The Path to Sharpened Pencils
I need to do something with this blog to justify its existence, so what I'll begin to do here is once/week at a minimum, post updates on what I've worked on, finished, what have you, with my writing. Sprinkle in some personal notes, news, and kangaroo blood, and see what happens. It'll keep me honest, and get back to a writing theme. I'll report on this week later, let's cover last week....
OK, finished the final draft of the total rewrite of Plague of Darkness. It's pretty damn dark, especially as the story progresses, but I'm happy with it. I'm also quite happy to say it's finally OFF MY PLATE! AT LAST!!!! Time to move on... but first:
Special thanks to everyone who's been such a help with Plague since its inception:
Janet Keohane, of course, first line reader extraordinaire, and as always Fran Bellerive and Mark Lowell, the other points of my proofreading triad.
Karen Heath of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Holden who was invaluable with information on how her world works when I first began the project.
Chantra Prum for sitting with me for an extended rap session as we worked out the Khmer (the language of Cambodia) translations throughout the manuscript, and Joe and Sharon DiFranza for bringing us together.
Rev. Dr. Clayton Morris, from the main offices of the Episcopal Church in New York City, who was kind enough to answer my questions one day over the phone.
The folks at the Olive Branch bookstore, then later my beloved Providers of a Small Decaf, Black, at the coffee shop in the Borders in Northboro - the former where I wrote the first draft when it was going to be a Christian novel, the latter during the massive rewrite when it became, hopefully, more secular and mainstream.
And last, but far from least, Dave Long of Bethany Books who, though he said "no" (rightly so) to the original draft, had some very good personal comments on where a possible rewrite should go.
A quick side note to Dave - it must be hard being an editor sometimes, especially when it's for such a big house. You never quite know where someone's coming from. Sometimes it's obvious, but at other times, as in my case, there more going on under the surface. Dave runs a very cool blog called Faith in Fiction (http://www.faithinfiction.blogspot.com/), where he does a nice job blending the CBA (religious) with the secular (mainstream, non-CBA) markets regarding books, writing, etc. I was an active visitor here and the related message board for a time. After I sent the original version of Plague to Dave - in retrospect that version was pretty bad, to be honest, a watered down, Dan wrote this? piece of fluff – he naturally said "no," but had good comments. Not long after, I disappeared from sight. I've wanted to write to him ever since, to explain that I didn't pop from existence because I was pouting, honest. In truth it's a long story no one will ever hear (so don't bother asking), but in short, the bottom fell out of the world. Now, a year later, the storm's passed, lots of trees and birdhouses down, but the mess is cleaned up and everyone has survived. Happy ending all around... though with the storm's aftermath, everything's changed.
For the better or worse? I'd say the better, overall. More and more every day, in fact. In regards to my writing, since this is supposed to be a writing blog, I'm more convinced - better. Though my agents are marketing Solomon's Grave, Margaret's Ark and now Plague of Darkness as mainstream suspense novels, Sara Camilli, my US rep, still holds out the possibility these could be marketed to the CBA market... and they could, I suppose. But I'd rather see how the commercial markets takes to them first.
Still, looking at the titles above, my books have always a religious theme to them to some degree - for Solomon it's the Ark of the Covenant, for Margaret it's the Great Flood, and Plague's title is self-explanatory. I think there's a MASSIVE market in the mainstream for good, solid novels, horror/suspense/thriller - call it what you will - that also deals with faith in some way. Faith of varying extremes is so ingrained into our lives since children, we connect to these themes with the same enthusiasm and interest as the most commercial themes - it's just people shy away from it, thinking it's not cool or something. To those people all I can say it grow some balls and be yourself. You'd be surprised how others will be impressed.
My next novel may be a pure horror ghost story (the novel version of my recent short story "Living by the Highway"), but what keeps gnawing at me is to tinker with my humorous Wails & Gnashing and even stronger to begin the science fiction novel Plague of Locusts... both of which have at least some religious theme to them... not a lot, but it's there, I mean, look at the titles... :-)
OK, so give me an inch and I take 6... it's my blog. I was supposed to talk about last week - well, now that Plague's out in the cold cruel world, I'm setting my sights for the next few weeks on finishing up a bunch of short stories in various states of almost-done-ness. Currently I'm polishing a story I don't intend to sell - a story for my nephew Sean for Christmas which Janet and the kids will illustrate. Then back to revising the ending of "Living by the Highway", finishing "Ray Gun" and "The Bridge", and hopefully wrap up work on a short story writer Michael Arruda and I have been tossing back and forth for a couple of years, currently called "Leap". That one feels almost done....
I've got a couple of stories out there now, waiting. We do a lot of that as writers - waiting - always be working on something new so you don't pay attention to the waiting - the ticking clock will drive you mad...
Anyway, I'll try to send something here Friday to talk about anything new that happened, but after today's entry...