Well, how about a book update, then? And meanwhile the latest addition to my Bell Mountain series, His Mercy Endureth Forever, doesn’t seem to have quite hit the mark on amazon.com.
Every day it doesn’t rain, I’m outside, writing Behold!, longhand on a legal pad. I got a nice piece of it done this morning.
But if you’re going to ask me, “Behold what?”, I’m afraid I don’t yet know. The title just popped into my head, so I used it. I suppose I could change the title, but I like to write these books according to the guidance I receive from the Lord, day by day. So I still don’t know what anybody in the story is going to behold. I’ve been in this situation many times before, though, and the Lord has never left me hanging.
Sometimes writing a novel is like playing chess. You have all these pieces to move, and if you can steer them into the right configuration, you’ll be in position to deliver checkmate. In the novel you’re moving characters, not chessmen; and for the story to turn out right, each character has to be moved into the right place to deliver the story’s climax.
With this book I feel like something’s got to come together soon because the warm weather won’t last but a month or two longer and I just can’t write fiction indoors. Too many distractions. But if it’s really cold outside, the ink won’t come out of my pen.
Yes, that’s our friend and colleague Joshua Swanson, with his translation of my book, Bell Mountain, into Japanese. Majikayo! (That’s the Japanese equivalent of “Holy dow!” I looked it up.) C’mon–is that cool or what? You can also get the book in Portuguese.
Well, Joshua did this project all by himself, with some editing help from his mother, and I would go outside and do a cartwheel if I thought my knee could stand it.
And if you haven’t read Bell Mountain yet, what are you waiting for–Sanskrit?
I went outside early today because I thought it might rain, torched a cigar (as Mike Shayne used to do so well), and settled down to work on Behold!, Book No. 14 in my Bell Mountain series.
I wasn’t expecting much from this scene, it was just Prester Jod having breakfast with a guest whose identity I can’t divulge without committing a spoiler. I had to get on to something more exciting, and, as is my custom, asked the Lord to give me the story that He wants me to tell.
Well, He certainly did that. The plot suddenly shot off in a new direction. It was something I’d been thinking of, on and off, but as yet had no idea how to pull it off. Next thing I knew, it practically wrote itself. And I had the excitement I’d been looking for, finding it in an unexpected place.
I really love it when a book does that.
Now I have to stop and work on a book review for Chalcedon; but it was a lovely place to stop.
G’day! Byron here, with an important announcement.
There are only 300 comments to go before we hit 65,000! And whoever posts that milestone comment wins a prize. Either an autographed copy of Lee’s new book, His Mercy Endureth Forever…
Or, if you prefer, an autographed fli-back, paddle ball toy for those of you who are as daft as he is.
He’ll autograph that, too, so no one will think you went out to the Five & Ten and bought it yourself just so you could say you won it. I know a certain wallaby who does that… I don’t know who he thinks he’s fooling anymore.
And all you have to do to win either of these fantastic prizes is to post a comment! (Not just any comment. It has to be Comment No. 65,000. Thought I’d better clear that up.)
I won Global E-Book Awards for the first two books in the series. The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, pictured here, shows the skill of artist Kirk DouPonce at its uncanniest: if that girl on the cover isn’t really Ellayne from the book, then something very spooky’s going on here.
There’s somebody walking around out there who’s supposed to live in my book.
How soon can we get to 65,000 comments? At the moment, we have 64,205–that’s just 795 to go.
The lucky winner will get an autographed copy of Bell Mountain No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever. Or you can win a paddle ball toy, if you’d prefer. But the book has giant hyenas in it. That’s got to count for something.
The book’s not selling that well, blog traffic has trickled down to 2015 levels, and I have no idea what to do to pump things up around here. I am advised not to resort to using click bait or misleading headlines. How about more recipes by some guy who can’t cook? That would be me.
I wonder if the nooze has made enough people depressed enough so that it reaches all the way down to this obscure blog and depresses the viewership. That’s just a theory. I welcome your speculations.
Oy vay, it’s hot today! But if I want to keep on writing Behold!, I’ve got to take the heat. What I wouldn’t give, though, to be out on that boat with Gurun, with cold water splashing my face.
Unexpectedly, it seems the wine of Durmurot will have a role in moving my plot forward. My wife has developed a taste for the golden wine of Durmurot, but you can’t get it around here. Heck, we can’t even get American-grown parsley, these days.
We had a couple of cooler days last week, and that left us unprepared to face the return of the perishingly hot weather. I’ve just been out there finishing up a chapter, and I’m knackered. Time for an enormous glass of iced tea.
Elijah Holsten’s sister, Faith, 12 years old, has asked me for some writing tips. In the spirit of today’s weather, Tip No. 1 is simple: Just keep at it. If your work that day isn’t all it could be, you can always smarten it up later. That’s why my first draft is always written longhand, on a legal pad. Keep the story moving. Stylistic niceties I add when I move on to the typed draft I’ll submit to my editor.
If your characters don’t connect with your readers, your book won’t work, your story will fall flat.
I introduced the fierce old Abnak sub-chief, Uduqu, in Book No. 2, The Cellar Beneath the Cellar. I liked him and kept him around. And in Book No. 7, The Glass Bridge, he took part in a desperate battle.
I won’t forget how my wife and my editor reacted when they thought I’d killed off this character. They were about ready to scalp me. Sheesh, what was I thinking! But they only had to read a few more paragraphs before they learned Uduqu was all right, after all.
There are characters who walk into the story just to do some little thing and then wind up staying to do a lot of things, and growing, and getting you attached to them. With 12 Bell Mountain novels published so far, there are of necessity an awful lot of characters.
Why am I talking about this when I have to crank out a Newswithviews column? Oh, I don’t know. Do I feel a need to justify populating my books with all those characters?
Well, heck, it’s a history–like Livy’s history of Rome. Count up all the characters in Livy sometime. True, the history of Obann, in my books, is fictional. Some uncharitable souls have said the same of Livy. Not to mention Geoffrey of Monmouth, and Herodotus. I guess if you don’t like their histories, you won’t like mine, either. But there’s something to be said for a book that’s stayed in print since 400 B.C.
[Confidential to “Unknowable”: I hear you, brother!]
Agatha Christie kept writing Hercule Poirot for many years after she got tired of him, mostly because readers wanted him. Ditto Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes: when Doyle killed off Holmes, readers practically rose up in arms and forced him to bring Holmes back. And Edgar Rice Burroughs kept writing Tarzan long, long after he’d lost all interest in the character… because Tarzan paid the bills.
Lately I’ve been hearing from people who say enough’s enough already, please, no more Bell Mountain books! Happily none of them are my editors or publishers. But if the readers are tired of my books, what excuse would I have to keep on writing them?
Twelve of the books have been published, with No. 13 waiting in the wings and No. 14 being written. No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever, has not been well received. Even though it has giant hyenas in it.
A few comments don’t constitute a groundswell of non-support. Then again, several books ago, I wasn’t getting any “too much” comments at all.
So I have to decide what’s right to do. I pray for guidance. I listen to what readers have to say.
(No! I am not going to switch over to Oy, Rodney…)
We are under another heat advisory today, and I doubt I’ll have the opportunity to lie down in a nest of ice cubes. I could try, I suppose.
But the business at hand is to proceed with writing Behold! The Lord hasn’t yet shown me where this story’s headed–just a few tantalizing hints. What’s going to happen with those strange ships off the coast of Durmurot? Ebed the spy, who’s maybe eleven years old, is the only one who can find out…
Am I writing this so I don’t have to go outside?
Grab the pen, legal pad, and cigar–and go to work!