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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

20,000

Man, there's always something getting in my way of writing. Of course, when I'm doing the first draft, it's easy to get distracted, as it's so nerve wracking getting those first-time sentences and paragraphs down. Gotta do it. Editing comes later. I've broken (barely) the 20,000 word mark, but that's not enough. Never enough. But it was nice to see the '2' as the first digit when I last did a word-count.

There were a couple of years when I used to work only 4 days a week, and wrote every Friday. It was how I got three additional books under my best (Ark, Solomon & Darkness) but that's not happening anymore. Life changed, but not in a way which warranted losing 8 hours of pay every week. Still, maybe someday, when the books begin selling, I can go back to this, or more. In one (good) day like that, I could crank out 6,000 words. It was nice. Still, on a (good) lunch-writing binge, the new word count can reach 1500 - 2000 if I'm on a roll. With such a massive work as a novel, it's the practice of picking up the momentum a little at a time which is daunting. I cashed in on a writing coupon a few weeks back, where Janet had the kids for the day, and it's a holiday at work, and I go into the day-job building and sit in the abandoned cafeteria and do nothing but write. Was great, cranked out almost 6,000 words that day. Almost. Felt good. I need to do that again.

Anyway, just wanted to get a little update blurb out there, so my Rant Against The Establishment entry below gets knocked down a peg. (Not that I think I was too harsh, it needed to be said, lol).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The World's Smallest Violin

You know, I'm 17,000 words into Plague of Locusts, and it's times like this that I ask myself why bother? I don't mean when I hit the 17K mark I ask this, but after the other books get close to being snatched up by a major publisher, only to have them decide no, as original and well-written as This Book is, we're going to pass. I sit at Border's and look at what I'm working on, and think, This is a great story, it'll be fun to write, fun to read, great characters, would sell millions, and who the hell is going to ever read it if the publishers won't take a chance on a new author? These books are original, and I strongly believe they will touch a nerve with readers, they'll do extremely well for whatever publisher owns them, and I will too, writing more and more and making everybody (but myself) rich. (Writers generally earn 10 % or less of what a book pulls it, it's a sad thing but it's Life). So I think about what I'm writing, and see what's being published, and wonder if I wouldn't do better writing an erotic vampire novel. I could, I suppose, or a serial killer novel, those are popular (why, I'll never understand, but that's just me and all my insecurities about the scary world outside my comfy bubble).

Sigh. Yea, yea, I'm just venting. My agent here reminded me that I'm luckier than most new writers, who don't even have an agent, and she's right. She's right, and my frustration is in no way related to her work, she's pushing the works valiantly, and really believes in the novels she's trying to sell, which goes a long way towards reaching that goal. And they will sell. Soon. I hope. But you see, even after breaking through the barrier of no sales, years ago, as I honed my craft, 90% of a writer's life is rejection. Time after time. And this is the process which separates the proverbial wheat from the chafe. Those who make it through this barrier of frustration eventually see the light of success. ... OK, most of them. Now and then, like now, we scribes get these stressed-out moments of wondering why we do it, are we going to ever be recognized? I'll get past this. I always do.

Just... now and then, you know, we need a little atta-boy. I've got seven short stories out there, all good, all very different from each other, some of which will find a home and people I don't know might actually get to read them, and hopefully enjoy what they read. When this happens, my spirits will perk up. But hey, I've got this blog, I can rant and rave all I want. It's healthy.

In the end, I have a wonderful family, a great day-job, I'm really wanting nothing materially, and there are people out there who have nothing. Nothing. No home, barely enough money scraped together for food. Their life sucks, and when you lose perspective on life, you can forget this important fact. You forget that 90% of the world, or more, has it a lot worse off than you. In a way it's like Jesus says, the last shall be first, the first shall be last. That can be applied in a lot of ways, but one is this: get too full of yourself, forget how lucky you are to have drawn the card you got, and you need a lot of humbling before you earn anything more. Yes, life is a matter of perspective. I seemed to have lost that, and not until I wrote all this just now did I get it back. I'm grateful for how good life is. Problems now and then? Sure, if you have no problems in life it simply means you're dead. I ain't dead. Just a little whiny and selfish. Me, Me, Me.

OK. I'm back on track now. Thanks for listening. Sometimes you just have to talk it out - in this case, with the world at large.

"The Bridge" is done, by the way. Janet hacked and slashed at it, and as usual pointed out everywhere it needed to get fixed. There's something good about your proofreader also being someone who generally does not like reading short stories. It makes her merciless, which is what I need as a writer. What we all need. A writer never improves without a proofreader who has no qualms about pulling out that red pen and going at what you've written with the eagerness of a wolf towards a cute, bleating sheep.

Oh, also.. I just finished reading one of the best book I've read in a long, long time. It's call THE HISTORY OF LOVE, by Nichole Krauss (I may have misspelled her first name). It's a contemporary fiction novel, no sci-fi or horror this time around. Beautifully written, clever, and just overall a fascinating story. Buy it. Read it. You'll see what I mean.

I also recently finished THE TRAVELER, by John Twelve Hawks. A fun, fast-paced thriller. A bit over-edited, I have to say, but it really doesn't detract from the read. A great book for all my fellow conspiracy theorists out there. Part sci-fi, part fantasy, part suspense thriller.

Currently reading: GODS IN ALABAMA (contemporary fiction), THE MYRIAD (Tour of the Merrimack #1) (science fiction), and listening to THE HA-HA (contemporary fiction) on audio.

Ok. I'll stop. Talk to you soon.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Turning of the Screws

Hold on – before I start this week’s entry, there’s something I have to say to all you Blackberry users – I think they’re Blackberries.. those phones that fit into your ear... anyway, just wanted to tell you: you are NOT Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek. If you’re not on a call, take the stupid thing out of your ear. You DO NOT LOOK COOL. You look like an idiot, in fact, walking around with the thing in your ear. I’m sorry, that’s probably harsh, but treat my words as the Blackberry In Your Ear version of, say, Your Fly is Down. You hate to hear it, but you need to hear it. Take the thing out of your ear and be cool in other ways.

OK, so where are we? Well, worked more on Plague of Locusts, though the word count didn’t go up too much, to 12,800 words, but this is to be expected early in a new novel. I spent a couple of days actually writing 2000-3000 additional words, but all in my little “outline” document. There are a couple of parallel storylines. One... Peyton Kay’s... was going well. The other.. Gendrick Hellerton’s... seemed to be heading down the wrong path. What I do when this happens is a bunch of free-writing, talking to myself on the page, trying to work out what’s working, what’s not, redefining characters. From there I move on and do rough outline of what will happen along the timeline given the changes I’ve come up with. This helps me to see if what I came up with, will work with the plot. Most seemed to flow well, still a few parts that didn’t, turned a few more screws – course correcting, if you will. Looking pretty good now. Then I went in and revised a few chapters already written for the modified plotlines. PoL seems to be heading in a good direction again.

A couple of potential plot ideas are simmering in the back of my mind for the book, partly because I’m not exactly sure how the story’s going to end. This is usually an important thing to know for a novel, but I have the specific direction the book’s going to move in, so that’s enough for now. The final ending will come to me soon enough. If not, then it will be time to think of one, perhaps by the time I’m about halfway through the first draft.

Things are still moving forward on the US marketing front for the books. Finally, now that Margaret’s Ark is becoming the focus. Still, marketing a book, even with a driven agent (always an important ingredient), you just... never... know. Mmmmm, need a little paaaatience... as the song goes....

I thought it might be interesting to write in the blog world the general timeline of the novels I’ve written, just to show (and probably bum out) aspiring novelists who may be reading this. I remember0 when I’d finished the first novel below, reading Scott Nicholson’s series of essays on publishing your novel, and finding out how many he’d written before selling them at last. Kind of depressing, but seeing as how I’m still doing it, and enjoying it, I guess I passed the test... we’ll see... anyway:

In late 1998, after I began to sell short stories to magazines, I decided that to make it in this business I needed to try my hand at the novel form. So after a camping trip where a bunch of interesting ideas came to me all at once, I began to write my very first novel, One Night at Good Shepherd. It took about a year and a half to write. Learned a lot working on this “monsters terrorize hapless campers” story. How to research, how to build characters, and thanks to my then Beloved Proofreaders – my wife Janet and friend Fran Bellerive – how to edit these long monstrosities.

It didn’t go anywhere, eventually languished for a couple of years in the Black Hole where most new horror writers’ book eventually languished –the desk of Leisure Books. Even as I began to market this doomed novel, I knew it was the proverbial first novel and if I looked back on it one day I would see it had a long way to go. During the writing of Good Shepherd, my short story, “Lavish” was published in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination – at the time a fairly big print mag (even got my name on the cover). They massacred the story, removing scene breaks and riddling it with typos (why they felt the need to re-type the story when I could have given them an electronic copy is beyond me). I loved this story, and was pretty bummed out. But – good comes from ashes. Because the story was in the forefront of my mind, I began to think that it would make a great novel. The story itself would be the final chapter, and the bulk of the book would be the story of the characters getting visions of angels and preparing (or not) for a new Great Flood. Originally titled Lavish, like the story, then The Ark on the Common, then years later Margaret’s Ark, I began writing this book around 2000. I had no idea the ride it would take me on over the years. But I’ve hit what is probably the limit for a blog post, so I’ll continue this tale the next time.