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?
NaNoWriMo is poised to begin – only two more days of fretting about the project before we have to dig in and actually do it. My NaNoWriMo project for this year is Cryogens, a science fiction mystery about the future.
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s an online challenge (google it) to write a 50,000 word first draft (that’s only 1667 words per day) during the month of November. It’s a gas! If you commit, you will learn a great deal about yourself as a writer, and perhaps even have a book when you’re done. I have done this once before (2012) and the result was a 32,444 word “mysterical adventure” entitled The Extra Body. It was the first time I started a book with no idea what it was about, who the characters might be, or where it was going to go. I have quite enough to do in my daily life without adding NaNoWriMo pressure, and wasn’t planning to do it again this year, but something happened while I was casting about for a story idea.
Looking through some old notes, I discovered a worn and torn manila envelope dated 1972 that had some scribbled notes for Cryogens. It’s a story that has been in waiting for years. 1972! Can you imagine? The story had never been written, but it was a good idea then and still is. I didn’t write it then because I was too young; I didn’t know enough about people or the world. Perhaps I was involved in other projects – like trying to earn a living as a photographer. But now, with many more years under my belt (which is of somewhat greater diameter), I feel I can write the story of the people I invented so long ago. NaNoWriMo 2014 is the perfect opportunity.
So I’ve been scribbling more notes on my iPad, emailing them to myself, and picking them up in OpenOfficeWriter for editing. (BTW, I’m going write the book in OpenOfficeWriter instead of MS-Word. I’m sick of Microsoft’s system “enhancements” and arrogance. So this year — lots of challenges.)
Who else is coming along for the ride? Want a writing challenge? NaNoWriMo might just be it.
(Boy, this sure reads like an advert for NaNoWriMo. It started out to be about Cryogens, but seems to have gone off track. Oh, well. Best of intentions…)
After two years in the gestation and writing, my book on how to write a believable mystery is finally out. I never did get that arts grant to write it, so, as I have in the past when my plans were frustrated, I plowed ahead with the project anyway. I did it with the magazines I edited and published. I’ve done it with self-publishing after years of trying to get in agents’ and editors’ front doors. Now I’ve done it again.
Since writers are always interested in improving their craft, Mystery Mastery is bound to help a few at least. The goal of the book isn’t to tell people “the rules” for writing. I don’t believe there are any iron-clad rules beyond Heinlein’s “Write” and “Finish what you write.”
Mystery Mastery is designed to set people thinking about their writing. The book is packed with useful and challenging exercises to do exactly that. There are exercises for character and plot development, types of characters, setting, weapons, research, and much more. Sure, it’s my theories on the writing process, but this is a book designed to set people into motion.
The book is available from Amazon or directly from me.
Commence to writing, people!
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.