Too Old to Travel But Jake is Jake

I begged Best Beloved to add an extra week to this trip north.

If I hadn’t done that, we’d have left for home this morning.

I’m having a hard time finding the joy. I made a bunch of changes to my online life the weeks before we left home and I’ve found myself more than bored.

I haven’t been bored in 15 years.

Things are complicated by an injury to my right foot that makes walking excruciating. Otherwise I’d take long walks every day, enjoying the beauty.

There’s always going for a drive. In my socks.


Jake Calcutta’s first story is going well. Fully outlined. I’ve written 1,500 words so far, and that’s just quickdraft. I’m pleased with how it’s coming out, though it’s not the Edgar Rice Burroughs clone I was hoping for. Maybe I’m not Edgar Rice Burroughs. Maybe I’m me.



A Message from Amazon

A month ago I tried to leave a 5-star review for a cool guitar accessory I’d bought on Amazon. I got an error message. When I followed up with Amazon this was their response:

Yes, in fact, I know people who’ve bought the same items as me on Amazon.

I know some of the authors whose books I’ve bought, read, and reviewed.

And I have been given books in the hopes I would review them.

Never, once, have I intentionally attempted to deceive or mislead anyone about my own books or my opinion of any other item at Amazon. Hey, I’m that guy ahead of you making you crazy by driving the speed limit instead of going as fast as everyone else. I’m the guy who reports cash earnings and pays taxes on them.

In short, I’m honest, in everything, in every way. I’m genetically incapable of lying or cheating.

When I know that there are folks who are gaming Amazon left right and center and making money at it, folks who are cheating every way possible and getting away with it, but whatever mistake I made leads to, with no warning whatsoever, a full permanent ban from ever leaving a review of anything, ever again, on Amazon, it feels unfair.

I’m no longer raging, but I’m still sad. Maybe even a little hurt.

I was planning on asking for your book reviews in my next newsletter. I won’t be bothering. In fact, you might want to avoid reviewing any of my books, in case Amazon decides we know each other.


I’m Not Supposed to Look at Reviews

People were saying such nice things about the new book that I kept popping in to Amazon to see what else they were saying.

Oops.

I’m not allowed to look at reviews. I’ll never learn to really ignore them, so Best Beloved keeps up with them, and shares the ones I need to see. No, I don’t need to see the negative feedback. It’s not helpful, not constructive, serves no purpose to me.

Perhaps the only 2-star review of any of my books, ever (though I did get a 1-star review once that still makes me chuckle.)

Ah, well. Note to self: don’t do that.


Quickdraft of the Next Book is Done

My new writing process includes some initial brainstorming to feel my way through the idea, some vague outlining which is essentially a list of sequences (groups of related scenes) in a spreadsheet, and then a process I call quickdraft.

In essence, I go through the story like a 12-year-old describing a book they read:

“First she does this, and then this happens, and she goes there an, um, some stuff happens I don’t know what but because of that she has to do this other thing.”

Gaping holes, bad writing, no description. It’s just a way to get the story told, the whole thing out there, so I can turn it around and flip it over and poke and prod to see if it holds up.

Today I finished the quickdraft of Love Runs Out, my first novel with a female protagonist.

I hope it’ll be published before year end, but no promises for the moment.

I think I’ll go play with cover ideas.

It used to be called anacrusis before I figured out what I was really doing.



The Best Beloved Seal of Approval

When Sue read the near-final draft of Rafe Keyn and the Temporal Lisle I only wanted one piece of feedback: does it work?

No writerly feedback. No plot ideas. No character suggestions. None of the stuff people always want to say to writers.

Did it suck you in and keep you in?

This late in the game, that’s all I need to know.

And her answer was “Yes.”

It’s being proofread right now, and I have one or two sentences that need polishing after my current read-through. The cover is done. (See? Right there above.)

I can see the checkered flag. I’ll keep you posted.


Unheroic

When I found out he had two weeks to live, I didn’t go see him. Not that I don’t know what to say; I’ve had training in dealing with bereavement and grief and death.

I should have gone. But one time I thought about it, I felt like I didn’t know him well enough to matter. Another time, I let the unorthodox family situation stop me; wasn’t sure who’d be there and how they’d be feeling or acting. Another time, I felt overwhelmed because though we weren’t close, I’d thought we would be; he was a good guy, smart, good conversationalist, sense of humor.

Talked myself into it. Excused myself out of it. Talked myself into it. Waited too long.

In the end I just waited too long to do the right thing.

They say heroes dash into burning buildings or flaming cars to rescue people without thinking. They act before they have a chance to get scared. My first impulse when I heard was, I have to go see him.

But I gave myself time to think, and I kept thinking until it was too late.


900 Days

Tomorrow it will be 900 days since The Temporal Lisle came to me in a flash.

I suspect I’ve spent 800 of those days doing nothing but suffering over the struggle.

Though the battle with Resistance is never won, I have been writing steadily for weeks. There are 16 chapters left to write. That’s not much. Yesterday I realized I’d left a major character hanging in limbo; they walk offstage and simply disappear. It took four short chapters to resolve their story in a way that organically served the larger story, and I wrote it all in a single sitting.

Come November 3, 2018, the 3rd anniversary of the burst of creativity, this book will already be published and selling well.

And the next one ain’t gonna take three years.


Three Applauses

I’ve noticed something about an audience’s reaction to live music: how the applause happens.

Obviously, there’s applause at the end.

And at the beginning, there’s applause—twice.

Some people recognize the opening notes on the guitar, the first piano chord, the drum riff leading it off, and instantly cheer for what they know is coming. There’s a medium sized round of applause in the opening seconds.

Then, the singer starts the song, and people recognize the words. That applause is a roar. People recognize words more than they recognize music.

Some bands play around with this. Bob Dylan is famous for rearranging his music so much that, until he starts singing, even fans aren’t sure where he’s going—and sometimes, not even then. Okay, we always eventually get it. He’s an extreme example. Sometimes a new intro delays the applause until the singer makes the song clear.

Comedians and storytellers play on this. Telegraph where you’re going with a joke, a humorous story, and people will slowly start to get it. A rising chuckle, a few laughs, and before the punchline everyone gets it—and then, you leave it there. They’ve figured it out and told themselves the joke. Don’t kill it by nailing it down.

Listeners, readers, those people who take stories in, whether they’re jokes, morality plays, songs, are smart. They love story, they understand it. They don’t need to be led by the hand, they just need a compass and a map.

As long as you’ve marked the trail clearly, letting readers find their own path makes a more satisfying experience.