Monday, October 31, 2016

Ten free days to write the ending of "Lucifer's Forge." I worked Sunday, so Cameron offered to work Thursday.

Todd has an art show on Art Hop Friday downtown, so he'll be home setting that up. He'll be showing his lumberjack animal paintings and robot critters and they're amazing, so I encourage everyone to come see them!

When I finish the book, I'm first going to fix the timeline, and adjust the sequence of chapters accordingly. Then I'm going to go and fix whatever else is a discrepancy.

Then I'm going to start reading all the books about firefighting I can, and make that part of the book as accurate as possible. (Fire porn.) My intention is to read "Young Men and Fire" by Norman Maclean and soak up the feelings and then try to transfer those feelings to my first chapter, where a similar event takes place.

The more telling detail I can put in the book, the better. I suppose I could overdo it, but I can always tone it down in the re-write.

After the research, I will do a thorough rewrite, taking the time to do it right.  

I'll have to make a decision when I'm finished about what to do with it.

If I publish a book that I think is good by myself and it sells only five copies, will that be OK? I mean, I'll KNOW it's a good book, and sales are not a reflection of quality. So I do this thing where I know that I've done something really good but only I know it and there is a certain subversive pleasure in that. (Weird, this hiding my light under a bushel.)

In a way, I think of the store. I knew how much work and effort and creativity I was expending on the store and no one else did, except maybe Linda. And it was mostly a struggle, all the work seeming to be for naught, and yet I knew that I was Ginger Rogers dancing backward in high heels and there was a satisfaction knowing that. (A comic store in Bend, Oregon is Ginger.)

Plus it will be pure. That is, the Horror market probably won't be interested in it, but to get to a market that would be interested, I'd have to try to get an agent, and then--I'm guessing--compromise with either an agent or publisher, plus at the bare minimum, wait for a couple of years for this book to come out.

So I write a good book and I put it out there and let it speak for itself.

Except--unlike the store where all those years of effort finally paid off--I have very little confidence that the same thing will happen to my book. An ignored book remains an ignored book--no matter how good it is.

That's just the way it is.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Talked it out with myself about the ending of Lucifer's Forge. (Yes, I live in a world where I talk to myself, not only at home, but on my walk. So...crazy guy.)

Got a handle on about half of it. So I'll write that half and hope I come up with ideas for the other half.

I feel like I'm back on track.

This 1000 word a day thing is pretty strange. I was pretty sure that I'd break out of this slow pace after awhile, but I've now done it for 28 days, and it looks like I'll continue doing it to the end of the book. But after this, I think, I'll try to go back to my 2000 word a day goal.

This is a challenging book, but if feels right. I think there is a good story here. I just need to validate it with a sense of reality, if possible.

I've got rough endings for two out of the four story threads and some vague ideas on the other two.

I realized yesterday that I might be making the same mistake I made in Snaked. I set out in that book to write about poisonous sea snakes, and then let the tsunami overwhelm the last third of the book. Thanks to Geoff at Cohesion Press, I went back and added more sea snakes chapters and it made the book much better, more satisying.

So in the last third of Lucifer's Forge, I've concentrated on the fires and the firefighters, and have let the terrorists slide. So my goal now it to get the terrorists back into the story, and satisfy that part of the story.

The big thing is, each day I write, I'm coming up with scenes that I think work.

Friday, October 28, 2016

I'm stuck on "Lucifer's Forge," just 10% from the finish. Nothing is coming to me and I'm not sure I should be trying to force it. I'm going to set the afternoon aside to try to come up with something, but I feel like I need a stronger trigger.

I think part of the problem is that I don't have the whole story in mind right now, that sense that I understand where all the parts fit. And some of that comes from the knowledge that chapters will need to be moved around to fit the timeline.

This is also the part of the book where it isn't so much about exploring as bringing it all home. It's all well and good to invent scenes forever, but if I want to wrap up the plot, I'm sort of constricted to going to each of the storylines in turn and bringing them to a slam bamm finish. Strangely, knowing what I have to do, having an outline, actually makes it harder.

I have four main story threads, which is more than usual, and each of the threads have a number of characters. I'm assuming, hoping, the reader can keep track.

Basically, each of these threads needs a couple of chapters each, plus a couple of other misc. chapters to come to a satisfying climax.

I guess I'm leaving a lot of the work to rewriting this time, which is usually not a good thing, but I'm hoping this time it will be different. Hoping the research will be fruitful. 

No hurry.

Maybe that's the problem.

I think the book as it is currently written is over my head; requiring too many details to get right.

For instance, at writer's group, Gary pointed out that the Santa Ana's blow from the east to the west, which makes nonsense of the chapter I wrote. How many other things like that am I getting wrong? How plausible is any of it?

I'm thinking that though I can't completely eliminate the mucky-mucks, I can try to eliminate the "meetings" which seem to me to be the phony-ous part. I just have to keep chipping away at the unbelievable elements, until I have something that passes the smell test.

If I don't think that is going to happen, I'll just publish it myself with the awareness that nobody will read it. Move on the the next thing.

If I want to make things easier, I probably should move away from real life detail stuff. Thrillers for instance. I'd like to write thrillers, but I've always been uncomfortable with the technical details, and that's what thrillers almost always require.

Maybe I should just write my supernatural tales, which require no research. Maybe I should write things that require nothing but my own imagination.

The historical westerns are a little different in that fewer people are going to challenge me on the details. There is a built in suspension of disbelief among readers of such material. A little research goes a long ways. 

On the other hand, if I can pull this book together, it would be a more impressive achievement. It's a more ambitious project, to be sure.

I'll try my best with the research, and hope that the telling details tie it all together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Read 3 chapters to writer's group of Lucifer's Forge. Didn't get much reaction, which either means it's so bad there is no point in critiquing, or so good that nothing needs be improved. (In which case, it would be nice if they said so...)

Or just so middle of the road that neither warrants praise nor panning.

That pretty much covers it, right?

One of the chapters is one of my favorites in the book.

The group members are at a bit of a disadvantage, in that I started reading them new chapters as I wrote them from the middle of the book. But the way I write, each chapter is pretty much a little short story, with a beginning, middle, and an end. About 20% of each chapter might be contextual, but the other 80% should stand on its own.

My narratives aren't straightforward, except rarely. I jump around a lot among characters and settings. When I set out to write a chapter, I'm thinking of it as a complete unit. A book is an assemblage of these complete units.

I figure as long as I have the overall story clearly in my head, then the reader can probably keep up. Hopefully.

Compartmentalizing like this also helps me finish the book. I just keep writing these scenes, one after another, and eventually it turns into a book.

Each morning, I ask myself which of my characters needs to come to the forefront. Usually it becomes clear pretty fast. Sometimes I have to cycle through each character again and again until one rises to the fore.

Now 67K words into the book, and there is a fair distance to go, so the 80K minimum goal is going to be reached without any doubt.

I'm close enough to the end to start wondering what I should do with it. Right now, it's probably good enough to publish myself with some light editing. If I want to try to sell it as a horror novel, it will require some fairly heavy re-writing, bringing in the Jinn as an actual character. If I want to try to sell it as a "thriller" and use it to try to entice an agent, I probably need to spend much more time on technical details and research.

I guess I'll know when I'm finished where I think this should go.

Monday, October 24, 2016

I'm approaching the climax of Lucifer's Forge. (Formerly, Fires of Allah...still not sure...)

Basically these are actions scenes, playing out the premise and the set up. I can sort of glide to an ending, but I've started feeling like I need more, like I need some kind of kicker.

Well, I thought of a doozy.

At first, the idea was a little too elaborate, requiring a bunch of extra characters in an already heavily populated plot. Then, well, I thought of a twist on the twist, which brought in yet another element.

The irony is, that the two elements pretty much cancel each other out. That is, I only need to write a couple of scenes with them together and it all becomes self-explanatory.

Plus, I wasn't comfortable with the politics of the first surprise, whereas the second surprise makes both sides guilty, thus canceling out the first position.

Talk about vague plotting! Sorry about that!
I found myself dreading watching The Walking Dead last night. Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers.


It was worse than I thought.

I'd figured it would be Glenn for a simple reason: his death leads to the most storylines. His widow, his kid, his legacy.

Didn't see Abraham departing. (Did the actor ask for a raise?)

So now I'm torn about this show. It was a pretty miserable experience, and there were a couple of genuinely shocking moments.

I actually value that--how often does that really happen to someone like me who watched lots of grimdark material? At the same time, it really seemed to cross over into Torture Porn. Especially the way it was draw.....nnnnn out.

It's interesting, in juxtaposition to watching Westworld, which asks how complicit we are in this kind of entertainment. Generally, I always say, Hey it's only fiction. (Also somehow tied into the dread I've been feeling about the election, heh.)

The effectiveness of this hour was that it seemed realistic to me. The character interactions, the message Negan was sending. I didn't think he was a cartoon villain, he seemed realistically chilling to me.

And again, I value that. Someone taking the premise all the way to its logical conclusion.

But did I enjoy it? Do I want more of it? Do I really want to watch a season of Rick knuckling under until he can't take it anymore?

I'm pretty torn. I'll see how I feel next week. I've never yet quit a show and regretted it. It always seems like a good idea in hindsight.

(I'm stopping the Talking Dead, for sure. I always feel somehow like I've eaten a bag of donuts after I watch that show--tasty but meaningless.)

Not judging anyone else's appetite for this. I've never been the one to say "Too Much."

Until now.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My first serious book? That's what I was intending. But...

What does that even mean?

I know in the past that this was a sure recipe for writer's block. So I was allowing my imagination to go in whatever direction it needed, but to trying to keep it grounded.

The first thought, even without the agent's douchbag request for "100 kickass pages" and "make it Big!" was to write a thriller. This my preferred reading these days, and I have a theory that you should write the same kind of book you like to read.

But once I got into the firefighter culture, I realized that I could write it from street level and have a pretty good book. Maybe try to ground it a little more in reality.

I did get into the head of the terrorists, so that is a step away from "what I know." (Not that I know what goes on with firefighters, but given where I was raised, being a firefighter wouldn't have been an impossibility.)

If I went that direction, I intended to take out the mucky-mucks and the astronaut.

Right away, there were some problems. The plot of the book demanded a sacrifice, and originally it was going to be a mucky-muck. With the mucky-muck gone, it had to be one of the two main characters, which would certainly make it a tragedy, but maybe a little too much so.

Then, I really liked the God's eye view of the astronaut character, a chance to show the whole picture.

Yesterday, I wrote a couple of astronaut chapters, and one of them is my second favorite chapter of the book. It's a bit hokey, in that I go for the drama. But the drama is cool--in a thriller.

Let's face it, I really want to write a thriller, and by doing so, I'm stepping away from the "serious" idea.

Here's what I need to remind myself. I'm always writing the best I can. There is no diminishment in my attempt to write full characters, to make it real. That's what I'm always trying to do.

So that's where I'm going. The only question remaining is do I go the one further step and include the supernatural element of the Jinn. I have a kind of quasi magic realism inclusion of the Jinn, but it could easily be expanded into the real thing.

My guess is that I'll end up doing that--because, to me, it adds a little extra zing to the story.

To satisfy the "serious" readers?  I was probably never going to be able to do that. My readers are always going to need to be people with a serious case of "Disbelief Suspension."

Friday, October 21, 2016

A young artist in town who I talked to yesterday, giving advice, though who am I to give advice?

But the main thing I said to her is really something I should be doing myself.

I told her that she should quit worrying about promotion or trying to make money off her art and just concentrate on her art. Of course, she is really young. 21 years old. Hell, I didn't even start writing until I was 22 or 23. Couldn't figure out how to get started. Then flailed around for 5 years writing the same 50 pages over and over again.

Anyway, what's true for her is true for me.

Writing the book is one thing. Everything that comes after is a completely different thing. It's all very distracting. It is frustrating and dispiriting. And has absolutely nothing to do with creativity. The actual writing is inspiring and fun and fulfilling.

Sure, I want people to read me. But I don't seem to have any control over that. And the more I try to assert control--by promoting, finding agents and publishers, the less creative it is.

Next year is pretty much taken care of. I have two books that have recently (still waiting for the physical copy of "The Darkness You Fear") or are currently coming out ("Tuskers III" is going to be "In Stock" at Amazon on the 23rd, and the ebook should follow soon.)

I have two books coming out through publishers: "Tuskers IV" and "Snaked" sometime around the middle of 2017.

I plan to self-publish "Gargoyle Dreams" myself early next year. A love story with a gargoyle doesn't seem to fit anywhere, but I still really like it.

So I'm going to turn a blind eye to the "selling" part and return to what I really like: the actual writing of the books.  Just ignore everything else.

Really, it's the art that counts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ragnarok Facebook party last night. Smart, clever people, and of course, halfway through my session, my portion disappears.

Just staring at blank screen.

So I start up again, but not much gets going. Sort of like I walked into a party and fell flat on my face.

Then again, it was kind of liberating. When the worst happens, then you just roll with it.

I wish I knew why so many things happen at the same time. The announcement of selling "Snaked" to Cohesion Press, the Ragnarok Party, the rollout of "Tuskers III," and hopefully soon the paperback of "The Darkness You Fear." After several months of nothing happening at all.

Well, the writing is the most important thing. I'll cross 60K words today on "Fires of Allah."  I've fucked up the timeline as usual. That's going to take some jiggering when I'm done. But I like the overall flow of the story. It's mostly action scenes from here on out, just concluding the four or five separate storylines.

I have a whole lot of characters in this book, so one of the main jobs in the rewrite will be to make them distinct, or to relegate them to the background, one of the two.

As far as I'm concerned, I've cleared the schedule for next year. I've got two books coming out for sure, I plan to go ahead and publish Gargoyle Dreams in March. I'm going to finish "Fires of Allah" and send it around, and then if I get no nibbles, go supernatural on it, and try again. Either that, or just publish it myself.

I want to continue writing a Virginia Reed book once a year, but other than that, I don't have a particular plans for the next book.

I'm sure it will come to me. It would probably behoove me to come up with another creature book, since that seems to be what I'm successful at. I also have a huge backlog of unfinished books, and I keep wavering as to whether I should be trying to revive them or just move on.

New challenges are more fun, but then again...I hate to waste what I've already done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sold my novel, "Snaked," to Cohesion Press, an Australian publisher who specializes in 'creature' books. How perfect is that?

As you guys know, I really loved this book. I shouldn't play favorites, but I do think this is my best book so far. It has no fantasy or supernatural elements. It is all possible. A couple of the characters have autism, which the snake venom has an effect on. I thought I pulled that off that characterization pretty nicely.

It starts with an infestation of poisonous sea snakes, as a warning that a tsunami is coming. Originally, I had the tsunami as the main focus in the second half of the book, but the editor, Geoff Brown, quite rightly pointed out that I'd left out the sea snakes too much. So I wrote several chapters at the ending to wrap up the snake line and sure enough it was an even better book.

Looks like it will come out sometime around the middle of next year. Cohesion Press, like Ragnarok, has gone mainstream, so this book should show up in bookstores worldwide.

Cohesion has a legit bestseller out right now, "Fathomless" by Greig Beck, and they seem to have a great reputation. Doesn't seem to matter anymore which English speaking country publishes your book. Kinda funny to have it announced as "US author, Duncan McGeary."

I keep expecting my writing career to peter out, (not the writing, that is still going strong, if a bit slower) but then I find the next thin thread, and so far so good.

I've got nothing against publishing myself, but damn if I sell many books that way. I guess I need publishers unless I can figure out how to promote myself.

I'm going to make the attempt with "Fires of Allah" to expand my search, and not take it unkindly if nothing happens. I have about a year, I figure, while "Tuskers IV" and "Snaked" come out, to try to broaden my markets. (I'll probably put out "Gargoyle Dreams" and maybe another book next year as well, myself.)

If that doesn't happen, fine. I do really like my horror niche. I'm not turning my back on the genre in any event. But I was sorta hoping to do some thrillers too.

"Fires of Allah" can very very easily be turned into supernatural horror, and maybe I should do that anyway, but I'm attempting to do it straight first, just to see what happens.

Anyway, I'm encouraged. This is the fourth publisher in my career who has found my writing worthy. That's got to mean something, right?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

1st Chapter remains unwritten tho I'm 56K words into the "Fires of Allah."

This is on purpose. I know what I'm shooting for. I want it to be one of the best things I've ever written.

A long time ago, I read excerpts of Norman Maclean's "Young Men and Fire." (Author of "A River Runs Through It.") I think it must have been in Life Magazine or something.

It was enormously affecting, so I decided that I would save the first chapter for last. I will sit down and read "Young Men and Fire" and soak it up and try to get what I'm feeling down on paper.

I'm still working at a 1000 word a day pace, which is the slowest I've written since coming back. But it seems fine. I'm spending more time with the characters, with the story. I'm almost 2/3rds of the way through, nevertheless.

I'll have this finished by the end of the year, research and rewrites and all.

I don't know if it will be my best book, but it is my most ambitious book.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

I sent out queries to six agents who are supposedly looking for horror authors.

I figure I have absolutely nothing to lose. Ordinarily, I'd say this was a little too soon, especially since I haven't actually finished the book, but these agents just lately announced they were looking for horror writers (which is unusual) and who knows what will happen in a few more months?

I actually didn't contact them for my horror novels, for which I'm already established, but for the thrillers I want to write. I have no market for thrillers without an agent. So I'm using my horror credits to try to snag an agent for my thrillers, if that makes any sense.

Worse than can happen is that none of them answer me, which is the same result as not trying at all.

Thing is, I want an agent who wants me, who will work with me. I sent the query in the manner in which I wanted, a sample chapter and a brief description, and if they reject me because I didn't do what they wanted, then I'll know this wasn't the agent for me.

My agent from my previous career never seemed completely sold on me, and I don't want that. Probably better to have no agent than one who doesn't believe in me. 

I'm just hoping, I guess, that one of them will really like my writing and really like the premise of the story. Also, I don't know how many more credits I could have without actually already having an agent!

But I've learned not to expect anything.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wrote a great action scene yesterday for "Fires of Allah." I was really stoked.

Read it to Linda last night, and saw all the flaws. Nevertheless, I feel like I'm back on track. The 1000 word a day goal seems about right. It's weird to be writing that slow, but it seems to be working.

This is my most ambitious book. I'm trying to keep it "real." I may in the end bring in supernatural elements--I've set it up for that possibility--but first I want to see how it comes out as a straight thriller.

Problem is, I don't have a market for a thriller. I'm known for my horror writing, and I can probably get a hearing on any horror novel I write. But what do I do with a thriller?

Publish it myself?

That hasn't worked out so great. I have what I think are a couple of pretty good novels out, "Blood of Succubus" and "Faerie Punk," and they are just sitting there.

Maybe that's what I'll end up having to accept, if I want to write what I want to write.

I'm still not willing to try to find an agent. I like my writing too much to subject it to that process. Nor to a mainstream publisher. I think it would take all the joy out of what I'm doing.

Oh, well. The writing is the thing.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Keeping it real. Really for the first time in years I'm somewhat blocked. I've lowered my goal to 1000 words a day, since that doesn't seem as intimidating. And what happens, usually, is that I keep going.

It's a matter of inertia, I think. If I can just get rolling again, everything will be fine.

"Fires of Allah" is a real challenge in that I'm really trying to keep it REAL. There is a bit of leeway when you are writing outright fantasy or horror. There is an accepted range of "out there."

I want this book to feel real all the way through. As I mentioned, this means probably dropping the "thriller" motif I started with. Making it about the firefighters and the terrorists. For some reason, I can't have bad guys without getting into their heads and trying to make them understandable.

I'm trying to elevate this book by thinking more in advance, writing it slower, planning on lots of research, and more rewriting than I usually do.

What I find is that the quality of my writing doesn't really vary by what my intent is. That is, I can't just say, "Oh, this will be better." Right?

But instead of being able to magically elevate my writing, I can spend more time on it. So that's what I'm attempting to do.

Long ago, I read excerpts of "Young Men and Fire" and it really affected me. If I can get 1/10th of the pathos of that book into my book, I'll have succeeded. I may fall short, but I think it's a worthy thing to attempt.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

I've written 6000 words of "Fires of Allah" in 7 days, which is a pretty pokey pace for me. But I'm still trying to overcome the inertia of having been interrupted several times and taking the last 4 months away from it.

It has so much potential, I'm just trying to hang in there, hoping that I'll ignite. If I don't ignite, I'll just keep trying. I've decided to dedicate much more time to this book. If I can get the framework down, then I can improve it later, especially if I do as much research as I'm planning.

The biggest worry I have is that there are too many characters.

The second biggest worry is that there is so much locational and technical detail that I'll get some of it wrong.

My current plan is to take what I've written and add magic realism. Also, if possible, to cut the chapters with the muckymucks. This will be killing my darlings. I like these chapters, but I think the book might be better if I stick to street level. Keep it real.

The magic realism is halfway between real and magic, and it is entirely possible that I'll tip all the way over to magic if I think it will make a better story. (It would also probably make it easier to market, frankly, and if I'm not going to attempt mainstream, which I have no intention of doing, I'll have to self-publish this and that seems to go nowhere.)

This is a different writing experience than I've had over the last 4 years or so. In a way, I've turned human. Normal writing blocks. I had that miracle year, followed by two strong years, but I always suspected that the blistering pace wouldn't continue forever.

But I'm by no means discouraged. This book has tons of potential and I think slowing it down might even be good for me.

One of the books I wrote last year was called "I Live Among You." It was a straightforward, first-person narration, requiring no research, very little rewriting. Wrote it fast. Done.

Thing is, it might be Linda's favorite book. In other words, the ease of writing didn't seem to affect the quality. And yet...I could write this kind of book all the time and it wouldn't be the slightest challenge.

The point is, I need a challenge. I've proven I can write books, now I need to try for more depth. How do I get more depth? Well, it can be hard to write a book deeper and smarter than I actually am, right? But I think time and research can fill in some of the gaps. A little more time thinking about it will plumb into whatever depths I have, and research will bounce ideas off of what I already know. Living with the characters longer will let me get to know them more. The fictional realm is somehow both inside and outside of me and my subconscious can provide surprising glimmers. I don't know. It's a strange process, but I do believe I can write a book smarter and deeper than I am, as impossible as that sounds.

That's my theory, at least. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

I'm starting to feel like a stranger in my own store. A kid came sauntering in, stopped abruptly and looked at me in shock.

"Who are you!" he exclaimed.

"Uh...I'm the owner."

"I've never seen you before!"

I've noticed over the last year or so that I'll be in the store with Matt or Cameron and a customer will ask a question, and I'll break in with my two cents worth and the customer looks at me with fish eyes, like "Who the hell are you? I was talking to the other guy."

It's a very strange experience after being "The Man" for decades.

For years I was aware of every little detail. I had an encyclopedic memory of my stock. I could answer almost every question.

Now I'm stumped lots of the time. I've resorted to saying they should ask Cameron or Matt, which feels lame to me.

But I made the decision to write full time. That's worked out well for my writing career. I always intended to watch carefully how the store was doing and come back if things looked like they were going off course, but they instead continued to improve.

I'd probably work two days a week instead of one if I could figure out a way--but both Matt and Cameron need their hours. For the first year or so, I still felt connected.

I turned the ordering over to Cameron--all but new novels. If he was going to run the store he needed that power, and sure enough, his choices aren't always my choices. But sales and margins are good, perhaps better than they would have been if I was doing the ordering.

Youth will be served.

I would have been both more conservative and less. More conservative in what my budgeting goals were, and less conservative in actually achieving them. I've said for years that I needed a CFO, someone who would ride herd on the budget, and with Cameron I basically have one. He sticks to the budget goals the way I never could.

The store feels vibrant and connected, even if I'm not...

Cameron and Matt are connected to comics in ways I never was. I mean, I did the job by sheer dent of effort, not because I totally understood what I was doing. So the comic part of the business seems open to growth, new and younger customers. Our subscription list is reaching levels it hasn't been in over a decade.

The boys are great at games, too.

I've been doing a decent job at books, and I've been turning my attention to those and it shows. So the store is doing great without me, and rather than feeling left out, I should be glad.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Yesterday was a great example for never giving up.

I started writing a book awhile back about terrorists setting off fires out west. "Fires of Allah" is the working title.

Started writing around noon but nothing came. None of my usual tricks worked. Problem is, this book has twice been coitus interruptus, so it's a little...hmm...hard to get my....hmm....mojo back. Finally, at around 5:00 as I was headed out for my walk, I had a glimmer of an idea.

Sat down on my walk and wrote it, and I thought it was OK.

As I walked back to my car it suddenly occurred to me how I should write this book. I've always wanted to write a Magic Realism tinged novel. Something that a fantasy reader would like but so would a non-fantasy reader.

What if I treated the fire as a separate character--as a Jinn, if you will?

I added this element to the chapter I'd just written and it improved it dramatically. I started to see how I could insert this idea all the way through the book. The Koran mention Jinn 37 times, almost always in conjunction with fire.

"Smokeless fire." "Scorching fire."

How perfect is that?

So that's where I'm going.

I also have decided that I will probably jettison the upper bureaucratic layer of characters. When the big time literary agent asked for a "100 kickass pages" and to make it "big" I sort of went generic thriller, including a "special assistant" to the president and an astronaut and a bunch of other suits; adults in an adult world.

I mentioned, I'm not comfortable writing about this--almost all my ideas about this world come from other books, movies and TV shows. What do I know?

Whereas, the rest of the book is written at street level, if you will. The actual firefighters and terrorists. (Don't ask me how terrorists are more relateable than muckymucks, but somehow they are.)
Part of this comfort comes from the fact that these firefighters are more or less neighbors, they live where I live, and I can get a sense of them. Also, I'm doing a lot of research, reading memoirs of firefighters, so I can get at them that way.

So there are several chapters in the first half of the book that I'm probably going to jettison, or at least cut way, way down. I think I can do that (which probably means they weren't necessary in the first place.)

Thanks a lot, Mr. Agentman for steering me wrong.

Anyway, I feel like this book has a ton of meat to it, lots of thematic possibilities. And the Magic Realism aspect makes it possible to try to be a little poetic.

I read the new chapter to my wife, Linda, last night and she really liked it.

Glad I didn't give up.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Magic Realism. I get some weird notions about writing sometimes. Yesterday on my walk, it occurred to me that I should write Fires of Allah as magic realism. What that would mean, I wasn't clear. I have a "sense" of it, but whether I could actually do it, I'm doubtful.

I had an interesting experience after reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. Everything I wrote for weeks after mimicked that style, without meaning to. It was just so influential that I couldn't escape it.

I do enjoy some magic realism books. I loved Damascus Gate by Robert Stone. The story almost tipped into magic the entire way, but never quite did. Even when the magic happens, like in One Hundred Years of Solitude where the young girl ascends to heaven, the style is such that it could all be an illusion, an interpretation, an unreliable memory.

What I like about magic realism is the blending of poetry in prose, the fantastic with the normal. The sense that we live alongside strange things that never quite manifest.

I get these wild ideas sometimes, but when it comes time to do them I don't quite have the chops. I can't really pull it off. My writing is usually straightforward, plot driven, if I'm lucky with some character development. Once in a while a chapter pops out that is more subtle, and the stronger for it. But it happens almost by accident. Mostly, I have an idea and I just do it.

Plot driven adventure books with hooks is just the kind of book I like to write. And not coincidentally, the kind of books I mostly read.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tuskers III: The Omnivore Wars is due out in 10 days. I have Advanced Readers Copies available to anyone who would do me the kindness of giving me a review.

This book is going to be in bookstores, nationwide release. (Don't know how many bookstores, but hopefully the local Barnes and Noble.)

How cool is that?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Back to "Fires of Allah." It's good to be doing fiction again. It feels right.

I had to break off halfway through in order to go finish Tuskers IV.

Then, when I came back to "Fires of Allah" a couple of months ago, I just couldn't get a handle on it. Couldn't find an entry point. Decided not to force it. Intended to take only a month off, then went and wrote the first draft of my business book.

So two months off from writing fiction.

This time, I've got a pretty good idea of where I want to go.

This is a straight thriller. Nothing supernatural, not even anything fantastical (like poisonous black sea snakes.) I have thought of adding a Jinn to the story. That would work perfect with the theme of the story. I want to see how it comes out first as a straight thriller.

I was so happy with the way "Snaked" came out that I'm hoping to duplicate the experience. What it means is--trust completely in the subconscious. Completely. But also put some thought into it. Both at the same time.

At 40K words in, my task now is to both broadened and accelerate the story. The way to do that is to ramp up the danger. The way to do that is to bring the "bad guys" to the fore. Let them do their dirty work, then have the heroes respond. Pretty much action chapters from now on. All the characters and situations have been established.

I'm already settling into the fictional dream, which is where I like to live.