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.

Coming Unstuck

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Well, I’ve finished another chapter of Ozias, Prince in Peril. It looks like the boy king and his mother will have to come out of Lintum Forest and fight for his throne. The usurper Maressa, her hunters having failed to find and kill the king, has resorted to even more underhanded methods to draw them out.

Now I have to move on to a Newswithviews column. We are governed by persons who really have it in for us, and I suppose it doesn’t matter how that happened–we have to get rid of them. Before they get rid of us.

See you again around suppertime, with another critter video.

‘Get OUT There, Lee!’

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It’s a knock-out gorgeous beautiful day! And I’m sitting here trying to dream up a blog post that’ll bring in readers.

Look alive, man! This weather won’t last much longer–only 11 days left in September. (Yeah, I know the month just started. Waddaya want from me?) You have a book to write, it’s going to be a good one, you already know what the next chapter’s going to be–what’re you doing indoors?

All right, I’m goin’, I’m goin’! Mustn’t waste this glorious weather.

Maybe the readers will come while I’m not looking.

Trying to Catch Up… Again!

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I’m way behind in my work today, the viewership is way down–and the WordPress problem that I had last week, with the comments failing to display… it’s baaaaack!

Man, this is getting old. Welcome to the Age of Nothing Works.

(And suddenly Robbie only wants dry cat food… What’s that about?)

Going about my chores last night, a new character for the book I’m writing, Ozias, Prince in Peril, popped into my head, along with what she’d be doing in the story. I’ve learned that it’s usually a good idea to stop what I’m doing and write it down in case I forget it overnight. Enter Aylen, the old nurse of the late King Flosi, who may have a loose screw somewhere but is otherwise sharp as a tack.

Where do these characters live when they’re not breaking into my plots? It’s so cool, the way that happens. It’s like I knew these people, once upon a time, and now they’re coming back. Do you think that’s weird? Welcome to the world of fantasy-writing.

‘Prince in Peril,’ Sixteen Chapters

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Holy moly, it’s hot out there today! Patty’s trying to sleep off her back spasms, and my heel spur is giving me fits. I’ve been to the stores today, we’ll have lamb shanks for supper, and it’s hard for us today to summon up a festive mood.

I’m plugging away at Ozias, Prince in Peril–sixteen chapters done so far. Mid-November seems a long way away, especially now, but you’d be surprised how fast it comes when you’re trying to write a book. I finished The Ocean of Time last year on absolutely the last day I could have finished it before it got too cold outside.

Prince Ozias is learning the ways of the forest, the Red Queen has sent hunters in to capture him, and Lord Claudus has his hands full, keeping Queen Parella safe. You know what’s going to happen if Maressa ever gets her hands on them.

You may have noticed that I haven’t covered any nooze today. Leaving it out is the best I can do by way of celebration. And thank you, O God, for air conditioning!

We’ve got to wipe out the Democrats in the midterms. Got to! And we know they’re going to cheat. May the good Lord fight for us.

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

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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.

Time to Start Typing

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My allergies having abated to the point where I can go back to work, I’ve got seven chapters of a new book to type up and send to my editor, Susan. Ozias, Prince in Peril–I hope you like the title.

It’s not easy, shifting gears, when you’ve just been reading and covering the dark and dreary nooze of this dark and dreary age. Ozias lived in such a time, but God put him there for a reason. I pray my description of his life and work will inspire sane and decent people to put their trust in God and do their best.

Even as David did, and Joshua, Moses, Peter and Paul, and all the other heroes we encounter in the Scriptures.

Do You Cry While You Write?

Ailish Sinclair: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle - Amazon.com

Ailish Sinclair

Scottish blogger and writer Ailish Sinclair asks a question which I can answer, sort of: “Crying While Writing: anyone else do this?”

Crying While Writing: anyone else do this?

The other day, as I read to my wife a chapter of my new book in progress, Ozias, Prince in Peril, I found my voice beginning to break as I came to the death of a major character to whom I’d already grown attached. I didn’t actually cry, but I came close: I already loved this character and writing him out of the saga was… well, hard.

Ailish makes a good point. If the writer can’t get emotionally involved with the story he or she is telling, why should the reader? You have to believe in your story. It has to seem real to you, at least while you’re writing it.

I won’t forget how upset Patty and my editor, Susan, got a few books ago when they thought I’d killed off the old Abnak warrior, Chief Uduqu. “I was ready to come up there and punch you in the nose!” Susan said. And Sir Walter Scott had to rewrite part of Ivanhoe because his printer was so upset over the death of Athelstane. I’m glad I didn’t have to rewrite The Glass Bridge.