By Request, ‘Great Is His Faithfulness’

Erlene, I hope this is the hymn you wanted: there was some confusion on YouTube between Thy and His.

Great Is His Faithfulness, sung by the Collingsworth Family.

It’s going to be a very busy day around here, I guess–but we always start with a hymn.

A Writer’s Resource: Other Writers

Tolkien and Lewis: A friendship | Angelus News

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

I was in a jam last year, trying to write The Ocean of Time. I knew it would require a double climax, but I didn’t know how to pull it off.

For no conscious reason, I began to reread Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Not that I was trying to follow him, or imitate him–but suddenly my own book got very much easier to write! I managed the double climax, and by the time I was done, I thought I’d written my best Bell Mountain book ever.

Now I’m writing Ozias, Prince in Peril–and it looks like the guide that has emerged is C.S. Lewis’ trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength). This conviction has been strongly reinforced by a study of the trilogy, Deeper Heaven by Christiana Hale. So while I’m writing my own book, I think I need to be reading these four books.

Not to copy them in any way–that’s not how it works. A writer who tries to do that will damage his art. Actually, I’m not quite sure how this works. Somehow Lewis’ stories are giving me a clearer vision of my own. Writing novels is kind of weird, that way. I sort of wanted to revisit Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels, but the pull of Lewis’ trilogy is too strong to resist. Something’s telling me just to go with it. I was temped to call it “my instinct,” but that gives me too much credit. I do ask God to guide me in my work; and I think my prayers are answered.


‘I Love My Characters’ (2018)

The Cellar Beneath the Cellar (Bell Mountain, 2) by [Lee Duigon]

Ellayne at work in Book 2

I’ve written almost 100 pages of my new book, Ozias, Prince in Peril, and have had to meet a whole new cast of characters–’cause it’s 2,000 years before the events described in my other Bell Mountain books.

I Love My Characters

I say I “meet” my characters because that’s what it feels like. It’s like they’re already there, waiting to come into the story.  I take pains NOT to pattern them on real people. Let that mask slip just once, and your book is toast.

Queen Maressa has already shown herself a top-flight villain; but can she outwit Lady Gwenlann, the scatterbrained wardrobe mistress who controls the late king’s spy network? (“Scatterbrained” is only an act.) There’s the little fat man, Mallen, who heads a troupe of actors: Maressa wants to buy them. And of course Queen Parella, Prince Ozias’ mother, written off my Maressa as “that goose-girl,” but with a lot of gumption to her.

Dagnabbit, writing a novel is fun! And if it isn’t, you’re doing it wrong.

‘Ozias’ Comes to Life

Medieval warriors fighting on a hilltop by ATWStock | VideoHive

Despite losing a whole day last week to allergies, Ozias, Prince in Peril seems to be shaping up very nicely. I’ve got eight chapters written, and already populated with a dozen major characters. They hear their cues and come onstage: I feel like I don’t have much of a say in it.

Friday I had to make up some lost ground, and it was 96 degrees at the time. Patty came out and asked, “Aren’t you hot?”

“Yes, I’m hot!” And that was that, had to retreat indoors to the air conditioning.

Hint to budding young writers: Maybe the worst thing any writer can do is make the story be about himself, thinly disguised as its protagonist. “I’m a macho stud he-man!” is a mindset guaranteed to destroy your fiction.

I strive to be invisible to the reader, to remove all obstacles between the reader and the story… so if you’re reading my book, you can be there! This effect is not easy to achieve; but read a lot, write a lot, work hard at it, and eventually you’ll get it.

And for heaven’s sake, let your characters be themselves! Never mind about paying back that bum who bugged you in third grade; frankly, the reader doesn’t care. And neither should you.

Where Do My Characters Come From?

Jacobean Drama & Theatre: An Overview Of Drama Of The Era

An Elizabethan stage play

If you write novels, people are bound to ask, “Where do your characters come from?”

Well, I write fantasy, so “write what you know” is out. Model characters after real people. But I’ve never met any kings, outlaws, hermits, or barbarian chieftains, so that’s out, too.

I don’t know where my characters come from!

It’s the truth. It’s as if the book were a stage set up for a play, with the characters all waiting in the wings for their cues to come onstage. They already know their lines! They know what they’re supposed to do. Pop goes the cue, and “Enter Lady Gwenlann,” who appears to be a scatterbrained wardrobe mistress but in reality is in charge of all the king’s spies. Cue again, and “Enter Jocky,” the king’s fool.

Really, it’s just as if the characters were already signed up and waiting to play their parts… and I didn’t have much to do with it. I need ’em, and there they are.

This is one of those things that makes writing fun. You don’t have to do it this way, but I’ve come to enjoy it.

First Chapter Set: Done!

King's Armor Deal

King Flosi I, “the Hammer”

I don’t have a title for it yet, but I’ve finished seven chapters of my new book on the life of King Ozias and I’ve got to type them up and send them to Susan for editing.

I think it’s going well. Main characters have come onstage on cue and already established themselves. Ozias is only eight years old, but desperate adventures await him.

Again, I have asked the Lord to give me the story as He wants me to tell it. I’m sure it will surprise me.

Writing a Novel Is Fun!

Pet-Friendly Jackson Hole - Jackson Hole Traveler

Waterly must be something like this.

I can’t contain myself: the first 34 pages of my new book strike me as just fine. I don’t have a title for it yet. I had The Red Queen in mind, but Patty said that that would just make people think “Alice in Wonderland.” So that’s a no-go. I hope I come up with something before Prince Ozias grows a beard.

I love the way new characters come out of who-knows-where and settle into the story as if they’d been waiting for it all along. My wife loves King Flosi II and Queen Parella, Ozias’ father and mother. And Lady Gwenlann, who’s in charge of all the spies but known to most people as just a rather scatterbrained wardrobe mistress. And Ozias himself, of course. He’s only ten years old so far.

Today I wrote mostly about Waterly, the queen’s lodge in Lintum Forest and Ozias’ favorite place. I think I’d like to spend a few weeks there.

What can I say? I’m falling in love with the book. I pray every day that the Lord will guide me in writing it and make my work fruitful in His service.

(P.S.–Where the dickens did my picture go? I’m not seeing it at my end.)

A New Book… Under Way

Bell Mountain (Bell Mountain, 1)

It’s hard to describe the feelings I had, watching Katheleen’s Bell Mountain video and hearing my story and my characters talked about on-screen. It’s a blast.

Meanwhile, I’ve complete three chapters of my new book. It hasn’t got a title yet, but some of the main characters are already settling in and taking shape–young Queen Parella, Ozias’ mother; his father, King Flosi II (who is more trusting than is good for him), and Gwenlann the scatterbrained wardrobe mistress, whom no one suspects is the king’s spymaster. Don’t let anyone tell you that writing a novel isn’t fun! It’s certainly a lot more fun than covering the nooze.

My earlier books give me plenty of hints to help me tell the story, but I know there’ll be a lot of surprises on the way.

I’m going to read to Patty what I’ve got so far. I hope she likes it as much as I do.


My Next Book

Battles in the Wars of the Roses |

I’m boning up on the Wars of the Roses because I really want to write the life of King Ozias, King Ryons’ ancestor, the last anointed king of Obann. Ozias, who wrote many of the Sacred Songs and was spiritually sustained by them, was born into a turbulent and dangerous time.

His father, the gentle and easygoing King Flosi II, lost his throne to treason. His mother, Queen Parella, escaped to Lintum Forest with her child, the crown prince. For most of his boyhood Ozias learned the ways of the forest and how to survive there. The usurpers in Obann City sought again and again to murder him, and he and his mother had many narrow escapes.

Quite a few readers have noted the resemblances between Ozias and David. It has always been my intention that they should. Both kings put their trust in God. And attentive readers know it was Ozias, in obedience to the words of a prophet, Batha the Seer, who erected God’s Bell on the summit of Bell Mountain.

Anyway, there’s a lot to this story and when the weather decides to cooperate, I look forward to telling it.

Even if it takes more than one book.

‘Lead On, O King Eternal’

I’ve received no hymn requests today so far, so I’m on my own again. I’ll go with one that came into my mind last night–Lead On, O King Eternal. Here we have it sung by the Hastings College Choir.

(Where is everybody? Did I miss a day?)