First, I’ve been listening to some new podcasts about writing. (Well, new to me, anyway…) They are less about the craft of writing itself, and more about the business side. By the way, if you’re a writer, and want to hear some good tips about marketing and sales, try David Wood’s “Wood on Words” podcast. The other one I’ve just started listening to is “Authorcast”, co-hosted by (again) David Wood and Alan Baxter.
I also got a chance to read (and blurb) an ARC of Ed Lorn’s upcoming novel, The Sound of Broken Ribs. It is definitely Lorn at his best. If you like horror so twisted that you can’t tell the good guys from the bad, then this is definitely one to watch for. Fair warning though, Lorn holds nothing back. If you need trigger warnings, just assume they are all given.
And that brings me to something that I said I was going to start doing a LONG time ago, but never actually did. I’ll be reviewing books as I read them. I can’t hold to a schedule with this. Mainly because I simply won’t review anything I read that I can’t recommend. That means I won’t be reviewing anything that I don’t consider at least a four-star book. That’s not to say I won’t end up reading some clunkers, but when I do, I simply won’t review them.
This also means I won’t be telling anyone in advance what titles I’m reading. After all, if I mention that I’m reading XYZ by Joe Blow Author, and then I don’t review it, you would know I didn’t consider it worth the effort.
End Point Pangaea is off to the publisher. Well, technically, “Pangaea Exiles” is off to the publisher. In the end (no pun intended), the “End Point Pangaea” title just didn’t work for me. I started writing the story with the idea that there would be a single location around which the story would be centered, and for whatever reason, I initially had it in my mind that it would be called “End Point”. I don’t know why it came to me like that, but as the story grew, the idea of a single location was just too unbelievable, as well as too confining for the series. So when I sent the manuscript to the publisher, I also requested that we change the title. We’ll see what they say.
Year 12 – Y12 is officially going to be an audiobook, and Corey Snow (aka VoxMan) has officially accepted the offer. Of course, it’s all dependent on his schedule, as he is booked through some point in June. That means that will be the earliest he can start on it. But I’m just so happy that Corey will once again be the voice of the Half Past Midnight universe that waiting a bit longer is NOT going to be a problem.
Crazy Larry – While I wait on word (and the inevitable edits) from the publisher for the Pangaea project, I’m going to be hammering away at Crazy Larry. I know I promised several of you that my next project would be the next Amber Payne book (Payne and Suffering), but when I spoke to Corey about voicing Y12, he indicated that he would also be interested in doing Crazy Larry, and wanted to know when it would be ready. There’s absolutely no way it will be ready by his June opening, but I might be able to finish the first draft and get it to beta readers in a few weeks. After that though, it will need to go to editing, get a cover, etc. Too many of those steps are outside of my control, so I expect CL will likely still be a few months out.
Payne and Suffering – And just because P&S isn’t going to be my primary WIP for a while, that doesn’t mean I won’t be working on it at all. Two chapters are already done, and I will continue to work on it as time permits. My plan is to have more Amber Payne in your hands by late fall.
And this week’s pic is one to give you a few shivers. I was working in the garage last week when I moved a box away from the wall and found this little lady. Now, I’m not normally one who believes in killing snakes or spiders on sight, and I don’t have any sort of phobia with them. But a black widow is NOT something that I will leave alive around my home. I snapped the picture so I could be sure of the identification (the spider was around the corner, and so it was difficult to get a direct look at it), and when I zoomed the picture in and saw that my suspicions were correct, I got the bug spray and sent the deadly girl to “the bleedin’ choir invisible”. That means that this pic is now the only record that she ever existed, and I have to admit that I’m completely comfortable with that. If you love spiders and think I shouldn’t have killed her, just send me your mailing address and from now on, I’ll make it a point to jar them up and send you the next ones I find. Of course, you’ll have to cover the postage.
That’s it for now, except my reminder to stay safe. And I’ll talk to you again soon.
Yes, it’s that time when we all go crazy and make promises to ourselves that we seldom keep. Or maybe that’s just me. I have a tendency to make resolutions that at the time seem perfectly attainable… get in shape, or prep enough food and supplies for a year (for those of you who might not know that about me, I’m very into what a lot of people call “prepping”, though I simply call it being more self-sufficient), or write however many thousands of words, or publish this or that.
But the old adage tells us where that road of good intentions leads, doesn’t it? No matter how reasonable or well-intentioned my resolutions seem at the time, I always seem to overlook Murphy’s influence on my life. And to be perfectly honest, I tend to get easily distracted and discouraged… often to the point that I fall so far behind in my goals that I get discouraged and simply quit trying.
So this year I’m going to try to take a more practical approach to things. If you read my last few entries on the blog, you know I’ve had some major life changes in the last several months. I left my job of more than fifteen years, left my home of more than fifty years, and moved from Texas to Oklahoma to help my parents out. Since my last posting, we’ve gotten a new home in Claremore, Oklahoma. It’s a small town a bit northeast of Tulsa, and so far, it’s been great. The picture above is taken from the back corner of our fence, and I’m really looking forward to what all we can potentially do with this property.
There are two really big differences in my life here. First, the people are just so freaking friendly. Now, I had some great friends in Houston, don’t mistake my meaning here. But until you get to know someone in a larger metropolitan area, people tend to treat you more suspiciously. And if you watch the news there, you can easily understand why. But here? You seldom see anyone frowning. Waiters and cashiers greet you with a smile and seem genuinely happy to talk to you. I’ve only been in this house a few weeks, and I already know more of my neighbors than I did in the house I left in Houston – and I lived there for fourteen years. Is that their fault, my fault, or simply the learned caution of someone who has lived their entire life in a major metropolitan area? I don’t know. But I know that it’s much different here. And I know I feel more welcome here, anywhere I go.
The other big difference is the weather. In Houston, I seldom ever had to break out anything heavier than a light jacket during the winter, and that was usually only for a few days. Here in Claremore we’ve already had a couple of light snows this year, and the temperature hasn’t climbed much above forty degrees for several days. As I’m writing this, it is almost 2:30 in the afternoon, and the temperature is precisely forty degrees Fahrenheit. And this is warmer than it’s been in several days. It’s supposed to drop to nineteen degrees tonight!
Yeah, this is going to require some serious adjustment. I’ll have to learn to “winterize” the house, the cars… even myself. I had to scramble to find gloves last week. It had been so long since I’d needed them that I wasn’t even sure where they were.
But I’m learning. Adjusting. And the time I’m getting to spend with my wife and parents is great. I’ve gotten closer to them all than I’ve been in quite some time, and that (as the commercial says) is priceless.
So back to the whole resolution theme that I started with. I’ve learned my own version of the adage about the best laid plans and entering the battlefield. Last year most definitely didn’t work out the way I had planned it. But it all seemed to fall together at the end, so I can’t complain. This year though, after taking stock of my life – of where I am chronologically, geologically, and financially – and trying to take into account some of the effects that Murphy can have on my plans, I’ve decided to set some relatively modest goals.
Chucklers – This is the one that Edward Lorn and I began over a year ago. It’s had a rocky road, and I’ve learned that collaboration with another author is both easy, and difficult. Chucklers grew from its inception as an online chat discussion, to an amazingly complex story composed of several interwoven storylines that look like they will likely span at least two, and probably three books. But Ed recently contacted me and told me that he has a huge project in the works, and that he was going to have to leave Chucklers behind. He has graciously given me his blessing in continuing with it on my own.
So resolution #1 is to complete and publish the first Chucklers novel.
Year 12 – I recently began working on the sequel to HPM again. There isn’t a lot of it done, but there are a decent first few chapters. I want to complete and publish this one in 2015.
Crazy Larry – There is a novella that’s been banging around in my head for a while. I’ve had several people ask me how Larry was able to raise an army to attack the town of Rejas in HPM. Now, since HPM is told from the first person perspective of Leeland Dawcett, then anything that Leeland didn’t know, simply couldn’t go into the novel. But believe it or not, I do have an explanation. So I thought I might put Larry’s story behind its own cover. I want to do this in 2015.
Other: There is also an anthology coming up that I’ve been given permission to submit to, and the world in which it takes place sounds absolutely fascinating. So I want to try for that anthology in the next few months, and see if I can get in. And since this one is someone else’s property, that’s about all I can say about it for now.
And that’s it for my writing goals; two novels (one of which is already mostly written), a novella, and a short story. Like I said, modest goals.
As for my more personal goals:
Blog more – This blog has suffered quite a bit over the last couple of years. For a long time, I posted every week. Then it dropped to once a month. In 2014 I started out well enough, three or four posts in the first couple of months, but like I said, Murphy… The last few blog entries were six months apart, and that’s just unforgivable. So this blog will get at least one entry per month, come hell or high water.
House – For the new house, I plan to get a good garden going this spring, and get some fruit trees in the back yard. Every long-term food source is part of that self-sufficiency thing I mentioned earlier, right? And the more food I can produce at home is that much less we have to buy in the store.
Weight – Also, let me hit on an oldie, but a goodie… I plan to lose twenty pounds by May. And more importantly, I will keep it off all year-long.
I think they are all relatively simple goals (except maybe the weight thing, but I only have myself to blame there), and I’m going to work on keeping these resolutions this year. So wish me luck. And please comment here. I recently updated my anti-spam plugin for the blog here, and I’d like to know if it works properly. I’ve had it update in the past and begin blocking EVERYONE who tried to comment. The only way I know it’s not doing that again is for someone to leave me a comment. If you try and you can’t, please send me an email at jlbDOTauthorATgmailDOTcom.
So that’s it for now. Have a great 2015, and stay safe!
Linda Prather contacted me last week and invited me to participate in something called the “My Writing Process” blog tour. Linda is a great author, and I’m proud to say, a good friend, as well. She is the author of the Jacody Ives Mysteries, and the Catherine Mans psychic suspense novels (some of my personal favorites), and recently participated in marketing her novel “The Gifts” as one of “The Deadly Dozen”, a boxed set of twelve mysteries and thrillers by some of the best writers in their fields. It was this boxed set that recently landed her the coveted titles of “USA Today Best Selling Author” and “New York Times Best Selling Author”. Yeah, I wanna be like Linda when I grow up.
To see what Linda had to say about her writing process, check out her blog post here.
Now, for the blog tour itself. The “My Writing Process” blog tour is where various authors answer four particular questions about how and why they write what they do. It’s always the same four questions, but as you might imagine, the answers are as varied as the authors themselves. Curious about it, I looked it up and tried tracing it back to see if I could find the origins of this tour. HAH! After finding literally hundreds of entries spanning back over at least three years, I finally gave up. This thing is simply too huge and widespread to find an origin. I can imagine someone one day asking an author, “Hey, how do you write the stuff you write?” and from there becoming a tradition of sorts.
Whatever its origins, I am honored to have been asked. Thanks for inviting me along, Linda.
Now, on to the questions of the tour…
MY WRITING PROCESS
1) What are you currently working on?
I have a few irons in the fire at the moment. My main project right now is Chucklers. It’s a collaborative apocalyptic/horror novel that I’m writing with horror writer, and good friend, Edward Lorn. Ed approached me with the idea of expanding on a premise he wrote in his short story “He Who Laughs Last” from his story collection, What the Dark Brings. After talking a bit, I think we both got pretty excited about where it looked like the story was going to go, and we dove in. Recently, we realized that Chucklers is a much larger story than we anticipated, and it looks like it’s going to end up as a trilogy.
I also have a sequel to my first novel in the works. I’m working on it under the working title of “Year 12”, and as is the nature of working titles, it may or may not change. It will be the story of Zachary Dawcett, the young boy who was kidnapped in the last part of Half Past Midnight. As the title implies, it is set twelve years after the Doomsday War of HPM, and Zachary is a young man now, in a world struggling to rebuild.
And finally, I have something new. WC1 is my manuscript code for a more traditional SF novel. I wrote a little bit about it in an earlier post. I like to call it “military sci-fi – light”. I don’t have a military background, and what I have in mind is going to be considerably different from what most people would think of when they hear the words “military science fiction”. But it will definitely be science fiction, and will deal with a war, so for now… military sci-fi light.
2) How does your work differ from others in its genre?
First of all, I don’t think genre really applies to me. In this breakneck paced world of e-books and self publishing, many authors no longer seem to stick to a single genre. I know that has always been the case to a certain extent, but it is so much more common now, and I’m nothing if not common.
Currently, I dabble in several genres; post-apocolyptic, cyberpunk, horror, science fiction, and am even considering writing a reference book for writers. So let me address the question as a matter of writing style; How does my work differ from others?
Something that I try to do in all my work is to bring an air of inner strength to my characters. Whether the story is about a family in a near future east Texas after a nuclear war, or a female detective three hundred years in the future, I try to make my main characters as independent and resourceful as I can. And then I try to test their limits.
I’m also a bit of a research junkie. I strive to bring as much realism into my settings as I can. I once spent three days researching atmospheric density, Rayliegh scattering, types of photosynthesis, stellar classifications and the frequency of the various star types in our galaxy, molecular composition of translucent atmospheric particulates… all to see what color the sky might be in the world of a short story I was writing for an anthology.
3) Why do you write what you do?
As strange as it sounds, I think I want to help people. I want to write stories that show readers that everyone can be a hero. You don’t have to be a hulking mass of muscle to win the day, as long as you embrace your inner strengths. I’ve mentioned it before, but much of my writing is influenced by my martial arts training, as is my life in general.
I learned early on that there are advantages and disadvantages to all physical attributes. If you’re tall and muscular, you likely have a longer reach and body strength. But a smaller, lighter person is likely faster, and can be trained to take advantage of a larger person’s higher center of gravity, unbalancing their opponent. It’s a lesson I learned early in life when someone half my size wiped the mat with me during a judo randori. That was roughly forty years ago, and the lesson has stuck.
I’ve seen too many people (including yours truly) underestimate the abilities of their opponents, as well as their own abilities, whether they be physical or intellectual. I want my stories to get people to think outside the box. I want them to realize their own strengths and weaknesses, to ask themselves, “could I do that in that situation?” I want people to keep the thought in the back of their minds that there are often unorthodox solutions to common problems, if only you are willing to embrace them. I want them to realize that they don’t have to rely on someone else to be the hero of their story–that heroes are often just ordinary people who are willing to step up and face the crap that life throws at them.
4) How does your writing process work?
It varies. (I suppose that shows that I’m still pretty new to the writing business.) I’ve had instances where a story comes to me pretty much full-blown, beginning to end, all at once. There is one currently on my “to do” list that came to me in a dream one night. It was an entire story that I woke up with and scrambled to get on paper before it left me. There are others where I have nothing but a specific scene or idea that I have to think about for a long time before the actual story comes to me. For instance, my short story The Burning Land (the one for which I did all the atmospheric research), in the Explorers: Beyond the Horizon anthology, also started because of a dream. (I wrote about the process of that one in more detail in an earlier blog post.) For now, I’ll just say that I awoke from a dream about a story, and the dream led me down a days-long rabbit hole of research that I found so fascinating that I believe I will likely revisit the world later on to expand the setting of The Burning Land into a full length novel.
And yes, I am definitely a research junkie. I get carried away with my world building to the point that most of what I write in notes never makes it to the final manuscript. I’m sure it’s a common frustration with writers–you spend hours and hours writing notes so that you know the world of your story inside and out, only to have most of it end up on the metaphorical cutting room floor. But in my opinion, it is a necessity. As the author you have to know your world in minute detail, but you don’t want to burden the reader with extraneous information that doesn’t really contribute to the story you’re writing.
And I’m now learning about writing with another author. Collaboration writing is much different from anything I’ve done up to now. It’s exciting, exhilarating, and incredibly satisfying to see the words fly almost effortlessly onto the page. And working with a good partner helps keep the story fresh. I’m lucky enough to be working with someone who thinks a lot like I do, yet different enough that we often surprise one another with what we come up with. It keeps the story fresh and exciting for us while we write it. The only problem is scheduling, and that is something that can always be worked through.
So that’s it. There are my answers to the “My Writing Process” questions. And now it’s time for me to pass the baton. I’d like to introduce you to three authors whose work I have read and enjoyed. They have accepted the invitation to post a bit about their writing processes, so watch for their blog posts next Monday (April 28) to see how they approach the craft of writing.
So next week, watch for…
Edward Lorn is an American horror author presently residing in the southeast United States. He enjoys storytelling, reading, and writing biographies in the third person.
Once upon a time, during a session of show and tell, a seven-year-old Edward Lorn shared with his class that his baby brother had died over the weekend. His classmates, the teacher included, wept while he recounted the painful tragedy of having lost a sibling. Edward went home that day and found an irate mother waiting for him. Edward’s teacher had called to express her condolences. This was unfortunate, as Edward had never had a baby brother.
With advice given to her by a frustrated teacher, Edward’s mother made him start writing all of his lies down. The rest, as they say, is history.
Edward Lorn and his wife are raising two children, along with a handful of outside cats and a beagle named Dot. He remains a liar to this day. The only difference is, now he’s a useful one.
Justin Macumber is the author of Haywire, A Minor Magic, and the newly released Still Water. Justin was the founder and host of the popular Dead Robots’ Society podcast, having only recently stepped down as host to spend more time on his writing. He is still a co-host on The Hollywood Outsider, a weekly podcast about movies and television and does weekly TV Talk chats for Grimm and Sleepy Hollow.
He and his lovely wife live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex along with their motley pack of dogs and cats that they think of as their children.
A resident of New Jersey, Mary currently works in financial marketing. She has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember and especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and out-of-this-world experiences of science fiction and fantasy. In her spare time (when she has any), she enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and exploring new things—she’ll try almost anything once.
Mary graduated Magna cum Laude from Princeton University in 2010 with a Bachelor of the Arts in Music, specializing in composition. Although she is currently focusing on writing, music is still her first love, and so in her spare time she composes songs and soundtracks. You can follow her at her blog, on twitter, or on Facebook.
Yep. Lots of changes. First and foremost, I’ve gained a new daughter. Last month, my son got married to a wonderful young woman, whose only fault seems to be that she was insane enough to tie herself into this family. So here’s to insanity and happiness. May it last them for the rest of their lives.
And there are other changes in the Brackett household. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest upcoming changes IS the Brackett household. See, we’re in the process of getting ready to move. When we first moved into our current home, our family unit was considerably larger. There was me, my wife, my mother-in-law (whose back surgeries were beginning to get the better of her), a son, daughter, a dog, and a cat. We also have other family that we wanted to be able to accommodate if they wanted to visit and needed a place to stay, so we found a nice house, big enough for our needs–six bedrooms, game room, lots of entertainment space–it’s been a great house.
Fast forward thirteen years… my mother-in-law has passed on, the kids have grown and moved out, and it’s just me, my better half, and two dogs in that big ole’ house, and we decided it’s time to downsize. So we put the house on the market, and it sat for several weeks with a showing here and there, but no hard nibbles until a few weeks ago. Then, suddenly, it went from “Hey, there’s someone who might be interested…” to “Hey, is April 17th a good day for closing?”
That was just over a week ago, and needless to say, we’ve been scrambling ever since. But here’s the real kicker… we don’t have a house to move into yet. We’re in one of those domino situations where we have to sell our existing house before we can afford to get another house. Luckily, my sister and brother-in-law are in a similar living situation, their two sons having moved out a few years back, and they’ve offered to let us stay with them while we look for a new home. In the meantime, there are all sorts of arrangements to be made on utilities, packing, storage, etc. It’s going to be a frantic few weeks.
On the writing front, there are things a-brewin’.
HPM and R2R (audio books) – I’ve taken the plunge, and have contracted with the talented Corey Snow to do audio versions of Half Past Midnight, and The Road to Rejas. This is something I actually started on almost two months ago, and the work on HPM is at this time just a few weeks away from completion. Corey has an amazing voice (one of the female betas I sent a sample to, mentioned something about dampened undergarments) and he’s doing a great job with it. I’ve been listening to the uploads on my commute to and from work, and I’ve noticed a few things. One is how much work Corey puts in to his performances. The guy is an amazing professional.
The other thing I noticed is of a more introspective nature. I’m listening to my debut novel. (My debut novel… it sounds like such a strange thing to say.) It was something that began as a private exercise back in the 90’s – something that I never expected to actually publish. Writing was just something that I liked to do. It wasn’t like anyone was ever going to want to read it. And that manuscript was picked up and put down so many times over the next several years that it’s amazing that it was ever completed. Career changes… kids… just life changes in general, continually kept me from even considering doing anything more than writing as a hobby.
And now, I’m listening to someone putting voice to my first novel. It’s surreal in some ways. It’s humbling in others. Even as I listen to what Corey has sent me, I can recognize a younger me in the words–a less experience me. I listen and think, “I could have done that so much better.”
I think that’s a good thing. Now that I’m taking my writing seriously, I can see the growth in my work. Like I said… a good thing. And while HPM will always hold a very special place in my heart, I can’t help but wish I had done a better job with it.
Don’t get me wrong. I know better than to spend time worrying about what I might have done. And I’m sure not going to go back and rewrite it. HPM is the past. But Y12? I’m confident that Y12 is going to be much better. I’ve learned so much from so many talented people, that I can’t help but think that with each piece of writing I produce, I will grow in this craft that I’ve come to love. And someday, I’ll be able to point to a body of work with real pride. Maybe I’ll feel more worthy when someone contacts me and tells me that they like my writing. Because to be perfectly honest, I’m not there yet. I’m thankful, yes. But I still feel like Wayne and Garth, bowing and scraping before Alice Cooper. I feel I’m “not worthy!”
Ghost Story – I’ve already mentioned in previous posts that Ghost Story is completed. You’ll note that the progress meter on that title (right hand widget bar) is now green and has been moved to the bottom of the list for now, pending input from the editor. You’ll also note that there are a few more projects listed.
Chucklers– The apocalyptic horror collaboration with Edward Lorn has been moving pretty well… sort of. Unfortunately, Ed has gotten very busy with other projects, and says it looks like he’s going to be tied up for quite some time. Luckily, we decided to write the novel from the point of view of several dispersed characters and groups. That means I can continue to move forward with my characters for a while, without much input from him. And he’s such a freaking fast writer, that he should be able to catch up to me with very little effort once he gets a chance to jump back in. So I’ll continue moving ahead with it for a while, as long as the story keeps my attention.
The only bad thing about this is that Ed and I found that working with one another seemed to speed up our output. There was something about being able to bounce ideas and chapters off one another that kept the story hopping for us. It became almost a game, each of us laughing as we came up with ways to help one another in the scenes we were working on, interacting in a way that somehow made the work better than just the sum of its parts. I’ll miss that.
But the story is a good one, and I do want to see it through. I’m having fun, finding new characters along the way, and new ways to torment them. Yep, that’s me, the kid with the magnifying glass on the ant hill. Chucklers is still my highest priority project at the moment, but with Ed dropping out for a while, the urgency is considerably lessened. So I’ve opened up a few other projects that I’ve been keeping on the back burner…
Year 12 – Yes, the long promised sequel to Half Past Midnight is finally going to become a reality. The story has been banging around in my head long enough, and it’s gotten pretty insistent on being released. So I’ve finally opened a new folder on the computer, and am beginning the process of bringing Zach’s story to life. I have a cast of characters, an overall story arc, some interesting side plotlines, and most of the story itself ready and waiting to be told. This is going to be a new way of writing for me, since I have traditionally been a “pantser” in my writing. This will be the first time that I’ll be working on a story that is already mostly formed in my head.
I suppose that’s to be expected, since I’ve continuously been kicking it to the back burner for about two years now. Every time I started to work on it, something else came up and took priority. But in each instance, I spent more time thinking about what was going to happen, until finally last summer I pretty much knew the whole story line. Just a few weeks ago, I was discussing it with my wife. There was a final plot element that I couldn’t figure out… an underlying motivation for a major plot sequence. And in her typical fashion, my wife was able to break it down into a more basic question for me, pointing out that I had been unnecessarily complicating things. Once I viewed it from her suggested POV, everything fell into place.
WC1 – This one is a new project. It’s a more traditional science fiction tale that I had the idea for back in 2011. I took a bunch of notes, and wrote a first chapter… and then promptly lost it. Recently, I found those notes, and part of that first chapter again. There was still quite a bit of it missing, but the parts that I recovered really excited me. When I read through the notes, the idea for the whole story really grabbed my attention. Wow! It was actually a good idea! Who knew I could come up with something that could catch my attention not only as a writer, but as a reader? It was good enough that after I re-read the chapter fragment, I was pissed that there wasn’t more to read. And that tells me that I need to get it written. So the code name for this new title is WC1, and it promises to be quite a ride.
All right. That’s enough for now. It’s time to get back to work. So as always, stay safe people.
PS – It was brought to my attention a few weeks ago, that the comment option on my blog wasn’t working, and that no one was able to leave comments. I believe that has finally (hopefully) been fixed. I would appreciate it if some of you would leave a short comment here to confirm. Especially someone who has never commented on the blog before. There are some settings that seem to affect people who have never posted more stringently than those who have. And if you find that you CAN’T leave a post, please drop me an email at “jlbDOTauthorATgmailDOTcom”.
I know, I know… more than two months?!?! Yes, it’s been a LONG time since my last blog post. But you know what? I don’t really feel all that bad about it this time. Between the holidays, writing, and getting the house ready to sell, the fact of the matter is that I’ve just been busy.
Getting the house ready sell?
So you caught that, eh? Well yes, we’re reaching that point in our lives where we’re looking to slow down and downsize. We aren’t getting any younger, and our focus is shifting from the proverbial rat race, to trying to simplify our lives. We moved into our home just about fourteen years ago. At that time, we had kids and my mother-in-law living with us, and bought a home big enough to comfortably accommodate all of us.
Bella and Cricket
But now my mother-in-law has passed on, the kids have grown and moved out, and it’s just me, my wife, and our two fur-babies (Bella and Cricket) in that big old house. We no longer need all that square footage on the inside. We need more on the outside. See, you put a big house like ours on a standard lot, and the house takes up more of the available lot, leaving a smaller yard for the “girls” to play in. Between that, and the fact that I am really itching to get more land so that I can get on with some of my self-sufficiency plans (gardening, maybe some chickens or quail, high volume water storage… who knows?), we are looking to change our living arrangements.
And that means patching, and sanding, and texturing, and painting, and caulking, and all the other things that have to be done to make a house more attractive to potential buyers. Now, the truth of the matter is that my wife has been doing the vast majority of all this work. She has already shown she has an amazing eye for decorating, and I’m more than happy to be the cheap labor to her superior eye. Of course, you know what happens when you hire cheap labor.
However, I have gotten some writing done…
Ghost Story – The short story for next year’s Halloween horror anthology (tentatively titled Once Feared) is finally done. It’s been turned in and either is, or will shortly be going through its paces with the editor. And of course, now that I sent it to the editor, I’ve already found more mistakes. But that’s relatively normal. As a writer/storyteller, you hate to turn loose of your work, knowing that there are imperfections in it that you’ve missed, wanting to hang on to it to polish it “just one more time”, knowing that the editor is bound to be shaking his or her head when they find your mistakes and wondering just what the hell you were thinking when you let such obvious mistakes get past you. Yeah, some of us are relatively insecure.
Chucklers – While Ghost Story is in the anthology editor’s hands, I’m freed up to work on my next project(s). I’ve decided that I will focus most of my attention back on Chucklers, the collaborative novel I’m doing with Ed Lorn. We’ve gone back and forth with this one, and between the two of us have written upwards of 40k words on it. And now, we’ve decided to start over.
Yeah, I can hear the gasps and groans out there as you all read this. It sounds like a huge setback. But the reality is that it really won’t be that big a deal. You see, we’ve decided that the “voice” for the novel needs to be shifted from first person to third. As we progressed with the tale, we began to struggle with the scope of it, and gradually decided that it was too big a story to be told from such a limited number of POVs. The way we had it, I was writing from one character’s POV, and Ed was writing from another’s. Initially, that worked great. It was an intimate, yet horrific story of two small groups of characters surviving an apocalyptic event.
The problem is that there is so much more to the story than just what these characters will personally encounter. That’s the trick with writing from a first person point of view. On one side of the coin, you get to put the reader directly in the POV character’s head, giving them an intimate view of the world as seen through the protagonist’s eyes. But the other side of the coin is that if the story depends on a lot of action that occurs away from your POV character(s), you can’t tell the reader about it without breaking them out of that intimate mode of storytelling.
Additionally, we quickly discovered that we needed more than just the small group of characters we were initially planning to use. So we’ve decided to give you the full picture. We’re going to give you a ring side seat to the end of the world, and I hope the results will blow you away.
But in order to do this, we need to rework the 40k that we’ve already written. I guess it’s not really starting over, but it will delay us a bit in getting back into the full swing of actually writing the novel.
Year 12 – Ed is currently working on another project (actually at least three other projects that I know of – the man is a freaking writing machine) and won’t be free to start back on Chucklers for a few more weeks. So if I manage to get the Chucklers rewrites done before he’s ready, I think I’m going to finally start the HPM sequel. The story has been percolating for quite a while and lately won’t seem to leave me alone. That tells me that it’s ready for me to start. Y12 will be coming to life soon.
Streets of Payne – I can hear some of you scratching your heads at my mention of this one. SoP has been out for several months, after all. So why am I mentioning it now?
Because the audio book is now out! I’m so excited about this. The actress (Joy Nash) who voiced the manuscript is absolutely perfect for the character of Amber Payne. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. So if you like audio books, Streets of Payne is now available in that format on Amazon, Audible, or iTunes. I am checking to see if I can make a sample available for you to listen to here, but until then, you can go to any of the three links above and listen there.
All right, I’ve gone on for long enough. Time for me to shut up for a while. So until next time, stay safe, everyone!