I was running into issues with the final third of the book so I took a couple of days off and just thought it out.
The cathartic effect of driving back roads with the top down helped me to focus on the work at hand.
Normally, I try to work every day. But every once in a while I need to step back and take a broader view of things.
Happy to say it worked and I am feeling rejuvenated and back on course.
MY AUTHOR'S COPIES of BLOODY SUNSET finally arrived yesterday. It is great to finally hold the finished book in my hands.
It never feels real until I do ...
I am two-thirds of the way through the outline and things keep falling into place.
It's always surprising when something occurs to me out of the blue. Even more surprising is when an idea decides that it isn't going to perform the way I want it to.
Ideas, like characters, sometimes have a mind of their own and will do what they must do. This has been true in the first two-thirds of the outline and I can see its going to happen in the final third as well.
Sometimes, I just feel like I am along for the ride.
The action in the final third of the book shifts to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If there is such a thing as a wild frontier left in the state it is the U.P.
People up there are fiercely independent. Maybe it's the water, or the winters.
At any rate, Yoopers (as they call themselves) feel they have their own distinct identity apart from the other residents of the state. In fact, they call anyone living south of the Mackinaw Bridge, "Trolls".
Happy 4th of July everyone!
And to all my readers in Michigan and the rest of the United States, have a happy and safe 4th of July.
My outline is coming along like a good stew.
It started out thin, but as I add ingredients it becomes richer and richer. I am 25 chapters into the outline and have a hard time pulling myself away from it to do more mundane things - like eat or sleep.
I've been asked about the level of detail I put into each chapter description in my outline. It really depends on the chapter.
Most are a few paragraphs that describe the action in rough terms. I prefer this, I don't want to feel locked-in. This allows me to riff a little when I sit down to write the chapter in full.
In a few cases, however, I go into great detail, especially if the action involves historical events or real locations. I don't want to get this wrong. If my details are inaccurate, or worse, false, then it will call everything else into question.
For example, I read a thriller several years ago which was set during World War Two. The sense of period and place seemed to be perfect in my mind until the author used the term "serial killer". I knew from my own research that this is an expression that has only been in use since the 1970s when it was coined by an FBI profiler.
It was a detail that made me call into question other parts of the book and their credibility and spoiled what, until then, had been a pretty good read.
As the saying goes, the devil's in the details.
So the rule here is - there is no rule. I treat each chapter differently based on what I think I will need when I start to write the first draft.
On another subject...
When I delivered the manuscript of DOUBLE TAP to Amy yesterday afternoon we got into a brief discussion about character names. This reminded me of an article on the subject that I read a few years ago in WRITER'S DIGEST magazine.
The outline as they say, is proceeding apace...
This morning I figured out a way to include Rip and Wilma in the fun.
Yet again, they make a special guest appearance in the Molly Parsons series.
This time, however, their appearance has a slightly sinister overtone.
Speaking of Rip and Wilma, here is a picture of the final manuscript which I will be delivering to Amy later today.
Sorry, but I have to get back to work. The deadline for the first draft of STOLEN SUNSET is September 8th.
It seems like a long time away but, if experience has taught me anything, the time will fly.
The adventure continues.
Another exhilarating day of outline writing and more surprises and new avenues for the story to explore.
I am still only in the first third but I'm satisfied that the direction the book is taking is the right one.
I knew starting out that this book would be different from the first three. That was a given. DARK SUNSET, BLOODY SUNSET and FOGGY SUNSET follow a definite story arc.
That arc concludes in FOGGY so I was now free to go in a different direction.
When I set out to write STOLEN SUNSET I had one core idea in mind - that Molly would go to the most dangerous place in the world; her own past.
Like Molly, I need a constant challenge. I have to shake things up to keep them fresh while at the same time giving the reader what they have come to expect from the Sunset series.
Walking that tightrope is what keeps it interesting for me.
I can't think of a better way to spend a holiday.
Happy Canada Day everyone!
Every new book is an adventure for me.
And like any adventure worth having, it is in turn scary and exhilarating.
My stories tend to brew in my mind for quite a while, like hurricanes forming out there in the Atlantic. They usually start with a tiny nagging idea. I then begin to write copious notes as new "what if?" ideas occur to me.
Finally, I gather up all those notes and start transferring them into STORYBOOK, the software program I use to organize and help me build my outline. Finally when everything is organized I begin to write a synopsis of the story, detailing the action in each chapter.
And that's where I am today - ten pages into my detailed outline.
And again, magic happened.
While thinking about the story over the weekend I began to worry that it might take a little too long to get into the action. I started looking for a way to remedy this and when the answer came, it surprised and delighted me. And more importantly it opened up a entire new possibility for the story.
Not only did I have my solution to my pacing problem, but I had also discovered a way to keep you, hopefully, on the edge of your seats.
And that's day one done... Only forty five more to go before the completion of the first draft.
I finished the final revisions on DOUBLE TAP, my next Rip and Wilma book.
Now, it's time to hand the book off to Amy, my ever-patient editor.
Turning a manuscript over to someone else always creates conflicted feelings in me: relief to be finished the revision work at last, while at the same time, the same sense of sadness you feel when a child takes its first steps toward independence.
Finishing DOUBLE TAP is the culmination of over a year and a half worth of work. During that time it has gone from being safely tucked inside my head, and flowed into a Word document that only I could access. Just before I started the revision it took its first baby steps when it was read by three people I trust to give me really blunt and constructive feedback.
This I got in droves and it fueled the revision. I am now satisfied that DOUBLE TAP exceeds the craziness of HAIR TRIGGER.
In the new book Rip and Wilma confront a crazed analyst, a pair of bike gangs and a multitude of other mysterious factions who seem to be hell bent on taking them out of the picture.
If all goes to plan, you will be able see for yourself later this fall when the book is released.
When I am not working I love nothing more than to dive into a great book by an author I love. I have a lot of books on the go right now but I thought I might share a few thoughts on some I have read recently.
I'd like to start with John Connolly's book - THE WOLF IN WINTER
The death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw the haunted, lethal private investigator Charlie Parker to Prosperous, Maine. Prosperous has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children's future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of the Prosperous lie the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town …
Read an excerpt.
This is the latest of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker mystery-horror hybrid novels. For those not familiar with Connolly he is a combination of James Lee Burke and Stephen King.
I usually love his books but this time I was disappointed. The underlying story is a riff on THE WICKER MAN where the old gods have to be satisfied to assure the on-going prosperity of the community. The other big disappointment is that in the second half of the book Parker disappears leaving the stage to be filled by the supporting actors.
That said, the supporting cast in the Parker novels are great and they manage to carry the novel through to a spectacular conclusion. If you haven’t read Connolly yet Wolf in Winter is not a good place to start. There are a lot of threads from earlier novels in it and frankly you would find it too confusing. Do yourself a favour and pick up his earlier books in the series. I guarantee you will be hooked.
Now that BLOODY SUNSET is in the stores and starting to sell I am busy revising my next Rip and Wilma book DOUBLE TAP.
Originally I wrote HAIR TRIGGER, which was their first adventure, as a one off. But fate and fickle being what they are, I discovered that there was a large and very enthusiastic audience for my two Detroit contract killers.
My challenge, when I first entertained the idea of doing a second book, was to come up with a story as wild, and hopefully, as funny as the first. I spent a lot of time thinking about it before finally seizing on the core idea that I would build the novel around - Rip and Wilma are hired to find and kill the people who murdered a judge. Their dilemma is that they are the ones who killed the judge.
And it starts from there and drags them along for a really wild ride that takes them from Detroit to Michigan's supermax prison, Switzerland, Buffalo and finally Charleston, South Carolina. Along the way they meet some pretty interesting folks including a beloved children's author who has started to express some bizarre ideas about the British Royal Family; a faded Motown singer whose who is being eaten into bankruptcy by his wife's cats; and a celebrity billionaire who makes Donald Trump look like an introvert. Oh, and did I mention Godzilla? Yes, the king of monsters also makes a guest appearance.
I am just a little over half way into my revisions before I hand it off to Amy, my trusted editor who will help me shape DOUBLE TAP into its final published form.
We are looking at a November or December release date for the book so add it to your list for Santa (who also appears in the book).
Meanwhile if you haven't read the first volume of the Rip and Wilma saga HAIR TRIGGER just click on the Books tab and link to your preferred format.
I got a new Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday on Friday. I have to say that it is the finest e-reader I have ever owned (and I've owned a few).
It is simple to set up and connect. I use Calibre to manage my ebooks and it picked the Paperwhite up as soon as I plugged it in.
If you have a Kindle there is more good news...
BLOODY SUNSET, my latest Molly Parsons mystery, is available now as a Kindle e-book for the very reasonable price of $4.95. I think it makes the perfect summer read, but then I would. The e-pub and trade paperback versions of the book will be available later this week.
To purchase your very own Kindle copy of BLOODY SUNSET just click here