Adventures in Adventures


There’s a great deal of adventure in writing an adventure. You’re a writer. You know how it is.

The characters, their needs, the plot, the danger of plot holes, the words, the need to make beautiful sentences, the structure, the never ending quest for pace… all those sit down for a moment when you write the adventure part of an adventure.

When the “adventure moment” strikes, you, the writer, suddenly find yourself swept away in the drama. The moment surrounds you, and takes you off into the depths of the battle, or the storm, or the chase, to the very heart of the excitement. There is nothing finer than that.

Chapter 8 of my novel, MARIGOLD’S END, is now on this site, and here we find adventure unbound. The little Katheryn B is beset by pirates – but them ain’t your Disney pirates…there be no amusement park rides here, mate. We never leave young Phineas’ side as he wends his way around the ship… adventure here, me hearties. Gosh, I hate pirate language.

Look to port, dear reader, and you’ll find it.

The hardest part of adventure writing comes after it’s been written, and you, dear writer, must go back into the moment and edit out the bad writing, close the plot holes, rework the pace, and fair the adventure into the storyline. It’s the hard work, made worse by the fact that you’ve already lived this adventure!

Still, that’s why we writers earn the big bucks. You’re a writer. You know how it goes.

Time and the Fragile Character


You’re a writer. You know how it is.
The time to write…when is the right time to write? Now? Nope, busy reading this post. When you finish this post? Maybe. But, if you’re like me, there are a million other things to do. More important things. Scrub the toilets. Sort the recycling. You know, I’ve been meaning to seriously detail my Barcalounger.

And so, there the project sits. The characters have all gone speechless…nothing to say because you’re busily sorting the soup cans in the kitchen. Arranging the forks just so in the silverware drawer.

Life can be so crazily hectic that it becomes nearly impossible to cleave out the time to work on a project. And yet…and yet…maybe not so, grasshopper.

There is another agent in the mix…something to which you and I should pay attention. You won’t like it.

Once upon a time, a motivational speaker said that everybody’s tired. Tired of this, of that. Too tired to make a change. But, she said, what if I gave you a hundred thousand dollars of mad money? Then you wouldn’t be so tired, would you? You’d feel fresh and vibrant, alive with joie de vivre.

So, it ain’t the tireds. It’s the motivations.

That book gathering dust on your word processor? It ain’t the lack o’ time, me bucko. It’s the lack of motivation.

Well, jeepers Mr. Monkeypants. How do I fix that?

Good question, Sullivan.

Abuse some characters. Chop ’em up, or blow ’em up. Or make them say things so horrific that their world is forever altered.

Does it mess up your story line? Oh, heck yeah. Does it mess up the whole book?

“No,” Mr. Monkeypants says firmly, “your book was already messed up. That’s why you were busily knitting underwear for the pet salamander you were thinking about renting. That’s why counting the holes in the colander is more appealing that working.

Your. Book. Stinks.

It stinks so badly that even you, yes you, don’t want to put energy into it.

Admit it. Face it. Fix it.

Kill somebody. Blow something up. Sink the ship, burn down the house, turn Uncle Ray into a zombie. Ch-ch-change it.

Challenge your characters and you challenge yourself.

And if your book is so boring that you’d rather sort socks than write it, you need a good stiff challenge.

The time is there…are you?

Okay. I’m, like totally out of breath after writing that stuff. How about you?

You’re not writing your book because you’re reading this post.

So, I’m not working on DROPPINGTON PLACE because I’m writing this post. My bad.

Promise me you’ll do something to spark interest in your work.

Thank you. Now I have to figure out which guy to kill in my book! Continue reading “Time and the Fragile Character”

It’s Their Market – Let The Readers do the Work

BS at Sea 3

The most basic tenet of Gorilla Marketing is “let somebody else do the work. Do nothing and expect big results.”

In that spirit, I humbly present MARIGOLD’S END, Chapter Seven.

Aye, Chapter Seven. Taylor finds himself assigned to the galley, and Phineas discovers that Mr. Lourdburton is a…. hey, wait a minute. I see your trick. You’re trying to pry the story from me again. Well, it won’t work, me bucko!

Gorilla Marketing, Tenet One: make somebody else do the work. Playing my own game on me, were ya? Well, it won’t work. Although, I will tell you, this chapter is pretty cool.

Those of us that are newbies to this publishing game have to look at our written work a little differently than old, established hands. Our work doesn’t hold a candle to the latest piece by Rowling.

While ours might be just as good, we don’t have the name, the publicity, the chutzpah behind us. Somewhat lacking in marketing horsepower, are we.

Instead, you and I must look at our noveling efforts as an Enterprise. No book is a one-off. No road can be a simple what-if.

As I don’t have a huge number of remaining years to develop my Enterprise, I must rather compress my activities into a number of simultaneous projects.

In my Plan 2021, I’ve laid out sequels to DROPPINGTON PLACE and MARIGOLD’S END, and am putting thoughts together on a third series.

Holy Backers, Cratman, that’s a buncha novels, doncha think? Especially while you’re still learning how to write a novel in the first place? Enterprise, my friend. It’s all about the Enterprise. How many of these pieces will be written? Who knows. Maybe MARIGOLD’S END will be a runaway hit and I can find my estate in Ireland or something. Maybe a comet will hit us tomorrow and smash us all to smithereens.

Life is too short for what-ifs.

So, visit my Pages page, right now, before the comet hits, and rumble down here.

I know you’ve been keeping up – this new chapter is one sweet ride.

Losing by Example


I committed a murder.

She was young, with lovely dark eyes that gazed at the world in complete complacency. At my request, they hustled her into a private booth and shot a bolt into her brain. Then they chopped her into pieces, and ground up some of those pieces into a bloody hash. Finally, they formed that hash into a 1/4 pound paddy, fried it up nice and brown, and served it on a bun with cheese. She was lovely, and she was delicious. I didn’t kill her, but I ordered her assassination, and that makes me guilty.

I suffered a murder.

Someone doing 74 miles an hour crashed into my wife’s car. Thank you God no one was hurt, but my Nissan Versa was murdered. Her frame twisted, her panels bent, she was carted away and discarded. Three thousand pounds of metal, plastic, glass, and memories lugged off to the junk heap.

There is no change.

I don’t kill as many cows as I did before. I kill more plants now. I drive a shiny new Prius, using less gas and making the air cleaner. A little bit. These are the ways I once used to protest what has become of us, but no more.

These protests are useless.

If I croaked tomorrow, my protest would be unseen. If I never ate another hamburger and lived to be a hundred, my protest would be unseen.

Because it’s not about me and my choices, or you and yours. It can’t be. It’s about the cycle of money, the heirarchy of life. It’s about the market, and ancient religion. It’s about having a soul, and believing in a bigger picture.

We must manage up.

Protests do no good. Solutions do good. Never tell your boss about a problem and leave it to him to fix. Always offer your boss a way to work out a problem. Wailing about pollution doesn’t make it better.  Finding a way to end it makes it better.

I will kill again.

Beautiful brown eyes that gaze at the stars from under the feedlot lights will forever be closed by my order for a double-double with cheese. She will perish because I was hungry and didn’t have time for a salad.

I will suck oil out of the planet’s very bedrock to drive my Prius to McDonald’s. My new car doesn’t replace my Nissan, but leaves an even bigger hole in the ozone.

Perhaps the first step of activism is desperation.

Take a Team Across the Stream


You’re a writer – you know how it goes.

You’re working feverishly on a project, everything fits like fingers in a bowling ball. And then, when you absotively least expect it…whammo, like a two-by-four to the forehead: the deadly stall. A character says something that reveals a plot hole so big you could fit a Buick in it.

In DROPPINGTON PLACE we simply ran out of story. It was great fun, and everybody was lively and having a good time. And then, around 42,000 words or so, Arvy, a perfectly nice kid who was sadly turned to paper, paused and looked at me.

“I’m bored.”

“You can’t be bored!  You’re, like, a key player in this thing.”

“Yada, yada, yada…key player this. If I’m such a hotshot, give me something to do.”

A quick review of the Something To Do cabinet revealed empty shelves. And there Arvy sat, with so pained an expression he was impossible to look at.

That’s okay, because we can just change horses right here in the middle of the stream and work on another project that’s been a’hangin’ around.

A couple of weeks on the new project, just starting to feel it, and, son of a biscuit, here’s a new idea: something for Arvy to do.

“Leeme see, lemme see, lemme see!”

“Sit down, Arv…or, I guess sort of fold yourself ‘cuz you’re, like, made of paper…we need to plot this out a little bit.”

“Well, I categorically demand that you cease work on your new project and give me a challenge!”

So, we drop the reins on the new horse and leap back on the first one.

Their must be some old story about fording a river and changing horses in which something bad happened. I’ll bet you it has to do with Conestoga wagons. Let’s pretend it does, okay?

So, like, what’s the point?

I know, right?

The point is this: when you hit a creative wall with a project, it’s perfectly cool to start a new one. If the old one calls during the new project, it is equally cool to go on back to it.

One suggestion: make lots of notes on each project. Although today the plot thread is perfectly clear, tomorrow… well, after all, tomorrow is another day!

Frankly, Scarlett, I’m changing horses!