It’s loud in here…

My wife is watching the Oscars on our main TV, across the room from where my computer is set up, and I’m having a little trouble concentrating.  Even so, I still hope to clear 122,000 words tonight. 

I am struggling a little with the stuff I am laying down at the moment– Kathy’s reached the farming village where she will hide out from her pursuers and share in the celebrations of a harvest festival, a central sequence that affects her atitudes toward the world of the Val.  But I’m not sure I have the characters and the situation right and I had to spend some time this afternoon writing out a few notes on the political structure of the Val Empire, which was feeling a little thin.  I’m telling myself that I’ll get it down first and fix it in the second draft.  But at the moment what’s winding up on page is about 52.2% of what’s in my head, which is even worse a percentage than usual.

In general, I think I am a little down about the quality of my writing.  There’s a lot of better writing out there and I wonder why anyone should bother with mine.  My imagination, which is no great shakes at the best of times, seems to be running especially low on gas lately.  Maybe it’s partly the thought that I am as old as I am and have taken so long to reach even a minimum level of competence. It seems I should have been here a long time ago.

Having said all that, I’m not likely to quit.  However poor they may be, I need to get these stories out.  I look back on my life and I realize that, one way or another, I have always been telling stories.  I am not really going to stop now. 

Well, Anne Hathaway won for Best Supporting Actress.  I can get back to work.




More temptations….

Princess of Shadows is now at 120,000 words. That’s after I was unable to write for a couple of days because of this, that, and certain other things– the problem with being a working writer (that is, a writer who has to work for a living at something other than writing) is that certain other things are continually coming up to steal away your writing time. That’s on top of my naturally undisciplined nature (Season Two of Game of Thrones is out on DVD….).

At the same time, I continue to fight off the temptation of other projects. Perhaps it’s an indication of how tired I am trying to get this novel out. I have actually started reading for the Civil War novella I mentioned in a previous post, but the latest severe temptation is an idea for a hard-boiled detective series in a fictional town that would be some kind of horrid three-way hybrid of Seattle, Gotham, and Prohibition Chicago. This thing has been stewing in my brain for a couple of years and for some reason its been particularly on my mind for the last week or so. Never mind that my only exposure to the detective genre has been watching Rockford Files as a kid and reading some John D. MacDonald. But I’ve come up with what I think is a fairly compelling central character, and the possibilities inherent in constructing a whole fictional city as the milieu for the stories intrigues me.

But if I let it distract me from Shadows, I am doomed. If nothing else, my daughter may murder me. She wants the next Divine Lotus novel now and can’t understand why her dim-bulb father can’t write faster.

Sigh– when I was young (a long, long time ago), one of the hardest things for me to do was to come up with story ideas that were not thinly disguised rip-offs of Star Trek or Lord of the Rings. Now that I am old, I have far too many ideas, more than I can probably cram into the remaining minutes I have left on this Earth. Youth, indeed, is wasted on the wrong people.


A quick note…

At 116,000 words tonight, and damn if in the middle of a scene a new character didn’t show up and start demanding attention.  A Redeemer leader (sorta like the Boxers in China of 1900), this guy has just arrived, but I know instinctively he’s going to show up again.  This has happened to me before, where the narrative suddenly produces surprises and forces changes on me.  It’s a very odd experience, but I try not to fight it.

Working on improving my blog, adding pages and features.  I was going to create a webpage via Gutensite, but it was too convoluted for my simple mind.  I’m going to stick with Wordpress for the time being, at least. 


Resisting temptation….

Princess of Shadows has reached 115,000.  I have managed, perhaps inadequately in this draft, to close out one major sequence that had puzzled me enormously; the remaining sequences feel fairly straight-forward, although my estimated final draft word count is probably now about 150,000 rather than 130,000.  I seem to be coming in at an average of about 500 words a day, which is less than I’ve wanted to do, but better than sitting and staring at a blank screen.

As I make progress on Shadows, though, I am fighting off the temptation of other projects. I was sitting in my office the other day, reminiscing about all the pulpy TV sci-fi I loved when I was a kid and wondering if I could possibly write a story that would combine all the elements of those sorts of shows and movies, and lo and behold a ’60’s B-movie trailer popped into my head–


In deepest space, a lone astronaut crash-lands on a planet filled with primitive beasts—a savage world where death waits under every tree, and the very land itself is torn apart by primeval forces. But worse than any dinosaur or lava-flow is the dark alien menace that threatens to conquer all human life in the galaxy!

SEE him battle ferocious beasts from out of time!

WATCH as volcanic death spews across the land!

THRILL as he falls into the hands of the fierce Cave Women, who wage their own desperate battle for survival on DINOSAUR PLANET!

GASP in horror at terrible battles against the alien conquerors!

Don’t miss a single terrifying minute of DINOSAUR PLANET!

By the end of the day a full-blown plot had come together in my head. I’ve resisted writing it, though, because 1. it would take away time from Shadows, and 2. I’m pretty sure no one would buy it (not that I’m selling a lot of anything on Kindle the moment, anyway).

Then there’s the temptation to start writing a follow-up to my novella about the Battle of Shiloh, with the same characters, as we’re approaching the 150th anniversary of the siege of Vicksburg, which was the true turning point of the Civil War. I would really like to do this, but I really, really want to finish Shadows first, all the way through to final draft and publication. If I can finish the novel in three months, then I might have enough time to whip out the novella. Maybe.

Sigh. I supposed it’s better to have too many projects than to have nothing to write, but I hate the way they tend to get log-jammed in my head. Comes from being narrow-minded, perhaps….


The wind is blowing, and darkness is all around…

and it’s way past my bedtime, and I’ve already taken my medications for the evening, so this is the quickest of quick updates.  Yesterday I reached 101,000 words on Princess of Shadows. I was able to re-purpose some material I had previously cut, and flesh it out and rework it to fit where I dropped it. I’m hanging on to my sense of momentum, although I didn’t get anything done today (11 hour day at work).

I will try to post something more detailed and interesting soon, but right I have to go to bed. Later.

90,000 words

Last night I reached 90,000 words on Princess of Shadows. I have a sense that the struggle for a draft of this novel is entering its terminal phases, not quite to the mopping-up operations, but I’ve got the bastards on the run. I say this while being fairly sure that I still have about 40,000 words left to write, give or take, with several major sequences either not on paper yet or only in fragments. Think the liberation of Paris, rather the crossing of the Rhine.

So, perhaps, another two months and I will have a draft in hand. After that at least two months to edit and format, and maybe, maybe, a complete novel by April or May. That’s pretty slow, but I’ll feel better about the end-product than if I rushed.

Once I have Princess of Shadows finished, I may take a break to possibly write one of the other novels kicking around in my head– either a space opera, for which there exists an unsold/unproduced TV pilot, or a fantasy novel based on a character that I’ve been carrying around in my head since the summer of 1977. Once I have that off my chest, it would be on to Princess of Fire, and then Princess of Stars.

In the meantime, I am working on a personal webpage through Gutensite, to which I may move this blog. In addition, I will probably be adding my stories to outlets like Smashwords and Nook, now that I am done with Kindle Select. I expect 2013 is going to be very busy for me.


At 82,000 words…again…

I recently told some friends of mine that writing Princess of Shadows has been like taking two steps forward, one step back, one step sideways, spin in place, and repeat (see “the Seattle Crawl” from a previous post).  I am once again at 82,000 words on this novel.  I say “once again”, because I reached 82,000 words several weeks ago, shortly after my last post, and then spent the last month ripping out about 13,000 words that no longer worked, were obsolete, or just didn’t fit anymore. For the first time since I started writing full-length novels I’ve had to begin distinguishing between extant versions of a work in progress– I am currently on version three, and there is no guarantee there won’t be more versions to come.

Having said that, my confidence continues to slowly grow. For the first time I can see how the narrative holds together as a whole, and I think I finally, genuinely have a handle on all of the major characters– and some of them (I hope) are real characters. If I can maintain a good pace, I can probably finish the draft in another three months. That may be a big if, but I can try.

Once again, the link to my Amazon Kindle author’s page–


The turtle trudges on….

A brief note, because I am ‘way tired at the moment– I have made it to 81,000 words with “Princess of Shadows”.  I’d thought I’d be celebrating that milestone, but I don’t seem to have the energy– Kathy is dodging bad guys in a wilderness again, and I seem to be as stuck in the badlands as she is.  There are at least three major sections (maybe four or five) that I need to write for this book, plus connecting passages and stuff to round out or complete previous sections, and that’s all got to happen before I can call this a complete first draft. I think I’ll have to re-title this story “The Never-ending Composition”.

In this instance, I have to wonder if my habit of skipping around the narrative, of writing where it’s easiest and bypassing (temporarily) the difficult parts, is serving me as well as it usually does.  The next 50,000 words will tell the tale.




Another brief update…

I have made it to 70,000 words on Princess of Shadows.  Many writers at this point would be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, but my darkness is currently unrelieved– there is still a lot of ground Kathy and I have to cover before we sew up a draft.  My definition of a “draft” is when you can read the entire manuscript and see it as a comparatively coherent and complete narrative, without major breaks or jumps.  It’s okay if minor characters change names or motivations or gender midstream, or if there are inconsistencies in the logic of certain scenes– all that can be rectified in the second draft.  By this definition, I am still a long way from a first draft– perhaps as much as 60,000 words.  With the number of incidents and scenes I have in my head that I haven’t written, that could be a reasonable number. Or it could be more.

In the last few days on the Kindle author boards a certain very prolific author was boasting that they had written some ridiculous number of novels in the last twenty months or so– something like 16.  I believe him, he’s got the published works to prove it, and the sales, but personally I have never been able to work like that.  It takes me one to two years to write a novel from blank page to ready for submission.  Quite aside from holding a full-time job (and more than full-time– I was just told this week that I’m going to be working this Saturday, too), it takes me a long time to write the basic narrative, and then to tweak and straighten and resolve inconsistencies and problems.  I hope the effort shows, but it does make for long periods between completions.  Once again, bear with me.


PS– just in case anybody wants to look at my author’s page on Amazon without having to scroll down through all my posts, here it is again–

A quick update….

I’m now at 65,000 words, and I’m feeling better about some of the material I’m getting down. This weekend was a bust, though– between yard work yesterday and a massive headache last night I didn’t get much done.

One of the odd things about my writing process is that I have to spend thirty minutes to an hour doing other things on the computer (like playing Halo, or updating this blog) before I can commit to adding words to my current work in progress. It’s as if I have to make myself sneak up on actually facing the real work. More and more as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that writing is really a fearful thing– I have nudge myself into position to write. The one writing book I actually recommend to people is Ralph Keyes’ “The Courage to Write”, which discussed just that idea, that writing is frightening and the mastery and utilization of that fear can create great prose. It was an concept that profoundly changed how I thought about my writing.

Okay, I think I’ve gotten myself into the right frame of mind. I’m off to put Kathy into more tight situations. Later.

Pray and Write

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