Memories

Yes, I have a working title for the heretofore untitled short. And it’s Memories.

To say I’m ecstatic about it would be a gross exaggeration. As mentioned in the past here, it’s the last four days before NoName City fell and Charlie Welles went into Internment Camp Delta 5 (January 8th) and the last four days of his time in the internment camp, ending 1014 days later on October 17th. And it’s told from his perspective, as always, so in effect it’s his “memories” of the events.

So Memories works, but it’s not great. But it gives me something to put on the title page when I start writing it (instead of Untitled Short), and with any luck, during the writing process something better will come to me.

I do have a first sentence for the short, though, and I like it.

Vampires.

I think that lights the fuse nicely.

I’ve also been giving some thought to the distribution timing of Memories. Like I’ve said, it will be available to subscribers of the blog for free, a download in multiple formats (Kindle, epub, pdf). I’m now thinking that they’ll see it first, and exclusively until Blood for Blood is finished and released –  which will probably be a couple of months, at least.

When Blood for Blood is ready for release, I plan to put out the first three Night and Day books and Memories as a collection, and at a price cheaper than buying them individually, at the same time. Both ebook and paperback. This will give me a lot of ways to go with the promotion.

For those who’ve bought the Night and Day books in paperback, I might put out Memories as a standalone paperback as well, and it looks like I can sell it for $6.99 or so, depending on how many pages it comes out to. Is that a bargain for roughly 40,000 words? I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder.

So that’s the plan at this point. Next week, I intend to start going through the series, one by one, looking for all the “facts” that I’ve already shared about those eight days. Because I don’t want to mess up the continuity.

And as a plus, Memories will be the kind of novella that you can read before you read the series, or after. There will be some overlap of events mentioned in the series, but not so much to become tedious when you read about it in the various books.

Now it’s time to get irradiated – two weeks from today, I finish up the radiation treatments and the following Monday, I get to writing….

Whatchamacallit

So I’m halfway through the radiation treatments, 20 more fifteen minute sessions,  laying on the table while the machine rotates around me and bombards my midsection with the burning love of Madame Curie… Which means I’m a month away from starting work on the short, getting that done, and going back to Blood for Blood.

I still don’t have a title for for the short. And it does need a title.

Titles are generally not a big problem for me. Let’s go back in history, shall we?

Night and Day. When I shoved Poison Blood to the side, perhaps permanently, perhaps not, and decided to focus my introduction to the world of the series from broad to narrow, the title of that narrow focus was easy. The name of the private investigation office that Charlie Welles is a part of is Night and Day, a play on the idea that they work all the time, with Charlie working the day side and Joshua, a vampire, working the night side. It works as a title for both the book and the series. Easy.

Bleeding Sky. Looking back at the beginning entries of the blog, I seem to have started it after I came up with the title for the second book. I know the title came from a line of dialogue in a Japanese movie, a samurai movie, though I don’t know which one. It was spoken by a woman…I remember that much. It struck a chord with me. So I packed it away and when it was time to come up with a title for the second book, there it was.

Bandit’s Moon. It was about the Resistance, which the vampires refer to (as the Nazi’s did in WWII) ‘bandits’. And I saw a photo of a giant moon rising over San Diego, and it just all came together. I recreated the photo (sort of) in iClone for the cover, and there ya go. It worked. Is it the best possible title for the book? Who knows, but it worked, and sometimes that’s more than enough.

Blood for Blood. A line said by both Charlie Welles early in Bandit’s Moon, and Don Alfredo later in the book. It might have actually made a good title for that book, but it already had a title. So I kept it (probably coming up with it as a title for the fourth book even as I was writing the third…) and it does tie in with the plot of Blood for Blood.

Crimson Star. Still not 100% happy with that as the title for the next Night and Day book, and I may well go with something else by the time I start writing it, but it, again, ties in with the plot of the upcoming book, so I might just keep it. I see no reason to obsess over these things.

And then there’s this upcoming short….

As mentioned in the past, it will encompass the last four days before Charlie went into the detention camp (early January) and the last four days before the camps were shut down (mid-October, two years later). Eight chapters, more or less –  maybe 40,000 words or so. And I don’t have a clue what I’m going to call it.

I accept that it needs a title. I have come up with a few ideas, which I won’t share because, frankly, they suck. I think because it’s not a straight, narrative story –  beginning, middle, end –  that’s part of the problem. It’s like two short stories –  one following the other after a two year gap, neither with a title of it’s own. Do I do it that way? Title each part, and combine them? Or do I approach it as an “anthology” of two, and come up with a title for the anthology? The latter is probably the way to go, but again, I need a good title for two very different “stories”.

A title will come to me, probably when I least expect it, when I’m not actually thinking about it. Until then, I guess I’ll just let it simmer in my subconscious while I start going back through all the “past” events discussed in the series so far. There’s some of it in every book (probably the most about the final day before detention in Night and Day, and the most about the days leading up to detention in Bandit’s Moon.) There’s also some stuff about the last days of detention in Bleeding Sky. So that will be a starting place as I work out the timeline, events, and characters of the short.

You know, whatchamacallit….

Farming My Fields

About half an hour ago, before I jumped in the shower, I listened to some Black Sabbath.

I’m not actually a big fan of theirs – I saw them live in 1974 – I like a handful of songs. But as sometimes happens, I thought of Ozzie whining “Killing yourself to liiiiiiive…” and thought “Haven’t heard that one for a while…” So I fired it up, listened, then took a shower.

In the shower, I was thinking about Black Sabbath. I know that they’re still together, more or less, and apparently working on a new album. But why?

In my less-than humble opinion (imltho, for those of you who like abbreviations…), Sabbath was a band of the first half of the ’70s. They had a distinctive sound and they cemented their place in history as one of the early proponents of what was to become heavy metal and later just plain metal. And after about 1975, they really didn’t have a whole lot more to give.

Not because of the revolving-door nature of the band, with people leaving and coming back and leaving and coming back over the next forty years, but because everything they did in those years was pretty much irrelevant. They sold albums, they even had some minor hits. But it was same-same, no matter who was singing. You could listen to a new song, and point back at the “classic” Sabbath song it was like…

This isn’t a problem endemic only to music. The pointless sequels, prequels and reboots that flood movie theaters show that there’s a school of thought that says “If you have something good, you need the same thing again…and again…ad infinitum”. Or books. You stake out your own plot in the literary landscape, and you start writing. If people like it, if it works, you stay there. And when the plot starts to become barren from over farming, you sometimes start recycling. Different characters, different situation, same story. Some don’t even wait for the field to become barren.

I intend to end the Night and Day series before I run out of “different” ideas. Before my creative landscape is dry and used up. Before I decide that maybe I can do a book “like” Bleeding Sky but instead of the German ambassador it’s somebody else, and Welles once again has to protect him or her. Or maybe I’ll mix it up and make it somebody Welles has to get to, kill or whatever –  that would also tie it in with Bandit’s Moon. People who liked those books would certainly like that story idea, right?

Maybe. But who cares… I publish the Night and Day books for people to read and hopefully enjoy. I write the books for me. Because I have a story that I want to tell, that I want to “harvest” from my creative landscape and get on paper. Or at least a screen of some sort.

The Night and Day series will end at some point. That point will be when I run out of what I consider to be original ideas, original scenarios. A point before I start looking back at earlier books and consider changing things up to grind out another one. Because that would truly be a grind. Even if you enjoyed reading it, I wouldn’t enjoy writing it. I’d find it truly repellent, even if it was well-received.

I’m not at that point now. I have three books in the can, another being written, and at least three more planned. After Blood for Blood, I may start something else (standalone or series, as I’ve talked about in the past), do a couple of those, then come back and do a Night and Day book or two. Perhaps doing something else will give me a new perspective on Night and Day, and water that overused-metaphor of a field, throw a little fertilizer on it, change the crop from corn to potatoes. Or not.

But I will stop the series before I become Black Sabbath.

Stations of the Cross

Today it will be five radiation treatments down, thirty-four to go. That’s not what this post is about, but I thought I’d get the health stuff out of the way so you know I’m alive and plan to keep living –  because if I’m dying, there’s really no point in following the blog because it’s just going to stop one day right in the middle of a wor

Treatments aren’t bad –  I spend as much time getting there (about 10 minutes) as I do on the table, with the machine rotating around me as I lay on the table.

DSC0203-300x201

That thing at the top is the part that actually shoots the radiation into my lower abdomen, and it rotates around me, stopping in eight locations and giving me two 20–second shots of radiation from each. Meanwhile lame soft rock spills from a speaker in the ceiling. If it went on for more than 10 minutes, I’d probably go mad. Especially since I can’t even think about Night and Day while “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” plays….

And I have been thinking about it.

Still haven’t come up with a title for the eight-chapter short detailing the last four days before Welles went into Camp Delta 5 and the last four days before he was released. I’ll eventually need a title, but I’m sure one will come to me in the fullness of time…

One of the things I’m going to have to do is go back through the first three books and make notes on certain characters and happenings from the past that I’ve already mentioned. I’ve talked about “making it up as I go along” in the past (there being no big Night and Day world bible to refer to) and occasionally that’s created mild continuity errors (Uptown Station having formerly been the Liberty Ave. station in Night and Day and becoming the Tremont Ave. station in Bandit’s Moon, for example). I hope to avoid such problems with the unnamed short. We’ll meet characters from earlier books (Ray Holstein, Becca James) as well as characters mentioned in those books. And we’ll see things play out as mentioned and alluded to in the first three books. So continuity is important.

The other thing that’s important is that I don’t burn myself out again. If you go back eleven years to when I was writing the first draft of Night and Day (like here, for instance), you see that I would write 1500–2000 words or so in the evening (since I had only evenings to work on the book) and then move on to something else. It wasn’t, as I recall, that I didn’t have the discipline to “write on”, but that I was finding a balance between writing and the rest of my life.

When I picked up Night and Day again in 2013, I no longer had a day job, so I could write all day. And did. And after Night and Day was released, I continued the pace to get Bleeding Sky out. Chapter a day. Didn’t stop till it was done. Then Bleeding Sky was released, and I moved on to Bandit’s Moon. Same thing. Chapter a day. Sometimes I couldn’t sit for more than 10–15 minutes at a time, because of the whole prostate thing, but I kept on chugging along. Then it was released and I started working on Blood for Blood. And finally hit a wall as I burned out.

So I took a break that turned into the rest of the year off. I still thought about the series, about Blood for Blood and future books, but I didn’t have any desire to sit down and start pounding them out (the whole cancer thing probably had something to do with that as well…).

Now I’m back, and ready to start working again once I’m no longer being bombarded with radiation Monday-Friday, but I want to make sure I don’t write myself into ash once again. Over the past eight months, I’ve filled the hours with other things I like to do –  watch movies, read, listen to music –  and I’ve enjoyed it. I don’t want to put that enjoyment on the back burner again while I pound the keyboard for 8–10 hours a day.

So I’ve decided to take it easy –  not a paragraph a day easy, but I’m removing the chapter a day mentality. If things are going well, and I’m really into what’s happening in the story, and I really want to know what happens next, I might do a chapter a day. If not, then I’ll do 1000 words. Or 1500. Or 2000. Or whatever. And then stop and do something else that I enjoy doing.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the writing –  I love it the mostest. But I would like to avoid being consumed by it again.

Home Is The Sailor, Home From the Sea….

Okay, so I’m not a sailor and I’m not home from the sea.

I’m a writer and I’m home from illness….more or less.

Way back in July, when last I blogged (which coincides with when last I wrote), I was gearing up to finish Blood for Blood. Shortly thereafter, my urologist felt that the intermittent catheterization I was doing really wasn’t a solution. My cancerous prostate wasn’t getting any better, the hormones were starving it of the testosterone it needed to become big and strong, but it was still swollen and they needed to do something about that.

The something he suggested was having it removed, which ultimately made sense. Goodbye cancer. Goodbye blockage.

So while I prepped for that, the book went back on hold. And I made the decision that I wouldn’t work on the book until I was done with the cancer. It was more psychological for me than physical –  I look back on Bandit’s Moon, written while I was in a lot of pain from what turned out to be the prostate cancer, and it’s a lot darker than I think it would have otherwise been, my mood being what it was at the time.

Since Blood for Blood is a rebound from that darkness, I didn’t want any of the distress from my health to leak into yet another book. So I put it on hold.

Prostate was yanked out in the middle of September, had a week with a catheter, then that came out too. And since then, urinary control has returned to about 98% or so. Not quite there, but almost…

Then they set me up with a radiologist –  because the cancer was in one of the lymph nodes by the prostate and in the seminal vesicles (like popsicles, but you can figure out the difference on your own…) they felt that I should do a full series of radiation in the area to kill any cancer cells that might be looking for a new home.

Did all the pre-stuff for that in December (x-rays, gold seeds inserted into the mouth of my bladder, a couple of small black dots tattooed on my hips so they could line things up) and today, the treatments start. Every day, Monday-Friday, at 11:45 am, I’ll go over to the urologist’s office, be irradiated for 15 minutes or so, and sent home. Thirty-nine times. Right into the beginning of March.

And then, with even a tiny bit of luck, I’ll be done –  will still get hormone shots every six months for another year or two, but that’s just making sure that the Big C is gone gone gone.

So that’s when I’ll get back to work, officially, with the Night and Day series (unless I start sooner because, hey, I actually feel fine –  better than I have since this all started last January…)

One thing I might do before getting back into Blood for Blood is to write that novella I mentioned. I probably need a title for it (okay, probably isn’t right –  I do need a title for it), which I don’t have yet. I have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to play out, much as I’ve described in one of the bliplits here.

Then release the first three books with the novella/short (and make the short available to those on the mailing list –  which you can sign up for on the right), then finish Blood for Blood and move on to the next one.

More about my constantly-evolving plans next time….