Tag Archives: bell mountain series

My Eureka Moment

I’ve come very far along with The Silver Trumpet (No. 10 in my Bell Mountain series), having been at it since April: 40 chapters, in fact. Even so, as of yesterday, I had absolutely no idea how the story should end.

Years ago, my procedure was to dope out the whole plot, along with all the subplots, before I wrote a word. Everything was on color-coded index cards, with extra material, like detailed biographies for all the major characters. in notebooks.

I don’t do it that way anymore. Instead, I just send up a prayer, asking the Lord to give me the story He wants me to tell, and start writing. I generally don’t know where I’m going till I’m almost there, and I get a lot of surprises along the way.

Yesterday I went to the eye doctor and couldn’t write when I got home, my eyes being too dilated to see properly. So I sat outside, taking advantage of a gorgeously sunny day, with my Mr. Cool sunglasses and a nice cigar, just sitting.

And then, as Rocky Graziano used to say, wham!–it hit me. The whole climax of The Silver Trumpet flashed into my brain in less time than it takes me to tell you about it. It was God answering my prayer, and in a way He has done several times before. I have to say it’s kind of overwhelming!

And I love it.

Now I can go straight ahead and write the rest of the book. I know what I have to do, and all I’ve got to do is write it. I asked the Lord to lead me, and He has.

If I can just get it all done before the cold weather kicks in…


6,000 Hits This Month!

Image result for images of chalicotheres

The critter depicted above is one of the knuckle-bears of Lintum Forest, first seen by Jack and Ellayne in Bell Mountain. I’ve posted it to celebrate the surprising fact that this humble blog has recorded over 6,000 views this month.

I thought I was years away from doing that, and I must thank my loyal readers for proving me wrong.

Can we do it again? Well, there’s only one way to find out…


Don’t Let Real-World Politics into Your Fantasy

Today is primary election day in my home state. As usual, by the time our primary rolls around, the issue has already been decided.

I’m trying to spend most of the day outside, working on The Silver Trumpet, my new Bell Mountain book. Notice it is not called The Silver Trump. Because nothing knocks the stuffing out of a fantasy more than an incursion of our world’s news and politics.

Readers in some future generation will find it irrelevant, and will probably have no idea what you’re talking about, nor will they care. Readers in the present time will find it annoying, and feel imposed upon.

Don’t go to the trouble of creating a quasi-medieval setting for your story, only to torpedo the whole thing by having one of your knights or wizards gabbling about “diversity” or “climate change.” If you want to write it as a satire, in which some royal wannabe stirs up the peasants by telling them that the nobles “didn’t build that” castle, yatta-yatta, well, tally-ho and good luck. Your satire might even be funny. But fifty years from now, all it’s going to get out of a reader is a big fat “Huh?”

Not that fantasy ought to be irrelevant. It should focus on big issues like love, loyalty, sacrifice, etc., that will still be big issues a hundred years from now–not fleeting, ephemeral concerns like who’s gonna use what bathroom. Those matter in the here and now, and we have to deal with them. But I pray they will someday become as truly trivial as they deserve to be.

Let the stuff that deserves to pass away, pass away. I’ll do my level best to keep it out of the world of Bell Mountain.

 


‘The Thunder King’: Rescued!

I guarantee you won’t be able to sell many fantasy/adventure novels if they’re packaged as books on “Labor & Industrial Relations.” Such has been the fate of the paperback edition of my fantasy novel, The Thunder King, on amazon.com.

How this could have happened is beyond anyone’s power to explain.

But thanks to the two amazon.com reps who helped me this morning, I am overjoyed to report that this problem will soon be taken care of. Sometime next week, The Thunder King, No. 3 in the series, will be categorized as “fiction, science fiction and fantasy, Christian fiction” along with the other seven in my Bell Mountain series.

“I don’t see how you could have sold many copies of this book as ‘Labor & Industrial Relations,'” said the rep at amazon’s Author Central. I think that must be the understatement of the year.

I could tell this error was hurting my sales. With all the other books, the numbers go up and down. But for The Thunder King the numbers never, never changed. It never bettered the rank of 3 million-and-change. Ugh!

Anyway, now it’s going to be fixed, and I pray I finally sell some copies.


I Hear Obann Calling

As winter gives way to spring, I feel the first faint stirrings of a new book. Just a scene here, a scene there. Just enough to make me eager to get back in the saddle.

What will the next book be about? What will I call it? Obviously there are plot lines that must be picked up where I left off when I finished The Throne. There are characters whose stories must be continued. But it’s never, never as simple as all that.

So I’ve got to get ready to receive the story, whenever and however it comes. I ask God for these stories and He always surprises me. But step one is to re-read the earlier books, to get back into the swing of things. And I have to sit back and think: not to try to plan, but rather to immerse myself in the world of Bell Mountain.

I’m never so happy as when I’m sitting outside in the sun with my pen and legal pad, scribbling away for all I’m worth. The stories come to me in dreams, and in unexpected flashes when I’m doing something else. I’m still some months away from writing a single word.

What will it be like this time?

I can hardly wait to find out.


The Death Dog from ‘The Thunder King’

This is the monster Ryons and Cavall encountered on their way to Obann, as told in The Thunder King, Book 3 of my Bell Mountain series. (No, it is not about Labor & Industrial Relations: that is an amazon.com error that has cost me sales!) You might want to turn down the stupid music, which adds nothing to the presentation.

I wanted to give you a video of the “knuckle-bears” seen by Jack and Ellayne at the edge of Lintum Forest, in Bell Mountain, but the only one they had on youtube was literally two seconds long.

What? You haven’t read any of these books? (He shakes his head in painted disbelief.) Well, click “Books” at the top of the page and see what you think.


Where Do My Characters Come From?

The simplest and most honest answer to that question would be, “I don’t really know. They just come.” But let me try to do better than that.

Years ago, I learned an important lesson by reading Dick Francis’ mystery novels: Every character in your book, no matter how minor, you must view and write of as a real person. Even if the character is in the story so briefly that you don’t even have to give his name.

A common feature in a lot of books that stink is failure to observe this rule, because the author is interested only in himself. You wind up with some improbable hero or superwoman showing off at the expense of all the other characters, who are only there as stage props. Books like this should never be published, but some always make it through the net, and too bad for you if you’ve bought one.

I don’t sit down and write up a thorough biography of every character in the book. If the plot demands that someone come along to be the new captain of Lord Chutt’s Wallekki bodyguard, then I introduce a character to do just that. I give him a name. And then some funny things begin to happen.

Often, once he or she has appeared in a few scenes, I take an interest in this character. So it was with a man named Bassas in The Throne, Lord Chutt’s new captain. To my surprise, it turned out that Bassas doesn’t like Lord Chutt and has but little respect for him. As the circumstances around him changed, and he came to see more things that he hadn’t seen before, Bassas grew discontented with his lot: in fact, he didn’t much care for working for the bad guys. He hasn’t been able to shed the old tribal sense of honor that was drilled into him as a boy.

See what I mean? Bassas went on to do some things I never thought of when I first introduced him. He’s very different from his predecessor, who was a thorough-going rogue. I wonder what he’ll do next.

This all sounds very easy to do. All it takes is thousands of hours of reading quality fiction and thousands of hours of trying to write it. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, man, practice!

But it all starts with a determination to see your characters as real people. Just because they’re fictional doesn’t mean they can’t be real. They have to be, or your story won’t work.


What Is Amazon.com Trying to Tell Me?

The Thunder King is Book 3 of my Bell Mountain series, and amazon.com has dunked it into a mystery. Can any of you help me figure it out?

The Thunder King is, of course, a fantasy-adventure story for readers 12 years old and up. Click “Books” at the top of this page and check it out–you’ll soon get the idea.

Why, then, has amazon.com got this book listed under Labor & Industrial Relations? Where it is not doing very well, I hasten to ad. By the way, this is only with the paperback. They are aware that the kindle version of the book has absolutely nothing to do with labor and industrial relations.

Is this why my sales are off? People look it up on amazon.com and think it’s about collective bargaining or grievances?

Yo, everybody! I promise The Thunder King will never, never get into discussions of how to allot overtime, how to cope with a drunken shop steward, or contract negotiations. Promise, promise, promise! Not that those subjects are unworthy of examination–but if you’re looking for high adventure in an unfamiliar world full of strange beasts and dangerous human beings, well… that we have.

I would ask amazon about this, but I have no idea how to put a question to them.


A Prehistoric Lollapalooza

I’ve been trying to find you a video of one of my all-time favorite prehistoric animals, Uintatherium, and the best I can do is this old soup commercial. Actually, this Uintatherium looks pretty good, although its size is, shall we say, greatly exaggerated–unless it’s the mob of hungry humans who’ve been downsized.

This is the critter, the sight of which causes Lord Orth to lose his mind in The Last Banquet. It also caused me to lose track of 17 or 18 Temple servants, but my editor fixed that before the book was published.

Uintatherium was about the size of a full-grown rhinoceros, with a huge rectangular head full of horns, knobs, and tusks. I’ve always enjoyed it, and I hope you will, too.


Another 5-Star Review for ‘The Thunder King’

Scroll down a bit to find the new review by O.P. ( http://www.amazon.com/Thunder-King-Bell-Mountain-Book-ebook/product-reviews/B008VL8UZW/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=recent ) of The Thunder King, Book No. 3 in my Bell Mountain series.

I’ve won awards for these books, I’ve never gotten a bad review for any of them, and yet I’m finding it awfully hard to sell them.

You, my readers, and this little ol’ blog, are all the advertising I’ve got.

Remember, there’s a contest on! The first to sign up three new readers for my books wins a free book.

Who’s playing?


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