Don’t Be Afraid…

I’m not going to expose you to any more of the hellish information in the last post. I actually could have skipped the more detailed horrors by saying “had some health issues”. But then you might have wondered “what kind of health issues” “I thought you were dead and you came back…are you just going to die again?” And anyway, I find the whole thing pretty funny. In retrospect.

No, from here on, it’s back to talking about Blood for Blood, other Night and Day series projects, and other projects unconnected to the Night and Day universe.

So, let’s talk about Blood for Blood. Stopped about 30K words in, maybe a third of the way through.

I’m rewriting it.

Not as a new piece. The basic framework and story are solid, and the writing isn’t bad. But for two reasons.

First, I need to get back into the Charlie Welles voice. As I’ve mentioned here and there, Welles’s voice has some of my voice in it, but isn’t my voice. It’s a character voice, and it’s important that it remains consistent to his voice in the first three books. The best way I know to get into the voice is to write a fair amount in that voice.

Second, the couple of years break between those 30K words and today have given me plenty of time to think about the story and characters. I’ve re-read the whole thing three times. The story has become a lot more clear in my mind, what it is and what it should be. I want to make some changes, with the plot and with some of the characters. Rather than retrofit as I’ve done in the past when I realized late in a book that I had to go back and make changes, add things, remove things, I figure it’s best to just do it as a rewrite.

I thought I might get some of it done while I was on vacation in Florida two weeks ago, and actually pulled out the printouts and set them next to the laptop on the hotel desk. Then I went and did something else. What a surprise.

But I’m home now, and ready to start working on it, so that’s what I’ll do. Read through Chapter One, to get a solid feel for what happens in it. Then start rewriting it. Grabbing some dialogue, description and action verbatim. Rewriting the rest. And so on, through the eleven and a half chapters that have been written.

By then, the Welles voice should be solid, and I’ll have set things up for the middle part of the book and the final part, which is a lot clearer to me now than it was when I was first writing it. And so I’ll lumber on to the end. I’ll have a better idea of when that will be once I’m hip-deep in it.

After that, the short, Buffalo Falls. I’ve read through what I’ve got of that a couple of times as well. Probably rewrite time for that as well.

Then…well, I’m up in the air. On one hand, I’d like to jump into the next Night and Day book, Crimson Star, since I’ve been playing around with things from that in my mind as well. On the other hand, I really want to do a book about a character of mine who calls himself the Lincolnshire Poacher, a timeline hopping thief who saves worlds from some very bad people who want to destroy them. I did a series of radio plays about him, and have been giving a lot of thought to a new story to introduce the character (in prose form) that seems like it could be a ton o’ fun.

Right now, I’m leaning toward that rather than Crimson Star, but it changes from week to week. We’ll see.

And I still have lots of other stuff I want to do as well.

So that’s where we stand. I hope to get into the Blood for Blood rewrite within the week, and will start posting regularly once I’m into it and have something to actually talk about. Other than, well, you know, my urethra…

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…

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….