Centric

The Night and Day series is very No Name City-centric. Of course, that’s where Charlie Welles lives and works, so it stands to reason that it’s where the action is. (and for children of the Sixties, remember, “It’s so neat to meet your baby where the action is!” –  Paul Revere and the Raiders)

Of course, there’s talk about the “bigger picture” and Europe in Bleeding Sky and in Bandit’s Moon some hints at what happened in Atlanta during the war. But overall, No Name City is self-contained, and we don’t go anywhere else, or even talk about anywhere else.

Which is certainly okay. Chandler’s Philip Marlowe hung out in Los Angeles, as does Connelly’s Harry Bosch. Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone stays mostly in Santa Teresa, a fictional version of Santa Barbara. McDonald’s Travis McGee is in South Florida, while Parker’s Spenser is in Boston.

But none of those have, at their base, vampire domination of the entire United States. If MacDonald’s Lew Archer doesn’t mention Chicago, you can still assume that Chicago is about what it always was…not some vampire-infested hell.

There’s also the dividing of the country into Areas. You could look back for my map thereof, but I’ll toss it here just to save time…

Areas small

No Name City is in Area Three. Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. (And by the way, there is a reason why the Area boundaries are drawn the way they are and why, for example, Virginia is in Area Three and not in Area Seven. Look at the map. There’s even a clue in Bleeding Sky.)

Phillip Bain is Deputy Area Governor of Area Three. Miss Takeda is the commander of the Security Force for Area Three. No Name City is not the center of their universe.

Yet it seems like it is.

This occurred to me last night as I waited to fall asleep. So as I move through Chapter Two of the Blood for Blood rewrite, I decided to rectify that, at least to some extent. When we encounter Miss Takeda, she makes a comment about how she’s just back from Atlanta after a couple of weeks of dealing with a situation. Not sure I’ll mention what that situation was, She is rather secretive. But at least I can show that she isn’t always waiting nearby to get involved in Charlie Welles’s cases. And with the time gaps between the events of each book, she’s probably out having all kinds of interesting vampiric adventures when Welles is doing boring private detective stuff that I don’t write about.

It’s a start. Welles may even leave the confines of No Name City in Poison Blood, the book after Crimson Star. But I do want to try to expand things at least some as I move forward.

And speaking of moving forward, the writing is going well. I’m into Chapter Two and things are falling together. I’d like to have more time to be writing, but a couple of hours here and there is better than not writing at all.

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…

The Shape of Things to Come

The first polish is going a little slower than I planned – I expected to be done with it, but I still have four chapters to go, which I’ll knock out tomorrow.

During my downtime, I’ve been thinking about future projects.

Not the immediate future. My “calendar” is pretty much set through the end of 2014. After Bandit’s Moon is out the door, I start work on the next Night and Day book, Blood for Blood. That should be released in early June. Then the novelization of my supernatural police procedural Last Rites, from my four-part animated movie series. It will be either four novellas or one big book, since I don’t think each part is long enough to be a full novel. I’ll know better after I get the first part, In Nomine Patris, written. Assuming that it’s approximately 100,000 words total, either as four novellas or one novel, that should be done by September. After that, the Night and Day book I’m calling Bloodstained Star right now. I’m liking that title less by the hour, so it will be called something else. But I have a good premise for it, and the hook is coming together, so it probably will be next after Last Rites.

Then what?

That’s what I’ve been thinking about.

By September of this year, when Last Rites comes out, I’ll have put our five books in twelve months. But the first one, Night and Day, was already written and just needed a finish polish to hit the street. So I’ll have written four books.

I could, in theory, do six a year – one month to write, one month to polish and do all the other stuff, release, then immediately start on the next one. And if somebody had a gun to my head, I might.

But nobody has a gun to my head. And three months, from start to release, gives me more time to enjoy life, doing things other than pounding the keyboard eight hours a day. I’m not lazy, but I do have other interests and I do enjoy the writing downtime pursuing them.

So between September 2014 and September 2015, I plan to write four books. The first will be whatever the fifth Night and Day book ends up being called. After that?

Well, I do have at least three more Night and Day book ideas – and that’s without brainstorming more. I could probably come up with another three in a week. It’s a big, rich world, with lots of unexplored crevices for Charlie Welles to fall into. But I don’t want to just write Night and Day books. As much as I love the characters and the world, I don’t want to fall into a rut. Even if people want more, and want them NOW.

So the Night and Day series will continue, but maybe at the rate of two a year. Leaving me two open slots for other stuff.

Like…

Redemption. Redemption is based on a 5–6 part unproduced animated movie script, and has the potential to be a series. It probably falls into the Urban Fantasy genre, as I understand it, an alternate version of our world where sorcery is real. Yeah, yeah, I hear you say, there are other series and standalones with that premise. But my take on the idea is as different as my take on vampires. The characters are interesting, the setting is interesting, and I think it would make a hell of a novel – perhaps a hell of a series.

The Lincolnshire Poacher. I’m currently doing a radio play series of the Poacher, and I really like the world and the character. It also ties in with some other trans-dimensional alternate universe time-hopping projects I have in the hopper in various stages of undress. I’ve got two seasons of scripts (20 stories) and plan on a third series (another 10 stories) before I close it out. Just looking at them, I could probably pull 3–4 books out of the various story arcs. 

Conquest. A friend of mine named James Eastman created a science fiction universe that has elements of Star Trek, but is much darker, much more political. I was going to do a trilogy of animated films set in that universe, called Conquest: Daedalus, Conquest: F.C.I.S and something else (didn’t have a title yet). Basically two standalone stories that take place at the same time but involve mostly different people, and a third that ties them together. With James’s permission, I might go ahead and do a trilogy of Conquest books – but only a trilogy.

Chronos and The Dulce Incident – I love stupid wild-eyed conspiracy pseudo-science stuff. Both of these books, which are unconnected, delve into those areas.

Foxtrot. Probably the best book I ever wrote, ruined by an agent’s suggestions that I followed. It would take some serious updating and research, since it’s technology-driven in some ways and tech has changed since the mid-90s, when I wrote it. But I think the basic plot and characters still stand up pretty well, and it might be fun to at least explore it further.

Poison Blood. Yeah, that thing. The prequel to the Night and Day series. That was higher on the list until recently, when I started thinking that it may not be necessary. As the Night and Day books have gone along, I’ve explored the world quite a bit, and will continue to do so in the upcoming books. At what point does my thought to introduce this world through the immediacy of the Night and Day books and not the more epic, episodic Poison Blood stop making sense? Do I need the big picture? Maybe. I don’t know yet. There are things that I will never be able to explore through the eyes of Charlie Welles, so that might be what decides it.

And there are more, but this is what is bubbling closer to the top of my writing pot. Lots of projects, that will take quite a while I get through. And I’ll probably have more ideas before I finish.

But hey, at least it tells me that I’ve got things to write as long as I want to.

Coming Attractions

Yes, yes, I’m aware that I’m only at the halfway point in Bandit’s Moon, so why am I thinking ahead? Am I not the guy who refuses to outline his books before writing? Am I not the guy who barrels into a project with only a few set-piece chapters and the hubris to believe that the tens of thousands of other words I’ll need for a book will just “come” to me? Am I not the guy whose characters are as big a mystery to me as to the reader until I pull back the curtain a little more and we both find out?

Guilty as charged.

Yet I’m planning out my writing from now till September-ish. Because….

Well, because I have a lot of projects in mind that I want to do. Some I’m hot on, some I’m warm on, and some are sitting in the refrigerator in microwave-safe bowls, ready to be heated up after I finish the hot and warm projects. Because I prefer my projects, like my food, warm. Unless it’s food that you eat cold, but that’s probably another subject.

Sooooooo…

Bandit’s Moon – As I said, I’m at about the halfway mark. I haven’t been writing at the feverish pace of Bleeding Sky, though not because I’m any less enthusiastic. Nor is it because I think Bleeding Sky was hurt by the feverish pace of the writing (some have said they like it better than Night and Day, though I’m sure there are others who’d say the opposite – such is literary criticism..). I’m taking a little more time with Bandit’s Moon because the fast pace of Bleeding Sky left me missing out on other things I like to do, and I need balance. I love the writing, I look forward to the writing. But there are other things I love and look forward to.

I expect to finish Bandit’s Moon sometime this month, probably no later than the end of the month. So it will have taken a couple of weeks longer to write than Bleeding Sky. I’ll do a first edit/rewrite/polish run-through in the first couple of weeks of February. Towards the end of February, I’ll do another and see how it looks at that point. Since I’ve already been through every chapter at least once already, that’ll make three run-throughs from first draft. At which point, it probably is what it is, short of gutting it and starting from scratch. By the first full read through in February, I’ll know if it works or not. And after three rewrites/polishes, I feel like I’d probably be changing things for the sake of changing things. I’ll do one sweep for any dangling typos or missing words, then release it. Probably sometime in March, though it could be as late as the beginning of April.

Then…

Blood for Blood – I’m pretty hot on this right now. Looking forward to diving into it. Like each book that preceded it, it has a different feel, a different kind of vibe from the others. Hopefully with all the same creamy goodness of first three books. I’ll start Blood for Blood sometime after I finish Bandit’s Moon. Probably before I finish the rewrite/polish and release. There’s no point in waiting, and it’ll give me something to work on and think about.

Depending on when I start it, I’d like to be finished and have it edited/polished and out sometime in June. That estimate subject, of course, to everything that will happen between now and then with Bandit’s Moon and the writing of Blood for Blood.

Then…

LR

(interestingly, nobody ever noticed the T.J. Hooker in-joke…or at least mentioned it…)

Last Rites – A quick two-step outside the world of Night and Day. Just as a break. I mentioned last week that I’d done a four-part animated movie series called Last Rites about seven years ago. I still like the story, it was well received as a film series, and in theory I should be saying goodbye to it. But I’m not. For the past year, I’ve had the idea to novelize the story, and somewhere around June, as I finish Blood for Blood, I’m going to do just that.

When I wrote the original four scripts, I was constrained in my writing by the knowledge of what I could actually accomplish in the software I would be using to film the animation. Not only in what I could actually “show”, but also in the length and detail of the scripts. As it was, each part was 25–30 minutes long, which was the outside limit of what you could do with that software at that time. So a lot ended up on the mental cutting-room-floor as I wrote the four scripts.

There are other things I’d like to explore with those characters and that story. I could, of course, rewrite and refilm the scripts – the software I use now for animated films is capable of doing about anything I want. But it would take me a loooooong time, and it still wouldn’t be quite what I saw in my head.

So I think I’m going to give this a go after I finish Blood for Blood. Whether it will be one big novel, four shorter novels, four novellas…no idea at this point. I’ll have a better idea of that when I actually get into it.

And after that?

No idea. Or more accurately, too many ideas. I’ve got ideas for two more Night and Day books at this point (three if you count the Poison Blood tie-in that will come immediately before or immediately after I do Poison Blood – it could go either way.) And there’s Poison Blood itself, which may spawn the occasional sequel. Plus a couple of other things.

A very full plate and a very full refrigerator of microwave-safe bowls filled to the brim with stories. It’s going to be a very busy next few years…