A Cast of Characters

Earlier this week – or was it two weeks ago, I can’t remember – I finished a comprehensive read-through/edit of my current project (Working title: JADE MOON WANING). Part of this read through…

Ok, full disclosure here: It should have been part of the read through. I actually thought of this after the fact, and that resulted in what I’m going to call a skim through.

Anyway, part of this read through included taking note which characters appeared in which chapters, with the end goal of having something that I could look at (In this case, an Excel Spreadsheet – where I still don’t do any math) that would tell me how my characters were distributed through the novel.

Now I didn’t include any characters that didn’t have what I’m going to call “Generic” names: The Driver, The Tinker, The Tailor, The Soldier, The Spy, etc. This was a count of characters that had names, and a “Graph” of sorts (this got too suspiciously close to math for my tastes), where I could see who showed up where.

To my surprise, I discovered that I had FIFTY-TWO characters in this book. As I was putting this together, I thought that it would be clever to give each character a color…

…and I started running out of colors to designate characters with. I couldn’t look at the entire “Graph” without shrinking the worksheet to something like 40% Small enough so that, while they were all on the screen, I couldn’t read a damned name.

Now this isn’t me saying that if I’ve got 52 characters in my book, and it seems like too many (and, believe me, Reader, it most certainly is) that 52 characters IN YOUR BOOK is too much.

You’re a better judge than I am of how many characters your work can bear. For this project, my Beta Readers have nearly universally said that the story drags a bit through the first 100 pages.

Clearly, I have some tightening up to do. And that is going to include taking a look at my cast of characters – especially the ones that show up in only one or two chapters – and give some thought to either consolidating some of them, or getting rid of them entirely.

There are going to be a few that may survive the cut on the virtue of it being too “Clunky” to use a generic name over and over in a single scene or chapter, especially where there’s dialogue between that character and one of my main characters. Those folk will have to stay even if they only show up once – assuming that I don’t decide to cut that scene or chapter entirely.

I have – and maybe you have too – heard the phrase “Write without fear – Edit without mercy.” That’s clearly something that I’m going to have to do this time around. While I’m enjoying it (I really dig every part of the process – I’m a weirdo in that way) it is slow going, and will probably push my target to start querying agents with it, back till late June or early July. We’ll see how it shakes out.

***

Next Weekend, I’m going to be at Balticon! It’s a great con and, if you’re in the area drop in and say Hi!

You can find my schedule for the weekend on my Events page.

See you on Thursday!

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Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

Posted in Writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Five Thing Thursday: May 16th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: The Hummingbirds are Back!!! I’ve got a feeder outside the window where I have my desk and I can see them coming by for a sip every now and again. They make me happy.

Thing #2: I’ve got a newsletter! It will go live in June. If you’re interested, please subscribe using the finely crafted “Subscribe” field at the top of the page.

Thing #3: My Balticon Schedule is up! Stop by the Events page to see where I’m going to be! See you there.

Thing #4: This week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by Dragonforce Through the Fire and the Flames we carry on…

Thing #5: Do all that you can do. Even if it doesn’t feel like you’ve done anything at the end of it. Do what you can in the time that you’ve got. Nobody can do more than that.

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What am  I reading this week?

The Protector’s War by S. M. Stirling.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley.

What am I listening to this week?

The We make Books Podcast.

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? This weekend will be one of recovery. I’ve slighted myself on Sleep this past week and am starting to pay for it. If it doesn’t rain on Saturday (and maybe even if it does) I’ll be grilling! – and maybe catch a bit of Rugby.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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Changing Your Mind

Two weekends ago, I was at Penguicon. I was only available for Saturday, but I had a great time.

One part of the programming I was on was something called “Office Hours.”

This is kind of what you’d think it was. Two or three authors would hang out in the con bookstore, in surprisingly comfortable chairs, and invite folk to come up and chat. The topics were as wide-ranging as you might expect – writing, the author’s natural habitat – or what you’d find there, etc.

One thing that stayed with me, was one person who asked what kind of advice we could give to the aspiring writer.

If you’re a creator of anything, and you take nothing else from any part of this blog, I want you to remember this:

Do whatever it takes to enable you to drop the word “Aspiring.”

I phrase it that way because I know firsthand how difficult it is to get rid of that damned qualifier.

It took me *Forever* to stop saying that I was aspiring. To stop thinking that being a writer was something that I aspired to. I’m talking about years of mental muscle memory to work through – self confidence issues rooted in feeling like I wasn’t “There” yet and constantly changing what “There” meant.

Might be you’ve heard the phrase, “Dress for the job you want.” I want you to change your thinking – change your mind – to support the reality you want.

Stories are how we make sense of the world – they define reality for us. Change your story.
If you’re writing, you *Are* a writer. You’re not aspiring to write, you’re writing.

Believe it, be your first, and biggest, fan. You have to believe deeper than anyone else and that belief will sustain you.



See you on Thursday!

###

Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

Posted in LIfe, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Five Thing Thursday: May 9th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: I have a peculiar and sometimes irritating set of taste buds. For instance, I will happily eat a 5 pound bag of carrots raw. Cook them, and you couldn’t pay me to eat them. I love salsa, but don’t like tomato as is. Go figure…

Thing #2: I’ve got a newsletter! It will go live in June. If you’re interested, please subscribe using the finely crafted “Subscribe” field at the top of the page.

Thing #3: This week on the blog, I’m going to be talking about changing your mind – more specifically, the way you think. Be sure to stop by for that.

Thing #4: This week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by Beast in Black. I am really digging their latest release “From Hell with Love.”

Thing #5: A collection of Spring Peepers is called…

An army.

And now you know.

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What am  I reading this week?

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

The Quantum Magician by Derek Kunsken

What am I listening to this week?

The Broadcasts from the Wasteland Podcast.

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? This weekend will be one of recovery. probably a lot of sleep and refilling the well – and maybe catch a bit of Rugby.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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David Niall Wilson’s DECHANCE CHRONICLES OMNIBUS and A MIDNIGHT DREARY Blog Tour

Hi Everyone! Today I’m happy to be hosting one of the stops on David Niall Wilson’s Dechance Chronicles Omnibus, and A Midnight Dreary Blog tour!

David was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions for me. Be sure to stay for the end credits, to get in on an awesome giveaway!

Take it away, David!

Me: What is one thing that you’ve done for research that you’ve struggled to explain to a non-writer?

DNW: I think probably the best answer for this would have been back in my days in the US Navy.  I used to go on every historical tour I could find, in Israel, in Europe – the Dead Sea, The Vatican, The tower of Pisa.  When I was inside places like that, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the history of it – the wonder of being in a place I’d read about – actually being there. I am always that way. When writing about a serial killer I ordered a CD of music by Charles Manson and listened to it as I wrote. I have a tiny bullseye lantern, antique, from around the time of Jack the Ripper because I wanted to know how much light it would put out – what it would have been like for a Bobby in London trying to see through the fog.
I visited the Holocaust Museum because there was a part in my novel “Deep Blue” that required more understanding, sat with a wino in an alley in Hollywood drinking wine out of a bag – listened to a street musician for over an hour in a subway station… I try to soak these things in, but I know from the expressions on their faces that the people who did those things with me felt none of it, and had no idea what I was talking about when I tried to explain. I guess I’m a “method” writer… it freaks people out.

ME : Do you see any issues in your genre and how are you addressing them?


DNW: I don’t have a genre. I have written everything from children’s picture books to political satire, thrillers and mysteries, science fiction, horror, and fantasy. I write what moves me at the time – so – while I don’t write anything to deal with issues within a genre, I believe (hope) that a lot of what I write deals with issues in life that are current, and important. I am writing a book about writing, part memoir (I think a lot of us do that).  It’s called “Writing What Hurts,” and in it I sort of say that, at least for me, if you don’t have something important to do or say with the work… you are holding something back.  Think of when Kathleen Turner is finishing her book at the beginning of “Romancing the Stone,” tears running down her face. I don’t know what her book was about, but my work has affected me that deeply… it has also made me laugh so hard I pulled off the road listening to the audio version.

ME: If you could give Past You one piece of advice, what would it be?

DNW: Advice to a younger me: If I was given the chance to do something over as a writer knowing what I know now, I would have written more, sooner. I would have written until my eyeballs popped out. I started my career near the middle of the huge horror boom and could easily have been a part of it and had a very different career.  The other thing I would do is ignore EVERYONE who told me to write something other than what I felt I needed to be writing – editors who never took anything anyway, agents who never sold what they asked for… the best writing from any author comes from what they “feel” deep inside.. not from what the market is looking for.

ME: Characters I’d want to meet/ not want to meet?

DNW: Hmmm… I wouldn’t want to meet any of the villains from my novels in a dark alley… as far as a main character of my work, I think either the vampire Montrovant from The Grails Covenant Trilogy, or Reverent Payne from my novel Deep Blue would be those I’d least like to meet, but if I did – either Donovan DeChance or his lover Amethsyt.  There are other characters from other series that would also be fine – Rebecca York from The O.C.L.T. would work, or old Nettie the swamp witch from the Cletus J. Diggs Old Mill NC novels…   I guess the most important thing is that most of the heroes I write are aspects of how I perceive myself, or how I would like to be perceived… so they think like I do, and (of course) they always win in the end.

Thank you, David, for taking the time to stop by and answer some questions for us.

You can pick up David’s Dechance Chronicles Omnibus at::

Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2Vqjxyd

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UYjJFw

And you can pick up A MIDNIGHT DREARY at:

Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2Vtu8su

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Zz6TfM

About the books:

Donovan DeChance is a collector of ancient manuscripts and books, a practicing mage, and a private investigator. This Omnibus Collection includes books I, II, III, and IV of the series. Included are Heart of a Dragon, Vintage Soul, My Soul to Keep (The Origin story of Donovan DeChance) and Kali’s Tale – book IV of the series. Also included are the bonus novellas “The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature,” and “The Preacher’s Marsh,” both of which provide background on settings and characters that appear in Kali’s Tale. If you enjoy this book, you should read Nevermore, A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe, which follows on Kali’s Tale, has a cameo from Donovan DeChance, and leads into Book V – A Midnight Dreary,

Heart of a Dragon, When a local houngan begins meddling with powers she may not be able to control, a turf war breaks out between the Dragons motorcycle club and the Los Escorpiones street gang—a war that threatens to open portals between worlds and destroy the city in the process. With his lover, Amethyst, his familiar, Cleo – an Egyptian Mau the size of a small bobcat –the dubious aid of a Mexican sorcerer named Martinez and the budding gifts of a young artist named Salvatore, DeChance begins a race against time, magic, and almost certain death.

Vintage Soul, When, despite the finest in natural and supernatural security, a sexy and well-loved, three hundred year old lady vampire is kidnapped right out from under her lover’s nose, Donovan is called in to investigate. There will be no ransom for the kidnap victim, and if Donovan doesn’t prevent an ancient, forbidden ritual from reaching its culmination, far more than a single vampire’s undead existence will be at stake.

My Soul to Keep, Donovan DeChance is a very private man, and he is in love. When he invites his partner and lover, Amethyst, for a quiet dinner, she has no idea of his true intention. Donovan has planned a sharing – a vision that will give her the keys to his early life – the origins of his power – and a lot more than she bargained for. Join young Donovan as he fights to keep his soul, save a town, and learn the roots of his teacher and guardian – and meet his familiar, Cleo.

Kali’s Tale, When Donovan is asked to follow in secret as a hot-headed group of young vampires set out on a ‘blood quest’ to kill the ancient who created the young vampire Kali against her will, he learns that – as usual – there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye. Through the juke joints of Beale Street in Memphis, to the depths of The Great Dismal Swamp, Donovan and his lover and partner, Amethyst, find themselves drawn along on one of the strangest quests in their long, enigmatic lives as they delve into the world of the undead, the magic of The Blues, and the very heart of alchemy both to protect their young, vampiric charges – and to prevent an ancient evil from destroying the balance of power in the universe.

A Midnight Dreary, the long-awaited fifth volume in The DeChance Chronicles, picks up outside Old Mill, NC, when Donovan, reminded that he has promised his lover, Amethyst, and Geoffrey Bullfinch of the O.C.L.T. a story, draws them back in time to a vision of the final chapter of the novel Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. At vision’s end, they realize that they have to act, to free Eleanor MacReady from the trap that holds her on the banks of Lake Drummond, in the Great Dismal Swamp,

These novels directly crosses over to the original series O.C.L.T. – where Donovan is a sometimes consultant. It features appearances by Geoffrey Bullfinch and Rebecca York, O.C.L.T. agents, as well as Old Mill, North Carolina’s own Cletus J. Diggs.

Giveaway: 

Enter below to win (1) Ten dollar Starbucks Card and a David N. Wilson Book Collection, and (5) Books from the author, winners’ choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Blog Tours | Tagged | 1 Comment

Five Thing Thursday: May 2nd.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: Penguicon is this weekend!!! I’ll be there on Saturday, May 4th, pretty much all day. I’m scheduled for a reading and “Office Hours” where you can come up and chat about writing, the weather, whatever the heck you want. Check out the Events page for more details. I’ll also have a bunch of signed books in the con bookstore. If you pick one up, find me and I’d be happy to personalize it for you.

Thing #2: I’ve got a newsletter! It will go live in June. If you’re interested, please subscribe using the finely crafted “Subscribe” field at the top of the page.

Thing #3: I am nearly done with revisions for JADE MOON WANING. And I’ve discovered a new Character Management tip that I’ll talk about in another blog post.

Thing #4: This week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by Beast in Black. I am really digging their latest release “From Hell with Love.”

Thing #5: This week I am hosting a stop on David Niall Wilson’s DECHANCE CHRONICLES OMNIBUS and A MIDNIGHT DREARY Blog Tour.

###

What am  I reading this week?

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

The Quantum Magician by Derek Kunsken

What am I listening to this week?

The Chuck and Anthony Podcast.

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? This weekend I’ll be at Penguicon on Saturday. Other than that, I’ll be catching up on sleep. and re-evaluating what I’m doing – and maybe catch a bit of Rugby.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

Posted in 5-Thing Thursday | Tagged | Leave a comment

What’s in a Name?

What goes into naming characters?

Names have power. They form a direct link to a person. Character names can do double duty by conveying a sense, or a feeling about the character.

Choosing names for your characters is important, not the least of which is that you’re going to encounter them on nearly every page of your manuscript. For me, a name that doesn’t exactly fit a character feels like a bump in an otherwise smooth road.

How do you find a name that fits your character? Well your mileage may vary, but here’s what works for me.

I don’t start out with a name when creating characters. Sure, one will occasionally pop in there, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

When I create characters, I spend a lot of time up front thinking about and jotting down what I know about the character. Physical features, height, etc. anything that stands out.

As these details emerge, some spark others, and so on. After a while, I start to get a feel for the character, and I get the first stirrings of what the name could be.

This isn’t actual names, it’s more visceral, more sense oriented. What should the name sound like? How should it feel rolling off your tongue?

At this point, I’ve got an idea of how the name begins, the sound that it makes, maybe how many syllables it has.

Then I start playing with name generators. Scrivener has a good one, and there are additional name databases that you can import – One thing for the wish-list: There should be some kind of progress bar so that you can tell if names are still importing, or if the app has stalled.

Anyway, I’ll run through a bunch of random names, and I’ll jot down ones that seem like they would work.

Be open to serendipity during this phase, you might see something that works, either for this character or another one.

I’ll stop when I’ve got a short list of somewhere around 10 to 15 names. Then I’ll go through the list. If any potential name strikes me with any doubt, I’ll cross it off the list. I’m pretty ruthless at this point, and looking for reasons to reject a name.

Of the ones that are left, I’ll pit one against the rest. Do I like this name, or that name better. In the case of a tie, both names stay – for now.

Eventually, I’ll winnow myself down to two names and I’ll go back and forth between them. I’ll speak them aloud. I’ll use them in sentences, etc. One will invariably come out on top.

Once I have a name (Unless it’s super common), I’ll do a google search of it and see what comes up.

I want to avoid anyone famous, and I don’t want names of characters from other books – unless I’m writing in a completely different genre. Even then, I’m careful.

Here is where it gets more subjective. If a name is too close to something already out there, I’ll look at alternate spellings – This technique doesn’t always work, but enough to warrant checking, and it may lead me in a new direction.

Speaking of which, all through this process, you want to be open to serendipity. You never know when something that fits a character perfectly will just appear.

The name of my Main Character in my current Project, I saw as a decal on the rear window of somebody’s car. Not the whole name, just the first name. Up until that point, I had a name, but wasn’t completely in love with it. When I saw this name, it just clicked.

See you on Thursday!

###

Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

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Five Thing Thursday: April 25th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: I’ve discovered a new band. Ok, they’ve been around for a little while, but they’re new to me. Elephant Gun Riot. Their website has an embedded Soundcloud applet. Ye Have been warned. Better still, check them out on You Tube. They’re worth the time.

Thing #2: This Sunday, I’ll be guest posting on the Million Words Blog. You’ll want to check that out.

Thing #3: On the Blog here, this Sunday, I’ll be talking about naming characters. I know that some of you out there find this a pretty tedious task. Come let me tell you how I do it.

Thing #4: This week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by Unleash the Archers and…See Thing #1

Thing #5: I love the way that the Spring Peepers in the pond react to a car passing by. There’s a noticeable wave of quiet that travels from one end of the pond to the other. When the car passes, the volume goes back up in the same wave.

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What am  I reading this week?

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

The Quantum Magician by Derek Kunsken

What am I listening to this week?

The Unsupervised Podcast.

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? This weekend will see me catching up on sleep. and re-evaluating what I’m doing – and maybe catch a bit of Rugby.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

Posted in 5-Thing Thursday | Tagged | Leave a comment

It Happens

I confess that today got away from me. I did get a good chunk of writing done, then I spent *A LOT* of time outside with chores, etc. Next thing I know, it’s after 6:00 Pm. Time to shower, feed the dogs, and find some time to unwind. Not to mention dinner, etc.

But what about the Blog?

Well, here I am. And this is just a quick update to say that I’m still revising JADE MOON WANING. I’ve got 5 chapters to go (longhand) then I’ll start incorporating that into a copy of the master project. It shouldn’t take as long, but it’ll still take time.

Then it’ll be off to the querying trenches.

In the mean time, I hope you had a great weekend.

See you on Thursday.

###

Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light



Posted in Balance, LIfe, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Five Thing Thursday: April 18th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: Internal shorthand is great. If you’re using it to describe something to someone who has little familiarity with what you’re talking about…Not so much.

Thing #2: Earlier (I can’t remember when) I promised myself that I wouldn’t start any new podcasts. Well, That went out the window when I discovered the Broadcasts from the Wasteland, and the Unsupervised podcasts.

Thing #3: This week’s soundscape has been brought to you by Unleash the Archers, and Beast in Black.

Thing #4: If you can, take some time today to boop a snoot – just be sure to ask permission first, if it’s an unfamiliar snoot.

Thing #5: Ticks, man. They’re out in my neck of the woods. Watch your furry friends.

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What am  I reading this week?

Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling.

The Quantum Magician by Derek Kunsken

What am I listening to this week?

The Unsupervised Podcast.

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? This weekend will see me catching up on sleep. and re-evaluating what I’m doing – and maybe catch a bit of Rugby.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.



Posted in 5-Thing Thursday | Tagged | Leave a comment