Future Feature Attractions
With Apologies to Dashiell Hammett
Was it a simple accident, or was it an attempt at murder?
While that isn't the idea that started me on a writing career after retirement; it did provide the opening descriptive sentence for "The Case of the Running Bag".
How does one get started writing? Oddly I don't get asked that question a lot. Mostly, people want to know where I get my ideas from. I was a writer before I retired, but it was non-fiction in the form of manuals and white papers. I always wanted to write to write fiction; Science Fiction. I had great ideas but lousy science. How does one get started writing? Write, it is that simple.
How does one get good at writing? Read! Then when you are ready to write make sure you are good at grammar. Not good, then learn. Become so comfortable with grammar that once the rules are second nature to you, then you can break them; if you write fiction. For non-fiction, you should stay within the rules until it is time to break them. Confused, got grammar down, write; you'll figure it out.
If you are going to be a writer, then you need to be literate. You need to have a passing relationship with some of the classics. Don't emulate them just learn the craft of storytelling from them.
That should cover how does one become a writer. Where do you get your ideas? I read. I don't plagiarize, I don't steal, but sometimes a thought I call "what if?" comes to me and I will make note of it.
The initial question that had stuck with me as I read "The Continental Op" by Dashiell Hammett was "What if her husband was faking it?" It wasn't even a main part of the plot in the short story that was a part of the anthology, but it stuck with me and gave birth to the Jonas Watcher Detective Adventure Mystery Series
I started with a femme fatale. Didn't most noir detective stories start that way? She had a missing husband. There would be a dead private detective and a dangerous game of mistaken identity...
I didn't want Jonas Watcher to start out as a detective. I wanted it to look like he was a fish out of the water. In the beginning, he finds a business card, some keys, some money, and a gun...
A fish out of water is always a good working idea. People can relate to that. My next decision was; what genre did I want to work in. I loved black and white detective noir movies. I chose the 1930's because it was a time of Jazz, women in sensuous silky dresses, crime was "simpler?", and it fit my idea of the novel noir.
Additionally, no CSI, no modern computers, and no cell phones. My hero was to be a simple by the seat of your pants detective. I named him Jonas Watcher and put him in the middle of a mystery he had to solve if he wanted to stay alive.
“The Case of the Running Bag” is my first novel of the Jonas Watcher Detective Adventure Mystery series. It features a traditional P.I. dealing with extortion, kidnapping, and murder. I am bringing back the hard-boiled detective novel, featuring the romance and humor reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler and my own touch of... Storytelling.
The Novel Development Process
Why Self Publish?
I'm seventy years old. I started the Jonas Watcher series about 6 years ago. I'm too damn old to go through the obstacle course of traditional publishing. I had heard too many nightmares about vanity press, so I took the Self-Publishing route. It took me a while to figure how to self-publish. I started with Print On Demand (POD), I was tied traditional publishing. A local bookstore helped me set up a signing and it was forgettable, but I had a good time, I met some readers and I sold some books. No, I didn't make any money. I was a published author and a professional because people bought my book.
I found out about eBooks and while there was a lot of uncertainty about the market, I decided to follow both. I chose several routes before I settled into my current routine, and it is still subject to change. Before I go there, I have to touch on marketing.
If you are going to self-publish you have to be prepared to do your own marketing. I am still a babe in the woods as I seek what works. Unless you have significant funds to throw at a publicist, it is a trial and error process. The one thing I know; If someone tells you the can get your book to be a best seller, they probably don't because they'd be publishing and marketing their own books.
One piece of advice that I did take was after my second and third books were published and released I made my first ebook a Freebie. it was and is the best way to introduce myself as a writer. People will take a chance on a free book. Most people who picked up my first book and liked it have bought my other books.
Back to my routine. I use Open Office to write. I use Grammarly for quick editing while writing. I rewrite, this is where the real writing occurs. I use Grizbokkit editorial services. I use Draft 2 Digital to publish and I hand off the epub from Draft 2 Digital to Amazon.
Planning, Writing, Politics and Writers Block
I followed The Case of the Running Bag with two more books; The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler, The Case of the Jade Dragon. The next book was supposed to be The Case of the Looking Glass Mirror.
My inspiration for this book was to be Lewis Carrol's second Alice adventure. I was using the book as a prop and the rest would be an old fashion mystery. So much for the plans of mice and men. My problem occurred when I was working on a chapter in the middle of the beginning of the book when a catastrophic political event occurred in the United States. An antiquated political process denied the American voters real choice and put a bigoted, unqualified, incompetent, knuckle dragger in the presidency. (This will be my only disgruntled political reference). It did stop me cold in writing. I had already announced I was working on The Case of the Looking Glass Mirror and it would be my fourth book. I was in a funk and not being productive.
The irony is it took a negative review (3 stars) of my first book. I hadn't read it because I was not sure how I would react. When I finally did read the comments, I agreed with them; not because there was something wrong with the writing or the story but because I knew something he didn't. I needed to "complete the circle". In a short amount of time, I outlined and wrote The Case of the Dead Detective. I had it edited and published within the timeframe of my fourth book, just not as advertised. The Case of the Looking Glass Mirror will have to wait because now I am hip deep in three other books two in different genres.
How do you handle writer's block? Don't watch the news. Music, reading, and writing.
Since then life moved in on me literally and figuratively. I continue to write. When I am walking down the street I am writing, watching TV, writing, reading, writing. Most writers will tell you that a lot of writing takes place mentally. But just mentally writing, does not make you a writer until you get it down on "paper".
What is Next for Jonas Watcher
How to deal with writer's Block... I know I answered this earlier, but sometimes you as a writer must take an aggressive action plan to get out of a funk. I'll use a scene that I want to write. It doesn't matter if it is a book or project that I am currently working on or not. As an example below is a list of books that are part of the Joans Watcher series. Sometimes I add a new book, and sometimes I will have a scene in mind and I will just write it down. I might edit the hell out of it or not. Usually, I can get back to my current project. The one thing I will do is force myself to have an artificial delivery so I can move forward.
In case you haven't noticed The Jonas Watcher Series all begin...
The Case of...
This is in homage to Earl Stanley Gardner, although one title will not contain that opening.
The titles of books to come are:
The Case Of The Other Woman
If you follow the series storyline, this is Betty's story. Betty gets her Pi license and takes lead on a case. Her personal story is flushed out.
The Case Of The Golden Fleece
This involves the government, Fort Knox, an actual historical event, and spies. The Dead Detective feeds into this one though you do not need to read one to enjoy the other.
The Case Of The Imperfect Frame
I had a working title I called the professional, I am adapting it to use as a Jonas Watcher story. Never throw anything away you may be able to use in another incarnation.
The Case Of The Laveau Curse
Here I take Jonas back to New Orleans where he meets up with some old friends, some new ones, new enemies, and the mythology and reality of VuDoo, Zombies, Werewolves, and Vampires. This will be a fun one
The Case Of The Looking Glass Mirror
Tweedledum and Tweedledee. What piece is missing from the chess board?
The Case Of The Pirates Of Tortuga
The Caribean, pirate treasure, smuggling, and Mei Lin; who could ask for anything more.
The Case Of Deja Vue
I was sitting in my office chair, leaning back, feet up on the window sill, looking out the window and feeling sorry for myself. I had read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I knew exactly how he felt.
“Give me activity! Hell, I'd even take a nice cheating spouse divorce case!”
My receptionist, Betty, walked into my office and I dropped my feet and spun around in the chair.
“I heard that. I had better not find any drug paraphernalia or a whiskey bottle in your desk,” she said.
She stood looking at me, arms crossed, and she was tapping her foot.
“I need activity,” I said. “I need a case.”
“Then pull open the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet and go through the files. There are a number of cases there that Mickey Phillips never closed. Call the client and see if they are interested in you looking into their case. If nothing else you can clear out a backlog of paperwork.”
I looked at the file cabinet and moved my gaze to the bottom drawer. I pursed my lips and looked back at Betty.
“Oh, no,” she said. “You're the boss, I am the receptionist and a field agent. You choose the cases.”
Her smile of innocence as she batted her eyes was irritating.
“Well you could call,” I started to say.
“Only if you review the case and determine there is a reason for me to do so.”
She turned her back on me and I looked back at the file cabinet. It was something for me to do, other than sit and look out the window with my feet on the window sill. I got out of my chair and bent over and opened the cabinet drawer. The damn thing was packed.
Sometimes that's all I start with, a beginning.
Where Evil Lurks
Jonas Watcher's ability as a discrete investigator has gained recognition
within the San Francisco elite. An old dowager has recently
died and he family is gathering for the services and the reading
of the will. The problem is there is no will. In fact, there seems
to be no estate. Jonas has been called in to see what happened to
the will and the estate. As he investigates, family members seem to
be dying off. A son-in-law dies in the hospital during an operation, and his wife commits suicide because she can't go on living. Another daughter strokes out and a son is killed in an auto accident. If that wasn't enough the body identified as the Dowager, isn't. That leaves the grandchildren as the remaining heirs. One of them is a murderer, and Jonas is in line to be the next one killed because he is getting too close.
Sometimes I get an idea and that's what I start with.
With the four books, I have written this list brings me up to 12 and I don't expect to stop there. As I work on a book, I often get a plot for another. I create a folder and a brief synopsis or outline and I move on.
Writers Block, yeah, but not because I don't have ideas to write about.
In the 5th Jonas Watcher book, he returns to New Orleans, I'm in the mood for some mythology and reality
Since I hadn't been writing for a while I began thinking in series and sagas, not just books. I got to get back to writing.
Coming Attractions I
M'Lady's Gentleman is a Spy
Then again so is Dame Agatha Wingate. Her Niece, Lady Sarah Wingate is also a spy. Victoria is Queen of England, she needs all the help she cant get in a man's world. What better way than a couple lady's in the British Aristocracy to make sure her Majesty is one up on her adversaries; both foreign and domestic.
Invading gentleman's clubs, playing whist for a servant's contract, wielding a Katana with grace, and just being naughty when they are being nice; these members of the weaker sex may not be. Society thought these women outrageous, little did they know they were often secret visitors of the Palace keeping Victoria up to date on what was going on.
Coming Attractions II
In The Kingdom
Reginald is a suburban Racoon from New Jersey, think Louie Palma. He is an aficionado of backyard cuisine. When the local crew starts touting Crawfish Creole style, Reginald's ears perk up. The only place he will find it is New Orleans.
Reginald hitches a ride on a semi with Louisana plates and takes up residence inside a trailer. Someone forgot to tell Reginald that the Semi was headed for Southern California. Upon arrival Reginald barely escapes the trailer and heads for the forest. As he explores his new surroundings, Reginald discovers he has landed in an African savanna wild animal park.
Meet the residents of The Kingdom; Leon the king of beasts except for his three wives and seven kids. There is a giraffe afraid of heights, an old gibbon who dispences confused wisdom, prairie dogs in the wrong part of the park, a Boa with relationship issues, an Indian elephant with an identity crisis, a pair of camels who can't figure out how long they can go without water, and a collection mismatched that could give Freud a run for his sanity.
The Dragons of Aberdeen Saga
Re-Awaken The Dragon
It starts with a Comic-Con and Gamers Convention. Kelvyn Gryffin had just finished a tour of duty in Iraq and his enlistment was up. He was a disillusioned Marine looking for meaning for a war that made no sense to him. He was recovering from PTSD with the help of his friends more than anything the Government medical facility delivered to him.
A couple of fellow Marines joined him at the convention, each figuring a journey into fantasy would be helpful in dealing with reality. Calliope had mustered out of the service the year before and agreed to meet Kelvyn in Edinburgh for the convention. She was an aspiring artist and she loved fantasy.
There was a scavenger hunt to find the dragon, and Kelvyn, Calliope, with two friends joined in. Kelvyn received a round magnifying glass entwined with a dragon from one of the booths. While several people admired it, no one wanted to touch it.
As the hunt continued clues became more cryptic to the point only Kelvyn could solve them with the use of the Dragon magnifier. Kevyn and the others stepped into a journey that was going to test what was real and what was fantasy.
My Journey Continues...
I am settling down to write again. My goal is a thousand words a day. I have commitments to myself and some others to take care of, so I am going to be a schizoid writer, as I jump from Victorian England to New Orleans in the 1930's. Then I leap from the comic world of "In The Kingdom" in a Southern California African savanna to Scotland and the coming world of Dragons.
I've been at it for five years and I can honestly say I am far from retired. I hope I have left nuggets of wisdom as I have shared my journey.
Marketing is still a bit of a mystery, but I know the solution is in the internet. It will require money, my goal is for me to be making more than I am paying out. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Amazon will play a role. Hubpages is where I will record my journey.
I have a webpage, a blog, author pages,Facebook page, I'm on Twitter, instagram (I don't do selfies) and God knows what else. I am looking to bring my outlets under control while increasing my internet presence. Any thoughts, questions, or answers, please comment.
No links provided, just look for me, my characters, and my coming attractions on the internet.