The Frozen Writer (That’s Me)

Write "frost" on the frozen car window with your finger - a Royalty Free  Stock Photo from Photocase

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.

King Ozias’ Mighty Men

Horse Warriors India's 61st Cavalry

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.

Workin’ in the Cold!

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It’s sunny out today, but with a cold wind: I froze my onions off, working outside to write the latest chapter of Ozias, Prince in Peril. Still a boy, Ozias will have to grow up fast, what with the villains combing Lintum Forest for him, looking to take him out. I don’t know if I’ll have enough good weather to finish the book this year, but I promise you I’ll try as hard as I can.

I think the book is going very well. The story keeps surprising me. I know I don’t have to secure Ozias’ throne until the next book, but I don’t know how old he’ll be by the time that happens. I just count on the Lord to give me the story… which He already knows.

Coming Soon: ‘Behold!’


Oh! Just in time for Christmas! Behold!–Book No. 14 in my Bell Mountain series.

I should have a contest. Can you identify the little old lady on the cover? If you’re a real Bell Mountain fan, with strong intuitions, you just might be able to do it. Identify the lady and win a pack of plastic army men. (You can’t win the book because they haven’t printed it yet. But that shouldn’t take too long.)

That leaves No. 15, The Ocean of Time, for next Christmas. And meanwhile I’m working hard on Ozias, Prince in Peril… which will break from the story line and carry us back 2,000 years to King Ozias’ time. I pray we’ll all be still here to enjoy it.

Well, the sun is out this morning, so I should be out, too, scrawling away–25 chapters written so far. Will I finish before cold weather shuts me down?

Not entirely up to me, is it?

Using History to Write Fantasy

Top 10 Castles | English Heritage

I have taken Thomas B. Costain’s English histories as a guide to lead me into and through the story of Ozias, Prince in Peril.

The events to be told in this book occurred some 2,000 years before those in my earlier Bell Mountain books: which means the land of Obann, its people, and their way of life are quite different from what’s described in the other books. I have to find a way of accomplishing this while I keep the story flowing.

Costain’s histories, focusing on the Plantagenet dynasty of English kings and queens, guide me into a late medieval world leading up to the birth of our modern age. I describe a country of Obann somewhat similar to England in the 14th and 15th centuries. Intervening between this book and the others is a modern era, a total destruction, a Dark Age, and Obann’s slow recovery.

So things are different. It’s the same fantasy world I created years ago, but with a very different culture. Prince Ozias’ world has not yet had its Dark Age.

I’m not copying. Rather, I read Costain in search of a tone. And I think I’ve found it: Obann’s monarchy at the height of its achievement, just before it failed. But the failure of the monarchy unleashed creative efforts that led to a kind of modernity.

(I dunno–does that sound boring?)

But don’t worry. There’ll be plenty of adventures, betrayals, heroic deeds, cunning plans, and vivid characters too busy making history to realize that they’re making history.

I don’t know if I’ll finish before the winter shuts me down… but I’ll try.

How Far to the Home Stretch?

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Holy moly, what’s that! That yellow thing up in the sky?

It’s been almost a week since we had any sunshine here, and it’s already starting to turn cold. At a certain point, it’s too cold for the ink to flow out of the pen and my novel-writing has to stop.

I reckon I’ve got five weeks, tops, to finish Ozias, Prince in Peril. It has to be outdoors. Indoors, we get nuisance phone calls every 20 minutes, plus other distractions. It takes a great deal of concentration, believe me, to write a fantasy novel. If someone else is there (I name no names) watching YouTube videos of gaudy murder cases, it’s not always beneficial.

Will the evil regent who wants to be queen do away with the real queen and force the boy king to marry her when he comes of age? Are there other things in Lintum Forest to worry about, besides kidnappers and bounty hunters? Questions, questions…

I’d better get outside now and see about that yellow thing up there. I may have to report it.

Have I Written Too Many Books?

Bell Mountain (Bell Mountain, 1)

I’ve written 15 books in my Bell Mountain series so far (two still awaiting publication), and it troubles me a little that some readers have already said “That’s enough!” Like they were being forced to read ’em and couldn’t take anymore. The one that really hurt was the reader who said he loved this series when it first came out but now it was (*sigh!*) boring.

Two dozen Tarzan books. I don’t know how many for the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Hercule Poirot, Freddy the Pig, Rick Brant, Nancy Drew, et al, et al. Those series are all a lot longer than mine. Readers must have liked them!

Nevertheless, I did feel it was time for a change. So I turned my fantasy world’s clock back 2,000 years to write about King Ozias. It’s going to be a trilogy, I even have the titles for it: Ozias, Prince in Peril and Ozias, Prince Enthroned and Ozias, King Betrayed.

Point is, everything’s going to be different except for some of the geography (There’s no bell, no cloud, on Bell Mountain yet). Different kind of civilization, different characters–oh, yes, above all, different characters. They’ve all been waiting for their cues to come on stage. Which is very cool, and suggests to me that I’m on the right track.

Of course, it’ll be several years between now and the first reader reactions to the first Ozias book. I pray we’re all still here for that. Meanwhile I’m working as hard as I can.

Katheleen Draws ‘The Cellar Beneath the Cellar’


This scene is from the very beginning of Book 2, The Cellar Beneath the Cellar: Jack and Ellayne, having rung the Bell, find the assassin, Martis, swooning on the snow. Drawn by Kathleen.

I love the idea of having young adults fiction illustrated by young adults and children. I’ve been posting pictures drawn by Katheleen and her sister, Kerolyn, 9; they live in Brazil. If we ever get to the point where we can do a second printing of Bell Mountain or any of its sequels, I wonder if I can get one or more of these drawings included.

Well, back to work for me! I’ve got to write a cover blurb for Behold! and start the next chapter of Ozias, Prince in Peril.

Another ‘Bell Mountain’ Illustration


Here’s another drawing for Bell Mountain by 9-year-old Kerolyn in Brazil. It’s a scene from Book No. 2, The Cellar Beneath the Cellar–Obst and Uduqu giving King Ryons a much-needed bath.

I like the idea of illustrating my young readers’ books with pictures drawn by children! I don’t think it’s been done before, and I wonder why not? I’d love to see more pictures done by young readers themselves, all around the world. Hey, is this way cool, or what?

I wonder if I can get a picture of the Baluchitherium in The Thunder King (Book 3) emerging from the river with King Ryons on its back, scattering the Thunder King’s army just as it’s about to take the city of Obann.

Another Bell Mountain Picture

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This drawing is by Kathleen’s sister, Kerolyn, who’s only nine years old. It shows Ellayne and Jack drinking tea with Hesket the Tinker, who turns out to be a very nasty villain. Kathleen and Kerolyn live in Brazil. These are very accomplished kids!

A book for young readers… illustrated by children. Why hasn’t anybody done that before? I’d love to see that for Bell Mountain.

Girls, hang on to those drawings! Who knows? We may be able to put them in the books someday.