I’ve been postponing working on this book for several years. I’ve used all sorts of techniques, including working on other Ben Bones adventures and cranking out several other books and lots of short stories. But suddenly this past week, some of the unsolved plot issues have become clear to me.
The Ben Bones stories all begin in a historical event. Ben is called in to solve a conundrum in the present that was caused by that long ago event. And each book is built around a greatly detailed fictional family genealogy that I build to support the story and establish the present day relationships between the characters.
In Ben Bones & The Uncivil War, the precipitating event is the Civil War, the War Between the States. The featured family is split by two brothers who go to fight on opposite sides. I’ve known about this conflict for several years, from the time I first wanted to do this story. I knew how the brothers acted in battle, and I knew that a descendant of the Federal soldier returns to Dublin, Virginia to reconnect with the original family on its home ground. Needless to say, it couldn’t go well.
The other morning I awoke with new knowledge about what happens to the returning descendant and the family members who still live on the ancestral farm. The lights are finally on and I’m home. I can now write the story. Ideas are flowing and the words rush to the keyboard from my fingertips. It’s a great feeling. Another Ben Bones adventure (misadventure?) is a’borning… creeping in the night…
Ben Bones & The Conventional Murders proofing is done (again) and I’ve ordered a second proof from CreateSpace. It’s been a slog, but I have confidence in the story, the quality of the writing, my writer’s “voice.” It’s a good little book. You see, it all begins when Ben goes to Asheville, North Carolina to attend a genealogical convention. He’s planning a relaxed weekend with professional colleagues, but the bodies begin to pile up. Why? Is it the $100,000 book contract that’s up for grabs? The bastardy bond problem soon after the Civil War and Emancipation? Professional jealousies? Sheer cussedness? You’ll have to read the book to find out. It’s available as a physical book and on Kindle.
And now, I’m digging into the re-plotting of Ben Bones & The Uncivil War. This one deals with wartime betrayal and two brothers who decide to fight on opposite sides. But that’s only where the story begins. Ben Bones lives in the present, and it’s here and now that he has to deal with the ramifications of the betrayal, people’s jealousies, and a war that some people simply refuse to let go of.
Meanwhile, I’ve discovered issues at benbones.com. Looks like I have to rebuild the website. OMG, indeed! There’s never an end to all this, is there?
I read through a few of my older posts and discovered some promises and unfinished projects. In particular, I see that I was promising to work on Ben Bones & The Uncivil War, but that book is still unfinished. It’s in the same condition as it was when the post was written back in Feb, 2014. I have successfully avoided working on it by working on other projects.
The Embezzler Didn’t is still not done either. It’s still a good idea, still about a third to one half finished, and I’m stuck for what to do to the characters next. I even threw an earthquake at them to shake the story up. A great idea, and it worked wonderfully, but I still have the same characters with the same animosities toward one another, but with their physical challenges changed a bit. What are they going to do next? I dunno.
Mystery Mastery is finished, complete with a created-by-hand index. That’s out now, though sales are still pitiful. I have no plans to quit my day job just yet… though the desire is big.
BB & The Conventional Murders is almost (!) complete. The story is written and edited, the appendices are done except for the genealogical charts which I can’t seem to print to pdf correctly, and I’m not satisfied with the cover. Perhaps by the end of 2014, he mused.
So I have to say that although some projects aren’t done, others have been completed. I have not been wasting my time. Well, not ALL my time anyway. Read on, gentle reader.
I’ve been wanting to do a short Ben Bones story and I’ve been wanting to also deal with pseudocide (faked death). This has definitely been a way-in-the-back burner idea. There are other, more pregnant (pardon the expression) projects to be dealt with first.
Nonetheless, this morning in my hypnagogic state, there were a bunch of the pseudocide story elements showing themselves and wanting to be written about. I still don’t have the whole idea in my head, but the kettle is now bubbling. I don’t yet have a plot, but the severed finger in the tooled leather box is there for sure. Gosh, I wonder what’s going to happen…
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’ve received my 2nd proof of Ben Bones & The Galleon of Gold, made my few corrections, and uploaded a new interior pdf. As soon as CreateSpace approves it, I’ll order some copies. There are a few “thank you” copies that I have to send to people, as well as having a stock on hand to sell to my local libraries and such. We live in exciting times.
I spent about 7.5 hours today riding my mouse around in PhotoShop and the Createspace website making Ben Bones and The Galleon of Gold happen. As usual, it was a slog, but most of the work is done. Of course, after I reached the point where interior and cover had been uploaded in pdf form, I discovered that the wording in the back cover blurb could have been more elegant. I went back in and fixed the cover but Createspace had my project locked for review and I wasn’t able to upload the improved version. That’ll be another day or so of interminable waiting.
I had put completing this project off for several months. I didn’t have faith in it. Yes, the book had been written, thoroughly gone through by my crit group (WNCMysterians.org), but I felt that something was missing. I wanted more red herrings, more terrible things to happen, and I didn’t want my perp to be so obvious so early. Too bad for me. I finally decided that it was clogging my psyche and I had to get rid of it, even if it wasn’t as strong as the other Ben Bones adventures. Now I can turn my mind to other projects. The next one will be better.
Not to change the subject, but… I’ve developed a strategy that helps convince me I’m a writer even during my fallow periods. I write short stories in between the bigger projects. This past week I finished a horrifying little thing that made me very uncomfortable while writing. You see, I had a title: Victim de Jour, and I knew there had to be a story in it. Someone had said it in passing and I grabbed it and carried it around in my head for a few weeks before forcing myself to sit down and type it on a page. What developed from that title was just short of 1200 words, but it was so disturbing to write that I knew I had something good. The Mysterians will have at it in a couple of days and I can’t wait to hear what they say. I told them I wanted to hear the sounds they made when they first read it. One of them has already said she couldn’t get through it on her first try and had to put it down. Truly a jewel!