Things are not so pleasant here, just now–Patty’s hernia, we really need to get that operation–so please pardon me for blowing my own horn a little.
Here’s a review of The Cellar Beneath the Cellar–No. 2 in my Bell Mountain series–by a reader in Australia. He really liked it! Well, why not? The book won a silver medal for fantasy.
A Rave Review for ‘Cellar Beneath the Cellar’
While you’re at it, please send up a prayer for us. We need one.
It’s time to check on my books’ impact on their readers. I could wind up, here, with a lot of egg on my face if hardly anybody responds to this question:
Who is your favorite Bell Mountain character?
I remember, when I was writing The Temple, how upset my wife and my editor were when they thought I’d killed off Chief Uduqu. I had no idea how much they liked him. I thought of Sir Walter Scott, whose printer rebelled when Scott (in Ivanhoe) killed off Athelstane. He had to write a new scene bringing the old duffer back to life. Happily, Uduqu wasn’t dead: he’d just fallen asleep on the battlefield after tremendous exertions.
Anyway, so who’s your favorite character in these books? There are a couple hundred to choose from!
I can’t guess who will get the most votes… although I do have one pretty strong suspicion.
Huffin’ and puffin’, I’ve finally crossed the finish line. Ozias, Prince in Peril–all 51 chapters of it–is finished!
I shall celebrate with a Cadbury Creme Egg.
Of course, now I have to type it all up, edit and polish it, and send it off to Susan, my editor. It’s a big job. I’d like a bit of snow to pep me up for it.
Meanwhile, yes, Patty has a hernia, we’ve found a doctor, she’ll see him next week and hopefully we’ll then know what’s what. Please pray for us.
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.
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!
Here are Jack and Ellayne with their donkey, Ham, meeting Obst, the hermit of Lintum Forest. I love these pictures by Katheleen and Kerolyn, our girls from Brazil… and I wonder if we could ever get them into the book someday. But first we’d have to sell out the current edition of Bell Mountain!
I don’t have much to show in the way of sales; but I do have gifted young readers who’ve done honor to my work. I’ll try to live up to it.
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.]
This is an article about how my Bell Mountain novels came to be written. Hopefully it will ignite an irresistible desire to buy them–and read them.
I was hoping Behold! (No. 12 in the series) would be published in time for Christmas, but it doesn’t look like that will happen. Well, by the time you finish reading the others, it should be ready.
Come on, now–isn’t it time you met Jack and Ellayne, and squirrel-sized Wytt, who climbed the mountain? Obst the hermit, and Martis the assassin-turned-protector; Helki the Rod, the personification of the forest; Lord Reesh the villain (boooo! hiss!); King Ryons, born a slave; Gurun the queen, who came to Obann on a raft–they’re all waiting to do their stuff for you.
I mean, if you want to watch Law and Order reruns, that’s your business and you’re welcome to it…
If wonder what kind of response I’d get if I asked readers who’s their favorite Bell Mountain character. I just hit the wrong key and the whole screen went black for a moment. I wonder what that means.
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.
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.