My Quest to Draw (Day 4): The Cube

Ice Storm & the Dreaded Information Dump

I like to weave little slices of dark history into my novels. Unfortunately, that usually means one thing…the dreaded information dump!

My Quest to Draw (Day 4): The Cube

My Quest to Draw (Day 4): The topic is “The Cube.” The bottom right drawing turned out to be a bit of a mess!

Ice Storm: 11 Days, 33,000 Words!

So, here we are…Day 11 of my “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. I edited 1,500 words yesterday, bringing my redraft to a grand total of 33,000 words. By my estimate, I’ve got 57,000 words left to finish. The work required a lot of research and I found it quite interesting. Of course, research is usually far more interesting to the writer than it is to the reader. And that brings me to today’s topic…the dreaded “information dump.”

The Dreaded Information Dump!

Here’s the deal. The primary goal of the Cy Reed series is to provide entertainment. But I also hope to shed some light on the secret events and ideas that have influenced our world.

I love history, especially the dark stuff that normally gets ignored in the history books. That’s why so many of my Guerrilla Explorer posts are along the lines of “Thomas Edison…Kills an Elephant?“. Another type of history I enjoy involves the struggle over ideas such as The Debate that Rocked the World? (also known as the Socialist Economic Calculation Debate). Many of these debates are little known. And yet, they’ve completely changed out world.

Well, I needed to write about one such debate today. And it’s a particularly dark debate, one that took place decades ago and whose ramifications are still felt in modern society. I loved researching it. But writing it was difficult. Truth be told, it’s hard to relay factual information in an interesting way. Most writers just dump the information into a chapter, creating an information dump. Then they wash their hands and move on to the next scene.

Information dumps are often essential. And yet, I think most readers skim over them, eager to get back to the main story. So, I try to spice up my information dumps by pitting characters against each other. In yesterday’s work, Cy Reed squared off with a guy by the name of Aaron Jenner. Jenner believes something…unusual. Cy is shocked and even infuriated by Jenner’s opinions. And yet, Jenner is able to defend his position. Neither side wants to give into the other one and thus an information dump is transformed into a battle of wills.

By the way, if you haven’t already done so, head on over to Thriller Central to check out my article, Writer’s Guilt. Thriller Central is a terrific site, devoted to thriller and adventure fiction. There aren’t a lot of sites like this one so make sure to bookmark it.

Drawing: Day 4 – The Cube

I completed my 4th lesson from You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler last night. It was about the cube and you can see the resulting page from my sketch book. This one wasn’t too bad but I kind of lost it at the end when I tried to sketch a box on end. I tried to widen the angles, to fit the visual imagery we normally expect from three-dimensional boxes. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out so well. This was a good lesson, especially since I was getting a little cocky after my success on Day 3. Now, I’m sufficiently humbled again.

Other Stuff

I’m up to 104 Facebook followers. Not that this is a huge deal, but it’s still fun to see that number grow. Also, I’m still thinking about making adjustments to my sidebar (that one on the right with Chaos in it). I might expand it to include international bookstores. And yes, that stupid link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. Diesel has a revised version of Chaos but doesn’t seem to have posted it yet. Finally, the Chaos paperback continues to be on sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Get it and review it!

Day 3: My Quest to Draw

My Favorite Authors: The Great E.W. Hildick

Who are your favorite authors? I’ve got a bunch of them. Today, I wanted to write a little about a man named E.W. Hildick. Read on to find out more!

Day 3: My Quest to Draw

Day 3: My Quest to Draw. The topic is Advanced-Level Spheres. I felt pretty stiff so this lesson took me a long time to finish. But I thought it came out pretty good…

Ice Storm: 10 Days, 31,500 Words!

Today is Day 10 of my “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. I do half days on the weekend, so I only edited 1,500 words yesterday, raising my grand total to 31,500. That leaves 58,500 words left to edit.

Before I forget, head on over to Thriller Central to check out my article, Writer’s Guilt. Thriller Central is a terrific site, devoted to thriller and adventure fiction. There aren’t a lot of sites like this one so make sure to bookmark it.

My Favorite Authors: The Great E.W. Hildick

My cousin Erik texted me last night. He wanted me to know he’d seen a lady reading Clive Cussler at the pool today. For those of you who don’t know, Clive Cussler was my first foray into the world of grown-up literature. One day, I’m gobbling up Hardy Boys books. The next day, I’m poring over Dragon and Night Probe.

It got me thinking about the other authors who’ve influenced me along the way. There have been a bunch of them. When I was a kid, my favorite author was E.W. Hildick. I read his books over and over again. One of my elementary school teachers once required our entire classroom to send letters to our favorite authors. Naturally, I chose E.W. Hildick. He never responded. I’ve always been a little suspicious that she didn’t actually mail it. Or maybe that’s just me hoping he didn’t throw my letter in the trash!

E.W. Hildick wrote a series about a junior detective agency, It was led by a young redheaded kid named Jack P. McGurk. McGurk was sort of like a young, mischievous Sherlock Holmes (he once held a “clue hunt” in his backyard…the other kids spent hours picking up candy wrappers and other trash before they realized he’d tricked them into doing one of his chores). The cases were a lot of fun. Many of them were adult crimes brought down to the kid level. So, instead of a typical kidnapping case, Hildick would present a case about a kidnapped doll, complete with ransom note. Over time, the cases got more complex but they always maintained a sense of youthful innocence. That made Hildick pretty unique, especially since so many other kid detectives were battling killers and Nazis at the time.

A couple of years ago, I hit E-Bay pretty hard and now I own the entire McGurk collection including The Menaced Midget, which was never released in the United States. If you get a chance, check E.W. Hildick out. You won’t be disappointed!

Drawing: Day 3 – Advanced-Level Spheres

I completed my third lesson from You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler last night. It was about advanced-level spheres. Check out the photo to see my work. This one took me several hours to finish. Keep in mind I’m really just going through exercises now and doing a lot of copying of his drawings. Not that this is a bad thing. Copying is a pretty good way to learn how to do something.

Be that as it may, I’m still too stiff, too careful with my work. I erase a lot and do a lot of reshaping of individual spheres. It tends to slow me down big time. Anyway I hope to work that out of my system over the coming weeks. In the meantime, I start work on cubes today. I’m still a long ways from being able to draw out the characters and worlds I see in my mind. But I think I’m on the right track.

Other Stuff

I just gained my 100th Facebook follower (thanks Dena!). Good stuff. Also, I’m still thinking about making adjustments to my sidebar (that one on the right with Chaos in it). I might expand it to include international bookstores. I sell far more E-Books in Amazon’s UK store than at Barnes and Noble. I guess that shows how good Amazon is at targeting a book to the right audience. Unfortunately, the link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. Diesel has a revised version of Chaos in hand so hopefully, this will be fixed soon. Finally, the Chaos paperback continues to be on sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Get it and review it!

Ice Storm Hell: Things just got a Little Easier…

It’s Ice Storm Hell! Ice Storm, my latest novel in development, has been one headache after another. But last night, I finally caught some good fortune.

Day 2: My Quest to Draw

Day 2: My Quest to Draw. The topic is Overlapping Spheres. Those tennis balls look almost good enough to play with right? Right???

Ice Storm Hell: 9 Days, 30,000 Words!

Today is Day 9 of my “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. Yesterday was a surprisingly good day. I edited some old stuff, wrote some new stuff. When the dust was cleared, I’d finished another 3,000 words. 30,000 words down, 60,000 words to go.

Until last night, I’d been dreading this week. To make a long story short, Ice Storm consists of six parts. Each part is roughly 15,000 words long. When I first mapped out an editing plan for Ice Storm, I decided my third part was largely unusable. So, I decided to eliminate it and redraft the whole thing. I wasn’t looking forward to making such a drastic shift from editing to writing and then back to editing again. Then I caught a break. I took another look at my notes and realized I’d been too aggressive with my story map. So, I reworked it last night. And lo and behold, I figured out a way to reintegrate a lot of scenes I’d planned to throw out. So, Ice Storm’s third part will need far less rewriting than I’d thought. Needless to say, I’m stoked.

Drawing: Day 2 – Overlapping Spheres

I also completed my second lesson from You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler last night. It was about overlapping spheres. Check out the photo to see my work. Essentially, there are three tricks to make a sphere look three-dimensional. First, you overlap it on top of a second sphere. Second, you make the closer sphere larger than the one that’s further away. And third, you place the first sphere lower on the page. Then its just a simple matter of casting some shadows and adding several layers of shading. All in all, this was a good lesson. I could definitely see the improvement in my spheres and thought I did a decent job drawing a pair of tennis balls (yes, those are tennis balls) to finish for the night.

Of course, it’s going to get harder from here. Probably a lot harder. And I can already see I’m going to want to go over these lessons again when I’m done to make sure I really know them. But I’m starting to think I might really be able to draw for real someday. Neat!

Other Stuff

This is kind of my wrap-up section to sum up non-creative issues. So, I noticed I’m at 99 Facebook followers. Join today and you can be #100! What else? Oh yeah, I’m still thinking about making adjustments to my sidebar (that one on the right with Chaos in it). I might expand it to include international bookstores. I sell far more E-Books in Amazon’s UK store than at Barnes and Noble. I guess that’s a testament for how good Amazon is at targeting a book to the right audience. Unfortunately, the link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. Diesel has a revised version of Chaos in hand so hopefully, this will be fixed soon. Finally, the Chaos paperback continues to be on sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Get it and review it!

Day 1 of my Quest to Draw...think Double Fine can do any better? Well, yes. Yes, they can.

Double Fine, Kickstarter, and Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding involves creating a world and populating it with people, history, ecology, etc. It’s normally the stuff of fiction. But a quirky video game company named Double Fine has taken worldbuilding to a whole other level. More on that in a minute…

Day 1 of my Quest to Draw...think Double Fine can do any better? Well, yes. Yes, they can.

Day 1 of my Quest to Draw. The topics included spheres, light sources, and shading.

Ice Storm: 8 Days, 27,000 Words!

Today is Day 8 of my “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. My brain is constantly on the move so I often end up distracting myself during writing sessions. I’ll play some Conceptis logic puzzles. I’ll check email. I’ll browse the web. I’ll do anything but write. Usually, that’s not a huge deal. But lately, it’s gotten a little out of control.

Yesterday, I took a different approach. I started writing first thing in the morning. I also timed my progress. My average writing pace is 2 pages per hour. When I’m unfocused, it can take an hour or even longer to write a single page. But when I time myself, I work much faster. I can usually write 3 or even 4 pages an hour. And yesterday was no different. I wrote about 1,000 new words and edited another 2,000 words in 2.5 hours. Not bad. So, I’ve now got 27,000 words done with 63,000 words to go.

Today will be a good test of my ability to focus. I need to write a couple of new scenes. If I’m focused, it should pass with relative ease. If not, well, I don’t want to think about that.

Drawing: Day 1!

I also completed my first lesson from You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler yesterday. It was about spheres, light sources, and shading. You can see the results over there on the right. On the bright side, the apple drawings are probably the best pieces of art I’ve ever produced. On the not so bright side, the apple drawings are…probably the best pieces of art I’ve ever produced. Clearly, I’ve got a long way to go. But this early lesson gave me a lot of confidence and a few tools to add to my toolbox.

Double Fine, Kickstarter, and Worldbuilding

Double Fine is a mid-sized video game company. Last year, they raised $3.5 million via Kickstarter to fund an old-school adventure game called Broken Age. They also produced a documentary for backers showing how they actually made the game. Now, Double Fine has launched a new Kickstarter project called Massive Chalice. Since last night, they’ve raised about $0.5 million.

I loved the adventure game genre as a kid and spent many hours playing Police Quest, Space Quest, and the Indiana Jones games. So, I ended up backing Broken Age. And then a curious thing happened. I started paying more attention to Double Fine. I purchased The Cave and played it with my wife. I enjoyed the emphasis on characters and worldbuilding. So, I started looking into their other games. I tend to have very specific tastes, but I found myself being intrigued by games that fall outside my normal boundaries. True, they make good games. But it’s more than that. Their documentary opened up a whole new world to me. I got to see them work, make games, and interact with each other. There’s an old rule in fiction…intimacy breeds sympathy. It certainly worked in this case. The more engaged I became with Double Fine, the more I wanted to try their other games.

In effect, Double Fine used worldbuilding techniques to create a unique nonfiction world. In the process, they’ve turned me from a casual fan into an engaged one. In many ways, they’ve helped inspire this latest “open novel” experiment of mine. Hopefully, you’ll get to know me and like what I do here. And hopefully, you’ll decide you want to read my books too!

Other Stuff

See that sidebar? The one with Chaos in it? I’ve been thinking about expanding it to include international bookstores. My second largest store (after Amazon of course) happens to be Amazon’s UK store. Barnes and Noble is way down the list. So, I might shake that up a bit. Unfortunately, the link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. Diesel has a revised version of Chaos in hand so hopefully, this will be fixed soon. Finally, the Chaos paperback continues to be on sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Get it today!

Me enjoying a moment of boredom

Boredom is a Good Thing…and Here’s Why!

Most people hate boredom. Personally, I think it’s highly underrated. In fact, I could use a little boredom in my life right about now…

Me enjoying a moment of boredom

Me enjoying a moment of boredom

It’s Day 7 of my “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. Yesterday was a little hellish in its own right. After four days off, I found myself struggling to get back into the story. This isn’t unusual for me and it’s one of the reasons I don’t like to take breaks during the middle of a story. Anyway it took a long time but I managed to edit another 3,000 words of my second draft. So, I’m sitting at 24,000 words with 66,000 words to go.

Today should be a relatively easy day. Then I’m going to need to start creating some new scenes, which will slow me down a bit. I’m beginning to wonder if I can keep editing at a pace of 18,000 words per week. Writing and editing at the same time is far more difficult than doing just one or the other. So, I may need to cut it back to 12,000 in order to give my inner batteries more time to recharge. And that brings me to today’s topic…

Boredom is a Good Thing…and Here’s Why!

No one likes boredom. Many people even consider it evil. This is a leftover from early American history, as brilliantly shown by Thaddeus Russell in A Renegade History of the United States. Prior to the American Revolution, America was a hotbed of saloons, interracial mixing, non-marital sex, homosexuality, and prostitution among other things. Life for these people was about having fun.

After the war, the “Founding Fathers” became worried. They thought these frivolous, pleasure-seeking lifestyles would ruin the American experiment of self-rule. The result was a strange merger of Puritan values with Victorian ideas about work and leisure. Work was said to be godly, regardless of whether it had a purpose or not. Idle hands supposedly led to misery and wretchedness.

These ideas continue to this day, albeit to a lesser degree. We still avoid boredom like the plague. In fact, we do everything in our power to avoid it. We turn on the television. We surf the internet. We call people. We engage in work. We do chores. We run errands. In general, we throw ourselves into any structured activity that promises to alleviate our boredom. But creatively speaking, that’s a mistake. Boredom can be an extremely powerful tool.

I try to fit boredom into my daily schedule. Yes, I know that sounds weird. But I have to fight my initial instinct to consume entertainment. So, I find time to sit down once a day. I don’t do anything in particular. I just let my mind wander. And the result is often amazing. I do some of my most imaginative work when I’m just sitting around, being bored. The other thing I like about boredom is that it helps me realize my passions. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself thinking a lot about drawing and how I wished I knew more about it. Now, I’m about to begin a 30-day drawing program.

So, embrace your boredom. Avoid the temptation to fill every spare moment with outside stimulation (unless, of course, it happens to be Chaos!). Instead, let your imagination go to work and maybe you’ll discover things about yourself you never knew before.

Other Stuff

I wanted to begin my 30-day drawing program yesterday. Unfortunately, I ran out of time. Hopefully, I’ll start it to later today. The link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. Diesel has a revised version of Chaos in hand so hopefully, this will be fixed soon. On the bright side, I fixed my Goodreads link. So, at least that’s off my list. Finally, the Chaos paperback continues to be on sale for $13.25 at Amazon.

Wood Table

4 Days, 13 Hours in the Car, and 1 Sick Wife!

My wife and I don’t travel much, but when we do we make it count.

Wood Table

Check out the table…it might look like a bunch of mangled wood but to me, there was a whole other world beneath that glass…

It’s Day 6.5 of my “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. Last Friday, I reached 21,000 words of the second draft. Just 69,000 words to go. I’ve spent the last four days on the road, traveling up and down the East Coast. I’m excited to be back to work but first a little vacation recap is in order.

4 Days, 13 Hours in the Car, and 1 Sick Wife!

May 25: Early in the morning, Julie and I drove 5 hours to visit our friends Graig and Michelle for a BBQ. I know what you’re thinking. 5 hours for a BBQ? Well, it’s a little more than that. Over the years, my close college friends have moved all over the place. Thus, I don’t get to see them very often. Anyway we ate too much, drank too much, and slept too little. All in all, a great time. Unfortunately, our hosts got extremely sick that night. They thought it was food poisoning. But since the rest of us felt fine, Julie and I decided we were safe. Oh, how wrong we were.

May 26: We drove another five hours to Massachusetts. My parents recently bought a retirement home in Cape Cod. So, they’ve been gradually moving into it and sprucing up the place. Julie and I drove out to meet them and got a chance to see my aunt Karen and uncle Brian as well.

Karen and Brian own a home right down the street from my parents. They’ve been renovating it and it looks terrific. My favorite addition is a glass coffee table built on top of curving, winding pieces of wood (see photo). The table originally belonged to my grandparents. As a kid, I used to take my action figures and thread them in and out of the wood, weaving them through the nooks and threading them through the crannies. It was like a world in of itself. Seeing it in their home brought a huge smile to my face. Good memories!

We also looked through some of my grandfather’s old belongings. He passed away four and a half years ago and left behind a variety of trinkets, paperweights, and geological specimens he collected from his travels. I was fortunate enough to be able to take a few things with me. My favorite one is a carved rock. On the bottom, my grandfather wrote “PAKISTAN” in large letters on a piece of tape. In smaller letters, he wrote “Bought in Colorado.” It’s hard to explain but this sums up my grandfather in just a wonderfully succinct way.

May 27: At about five o’clock in the morning, Julie woke up with stomach pains. Two hours later, she got violently sick. Around noon, she started to feel a little better. I took her outside for some fresh air. She was okay at first but eventually got sick again. After another spell of sickness, I got her into bed and she napped on and off for a few hours. By night, she was feeling well enough to eat some noodles and watch Moneyball. I’m guessing she caught a 24-hour bug from Graig and Michelle. Fortunately, everyone seems to be feeling much better now.

Moneyball was an interesting film. I read some of Bill James’ books as a kid. They were interesting, albeit a little over my head at that point in time. I’ve always thought sabermetrics was best used to analyze history. I also think it leads to a more focused understanding of baseball. Even before I found Bill James, I was stumped by why batting average got tons of attention while on-base-percentage was virtually ignored. I’m a little less bullish about its ability to predict future individual performance. I worked on Wall Street for a number of years and the first lesson you learn is that past performance cannot predict future results. So, I’m not convinced it has much to offer for draft analysis or team construction. Regardless, I enjoyed the film. The concept of an outsider trying to spread a powerfully-felt philosophy in opposition to an old guard has particular meaning to me. In fact, this is a sub-theme that runs through Ice Storm.

May 28: We drove three hours home. I was tired from the trip and decided to extend the break for an additional day. Today, I’m back at work on Ice Storm!

Other Stuff

Later today, I plan to begin my 30-day drawing program. Look for more on this tomorrow. The link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. Diesel has a revised version of Chaos in hand so hopefully, this will be fixed soon. Also, my Goodreads link still isn’t working. Finally, the Chaos paperback continues to be on sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Cheap!

A David Meyer Original!

Learning how to Draw: When is it too Late?

I am the worst artist in the world. But not for much longer. I’m going to teach myself how to draw. That is, if it’s not too late…

A David Meyer Original!

A David Meyer Original! Wow, these are not good. Well, this is a house, an airplane, and a not-so-tasty bagel. Whatever you do, don’t eat it!

It’s Day 6 of my “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. Yesterday, I reached 21,000 words of the second draft. Just 69,000 words to go. As expected, it was a tough day. I had to write a new chapter and shift parts of two other chapters around. I cannot begin to describe how much I despise writing new material while editing old material at the same time. It’s exhausting. But at least I’m still on target to finish this draft by June 30.

Learning how to Draw: When is it too Late?

I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw. Unfortunately, I never got past the stick-figure stage. But I’m determined to change that. My brain likes to work in a frenetic fashion. Sometimes I’m writing one story while my brain is focused on two other ones. It can be difficult to keep track of everything. So, I’ve started to storyboard future novels. I take these large pieces of poster board and scribble ideas and little drawings onto them. Unfortunately, my drawings are just awful. And that’s no good because I have a lot of visuals I’d like to put down on paper.

So, I bought myself a couple of how to books from Amazon. I picked You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler and Drawing for the Absolute Beginner by Mark and Mary Willenbrink. I’m going to be working out of them for the next few weeks so expect to see plenty of photos of my work. As a starter, I took the advice of Mark Kistler and sketched a house, an airplane, and a bagel (yes, that’s what those drawings are supposed to be!).

Hopefully, I’ll learn a few things. Further down the road, I’d love to draw as another form of entertainment. I’m a huge fan of old school comic strips (Dick Tracy, Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon, X-9, Li’l Abner, and Rip Kirby volumes all line my bookshelves). It would be an interesting challenge to create my own adventure comic strip. I’m also interested in creating a Cy Reed-based adventure video game using Adventure Game Studio.

Other Stuff

The link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. On the bright side, things are moving forward and from what I understand, Diesel received a revised version of Chaos yesterday that should fix the problem. Also, I just realized my Goodreads link isn’t working. This seems to be a coding problem as the widget I use for social networking doesn’t have an “author” function. Finally, the Chaos paperback is still on sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Get it while it’s cheap!

View from Flores, El Petén

Writer’s Guilt – My Greatest Nemesis!

I am plagued by a constant case of writer’s guilt. Never heard of writer’s guilt? Well, read on…

View from Flores, El Petén

View from Flores, El Petén. Peaceful right? Well, less than 24 hours later our van crashed into a police car…next to a military outpost. Next thing I knew, soldiers were swarming us and I was being directed into an ambulance. Ahh, Flores…

This is Day 5 of my humble little “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. Yesterday, I edited the 18,000th word of the second draft. Just 72,000 words to go. Good lord, that seems like a lot. Especially since yesterday was a pretty tough day. I’m officially through the easy stuff. From here on out, it’s going to be a battle. I hope to edit another 3,000 words tomorrow. Then I’ll be taking a few days off.

Writer’s Guilt – My Greatest Nemesis!

And that brings me back to my first point. I’ve been writing fiction for a number of years now. But for a variety of reasons, I don’t have much to show for it. I’ve written countless scenes. And I’ve learned a lot about writing and myself. Still, I’ve only published one book (shameless plug: it’s called Chaos!). Because of this, I have trouble taking time away from writing. When I do, I get writer’s guilt. It’s this gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that I haven’t actually earned a break. It’s brutal, similar to the guilt I used to feel when I didn’t do my homework on time. Actually, scratch that. I never did my homework on time. Heck, I didn’t pay attention in a single class until I got to Business School (Umm…hi mom and dad…). But that’s another story for another time.

The worst thing about writer’s guilt is that it’s ultimately self-defeating. Doing things, going places, living life…these things enhance fiction not detract from it. Plus, breaks can be enormously helpful when it comes to recharging mental batteries. But my brain doesn’t really care about such things. So, I get writer’s guilt before vacations. I get it before holidays. I get it before day trips. I even get it when I’m not actually missing any of my writing time. Weird huh? Oh yeah, I often get it well in advance of the actual break. And the guilt continues well after I’ve already taken the break. Strangely enough, I usually do fine during the break itself (note to self: take longer breaks).

So, with a break coming up, you might think I’m feeling a severe case of writer’s guilt. But so far it hasn’t happened. Famous last words right? But truthfully, that’s a big deal for me. I’d like to think it’s because I’ve got a plan in place to finish Ice Storm. But maybe my brain is just tired of harassing itself. Regardless, I’m pleased.

Other Stuff

I feel like a broken record here. But the link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. And the Chaos paperback is still on-sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Get it while it’s cheap!

Capturing a little lightning...

Development Hell to Development Heaven!

Wow, it was quite the storm here the other night. Torrential rain. Loud, ripping thunder. Blinding flashes of sheet lightning. Truly awe-inspiring stuff. As a result, I’m feeling a bit more contemplative than usual today. By the way, I didn’t have my camera handy during the storm. The accompanying picture is actually from another storm (way back in 2011).

Capturing a little lightning...

Capturing a little lightning…

This is Day 4 of my humble little “open novel” experiment. Let’s start with a quick update on my “Development Hell” novel, Ice Storm. Yesterday, I edited my 15,000th word of the second draft. I’m guessing I’ve got 75,000 words to go. The next 15,000 words should be a little tougher. Then things get really tough. Then a little easier. Then tough again.

From Development Hell to Development Heaven!

I’ve talked about Ice Storm’s development hell over the last few days. But to sum up, I wrote seven unfinished drafts over the course of four to five months. Finally, I got tired of spinning my wheels and combined the drafts, forming a story out of the various pieces. The result was less than good. However, the story had lots of potential. Last week, I spent three nights trying to pinpoint what was holding it back. I came up with two major problems and two minor ones.

  1. Scenic Confusion: The scenes felt strangely out of order. Sort of like I’d tossed them into a blender and let them splatter out over the pages.
  2. Passive Hero: Cy Reed was not driving the action. Instead, things sort of happened to him and he reacted accordingly. When he makes a fantastic discovery near the end of the novel, it felt unearned.
  3. Side Story Issues: Chaos was light on secondary characters. Ice Storm is far more ambitious. Several of the secondary characters have their own stories that unfold over the course of the novel. For the most part, I liked these side stories but felt I didn’t wrap them up well.
  4. Cartoonish Events: Cy Reed’s universe is supposed to be a little over-the-top. His world is filled with lost treasures, deadly monsters, and strange science. But it’s all grounded in reality. The mysterious artifact at the heart of Chaos, die Glocke, is fully explainable by modern science. Ice Storm was different. I strayed from reality and got a little too cartoonish at times. Hell, it strained even my credulity.

In retrospect, none of this surprises me. As I mentioned, I crafted Ice Storm out of multiple drafts. It was only natural that scenes get out of order, motivations get obscured, etc. Fortunately, these problems are manageable. Here’s what I did. I took a sheet of paper and divided it into six boxes. Then I divided Ice Storm into six sections, one for each box. In each section, I gave Cy an overall goal. By the end of the section, he either accomplishes the goal or fails and is forced to improvise. This leads to the next section and the next goal. It worked like magic for me. Cy is now driving the story rather than being driven by it.

Then I divided up my individual scenes and put them into the various sections. I had to throw a few away (hmm…maybe I’ll do a “Deleted Scenes” section after Ice Storm is published). And I’m going to have to create a few to replace them. But most of my scenes found a much better home. Now, it feels like there is a more logical progression of the story.

The division of sections also helped out with the side stories. I took each secondary character and figured out what part of their story would be told in each section. It also helped with the cartoonish elements. I was able to eliminate two particularly cartoonish elements merely by reordering the scenes. I also took the opportunity to reground the story based on the principles of Cy Reed’s world.

So, there you have it. Development Hell to (possible) Development Heaven all in a matter of three days!

Other Stuff

The link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. And the Chaos paperback is still on-sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Incidentally, that price may go up soon. I’m thinking about participating in Amazon’s Extended Distribution program. But the only way to make a decent profit off it is to raise the Amazon paperback to a higher price, say $17.95. I’ve been mulling this over for awhile. Still, if you’re thinking about buying a copy, now might not be a bad time to do it.

Ice Storm Development Hell

Let’s talk about Ice Storm Development Hell. The “first draft” (read yesterday’s post to see what I mean by this) came in at 85,000 words, or 340 pages. I’m in the process of editing it and reached the 12,000 word mark today. So, I’m still on schedule. Sweet. Then again, this part of the book happens to be in pretty good shape. It’s the next 73,000 words that are going to give me fits. So, not so sweet after all.

Come on snow...is that all you've got???

Come on snow…is that all you’ve got???

Ice Storm Development Hell: Not just another Cop Novel!

Ice Storm is the second novel in the Cy Reed universe. Cy Reed is an urban archaeologist turned treasure hunter. I used to feel a little silly writing about a treasure hunter. I mean, come on…treasure hunting is hardly a real profession. How many full-time treasure hunters are out there anyway? But that’s sort of the point. Fiction (and not just literature) is dominated by the usual suspects: cops, lawyers, doctors, bureaucrats, etc. They’re a dime a dozen. Does the world really need another novel about a world-weary, rule-bending, alcoholism-recovering, family-failing, overworked cop? Actually, maybe so. For some reason, readers gobble those up like crazy.

But as for me, I don’t have much interest in conventional characters. I prefer characters who operate on the fringes of society and respectability. I think it opens up a lot of interesting story lines and points of view you don’t see in most novels. Take Cy Reed for example. He’s got one foot in the world of archaeology and the other foot in the world of treasure hunting. His former colleagues view him with disdain. His new ones view him with distrust. He doesn’t really fit into either world and probably never will. At the same time, his position on society’s totem pole affords him an unusual outlook. He sees the hidden flaws in the archaeological industry. He thinks antiquities laws are wrongheaded and do more damage than good. And he views smugglers, looters, and black market dealers in a rather positive light. In short, he defends the “undefendable.”

My first book in the Cy Reed Universe, Chaos, takes place in Manhattan. It’s a good old fashioned treasure hunt set in the middle of the urban jungle. Rather than mountains, Cy climbs a skyscraper. Rather than venturing into forgotten caves, he explores abandoned subway tunnels. When it came time to write a sequel, I considered writing another urban-based adventure, perhaps in a different city. But it had a “been there, done that” feel to it. So, I decided to take Cy in a completely different direction.

Ice Storm takes place in Antarctica, which in many respects is the exact opposite of Manhattan. There are no paved streets, few buildings, and very little in the way of permanent population. Manhattan is a bustling metropolis. Antarctica is mostly lifeless tundra. And yet, Ice Storm is very much about life. I’ll return to this point over the coming weeks, but suffice it to say a lifetime isn’t enough for Cy Reed to accomplish all of his dreams. As you might’ve guessed, I have that in common with him.

Other Stuff

By the way, the link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is broken. Don’t know how that happened but I’ve been told it’s in the process of being fixed. Oh and Amazon lowered the price of the Chaos paperback to $13.25. Apparently, I still get the same commission. So, you can save a whopping $0.70 and I still get full payout. Good deal!