Sunday, June 30, 2013

The book souffle.

Wrote a ton of words yesterday.  Feel like all the characters are jelling, the plot is still going in interesting and occasionally surprising directions.  The writing is coming relatively easy. 

I've begun to think that writing is like cooking.  Not that I cook.  But, you know, the popular image of cooking where the master chef mixes in a dash of this and a pinch of that.  Some of it is conscious  -- needs more meat.   Some of it is instinct -- needs more spice.  Some of it is art -- adding the unexpected ingredient.

So the constant ongoing question is -- what does the book need more of?  What does it need less of?

I'm convinced that the more I write, the more I know how to do it.  I know what I did last time, I know what I want to do next time. 

The ongoing quality of the writing becomes almost moot.  It is what it is, and only by doing more of it does it get better.

So one souffle is a failure, with too much of something, the next souffle has fallen in on itself but is still edible, the next souffle is tasty.  The souflle I cook next will take the lessons I learned from the previous attempts and hopefully make it better.

The more time I spend in the kitchen, the better I'll get.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Not all books are written the same.

The Rule of Vampire story keeps coming and I see no reason to deny it because it's easy.

I seem to have different levels of complexity that I work at.  (More complex not necessarily being better.)

Level One are the books that I write for the pure fun of it, but which I realize very few people will ever read.  I intend these books to be good, I hope people will like them, but I put them out with no expectation.  My cyberpunk Hobbit takeoff, Freedy Filkins: International Jewell Thief, is an example of that.  I put this book online with little fanfare.  It isn't that I don't think the book is good, it's just that it is so unusual that it doesn't fit any known prototype.

Level Two are the books that come easy, and I enjoy writing and telling the story, but which I feel have some substance and are accessible.  Death of an Immortal and Rule of Vampire are examples of that.  Again, I mean these books to be as good as I can make them, but I don't bend myself out of shape.  I find the story and just write it.

Level Three are usually books that I have difficulty with, for some reason.  The plot goes off the rails, the themes seem too complex, I'm not sure if they are easily accessible.  But they have some good ideas, and I'm challenging myself to try to make the ideas work, and so I'm holding back putting them out until I've made that mix of things work.  Nearly Human and Wolflander are examples of that.

Level Four is a book I'm writing for myself, but for which I'm kind of ambitious.  Like, I'll keep working on it until I think it's become something extraordinary, at least to me.  Sometimes a Dragon is that book, so far.  For some reason, I have an image that this book can be really good but needs to be deepened and enriched over time.

Level Five is the fantasy trilogy (The Lore Trilogy) I want to write, of which I've written the first leg, The Reluctant Wizard, but which needs to be fleshed out completely.  Lots of world building required, for which I want to take lots of time.  A long-term project.  (Though the problem with that is I keep putting it off because others things are coming easier.)

Then there are incompleted stories in my files, which I could pick up someday.  Deviltree is an outlier.  An older book that isn't bad, and probably at least should see the light of day, but which I want to precede with stronger books.  

I intend to keep writing the books that come to me as long as they keep coming to me.  When I get bogged down, I'll work on the books that require more work.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Where there are vampires, there are vampire hunters.

About to cloister myself in the bedroom -- which is the only air-conditioned room in the house -- to write for five days.

I wrote about 15,000 words last week, which is a ton.  I want to write a similar number this week.

I am literally writing faster than my editor can keep up with.

I was sort of at a cross roads when I wrapped up last week's writing and started driving home to Bend from Crescent City.  I have good vampires and bad vampires and the innocent and not so innocent humans who interact with them.

"I need something more," I said to Linda.  "Some outside element that will add to the book."

"Vampire - hunters," she said.

Well, that's just too easy, I thought.  Way too predictable.  But the more I thought about it....

So I woke up yesterday and wrote down a scene of vampire- hunters entering the story...

And off I go.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bookstores in small towns.

The bookstore we used to visit in Crescent City was gone, which didn't surprise me none.  The magic store across the street was also gone, which also didn't surprise me none.

Anyway, there was a new bookstore in the place of the old one.  The space was smaller and fixed up, the inventory a little on the light side.  I wandered around the place trying to make sense of it.  It had a very odd inventory mix.

"Do you read much fiction?" I finally asked.

"Not much."

Well, that was apparent.  Very small selection.  But the non-fiction was also sort of limited in its scope.

"What did you do before you opened the store?"

"I worked in a state park bookstore."

Ah.  That clicked.  Lots of natural history and environmental books.  The more I looked, the more I saw that was his focus.

Now, I always make the case that a store should be unique, and reflect to some extent the owner's interests.  But I also think you need to have a broader and more varied selection to attract as many customers as possible.

He was selling most of his books at a discount, which I questioned him on, since his books are so unique that if someone was inclined to buy them, they'd probably be just as likely to buy them at full price.  He also had multiple copies of the same books, but not a huge variety, which in a world when you can replace books in one day seems like a waste of money to me.  (Though every bookstore I've ever been in does this, which mystifies me.  Are you going to sell more than two copies in one day?  If not, then sell one and order another and still have one in stock.) He also seemed focused on ordering direct from publishers to save a few percentage points on his profit margin.

He didn't want any advice.  Of course.  No one ever does.  I try to give advice by asking questions, but of course I know he won't listen.  If I was him, I would preserve what I was doing for about a third of the store, I would increase fiction to at least a third of the store, I would put my books at full price, and I would have one wall of used books.  If I was him, which I'm not.

I wish him luck, but having a bookstore in as small a town and with the demographics that Crescent City has is going to be hard even if you have the widest selection possible.  The smaller the town, the more general the store needs to be.  (The bigger the city, the more likely you can get away with being a specialty store.)

It was obvious that this owner had his interests and that was that.  Maybe he's so focused that he can make it work.  Maybe he can pull people in from out of the area.  Maybe he's just in the process of building his inventory.

I wish all these bookstores would make it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday wats.

Dreamed that I wrote a book last night, called the Age of Meaning, staring John Oliver of the Daily Show.

I have no idea what it was about, but it was really good.


More likely, it was called the Meaning of Age.  Was sitting in a Burger King in Grants Pass looking at all the old and unhealthy people, (go figure), and said outloud to Linda.  "I don't think I'm ready for this.  I don't think I'm ready to be old."

A little old lady in the table next to us perked right up and answered and we had a nice duffer conversation, thus confirming the very thing I was saying....


I read 3 chapters at writer's group last night, not the usual 2, because I'm pushing it.  I'd like to read as much of the story out loud to others as possible before I finish it.

It seemed to pass muster with the readers, but enough time has passed since I wrote it, that it seemed kind of weak to me, as always happens, as is necessary.


Trying to find the best version of the title for my newest book.

Rules for Vampire.

Rules for Vampires. (Seems like a self-help book for Vampires.)

Rules of Vampire, is what I'm going with now.

Rules of Vampires.

Or even, Rule of Vampire.  Which puts a different, more ominous meaning and can be a double play.  I may go with this.

Nook can't find a nook.

I think the book industry overreacted.  They saw what happened to the music industry and decided such a thing wouldn't happen to them.  But books aren't music.

Barnes and Noble, particularly, seemed to decide that slow books were doomed and that digital was the future.

I have felt that slow books aren't going anywhere, that the surge in ebook and ereaders would fade as some readers come back and others kept buying both platforms.   In fact, books sales haven't really declined as much as people seem to think, and some independent bookstores are actually doing well.

Barnes and Noble bet on the wrong horse.   Worse, they pretty much told everyone that. 

Surprise, surprise, people believed them.

But Kindle is out there, and Ipads and -- I believe -- cheaper knockoffs are coming.  You don't want to be the second or third choice and it seemed to me that Barnes and Noble was never going to be anything but the second or third or fourth choice.

They've given up on their color readers, making arrangements with others to make them instead.  This is the first in a long line of downward spiral decisions, I'm believe.

I think bookstores are still viable, done right.  Like any small business, they are difficult under any circumstances, but where there are challenges there are also opportunities. 

Barnes and Noble has some real challenges -- Amazon has a bigger selection, cheaper, which is exactly the features that B & N used to kill off independents.  They are a big box, and I think big box stores depend too much on expansion, whereas B & N is planning to close a third of their stores. 

But pushing digital at the expense of physical was going to have consequences.  Putting your digital booth front and center is giving off the wrong message. 

I would have doubled down on books, but the conventional wisdom -- based on what happened to music -- was that this was suicidal.   Barnes and Noble bought into the conventional wisdom.

So fundamentally, they just went the wrong direction.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Zombies who sound like birds.

Linda and I were in Crescent City for four days.  Sun shining the first day, cool and wet the rest of the time, which was just as well because I dove into Rules for Vampire, my new book.  Most of the setting is in Crescent City, so I was just soaking up the atmosphere.

Linda has been trying to sell a piece of land down here for her niece who lives in Minnesota.  We thought about buying it, but it a very odd piece of land and would need to be logged (redwoods!) and so on and then our vacation spot would HAVE to be Crescent City.  Which is sort of a sad sack of a town.  I mean, I love the terrain and I love the beach, so I could hack it.   But for the same money as buying and developing the land, we could stay in motel rooms the rest of our lives anywhere we choose to go.  (Same goes for a decent motor home or trailer.)

Finally went to a movie yesterday, WWZ.


Even without knowing that they had severely recut the movie, I think the third act would have been kind of soft.  It was like the huge movie that was building and building and then suddenly turns into a little drama inside a building.  Somehow OK but not Great.

I'd like to see the Russian battle scenes they cut someday.

At the end of the movie Linda started making zombies noises -- she's really good at it.  "No, no" she says, when I try, "you do it on the inhale."  We started clicking our teeth together.

We always sit through the credits, and there were just two young men near the front of the theater so we ran down the isle making loud zombie noises and they jumped out of the seats and screamed --

No, not really.  I wish we'd had the guts to do it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Making good progress.

Making fast progress on RULES FOR VAMPIRES.

I'll be a third of the way through by the end of the week.  Unlike the last few books, I really don't know where it goes from there.  But I'm trusting that my subconscious is working on it in the meantime.

If you were to ask what I think my biggest weakness is, it's that I don't flesh out my stories enough.  I don't know if this is true, it's just a feeling I have.  Maybe I don't know my own weaknesses, maybe I'm all wet and I have bigger weaknesses I'm not seeing.

But that is the weakness that I'm usually concerned with.  So I try hard to put flesh on my stories which comes with the rewriting.  So that affects pacing and characterization and backgrounds and so on.

I've been reading a James Lee Burke mystery while I'm writing this latest book and there is a pretty big contrast.  He really ruminates and philosophizes a whole lot.  I tend to stick to the story.

I was writing a boy meets girl chapter last night and the lines just kept coming to me and they felt right and authentic and clever and real.   However, I don't describe the bar or the waitress or -- you get the picture.  (You don't get the picture.)  I'll go back and dress up the set, if you will.

It occurred to me that maybe the way to get past my perceived weakness is to just keep writing what I write and get better at it.  Instead of trying to change what is natural to me.

I suppose this might just be intellectual laziness.  But it also may just be a stylistic difference and what I need to do is follow my own style to it's best execution.  I feel like I'm making better use of the way I write and it compensates somewhat for the perceived weakness.

In other words, go with it.  Do my thing.  Keep doing my thing.

I can't explain why I think I'm getting better -- it feels like the smoother I write the better it feels and the better I feel the smoother I write.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Off I go again, another book.

Off I go again.  Another book.


I'm embarrassingly prolific.  You would think that writing so much would mean the quality would diminish, but I don't think that is happening.  If anything, it seems to me like the more I write the better the writing. I feel more confident.

I probably should stop talking about it.  But I just love doing it.  I'm sitting in a darkened room and I'm anticipating a day of writing and it is good.

I had no intention of writing a second vampire book.  But the sequel Death of an Immortal was always implied, and the beginning just seemed to come to me, so I just started writing.   I find that writing sequels are fun, because I already know the characters and the setting.

My vampires have blue blood, so I'm thinking of taking the exact same cover I used for Death of an Immortal, a mirror on a wall with blood dripping off it, and turning the color of the blood from red to dark blue.  Simple, elegant. So this is going to be an ebook, for sure.

It's going to be a good month before I get Led to the Slaughter back.  I could spend that time working on some of my completed books, but I'd rather do that after my editor has seen them first.  So that leaves me with time.

As it turns out, the Rules of Vampires are becoming more and more important and central to the story.  The first book was about redemption, I think maybe this second book is about saving loved ones.

The chapters are coming easily.

Five chapters so far, with four more chapters completely plotted out.  So as long as that keeps happening, I'll keep writing.

I guess I feel as long as the words keep coming, who am I to deny them?

I set out on this without a plan, which is a little worrying.  I swore I wasn't going to do that anymore, but the words are flowing so easily that I'm trusting that my subconscious knows what it is doing.  I think I'm going to keep in mind a minimum number of words per day, but let myself go beyond that if doesn't mean stretching myself out shape.  If the words come, I'll write them without artificial limits.

While I may not have a plot, what I do have is a sort of architecture.  I'm doing something over the last few books that I never used to do.  I'm think in terms of parts -- that is, I need a bit of this and a bit of that and also a bit of that.  A bit of suger a bit of spice.  I don't know what the bits will be made up of, just that I need them.

The plot follows.

So off I go again, as soon as I feel sufficiently awake.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Gift of No-Doubt.

There is a really interesting article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell,  "The Gift of Doubt."

It talks about risk-taking and creativity as a combination that is a little counter-intuitive but really makes sense to me.

In both writing and in opening new business, I tend to think it will be "easy."  It is only after I get started that I realize what I've gotten myself into.  Then it's a matter of seeing it through.

The article is about the economist, Albert Hirschman, who makes the case that mistakes are often the root of creativity -- that it is when it doesn't go smoothly that we have to figure out ways to make it work, and that sometimes those solutions are better than the original goal.

People  "would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be."

"They are “apt to take on and plunge into new tasks because of the erroneously presumed absence of a challenge—because the task looks easier and more manageable than it will turn out to be.” (Albert Hirschman) This was the Hiding Hand principle—a play on Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. The entrepreneur takes risks but does not see himself as a risk-taker, because he operates under the useful delusion that what he’s attempting is not risky. Then, trapped in mid-mountain, people discover the truth—and, because it is too late to turn back, they’re forced to finish the job."

Sadly, I've somewhat lost these "useful delusions" because of experience.  I've opened five different businesses and closed three of them.  I've completely renovated the shop downtown twice, and done major changes dozens of times.

Every time they have proven harder, been more expensive and time-consuming than I expected.

I've thought lately of doing a new bookstore, but every time I come back to that hard-won knowledge of how difficult and risky it really would be -- and whenever a customer puts back a perfectly good book because it's retail priced that just reinforces my doubt.  I'm too old for that shit.

Frankly, I'm pretty sure that I might not have started writing again if I had realized how hard Nearly Human was going to be.  But by finishing that book, I arrived at methods to keep writing and now I'm perfectly happy with it.

Whenever I start a book I think it's going to be easy.  Whenever I finish I draft, I think I'm done.  Whenever I finish a rewrite, I think I'm done.  Each step of the way I convince myself that I can do it.
The article is called The Gift of Doubt -- but the more useful title is The Gift of No-Doubt.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Texting piece of shit.

Linda has been getting more and more texts.  (I never get any -- I don't want any.)  What's more, her ringtone is this incredibly annoying horror sound.

So lately, every time we're having a heart to heart, or I'm trying to tell her something about a beautiful story I just read, or I'm reading something to her -- or just asking how her day is, right at the moment where normally the deepest connection might be made, the point of the story, the dramatic conclusion -- along comes this horror sound and completely stomps on it.

For instance.  Sometimes you read a story so good you just have to share it.  I read one this morning that sent shivers down my spine. I mean, go read it!

 I just had to tell Linda:

The article was on the Big Picture blog;  It is about an Italian fabric maker whose company failed because of globalization, and the guy tells a story about a famous designer who asked for a special periwinkle color from a photograph from the sixties that he wanted reproduced and how his workers told him it was impossible but he told them it was for this designer and they agreed and they toiled and toiled to get it right and finally they delivered and they waited anxiously for the answer and the answer was  --  the designer wanted to wait to see it in sunlight.  So then the owner was afraid to tell his workers, thinking they would roll their eyes or be upset but when he did, they all nodded as if to say they were glad to be working for a master and one of the workers comes up to the narrator and tugs him on the sleeve and says....


"What the fuck!  Where's that fucking phone!  I'm throwing it out the window, dammit!"

I swear, I'm not talking to my wife again unless she gets rid of the texting piece of shit.


I get what I call "glimmers" of a story -- especially at the beginning.  In fact, I don't start a book unless I have a vague notion of what I'm trying to accomplish.

I purposely don't explore these "glimmers" when they come to me until the day comes when I sit down and write them.  Every book needs a strong glimmer, and every chapter needs at least a small glimmer.

Anyway, as I've been saying, I've been a loose ends for three whole days.  I want to write a sequel to Death of an Immortal, but I wasn't getting anything.

Then I decided I would place the main character in Crescent City California, where Linda and I often go for vacation.  (She grew up there.)  And this morning, I got a very strong glimmer of how I want the story to start.

So, subconscious, you had to wander in the wilderness for all of three days...

Later, I got another idea, but after letting it glimmer for awhile, it started to fade.  It wasn't the right approach -- it felt wrong.  Maybe later in the story.

When I wrote Death of an Immortal, the theme was very much about redemption, and the plot was constructed in a way to explore that theme.

So I'd like to have an equally strong theme for the next book.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday thuds.

Accidentally let my subscription to the Bulletin lapse for a week.  It was surprisingly OK.  I thought I'd miss it, but I didn't.  Just one more thing I didn't have to do in the morning.

I reupped the sub, though.  I do like getting the local information.


I know, I probably say it every year, but it does seem like summer is taking longer than usual to get here in Bend.


I'm suddenly getting Linda's emails on my iphone though neither one of us did anything different.  Stuff like this seems to happen to us all the time, without us asking. 

Who's in charge, here?

Not me.


I really do feel at loose ends without a current writing project, even though it's only been three days. 

It just feels wrong.


It's weird how every TV show we watch is on Sunday, now.  Especially in the summer.  So I'm just not watching TV the rest of the week.  I could care less than zero about reality shows.  Yawn.


My garden is acceptable, even though I put only two days work into it this year.  Probably needs a couple more days to really get up to snuff.  But I wanted this to be a maintenance year -- not move any plants around and see how they do.  Next year, or later this season, I may subdivide some of the healthier plants.


Visited Sunriver books on Monday.  It's really nice bookstore and I can't help but transpose it into downtown Bend.

Everyone realizes that Bend doesn't have a full-time independent bookstore, right?

Disgraceful.  Just another example of Bend's weird demographics -- of thousands of spandex wearers show up for obscure races, but not enough show up to buy a book.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This shit is going to happen.

For years I convinced myself that I didn't need to write.  The world is full of writers, and the last thing it needs is another book.

This wasn't a bad thing to tell myself, because in truth I couldn't write while I was struggling to keep my store alive.  I had to earn a living.

But now that I'm back to writing, it's like I'm addicted to it.  I really like doing it, I feel like it's what I should be doing, it's very fulfilling.  When I'm not writing, I feel like I'm at loose ends.

Even if it goes nowhere, even if it meets universal rejection, this shit is going to happen.

I can see the road ahead very clearly, and the road is full of words.

I doubt at this point anything could pull me away from writing, even if the old "have to make a living" situation returns.  I've put off this creative thing for too long. 

I'm fascinated by it.  How it works, why it works. 

I'm also sort of closing in.  Things are getting shed.  I'm making time for writing by not watching as much television or going to the movies or traveling or reading books or keeping up with the news, etc. etc.

Thank god I have an understanding wife, who is also a writer.  She told someone the other day -- "Writing is our retirement."  But it's more than that.  That description feels like a kind of doddering goal.  I have every ambition to try to get good, to create something people want to read.

I'm not looking for outside input anymore, even on my writing.  (This is not to say, I don't want input on What I'm Writing, if you catch the difference.)   I've spent the last thirty years taking in input, information on a constant basis, and now I'm sort of putting blinders on and concentrating on what's in my head.

There feels like there is a lot of stuff inside me that wants to get out, stories I want to tell, characters I want to invent. 

The flow of words just feels natural and right.  I hope it just keeps coming. 

This shit is going to happen.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Busy little boy.

I've sent Led to the Slaughter off to my local editor.

I'm going to print a hardcopy to work on while she has it.

I'm thinking I'm going to write a sequel to Death of an Immortal and immediately (sometime in the next six months)  put it online.  This will be my online series for the time-being, while I continue to work on the rest of the books.  I've also got Freedy Filkins, my cyberpunk-Hobbit book, online.

I've got the first book in my Fantasy trilogy (The Reluctant Wizard)  done, but not edited.  I don't want to do anything with this until I've written the second and third books.

I've got a stand-alone Fantasy (Sometimes a Dragon) which was something I wrote 30 years ago but which has been completely rewritten from top to bottom, almost like it's a new book.  It's been two/thirds edited.  I want to take another look at after I get it back from the editor and decide what to do with it.

I've got Nearly Human finished and edited and with a cover, but I'm sitting on it for now.

I've got a sequel to N.H. called Wolflander, which hasn't been edited or rewritten.  I also have ideas for a long series of books starring Cobb and Company.

I've got Deviltree, which I wrote 30 years ago and which 'nearly' got published then but which could probably use a boost.  Linda did an edit and I'm still hoping for an edit from Martha (Martha?) and to do another rewrite.  I have the cover to this ready to go, thanks to Martha (Martha?)

Counting the three books I wrote in the early 80's, Star Axe, Snowcastles, and Icetowers, I've now completed:


Not all of these are ready to be exposed to the world -- in fact, less than half of them are ready.  But they are finished to some extent or the other and just need to be improved as best I can.

I wrote two other books which I completely abandoned, Bloodstone and Changlings.  Why?  Because they weren't very good and they couldn't be fixed.

Not all of these were written fast -- it just looks that way.

Star Axe took five years, at least.  Snowcastles was fast, but Icetowers took over a year.  Deviltree was rewritten extensively over a two year period.  Sometimes a Dragon is going to be at least a year of work before it's done.  Nearly Human has taken over two years.  And so on.

The others have come fast, but they aren't really done.

Obviously there has been some overlap.

Overall, though, I'm pleased with my progress and I do think I'm getting better at this -- and much more mature in my approach.  So, I'll just keep writing and not worry about anything else for now.

Monday, June 17, 2013


I know there is the possibility that by continually saying I hate rewriting, that I'm just making it so.

Then again, I believe it's just so, with or without me saying.

Anyway, it the dues I have to pay to be a writer.  The original stories come easy, too easy.  The rewriting comes hard, too hard.

One way I'm trying to look at it is this:  Rewriting isn't just about effort, it's about time.  I can't snap my fingers and 'fix' things and magically make things better.  No, I can change a word there, a line there, add something here, cut something there, change things around. 

Little by little.

Then come back and do it again.

Until it becomes a word-jumble, in which case I'm done.  Word-jumble is my new description of what happens when I've read something so many times and worked on it for so long, I can no longer see anything but a word-jumble.

Half of the reason I've arrived at the "process" I've been using over the last year of so -- after fumbling around for a year or so -- is to delay that moment of word-jumble for as long as possible.

The other half of the process is the make the first draft better.  Two sides of the same coin.  By writing a first draft relatively quickly, and not going back and changing things, I get the story down with all the emotions I'm feeling and ward off the word-jumble a little longer.

Another way of making the first draft better is thinking much harder about what I want the story to say, to try to look for problems before they develop by planning ahead.

I used to not like doing this -- I felt it was detracting from my inspiration and spontaneity.

But I was wrong.  Planning ahead is the way to go.  For instance, I fully thought out the fact that I need "more werewolves, sooner werewolves."  Then I thought about where I wanted to place the new chapters, and what I wanted each chapter to say.

Sitting down and writing them is a bit like writing made to order, instead of the joyous discovery of new ideas.  But the process is so much smoother, the results so much better, that I'm now convinced that planning -- maybe not complete outlining, but close -- makes the process go faster and more efficiently -- and the results are better, more creative.

There's plenty of creative satisfaction in actually writing what I planned -- the joy is in doing it and knowing that it was done well.

Third new werewolf chapter. One more to go.

Wrote the third werewolf chapter yesterday.  One more to write today.

The ending of the book isn't neat and tidy because the original story was anything but neat and tidy.  This last werewolf chapter will be the culmination of all that confusion.  Both humans and werewolves are in trouble, for differing reasons.

Much of the second half of the book is relentless misery -- which hopefully makes the rescue more powerful.

I don't know.  I can't see it anymore.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I guess I wasn't done.

Wrote the second new werewolf chapter last night.

So I have two more in mind to write.

My original concept had been a short 40,000 word novel, brutal and to the point.  I still think such a novel could be written, but it would have to be extremely well written to make it work.  While I like Cormac McCarthy, I don't write like Cormac McCarthy, no matter how cool I think that book would have been. No explanations -- just horror.

Instead, what I wrote was closer to young adult in tone, which was a far cry from what I intended.  Though the second half of the book is so dire, it'll move it to a more adult level.  It's going to be about 60,000 words, and more conventional in form.  (Foreshadowing and explanations.)

I still really like it.

It works the way it came out.  I went ahead and wrote it the way I usually write a book.
I still think the narrative itself is strong, with or without good writing, and now I'm just trying to get the writing as good as I can make it.

I'm going to write the last two werewolves chapters by Wednesday and send it off to my local editor.  Print out a hard copy and work on that with a red pen while it's out being worked on.

She's already done the first three chapters and she does a very thorough job.

At this point, I'm writing faster than my readers can read.  

I never quite know what to say on this day.

I'll make the joke I make every year:  Stepfather's day is tomorrow.

Appropriately on a 'working day.'  Not that my kids were lots of work.  But you know, on a day when we're taking care of business.  Not that my kids are a business.  Well, you know what I mean.

Anyway, I always feel slightly awkward on this day.  I never know quite what to say.

All I know is that I've been glad to have Todd and Toby (and Lisa) in my life.  I think they're great.  I get more and more thankful for them every year. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Werewolves to spice things up.

I knew going into the rewrite that, as I said, "More werewolves, sooner werewolves."

In reading the manuscript, I realized that's exactly what it needed to work. 

I wrote one werewolf viewpoint chapter today and read it to Linda.

"That really spices it up," she says.

"I didn't know you thought it needed to be spiced up."

"I didn't until you read this to me."

See -- that's what I'm afraid of.  Still, I seem to have gotten pretty good at figuring out how to "spice up" the basic storyline.  I mean, the basic storyline comes first and then I figure out how to make it better.

So I need two or three more chapters to werewolf up the story, and I have three days left to write them.  Just enough time.

Basically, in order to explain everything that happens, I have to have a werewolf civil war.  So I'm kind of setting up that scenario to play behind what is happening to the humans, so that it explains both sides.

I'm going to read the rest of the current manuscript tonight, and then write the second werewolf chapter tomorrow.

Promising the dear reader werewolves.

Drank some wine and read the first two/thirds of the book last night.  Will read the last third tonight.

I tend to read too fast, more like skimming if I don't watch out.   I need to purposely slow down and remember that most people will be reading it for the first time.

It's very fast paced, but I'm not sure there is anything wrong with that.

I think the main narrators need to have more differentiation.  The transitions can be somewhat abrupt in that you can read a paragraph or two before you realize it's a different POV character.  I'm clearly marking each section with who's talking, so the reader will hopefully learn to check.  But a couple of stylistic tricks might help.  I'm thinking one of the diary writer's might precede each chapter with a "Dear Reader..." or something.  Another might fuss around with the date.  Something that is a signifier in the first paragraph.  One always gives a weather update.

My overall impressions of the book are valid, I think.  It's more a survival narrative than a werewolf story.  (Or as Linda says, "they're surviving werewolves, too.")  I was worried about whether I could get across what was happening to them, the dread of it, but just telling what actually happened in my own fictional way does that, I think.

This focus is both good and bad.  There is an inherent fascination in survival stories --- but I'm more or less promising the dear reader werewolves.  So the one major piece of rewriting I still want to do is insert a couple more chapters strictly from the viewpoint of the werewolves.  So finish reading the book tonight, making changes as I go along, and then figure out what I want to say in the werewolf chapters and where I want to insert them.

Again, maybe the story deserves a better writer, but the story has got the writer it's got.  It's my story.

The Nickname Denier.

I've been talking about werewolves so much, I'm starting to say "werewolf" in an Elmer Fudd voice.  "Quiet...there's a wwwerewwwolf."


I'm reaching that point in rewriting where I question effort versus quality.  That is, am I not a better writer because I don't put enough effort into it?

I have to remind myself that after the first draft, most improvements happen in incremental ways.  That I fix this, and then I fix that, then I polish this and make this more clear and  sharpen this up and so on...

It ain't done until it's done.


I asked Linda how many "nicknames" she thinks I've given her in our marriage.  I thought she'd number them in the hundreds, if not the thousands.

She said, "Oh....ten?"


I was completely insulted.  Her nicknames are constantly evolving and changing.  They just come out of my mouth.  Obviously, they go in one of Linda's ears and out the other.

So she felt a nickname was a more enduring endearment, not just a small evolution.

Still....I've decided that nicknames are wasted on her.

"Nicknamer denier" was her nickname this morning.

Not that she'll remember it...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Writing is candy, rewriting is dirt.

Having a hard time starting my rewriting.  It's no fun, not like creating the story in the first place.  I envy those writers who like rewriting.

Basically, I just want to throw my microphone (computer) on the floor and walk away.  

Anyway, if I haven't started by 2:00, I'm going to impose the 5 minute rule.  That is, force myself to sit down and work for 5 minutes -- and then see if I want to keep going.


Sat down at 3:00 finally and did the first two chapters.  So hard to do.  When I was finished, I went upstairs to where Linda was happily marking up her manuscript with a red marker.

"How come you like rewriting?" I asked.

"I don't know.  That's where I see it getting better."

The irony here is that from past conversations I know that I'm probably more convinced of the efficacy of rewriting than she is.  I just like doing it less.

I retreated to my room to ruminate.


Trying to gear up the gumption to tackle the next two chapters.  Actually, the first seven chapters will be the easiest because I have people who have already critiqued these chapters, so I can bounce off their suggestions.

But I still don't enjoy this. 

Which I'm convinced is some kind of cosmic joke.  Why make it so easy for me to write, and so hard to rewrite?

Why give me the ability to get 80% there but not the fortitude to do the last 20%?

I try to convince myself that it's my attitude.  That I just need to learn to enjoy it.  I mean, I've always thought I was obsessive compulsive...

When that doesn't work, I try to play tricks on myself.  Tricking myself into doing it, or thinking I like doing it.  But really, I don't.


It's 7:00 and I still haven't started the next 2 chapters...


About the only surefire way I've ever figured out is to pump some alcohol into myself.  That seems to give me the concentration and the attention to detail that I need.  (Though you'd think it would do the opposite...)

Ironically, I find that I'm better off writing the original story without any alcohol.  But after I'm done, it takes me just enough outside my normal thinking to make look at the story slightly skewed which starts to make it interesting again.

But alcohol is so hard on me these days.  It messes up my routine.

But I want this book to be good and to do that I need to rewrite and to rewrite I've got to find a way to sit and work for hours at a time.

I may yet resort to that tonight.

Missing the point on survelliance.

It kind of drives me crazy when people excuse survelliance by saying, "What have you got to hide?"

Which is missing the point.  It isn't whether you've done anything wrong.  It's whether you can trust the listeners not to do anything wrong.

It's dangerous to assuming the listeners will always be good guys.   Or that they'll always be right. That they'll understand what's going on.  Hell, even that they'll even be competent.

My biggest fear would be that they overreact.  Cause, basically, I think our country has been overreacting for a decade now.

It seems to me that the same people who squawk about the Constitution are the same ones who are OK with this kind of intrusiveness.

So I'm going to to give our Founding Fathers some credit for understanding something about "Unreasonable search and seizures" and how they lead to tyranny.

But most of all -- even if you excuse all the above -- it's none of their damn business.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

In a comfortable place between fun and work.

My goal over the next five days is to revise Led to the Slaughter to a reading copy.  That is, a version that I would be willing to stand behind, put online, let people read.  However, I still want to give it to my editor and to readers to see where it can be improved.

There are 26 chapters -- about half as many as usual because each chapter was twice as long as usual.  (One day of writing per chapter.)

So if I do roughly 5 chapters per day in revisions, I should be done by the end of the week.

Then send it to my editor and readers and wait about a month, give or take.  Make a hard copy where I can make notations on at night.

Meanwhile, start writing the sequel to Death of an Immortal.

When "Led to... " comes back after a month, decide how much rewriting needs to be done, or just accept the editorial changes, or...well, in a month I'll have a better perspective.

I think the story has a chance of being pretty good, if I don't screw it up.

I'm pretty happy with the level of writing I'm producing right now.  I've worked my way around the plot traps that snagged me in my first effort of coming back to writing.  The break-through was writing The Reluctant Wizard so fast and doing it from a personal perspective.  Then Freedy Filkins, doing it from a purely fun perspective.

Those books freed me up to just start writing.  When Death of an Immortal came along, I just went ahead and wrote it despite my doubts about the timeliness of a vampire book.

I've been struggling since the beginning of my career between effort and fun -- and I think I've found a nice comfortable spot between the two.  That is, I'm having fun writing, but also making myself be patient and reworking the books despite my intellectual laziness.  Creating a process that accomplishes improvements without ruining it for me.

It seems to be getting easier, because I'm trusting the process I've arrived at, and because the more I do it, the less I second-guess what I'm doing.

While I'd love to be published the traditional route, I'm afraid it will stop this free and easy flow of words.

I'm not so much worried about not getting an agent, but of getting an agent who just stops all progress in my tracks.  I'm not so much worried about getting published, as getting hung up on the eternal delays and waiting that going the traditional route entails.

Then again, just putting it online doesn't mean anyone will read it.

Oh, well.  A long as I'm still focused on the writing and taking one step at a time nothing has been wasted.    I have a couple of completed books I'm just sort of sitting on, hoping for an opportunity somewhere.

The crunch will come when I'm done with Led to the Slaughter. 

I don't think I'll want to sit on it.  But I'll need to format it and get a cover and all that, and that will take some time.  So we'll just wait and see.

Which sequel to do?

So I have in mind a sequel to Death of an Immortal.  There was always a sequel implied, and I kind of thought I'd probably do it, and I have some ideas.

So I think I'll do the rewrite of The Donner Party Werewolves next week, then set it aside for a full month and do the next vampire book.

I can do a variation of the original cover -- the  mirror with blood -- and put it right out there.

Thing is:  Death of an Immortal was a very enjoyable book to write.  It came easy and it came together and I liked it.

So if I can have the same experience with the sequel, why not?  Plus I'll have two books of the same series out online at the same time.

I'm thinking I'll probably go ahead.

Superman go splat?

Superman is slowly descending on Rotten Tomatoes.  Last I checked it only had to drop one more point to be a splat.

Hey, I've been enjoying these big blockbusters all right.

But not a lot.

Because they're too much.  I keep walking out and thinking, "Why don't they divert about half the money to make another movie?  Why don't they cut down about half the fights and explosions and have a nice character building scene?

There was a time when I got tired of car chases.  I quit going to a movie if I thought it was about car chases.

I'm tired of explosions and stupid fights.  Blah. Blech.

So while I'm complaining about the aesthetics, it turns out Lucas and Spielberg are worried that the movie industry is going to implode from bigger and bigger movies that take bigger and bigger financial risks.

What's missing are nicely budgeted mid-list movies.

Of course, this seems to be happening elsewhere -- books, games, comics.

So it seems like something is huge and explosive -- or small and personal.  Nothing in-between.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Feels weird not to be writing.

I just realized.  I have to write something else.

Yeah, I have tons of rewriting to do.  I set Wolflander aside when I started the Donner Party Werewolves (in fact, I got the idea for it from three flashback chapters.)  I was glancing at the manuscript last night, and you know what?  It ain't bad.

So that's two books written about Cobb and Company.  I'd like this to be a series.

There is natural sequel to Death of an Immortal.  Not sure about it being a series.

I have my fantasy sitting there that needs to be picked up some day.

So even though I may be spending most of the summer rewriting, I'd still like to get started on something new.  Just to get the ball rolling.

I've had my old fantasy Sometimes a Dragon with my editor for a couple of months.  I've always liked this book, but I completely rewrote it.  I have no objective estimation of it.  Just that I've always liked it.

Deviltree is interesting, in my opinion, but I think it needs a little something more.  I'm not sure what.  The fact that it almost got bought several times by publishers thirty years ago really makes me think what I'm currently writing would have a good chance.  Linda did a critique and Martha was looking at it, so I want to use those suggestions.

This stuff is starting to stockpile a little.  Which is kind of cool.

I am going to need covers, and I don't think I can keep purchasing them if I'm not going to generate enough sales to pay for them.  So photoshopping is the answer.

For instance, I have the idea for the Donner Party Werewolves of getting a stock photo of a Conestoga wagon, placing it in a mountain scene, putting snow all around it, and then having a streak of blood in the snow as if something has been dragged past the scene.  It can all be antiqued with the old-fashioned hue.

Sometimes a Dragon?  I guess I'll probably get a stock emblem of a dragon and gussy it up.  And so on.

I know visually what I want to do, but I still need someone to do the tech manipulation.

Anyway, it feels weird not to be writing a new book...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The joy is in the finishing.

I'm just going to say this.

I think I'm getting better at writing.  And that it is getting easier.

I don't have any way to measure these conclusions.  I don't have any outside confirmations.  They are just feelings.

It makes sense, of course.  Anything that you do lots of you will get better at, usually.

I'm having more fun doing it than I did at first.  I'm feeling more confident.

There was a time when I rejected the idea of just writing for "fun."  When the idea of writing and not selling or not having a guaranteed readership was enough to stop me.  I don't think that will happen again.

One important thing, that I've always known but which has been reinforced.  If I start a book, I should be pretty sure it's a book and not a start and that I will finish it.  There is nothing satisfying about not finishing.

Maybe that's why so many writers are frustrated.  They don't finish.  I guess my advice would be to finish a book, and see how you feel.

It's not just the writing, it's the finishing.  Once it's done, no matter bad it is, you've actually created something that stands alone.  Without the finish, it's not a completed thing.  It's been aborted, if you really want to be harsh.

I think writers believe the joy is in the writing -- and it is -- but the real joy is in the finishing.

Done with the first draft.

To hell with process and finishing it today.  I went ahead and finished it last night.

LED TO THE SLAUGHTER: THE DONNER PARTY WEREWOLVES is done.  At least, the first draft is.  A revision next week, and then I'm sending it to my editor.

I'm going to make a hard copy so I can make changes myself over the next month while she reads it, and anyone else I can bamboozle into reading it.

I'm rethinking whether I want to do heavy rewriting.  I kind of like the briskness of it, the simplicity.  I may just concentrate on polishing what I've written, add a few things here and there, change a few things here and there, but not look to change it too much.

Anyway, I'm done with a readable draft and it feels good.

Breaking the routine.

After all my talk about process, I broke the process yesterday.  I wrote the right number of words, but most of it was Chapter 3, not Chapter 25.  I extended Chapter 24, as well.

So now Chapter 25 is actually 26 because in essence, I've started my rewrite.

I've mentioned I wanted more werewolves sooner, so I was thinking about how to do this when it came to me full-blown in the shower.  Got out and went downstairs and wrote it.  I mean, I'd be crazy to turn down the gift.

This often seems to happen in the last couple of chapters -- because in some ways, I don't want to finish.  In some ways, I feel like the last chapter should be written last.

No harm done, really.  If I'd broke the process a third or halfway or even four/fifths of the way through, that might have been a problem.  But with one chapter left, it almost makes sense to hold off. 

I wrote Chapter 26 later in the day. I decided not to dramatize it.  Just let it kind of trickle down into an anticlimax of horror, which is the way the real events played out.

The last flashforward chapter will have to be the satisfying conclusion.

I realized that I left Stanton all alone in the mountains, so I just have him saying he's going to end it, and that's it.  Again, pretty anticlimactic.

So, who knows, the second draft may revive some of these dropped threads, I don't know.  But really, to tell the truth, I kind of like it the way it is.  Just needs to be polished, is all.  I might not make too many dramatic changes afterall.

I probably just need a break, you know.  And someone else's take on things.

I'm going to print out a hard copy after I revise the first draft next week.  So that I have something to work on while it's out with the others.

Monday, June 10, 2013

It might be a pretty good book.

I'm probably repeating myself, but that's because the concerns remain the same.

Two chapters from the end of Led to the Slaughter: the Donner Party Werewolves.

I'm worried about the climax to the novel.  I don't mind diverting from historical facts, though I prefer to stick to them as often as possible.  But there is only so far I can go in changing things.

In a completely fictional novel I can arrange the plot for a final climax where all the threads come together and are resolved one way or another.

In the real story, I will have to be satisfied with a series of smaller climaxes, ending with a final denouncement, and hope that it is enough.  I can arrange a final confrontation between two of the main characters, but not the groups.

The survival narrative is strong enough to carry this book all by itself, and add in the intriguing werewolves element, and I think the story works.  With or without strong writing from me.

This is pretty unusual.  Usually, the story only comes alive if my writing is at least adequate, whereas I feel this story is already strong.  Which should mean, that if I manage to write it well, it should be even better.

I've had this weird feeling all along that the story is better than my writing -- like when you see a movie and you go, "what a cool concept" and then they don't deliver.

Well, it's my story and I'm going to do it.  I just have to try to do my best.

So my goal, once I finish, is to make it better.  I was going to say something grandiose like -- make it "twice as good" but I think I'll just say "better."

Finally, a word about process.  For me, this may be the most important thing right now.  Linda commented that she liked how I "Don't go off on all those tangents anymore."

This was because in the past I wasn't disciplined in my writing process.  I let my obsessive compulsive tendencies get in the way of efficient storytelling.  My solution this time was to work out a series of steps that I should take, one after the other, and avoiding the temptation to skip a step or repeat a step.

So first step is to write the first draft fast but not too fast.

All the other things I need to do are constantly calling for attention, but it isn't time.  I must patiently do each step before I do the next.  Especially at the end of the book, I'm being pulled aside.

But that's kind of the point.  By writing the entire first draft first, I'm much more aware of what needs to be done in the second draft.  I've had an entire book to work out what the book is lacking or has too much of or whatever.  In the past, I might have had an insight one/third of the way through the book and gone back and changed things and then again and again and again until I've made the thing so muddled and convoluted and "tangental" that it doesn't work the way it should.  By then, I can no longer feel the book -- I've reached that moment of singularity where it's just a jumble of words and I'm trying to remember how I originally felt about the story.  At this point, I can still improve the story intellectually, but I have to hope the original emotion is still there and still strong enough.

By writing in steps, I'm hoping to avoid these difficulties.

The point being -- I think this book so far really is only about half as good as it could be.  And if I can manage over the next two or three steps to follow through systematically what needs to be done --
it might be a pretty good book.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Nearing the end.

JOURNAL:  6/9/13.

Only three chapters from the end of Led to the Slaughter.

One thing is for sure.  I'm on one hell of a hot streak.  I'm not questioning it.  Let loose the hounds of war.  (Or werewolves, as it were.)

Hard to remember that I used to have trouble coming up with ideas.  Or maybe my standards have fallen.

I just let myself write whatever comes to me, not questioning it, because there is always more where that came from.

At least so far.

Knock wood.

A bit of a humble-brag as I psyche myself up for the final chapters... 

I want them to be satisfying and cathartic and better than anything I've done.

Poverty with a View again.

Term used to describe life in Bend, Oregon or Central Oregon in general. Refers to numerous nearby mountain peaks, rivers, forests, clean air, and microbreweries, with the understanding that everyone will work for close to minimum wage regardless of level of education due to a dysfunctional job market. 
"Honey, did you see the place for sale down the street? It's a run-down double-wide on a flat one acre lot. Includes monster truck. Wow, that's what I call "poverty with a view".

So the Bulletin has an article today that the average wages in Bend are 10% below national average.

So I Google the average cost of living and get the figure that Bend is 10% higher than national average.

Add in that years ago, Bend was rated the second most over-retailed town in America, behind Las Vegas.  (I can't find this -- and it was quite awhile back, but at least we can agree that Bend is over-retailed --)

Anyway, that 20% swing is significant.  I suspect it is not taken into account by most new businesses.

What I mean by that, is that most people constantly compare Bend to other places without being aware of these facts.  That they somehow think that because something happens elsewhere it can happen here, but there is a 20% less chance of doing well on average.

I think it's a little worse than that, actually.  The isolation factor -- in that there is no relief from nearby communities, or a real 4-year college, or a major jobs paying industry, or an interstate.  While most communities are not actually limited to their own population -- we really are.

Of course, we do have the benefit of tourism, but tourism creates minimum wage service jobs, in general. 

Just saying.  Bend is a challenge that most people walk into unknowingly.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ho, hum. Another 'scandal', cried the boy who cried scandal.

Why am I not very upset by the snooping by the federal government?

For one thing, I'm not sure I don't trust Obama more than I do the media, especially when it comes to matters that impinge on the media.  In other words, I'm not sure I've seen a completely objective reporting of the matter.

So on one hand, we have Obama saying, "No big deal.  You're not getting spied on..."

And on the other hand, we have the New York Times turning on him. 

It's that turning on him that kind of gets my goat.  I mean, how many time can you keep going after Obama for things he didn't do and expect us to get all upset by things you accuse him of doing and then saying, "No really.  This time we mean it."

I've even been somewhat annoyed with John Stewart, who seems to give way more credence to these supposed "scandals" than they deserve.  False equivelency is his weakness.  To me, it all seems like "scandal-mongering" than it does actual "scandal."

Personally, I have no problem with them questioning the tax-exempt status of the Tea Party.  Seems to me to be completely appropriate.

Laying everything at Obama's feet just makes nonsense of of the entire structure of government.  I'm ready to just ignore the media altogether.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Skill fixing a problem my creative mind didn't know existed.

Basically, the plan is to write the plot of the book with the rolling out of events and the character development.

Then overlay a second, more action oriented plot over it.

For three of my recent books, I've used this solution to perking up my books.

I think this is a concession, in a way, to the modern sensibilities.  I think the old-fashioned narrative, leading up slowly, can't be done anymore except by extremely skilled and subtle writers.

I'm a very straight-forward writer. 

Anyway, it also improved the other two books I did it to, so I'm betting it will improve this book too.

This kind of strategic thinking is what I think they mean by Skill.  That is, my experience is telling me how to fix something that my original instinct didn't even know was a problem.

I want more Werewolves -- and sooner Werewolves.

Been dreaming about the end of the book for the last two nights -- which is good because it means my subconscious is engaged.  Bad because I can't discern a solution to any of the problems I'm facing.

I did get an overall image of the Reeds being besieged in their cabin by werewolves, like the three little piggies, or Crockett at the Alamo.

Meanwhile, the most concerning thing that Jeff said in his critigue of the first half of the book was the word "slow" to describe the long journey to the Sierra's where the werewolves are fully manifested.

I wanted this to go fast, but I also wanted to show most of the events -- the 'Shortcut', etc. -- which got them in trouble. Also a chance to develop the story with Virginia and her two boyfriend rivals.

But I don't want slow.

I hint about werewolves throughout the story, but I think I need more.

I was aware that this a problem from the beginning, and my original intent was to have alternating future chapters (with werewolves) with past chapters (hints of werewolves).  In fact, it was this inspiration that got me to start writing.

But the actually writing didn't turn out that way.  Following the actual sequence of events only would have put future chapters without werewolves into past chapters, which would only delay the onslaught of werewolves even longer.

In other words -- I want more werewolves, and sooner.

The solution, I think, is the same solution I arrived at with my vampire story.  I realized when my main character wasn't going to suck a bloody swath through the citizenry of Bend, that I would need someone else to do it.

So, I think the solution is to have a parallel plot among the werewolves -- a rivalry.  So that I can get some heavy werewolf action early.  This has the added advantage in that I don't need to rewrite the plot I've already written

Everyone I tell the title of the story to, loves the "Concept" of it.  So I don't want to disappoint them by not having enough werewolves...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Preparing for the end of the first draft.

Got a critique back from someone who is a horror writer.  It was mostly encouraging -- actually very encouraging -- and I've asked permission to reproduce it.  He thought Led to the Slaughter works well as a Young Adult novel, which I didn't expect, even if the main character is a 12 year old girl. 

Getting ready for my last week of writing the first draft.  I've decided to consolidate the various rescue efforts into one or two attempts, with the father as the narrator.  (He was involved in one of the efforts.)

Also trying to come up with a slambamm finish -- a final battle, a last stand.   I've stuck to the facts as much as possible, actually.  Most people probably wouldn't notice the changes in the timeline or events.  But for the book to have a satisfying conclusion, I need to have a point of climax, instead of the messy real life dribs and drabs.

I need to have lots of action, lots of people being eaten.  So, I'm going to quit referring to the historical facts for the last chapters and just make it up.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

May results.

We were down 5% from last year, which was within range of my target.  The goal this year hasn't been to increase gross sales, but to increase profit margins.  More importantly, the goal has been not to fall into debt during the slow months, and we've managed that.

That means that summer profits can be used for things other than just "catching up."

Like for taxes -- or investment.

I'm still satisfied with the mix I have.  I intend to increase the space devoted to boardgames and books, while consolidating space for toys.  Toys are a bit of a problem in that they have fairly low margins and take up more space than most items.  There are spots in the store, though, where toys are appropriate and nothing else is -- the higher up the walls space that won't work effectively for things like books.

So I've rearranged the store to make more room for boardgames and books.

In ten more days I can start ordering for summer -- which means, basically, ordering twice as many books and games as I have been for the slow months.

About the same number of comics and graphic novels, since I keep these up to high levels all year long.

Magic has declined for me, which is perfectly all right.  It was the one category that was requiring large investment up front for uncertain returns, and I kind of don't like that process anymore.

It's too much like gambling. 

In other words, I've slowly morphed my store where most of my spending was speculative; the next wave of sports cards, or the next hot comic, or the next hot magic wave -- to something that is a little more evergreen;  good books and graphic novels, enduring boardgames and other items.

Much less risky business model, if not as exciting...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A little bit of encouragement.

So I'm sitting here thinking, "What's the use?" when I get a call from Linda. 
She's just gotten a call from a friend in Texas she knew 45 years ago, and she's trying to track Linda down.
She finds out Linda's last name and goes "What a minute. I just read a vampire book by someone with that last name!" Apparently, she's into all things vampire. 
The upshot is, "She loved it! She wants the sequel!"
So I got to tell you, that's pretty much the shot in the arm I need right now.
Just a few degrees of separation in this world.

My writing formula..

I wrote out a little formula for my writing yesterday that goes something like this:

You start with a Good Idea.
You let Inspiration take you where it will.
You use Good Working Habits, to Keep it Fresh as long as possible.
You consciously use whatever Skill you have to shape it -- which you gain by Experience.
You Work It, taking whatever Time you need to gain Perspective.
You seek Outside Input, who can help keep you On Track.
You go back over it and Polish.
You take what you've done and Present it to the world.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Spoilers, I suppose.

Not sure what the rules are here, but if you haven't seen the latest Game of Thrones, stop reading here.

Wait!  If you haven't seen the latest HBO program -- GO WATCH IT!  Now.  If you don't want to be told...

Anyway, I think Blackfish got away.  Last we saw him, he was off pissing away the banquet mead.

I thought that was an incredibly gruesome episode, more gruesome than the book.  But it's been a long time since I read the book.  The tone in Lady Stark's voice was particularly effective.  Rob's total disbelief.



I actually entertained the notion that they might do a Walking Dead-type change of plot.  But no -- they went there.   The happier they made everyone, the more certain I was that they were going to go there.

For a three years now, I've been reading comments online of people who chose to watch the show without reading the books -- and the remarks always seemed kind of naive.  You just wait, I'd think to myself.  You have no idea.

Also, the weekly wrapups on Salon and Slate were very jocular and easy-going.  It bothered me, I think, without me knowing.  Because these books are no joke.

As a writer, they make me want to try harder, though I know I probably won't even come close.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The final laps.

Because of an appointment I thought I had, I didn't get any writing done yesterday.

 I did do some gardening at least.  (I feel like the cool weather as given me a reprieve on catching up on the gardening.)  It's probably just as well that I got a very nice day outside, because I'm about to close myself in a darkened room and totally immerse myself.

I was one day ahead on the writing, so no harm done as long as I keep up from here.

This is where the story really has to kick into a higher gear.  Beginning with the "Forlorn Hope" the attempt by about half the party to try to get out --  which was a disaster -- and the multiple rescue attempts.  This is where most of the deaths happened, and where things got even more desperate back at the cabins.

So I  need to up my game.  I need to really see it and hear it and feel it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"Exquisite skeleton."

Starting in on the fourth week of writing on Led to the Slaughter.  Originally I envisioned a very short novel -- around 40,000 words.  It appears I have another couple of weeks of writing to do, at the least.

I suppose I should just stop worrying about any of my novels being too short.  I always end up at 65K words or above.

Today's chapter was the raggedy-est yet.  Kind of a mess of duplicated words and repeated ideas.  I'm going to try to fix that before I call it a day.

Linda found a neat quotation on a bookmark she found in a book.  I don't know where it comes from:

"A rough draft is a first writing, a sketch or an outline.  It's not the final polished product, but an exquisite skeleton that shows scribble marks, half-erased words and notes in the margins."

That's very nice, except my skeleton isn't so much "exquisite" as one of those skeletons that dinosaur hunters used to construct when they didn't really know what dinosaurs looked like.  All in the wrong postures with the wrong bones wired together.

Other than that, I really like the sentiment.