The Four Hundred and Thirtieth Post: The One Where I Try To Do Something Different…

So, I’ve finished up the outline to the first book and I’m starting on the second one. I’m going to finish the outlines for the first three books before I put finger to keyboard and write the novels themselves.

While part of the definition of progression fantasy deals with obvious levels of power, and in the novel I have characters growing in magical, combative, or physical might. I have a character who takes a different journey. The character starts out as an entitled woman who thinks she’s going to inherit her father’s criminal enterprise just because she is the only child, but becomes a leader on her own merit. She gains diplomatic power. I thought that would be an interesting twist in the genre, and it makes it interesting to read to see her change from the intitled to the respected.

My horror novel is an entirely different matter. I’ve come to a point and I have no idea how to get to the next scene. Familiar readers of this blog will recognize this as ‘Tuesday’. I’m not going to get stressed over it, I’ve got dozens of other things to do. I just have to stay in the habit of working, especially since I am being a little ambitious with my Patreon tiers. I also know that my mind works best on a problem when it’s not solely focused on it. Besides, all I have to do is get them out of the airport to their next haunted location. Easy peasy. I say it’s easy because I’m the author and I’ve never had to deal with an airport.

That’s all that really going on right now. Just me trying to herd all these cats. Wish me luck.

The Four Hundredth and Thirty-First Post: The One Where I Make Mrs. Harkess Happy…

I’m feeling a lot better about things now. I was floundering a little bit with The Show Must Go On, but thanks to some friends (thanks, Grovewood!) I am back to being focused and ready to write. I had a good meeting with my writing group, so I’ve got some work cut out for me as far as Resurrectionist’s Blues go and I’ll get to that later on next week.

I like having everything lined up and humming along. I’m still outlining the Patreon series, and I’ve come to a horrible, horrible truth: I need to outline.

I can tell the difference in between when I outline and when I’m winging it. Winging it is The Show Must Go On: I have long moments of productivity, but when I get stuck in something, everything comes to a screeching halt. Outlining it is the Patreon series: I’m going from scene to scene and making notes, and I don’t feel there’s going to be a problem writing the prose since I have a guide.

Somewhere, my middle school English teacher is laughing.

My big problem is that I go down some weird trails in writing and I’ll end up somewhere I didn’t plan out. Sometimes, that’s good in that if I don’t know where I’m going, there’s little chance the reader will, either. However, like the last writing session I had, I end up in a dark dead end and no clear way out. If I outline, I’m having a map to the end. I’m just worried that a lot of the spontenatiety that I like about writing might be undone.

It’s all still plastic anyways, but I’m going to map out at least the first three books and see how things work out. If I get moderately successful, then I can keep on going (in my head, I have a twenty book series). If I fail, I’ll at least have a trilogy that I can sell on Amazon and bow out. Either way, I am moving forward. I have to move forward and see if I can bring things together.

So – onto other things…anyone seen any good movies? I watched Nope and I am looking for more horror films. The Invitation looks interesting, but I’m not sure about the whole vampire thing. Maybe it’s that I’m tired of vampires being objects of passion. Yes, I know they’re a Victorian Age symbol of lust, but I would like to bring back some fear to them. Let’s be afraid of our dark and forbidden desires, not embrace them and tap our veins like a junkie. Maybe that’s what I’ll do a few years down the road – write a vampire novel that bucks a lot of the conventions we have. Which means I must read a lot of vampire books. Any suggestions?

Well, that’s all for now, hope to talk to y’all later.

The Four Hundred and Twenty-Ninth Post: The One Where I Up My Begging Game!

Well, I am finally climbing onto the Patreon platform (eventually) and trying to see if I can drum up some funds to make book publishing easier for me as far as money is concerned. I’m going to use the epic length progressive fantasy as a reward for various tiers. Since I don’t want to set anything up and not have a reward, it’s not going to be up and active yet. When it is, you’ll get access to chapters and books before they’re published – depending on which tier you take up.

I think this might be the thing to take me out of ‘desperate hobbyist’ and firmly put me into ‘desperate novelist’, but nothing is really put together yet. I need to find a way to distribute e-books to various tiers and see how much Amazon is going to charge me for buying my own books (and not have it count as sales, of course).

I wish I had planned this out sooner, but I had no idea of what I could tie this to, or how to generate rewards. Most of my stuff has an end, and I don’t think people are going to continue funding a novel that’s finished and out the door. With this progressive fantasy, the end isn’t going to happen for a long time. I can hopefully also use the platform to advertise other works and get some more sales.

Speaking of which – I have a question to anyone who is way more computer savvy than me, and it’s one I referenced earlier here. Is there a way to distribute a e-book file through methods like mass e-mail? Do you have any suggestions? The only thing I can think of is through something like Dropbox, but people might not trust the link. I thank everyone in advance for their help. I just want to get everything lined up and right before I start.

The other novel I am seriously working on is coming along okay. Chuck is still steadily descending into obsessive madness in the airport (where I’m sure it’s more common, given what I’ve heard about those places). I’m still trying to keep everything loose as far as ‘is she cheating or not’? I want the reader to come to that conclusion on his or her own. I watched this interesting clip on YouTube about madness in fiction. I’m going to use it as a guide for Chuck to make his descent more engaging.

Well, that’s all for this week. Stay safe out there – apparently people think that the interstates are now Triple A NASCAR fields. Have fun, donate coffee to me and see you soon.

The Four Hundredth and Twenty-Eighth Post: The One Where I Start Stacking Metaphorical Bodies Like Cordwood!

On the horror beat sheet I’m using; I’ve come to something called The Chase. In a slasher movie, this is where the monster chases through the camp, hacking teens getting drunk, high, or naked. This is the pursuit of the monster, and the main characters lack the skills or weapons to defeat it. One or more people may die here.

What do you do when your mind is the monster?

Good question. And I even have an answer.

Chuck – the main character and the owner of the aforementioned monster’s mind – is going to second guess and hound everyone and everything around him. He’s going to chase what little trust he has in his crew and beat it to death with his own suspicions. In this same beat sheet, we have (pardons for the language) The Shit Gets Real. That’s when the first death occurs, and the stakes get higher. In this piece, what’s the first thing to die? Chuck’s trust of Lin. A lot of the death here is metaphorical before we get to the nuts-and-bolts murder. Which is what I wanted to do. The one thing I like about The Tell-tale Heart is that this man is clearly insane, but he feels that the actions spurred on by his insanity is justified by that hideous vulture’s eye. They’re made much worse by the titular heart. This is what I am trying to do with The Show Must Go On. I want the audience to side with Chuck up to a point. That point being murder.

It’s going to be a fun trip when I try to channel my inner obsessive (Chuck’s not the only one with issues, kiddos) and take everyone with me through the enchanted land of Unreliable Narrator. Pack some sunscreen and a sandwich, please. It’s going to be a trip and a half.

The book is coming along in fits and starts, mostly because I have only a solid hour at work to write, but I manage to average six hundred words a day. I’m going to try to write a little more at home after the dust has settled. I should also head back to the gym. Bleeech. I’ve been stuffing my face since vacation and I’m starting to feel it in my jeans. Not much else is going on here, just trying to get another book done and clear my schedule for the epic that I hope will make me some money on Patreon once I get a few chapters under my belt. I’ve almost finished that outline; I just have to nail down the details of the final fight and the aftermath.

Well, have a good day everyone – please feel free to donate to my ko-fi account so I can stay awake. Bye!

The Fur Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Post: The One Where I Need a New Back and More Confidence!

My back hurts.

I’m saying this because I am on some really good pain meds, so if I start meandering this is why.

I’ve been outlining the fantasy series and it’s coming along nicely – unless you’re one of the characters, then you’ve had much better days. I’m gradually working on the horror novel. I got over a hard point and I might have to change a couple of scenes, but that’s going to come during the re-writes. Things are looking good for me…and no, that’s not the drugs talking.

Why do I feel like I’m a fraud?

I feel like I’m play-acting at being a writer. It’s more than the lack of sales. It’s looking at the screen and reading what I’m writing and not feeling anything. It’s not burnout, it’s ennui. I’m writing, I’m putting in the work, but the work isn’t the sweep of emotion that it was when I was trying to finish a novel just to finish it. I don’t really want to start another project – that way leads to abandoned novels (so many…so, so many…).

I’m going to just push through this little bit. I really need to finish this book and outline the fantasy novel and maybe get another project finished. One that I started, obviously.

Do other writers have to deal with this? Does Stephen King sip at his coffee early in the morning and wonders why he feels like a fraud? Does Neil Gaiman stare at a blank screen and call himself a hack? Probably not. Maybe I shouldn’t use sales as an overarching indicator of success. Maybe just focus on getting stuff done. Let my finished catalogue be the indicator.

I should take these drugs more often.

This is going to be a little short. I usually aim for five hundred words, but the pain in my back – while ebbing – is being a little distracting and I do need to get some writing done. I’ll have a little more and hopefully be a little more positive the next go round.

The Four Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Post: The One Where I Sound Like That Obscure Song by “Queen”…

One of the problems I am having in writing The Show Must Go On is trying to keep the protagonist likeable as he descends into paranoia. Does a protagonist have to be likeable? Can I market a book where the reader’s thought as he opens the book is ‘Okay, what’s this asshole doing now?’. Probably not the thought I can really monetize.

I know that Breaking Bad capitalized on Walt’s unlikability in later seasons, but it always framed him in the cloak that the people he was working with were worse. In the end, he did get his comeuppance. Should I look to the pork pie hat for some sort of guidance? Rip off the cloak of worse people around the main character and just revel in the badness?

The Show Must Go On is a reskinned version of The Telltale Heart dazzled up for the kids. In the original tale by Edgar Allen Poe, I felt bad for the guy. He was clearly going crazy, and we were trapped in that ride all the way down. That’s what I want for the reader.

I’m trying to play it fast and loose with his perceptions of his wife’s infidelity. We’re dealing with the Unreliable Narrator trope here and I want it to milk it for all it’s worth. I’m also trying to work on my first-person viewpoint, which is my shakiest viewpoint. I like third person, particularly third person limited, but I feel like I need to branch out a little. I did do it for The Dreaded Day Job but I want to stretch my legs as it were.

I shouldn’t say any more about this project for fear of giving everything away, but I am trying to see if I can pull off some horror. I’m doing the re-writes for The Resurrectionist’s Blues, which might be released for Hallowe’en. Based on how these two books turn out, I might lean a little more into horror as my preferred genre. I’m not going to abandon fantasy, but horror might get a priority.

That’s what been going on this week – just me trying to find my particular little genre where I can find some modest success. I know everyone says that erotica and romance is where it’s at…but I’m not really good at those genres (especially romance). I also knew there is more to it than genre – there’s marketing, brand awareness and a myriad of other things I am neglecting, but for now I am going to concentrate on what I can.

So, stay safe out there and check out the books to the right, especially the ones written by good friends who are way more talented than me. Cheerio!

The Five Hundred and Twenty-fifth Post: The One Where I Shake My Fist at My Over-active Imagination and Big Media!

I’m thinking of giving some of my writing away.

I have another idea for a progression fantasy series (Serious, I can’t stop myself), but rather than writing it with a serious eye towards publication, I’m thinking about initially putting up on a free site like Royal Road to get some feedback, then moving it over to publication. I’m not going to start writing it until I have cleared a couple of other projects first: The Resurrectionist’s Blues and The Show Must Go On are my pressing needs right now. Both are slow going right now, I have to finish the editing for the second half of the second chapter and the first half of the third chapter by the 12th of August, when my writing group meets again.

This weekend? Write-a-Thon! Me getting together with the others in the writing group and just working. I am hoping to get a chapter or maybe two done for The Show Must Go On – which I think I am getting to the good part of the main character investigating his allegations of his wife’s infidelity. Whether it’s true or not, I am going to leave that up to the reader. It’s a balancing act keeping everything in the shadows.

Anything else of interest? I’m going to see the movie Nope tomorrow. What did you think about it, if you’ve seen it? I like Jordan Peele and his particular brand of horror, but I think the trailers have left very little to be revealed. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to avoid most major media just to get an unvarnished view of a movie or TV show. I can’t look at my YouTube feed without breakdowns of movies or TV shows I haven’t watched yet (New Rockstars – I’m looking right at you…). Gaah!

Well, that’s all for now. I do have to get some writing done while I’m at my Dreaded Day Job. I hope everyone has a good day and stays out of the rain.

The Five Hundred and Twenty-fourth Post: The One Where I Come Back From Vacation…

There’s nothing like a vacation to mess up one’s personal calendar. I knew today was Thursday, but not Thursday. This will be a quick update to say that I am still alive and able to type. I just got back from a much-needed vacation, which I will talk about a little later on. I’m back and I feel a lot better. I even got out a thousand words my first day writing at lunch. Never underestimate the utility of letting your mind have some time off, too.

Feeling much better, I am ready to continue on with my current project and start doing a little background research into my next big project which a dalliance into literary arts and writing something ‘serious’, as it were.

Other than that and discovering the relaxation that is painting miniatures, there is little new to discuss. So, with that, I will bid you all a good day and I hope to have more next week.

The Five Hundred and Twenty-third Post: The One Where I Think About Heading Into The Scrub of New Mexico…

Did you know you could buy little houses from Amazon for less than $2,000? Did you know you can buy land in New Mexico for less than $2,000 an acre?

I now have new retirement plans.

I’m going to have enough money by the time I retire to buy a small house and two acres of land out in the middle of nowhere. I’m going to be completely cut off from civilization except when I decide to head into town to buy supplies. I can throw up some solar panels for power and buy a small refrigerator to keep stuff cool. Might even be able to get a small air conditioner to keep me cool. Just me and a tiny house out in the middle of nowhere New Mexico…

Until I die of dehydration and heat exhaustion, of course.

I’m surprised that no one else is doing this. Sure – land is more expensive the closer to civilization, but it’s there. You can have a decent house for yourself on an acre of land, have plenty of room to move around – even if you buy one acre. If you have the money to buy multiple acres, go on ahead! There is something about being on my own, alone in the middle of nowhere that touches something in my soul. Of course, I’m writing this in a nice, large-ish house in air conditioning awaiting my dryer to get finished so I can fold the laundry. It’s romanticizing it to be sure. I’m not a fan of the heat, I’m absolutely addicted to the Internet and can’t do anything without Spotify playing in the background. Don’t even ask me to go without Spotify, Hulu, Paramount or Disney Plus.

But…I can stay entertained with my Kindle, and all I have to do is go into town once a week, buy a couple of series and head back to read them. While I couldn’t live with all of the above things, there is something to be said about being on my own and just reading. No distractions, just me, a chair and a bottle of something to drink: vodka, water or soft drink. Maybe even coffee in the morning. Even if I don’t want to read, I’ll have solar panels and more than enough power to keep this laptop going. No interruptions to get in the way. I say no interruptions because there is no way in hell my wife would want to do this. She’s not the wilting type, but she’s not going to like the lack of water. Even though she was raised on depending on well water, there was water there on tap. Out in the middle of the New Mexico desert? She’s going to be a little addled. No matter how much of a fan of the book series Dune.

Well, maybe I’ll do that if I’m on my own. For now, I’ll live among the roaring engines and half-empty malls of Louisville, KY. I can bear it here.