Eight Days A Week

So, eight days after I blew up my computer, things are finally back to normal. And though I have powerful computer-fu, there were times when I thought it had bested me. But not this time.

Which is not to say that there isn’t still work to do –  I have plenty of software still to install, and I’ll be doing that in the coming week as I figure out what’s still missing, and what I had, but don’t need.

But some Night and Day goodness came out of the whole rotten mess. Each night, as I attempted to shut down my fevered brain, I thought about the short, Buffalo Falls, and, perhaps more importantly, the road forward after I finish that and the next book in the series, Blood for Blood.

The prologue and epilogue in Buffalo Falls have brought me back to thinking about the unwritten prequel to the Night and Day series, Poison Blood. And though I know that I’ll never get around to actually writing it, it does fill in some things about the so-called vampire apocalypse.

I was also thinking about what I’d been calling Crimson Star, the fifth Night and Day book. Or maybe The Crimson Star, because I’m going to ditch the plot and move up the sixth book to that slot with that title.

What?

Okay, here’s the deal –  the original plot of Crimson Star was a little too close in feel, if not fact, to the plot of the seventh book, the one that I was tentatively calling Poison Blood when I realized I’d probably never write the Poison Blood prequel novel. There was another book in between them, but since each book has been different from the ones that came before, I didn’t want to have somebody say “Hey, Poison Blood is kinda like Crimson Star.”

So it won’t be.

I will use a couple of things from Crimson Star in the now-sixth book, Poison Blood. As well as some things from the original Poison Blood prequel novel. The rest of Crimson Star will go back in the mental file-cabinet, perhaps to be used later in another way.

In clearer language, the schedule is:

Buffalo Falls –  the novella with prologue/epilogue elements of the original Poison Blood. Available to blog subscribers for nothing electronically, Available to physical book devotees for a nominal fee. Available as part of the first Night and Day ebook collection, with Night and Day, Bleeding Sky, and Bandit’s Moon.

Blood for Blood –  The fourth Night and Day novel, currently in progress.

The Crimson Star –  The fifth Night and Day novel, probably featuring Philly, the Underpants Man, as mentioned elsewhere.

Poison Blood –  The sixth Night and Day novel, with elements of the original Poison Blood and the original Crimson Star.

Clear enough?

Doesn’t matter. It’s clear to me, and since I have to write them, that’s probably more important.

Going to take the night off from anything computer related, relax, watch The Walking Dead, get a good night’s sleep without worrying about the computer, and tomorrow morning, I get back to Buffalo Falls, Chapter One. Or as it says in this first chapter, “Monday, January 19th. Day 1.”

Boom!

So last time, as you recall, I mentioned that I was doing a little writing while trying to fix the 16 bad sectors out of 3.9 billion sectors on my hard drive.

After trying a couple of tools through Windows, I decided to first try the Seagate tool that would find and fix them. The better option would have been Spinrite, since it’s pretty much the world-class leader in that kind of thing. But I read about someone who had Spinrite running “for four days” on his drive, and decided I didn’t want to be down that long.

Sooooo….

Booted into the Seagate tool –  waited a couple of hours while it scanned every sector and found…16 bad sectors that I already knew about. It asked if I wanted to fix them. I said, “Sure thing!”

Boom! Ka-boom!

Rebooted the machine, it started to boot into Windows, and blue-screened. Apparently at least a couple of those bad sectors had contained, in part, Windows software…and the program hadn’t “fixed” them –  it had just reformatted them.

Thank you, Seagate.

So since about 5 pm on Saturday, I’ve been trying to get things back to normal. Spent 3–4 hours trying to repair the problem…coming close, but not quite getting there.

Then on to getting the disk ready, removing partitions, making it all nice for Windows (it’s not like the old days –  stick in a disk, put in information when it asks, and bingo, there you are).

By Sunday I had a working system…then I had to start moving data back on the drive and reinstalling software. A process which continues.

I think by Wednesday things should be mostly back in order, and I’ll be able to spend some time writing. It will be a nice change from watching files move from drive to drive and installation programs.

Factual Continuity 2

A little over a year ago, as I was in the latter stages of Bandit’s Moon, I did a post about factual continuity in the Night and Day series.

At the time, it came up because of the renaming (in Bandit’s Moon) of the Tremont Avenue station. In Night and Day it had been called the Liberty Avenue station. Which I forgot until I’d talked about it being Tremont Avenue quite a bit in Bandit’s Moon, and thought to check what I’d called it earlier.

Minor problem, minor fix. I wanted it to be Tremont Avenue and so it magically became Tremont Avenue in Night and Day. One tiny change, problem solved, world-ending continuity error averted.

But Buffalo Falls, the short, is a whole ‘nother beast –  it’s all set in the “past”, and fills in a lot of the details about things I’ve mentioned in the first three books about the past. Those things…names, incidents, etc. are pretty much carved in stone, and I’m not going through those three books and making changes to match what I’m writing now. I must, instead, write to what is “canon” in the Night and Day universe.

Already, just into Chapter 1 (the prologue being finished), I can see that this might be a little tricky….

I’ve mentioned in the past that there’s no big secret Master Plan to the series. Some of the basics have always been givens, but details are often created on the fly, as I’m writing. Names, places, even incidents. For example, in Night and Day I needed to give a taste of what Welles’s attempted escape from the city was like, so I wrote:

Jamie O’Toole, a fast talking desk sergeant with the best collection of dirty jokes I’d ever heard, went down before we knew what was happening. A woman in a blood-stained pantsuit came out of an open doorway and threw herself on Jamie, shrieking. It took three of us to pry her off him and throw her back against the wall, where one of the guys put a couple of bullets into her chest.

Not a big deal. Really just a throwaway paragraph.

But now it’s canon. So in Buffalo Falls, I’ll need Jamie O’Toole in the first section, the fall of the city and the attempted escape. I’ll have to come up with a good dirty joke or three for him, because now I’m showing you what I’ve already told you. And the incident with the woman in the pantsuit will have to be fleshed out, probably in the third of the four chapters in the first section.

That’s just one example. I’ve got Evernote notes for the majority of it, chunks of text from the first three books to make sure I stay between the lines on the road to continuity. But it is throwing me off a little –  I can’t just “make something up”. I have to stick to the fictional facts.

I’m also having some computer issues with bad sectors on my operating system hard drive. I noticed it last week, and thought I’d fixed it. When I went to do my weekly backup yesterday afternoon, I found out I was wrong.

So I’ve been doing a little writing today while I attempt to fix the bad sectors. I have 3–4 tools that will do that, though with a 2 terabyte drive, it takes a while to scan every sector and attempt to recover the bad ones. My hope is that I can get them fixed so I can get at least a couple more months out of this hard drive. The last thing I want to do is have to buy another drive, especially since I just added a second 4 terabyte data drive to the computer a couple of weeks ago (I have a lot of stuff…leave me alone). So we’ll see.

The drive is usable –  occasionally it hangs when it tries to read data from the couple of bad sectors, but it doesn’t affect much. I can get through to the end of the month. And hopefully until summer, when I’ll consider replacing it with…well, another 4 terabyte drive. There’s only 20 bucks difference in price between 2 and 4 terabytes. so why not go big….

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s Off to Work I Go

My medical leave is over and it’s time to be pounding the keyboard…

First, the new title of the short –  Buffalo Falls –  which has nothing to do with the city of Buffalo NY, or waterfalls or anything else you might probably imagine. It does have something to do with the prologue/epilogue of the short, that used to be part of Poison Blood, but I’m not going into the meaning….you’ll have to read the short to find out. (Yes, I am pretty lame at promotion, but I sure do try…)

Got just over two thousand words done on the prologue today, and I imagine that will be about half of it. Maybe a hair under half. I’m digging it. Mainly because this is much of the stuff that I planned for the first or second chapter of Poison Blood (depending on how I decided to structure it) some eleven and a half years ago. It’s been rattling around inside my head since then, and it’s nice to see it finally on paper.

Of course, the characters at that point didn’t have names –  when I’m working out plotlines, actually naming the characters is one of the last things I do. Sometimes right up to the moment that I have to type the name. I think I’ve talked about that in the past –  decide the character’s national origin, ethnicity, whatever, and then do some research into names that match those factors till I find one that’s pleasing to me.

Now I know the names of the two characters in the prologue, and the three major characters in the epilogue. I’ve at least mentioned them all (and as I said the other day, readers have met all but one in the first three Night and Day books), so that eliminates one piece of on-the-fly research.

There have been others today –  a name, a type of weapon, some historical stuff –  but it hasn’t really slowed me down. I’m pretty good at research.

That’s not to say this is Poison Blood 2.0. The original mental draft of Poison Blood had a prologue of its own, which set the stage for what I’m writing now. A prologue to a prologue would be ridiculous, so that had to go. Anyway, I plan to cover the high points of that in the second part of the prologue. Yes, telling, instead of showing, which is a writing no-no, but some exposition is necessary in Buffalo Falls.

Why?

Because Buffalo Falls can be read after reading the first three Night and Day books, or before. It works both ways.

Since the core of it is the days before No Name City’s fall to the vampires, and the days before the human population was released from internment, it can be a good introduction to the series. Which means that if you haven’t read any of the books, reading this will give you background as well as introduce you to characters you’re going to meet in the series. If you’ve already read one or all of the first three Night and Day books, it will fill in the blanks, show you some characters you know as you haven’t seen them before, and give some answers that have been only hinted at in the books.

The writing has been interesting as well. The Night and Day books are, of course, written from a first-person perspective. That was a conscious decision on my part, based on the story and characters. The before and after material in Buffalo Falls will also be written from Charlie Welles’s first-person perspective, just like the books. But the prologue and epilogue will be written in third person, as Poison Blood was intended to be written.

It’s been a while since I wrote seriously in third person. Since before the original draft of Night and Day eleven and a half years ago. It’s not a problem for me –  I can go back and forth pretty easily, even when it makes an agent crazy, makes him suggest a change, and in the process makes the book unsaleable. (See this post for further details –  and yes, I’m still bitter…) But it is different, and I’ve written close to 400,000 words of first person perspective since the last time I did it.

The trick has been to keep it in my style, my voice, and get it on the page. Dialogue is dialogue, so that’s not a problem. The stuff between the dialogue is what’s different, and it hasn’t been quite as smooth as writing first person.

But that’s the way it goes.

I did stick to my “don’t burnout” plan. Hit a good stopping point and stopped. It’s not going anywhere. It’ll be there tomorrow morning when I fire up Word Perfect once more. So no stress. No “gotta finish this tonight”. I should finish up the prologue tomorrow and still have my evening to myself.

Which I’m about to begin right now…

Eureka!

Thanks to a snow day and an ice day, the radiation treatments that should have ended last Friday will now end tomorrow. So instead of starting work on the Night and Day short today, I’m still planning instead of writing.

That’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Waiting for this self-imposed target date to start work has been extremely helpful. It’s given me the time to think about the short, and more importantly, reexamine it to some extent.

Everything I planned to put in there will be there –  four chapters in the last days before No Name City fell, the last four days in the internment camp. I’m not messing with that. It’s the heart of the short.

But I am adding to it, with a prologue and and epilogue. That prologue and epilogue will be parts of the unwritten Poison Blood, the prequel to the Night and Day series.

Here’s the problem. With all the stuff I have on my writing plate, the chance that I’ll ever actually get around to Poison Blood is slim. I’ve got at least 2–3 Night and Day books to go, and then there’s all the other projects I want to get to. Projects that don’t take place in the Night and Day universe. And if this short is to be a prequel of sorts to Night and Day, then why not go all the way and write some prequel to the prequel? What was happening before the vampire’s descended on No Name City and changed Charlie Welles’s life forever…

As I’ve mentioned in the past about Poison Blood, I did a fair amount of research for what was to be an “epic” story of the vampire takeover of the United States. Sprawling, jumping from place to place, with a central story. When I made the decision to “go small”, and focus on the aftermath in Night and Day and successive novels in the series, I always thought I’d get back to Poison Blood. But as the Night and Day books continued to spill out of my brain, that became less and less likely.

So, by adding a prologue and epilogue to the short, you’re going to meet some characters you know and some you’ve only heard about. Like Colonel Wright, the “father” of the vampire takeover. Chris Austin, before he was the vampire Governor General of the United States. General Phillip Bain, Colonel Joshua Thomas, Captain Tiffany Takeda, all as they were during the vampire takeover.

And you’re going to find out exactly what happened to allow vampires to sweep across the United States, how it happened. There are hints through out the first three Night and Day books, but the prologue and epilogue will spell it out and let you see how it could happen.

And as a bonus, it’s got me thinking of different titles based on the overall thrust of the short. Because Memories never really did it for me…