- Books, Literature, and Writing
An Author Working on Six Projects
It started with Dashiell Hammett.
As a kid, I watched a lot of thirties detective movies unaware that I was watching classic film noir. Youth is wasted on the young. I have always wanted to write, but like the man said, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." While writing professionally wasn't in my early life, reading was.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, I retired early. I was reading a collection of short stories by Dashiell Hammett titled "The Continental Op". During one of the stories, there was a minor plot element about a philandering husband. I wondered "What if?" The Jonas Watcher series was born. I have written 4 books, I am working on a 5th. I have written outlines that are in various stages of development for 8 more books.
Do you schedule the order of the release of your books?
I most certainly do! Remember the line about God above? The first three books followed in order. Number four was to be "The Case of the Looking Glass Mirror". I figure the Sisters Fate are rolling around on the floor in hysterics. (Read the books.)
"The Case of the Looking Glass Mirror" has been outlined and I have written about half the book, but even it is in a state of flux.
Remember, ideas can come from anywhere? I had a disappointing review, but one complaint expressed wasn't without merit. A problem with being the author is I know stuff others don't; even when I don't know I know. I needed a book to complete a circle, hence "The Case of the Dead Detective". With the fourth book done and published, I was ready to start on number five.
I promised people that Jonas would return to New Orleans, the location of the second book. I have "The Case of the Laveau Curse" in rough outline form. While I felt I should complete "The Case of the Looking Glass Mirror", I also needed to work on "The Case of the Laveau Curse". One of them was to be Book five.The Sisters Fate must have been in absolute hysterics now. Then I had a dream.
"The Case of the Kangaroo Court" went from dream to completed outline in less than a day. This book would also move some back stories forward.
When you write a series do readers have to read the books in order?
No! - I suppose I could leave it like that, but it does need more explanation. Each story is standalone. There are backstories and character development that carry over from previous books. Each story runs from beginning to end and could be read all by itself. There is an order though; I have readers who have read the books out of sequence and they have found that entertaining to know elements of the back story that the characters don't know.
The Birth of a Series
The year 2016 was a political disaster that had a negative effect on me. Yes, I am a liberal and proud of it. I couldn't write. Then things changed for me personally; little things. I am a caregiver for my wife of 52 years, and I am happy with the role. She is my biggest fan and my most honest critic. If something I write sucks, she'll tell me. I was taking care of her when an idea came to me. It took awhile to take shape, but a second book series was given birth; "M'Lady's Gentleman".
The series is about 2 women during Victoria's reign. They are spies. Each has a tagline; An Agatha Wingate Adventure, and A Sarah Wingate Adventure. I started research on them and developed the outline for the first story; "In Her Majesty's Service". Yes, it is an homage to Ian Flemming.
Where do ideas come from?
The truth is they can come from anywhere. If you are a new writer you have to be open to what is around you. If you are an old writer, same thing. Often it is a little thing. The world around you does not always send you an apocalyptic idea; it is usually something small. An unhappy child anywhere. An animal digging through trash. A lightning storm outside the window of a moving train. Pigeons in a park flocking to someone with seed.
Every one of the above sentences has a story in it. Find one you like and tell it.
What do you do when you get an idea?
I play with it in my head. I keep it present until I can write it down. Usually, that means getting access to my computer. If you're afraid of losing the idea keep a notebook; the pencil and paper type. A 3 by 5 flip over is enough to write down notes. Don't write the story, just make notes. Use keywords. If you have a template or smartphone use that.
If I get an idea from a dream, and I do, I do not sit up and make notes. I get my ass out of bed; I grab something to drink, non-alcoholic; I go to my computer; I make notes and go back to bed.
I have been known to have conversations while in bed and not remember a thing, hence I get up. Oh, and I don't expect true coherency, sometimes I get something pretty weird, but it may be story worthy.
Everything I come up with seems to be overdone? How do you come up with an original idea?
Are you kidding me? There isn't an original idea out there. Shakespear did them all. Repeated some and stole from the Greeks and Romans. There are no original ideas; just unique ways of dealing with them. The stories come from the characters, how they handle the events I put them in.
Here is an overdone story; Dracula! I have 2 stories that deal with vampires from two different genres; one fantasy, one non-fantasy, one a funny thriller and one a noir detective story. Don't worry about coming up with an original idea, just twist it and look at it from a different perspective.
The Creative Process
The Story; From Cradle To ...
This project began as a dream...
"There were people running all over the place. It was at some kind of a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. People were on some kind of a scavenger hunt. But it was getting nasty, people were beating up on other people."
I got out of bed. Grabbed a cola, sat down at my computer, and opened a folder. The name of the folder is the series name "The Dragons of Aberdeen Saga". The next thing I did was to create a document using Open Office. It's free. I gave the story a working title which changed later, more information on that. I started writing sentences, not correct grammatically but just writing down ideas about the story. When I was satisfied that I had the gist of my tale I went back to sleep.I started with a book title "Dragon Warrior" I created a page on Facebook and posted to friends. My cousin reminded that the title was pretty common, even Kung Fu Panda has a "Dragon Warrior" I like Kung Fu Panda but there were also a number of bad movies with the same title. Time to find something new. After going through several book titles, I settled on "Re-Awaken the Dragon". The title fits my story better.
Every author should have an author website. There should be a website for a series... I have a website, I have a blog, I have a Facebook page, I'm on LinkedIn, I'm on Goodreads, I'm on Twitter, I'm on Google+, I'm on Amazon, I'm on Draft2Digital and I have six active projects. I need to simplify. If I followed through on every project across every presence I have on the internet, I wouldn't have time to write!
To Simplify, my source of articles will be HubPages, my web presence will be on Facebook; each project will have its own page. As I make progress on each project I update the appropriate page. My general help about writing and working on the various projects I will write on HubPages, and I will provide links to the HubPage article everywhere else I am.
If you haven't written the book, why a Facebook page now?
That is easy, marketing. Every marketing person I have talked to said to get a presence out on the internet before I publish. It is a way to generate interest in my story and me as an author. It is especially useful for a self-published author. By creating a Facebook page I have set up an artificial deadline to meet. Also when I hand off my book to my editor I can set a publication date and pre-orders on Amazon. It is a way to build buzz.
Now all I have t do is to start writing.
And Then there Were Three!
In The Kingdom, Booh and Babbott met Santa The Pirate
My remaining projects are not books, though I suspect the will generate graphic novels. These are projects that have been on the back burner for ages.
"In The Kingdom" was to be a comic series. The problem; I can't draw and I couldn't find an illustrator interested in working on the project with me.
"The Adventures of Booh and Babbot" was to be a series of games. I had chosen Unity for my engine. Maybe someone can, but I can't develop a game completely on my own. Not the kind of game I would want. The characters are an homage to "Abbot and Costello", "Laurel and Hardy", and comedic movies from the thirties and forties.
"Santa the Pirate" was the result of a bad joke I texted to make a friend feel good. I think it did. The Joke? "What does Santa The Pirate say?" - - - "Yo Ho Ho!"
How did these projects spring back to life?
I was doing a search online through Google images for a raccoon, and I found Cartoon Solutions. It is more complicated than that, but it is an article in itself.
To Be Continued
As I get questions while developing my various projects I will share them and answers on HubPages in the form of articles. In future articles, I will share the tools I work with and what works and what doesn't. As I continue my quest to gain a greater presence on the web for my creations I will also share my successes and failures. I hope you will join me on my journey.