harder to see the intricate ironwork, people tended to move closer to it and inspect it more, so a weakness became a strength. You just never know.

The contest is tonight. Any of these sculptures could win, I think. It just depends on the predilections of the judges, I think.

Very cool.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Malhuer and the lost wagon train.

I researched all day, found some good specific detail for the lost Meek wagon train and the Blue Bucket Mine. 15 pages of notes.

Much of the story takes place at, well -- it's been in the news. Exactly there, where the geese and the ducks and cranes and looney's reign. Harney County.

The pioneers suffered from a lack of water. (no social media to call for supplies....)

I'm always amazed, though, that my imagination of Meek's Cutoff isn't really all that far off from the reality. Then again, I've spent my entire life on the High Desert of Central Oregon. Hell, I've been walking the Badlands every day for months.

This is the exact terrain the wagon train passed through.

That, along with just general knowledge and previous research about the Donner Party, and much of what I guessed actually turns out to be true.

Still, there's nothing like specific information to add to the reality of it all, so I'm glad to have it and I look forward to melding it with the existing manuscript.

Meanwhile, I wrote my two sisters and their husbands asking for help with Deep Sea Rising. Sue is a geologist and her husband Klaus a chemist, so I asked if they wouldn't look over some of the science ideas I put in the book. They are also academics, and the characters in the book are mostly academics, so would be nice to get a read on that.

Meanwhile, Betsy lives in Seattle, which is the location of the story, and her husband is also an academic, so again, would be nice to get some accurate detail.

It's extra work. I swear, I could make my writing life easier if I would just stick to stories that I simply make up.

Dreamed all night of my new book. None of it is usable this morning. Wild stuff. But it shows my subconscious really wants to get rolling on this new story. 

Somebody stop me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Death of an Immortal is free, free, free.

Interesting. Books of the Dead put the first book of my Vampire Evolution Series on Amazon for free.

And it is way up the lists. #612 out of all free books, which is probably the highest any of my books have gone against the entire Amazon list. #23 in Horror books, ditto.

Not sure if there is any significance to it, except that Free is obviously the right price. But then the books it is competing with are also free.

Won't buy me a cup of coffee, however.

It's been out for a couple of years, so it probably can't do anything but help. Especially if it helps people buy the second and third book of the series.

Shakes things up a little, I guess.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A little too neat and tidy.

I read the final chapter to Linda and she pointed out that it was lacking tension.

I have a tendency toward the end of a book to want to wrap things up neat and tidy. Just a little too cut and dried.

So I'm just going to completely write a new version, then steal from this version those things that worked.

The general idea of the chapter was fine, but the approach was wrong.

Funny thing is, I'm not bothered at all. In a way, I finished the book, now I'm just trying to improve it.

I also have a short epilogue in mind. It might be a little corny, a little too neat. I'll have to write it and see.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Making up shit.

I'm writing the last chapter of "Deep Sea Rising" today.

I love this book. I really do think it is my best so far. It came out fully formed and at the same surprised me. It stretched my abilities and yet was doable.

About the only thing wrong with it -- and I'm not sure that it is really a problem -- is that I made up an completely fictitious locale. It's set in Seattle, but I have this location where there are small islands you can reach with bridges just a few miles away on the shore of the Puget Sound.

So anyone who knows that area will probably think I'm a doofus.

But everywhere else in the country, they might believe it. (?) Hopefully?

Scientifically, it's unlikely that the Cascadia tsunami would affect Seattle. It is too far inland. But I've made up a scenario where the megaquake takes place right at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and that the Juan de Fuca fault happens at the same time.

The Perfect Earthquake, if you will. 

I thought about trying to move locations, but even if I went to say, Island County, with Whidbey Island as the center, and used Everett, Washington as the the threatened city, I still made up a lot of shit.

So Seattle it is.

I do need to make a timeline. I'm probably going to make it happen on Labor Day weekend, start the timeline on Saturday morning, with the earthquake happening at sunset on the following Monday.

Other than that, the whole thing hangs together really well. I love the plot and the characters and the premise.

I think I pulled it off.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The antidote to doubt.

I didn't write for 3 days for some reason. Pretty rare for me to skip even a day. But I think putting up "The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders" on Amazon was stressful in ways I didn't foresee.

I finally got out to the Badlands and walked my 5 mile route and the ideas just kept on coming. I wrote a short chapter of "Deep Sea Rising" that I really like. The ending also popped into my mind and it felt right.

When I write a scene that surprises me and pleases me, all doubts about writing disappear. Or rather, they don't matter. They are beside the point. The writing is its own reward and I take great satisfaction out of telling these stories to myself, seeing them come alive.

What happens after that isn't up to me.

TMPDGM's is the first book where I could see day to day (hour to hour) response to my book, and it was pretty disappointing for a couple of days. So I was shaking that off.

Then, after I'd resolved those doubts by writing a good scene, I came home to finally see some results. #512 in Horror, out of 83,000.  #12 in the last 30 days. The time lag is longer than I expected. A couple of days, apparently.

I'm guessing that will be my high water mark, but at least it was there for a day or so.

I have two more small chapters worked out, and then the big two final chapters. Then the epilogue.

The break probably helped clarify the sequence of chapters for me, so it probably didn't hurt.

It's just that not writing let the doubts creep in.

Back to writing for the next few days, finish "Deep Sea Rising" then dive into the rewrite of "The Darkness You Fear."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tuskers III release date!

Looks like Tuskers III is coming out on October 11 of this year.

Here's the publisher page:!mcgeary/y7btn

Pretty exciting since this is the first time one of my current books is going to be fully distributed in general bookstores, along with Tuskers I and II.

I'll be the second book out in Ragnarok's new lineup (same day as a third book.) Looks like they have 10 books lined up so far. Many of them are part of a series, like mine.

 Independent Publishers Group will have a catalog and will be sending their salesmen out to sell the book. I'm hoping the covers and the idea will excite them.

I'll contact the local Barnes and Noble and ask them to carry the series.

This will be fun.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tuskers sales.

Got my royalty statement for Tuskers I and II for the first two quarters of last year.  Basically 5 months worth of Tuskers and 1 month of Tuskers II. was better than I expected. I have a website that I go to that estimates how many are selling. (Only the publisher has access from Amazon.) It appears that this site missed a good 50% of the sales. So there were twice as many as I expected.

I'm glad the publisher looks to actually be making a little money off them. I don't know why I get concerned for their sake, but I do.

I'm not going to get rich, obviously, but considerably better than doing it by myself. Obviously having a publisher is the way to go, if possible.

Thing is, I don't really want to go through the submission process much. As long as I can publish books through Books of the Dead and Ragnarok, I'm happy. But I write way too many books for them, and not all my books fit their categories, so I'm going to need to publish a bunch of books on my own.

I just have to slot them in during times when nothing's coming out from the publishers.

I want to finish the "Tuskers" series with a book IV. I want to write a "Virginia Reed Adventure" once a year for BOTD, if possible.

I have another small publisher who I'm going to send "Deep Sea Rising." (They liked Tuskers and expressed an interest in another "creature" book.) But I won't have any expectations.

But I'm not going to submit my other books to any other publishers unless they come to me (Unlikely). Nor am I going to look for a agent or a mainstream publisher unless they come to me. (Amazingly, one of them actually did, but after a promising start it doesn't seem to be leading anywhere.)

Pretty clearly, publishing my own books is going to have minimal effect, but I'm all right with that. I've already had more success than I expected. Nor do I believe that I "deserve" more in results than I'm getting.

Most of all, I like the idea of just writing what I want and putting them out when I want and moving on.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Writing a sexy book.

Early on, I was a little concerned about the direction "The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders" was going.

See, I didn't set out to write a book about a succubus. I had a dream where a MPDG leads a young man into the wilderness, has her way with him, then leaves him to die.

As usually happens with my books, it took a turn to the supernatural. The fantasy element is what gives the story spice, which engages my attention. A straight thriller seems boring to me to write (though I like reading them).

Anyway, once it became about a succubus, and then succubae, sex entered into it. And then again. And again.

After all, that's what a succubus does.

So I was concerned. I sent it to a couple of readers who reassured me that it was done in a tasteful way. No worries.

So I quit worrying about it.

Now the reviews are coming out, and though they are positive, they do tend to mention the sex angle a lot. Which I guess I should have expected.

Thing is, the sex is totally in service to the story. It is never gratuitous. All of it came from the character interplay, if you will. Sex has to be there for the character's motivations to make any sense.

I'm hoping I won't get in trouble with Amazon over this. Hoping no one complains. It's just that it became so integral to the story that I sort of forgot about the fact there is a lot of sex going on.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders is for sale!

I figure that any of you who still read this blog are dedicated readers, more or less.

So I'm going to ask you to please buy my book. Do it right now, before you move on. It's easy. Hit the link, hit buy...

Go ahead. I'll wait.

You did it? Thank you so much!

The first week is by far the most important 7 days in the life of a book. The farther up the list you start, the longer you stay, the more likely people are to find you, and the higher up the list you go. It's a "Virtuous Cycle" and I'd so much like to get something going on this book.

I published this myself, but this doesn't mean it's a lesser book. Indeed, it's longer than most of my books, and has been worked on probably more than most of my books. I think it came out well.

As one of my reviewers said, it's "Dark and a little Naughty."

I write so much, that I'll probably do this fairly often and still have a regular flow of publisher books at the same time. No other way to get them all out.

This was lots of fun, no matter what happens.