‘Ozias, Prince in Peril’–Nearing the Finish Line

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Will King Ozias finally claim his throne? How hard will Maressa fight him for it?

I don’t know if I can do it in a week, but I’m this close to finding out. Traitors have been betrayed, civil war looms, and I know how the story ends but of course I dare not tell you. I’m working hard to get there.

I offer a tip of the hat to Thomas B. Costain, whose histories of the rise and fall of the Plantagenet dynasty have guided me along the way; and to Jack Pullman and his brilliant screenplay for I, Claudius. Edgar Rice Burroughs taught me how to keep the chapters flowing.

The lesson for aspiring writers is easily stated: read. The more you read, the more you can write. I’d be here all day if I saluted all the writers whose work has inspired my own.

Gotta Get This Book Finished!

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It’s raining again, it always rains, and I have got to finish Ozias, Prince in Peril. 

I’ve got the ending. What I don’t have is the logistics. It’s a matter of getting the characters into the places where they have to be to end this story and in position to start the next–Ozias, Prince Enthroned.

It’s not easy. I’ve got to get this character out of Lintum Forest, this one into the city, these others out of the city, etc., etc. I’ve got a civil war to stop before it gets going, villains to thwart, heroes to uphold, a queen to rescue–and I’ve got to get it all done in no more than three or four more chapters. Then I can collapse.

I hope Prince Ozias appreciates it!


Totally Out of Gas

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Write your blog! Go to the pharmacy! Write your Newswithviews! Finished? Good–now get busy on your book!

Man, I don’t think that I can do that…

I am exceedingly tired. Oh, to be sixty again. They tell me Behold! (Bell Mountain No. 14) is at the printer’s now but being held up by “supply chain issues.” It’s not like there’s any urgency about finishing Ozias, Prince in Peril; but I would like to get it done and have some time off before I start writing the next book.

I’m so tempted to let go this afternoon and have another cigar.

Writing Tips: Minor Characters Are Not So Minor

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If you’re writing a novel, you might want to have the whole thing planned out in advance before you start to write it. But I don’t do it that way.

Ask yourself this: Are you a “minor character”? Your book will be full of them. Maybe it’s someone who comes onstage for just a moment to say “Here are the gum boots that you ordered, madam,” and then exits, never to be heard from again. It’s a minor character, and you don’t even need to provide him with a name.

But he has one. He has a life. In his own way, which may never show up in your novel, he has importance.

And if it turns out that you’ll need him again–well, there he is.

This happens a lot for me, in my books. A character has a walk-on, but it turns out to be much more than that: he may even develop into a major character. Orth started out as just a henchman of Lord Reesh; but now he’s Lord Orth, the First Prester. Duke Esdras, confined to a wheelchair, will produce the climax of my current book, Ozias, Prince in Peril. I needed someone to do that, and there he was. Most of your minor characters will remain minor–but you never know. Don’t be too quick to dismiss them!

[And yes, I still have no access to my stats page, no idea of how many views I’ve got today, and heaping piles of frustration.]

Coincidence… Or Providence?

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When I sit down to work on a novel, it’s usually with no preconceptions for that day. I start with a prayer asking the Lord to give me the story and to help me tell it. There’s much to be said for mapping out everything in advance; but I don’t do it that way.

I reckoned I needed, oh, five more chapters to finish Ozias, Prince in Peril; but I didn’t know how to end the book. I had only the faintest wisps of an idea for that. And I needed someone to perform the climactic act.

That would be Chapter Set No. 7. Bowing to the cold weather, I stepped back from No. 7 and thought I’d better type up, edit, and polish sets 5 and 6.

So there I am, typing up the first chapter of the 5th set–and bam! I run smack-dab into the very man I need to shape the climax and carry it out. There he was, written up two months ago, just waiting for me to call on him.

What was he doing in the book, in the first place? Well, he was a very minor character and I was using him as an observer, so that the reader could see things that he sees. An old duke whose battling days are far behind him. He’s in a kind of wheelchair.

And he’s just perfect for the part that it turns out I need him to play!

I mean, how cool is that? How does that even happen? I create these minor characters and the next thing I know, I’m giving them big jobs. They’re not so minor, after all.

It’s one of those things that makes my books fun to write. I hope they’re just as much fun to read.

Writing in the Cold

Is This Serious? Why Are My Hands & Feet Always Cold?

I’ve just come in from writing outside, finishing another set of chapters for Ozias, Prince in Peril. It’s December 1 and my hands are cold, cold, cold! The book is going well, but at a price.

So now I’m under wifely orders not to do this anymore: write indoors, we don’t want you getting sick! I guess I’d better listen, eh?

One more chapter set ought to do it, although I don’t yet have any idea of a climax. Ozias, Prince Enthroned is next up, but that will have to wait till spring. If I can somehow finish this one before Christmas, I’ll rejoice. But I haven’t written any fiction indoors for years now, so this’ll be a challenge.

I can only pray my work will be fruitful in His service, Amen.


Stopped By The Weather

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Well, it’s really cold today! Not expected to climb out of the 40s, and the sky just about completely overcast. The weather just has not played ball with me this year.

I don’t know how I’m going to write out there. Probably I can’t. Even if I tough it out, it’s now cold enough to stop the ink from coming out of the pen.

I hear crows, though. Something’s got them worked up. If I were Helki, I’d understand what they were saying. Just being me, I suspect it’s something like “C’mon out here, you sucker!”

All right, I’ll try. Let’s see how long I last.

[Well, I managed to write three pages before my hands got numb, and that’s three more than I thought I could.  Queen Parella is having more excitement than she bargained for.]

The Frozen Writer (That’s Me)

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We had frost last night, but the sun came out today so I was out there again, plugging away at writing Ozias, Prince in Peril. Let no one tell you writing novels is an easy job: my father used to call it “the life of Riley.” I got pretty sick of Mr. Riley after a time.

Maybe it was as high as 50 degrees, although I doubt it. In my novel, winter’s just about over and spring is coming. If only! Meanwhile the villains are trying to hunt down Prince Ozias–now king by right, but the Bad Guys hold the palace and the city–and haul Queen Parella out of Lintum Forest, spy-mistress Gwenlann is trying to stop them… and after writing three pages, I was ready to go back to bed with all the covers over me. But this is my calling and I have to do my best.

Some of my friends wonder why I continue to write outdoors when I could just stay inside and do it. My reasons are these: trees, wildflowers, sky, clouds, birds, bees, squirrels, and being able to smoke my cigar without stinking up our dining area. Plus no phone calls.

‘I, Claudius’ to the Rescue

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Derek Jacobi in the title role

You know, it’s amazing the way things somehow work out without your having planned them that way. I think we can attribute that to God’s providence.

Trying to finish writing Ozias, Prince in Peril before the cold weather sets in, I hit another snag in the story and didn’t know how to proceed. At the same time, my wife and I bought I, Claudius, the award-winning series that tells the story of the Roman emperor who tried to restore the Republic.

Voila! Inspiration! I, Claudius was just what I needed to move me along within the story I was telling.

Not that I copy from it, mind you–it doesn’t work that way. But the shenanigans and machinations of Rome’s imperial family–which are, after all, history–shed light on the situation in my fantasy kingdom of Obann. This is not easy to explain. Once upon a time, writers called it “following the muse.”

Inspiration comes from many sources. Shakespeare’s Richard III, for instance, often reminds me of our own day’s politics. Certainly I, Claudius does. We used to laugh at it, when it came out in the 1970s. But in 2022 it’s a little bit too close for comfort. Not so funny anymore.

Anyway, I’m out of the snag and back in action.

King Ozias’ Mighty Men

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I had fun writing this today!

Ozias, still a boy, has emerged from Lintum Forest with a band of 21 picked men. Their mission is to elude Maressa the usurper’s forces while proving to the people of Obann that they have a rightful king.

My model for this chapter was 2 Samuel 23: 8-38, the roster of King David’s “mighty men of valor.” (Thanks to Heidi for suggesting this, back in the summer.) Two of Ozias’ mighty men, brothers, are clever thieves who once stole a comrade’s shadow (but gave it back, once they’d shown that they could do it). But it would spoil the fun to list them all here.

I’m racing the seasons again, trying to finish Ozias, Prince in Peril before winter sets in. As yet I have no idea where or how to bring this story to a close. All I know is that Ozias will have to grow to young manhood before I launch the second book, Ozias, Prince Enthroned. The villains I’ve created–or, let me say, that God gave me–will not easily be parted from their power.

But at least the people of Obann won’t have to rely on an election.