Thursday, December 31, 2015

Picking a book cover.

I've chosen the book cover to The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders.

This isn't as easy as it looks. Generally, a cover artist will give you several options. I try to trust my first instinct. The "Blink" moment. But the more you think about it, the harder it gets.

Years ago, I watched a documentary about a book cover artist (sadly, I don't remember who) and it showed the process of a publisher telling the artist what they wanted and then messing with it.

Almost always, the original cover by the artist was the artistic highpoint, after which the publisher mucks it up. Makes it too cluttered, throws off the design, just generally dumbs it down.

I swore if I was ever in the same position that I would listen to the artist.

Of course, it isn't that easy. First of all, the artist will throw it back at you, "Which do YOU like?" But they will generally give off signals of which ones they like.

I'm more sympathetic about the publishers now. What's happening is that you are often presented with an artistic vision that may not be as utilitarian as something else that isn't quite as artistic.

I read somewhere that sometimes the worse commercials are the best at selling product and the most artistic commercials are the worst. Heh.

The cover artist for several of my books is Mike Corley, who is a well-established and respected cover artist who happens to live in Bend and is a customer of mine. When I apologized for making him make so many small changes, he told the story of how he often spends months with a publisher mucking about, only to have the publisher come to him at the last moment and say, "You know that first cover you showed us? Let's do that."

Ironically, that's pretty much what I did this time around. The choice came down to the original two choices, with very few changes. The first choice was probably more utilitarian -- easily read title, etc -- but as Mike pointed out, the title is right there in print alongside the thumbnail picture.  The second cover was probably more elegant and that's the one I ended up choosing.

Anyway, the choice has been made. I'm hoping to have this out in mid-January.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Well, damn, I'm stuck.

This rarely happens to me. Really, only Faerylander hasn't been finished for reasons of stucktitude.

I have only two or three chapters to finish and I'm done, but it is a tangled mess. I drank some wine last night and got all lyrical as fuck. Which means I'll probably have to cut it.

The villain has to crack in the last chapter, but I just haven't set it up so that it seems believable. But just shooting him, or something, doesn't seem sufficient either.

Well, sometimes you just wrestle with something for a long time and them, Bamm, it becomes all clear. So I have to hope for that.

The good thing is that I have the next week to do nothing but that.

The bad thing is I'm already 10 days over my original schedule.

Anyway, there is nothing to do but keep trying so I'm going to keep trying.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Status of Tuskers III

So I thought I should explain where Tuskers III is.

It was finished and turned in and supposed to be published on October 13. (My birthday, by the way...)

On October 12, Ragnarok Publications announced that they were going to start distributing in bookstores, and that everything would be on hold for several months.

What do I mean by "distributing in bookstores?" This is what mainstream publishers do...they solicit in catalogs, well in advance, let the bookstores order what they want. In the old days -- back when Star Wars was published -- they were distributed in the newstands and such, though I'm not sure that happens as much anymore.

Up until now, my books from both Books of the Dead and Ragnarok were published as ebooks primarily, with physical copies available. I sold quite a few physical copies in my own stores, but not very many outside of that. You could order from Barnes & Noble, but they didn't have shelf space, and you could order from Amazon.

In other words, Tuskers III (along with Tuskers I and II) will be "featured" in the Fall, 2016 catalog. Which means, probably, that it will go out in the summer to solicit for orders.

Something like that.

It's very daring for Ragnarok to do this -- somewhat risky -- because there is always the danger of printing up books and having them returned. The contracts have to be rewritten, the price of the ebooks will probably go up slightly, that kind of thing.

All for the thrill of seeing the books on shelves in bookstores.  If any bookstores order them...

Monday, December 28, 2015


I had a bunch of red-tape stuff to do today. I forgot to get the vehicle registrations in on time. Went to the DMV thinking it would be a nightmare. Last time I went, it took forever. Pulled #167, then heard #48 called out. So I went to the info desk (Linda, "why are you doing that?" Me, "Maybe there's another way.") Sure enough, we were sent to the express lane and got it done in less than five minutes.

Then went to Verizon for one of the many billions of times Linda has gone there to straighten out her bill. Me: "Why don't you change your method of paying?" Linda: "I want to do this way.) That was a long wait, with the boys and girls wandering around with their iPads to help and just a weird way of doing business.

Then on to Pacific Source because when I tried to pay and set up an automatic withdrawal, I couldn't figure it out. Turns out, I have to make the first month payment, THEN I can set up automatic withdrawal. Why? I can't conceive of a reason.

Then to the bank to pay off the Line of Credit with the Christmas money.

Then to Ranch Records to order the latest Squeeze album. "Oh, Duncan! The guy who runs people out of downtown!" Me, "....?...." "I think maybe my reputation is worse than I am...."

Then to Dandy's, where we had to actually sit in a car line to get parked to get Linda's favorite burgers. Killed the battery. Linda: "Let's walk home." Me: gets out of car to tell the very cute rollerskating girl, who laughs and brings out a portable charger and we're rolling a couple minutes later. No looking around at other cars to see how they are laughing at us...

Driving home: "Amazing that lots of people spend there time doing stuff like this and I spend about a day every quarter saving this shit up...."

Sunday, December 27, 2015

No longer monomaniacal.

Apparently, I'm no longer monomaniacal about writing. I let family and Christmas and business take precedence over the last ten days.

The first few years of writing, nothing stopped me. Nothing. I was so obsessive that I was barely aware of my surroundings at times.

I'm trying to settle into a more moderate pace. 2000 words a day is by most standards a pretty big number. Counting working days and days off, I probably spend 200 days a year writing new material, and another 100 days a year rewriting. Say...400K words a year.

That's a big number, at least six novels worth a year. Not all of them turn into books. Not all are finished. Not all are given a second draft.

So anyway, I'm going to try to settle into a more moderate but consistent pace, also include a little more time for rewriting that I've done in the past.

I've got five novels more or less finished that I'm proud enough of to publish. I'm almost done with a sixth.

That's a pretty good result.

I'm working today at the store, and tomorrow I'm going to attempt to do all the red-tape stuff that's been piling up, and then on Tuesday, get back to writing full time.

And NOTHING will be allowed to get in the way.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Star Wars Xmas continues.

Finished off Star Wars Christmas by watching The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

So the common wisdom is pretty much right on. The Empire Strikes Back holds up really well. Not a lot wrong with it, a pretty great movie. The New Hope hasn't dated as well.

I've always defended Return of the Jedi, but I have to admit that the Ewoks are hard to take. Not so much the concept of them, but how fake they look.

Then Todd and I kept forging ahead and watched the documentary that comes along with the boxed set.

I found it humorous that the "experts" wondered if the new movie would be as huge as everyone expected.

Then again, I thought I'd sell the hell out of the toys. I guess since Christmas is over and the store did really well, I can reveal that the Star Wars toy sales sucked. I'm really surprised.

I took one of the cheap 35.00 lightsabers home to give to Todd and it was big hit. It was just fun to turn it on and hear that sound, and we had a couple fights (I used the saved up wrapping paper rolls.) But, yeah, none of the big toys sold at all, and the little toys sold hardly at all.


Also -- we were shorted all the main characters. And they wonder why the small stores can't compete. Let me tell you, we can compete very well, but not if you don't even let us have Rey or Finn or some of the other major toys. It's pretty disgraceful in my opinion. Then again, should I be surprised that a corporation like Hasbro gives preference to the big box stores? Silly me. (Remember, I couldn't even ORDER these toys until the exact day they were released in the big box stores. This is legal behavior.) Ah, well.

There are so many things that I shrug my shoulders about nowadays. I think the corporations are incredibly short-sighted and poorly run. But the public sees them a ruthlessly efficient. They aren't efficient -- they're BIG.

Thirty years later and Pegasus Books is having our best years and Barnes and Noble and Toy R Us and Topps are on the ropes.

Karma is a bitch.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Star Wars Christmas

We watched Star Wars: A New Hope, which will always be just Star Wars to me.

It's both better and worse than I remember. The "worse" parts are somewhat unavoidable -- such as special effects that mostly hold up but are definitely dated -- and the best parts that I didn't remember is the repartee and affection between Luke, Leia, and Han. I never realized how whiny Luke was the first 15 times I watched it.

Anyway, Sherron had never really watched it all the way through, so we teased her mercilessly when she called the Death Star the Dark Star and when she otherwise didn't get it.

I had to explain "Han shot first" and showed her the wiki entry and she was amazed it was "a thing." Heh.

I almost ordered her out of the house.

I'm going to try to connive to watch The Empire Strikes Back today. Even if I have to watch it by myself.

It's hard to explain how Star Wars struck the world in 1977. I compare it to how the Beatles came along with their irresistable upbeat tunes in 1963, after the Kennedy assassination and other terrible events.

It was so fresh, so fun, so much like the kind of Space Opera I grew up reading, that I was astounded.

Hard to ever replicate that.

Anyway, even though it doesn't have that kind of impact anymore, it's still a fun little movie. Doesn't seem at all ground shaking now.

More like a friend who has gotten older and a little frayed around the edges.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

An actual Christmas.

Giving up on actually writing until after Christmas. Instead, trying to get things done and out of the way.

So I'll be behind on my book by a couple of weeks. I think it may turn out to be a good thing. I've been thinking about the book even if I haven't been writing, and I think I finally have all the pieces I need for a good ending.

Two chapters. Now I just need to sit down and write them.

I've been spending some time at the store over the last few days, which has been a good thing. We have a small chance of beating last year, which I didn't think would happen. Pay off a few bills. Start the year fresh.

Todd and Sherrone are home. We even put up a tree! We're actually wrapping presents! Christmas music!


Retailing makes it hard to feel Christmas, frankly. Usually around 5:00 on Christmas Eve as I go to the store and raid it of any cool stuff I've had my eye on that nobody bought, and the store is closed, then it washes over me.

You get old, you get lazy, you don't have kids home, you don't put up a tree or wrap presents or any of that stuff. And of course, it took just a few minutes and feels good and I really need to get off my butt in the future. Even if it is just Linda and me, I'd like that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Busiest day of the year.

This is usually our busiest day of the year. We were also getting a large, late shipment. So I felt it was cruel and unusual employment to leave Cameron alone today. Went on in and tried to help. Thought I might be there a couple of hours, didn't get out until six hours later.

If business manages to keep up at the same pace for the rest of the day, it will be the busiest day again. Of course, it might have all died off the second I left.

Anyway, another day of not writing.

I went out for a walk in the Badlands yesterday. A little muddy, but not too bad. Worked out the plot of the last two chapters. So I just need the time to sit down and get it written.

Todd and Sherrone are home, so that makes it hard to concentrate too.

Thing is, for the last three years I've been so diligent about writing that nothing could stop me.

I think I'm just turning human again.

So I suspect everything is going to take a couple of extra weeks, darn it. Not that anyone is holding their breath.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Quit nitpicking Star Wars!

No spoilers I can see.

No sooner had I emerged from the showing of Star Wars than the nitpicking began.

First let me say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt very grounded, not flitting about in a CGI haze. I liked the two main characters, Finn and Rey, in the same way that I liked Luke and Leia and Han. It has an overall upbeat feeling to it, and somehow manages not to be cynical in what easily could be (or is in every other way) the most cynical endeavor in movie history. 

I'd held off watching trailers or reading anything about Star Wars months ago. From the first two trailers, I dreamed of the beginning of the movie and I was amazingly close. Basically, I thought they would use a lot of the same elements at the first movie, and I don't think it's a spoiler to say that they do. And I was fine with it.

But upon getting home, I dove into the reviews and the articles about Star Wars, and it was kind of demoralizing. I mean, most people seem to like the movie, but they can't seem to help but nitpick it.

Normally, I hate the excuse of "It's just a movie." But in this case, "It's just a movie!"

So as far as plotholes and unlikelihoods, need I point out that faster than light travel is probably impossible, a lightsaber is a ridiculous weapon, what's with the stupid armor that doesn't protect anything, and...on and on...and on...

This a space opera, folks. It isn't rigorous.

There are indeed lots of plot holes, and some of them I noticed, and some of them even bothered me a little.

But the core story of the characters was strong and emotionally resonant and I can live with an unlikelihood or two or two hundred, because the whole thing is a fantasy and I get it.

Science it isn't. A fun story it is.

Monday, December 21, 2015

This is taking longer than expected.

Deadline is here and I'm not yet done with The Darkness You Fear. There is just more involved in a historical book. I've barely begun the process of world building. Been focused on plot and characters.

I've passed 70K words and still not done with the first draft. (I'd expected to finish up around 65K words for the first draft.) I mean, this isn't a bad thing, but it is obviously taking longer than I expected.

I've got at least one chapter, probably two still to go. I still haven't found the killer app. The bad guy needs a neat comeuppance, and I haven't quit figured it out yet. I'm sure there is one. I can feel it.

Then I still need to do a thorough rewrite. And then, I want to do another rewrite for the sole purpose of adding in telling details from research. I need description of terrain, of weather, of people, of gear (guns, clothing, wagons, horses, mining equipment), etc. etc.  I need to put in accurate dates.

This is a strong book, thematically, and that's what I want in a book. I don't know if I've pulled off the plot -- that's always the hard part. And...well, the writing is always something I'm concerned about, even though it is rarely mentioned in the reviews.

It's all about the writing, really, the word placement. A weak plot can be covered up by excellent writing, and bad writing can pull down a good story.

So the second draft is where I really try to get that right.

I'm going to be patient. The book will be done when it is done.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Freakishly weird story didn't work.

An update on the earlier entry today.

The freakishly weird storyline I was talking about didn't all.

I tried reading it out loud to Linda and it didn't even make sense to me. So I guess there is a reason no one has tried ending a book with a series of flashbacks.

There is an easy solution. I simply remove a couple of the scenes and make them their own chapters earlier in the book. The only reason I wasn't doing that is because they have to be 3rd person, but told from the POV of characters whose heads we haven't been in before.

Up to now, I've had Virginia's third person thread, which is the main storyline, with two other stories lines told first person through diaries and journals.

But since I have had the third person narration all along with Virginia, I don't think this late in the book it will bother anyone if I go third person with other people. I doubt anyone will notice.

At least, they'll notice less than if I tie myself into narrative knots trying to stick to a first person diary format.

Why can't this be easy?

Freaky subconscious storyteller, making it all weird.

The Darkness You Fear is the most weirdly structured book.

But I like it. So I'm sticking with it. It feels right, even as my brain tells me that it is extremely unconventional. Maybe I'll have second thoughts in the rewrite, but the whole story kind of circles around itself, developing the themes. The themes are strong...I the story works...I think.

The last two chapters, which should be straight forward denouncement are instead turning into three or four chapters of more or less flashbacks. Can you end a book with flashbacks?

I think there will still be action denouncement in the very last chapter, so maybe that will work.

Oh, well.

Freaky subconscious storyteller, making it all weird.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

An ending with impact.

Need to write the ending of The Darkness You Fear, either one or two chapters with a epilogue.

I want to tap into the emotional aspect as much as possible, so I'm going to write that stuff first. Just try to access the poetic, emotional part of my brain, then build the plot structure around it.

How do the ghosts affect each of the characters, especially Jonathan Meredith? How do I get into his brain? How do I show how everyone is affected, told from Virginia's point-of-view?

If I could figure out a mechanism to get into Jonathan Meredith's POV, it would be a lot easier. So far, I've been consistent about using written accounts for POV or else Virginia. So how does Jonathan get into that?

Maybe have him find one of the journals and pick it up and start writing himself? That seems unlikely.

I think I'm just going to have to break the template somehow. Somehow have Virginia imagine what he's thinking? Have her be able to read his mind as part of the Canowiki powers? Or have the ghosts tell her what's going on?

Something.  I'll write his POV first and figure out how to explain it later. Because without his POV I don't think the ending works.

I'm a few days behind on this. Plus, I'm really realizing this book is going to require extensive fleshing out. Fortunately, there is nothing really structurally or continuity wrong with the book, which is why most second drafts are necessary. This just needs to be fleshed out, not just with telling detail but with some emotional depth as well. I'll take as much time as is needed. An extra month, if needs be.

I'm reading James Lee Burke and he certainly has no trouble going into other character's POV even though he has a first-person narrator. He also has no problem musing on the moral implications of events and personalities.

I think I just need to reach for emotional truth and not over worry about the structural or plot problems. As long as I'm consistent, people can hang in there on the plot. But without feeling, all I've got is plot. This whole book has been strong on theme, and I've just had to find a plot to provide structure.

So, I'm going to spend the morning spinning out poetry and then find a way to make that work in the final chapter(s).

Friday, December 18, 2015

It's killing me...

It's killing me not to be seeing Star Wars right away.

But I really don't want to fight the crowds. Then again, it doesn't look like those crowds are going away anytime soon. My usual trick of seeing the first showing on a Monday morning probably won't work this time.

Our schedules just aren't working to fit it in, which might mean a later showing, which I usually try to avoid.

Or I can wait until April or so, and see it in an empty theater. Heh.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Schadenfreude overwhelms me.

I feel like I need to comment on this article in Slate that compares what the big chain in England, Waterstones, is doing to what Barnes & Noble is doing.

I definitely think Barnes & Noble needs to find its own Russian oligarch to prop it up. Heh.

The snobbish tone of the article was off-putting. The author talking about the "garbage" he used to read (that is, entertaining, non-pretentious material) and that he never actually spent any money there (so you're that guy.) 

But the basic thrust -- that a bookstore should sell books not doodads -- well, I've been saying that for years.

Barnes & Noble threw the Nook in our faces, more or less told us that physical books were on the way out. I predicted that Apple and Amazon would eat their Nook for lunch, and that too happened. It was pretty obvious.

Now that the Nook has proven to be a disaster, they are resorting to selling whatever Stuff they can get their hands on and can market. Gimmicks like Adult Coloring books.

Another little saying I have -- when your industry starts to resort to gimmicks, you're on the downslide.

So...yeah, having more books, having books that aren't placed in prominent locations because some publisher paid you to place them, having more titles, not discounting, and giving the local managers more control -- all of those pretty much describe what independent bookstores do.

So the irony is that Waterstones is recovering (supposedly, I'm not convinced without the Russian oligarch money) because they are doing more of what the independent bookstores are doing and less of what they did to put the independent bookstores out of business.

Schadenfreude overwhelms me.


I took three days to write one chapter. The Darkness You Fear.

That never happens. Thing is, I was only 3 chapters from the ending and I wanted to Nail It. But whenever I start thinking that way, I create a block. The ideas need to be spectacular.

In other words, I was waiting for inspiration.

I did add one element that seems obvious in hindsight, and which gives some added drama and tension to the ending. But other than than, I wasn't inspired.

Still, the chapter eventually got written and it was solid, if not spectacular, and I'd say it was grounded in the story and that can't be a bad thing.

So...two chapters left. Might be more. I've got a general sense of what I want to accomplish emotionally and thematically. I know roughly where the plot is going. I just need to finish it.

Then I want to give it a beginning to end rewrite and send it off to Lara. While she has it, I want to do some research and add some telling detail, have her vet the additions, and then send it off. On schedule, I hope.

Meanwhile, I got the editing back for Gargoyle Dreams and Lara called it a "terrific" story, which was a bit of a relief. It's a bit different from what I've done before. When I told Linda of my surprise, she said, "It's a good little story with some real feeling."

So... that book is more or less finished. Like I Live Among You it doesn't require research or a whole lot of rewriting.

Really, why am I not writing stories like this all the time?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Star Wars, scumbag brain working out the plot.

Woke up with my scumbag brain busily working out the plot to the new Star Wars.

"Stop!" I say.

But it keeps coming.

I've only seen the first two trailers, but if I start with a certain premise, it becomes clear what the first third of the movie probably is. If I'm right, there'll be some complaints, but I think it'll be fine.

I won't give away any of it here. I'm probably wrong anyway.

I do this a lot nowadays. I'm always figuring out the plot, even when I'm not really trying. I'm conscious of the plot tricks writers are using. Sometimes they're fair, sometimes they're cheap. When they trick me, I'm impressed. Supergirl went straight to a plot point last night that I didn't see coming, but most shows are pretty predictable.

Unless they're like Leftovers, where there is no figuring out the plot.

"I don't understand what's happening!"

"Me either."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nerdly elitist. Star Wars, bleh.

There is something off-putting about the pervasiveness of Star Wars.

It is no longer mine, it no longer something special. It's about as special as McNuggets.

Everyone is both into it and weirdly blase about it. About as blase as anything else that is so widely available.

The movie will be one thing, it will be good or it will be bad or it will be something in-between. But the culture of Star Wars has been watered down to nothing.

I know this sounds weirdly nerdly elitist, but I can't help it. Bleh. 

I remember when Dark Horse did their first Star Wars comic years after the movies, but before the prequels. There were actually people who questioned it, other people who weren't aware of the comic for a long time. It could still slide under the radar. People fought over the toys, but it was the same people.

Now it is literally everyone. Everyone.

Even the prequels, as big as they were, still seemed more nerd than mass culture, though of course they were completely mass culture, but somehow they were still...different, special.

Nothing feels special this time. It's about as special as white bread and milk.

See you at the store!

I'm working at the store today. I'm going to have Linda drop me off before she goes to church and then pick me up again at the end of the day. She has 4-wheel drive, I don't.  I might do a little writing before opening at 12:00.

I've been certain that this was the year snow was going to impact on us, and so far I've been right. We are plenty stocked. I haven't had to do too many reorders yet. Maybe a few to fill in the holes, but pretty much stick with what we got.

The stock market went backward this year, which hurt our retirement funds. Oh, well. At least we have retirement funds. Linda says it's time to sell the used bookstore. I'm resisting, but not too much.

The writing is still going well.

I'm reading another James Lee Burke book, and he always makes me feel like a piker when it comes to writing. Some of his books are getting kind of repetitive -- like he has a stock cast of characters and just recycles them. The book before this, Wayfaring Stranger, was genius though.

I have to shake off Leftovers when I watch the show. So bleak. I turn to Linda and say, "I'm so thankful we have simple lives."

I'm beginning to realize that I'm probably going to have to stay off the internet for whatever length of time there is between Star Wars coming out and us seeing the movie. Probably about a week or ten days. I can just concentrate on my writing. Besides I'm getting really, really sick of looking at Trump and Cruz's and the rest of their ugly mugs on every article. Yuck.

Just life as usual. Thankfully.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cellphones are a miracle.

I thought my car headlights would automatically turn off when I turned off the car. They do, but I also have to open the car door, apparently.

So I'm out in the Badlands, sitting in my car writing, after walking my loop and freezing. I try to start the car and all I get is clicking.

I call Linda and she comes out and we jumpstart the car. Trying to imagine what I would have had to do if I didn't have a cellphone.

Meanwhile, I'm freezing. It is two hours later at home and I'm still cold.

Thing is -- I'm writing about people crossing the same kind of territory in wagon trains, with none of the luxuries, none of the safety I have.

It's a good way to really feel that lesson. (In a really minor way, of course, but a reminder.)

Heading for the ending.

I have three basic storylines in The Darkness You Fear. The day before yesterday, I finished up the second storyline. This storyline is sort off to one side of the other two storylines.

Yesterday, I wrapped the third storyline into the main storyline.

In one hand, I am proud of myself because I took a fairly complicated, dare I say sophisticated, plotline and managed to pull it together. It takes a certain amount of confidence -- or hubris -- to try that many narrative devices.

On the other hand, I'm a little worried that it is little too tidy and static. Basically, one character telling another character a story that ties all the parts together.

As I wrote it, I realized that the story the narrator was telling in a conversation could actually be several fully fleshed out scenes, but that would require several more narrators, and I already have, like, 3 or 4, and I don't won't to confuse people too much. I've got the main narrator, Virginia Reed, in 3rd person. Everyone else is telling their stories 1st person in journals and diaries and letters, so that is already stretching it.

Anyway, it is now a straight shot to the ending. Until yesterday, I had a structure in mind and it was simply a matter of writing those chapters.

Now I just have the more vague goal of "ending."

I pretty much know what I want to do, but don't have a clue about how.

Still, I think that's all right. I've been writing made to order for quite a bit of the book, so in some ways it is liberating to just be making it up again. I'm feeling strong. The feeling is there, so I'm pretty sure the story will emerge.

I'm at 55K words, so my guess is that I'll end up at 65K or so. A quick rewrite will get me to 70K. Then and only then will I do the research. The details I add from the research are what are going to "make" this book. Picking the right telling details to add flavor and historical truth.

I know I do this backward, but to me, the characters and the plot are internal, and the research is external. The research is like clothing, not the body.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Roulette.

I talk about this every year, but it seems to become more a trend with every year.

The vast bulk of the Christmas sales happen in the second half of the month. It's gotten so the first half of the month is actually slower than average, which didn't happen a decade or two ago. It used to be that there would be the big kickoff on Black Friday, which for us used to be much bigger deal, and then it would drop for maybe a week, and then starting the first week in December slowly build until exploding in the last week.

Now, it's a rather lackluster Black Friday, and then basically nothing for two and half weeks. We are still having record Christmases, mind you, but all because of those last 15 days, and most especially the ten days before Christmas.

Here's the thing:

If anything happens in those last ten days before Christmas -- a big news event, or a big weather event -- it would be a huge disaster.

Especially in Bend, and most especially in downtown Bend, we depend an awful lot on those vacationers and visitors who are looking for a unique experience.

Most years, I operate as if the possible disaster won't happen. And so far it hasn't. But it does seem to me to be only a matter of time. So for instance, there is supposed to be a big snowfall this weekend. Even if it doesn't hit Bend itself, it certainly will restrict travel over the mountains. (Linda had planned to go to the valley this weekend and is canceling, for instance.)

So that many fewer visitors.

The last big snowfall of a couple weeks ago had a major impact on sales, at a time when the drop for the average was an inconvenience. A similar percentage drop from December 15 to 24 would literally costs thousands and thousands of dollars in lost sales.

Linda has a saying, "Don't borrow trouble from the future."

Then again, when you're ordering product for the "future" you at least have to be aware of "trouble."

I don't know what the solution is. It's a behavior change that if anything is growing more pronounced. All I can do as a store owner is be careful.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Review of "Leftovers."

The early word was that the second season of Leftovers wasn't as downbeat. I'd been on the bubble about whether to watch this again, but these early reviews made me go ahead and tape them.

The acting in this show is fantastic, the writing is wonderful, the directing is great.

But man o' man is it bleak.

Each episode is a little jewel of a short story, adding to the overall thematic structure of the show. The first season did end up having a satisfying story-arc -- barely. But it was a story-arc built not on plot but on an overall theme.

The themes can't get much bigger than those in this show -- the nature of God and miracles and sin and redemption and...

Says the crazy lady to the pastor: "What's your favorite book of the bible?"

The pastor: "The Book of Job."


Small validations.

In sort of a lull as far as books are concerned. Not my writing them -- I'm as diligent as ever about that -- but the publishing part. It's not something I wanted. I figured out early that if I wanted to keep any kind of momentum in sales I needed to put out a new book every 5 months or so. 

I'm hoping Books of the Dead will get The Darkness You Fear out soon after receiving it. Lara has agreed to edit it in January, so sometime after that. Close enough not to hurry one of my other books out. I'm a few chapters from the end, and I'm going to do a rewrite over the second half of the month.

Anyway, I was feeling a little down. A few negative reviews and slower sales.

So I look for glad tiding where I can.

Linda, of course. She's a huge supporter of me -- listens to each day's chapter and nods her approval, or points out problems.

Then there is writer's group. They usually seem to like what I've done. Pam looking at me when I finish and saying, "That's some good writing," is pretty gratifying. Gary saying, "It's good," and then pointing out a few small issues is gratifying too, because he's harder to please. Susan repeating over and over again how "great" Led to the Slaughter was.

Then there are the people who come in the store and volunteer that they liked my book. Sometimes they are very generous in their praise.

And finally, Lara, my editor. I pay her, so I suppose I should take it with a grain of salt. But for instance, she's editing Gargoyle Dreams, and I was having doubts about the book, and she says she's "loving" it. You know, just the sound of that word is nice.

So I'll take encouragement where I can.

In the end, it's up to me. And I try to give myself encouragement too. Mostly about each book. This is a "good" book, I tell myself. As long as I feel that way, I just keep going.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hit 50K on The Darkness You Fear

So I'm heading for the homestretch.

I figure about 10 chapters left to go. I have the next three chapters pretty much figured out, and then I go into the last act, of which I have only vague notions.

It's a complicated book, not formulaic at all in structure. I like it. I feel like I have a knack of writing in the modern idiom with just enough of the old-time feel to it to seem authentic.

I'm not sure why, but I really love writing in the Western motif too. So Weird Western is like a perfect genre for me. I want to write a Virginia Reed adventure at least once a year from now on. She was born in 1831, so I figure I can take her all the way to the 1920's, heh.

More and more I'm thinking I need to do what I want to do, and hope that others like it.

The proposal for "Not by Water, But by Fire" was pretty much my attempt to be "mainstream" and it's okay, but if the publisher turns it down, (which I expect because I demanded a contract...balls), I'm going my own way on it. Which will be slightly more SF, maybe with a hint of the supernatural. Because that's the kind of book I like to write.

I have so many books to complete. I think I'm going to dedicate 2016 to finishing off all the projects I've started. If a really strong book comes to me, I'll break off and write that, but mostly, I'd just like the clear the decks. Start putting them out myself.

Went out to the Badlands again yesterday, did my 5 mile circuit. I have a "writing stump" that is situated about halfway through the route, and all the ideas I get in the first half of the walk I sit down and write, then go to the end, come back sit on the Writing Stump again.

I can't use the Writing Stump in the summer because it's infested with ants, but that's okay because it's warm enough to plop down on the sands and write there.

Planning on heading out there again today. I try not to let threatening skies stop me -- Central Oregon can have threatening skies a lot of the time, and never deliver. Wind seems to be the biggest thing, right now, and that's pretty harmless when it's warm. Even when the weather is bad, I can write in the car.

As soon as I turn onto the road to the Badlands, my mind starts churning. Cool.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Every book is different.

It's a bit of a cliche, but so true.

I've never written a book like The Darkness You Fear. I'm full of ideas for the book, but when I sit down to write, the words are just trickling out.

Frankly, and I probably shouldn't say it, usually the words are outrunning the ideas. I purposely slow down the word count to regenerate ideas, because I'm quite capable of writing a couple thousand words with shallow content.

But with this book, the themes are deep enough that when I approach a chapter they are already pregnant, and I'm just trying to give birth.

And it's been agony.

Yesterday was a good example. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, I had some starting ideas. Even though it was raining hard, I drove to my usual spot in the Badlands. I find that just driving down the road seems to generate the urge to write.

So I sat there for an hour in the rain, the windows fogging up, trying to produce the words to describe the vision in my head, and eking out maybe 300 words.

Then the skies cleared, rainbows broke out everywhere, and even though it was extremely windy, it was also warm so I went for my usual walk. Along the way, the rest of the ideas of what I wanted to write came to me.

So the entire chapter was blocked out, and that is usually the hard part.

I stop midway, and eke out another 500 words. I'm only 1/3rd my goal with half of the usual writing day over. I get back to the car a couple hours later, and sit and eke out another 300 words. It starts raining again.

I get home, I take a nap, I try to summon the words, and nothing comes.

Linda gets home, it's the time when I'm usually relaxing after a productive day, and I'm still a good 1000 words from my goal. Finally, at about 8:00, I get the final push and finish the chapter. I think it's good, but it feels sketchy. The important thing, is that I got the IDEAS down. The writing can be improved later.

It's an interesting -- and new --- experience, not having the words come despite being clear where I'm going. As I've said, I think this is going to be a good book, with some depth, if I can just managed to wrangle it together.

I wonder if this is how other writers feel all the time. I'm just trying to be disciplined. Getting the work done. Really, when you get right down to it, the tapping of words on the computer probably only takes an hour or two. All the rest is trying to create the mood and conditions for those two hours of production to happen.

Monday, December 7, 2015

There's a good book in there somewhere.

I feel like this could be a good book. I'm a sculptor staring at a block of granite and I can glimpse the beautiful shape inside. I've almost afraid to take a whack at it.

So I'm chipping away at it, not really getting at the core, hoping for the moment when I'll know exactly where and how hard to strike. As long as I'm chipping away at it, I feel like I'm making progress. Not as fast as I'd like -- but only because I think there is something there that needs to be coaxed out.

The potential is just a feeling, but that feeling is always a good sign. It means that the book is worthy of pursuing. I always say that I write for entertainment, that the most important part is coming up with a good story.

But usually I decide on an underlying theme, which gives meaning and purpose the scenes, gives the characters and the plot a little more depth.

I don't know how well I succeed at it, but I know I want to give the books a little extra texture.

So Led to the Slaughter isn't so much about the werewolves as it is about loyalty and endurance and honor.

The Dead Spend No Gold isn't about Bigfoot as much as it is about greed and the Indian genocide.

This new book, The Darkness You Fear, is about family abuse and the helplessness of children and women in the Old West.

So for instance, one of the three storylines in the book is the actual haunting of the miners. Now I could just make this a horror show, and I'm going to try to do that -- but adding extra dimension is the theme that the ghosts represent an injustice that must be resolved, that they are are a manifestation of remorse and regret? That what really haunts the miners isn't some supernatural beings, but the memory of their own failings.

Not only does that add a little to the story, but it makes the story easier to write. I can create for a purpose more than just the story and the entertainment. But only in so far as it adds to the entertainment, the story. Not to take the place of the story but to add some underlying meaning.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A series to be proud of.

Went walking in the Badlands. I've decided it's not the temperature that counts but the wind chill. It was windy. But I started walking and the more I walked, the easier it got.

I was about halfway up the hill when two cars drive by (four cars altogether on my walk, which is about four cars too many) and the driver says, "Are you all right?"

I nod.

"Are you Okay, man?" He said it like, "What kind of moron would be walking in this?"

"I'm great!" Heh.

Anyway, I'm fully into the book again. "The Darkness You Fear: Ghosts of the Lost Blue Bucket Mine." It has taken a couple of days to remember where I was at, mentally and emotionally.

I'm sort of shutting everything else out for the next couple of weeks. Get the first draft done. I don't think I'll send it to Lara until the 1st of the year, since the second half of December would probably not be the best time. And it will give me a chance to give it a rewrite.

It's just a matter of doing it. Just putting in the work each day. I want this to be good book. I want the Virginia Reed books to be a series I'm proud of. Just trying to immerse myself completely in her world. The 2000 words a day seems to be the new standard. I'm spending just as much time thinking about what I want to write as in actual writing.

So this whole process is probably going to take a month longer than normal because I'm trying to be diligent.

I want these to be the kind of books that could sit proudly in someone's library.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Badlands writing.

Housebound and not writing for four days. That hurts.

Having a hard time getting back into The Darkness You Fear. Four days of not writing. I was planning to research, and I have a book that I think is going to be a goldmine for that (no pun intended.)

But I'm just not in the mood for research. I want to write the basic story, and then hang the research on that.

So I'm going to drive on out to the Badlands, which should be a good trigger for me. It's probably a muddy mess, but even if I just sit in the car and get a couple thousand words down, that will get me started. In some ways, the snow has been the biggest hindrance. I probably would have gotten going by now if not for that.

I think this could be a good book, especially with the research adding verisimilitude to it.  So we'll see what happens in the Badlands.

Later:  Ah, I missed that. Couldn't go walking for four days because of the snow. The Badlands were clear, and I got to walk the full circuit (five mile roundtrip) and it was great. Back to going out there every day.

I didn't actually write out there -- too cold to sit, but I got back into the mood. This is going to be a good book (subjectively, of course, but by my standards) so that encourages me to keep going.

Came home and wrote 1800 words.

I seem to have a talent for writing about journeys and making them believable, even though I'm making it all up. I also seem to be able to capture a slightly "out of date" tone to make it seem like it's old-timey, without it being distracting. (Again, if I do say so myself.)

I have to finish the journal entries of the main backstory before I can write any more. This is a fairly complex book, with three storylines, and I have to find a way to make them all fit. The main storyline got ahead of the backstory, so I'm going to put two backstory chapters back to back throughout the book, and make the sequence work better.

Also thinking about eliminating two characters and consolidating them with others. (I have 6 children in one family, and I think I can cut that to 4.) Going to be confusing enough as it is -- to the point where I may include a Dramatis Personae.

I'm thinking about cutting off social media for the next 10 days and just baring down. Of course, I probably can't do it. But...I'd really like to immerse myself.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sitting through the credits.

I've taken to sitting through the credits of most movies. I'm not sure why, but it seems to enhance the overall experience.

Usually there some nice orchestral music playing, as the movie fades away slowly to the theme music. A little after dinner aperitif.

So, what...I could be walking through a dirty noisy parking lot? Sitting in my car?

No...sitting there, not abruptly changing the mood, is more preferable to that. Five extra minutes, and then I'm ready to go.

Linda indulges me. The theater workers give me exasperated looks. But I kind of like the whole experience.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Best Laid Plans...

Early on, I researched how long books tend to sell and came to the conclusion that you have between 4 and 6 months before they fall off the table.

So I've tried hard to put a book out every 4 months or so.

I was right on schedule with Tuskers III, which was supposed to come out in October, and then Ragnarok decided to go to a bookstore distribution model, and it has been delayed 6 - 8 months.

So...unless I finish The Darkness You Fear and unless Books of the Dead gets around to publishing right away (which has not been happening -- months and months go by) there is going to be a long delay between books.

And sales are falling off the table at around the 7 month period from the last book published.

It's frustrating. I have multiple books written.

I do have books ready to put out myself, but I really wanted The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders to be the first out the gate, and I'm waiting on a cover. Hopefully by January, anyway.

This is always going to be a problem with collaboration. One of the joys of owning my own business has been that I've been able to make my own decisions. However, even there, I'm at the mercy of the producers to get good product out on a timely basis, which is always touch and go.

Oh, well. It's not like I was getting rich either way. But I worry about losing a certain amount of momentum. Hopefully, people will still remember me when I finally get something out again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Arguing with Memes.

A Facebook friend posted a meme about how nice it would be for his friends to have secret tunnel to his house.

Shudder. This is an alien thought and emotion to me. I can't imagine anything worse.

I just went through a five day period with people in the house all the time. People I love very much. But yesterday, the first day to myself, was glorious.

Such a loner.

I picked up a book while they were here and read it in a day. Probably some form of escape. Then picked up another book last night after turning off the T.V. and to my great surprise, Panga jumped in my lap and went to sleep, the first time she's done that in ages.

But then, when was the last time I was reading a book on the couch?

So if I'm going to have a New Year's Resolution -- which I don't believe in -- it is to pick up the reading pace again.

Another meme I read recently was how writing was like prostitution. First you do it for love, then you do it for friends, and then you do it for money.

Well, exactly. At least, the progression is very pronounced that way. I'd sort of like to get back to phase one -- the writing for the love of it.

Up until recently, I'd only gotten a couple of negative reviews and they were so off base I could sort of ignore them. But over the last three months, I've gotten a few without explanation. Just a one or two star.


So...I always check, sometimes find out that they're giving Stephen King and George R.R. Martin one and two star reviews also. So that helps put it in perspective.

Thing is -- none of that is within my control. I don't know if I'm any good or not, I only know when I think a book is as good as I can make it.

I'm guessing I'm going to need to go to self-publishing soon -- if for no other reason than that I'm incredibly prolific.

I've checked out a couple of "open submissions" lately, and the terms were unappealing and they gave off the stench of a "cattle call" and why do I even want to go there?

I'm really working under two opposing impulses. One is the private world of writing, without any regard to anything outside. The other is the wish that people can find me and read me.

I've decided the first impulse is by far the more important. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Writing Next Year.

Taking the day off from writing.

Todd and his girlfriend are home, and that's been a fun visit.

Tomorrow I start working on The Darkness You Fear again. I'm 40K words into the book, and I'd like to get the first draft to about 70K words.

I'm at a point in the book where I need to do some research before I proceed, so I'm going to spend a few days doing that. Then push to finish the book, hopefully by the middle of the month, but definitely by the end of the year.

Try to get it edited in January and off to Books of the Dead in February.

Meanwhile, as soon as I have a cover to The Manic Pixie Dream Girls Murders, I'm going to put it out myself. Followed by I Live Among You and The Last Fedora. Hopefully, followed by Gargoyle Dreams. One every three months.

I'd love to write Not by Water, But by Fire next, but unless the big publisher gives me a contract -- which is extremely unlikely even if he likes my proposal -- I think I want to move on with my life.

I have a publisher who will at least take a look at my next Creature book -- Snaked. So I think I should do that, since there might be a market.

Then I'll turn to Not by Water, But by Fire.

Oh, well. I make these plans and then I suddenly get other ideas, but that's how it looks right now.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The gratitude of finishing a book.

I always feel a little wave of endorphins when I finish writing a book. It's gratitude, a feeling of accomplishment, a thrill to have created something.

"I Live Among You" is finished.

It's probably the first book where I've finished a first draft completely satisfied. Even Led to the Slaughter took some work before it reached that standard, and there are elements of almost all my other books that I wasn't completely satisfied with.

Not that the book wouldn't benefit from a rewrite -- but plotwise, it's sound. There isn't a single chapter I want to move or redo.

I wrote this as a whim, and it came out well.

Many times over the last few years I've wondered if I should think more before I start. Have an outline, or something.

And then a book like Tuskers or I Live Among You comes along and completely contradicts that notion. In fact, the message seems to be -- trust in my instincts. Let the subconscious do the work, get out of its way.

I'm really proud of this book. But even more -- it has pointed to the way for my future writing. Some books do require research, some books I have to wrestle with, but I'm more and more inclined to write these quicker books. They're just as good, if not better, and they are so much easier and more enjoyable to write.

Then again, I do want to challenge myself.

So I'll probably continue to do a mixture of the two kinds of books. 

I'm addicted to this process now. I love it.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Meanwhile, I keep writing.

I'm writing the last chapter of my November book, "I Live Among You," today.

Two days early!

To be honest, the 2000 word pace was a little leisurely for me. On the other hand, I usually give myself more breaks.

I will set it aside while I finish the first draft of The Darkness You Fear (I'm 2/3rds done). The Virginia Reed book will receive precedence in editing as well. When I've completely finished it, I'll go back to my November book and give it a rewrite and then have it edited.

I'm hoping I can release The Manic Pixie Dream Girls myself early next year. Just waiting on a cover.

I'm ready to proceed with putting my books out myself, without regard to publishers. I still want publishers, don't get me wrong, but I'm so damned prolific that there is really no way to send all of them off.  I already need to write Tuskers IV for Ragnarok (with Tuskers III finished and waiting), and The Darkness You Fear is intended for Books of the Dead.

I have an idea that another small publisher expressed interest in -- no commitment but worth writing.

And I'm still dangling with the Big Publisher, though based on what's happened so far, I don't expect that to come through. That has been an adventure, which I shall someday relate, but I don't want to burn any bridges just yet.

Meanwhile, I keep writing.

Turns out, if you keep writing every day for five years, you really start to pile up some books. I'm going to be forced to release at least some of them under a different name. I can't afford top line covers and editing for all these books. I'm going to need to release some under my own editing.

That isn't that big of a problem, actually, since my grammar and spelling are mostly correct. It's a bit of an extra, trying to get the book as good as I can, that I have been paying for it.

The covers, too, can be done cheaper. Photoshopping myself or with some help. I'm figuring, all these do-it-yourself books will come out under a different name. I still think they are good stories, worthy stories, but I'm just so prolific that I can't continue to expend money.

So I'm separating out the books that I consider to have commercial potential from books that I wrote for fun. Actually, I wrote them all for fun, but some of them just have more inherent possibilities than others.

The ones with potential will get the full press -- professional editing and covers. The others will be done to the best of my ability by myself. 

Meanwhile, I keep writing.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A tank versus the Old Gods?

I wrote the scene yesterday, then read it to Linda, who looked at me in bewilderment.


So as much as I like that response, it probably isn't a good one for the penultimate chapter. Heh.

I've built this whole story into a war between the worlds, but more importantly a war between good and evil. Using a tank is pretty reductive.

I think I can use some elements of this chapter, make the tank a red herring, but it probably shouldn't be moved front and center.

I'm going to sit down and write a completely new chapter without reference to this aborted one, and then take whatever elements I can save and use them.

I don't usually take such false steps but this could be a earlier chapter in a longer story --  there is a second book in this series, if I want there to be. But it might leave the ending to this book a little less than spectacular. I'm always annoyed when I watch a show and they have a natural conclusion that they obviously avoid in order to extend the story. It's a bit like cheating.

I still have four days to write the last two chapters, so I can work on it. Try to get it right.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I feel like writing, turkeys.

I came up with a second "mainstream" idea that I liked a lot. It came out of my original concept for Snaked, only I made it bigger.

So yesterday, I see a book that is almost exactly the same idea. Not only that, but has a similar cover to what I envisioned, not only that has a title that evokes the same idea and even uses one of the same words. (I like my title slightly better, and I like my cover idea slightly better, depending on how it comes out.)

But I don't know anything else about this book.

So if I write it, I might be doing what he's doing or I might go off in an entirely different direction. Even if it's similar, it will be different.

Or I can go back to the original smaller idea, Snaked, which I intended as a simple creature story like Tuskers. Maybe even simpler.

Oh, well. I never actually know what I'm going to write until I start writing.

It's amazing how often my more whimsical ideas take off -- I mean, I start them almost as a joke and they just keep going.

I'm going to write today, even with guests. I am feeling the urge too strongly to ignore. Will still spend half the day with relatives, but the other half locked in my room.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

9 year blog anniversary.

I've now been doing this for 9 years.

I've only missed a few days, all of them in the last six months. Once I missed a day by accident, I figured, what the hell.

Nevertheless, I still write just about every day.

At first, it was a "bubble blog" talking about the real estate bubble, predicting a collapse -- though not predicting the whole Great Recession.

Then it was about the my business and downtown Bend.

All along, it was also personal.

Lately, and probably to most of my original readers' disgust, it's been about writing.

In fact, the fact that I could so easily write this blog every day was part of the inspiration for trying fiction again.

9 years. Who'd have thunk it?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Slowest day of the year. This is going to hurt.

Didn't write today, either. Just didn't feel inspired. I have only the last three chapters to write and I want them to be good.

What else?

Oh, yeah.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Coming in for landing.

Had a hard time visualizing my chapter yesterday. Basically the last face-to-face between the protagonist and the Devil. Mostly dialogue with a little bit of action.

It was what I call a jigsaw chapter, in that it came in bits and pieces which I had to put together.

I was in doubt of it until I read it to Linda this morning, and it sounded pretty good, and Linda really liked it. She's liked the whole book so far.

Went walking again yesterday. I haven't been keeping track but it's been almost every day this month.

It's supposed to drop down into the teens by tomorrow, so today may be my last walk for awhile.

It is very helpful to my writing. I give myself the whole walk to just float, wait for  ideas. If they clamor too much, I plop myself on the desert sand or rocks and  I pull out my laptop.

I have three chapters visualized in my head -- and need four chapters. But I'm not too worried. Either another chapter will come, or I'll do a quick rewrite to get the other 2000 words I want.

Coming in for landing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Not by water, but by fire.

Back on track on my November book, but I gave myself the whole day to do it. I even used my usual walk in the Badlands for this book.  I can finish it up this week, then go back to The Darkness You Fear.

My little foray into "mainstream" publishing looks like it's coming to an end. Don't want to be anymore specific than that. Weird part was, I didn't even ask for it. It came to me. So I feel a little like someone enticed me over just to slam the door in my face. Which was unnecessary. A rude diversion.

The book, though, I think is still a good idea and I intend to write it anyway.

The title is, Not by Water, But by Fire.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It's very liberating.

Went walking in the Badlands, driving home at dark. I'm addicted to it.

It's about a 4 mile loop that I take. Very soothing. Yesterday I could tell no one had been there for at least a day, only my tracks.

I ended up writing on The Darkness You Fear, even though I'd given myself the out. But the words came, and I never turn them down.

I'm not writing on the November book today because I woke up late and have to work. Tis, Okay. I'm human.

Lining up covers to my finished books, which I'm going to start releasing soon.

First up around January or so, my succubus book.

I've decided to revert to my original title, which was The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders.

Blood of the Succubus just sounds generic, sort of like a Castle horror film from the fifties.

People may not know what a MPDG is, but that's their problem.

Trying to come up with taglines:

Sex to die for...

A girl to die for...

Sex and the modern Succubus. (A play on Sex and the Single Girl, which is probably a little obscure.)

I'm ready to move forward on my own.  It's very liberating.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I've cracked.

Oh, not on the November book. That's going swimmingly.

But trying to write The Darkness You Fear in the afternoon has just become too hard. It feels unpleasant, actually. I mean, I did it OK, but it was superhard.

I like living in one fictional dream world at a time.

So I'm going to finish my November book, and only then turn to the Virginia Reed book.

My November book is entitled: I Live Among You.

The tagline is: "When the Devil is your client..."

Peter Grandy, a private investigator, is hired by the Devil to infiltrate a cult planning to open a portal into Earth for the Old Gods. It's a jurisdictional issue. The Devil can't do anything without being invited.

Grandy, who at night is a serial killer, discovers that more is going on that the Devil told him (Surprise!). His own urges to kill fades away when he discovers that Percy Evans, the leader of the cult, isn't who he expected.

It's been a fun book to write. The first time I've done a full 1st person viewpoint. It seems easy to write that way, but it also feels thin, if fun and fast. Linda seems to like it a lot.  I guess I like multiple viewpoints, normally, and 3rd person, because it gives me more flexibility to add more elements to the story.

The Darkness You Fear by contrast is extraordinarily complicated. I have two major plotlines running more or less backward toward each other, as well as a third plotline in-between. I don't know for sure if it works, but it came to me like that, and well -- I like it.

Anyway, I'm contemplating putting I Live Among You out immediately -- just, "Here it is."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Just waiting for the right moment.

I thought this morning that I had only 7 chapters to go on my November book, so I mapped out 7 chapters.

Turned out, I have 9 chapters to go, but I'm sure that a couple more chapters will come to me.

Still liking this book a lot.

Meanwhile, I think I might be nearing the end of my concurrent daily writing on The Darkness You Fear. Mostly because I think I need to do some research before moving forward. So I'm going to take a few days to do that.

It is getting harder and harder to separate the two books in my mind. I'll be thinking about one book, and my mind will drift to the other book.

I don't think I'll ever try to do this again. It was a mind trick, and sort of unpleasant. The only way I've been able to do it is to drive 20 miles to the Badlands and write there. Completely different setting, just for that.

Driving home last night, I barely missed a deer, and I've realized every time I drive this route in the dark I'm risking that. Plus, it is getting too cold to walk.

I'm only trying to do about 1000 words on the Virginia Reed book per day. If I finish my November book on the 25th, I'll turn my full attention to the second book and try to finish it in the next week. Then do a quick rewrite.  My goal is to finish it by December 15th and send it to Lara. Work on it while Lara has it, and get it done a few days after she returns the edits. So hopefully early next year the book will be out.

I'm setting aside the November book when I'm finished. I'm afraid it will be joining the ranks of The Last Fedora, The Blood of the Succubus, and Gargoyle Dreams. All books I'm finished with and which I like, but which I don't know what to do with. Eventually, I suspect, I'll start releasing them myself every few months as soon as they all have covers. I have covers for two of them, so I could start doing that at any time.

But no hurry, I figure. Just waiting for the right moment.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Wing it or outline it?

I have figured out where I want the November book to go.

The only question is do I want to try to write that down or just wing it? I've spun out the plot for Linda and in the telling a few more details were invented.

Once invented, they become part of the story.

The real trick from here it to get the timing right. There is the right time and the wrong time to introduce a plot element. It can be done clumsily or elegantly.

By being loose, I have the potential for either extreme, whereas nailing it down now would at least find a workable way, at the risk of possibly eliminating the most elegant possibility.

And there is the possibility that I might forget something if I don't write it down. I pretty much trust my subconscious to remind me, but it's a dangerous game. As long as I finish it this month, which I intend, I should be all right.

I've been very easy-going with this book, so I think I probably should continue that.

Meanwhile, over at the Virginia Reed book, I'm having to change a few plot elements. The book is about ghosts, and I was trying to be coy with that, and then -- I just plunked them down in the forth chapter, no hiding who and what they are. There is no real way to hide it, that I can see.

So I go with the Alfred Hitchcock bromide that it isn't something surprising that scares people, but something inevitable that they know is coming.

Besides (don't tell anyone) my stories aren't really about "scary" as much as they are about telling a good story in a scary realm.  I'm eliminating a couple of characters as extra and confusing, but what all these changes mean is a thorough re-write. But then, this book requires some research. (I do research after I've set down the basic first draft plot, backward as that may seem.)

I seem to have books that are projects, and books that just come out whole. It would be great if all the books came out whole, but some subjects just require more effort. I'm not saying one type of book is better than the other. In fact, the project books my have more heft, but the first draft books have more oomph.  I don't know.

Project books are intimidating -- because I'm lazy. Because looking shit up isn't the same thing as creating it. There is great fun in integrating the two, but meanwhile it's work.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The plot is revealed.

28,000 words into my November book and I'm taking a nap and Bamm! I know what I want to do and where it's supposed to go. I especially like that it isn't where I thought it was going, yet feels right.


I was just winging it, enjoying it, but I was not really sure what was going to happen.

How the hell does that happen? Thank you subconscious! Thank you Muses! Thank you God! Thank you other dimensions where my stories live!

I'm not saying it's great, but it sure impresses me if no one else. Like a door opening, the top of my head literally lifts and light enters.

What a great feeling.

I don't know if I can pull off the vision I have in my head and I still have to work out some of the plot, but I have a general notion of the theme, where I want the characters to be, and how things are resolved.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

All in, or not at all.

Finished the 2000 words on the November book early. Linda loves it, but I'm worried it is too cute. Easy to write with a sidekick character named Pusifer who is a cat from hell.

Then went out and winterized the house. Have been putting it off forever, because I thought it would be hard. So easy. Did it in a very short time.

So now I'm just goofing off waiting until 3:00 when I will go on my daily drive to write on my Virginia Reed book.

Feeling really relaxed. A bit of money pressure because the store has been slow this month, maybe the first down month in a couple of years. Not sure why. Just means I won't spend quite so much on Christmas product.

Weirdly, my Star Wars toys aren't selling at all. Don't understand that. Not worried about the long run, but I needed to sell at least some of them to relieve the cash flow pressure. Ah, well. We have the money in the bank to cover the shortages.

I don't know what they count as inflation, but everything seems more expensive to me.

Beautiful Bend day. My favorite kind of day. Exactly 60 degrees, the perfect walking weather. I'm sure I'm going to run into crowds out at the Badlands, but I'll just try to find an unoccupied spot.

The writing is just going extraordinarily well. I seem to have immense discipline when it comes to writing. Don't know where that comes from.

Of course, I used to use the same energy at the store, but that was something that couldn't be measured. Books can be measured. So many words written, so many books finished. Prodigious, but it seems to be the way I do things -- all in, or not at all.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Cthulhu 007!

Went to see Spectre today. No one told me about Cthulhu 007!

It also threw me off my writing. Didn't get out to the Badlands until after 4:00. Went for a walk, and it was almost dark by the time I got back to the car. I love walking in the dusk, absolutely alone and absolutely quiet.

I thought up the plot of the chapter I wanted to write, but didn't finish until 9:00.

Back on schedule tomorrow. Now more than halfway on both books.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Still on pace.

Still on pace. I write the 2000 words early in the day, wait a few hours, then drive out to the Badlands and write on the second book (no specific word goal.)

I'm almost exactly halfway through both books.

Pretty crazy thing to do and I doubt I'll ever do it again. It's very hard to wrench my headspace away from the first book into the second book. Half the time I find myself writing 1st person, even when I remind myself not to.

But so far, the ideas have come, and the word flow is solid, and I like what's happening with both books.

I'm trying to finish them before I hear back from the publisher, because no matter what the verdict it, it is likely to throw me off my stride.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My so-called career.

I've realized halfway through writing my November book that the tone I'm using, the first-person voice, was the tone I was trying to reach with the first book I attempted after coming back to writing.

I just couldn't quite get it right then. Or maybe I just doubted myself. I went away from that tone, turning it to 3rd person, making it more serious. I didn't think of myself as a humorous writer.

I still don't think I'm a humorous writer, and yet humor slips in. Maybe that's the trick. Not to try to be funny, but let the funny happen when it happens. That first started showing up with Tuskers -- unintentionally funny scenes. That is, I thought I was being flippant, but I was getting actual laughs.

Maybe the trick to fixing Faerylander once and for all is to go back and regain my flippant voice and write it in 1st person wherever possible.

I chose 1st person for my November book because it is easier -- and yet, I don't have any other books in 1st person for structural reasons. I like to have multiple characters usually, doing things all over the place.

Yet even in my Virginia Reed novels, I manage to do quite a bit of 1st person narration through the use of letters and journals, and the technique brings the books to life.

This was going to be a short book, and I thought maybe I could pull it off. So far, so good. So good in fact that I can see myself writing a lot of books with this method.

Here's the thing. I have no end of stories, apparently, and I can write them fast. I've resisted the impulse (though it may not look that way) and each book I've put out so far has had much more effort expended.

But I'm thinking of a two tier approach to writing. These quick and fun books, and then the more serious books.

Whether to use a pen name for one type of book and my own name for the other kind of book, I'm undecided.

So far, I'm sitting on a number of finished books, waiting to see what happens to my so-called career.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

So my hero is a serial-killer.

You want your protagonist to be sympathetic, you know. No matter how charming, a serial killer is still a serial killer.

I had decided to change that to a jewelry thief, and started the changeover, and it was doable.

But it seemed to take all the energy out of the book.

Grandy is irredeemable as a human, but he is still a hero, if a hero sacrifices himself for the greater good.

All very weird and likely to put off some people. But then again, the people who would be put off by it aren't going to buy a book whose tagline is "When the Devil is your're in trouble."

So onward with the original conception.

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's a damned good premise.

So my mainstream proposal, the so-called "100 kickass pages," was based on a damned good premise. It has huge potential, and might someday soon be a very timely thing.

If the editor and publisher were smart, they would help me make this proposal and shape it, even if my submission is flawed.

For the first time, I'm a little paranoid that the premise could be taken away. As you may have noticed with this blog, I don't usually hide what I'm doing, but in this case, I decided it would be better to keep it to myself until it was developed.

If they don't take this book, I'll go ahead and write it anyway because I have great faith in it.

What would really make this a good book is some extensive research. I'm hoping to make it a Micheal Crichton kind of book -- not quite as wonky as Tom Clancy, but with a bunch of telling detail.

Anyway, I just wish they'd give me the go-ahead, (as in a contract -- saying, "go ahead and write it" without a contract is pretty useless).

I could really sink my teeth into this.

Meanwhile, as I'm waiting, I'm trying to finish The Darkness You Fear. I love Virginia Reed as a character, and I love the setting, the whole world. So I'm very pleasantly involved in fleshing this out, making it a good book.

I'm on track. I just need to follow through.

Being on track is a little boring, you know? No drama.

No worries, I'm sure the drama will come. It always does...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Out walking the book.

Every afternoon, I drive the 20 miles to the Badlands (and I have the gas bills to prove it.)

I do this as preparation for writing The Darkness You Fear. The 20 miles gives me a chance to remove myself, physically and mentally, from whatever else I was doing. By the time I get there, I'm committed to writing something, after all I've spent the time and money to get there so I better be productive.

It doesn't hurt that I'm writing a weird western. The landscape really gets me in the mood.

I've seen one coyote on my walks. Yesterday I heard a coyote yip yip yipppppeeeeeinggg! away, it sounded like just a few hundred feet away. It was answered by a distant yip yip yippppeeeiinnng! Very cool.

I've been startled two or three times by huge owls who swoop out of the trees. Strangely, I haven't seen deer. I see more deer in town or in the pastures along the road out to the Badlands. And I've come across one poor forlorn chicken and felt forever guilty about leaving it there.

Mostly though, it's just quiet. I get a little put out when I run into people. This is MY path!

I often talk to myself, give myself a little pep talk. But mostly I just wait for the ideas to come. Not force them, but open myself up to them.

And they come. How lucky is that? I seem to have a lot creative energy, and I'm spending it. Spending all of it. After all, I don't how long this will last.

I have a great deal of admiration for my fellow writers who have jobs or young families and health and money issues, who have an outside life and friends and all that and still manage to write.

I spent 30 years unable to write.

But I've cleared the decks. Writing comes first, (except for Linda who cuts me as much slack as she can, and because she is a kind and generous person, that's a lot.)

Anyway, once I'm at the Badlands, I'll either stay in the car, if the weather it too awful, or go for short walks if it isn't too awful, and go for long walks when the weather it good.

Yesterday was perfect. Not too warm so that walking made me hot, or so cool that sitting made me cold. I just walk and wait for the ideas. Sometimes I spur them a little. "I need a new character, who would that be? I need an action scene, what would it entail?" But mostly, I try to let it be natural.

I get a rush when I come up with a cool scene, a new interesting character, a twist. Yesterday, I had one come up and it actually brought an endorphine flow so strong it brought tears to my eyes. Pure gratitude that such an idea came out of nowhere.

Somewhere in the vast universe, I tell myself, this actually happened. These are real people doing real things, and I'm getting a dim reflection of them and writing them down.

Meanwhile, the walks themselves are like my writing. You take one step at a time, and after awhile you look back and realize you've gone a fair distance, just like you write one word at a time and if you keep doing it, you cover ground.

You do it everyday, and its good exercise. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a good exercise for the body, the mind, the emotions, the soul.

I call it "walking the book."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Too much momentum to stop now.

JOURNAL: 11/7/15

At least part of the reason I'm rushing to write these two books is that I want to have made good progress, or even finish them, before my will to live is crushed by rejection.

No matter how I prepare myself, there will always be the odor of sour-grapes rationalization. Even when my mind truly can come up with a bunch of legit reasons why it could happen.

And it doesn't help to prepare for it. Knowing you're going to get socked in the face doesn't make it hurt any less. In fact, it might hurt more.

Every time I try to tell myself it doesn't matter if I get rejected, saying things like, "Hey, it's no worse a result than never having submitted," I also have to admit to myself, "Hey, if it doesn't matter, why are you doing it?"

Well, obvious reasons. More exposure, connections, credibility, bookstore exposure, and possible (though most likely, very limited) money.  

But I really also mean it when I say it might be a little bit of a relief. What really got me rolling on writing again was skipping that whole submission process, which is nerve-wracking and soul-crushing.  It seems arbitrary and way too dependent on luck, timing, and who you know.

You mean I can write whatever I want, whenever I want, and I can just publish it? Count me in!

So after an appropriate mourning time, I will move on. I know this. I've just got too much momentum to stop now.

This is doable.

Bad enough that I write one book in a month, but that I do two books in a month is ridiculous.

It won't be quite that -- The Darkness You Fear will take longer -- but pretty close. Also, these are first drafts and they will have to be worked on. But still...

The thing you have to understand is that I give the entire day over to it.  Morning to one book, afternoon-evening to another book. No kids, no job, no responsibilities.

Just writing.

It does take quite an adjustment. I wrote half a chapter the day before yesterday in the wrong tense. Then today I wrote half a chapter in first person when it should be third person. Easily fixed, but even when I caught myself doing it, I couldn't seem to stop myself.

That and the tone. The first book is breezy, light-hearted, the second book is more serious.

So there has to be a break between the two books. I let several hours go by. Also, just driving out to the Badlands and going for short walks seems to get me in the mood for Virginia's western atmosphere.

The November book was meant to be easy -- a knockoff, early morning 2000 words whatever came to me. But 12K words in it seems to be turning into a real book, which adds a little pressure I didn't expect.

So...two books. How prodigious is that? Ridiculous. I don't think I'll do this again.

Friday, November 6, 2015

All I need and want is time.

Six days of 2000 words each on my November Book. Just winging it. Linda likes it, so that means I'm on track.  I write on this first thing in the morning. Already have 12K words. I'm writing straight to the ending, no detours, so if it ends up shorter than 50K words that will be all right. Anything over 30K words and I'll publish it anyway.

Then I wait until late afternoon and try to get into Virginia Reed's head, which is a very different voice and story. So far I've managed it.

I've discovered a trick. I drive the 20 miles to the Badlands, thinking about the book all the way. This geographical break is the equivalent of a psychic break.

Then, I either park or go walking, and then come back and start writing. It's hard, but once I get rolling, it's no harder than usual.

Two books being written at the same time. I'm so impressed with myself.

Worked at the store yesterday and told my mainstream idea to several people, and they all seemed to think it was a great idea, so that's encouraging.

All I need and want is time. I want to finish all these projects, give birth to them, put them out into the world.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

It's all attitude.

It amazes me that I can get up every morning and whip out 2000 words on this new story like its nothing, especially since I have no idea where it's going.

It's the attitude of the characters that allow this. First of all, being first person, and being flippant, is just so easy to write. Second, I'm not putting any pressure on myself at all. Third, I'm not worrying about length since I'm almost certain I'm putting this out myself as an ebook, so anything over Novella length, say 30,000 words, will be just fine.

So far it's been fun. And it's encouraging that Linda likes it so much.

I may hit a wall, since I haven't figured out what it is really about. But I'll have fun, fun, fun until I smash into the bricks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Crazy Ambitious

Well, maybe not ambitious, per se. But I have soooooooooooo many projects I want to finish.

So I'm trying to write two books at the same time.

The first book is my November Book Month book, which I decided on a whim. I even changed what book I was planning to write at the last moment. If you go to my Book Month Page, I have the title Snaked.

I've ignored the Book Month stuff, and I'm just doing it on my own.

The new title is I Live Among You, and it's written in first person, and the tag line is: "When the Devil is your client, you've got trouble."

Basically a serial killer P.I. is hired by the Devil to fight a extra-dimensional invasion. (Cthulhu.)

I'm writing it for fun, just letting anything come to my head -- so far, Linda seems particularly fond of this story, so I'm hoping that will continue.

At the same time, I'm writing my third Virginia Reed novel.

The hard part is getting into the separate fictional dreamscapes. What I'm doing is writing I Live Among You first thing in the morning, no later than noon.

Then I take several hours off, at least three but preferably five or more. I do something completely outside of writing -- errands, sorting books at the Bookmark.  Then around 3:00 or 4:00 I drive out the the Badlands, which gives me a nice psychic break, and get started.

I must admit, it's hard to do. I've managed it for two days.

Question is -- is it better to keep each story fresh by writing no more than 2000 words each, or would it be better to stick to one book, but write more words?

Not sure yet.  See how today goes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The story exists, as it exists.

Sometimes I write a book and I get it right.

Sometimes I write a book, I get it wrong, but I can fix it.

Sometimes I write a book, I get it wrong, and I can't fix it.

First of all, let me say, I'm very open to critique and to changing my story. I accept about 95% of editorial suggestions, especially all the smaller stuff.

But sometimes the suggested change is so fundamental to the nature of the story that it can't be done without changing the story so much it falls apart.

That doesn't mean the suggested change is wrong, only that I can't do it. Every time I've had one of these core changes, the whole thing has fallen apart. It has become a quagmire of changes, confusing, unworkable. It's take one piece out of the base of the puzzle and having it all come toppling down.

Here's where I might have some fundamental disagreement with other writers, especially those who view writing as a mechanistic process, who believe there are formulas.

Not to get all mystic on you, but I think of it this way. The story I write comes from some sort of extra dimension where it already exists.

Now there is a certain Schrodinger Cat aspect to these stories, and thus the details can be changed, some of the sequences can be changed, characters can change their looks and attitude, the background might shift and so so on. I can add or subtract elements.

But the fundamentals that come to me are usually locked in. That there is a certain built in story that can't be changed.

And sometimes other people find that story to be boring, or confusing, or just not working.

Here's the thing. They may be right, but I can't do anything about it. I have learned that if you have several independent readers come to the exact same conclusion, they are probably right.

A good example is the first chapter of my "100 Kickass Pages." Nobody liked it. One reader said it was so bad, he didn't want to tell me.  That bad. is the beginning of the story, no getting away from it. The characters introduced, the circumstances -- are the whole basis for the book.

I added a few things, tried to make the two protagonists motivations more believable, and so on, but fundamentally, the chapter didn't work.

But I thought it did.

So I did what I could, wrote the other 95 pages, and sent it off.

If it is a dealbreaker, I'm NOT going to try to fix it. I'll move on. I've learned that trying to fix one of these fundamental "Truths," if you will, negates the whole story. I'm better off just accepting the truth that this isn't a story that people like (not that it isn't the real story, just that people don't like it.)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Use up my chances.

I got confirmation that the agent got the "100 kickass pages" and will read it ASAP.

Makes me nervous. I do hate rejection, and I figure that's most likely, and why do I subject myself?

What really opened the writing floodgates for me a few years ago was the idea that I could just write what I wanted, when I wanted. No one to say no.

So why am I doing this?

Mostly, because I'm horrible at promoting myself, and if you don't promote yourself, nothing happens without a publisher.

Also,  I'm going straight to the top with this -- a big-time agent as well as the "executive editor" of a major publisher, so no rejections by underlings (where I'm betting most rejections take place.)

And they seem well-disposed toward me, at least the editor is, so I'm hoping they'll see the potential.

If this doesn't go, I'll accept the verdict and publish it myself. And try to come up with another "mainstream"  idea.

I figure I probably have about 3 chances with these guys, and I may as well use them up.

I know some writers advise that I keep submitting, but without an agent, most places won't look at it, and I've already tried multiple times to get an agent with Led to the Slaughter and had the doors slammed in my face pretty resoundingly. (I'm still somewhat puzzled by this...)

So I'm not going there. I'm only doing this because the opportunity came out of nowhere. 

I guess, in that sense, nothing gained and nothing lost.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

All right, you slackers!

It's probably silly for me to be doing the November Novel Writing Month.

I've written a number of books in the allotted time. I'm a pretty dedicated full-time writer these days. It isn't really a hobby.

Still, a little extra motivation never hurts.

My goal is to get the 2000 to 2500 a day of the new story out of the way as quickly as possible. And then start my day job, which is writing ANOTHER novel!


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fixed what I could.

All right.

I wrote a flash-forward prologue that is all action.

I moved some chapters around, not introducing the third thread until further into the book so there aren't so many characters coming at the reader all at once.

I've strengthened the motives of two of the main characters.

I put one character's chapter at the very end of part one.

I addressed all the smaller concerns -- mis-named characters, etc.

So...I think it's stronger. Maybe not kickass, but enough that if the agent/publishers are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and trust the book will be stronger by the end, they would be willing to take it.

If they don't have goodwill toward me, I'm probably out of luck anyway. There are almost as many disadvantages as there are advantages to dealing with the mainstream, so I'm not going to freak out about it.

The book is everything.

Friday, October 30, 2015

"It's a Trap!"

So I've made this a choice between sending off a proposal that may only be half as good as the final book will be.

Or to take a few months to research and write the final book.

The first choice risks that the agent/publisher will reject me based on something that might be better in the future.

The second choice is that I'll spend months on a book and this opportunity will fade. There is a timing to these things -- these guys seem ready for me now. Plus, I really do have other books that I feel like I need to finish first.

As in all things, I'm going to compromise.

I will take another week to ten days to try to get the 100 pages better.

As in all things, the closer a "deadline" comes, the easier it seems to be to extend it. When I set the deadline two weeks ago, it seemed twice as long as it needed to be. (I had the proposal written in the first week.)

Now that the deadline is actually here, waiting  another 10 days doesn't seem so bad.

The agent has told me he'll be happy with a "rough" proposal. But my immediate instincts are, "It's a Trap!"

This is just one of many possibilities for this agent -- easy for him to say that. But it's probably the one chance I'll have to make an initial impression, so I'd best be patient.

So I'm going to work on these 100 pages for a while longer. Maybe continue to write the book because often the later pages can influence the earlier pages.

And then send it off and get to work on The Darkness You Fear, as well as my November Novel Writing project, Snaked.

It ain't done until it's done.

I've mentioned before that I'm not really an outline writer; I discover the story through writing.

That probably goes double with trying to come up with a proposal.

I believe that a book should be judged by it's final version, that every version before that will probably be lacking, more or less. Often I come up with some of the best bits in a book at the last moment, sometimes I finalize the "voice" in the final version, making it consistent all the way through the book.

So this proposal I've come up with for the mainstream publisher is probably no better than half as good as it will end up being.

In other words, the "100 Kickass pages" isn't really possible for me.

My instincts are, given the current version, that the final book will be just fine, but it won't look fine until it's done.

So why don't I write the complete book and then send it off?  Because my intuition is that I don't have that much time. Plus, I have other commitments.

On the other hand, I might be burning bridges by sending something off that is not as good as it will be.

I'm going to work on this for the next few days, and then decide what to do.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why mess with those guys?

A friend asked me, basically, why I'm even messing with the mainstream publishers, telling me that the path I've been on has been fruitful, and that I need to watch out.

I'm aware of the dangers. I have the same concerns.

Thing is, they came to me. Out of the blue. I'm being given the opportunity to skip all the preliminaries and going straight to the top, to the people who actually make the final decisions. (Someday, when all this has played out, I'll tell the whole story -- the bright opening, the slow responses, the opened door, and ... well, we'll see...)

So a door opened, and I just figured I'd be foolish to not at least poke my head in the door.

Truth is, though, that I'm almost too quirky for even the small publishers. I decided when I started writing that I would write what I want to write without regard to what others are looking for. Which means I have several books that seem not to fit anyone's categories.

This thriller I'm writing is right up my alley though. I mostly read thrillers and suspense these days. So the idea isn't foreign to me. But it is a challenge, and I'm not sure I'm up to it. That's not putting myself down. I think I'm a decent writer for what I do. This is just a harder hill to climb.

The biggest danger, as I've mentioned before, is being jerked around. (Again, easy for them to suggest constant changes with the attitude that maybe I'll produce something magical). My past experience has made me leery of that. Someone pointed out to me, once they've rejected you -- it becomes almost impossible for them to accept you, no matter how encouraging they sound.

So really, I want an acceptance or nothing at all.

I will have to have the courage to walk away.

But I think, because it isn't something I sought but something that came to me, because it is a bonus, and extra, that I might be able to say, "Thanks but no thanks."

Even if my proposal is accepted as is, and I'm totally aware the odds are low, (it doesn't cost them anything to dangle the possibilities in front of me), I'm going to tell them that it will be the first of the year before I can really get going, because I want to finish The Darkness You Fear and Snaked first.

Bottom line, I've got to do this on my own terms. I'm too old the play the game.

P.S. I do have the store as an example. About midway through my career I realized that I was neither making money nor having fun. Since I couldn't do much about the money part, I chose to make the store more pleasant.

I took a hit on earnings for a few years, but when the store built back up again, it was on my terms. And that has made all the difference.