Reading My Own Book?

Behold! (Bell Mountain, 14)

Our landlord saw me doing something yesterday which made him look twice.

“You’re reading your own book–that you wrote?” he marveled.

I could’ve said, “Oh, how about that! I thought there was something familiar about it!” But instead I just explained, “When you write a series of books, like I do, it’s so easy to forget details as you go on from book to book. You’d be amazed by the things I forget.”

That’s all true.

Now jump ahead to the next book, The Ocean of Time. For that book I tried something very challenging and only rarely seen–a double climax. In fact, I can’t think of any examples of one, just now. So part of the job of Behold! was to set the stage for events covered in the next book–

Which it does! And don’t ask me how, because when I was writing Behold!, the next book wasn’t even a half-formed thought. And yet the one book flows beautifully into the other. I really have no idea how that happens. Give God the glory.

(After Ocean of Time comes Ozias, Prince in Peril. That would be 2,000 years before the present time in Obann.)

‘When You Hear the Bell, Come Out Writing’ (2019)

the Bell Mountain series – Spread the Word

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.

Coincidence… Or Providence?

Medieval Knight On Horseback Images – Browse 5,307 Stock Photos, Vectors,  and Video | Adobe Stock

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.

I Have to Write Outdoors

Are squirrels using acorns to say thanks to Rossmoor woman?

Some of my readers are surprised to learn that I’ve written all my Bell Mountain novels outdoors, with pen and legal pad. Is it really that unusual? Why do I do this?

I guess it started because we had to give up smoking in the house, and smoking a cigar helps me to concentrate on my writing. But I still write all my non-fiction indoors, without smoking. It’s only the novels that now have to be written outdoors. I just can’t write fiction indoors anymore.

My novels are fantasy novels. That means I have to invent a world, invent characters to live in it, and somehow get the reader to imagine what I imagine: to get these people and places to seem real to the reader. But that can’t happen until first I make the fantasy seem real to me. Please note that I said “seem.” We try to stay sane around here.

Anyway, this is not an easy trick to pull off. It requires intense concentration. And I find that the outdoors itself helps me with that. It helps a lot. Squirrels, sky, grass, trees, birds (and I have even been blessed with visits from a deer, and a fox)–these are all God’s handiwork, they are all what’s real. Certainly a lot realer than one blasted robo-call after another, which is what I’d get if I stayed indoors. But there’s something about the sheer reality of the world I live in, God’s world, which somehow assists me in my work of fantasy. It’s very hard to explain how, but it’s worked for 13 books so far, going on 14.

I love it when a squirrel scurries up practically to my shoe and looks up at me, as if he’s trying to figure out what I’m doing. And once a monarch butterfly landed on my knee. Ah! I can’t go to Lintum Forest, but these tiny little aspects of it, as it were, can come to me.

I think most writers would tell you that inspiration’s where you find it; and I find mine outdoors.

Gotta get out before I can get in, so to speak.