Thursday, March 31, 2016

Writing without a schedule.

In some purely artistic world, you wouldn't write to a schedule. You'd write when you were inspired. It would take as long as it takes.

I have a couple of problems with that.

First of all, under this blanket unending process, I'd probably never finish a book. I usually have a set time I try to write a book, a certain number of days, a certain number of words a day. It's this self-imposed discipline that results in a finished book.

The length of the book, the number of days I take, the number of words per day I try to write, seems to vary a lot, depending on the book, depending on my mood, depending on outside factors.

But the schedule I arrive at becomes binding, somehow, even though it is completely arbitrary. 

Secondly, there are those outside factors to take into account. If you have publishers, you have to try to fit your books into their schedule. The same thing with an editor and a book cover artist. I'm constantly juggling these factors.

I tend to stockpile my books, getting the editing and the cover art and the chance to submit to a publisher when I can. They don't usually come along at the same time.

So perforce, because my editors and my artists and my publishers all have a schedule, I too must have a schedule.

On writing days, and most of my days are scheduled as writing days, there is no particular hourly schedule. From the moment I wake up to the time I go to bed, writing is always lurking. I tend to focus around 11:00 on, until around 7:00, but allow myself to work outside that. I don't write all those 8 hours, but I'm thinking about it.

Lately, sometime in late afternoon, I go for my 5 mile walk, and that's where the ideas I've been playing with begin to coalesce and I get words on screen. (The walking--writing connection has become so strong a trigger, I'm actually a little worried about it.)

It is this freeing up of at least 5 days a week, at least 8 hours a day, which has made me so prolific. I don't run out of ideas, I just run out of time.

Once I came back to writing, I sort of vowed to say "Yes" to every decent idea that came along. One way I've accomplished that is by being so disciplined. If I write 6 days a week, and I give over the whole day to writing, 2000 words a day isn't that extraordinary. In fact, if you give it that much time and attention and can't do that many words, you're probably overthinking it.

Well, in the course of a year, that's one hell of a lot of words. Even if you take, say, 1/4 of the available time for rewriting, it still produces a bunch of stories. (For me, taking more than that much time on rewriting is overdoing it--I almost always make the book worse instead of better.)

Anyway, as you can see, I've worked out a process.

With the latest book, "Fairy Punk," I reached the point in the book where I'd usually be crafting an ending, making sure the plot all comes together.

But I've decided this time not to truncate the "quest" just because I have some artificial schedule. This time, I'm going to keep writing as long as the journey is interesting.

It also turns out, because of the scheduling with my outside factors, that I more or less have an extra month or two to write if I want to take them.

So I'm writing this book without a particular pressure to complete it within a certain amount of time. The only requirement is that I keep to my daily schedule and that I continue to enjoy writing it.

It would be kind of cool to make it an "epic." Somewhere north of 150K words. I don't think that is going to happen, but a 100K is pretty much within reach.

But that's just it. I'm leaving it open-ended. There is no schedule for finishing, and I'm sort of enjoying that freedom.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A good old-fashioned quest.

I'm 60K words into Fairy Punk and I'm still in the winding out phase, so to speak. That is, I'm not at the winding in phase where I'm bringing it home. So I don't know how long this book will be.

It's a little episodic, but on purpose. I wanted a fantasy that sort of took its time building a world, where the quest is the journey and the journey is the quest.

It has been a bit of struggle because I don't have that overall plot to guide me. I need a little idea for each new chapter, something that stirs the blood a little. So far, I've been able to find those.

Yesterday, I realized that I was building an underlying theme without intentionally meaning to.

"The End Of Fairy," in a nutshell. The events in the book are happening as Fairy is about to disappear, one way or another. Magic is leaving Mortal Realms.

That theme came out of the world building.

The world building is coming from "The Memoirs of Joseph Tindermaker," who is a half Elve/half Dwarve genius inventor who has invented a McGuffin--the "one ring" if you will--which is locked in the Vault and is the object of the "quest."  Tindermaker is already dead at the beginning of the book, but each chapter is started with a section of his memoirs, with which I build the background mythology for the events in the book.

I think that works, I hope that works, I don't know if that works.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Still trying to challenge myself.

I'm taking a different approach to Fairy Punk. More of a leisurely exploration, world building, episodic, hopefully amusing journey. Not so plot-driven.

I'm 50K words in and I'm still not completely sure where it's going. But every day, I come up with the next chapter and as long as they seem to work, I'll just keep going.

I don't have the usual time schedule for it -- it will take as long as it takes. Nor do I know how long it will be.

I'm also letting it simmer for most of the day, sometimes not even getting started until my walk, which I usually take around 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon.

I'm enjoying it, but I really don't know how it will turn out.

If it doesn't work, it was a grand experiment. I have a bunch of stories that haven't worked. Rather than go back and try to fix them, so far I've just been moving on to the next effort. Frankly, writing a new book is easier and more fun and probably even less work. Plus, whatever improvements I've made to my writing benefits the new book.

If the time ever comes when my imagination fails me--and that doesn't seem implausible that I'll hit a dry spell at some point--then I can work on the previous books.

It's interesting to me that I can have written so many stories, and the process still is different with each one. Each book is a particular book, written in different ways with different attitudes and different approaches. Kinda weird, actually. Not sure why I can't settle into a certain approach or a certain type of book.

Then again, it makes it interesting. And I think it makes it a challenge.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Journey thru Mordor phase.

I'm in the journey thru Mordor phase of Fairy Punk. My heroes need to get from Oregon to New York, pursued by foes, helped by friends. Iggy--the punk--has to release the McGuffin (the One Ring--though I'm not completely sure what it is yet) from a Vault.

I'm trying to choose appropriate Fairy creatures, ones that feel right. So dwarves are good, gnomes are bad.  Pixies (with switchblades) for some reason are good, but I make a joke about Leprechauns "not being real." I have introduced Hellhounds.

So first stop along the way, they get to Bullhead City, Arizona. Spirit Mountain is on the horizon. They stop at a run down R.V. park outside an Indian Casino. Kerrie, the half dwarve who has magical lucky ability (hence the Leprechaun reference) goes and wins a bunch of money.

Native American operatives come after them and turn into Skinwalkers.

Our Fellowship is saved by a herd of glowing white magical horses--who in the morning turn into the wandering burros of Oatman, Arizona. (That's a real thing...)

So, you know, I have to make that seem half-believable. Heh.

Thing is...I'm having great fun.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I'm a serial Vacuum Cleaner killer.

I confess...I've murdered more vacuum cleaners than any man alive.

I get a brand new vacuum, and it works! It actually sucks stuff up! Amazing!

Two weeks later, it only manages to do some kind of snuffling stuff up.

After six months of diminishing snuffling, I give up and buy a new vacuum.


I've tried every kind of vacuum cleaner--big and small, simple and complicated, upright and canister, cheap and expensive. It doesn't seem to matter. I kill them.

I've tried threatening my employees. "If any of you suck up a carpet thread and murder this vacuum cleaner, I'll...I'll...Kill You."

Then, of course, I get an apologetic look when I come in the door and they tell me the vacuum cleaner isn't working and, "I don't know why."

Notice, I don't threaten to fire them, because then I'd have to follow through, right? So I back off my murder threat and sigh and buy a new vacuum cleaner.

The time before last, I decided to buy a high quality, expensive vacuum. It had a bunch of doodads attached, most of which I was never going to use. But I think it took an engineering degree to use the wand. I figured it out once, almost by accident, but could never get it to work a second time. I'd think I was completely stupid, but neither of my bright young employees ever did figure out how to use it.

Last time, I bought an average vacuum cleaner, thinking maybe I was over-thinking it.

Nope, died in three months. Just stopped working.

So last week I went out and bought a $49.99 vacuum cleaner. That's going to be it from now on. A few of those a year, I figure. I'll just have to figure out a way to ditch the bodies.

Now if Linda would just stop murdering her printers....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yeah, I thought they were pretty good too.

I read chapters 3-5 of Deep Sea Rising at writer's group last night.

Last session I read chapters 1 and 2. I thought they were pretty good. They had nice kickers at the end, and were intriguing. A good start, which is important. Pam seemed very impressed.

Susan was the only one who made it to group this week. Anyway, as I started reading chapter 3, she made some appreciative noises. I finished the chapter, she broke in (which isn't the usual thing) and said, "That's really, really good, Duncan!"

So, encouraged, I read chapters 4 and 5. She chuckled at every beat point, just the way I'd hope a reader would. When I finished, she just raved about the book and then went through and pointed out all the subtleties I'd been hoping a reader would get.

She was so effusive in her praise, I laid my head on the table and said, "Thank god, I needed that."

Gary wasn't there. Gary always brings me down to earth.

But I do believe this is my best book. I got 30K words into the book before I ran into any clunky writing. That's a really good stretch. Most books I feel lucky if I get 2 or 3 chapters in a book that come out in a pristine form. Most of the time, I have to go back and do a lot of rewriting to get it up to snuff.

I always have my favorite chapters, and it's nice when I get confirmation.

Deep Sea Rising came out so well, I decided to send it off to the publisher without paying for the usual editing.

It may still not meet their needs for some reason. But it's very encouraging when a reader (listener) seems to pick up on exactly what I was attempting to accomplish.

As I was reading the chapters, I just thought they were really professional, and showed a level of competence that has come from a lot of hard work and practice.

If I do say so myself.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

If I enjoy it, so will the reader. (?)

My idea of writing each chapter of Fairy Punk while not knowing where I was going lasted all of a day.

A full day where I couldn't come up with a thing.

Finally, I went for my late afternoon walk. I told myself to just think about the story, not worry about writing, and that seemed to free my imagination. I've got to remember that: When I pressure myself to come up with words nothing happens, but when I just think about story, the words come.

Anyway, I'm doing a lot a back filling. Lots of characters, a complex backstory. It's all clear to me, so I'm going with it. My theory is that if I enjoy what I'm doing the reader will enjoy what I'm doing.

I also figured out the way forward. The next quarter of the book is a road trip. Road warrior-like. They are making their way from Oregon to New York pursued by the Bad Guys.

Then the last quarter of the book is a lock box story, as Iggy figures out how to get the McGuffin and then springs it loose.

So I now have a rough idea of what I want. I've left the specifics open, so that should be fun. Lots of fairy creatures to spring loose.

I'm not writing this as fast as I have other books, but as long as I'm progressing, I'm not worrying about that. It's not like I'm falling behind on producing...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Clear motives.

I stopped checking reviews and sales early this month. I think--to a surprising extent--it's helped keep me focused on writing. I didn't realize I was doing paying so much attention to that. Basically, not checking has made it all less important.

It only matters that I write. "Fairy Punk."

I managed a chapter yesterday, but I at least had a clue about what I was going to write. Today I have no clue at all. Just that I'm going to do it.

I realized last night that I needed to clarify one plot element. I need to have the Big Bad trying to kill the heroes from the very beginning of the book. Right now, I have everyone wanting the same goal and that obviously doesn't create any conflict.

The fact that this was a Fantasy book and would need lots of world building sort of crept up on me. I mean, since it is set in the modern world, I thought that's all I would need for background. But there is also Fairy, and the interaction between Fairy and the real world, and that makes it complicated.

I'm purposely not plotting this book because I want to be surprised. Each day, I'm asking myself, what can I do that would be interesting and unexpected?

I hope I don't write myself in a corner.

Linda is having a hard time following the story, but it is clear in my head and I always believe if it is clear in my head it will be clear to the reader.

I hope.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

No clue about the ending.

Fairy Punk is an idea and an attitude.

I think this is the farthest I've gone into a book without having some idea of the ending, even if it was vague. Certainly, I always had the next few chapters. I'd often have a "theme" I was working out, and that would guide what the ending was.

Here I am 40K words in, and not only don't I have an ending, I don't even have the next chapter.

But I have the whole day to write the next chapter, and all day tomorrow for the next chapter after that, and so on.

I have faith it will work out. In fact, I kind of like the fact that I'm not locked in. I can ask myself each chapter -- what could I write that would be surprisingly satisfying?

So I'm actually thinking of blanking out the ending for as long as I can.

I think I liked the premise of this book so much that I just figured it would come together. I still think it will. But I'm going to totally take it day by day. I like the characters and the setting and I think the world building is coming along. So now all I have to do is apply myself each day.

This book isn't so much about theme as it is about "attitude." A little of punk, but mostly, I want it to be free and easy and loose.

So that is going to be my focus each day.

I was very satisfied with yesterday's chapters. So somewhat surprised that nothing has come to me today. But...I'm sure it will, once I turn my attention to it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Now I've done it.

As some of you may know, my first book coming back was Faerylander. It became an unwieldy thing, over 150K words, and I was never completely satisfied with it. I've rewritten it 18 times.

No really, 18 times.

I did kind of a stupid thing and wrote two sequels, which are actually okay.

My friend Bren did a great editing job on it, but suggested that I might really have two books here. So I thought about it for a while, and realized that--while two books wasn't possible-- three books was. I sort of hazily diagrammed it in my head, realized it would be incredibly difficult.

So I set it aside and went on with my life.

Anyway, I decided to use the cover I originally intended for Faerylander for I Live Among You. I contracted with Mike Corley for a cover to Faerylander and asked if he could come up with an overall design for all five books, and then a separate logo for each other them, and maybe not charge full price for all five covers. (I plan to make this a long series, so now all I need is a new logo for each book...)

So he came up with a cool cover for Faerylander.

Yesterday he delivered the covers for.


They're fabulous. They make ME want to read those books.

So now I've got to split Faerylander, or the "War betwen Cthulhu and Faery" into three parts and have it make sense.

So after I finish Fairy Punk, that will be my next project. It's five books, so I figure I can spend a few more months on Faerylander to spring them loose.

I have a ton of raw material, and I know the general story inside and out. So I'm going to really do a full outline for the first three books, which I haven't really ever done before.

It's kind of exciting and daunting at the same time.

But now I have to do it.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Going forward by going backward.

I was at a bit of a stall with Fairy Punk. I have a general idea of where I want to go, but I wasn't feeling it. I think it's dangerous to write a story if you don't feel it.

Anyway, Linda kept complaining that she thought there wasn't a "connecting thread" in the chapters, and meanwhile I was world-building as I went along, which was starting to tie me up in knots with contradictions.

So I had the sudden impulse to go back and build that world.

I have a major character who is referred to all the way through the book but is deceased: The half Elve, half Dwarve genius inventer, Joseph Tindermaker.

So I decided to tell the backstory through his POV.

At first I thought I might be writing full flashback chapters, which would have been challenging to fit into the current narrative.

But the little stories I was telling were coming in at around 500 words, so I decided instead to try to write a little italicized foreword to each chapter.

I wrote the first six yesterday, and read them out loud to Linda.

"There's your connecting thread," she said. "Much better."

I write to Linda's approval to some extent. I mean, I know I'm on the right path when she doesn't have reservations. I know there's something wrong when she does have reservations.

So I'm halfway through the story now, and I'm very pleased.

The biggest challenge for me will be to get some of the "Punk" into it. My main character, Iggy, is a punkish bounty hunter. So I've been exploring the current Pyrate Punx world trying to get a handle on it.

I don't need to go overboard on it,  just some believable flavoring.

I've contracted for a cover, and I've seen the first sketch and it was really good. But I felt that Iggy looked a little tame in it, so asked for a revision.'s going to be cool.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Trying to find my groove.

I can't seem to find my groove with Fairy Punk. Just started losing steam. Linda says I seem less enthused about this story.

But I do like the idea of the story, I just can't seem to find that entry point where I just get into it.

So I'm about halfway through. A dangerous place if I leave it. I've got at least 3 other books that I left halfway through, and I've never picked them back up again.

But is it healthy to force myself to finish a book I'm not feeling?

So...I'm going to try to finish it, but only if I can find my groove. So the rest of the month is about finding that groove.

I hit a roadblock halfway through Led to the Slaughter for instance, and unlocked it by doing POV through journals. So I need to figure out what POV I need, or what angle I need to take, to really feel it and get it.

Most of all, I need to feel it and see it. Right now, it feels muddled.

So...I have the rest of the day to write 3000 words. The rest of the day to try to find my groove.

It occurred to me that I was interested in the backstory. Not only that, but if I wrote out the backstory, I would be world-building and helping figure out the plot.

I was going to write full chapters, but then decided that I would have 500 words chapter headings of The Memoirs of Joseph Tindermaker. Tell the back store in short snippets. If that doesn't work, I can do more involved flashback chapters. But I'm hoping I can do the job this way.

Plus, I like being in the head of Joseph Tindermaker.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fuck It, I'll Just Keep Writing.

My new mantra, what I tell myself each morning and before bed and before I start writing. Fuck It, I'll Just Keep Writing.

I feel like the real world has pulled me away from my writing.

Fuck It, I'll Just Keep Writing.

Who do I send it to, and when, and why, and where and on and on and on, and what the hell does that have to do with writing?

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders was my attempt to publish my own book and it has pretty much gone nowhere.

But it's a good book, at least as good as I can be. I think it is a satisying and entertaining read. At least I think so.

So I've put it out with the best editing and cover and overall presentation I could do and what happens after that doesn't seem to be up to me. Not as long as I'm not willing to be a promotional whore. That spamming guy. The cousin who tries to sell you life-insurance. I don't want to be that guy.

So Fuck It, I'll Just Keep Writing.

I really enjoy writing, I like what I'm doing, I think it has artistic merit.

So Fuck It, I'll Just Keep Writing.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Motivations and plot have to match.

I'm halfway through Fairy Punk but stalled, because I just realized that the plot resolution I'm heading for contradicts the motivations of the characters so far.

Surprising how often this happens.

Basically, I have the Big Bad planning to do the opposite of what he probably wants to do. I could finesse it and find a lame excuse as to why he's doing that, but it doesn't feel solid.

I'm sure there is an answer if I mull on it long enough.

Of course, planning and outlining would avoid this -- but I can't make up a plot out of the air. I've tried, and nothing happens. I discover the plot through writing. Most often, as I'm writing, the plot becomes clear to me.

But everyone once in a while the plot goes one way and character motivations go another way.

The mistake I've made in the past was to keep writing, therefore compounding the problem.

So I'm just taking a deep breath and thinking it through.

If I ask myself enough questions, I'll figure out an answer. The future -- the second half of the book -- is not written. When it is written, it will be written by me. So the answer is there.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Fairy Punk" -- an Urban Fantasy.

The title to my new book is "Fairy Punk." I'm nearly halfway through, so I feel comfortable about talking about it now.

The whole idea was to have fun with this one. Anything goes. I ask myself every day, "What would be a cool thing to have happen?"

It's an Urban Fantasy.

Hedge Fund elves, a genius half elf, half dwarve inventer named Joseph Tindermaker, and hapless Iggy Sinclair, who is a punk bounty hunter who is pulled into the shenanigans. It's got dwarves and elves and pixies and trolls and ogres (so far.)

And the Ancient One, who was banished by the human One God ten thousand years ago but has returned by infesting a human A.I.

I blithely started writing it and then a few chapters in realized that it required world-building, which is one of the reasons I've stayed away from Fantasy this time around.

But I love the characters and the premise, so I'll muscle through.

Thing is, I discover the world by writing. Which means that I often box myself into corners. Inconsistencies and contradictions and backward motivations creep into the story, that have to be fixed later.

Ah, well. It was a book I really wanted to write.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Darkness You Fear is off to the publisher.

The Darkness You Fear: Ghosts of the Lost Blue Bucket Mine is done!

I think it's pretty good. I worked hard on it. It fits well with the first two Virginia Reed books. The cool thing is that the Lost Blue Bucket Mine is local Central Oregon lore. Nice to bring it home.

Virginia is only 18 at the end of the book, and it is only 1851, so plenty of room for more weird Westerns.

The cover is finished,
and I think it's pretty cool. I'm hoping the publisher can get this out in May or June, but it's up to him.

I'll probably be pro-active trying to get some reviews for it, because the publisher keeps emphasizing how important it is to him and I feel like I owe him that much. My own stuff, The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders and Cyber Flash, I don' t do that with. I announce them and publish them and that's it, and as a result they really aren't going anywhere. I guess I'm doing it for the art.

I feel responsible to my publishers, though. And they do produce much better results.

Anyway, I'm really glad to have this done and that I'm  happy with the finished book. So satisfying.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Walking and writing, writing and walking.

Strangely, I didn't start walking for any other reason than to inspire my writing. I found out long ago that going on walks sparks my imagination, especially if I don't run into anyone.

Once I started walking, I came up with a route and out of curiosity I measured the distance.

Now, after walking five days a week for five months, I'm walking 6 miles in the same time it used to take me to walk 4 miles, this without any conscious effort to increase my pace. I guess I didn't really realize how out of shape I was.

I've only lost about 7 pounds -- I haven't changed my eating habits at all. But I've lost a couple of notches in my belt, probably a couple of inches off my waist. I figure I've probably gained a couple of pounds in my legs. My calves are noticeably bigger.

Anyway, the walking just feels good. I'm not really doing it for any other reason than that. Well, that and it helps me think about my stories. I get little glimmers of ideas about the chapter I'm writing as I go along, and I save them up. Sometimes I stop about halfway and do some writing if the weather cooperates.

I didn't go walking yesterday because of the rain and snow, but I really wanted to. It was raining this afternoon when I set out, but I really wanted to get out of the house. Sure enough, 15 miles out of town, the rain stopped. I guess that's why they call it a desert.

The only real concern I have now is that the walking has become such a trigger to my writing that I wonder if I can even write without walking first!

My first non-supernatural book.

I read the first two chapters of "Deep Sea Rising" at writer's group. They seemed to like it.

I think it is the best overall thing I've done. At least by my standards, it's got a interesting premise, rounded characters, competent writing, and a plot with momentum.

It's also, by coincidence, the first non-supernatural book I've written. (Not that there is anything wrong with supernatural books.) It is more in Micheal Crichton territory -- a little bit of speculation on things that could really happen. A bit fantastical, perhaps, but well within disaster thriller range. It could also be marketed as a "creature" book. So it has a few more options, that is, if any of those options were actually open to me.

The agent thing is the big roadblock. I tried that first off and got absolutely nowhere. I'm not willing to do it again. Not one agent was even interested in looking at "Led to the Slaughter," which I thought was a pretty good book and had an interesting premise. The shut-out totally shocked me.

I've sent "Deep Sea Rising" to a couple of publishers without editing (hi, Lara...). The reason is -- if this book can't get any notice from publishers the way it is, then probably nothing I'm doing will work. I'd even send this book to the Big 5 if I could, I think it's that good, but I'd need an agent for that, unfortunately. I have a backdoor to one of the big publishers (actually the 6th biggest publisher, heh) but I don't know if the door is open, closed, or locked.

Some, maybe most, of my books I realize are just "quirky." If you're trying to break in, writing "quirky" books isn't probably the way to do it.

But if your goal is to have fun writing books, writing "quirky" books is absolutely the way to do it. My writing career has been a gradual realization that what I'm writing and the way I want to write and how much promoting I want to do is not conducive in many cases to actually selling books.

One thing I learned at the store. Make your success on Your Own Terms. You can build from there. You can continue to enjoy what you're doing. Don't make success on Their Terms. You'll hate what you're doing, no matter how successful you are on the outside.

So I'm approaching my writing from the same perspective. If I'm successful on My Own Terms then great -- but the hell with all that other bullshit. Being miserable for success isn't success at all.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Talk, talk, talk, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I used to avoid conversation in my books. I didn't think I was great at it.

I used to believe that writing narrative was my strength.

Now, many books later, I rarely resort to narrative at all. My books are mostly constructed of scenes, with perhaps a little narrative thread. Most of the narrative is put in the mouths of my characters. If something needs to be explained, if something needs to be related, if there is a flashback, then my characters will tell us.

So more and more, the scenes are comprised of either talk or action.

So it seems like my characters are always talking. None of it is excess, as far as I can tell. Most of it continues the plot.

But it feels a little weird.

I don't think there is anything wrong with narrative, but talk is a form of action. It involves the reader more.

It's also more dangerous. It's harder to do well. I have to try really hard to delineate the characters through their talk, hopefully not making them all sound the same.

None of this is choice. It's more an evolution of my style. Trying to build on what works, what propels the story best.

The current book is full of ideas and interesting characters, and a complex plot, but probably needs a bit more world building. It may be a mistake to do the world building after the plot, but that seems to be the direction I'm going.

Lara told Linda at lunch yesterday that she never knew an author who did his research after writing the book, but to me it's common sense. Without knowing what you're looking for, research would seem to me to be infinite. Whereas, when you know specifically what you need or what will fit, then it is much more pertinent.

Anyway, this is one of those books, of which there have been several, that I like a lot, but which I wonder if other people will.

I made the decision early on that I would write these kinds of books if I wanted to. And just hope there are others -- even if a minority -- who like it as much as I do.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Everyone is a writer.

Owning a bookstore and being a writer has taught me one thing -- everyone is a writer. Well, maybe not everyone, but one hell of a lot of people.

"I'm writing (have written) a book too!"

In talking to these writers, almost all of them are completely unknowledgeable about the publishing industry. What knowledge they do have is years, decades out of date. They've bought into all the myths about publishing.

When I try to tell them about self-publishing and Amazon, they dismiss the idea out of hand.

Look, I figure I would have a small chance, maybe a slightly better than small chance, to get published by the mainstream publishers if I really tried, if I took years to do it, if I was willing to accept tons of rejections.

I have no interest in going there.

I have to say, talking to most of these writers, that they have almost no chance. I'll leave the word "almost" there, because what do I know?

But their lack of awareness is truly amazing. They have no idea what they are facing. It's a little bit like watching a lamb wander into the lion's den.

I mean, if they want to reject self-publishing, I guess I can understand it (even if their rejection is based on faulty information) but when they don't take the time to check the state of publishing, how do they think anything is going to happen?

I point them toward some websites that might bring them up to speed, but I can tell they aren't going to do it. Honestly, in what other business would people believe they don't need to know anything about the business they're entering? (Well, retail stores, but that's another story.)

But really, just one afternoon of internet research would at least give them a general idea of what's happening.

Ignorance is bliss, I guess. I'm guessing that most of them have no intention of ever following through. Or if they do, that they'll give up at the first sign of resistance. They rather nurture their daydreams of glory that get down to the nitty gritty details.

I wonder how many writers succeed simply because they are willing to do the basic research (whether they are good writers or not) and how many writers fail because they don't do what they need to do (whether they are good writers or not.)

It's easier today than ever, but you have to make it easy for yourself.

The ideas keep coming.

Went on a 6 mile hike yesterday, but didn't stop to write this time. I just let the ideas flow, and the ideas just kept on coming. I think that's a sign that a story is going to become a book. There is plenty of material.

I kept asking myself -- how can I make this surprising? How can I make it bigger?

As the ideas flowed, I realized that I needed to nail down the mythos of this world, so that the plot makes sense. I have a tendency to try to fit the mythos into the plot instead of the plot into the mythos.

The tone is light, while the story is dark. That seems to be about right.

I'm at that point in the book where I've figured out at least half the book, but have very little idea what is going to happen in the second half of the book. I haven't decided yet if figuring out the ending early is a good thing or a bad thing.

I love to discover the story as I go along, but I also know how easy it is to write myself in a corner. However, I trust my subconscious much more these days -- trust that it will deliver a coherent satisfying ending.

The trick is not to make substantial changes in the middle of the book. Additions and subtractions are fine on a first draft, but changing the plot is not.

I'm not pushing it. If the ending comes to me, so be it. If not, so be it.

I'll just keep writing.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

I'm only comfortable when I'm writing.

Got back on track yesterday. Went walking in the rain on my old route, which was refreshing. The ideas just started flowing. I not only wrote a couple of chapters, but I came up with some bigger ideas for the rest of the book. I think I know where it is going now.

I felt very good about it, and I realized that I've gotten to the point, after four years, that I'm only comfortable when I'm writing. Otherwise I feel somewhat at loose ends, as if my day is partly empty.

In other words, it's gotten to the point where I not only want to write, but need to write.

Opening that creative part of the brain is a healthy thing, I think. And managing to actually make use of the ideas I come up with is very satisfying.

Whether I do so in a readable way is something I'll probably always struggle with. I worry that it comes too easy for me. I do try to put my feet to the fire to give it more effort when I'm finished with the first draft. I acknowledge that rewriting is necessary and almost always results in a better book.

On the other hand, the pure creativity of the first draft -- indulging in that -- is making me a better storyteller, I think. I'm letting my imagination loose, without restrictions, and it feels good.

I'm addicted to the first draft, and I can't go too long without it. Fortunately for me, there is nothing to keep me from doing it. I don't need any outside thing to make it possible -- no permission, no tools, no help.

I can just indulge my passion at my own whim.

It's a great thing to look forward to over the coming years. I wonder how I managed to live my life without it for so many years. I had the store, and that was a creative effort in many ways, but this is more pure. As much as I want people to read me, it isn't even dependent on that.

I can just write and have fun and it is enough.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Full creative.

I need to go Full Creative.

From the start, I've realized that there are two different parts involved in getting a book out.

There is the actual writing of the book, which in my case is Full Creative. That is, I don't let anything get in the way of my ideas. No worries about whether anyone else will like it, or whether it is commercial. Just whatever story comes to me.

The second part is everything else. The editing, the covers, the submissions, the actual books. A big part of the second part of this process is scheduling. Trying not to step on a book that is coming out, trying to time it so that each of my publishers get material in a timely matter. Trying to fit the editing and rewriting process into that.

In most cases, these considerations pull me away from the Full Creative. I've got several books that are partly finished because of the necessity of getting things ready for the real world.

But I have "The Darkness You Fear" slotted in. (Not for sure until I get a contract, but it seems to be the way things are going.) And I have "Tuskers III" coming out in October.

So I've decided to turn my back on all the real-world considerations and turn Full Creative. Just write whatever I want to write when I want to write it. Without regard to schedules.

For one thing, I'd really like to finish the partial books. I like all of them. I feel bad that I left them. So I want to get those done.

And if new exciting ideas comes to me between projects, then I'll do them too.  I figure I have the rest of the year to do this. It will mean my books will start stockpiling as I finish them. I've already got 4 books completely finished. Covers being made, editing to be done on some, but the books themselves are finished. If I  finish the rest of my projects, there's every chance I'll have 10 or more books done by this time next year.

So here goes. Full Creative.  Write the story.

Books? What are those?

Friday, March 4, 2016

The antidote to doubt, again.

The antidote to doubt is to write something.

Every book is a new beginning, a new chance to get it right. I can usually carry this enthusiasm all the way to the end of the book. The creative process itself is so exhilarating that I can overcome the hurdles and problems and finish.

It is only when I'm not writing, or even worse, when I'm rewriting, that doubt sets in.

Being critical and having doubt are pretty much the same thing. By the time I finish rewriting a book, I am filled with doubt. I don't overdo it these days. I've developed processes that keep that in check. In the old days, I'd rewrite so much that I'd end up hating the book. Nowadays I usually manage to keep my affection for the story.

Not writing also causes doubt. The creative glow fades, the memory of the story starts to recede into the past, and day to day concerns come to the forefront. Often I'm dealing with the details of getting what I've written into the world. Not the same thing as creativity.

So I'm always excited to start a new book, and I try to nurture that excitement all the way through.

Doubt is in the future, put into abeyance, something that is a nuisance. Doubt might be useful in making me put my best effort in, but doubt is deadly when I'm in the process of creating.

I'm ready to plunge into my newest story. I've written about 12K words so far. I had to step away to do the rewrite of The Darkness You Fear, but I really want to get back to it.

I need to renew my faith in my abilities and my hopes. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

On to the next book.

So I'm done done with The Darkness You Fear.

What do I do next?

I have a whole lot of options. I'm thinking I'll probably finish the first draft of the book I started a little while ago.

I have four books that I've written half of -- The Last Sombrero, Tuskers IV, and the Odyssey of Linger Longfellow, and Not by Water, But by Fire.

I want to break up Faerylander into three different books.

I'll let whatever grabs me grab me. Sometimes I'm surprised, sometimes it becomes very clear. I don't really want these half written books to sit there forever. My thought is that I write a new book, then work on an old book, then write a new book, and alternating from then on.

I also want to give Deep Sea Rising a full rewrite. I think it's my best book so far, actually. I went ahead and sent it somewhere without a rewrite, which might have been a mistake, but I'm going to need to start experimenting with the formula.

Sending stuff off without spending money on covers and editing is one of the things I think I need to try. I've got so much material done that I can afford to take chances.

Because in the end, if everything doesn't work, I can still just publish it myself. In fact, there is a large part of me that wants to do that, but it is undeniable that -- so far at least -- having publishers results in much higher sales.

But, if I think of it this way, it's a win win situation.