Writing Musings

BlackgatewithBook-2.jpgIt seems as though all of my time is consumed with painstaking revisions of the work in progress. I’m usually not this late, but, well, I’d thought to have it turned over to my publisher by the end of November and here it is the first week of February. Page by page it’s getting there, and this problematic secondary arc is getting more and more flesh on it.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I can learn from this slow-down so I don’t make the same mistake next time, and I’m scratching my head a little. I’ve written before about my new outlining process, which was certainly a success, because it allowed me to get the initial draft down. None of the major beats have changed, which means the process worked. Where I failed myself was in properly fleshing things out moving forward from the outline phase, and I’ve had to go back again and again to get everyone sounding right, to string the events together more tightly, and to punch up the action scenes.

I’ve been saying I was close to turning it over for months now, but I think this time I may finally be only a week or so out. Then I hope to finishing sorting a bunch of junk in the basement — which won’t be much fun — and playing some of those great solitaire boardgames in the evenings, which will be.




Chandler Collected

chandler collected storiesI became a Raymond Chandler fan only a few years ago because I’d seldom wandered beyond the genre walls I threw up for myself — historical fiction, history, fantasy, the occasional space opera or hard science fiction novel. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I fell for Chandler’s prose, so it was only natural that I explore his canon.

On my birthday last year my friend Brad gifted me with a copy of Chandler’s complete short stories. They include a slew of tales Chandler never wanted reprinted during his lifetime, perhaps because he wasn’t as fond of them, but more likely because he had cannibalized them in the construction of many of his Phillip Marlowe novels. It also includes a final Marlowe short story.

My thoughts? Well, first, there are some great short stories in here that any fan of mystery fiction might have heard of, like “Gold Fish” and “Red Wind.” If you don’t already own a Chandler short story collection that contains these tales — and some other strong ones as well — then this collection is a must have. But that other stuff? It varies. “The Pencil” is the last Marlowe story and it seems somehow faded and removed and tired. It has some of that famed polish, but it’s not written at the height of Chandler’s game and is probably only worth a look for completists.  Read More




First They Came…

hulk thinkIf you’re going to make a sweeping change with the stroke of a pen that can potentially affect millions of people, then you’d best have contemplated the ramifications of what you’re doing. You’d best understand the small details and not just intend to do right. If you’re changing a rule, directive, or law then you have to understand the whys and wherefores of that rule, directive or law before you make alterations.

But through a combination of arrogance and ignorance, our new president has generated a storm of misery, catching up people who loyally served our country’s military as translators, people who already have been thoroughly vetted and have green cards, people who are thoroughly vetted and have visas, and thousands and thousands of innocent children — and those are just the most obvious examples of his poorly wrought executive order.

I am appalled and enraged.

This site will never be devoted to political subjects. But this is not a political subject. This post is about a humanitarian disaster brought about by careless action.

So far I have no public appearances scheduled this year. But you may well see me in public with a sign until this nonsense is addressed. And God help us, given this president’s inability to admit wrongdoing and blindness to his own lack of understanding, this is probably only the start of things worth protesting. I’ll see you on the lines.




My New Book

gate in the seaMy friend Mick dropped me a line the other day asking for details on my new Pathfinder book, Through the Gate in the Sea. First off, I have to confess to me that it’s strange to think of it as “new” because I turned it over in 2015, and addressed some editorial feedback last summer. It’s felt over and done with for a while — except of course it’s never been released!

It’s the sequel to my third Pathinder novel, Beyond the Pool of Stars, which was my favorite of the Pathfinder novels published so far. I think I like this one at least as well, and there’s a new point-of-view character in it that I really enjoyed writing. Well, make that two, although one is new to the narrative.

If you liked what you saw in Beyond the Pool of Stars, with it’s Indiana Jones style search for missing treasure crossed with a Burroughsian jungle trek plus some pretty cool lizard folk characters, you’ll find more of it. I think the tension’s ratcheted up as our heroes track down clues to a lost city of Mirian’s lizard folk friend Jekka’s people, which may be fully inhabited. The problem is it lies through a mystical gate in the sea, and other people want to get there before them because of the sorcerous secrets that may lie behind.

Here’s the official descrip: Read More




Belated Birthday

solomon-kane3Here’s to Robert E. Howard, creator of my favorite genre, sword-and-sorcery, on the anniversary of his birth. Raise high your goblets and drink deep.

What is best about Robert E. Howard’s writing? The driving headlong pace, the seemingly inexhaustible imagination, the splendid cinematic prose poetry, the never-say-die protagonists? It is hard to pick one thing, so it may be simpler to state that Robert E. Howard possessed profound and often astonishing storytelling gifts. Without drowning his readers in adjectives (he had the knack of using just enough adjectives or adverbs, and knew to let the verbs do the heavy lifting) or slowing pace, he brought his scenes to life. Vividly.

Writer Eric Knight may have most succinctly described this particular aspect of Howard’s power in an article on Solomon Kane:

“’Wings of the Night’ features a marathon running fight through ruin, countryside, and even air that only a team of computer animators with a sixty-million dollar budget and the latest rendering technology (or a single Texan from Cross Plains hammering the story out with worn typewriter ribbon) could bring properly to life.”

Read More


Writer’s Desk

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Here at Jones central I spent a long weekend putting my study into complete order. It had been converted into my mother’s convalescent room while she was staying…

Kaiju Rising

Monday, September 9, 2013

Shh. So I’m not supposed to tell you this, but I’m one of the authors who will be unlocked if funding is met and exceeded in a new…


Friday, August 30, 2013

…I am not at WorldCon 2014 (AKA LoneStarCon 3). In the grand scheme of things it is a tiny disappointment and certainly no tragedy, but I find myself…

Dreaming of the Writing Life

Thursday, August 29, 2013

When I was a kid, the writing life had a magical luster. I felt as though were I to become a published author, I would have “made it.”…


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I learned a while ago that no one method always seems to work for me when it comes to story drafting. I do have some tried and true…