The Worldwide Blog Tour Presents: Me. Yaaaayyyyyy

I was doubly tagged for this by Dave White and Kristi Belcamino, so Internet law demands I participate. Though you all know how much I hate talking about myself, right?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Anyway. It’s me answering four questions, like I was facing a troll or an orc guardian a bridge in a quest novel.

1. What are You Working On Now?

Right now I am working on the sequel to Murder Boy in which the campus cop who makes all of the trouble that happens in the first book go away comes asking our guy for a favor. This is my version of a Dortmunder book. I’ve always loved heist and caper novels and when Jason asked me what ideas I had for a sequel, my story Load, about a sperm bank robbery, came immediately to mind and I had the perfect idea for how to blend the characters who survived Murder Boy into the plot of the Load story. I’m also noodling ideas and structures for the next book I want to write this year which will either be a cozy or an urban fantasy.

2. How Does Your Work Differ From Others In It’s Genre?

My stuff kind of mashes a bunch of stuff together but while it’s deeply rooted in the pulp spirit and the novels of Elmore Leonard, Victor Gischler, Duane Swierczynski and the like, it’s also almost equally influenced by the literary stuff I read, especially the campus and writing life novels by the likes of Richard Russo, Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Ames among others.

3. Why Do You Write What You Do?

Because it allows me to mesh all of my divergent interest in one package. I started off writing PI novels, which I still truly love and hope to get back to soon, but when I was writing gonzo pulp crime it was the first time I felt like I was really putting myself on the page and letting my imagination have full reign.

4. How Does Your Writing Process Work?

Ha. Haha. Barely. I’m in the process of rebuilding my writing process because it’s a mess. I take forever to get started then have a brief run of success then get stalled out, then panic for a while, then get back to it, then stall out and panic, then repeat for two years or more until the book is done. With two little kids, a day job, another kid on the way, and the desire to write more books, that process just won’t cut it.

Part of it is an issue of focus and discipline, of which I have VERY little, but part of it is a lack of proper planning and that’s the hardest to fix. Ideally I would start blindly and write regularly every day until I get about a quarter of the way into a book and then stop and plan out the rest once I knew the characters and what the story was going to be. I sort of did a version of that for Murder Boy, which is why it turned out well enough to sell, but I need to compress the time frame substantially. We’ll see how that works out and of course I’ll keep you all updated here.

I usually come to these things at the very end when everyone else has been tagged so I won’t tag anyone else, but go do a Google search and see if you kind find the others. They’re interesting.

A Post To Clear The Taste Of The Last Post Out Of Our Mouths

Well yesterday’s post seemed to hit a nerve and I got quite a few emails and messages from folks telling me that, while it was hard to read, they appreciated me posting it. I appreciated that kind of response. But I don’t want that to be the post hanging at the top of the site for too long, so let’s get on to talking about my novel some more.

I was one of three Polis Books authors to be featured yesterday in Library Journal’s 2014 Mystery Preview. That was really kind of cool to see, especially because the three Polis titles were the only digital-first titles to receive specific mention. As someone who used to read these previews every year to decided what I was going to get excited about, I was doubly excited to see this:

And Bryon Quertermous, the commissioning editor for Angry Robot’s crime fiction imprint Exhibit A Books, has written his first novel, Murder Boy (Jun.), a dark satire that is a mix of Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard, and Carl Hiaasen.

I’m still giddy. I’ve been bullish on digital-first publishing for a while but this sort of exposure due to the prestige and connections of my publisher makes me feel even better about it. And speaking of which, there’s a sidebar feature on my editor and publisher, Jason Pinter, in the issue as well.

So once again, I’m very very very happy with my publisher and will repay his faith in me by turning in a great second book (which includes actually finishing said second book of course). I can’t wait for this book to come out. Have I mentioned how happy I am?

Be sure to check in tomorrow to see my answers to that Four Questions meme going around. I’ve been double tagged so I must abide.

Learning Hard Lessons At Other Parents’ Expense

I’m in kind of a weird mood today. Not quite depressed, but funky and contemplative. A little girl died in a freak accident at Spenser’s school yesterday and that sort of stuff always freaks me out. The girl was 9 and I think the only thing that could have made it worse is if she had been Spenser’s age or in his class. But with little kids, or any kids, freak accident is such an awful thing to think about because we can’t control it. This was in the drop-off area of the school and it was something I’d seen a bunch of other kids do. She tried to get back in the car when it started moving and was hit and died in surgery. That’s it. The end. And all I can think about today is that family and how they woke up this morning without their little girl because of a freak accident.

Luckily I haven’t had to explain the full details of this to Spenser. He told me the fire trucks and police cars were there for either monsters or to make sure nobody was blown away by the heavy wind. You can be sure I was very loving with my kids yesterday and this morning and while I hate that it takes other families experiencing tragedy for me to get my priorities in order, it’s a gift I intent not to waste. I struggle with spending enough quality time with the kids and I hope I never have to regret that like this girl’s family is regretting things today.

 

Saturday Photo: Outside Fort Edition

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Today is a gorgeous day outside. The kids convinced me to go play outside with them and this is the fort Spenser  built while he was out there. He builds forts wherever he goes kind of like his dad.

Yesterday I spent most of the day at the hospital with Becky. Since almost immediately after looking at the pee stick and finding out she was pregnant, she’s been horribly, horribly sick. Not just normal morning sick, but it’s like she’s had the death flu for almost two months. We’ve talked to the doctor a few times and tried some different things, but yesterday it got serious enough that everyone decided it was time for her to get to the hospital. They pumped her full of sugar and nutrients from an IV and did some other things I’m sure she’d rather I not disclose and it seemed to work. Hopefully we’ll be out of the woods in another couple of weeks or so on this.

I say we like I’m sick, but this has really been tough on her and I’m more of a sad partner looking in but *we’re* not sick as much as *she’s* sick.

Have I mentioned how happy I am it’s nice out? I wish we had a nice table and chairs out there so I could take my laptop out and write, but I haven’t had a chance to replace what we lost to a wind and lightning storm last summer yet. In time. It’s just spring, we’ve still got summer to look forward to.

A Filler Post I’m Starting With No Idea What It Will Be About That I’m Hoping Turns Into Something Profound

I made some changes to my MURDER BOY page that includes new blurbs from Chris Holm and Anthony Neil Smith. I also updated the descriptive blurb to something less rambly and confusing and more punchy. Anytime I do stuff like that I get more excited about this book. I can’t for this book to come out and mostly for people to start reading it.

The weather is finally starting to come around and I’m on my way out right now for a walk with the kids. We’re waiting for Holly who is freaking out because she’s afraid of ants. I’m happy because ants means it’s warm enough for them not to die which means it’s warm enough for *me* not to die if I go outside.

After that big giant post I wrote about structure and outlining and notes and stuff, I’ve chucked most of it and decided I just want to set myself a goal for 1000 words a day until it’s done. I know the basics of what’s going to happen and this is how I want to write this book. For the next book I write this year (yes, I still want to write two books this year) I will absolutely need to do this kind of pre-planning though as both of the books are of types I have never written before (a cozy or an urban fantasy)

I’ve also been toying with the idea of a post about agents and why I’m not working with one and why I probably won’t be looking to work with one in the near future, but as usual I don’t have my mind wrapped around it enough to generate a decent post.

So that’s what’s in my head tonight and I hope your world is better now for having read it. Go take a walk too, we all need more of it.

Something, Something About Scaffolding Or Pantsing

I meant to write this yesterday, as I had hoped to write here every day in April, but that didn’t happen. Obviously. I took the kids to see Muppets Most Wanted with Spenser’s school and when I got home I felt like someone had flipped off my energy switch and I was nauseated in a stressful way rather than in a sick way. So I went to bed at 9pm and didn’t wake up again until this morning.

But I’ve been thinking about structure lately and this post from Holly West over at Do Some Damage got me thinking about writing about it. In addition to the great post, there is an interesting discussion in the comments with Kristi Belcamino. I’ve adopted Holly and Kristi as my buddies lately as we’re all being digitally published right around the same time.

This post really hit home for me because I’m in the same situation as Holly. I was very lucky to sign a two-book deal for Murder Boy and the next novel in the series, but that means I have to write the next novel in the series. And because one of the benefits of digital-first publishing is a speedy trip through the publishing process, that means I’m writing Book Two under a very tight deadline. And I haven’t been keeping up the pace needed to meet that deadline. So this is where it’s finally time for me to abandon my bullshit ideas about what kind of writer I am and settle into some pre-planning and pre-structure for this book before I go any further with the actual writing.

Chuck Wendig has been a big voice as someone who is a planner by necessity more than by choice. As I want to write two or more novels a year if possible, this is going to be a necessity for me as well. I don’t have the luxury of two years or more to get a draft done. And honestly, I don’t think my work benefits from such a long writing time. The best bits of writing I’ve done have been when I’m writing fast and writing regularly. That’s when I’m really into the story and have a good sense where I am in the story with my daily production. When I write sporadically, it’s hard for me to build up momentum and to keep the world and the characters in my head.

So how to plan? I can’t really outline because my brain really doesn’t work that way, but there is  a lot of middle ground between Roman numeral outlining and flying by the seat of my pants. This is where all of the screenwriting books I’ve read come in handy. I want to first just open a file and jot down all of the thoughts I’ve had running around in my head and that I’ve chatted with folks about to get them in one coherent place. This is where I’ll lay out what I want to accomplish with the book, what kind of themes I want to touch on and what kind of character and plot moments I want to write.

From there I want to do what Lew Hunter calls the Two Minute Movie. This is basically a two page summary of the story with roughly half a page being devoted to each of the four major acts of the story. I’ve always done some version of this with every book I’ve written just so I have at least three major plot points to aim for so I’m not wandering aimlessly. But I think a longer discussion of these plot points will be very beneficial to keep me moving and inspired when the story flags.

The next step is one I’ve never done before, but I think is necessary for me to write quickly and not waste the limited amount of writing time I have. I want to take the Two Minute Movie and break it down even further into a beat sheet. Rather than a full chapter-by-chapter or scene-by-scene breakdown of the story, this will break down the major beats of the story. Whether a beat takes up an entire chapter or if a chapter is made up of multiple beats is something that will be figured out during the writing, but I need more than just three points to work with for this book to happen the way I’d like. Again, back to Lew Hunter, he estimates that a step outline or beat sheet should have between 30-45 beats. As this is how many chapters my novels tend to have I think it should work out well for me.

This could all fall apart of course, but I’m excited about it for now and my process up to the point has been so flawed that a major change is needed. As always, I will discuss it endlessly here for your instruction and amusement.

My Tiara’s Too Tight And Other Stuff I Can’t Complain About

Today was one of those days that I have to try very hard not to complain about. Because no matter how rough my days are, when it comes down to it I’m working from home doing something I love and even the low days (disclosure: a low day do to my own screw up I might add) are better than the best days at my old job. But it does make me wonder about kids who have unrealistic expectations of what a dream job should be.

I saw one of those stupid Internet polls that listed a bunch of jobs that don’t even feel like work. Well this job was on there and let me tell you, today it really felt like work. But again, I’m still in my bathrobe and was able to do this all from home so I’m very aware of how lucky I am.

Last night we went to my niece’s school program and had fun. She’s a few years older than Spenser and has always been one of our honorary kids. Having her come around made me sure I could handle three kids and in fact, showed me I kind of want three kids. But the event also made me realize how much I hate being around other parents. They’re so hyper competitive and don’t seem to be having any fun at these things. I hope I don’t come off that way. When Spenser started kindergarten I initially want to be an involved parent and volunteer and do PTO and such, but man, just one look at the Facebook page of the school and I started getting hives.

Anyway, we do live in a great school distract and this is petty stuff for the most part that plays to my general dislike of people more than anything else. So again, it’s hard to complain especially considering there are schools close to us where parents don’t show up or can’t show up for these things.

Finally, The Announcement: The Kids Will Out Number The Parents in Nine Months (or less)

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That’s right, we got another one coming. And I’m happy to report that this is the first one that hasn’t freaked me out.  When Becky told me she was pregnant with Spenser I had a meltdown and went out and drove around angry for a while because I was very selfish and not ready to give up serving my own needs for those of another. And then when I finally got used to Spenser being around and being a dad, we had Holly pop up and I did the same thing. Meltdown, then angry drive.

But with this one,  I was actually happy. I was out cleaning the van after returning from our Florida vacation and she came running out in the cold to show me the stick. The kids were the ones who freaked out and thought something was wrong. And now that the first official doctor’s appointment is out of the way and we have a strong heart beat, etc. The time has come to tell the world.

Consider yourself told.

I’m hoping for a girl myself. And Becky has been sick enough for us to think that’s a strong possibility. I mean REALLY sick. It’s been pretty miserable for her.

So yeah, wow. More kids. Me. God help us all.

I’m Not Writing About What I Really Want To Because No One Will Believe It Today

I detest April Fool’s Day. In addition to the annoyance of not being to post an exciting announcement because I’m afraid people will think it’s a joke, it gives me nightmares back to elementary school and junior high when I was bullied a lot and the victim of a lot of these “pranks.” Kids would be real dicks to me and when I finally snapped and called them out on it, I always heard “it’s just a joke.”

Bullshit.

April Fool’s Day is just a sanctioned and organized day for bullying.  Sure, some people do it right (like Google, I love to see what Google will be up to on this day) but the vast majority of people abuse it and I hate it. Really, really hate it. The Internet and Facebook and Twitter are so full of misinformed garbage day-to-day that adding an extra layer of crap on top of that is more than I’m able to tolerate.

I really do hate this day so much.

Come back tomorrow for an exciting announcement.