The cover to “Hunting Ghosts: Thrilling Tales of Paranormal Investigation” in which my story Forgotten Memories appears has been posted. Ok – now I am getting excited.
Forgotten Memories is one of several stories I wrote as world building for “The West Wind.” It is Weird West tale set in Johnson City, one of the main locations featured in the book, with Rachel and Clarence West playing walk-on parts. Unlike the book, however, I get to have some fun with the paranormal – ghost hunting obviously. The story centers around “Joe” who wakes up in the Marbury Sanitarium with no recollection of his past or how he arrived there. As the story unfolds, he begins to suspect that his circumstance is somehow related to a recent horrific riverboat accident. His journey of self (re)discovery nearly becomes a descent into madness as he struggles to uncover the truth about his past.
Here is the cover! More info over at the Facebook page of “Hunting Ghosts: Thrilling Tales of Paranormal Investigation.”
I am excited to announce that my short story: Forgotten Memories will be included in “Hunting Ghosts: Thrilling Tales of Paranormal Investigation!”
As the title of the anthology would imply, it is a ghost hunting story and it is set in the Steampunk Western world introduced in “The West Wind” and its sequel-in-progress “Due West.”
For all my Friends on Facebook – head over to Hunting Ghosts Facebook page and give it a “Like.” You will also find the full table of contents and excerpts from the stories being posted. More to come!
Is it just me, or is it harder to start writing than to keep writing….
Anyways, I tackled a revision of the first chapter in a new book I am calling Due West. It hadn’t survived my writing group, oft referred to as my writing “therapy” group for, well, obvious reasons. No one could get past the name of my new protagonist: Edward Percival Alford, known to his friends as “EP” and the whole premise, I felt upon reflection, was trite. Even worse, it received the most damning criticism of “not feeling dangerous enough.” Spot on if I do say so myself.
Welcome to the stage: Samuel Alford (nicknamed “Guy”) and a significantly more dangerous and thrilling opening to… Due West.
The re-write of The West Wind is going well following some gracious words of a new author friend: I just finished the first scene, a little over a thousand words, of Due West.
That part about the re-write going well. Ha! Not really. But I do appreciate the encouragement.
Update: Finished the first chapter. 2,000 words. I guess when the muse sneaks up behind you and plonks you on the head with a knobby stick, you best do something about it.
Hello lonely blog follower, Facebook friends, and even Twitter account holders who made the ill advised action of following my never so frequent updates. You can be thankful at least that I am not filling your mailboxes and feeds with endless posts. Focused posting. That’s good enough for me… when I get around to it that is.
Despite numerous heartfelt attempts, I have decided that I am completely incapable of generating any enthusiasm for rewriting “The West Wind ” (at least presently) I am therefore pursuing what I believe to be the only sensible course of action… Start writing a new book! If there is a rule that I need to finish rewriting the previous before starting anew, like some sort of literary lima beans before desert, I am afraid I am guilty of its violation.
“Due West” picks up roughly a year following the conclusion of “The West Wind.” Rachel West returns as a principle POV character, as does my favorite troubled and unstable heir Eli Hardy. For my third POV I am introducing a new character, the inimitable inspector Edward Percival Alford sent by the American Colonial government to investigate the extraordinary events of the previous story. The setting remains the same – the Steampunk Western alternate world of the early 1900s.
Scrivener files created, timeline drawing template opened, let the plotting begin!
Finished revising and resubmitting “The Curse of Knuckles Gap” a SteamPunk western horror (weird west) tale. It had received a couple of polite rejections in its original form so I took some feedback and reworked it. I think it is a much stronger story as a result. My insight here: having someone else read your work helps find the things that you think are there but never really left your head and made it to the page.
Insert usual apologies about not updating blog more frequently…
I received a question from a reader regarding how I constructed my timelines – any special software?
When setting out to write The West Wind, I knew I was going to need something to create timelines. I had never written something so big and complex but knew that I needed something to organize the multiple story lines. I am also a very visual person – I often find myself drawing a picture to help describe some point I am trying to make. Notebooks are fine, but I really needed something a bit more specific. There were several features that, at the time, I thought I needed:
- The ability to capture a short description – these ultimately became my writing prompts for scenes
- Some way of tagging or creating meta data
- A way of showing relationships
I looked at the writing apps that had timelines built in, e.g. yWriter and even basic notecards. They covered most of my requirements, but ultimately lacked a fourth item that I discovered along the way: flexibility! Notecards, I need to point out, was a horrible experience. I didn’t have enough space for all the cards, couldn’t keep the relationships, and most importantly, couldn’t read my handwriting.! My romantic notion of a writer staring at a cork board plastered with notecards was quickly dashed on the rocks of practicality.
Then I started using Visio. I use it in my professional life and in the design of boardgames, the other often referenced hobby of mine on which I will blame my lack of writing… I put together timelines for each of my characters, a timeline for the world, and connected them all together with the dynamic connectors. I found the flexibility I needed to move things around without losing anything and had control over cutting and reconnecting the relationships. I also found I didn’t need to use any tagging, like an action vs reflective scene, instead I used colors. Worked just fine…
Until I found out how much I was missing using the Windows Beta of Scrivener and, as luck would have it, demands of my professional life gave me a great excuse to invest in a MacAir. Darn.
I finished writing The West Wind in Scrivener on my new Mac but then found myself wanting to re-arrange my timelines. No, nothing really easy or cheap for importing Visio documents into Mac drawing programs that I could find. I also didn’t want to go back and forth between platforms. I wound up re-building the timelines in OpenOffice.org Draw which, as it turned out, was needed anyway due to the amount of drift from the original story timelines over the year that I wrote the story. Re-building the timelines got me back in touch with the story and allowed me to implement an idea I had for telling much of Rachel’s backstory through a couple of key flashbacks.
To give some context, here is about the first third of The West Wind timeline as it was orginally in Visio:
Even if only in a small way. I am excited to announce that one of my short stories has been selected to be included in a forthcoming horror short story anthology. My first of, hopefully, many more.
I have written and submitted several short stories recently, each taking place in and around the events of The West Wind. Yes, I know, I should be working on the book but I can rationalize these side efforts in a couple of ways:
- Short stories have word counts. Writing with a word count forces me to write as tightly as I can. A good discipline and habit that will benefit a longer work where there is no word count.
- World building with a purpose. I have heard of writers spending years on world building without eventually even writing the novel. I am doing it the other way around. I wrote my first draft and now I am world building through the short stories. My rewrite will benefit. I also can’t help but thinking that the short stories benefit by being set in a world where it is clear that there are other things going on outside of the perspective.
- Editing. I hate it but learning how to do it takes the edge off a bit.
I am re-writing. Finally.
No more excuses. No more indulgent distractions. Time to buckle down and get going on the re-write.
Rachel’s backstory, though not actually in the novel, was my first task. Something I had wanted to do following reading Jeter’s “Infernal Devices.” The whole “inherit a clockshop” thing seemed a little too trite, too cliche. So Rachel now has a new and better backstory. Much darker and dangerous than previously. Even better motivation than finding your fortune in the American Colonies… fleeing a dangerous conspiracy in England. Unfortunately, Rachel and Clarence are only going to find themselves embroiled in even deeper intrigues. Sort of “out of the frying pan an into the fire” type of thing. Can’t let the two of them off that easy now can I?