No More ‘Witch Box’: It’ll Be ‘Ocean of Time’

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Bell Mountain No. 15 won’t be called The Witch Box, after all. I’ve had to change the title.

Now it’s Ocean of Time. I have a double climax, so it was hard for one title to cover both of them. The Witch Box couldn’t do that. Ocean of Time can.

When I was writing horror novels, my New York publisher always changed my titles. Always for the better, I have to admit it: my titles were pretty bad. My Bell Mountain titles were a great improvement.

It’s not so easy to come up with a title! If you’ve got a good one, it can guide you in the writing of the story. Mystery writer H.R.F. Keating was so good at that. Your plot tends to be more coherent if the action reflects the title. In The Iciest Sin, Keating wrote about a blackmail scheme investigated by Inspector Ghote–and peppered it with incidents of not-quite-criminal blackmail, but blackmail nonetheless, practiced by people in their daily lives. Fantastic book.

So far everyone I’ve talked to seems to like Ocean of Time, and I’m home free. But I’ll still listen to suggestions, if anybody has any.

At Last–‘Behold!’ Is In The Works Again

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Above is pictured one of the critters encountered by Helki the Rod in Lintum Forest: it plays an important role in Behold!, Book No.14 in my Bell Mountain series. I lost a lot of time to illness, but today I’ve finished the first round of editing–and contacted our cover artist, Kirk DuoPonce. Let’s see what he can come up with.

What would happen if a piece of advanced technology from an extinct civilization fell into the hands of people living 1,000 years later? What if the finders wished to use it–although they have no understanding of such things?

And then there are those ships, the first to cross the ocean from the west since Obann’s Empire was destroyed. Will they bring some new disaster with them?

I hope we can get this book on the market in time for Christmas. Next year, maybe The Witch Box will be ready, double climax and all. And I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can start writing the life of King Ozias. If you like these books, there’s a lot of fun in store for you.

We have no plans to add Oy, Rodney to our schedule. My wife would like to see the adventures of Abombalbap in book form, but I think that might be beyond my powers.


My Newswithviews Column, March 17 (‘My “Bell Mountain” Books’)

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I just finished The Witch Box a few days ago, and my editor has told me the double climax I created really works. That’s a relief.

I thought it might be nice to take a break from unrelievedly bad nooze and try to drum up some interest in my books. Hence this column.

My ‘Bell Mountain’ Books

Don’t be too quick to brush off fantasy. Do you think the big shots of this world deal in anything but fantasy?

The difference is, mine won’t kill you.

‘The Witch Box’–Finally!

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I have just finished typing the last chapters of The Witch Box and sending them to Susan for editing.

What a struggle this was! No end of obstacles, one by one, two by two–and that’s why it took so long.

This might be my best book. Then again, it might totally fall flat. I have no way of knowing. My books are my babies. I prepare them as best I can and then send them out into the world.

And now I need a rest.

P.S.–I have no idea what those boxes down below are for. I’ve never seen them before.

A Writer’s Disaster–Almost

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I got a good scare yesterday when I examined my hand-written manuscript of The Witch Box. Seeking to refresh my memory of the last few chapters of the book–up to some 50 chapters, in total–I found something I never expected to find.

There, floating around in the wake of everything else, was a Chapter 28. What? What was it doing there? Where did it belong? How did I ever wind up sticking it… there?

After a frantic search for answers, I found its duplicate snugly fitted between Chapters 27 and 29 in the typed manuscript. So now I had two Chapter 28s! Happily, they proved to be identical.

Here’s what happened.

Back in September, I had the book’s climax in my head but didn’t know how to get there. So I decided to do something I’d never done before: to jump ahead and write all the chapters leading up to the climax, all the way to the end of the book. I knew this would leave a hole that I’d have to fill later. But this part of the project took a long time; and when at last I was finished, I found the hole in the plot to be much smaller than I’d expected. That job belonged to Chapter 28. I’d thought I would have to write several chapters, but it turned out I only needed one to fill the hole.

Does that sound confusing? Well, it confused me–but good.

See, I got sick around New Year’s and I must have been sicker than I thought: because by the time I was well enough to resume writing, I had totally forgotten what I’d done! Now it makes me shudder, but yesterday it drove me crazy. I had already solved the problem, but forgotten that I’d done so. I’d already solved the problem–just couldn’t remember what I’d done.

I am greatly relieved!

So now I can go ahead and finish typing the book, praise the Lord. I still think it has a good chance to be my best book yet.

My Book Still Sleeps

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It’s been a month now since I worked on The Witch Box, and that ain’t good.

I’m not sure I’ve recovered from my illness to the point where the quality of my writing is where it ought to be. This is critical: I have it in my mind that this will be my best book since Bell Mountain itself: but not if my concentration flags as I’m writing it. I have to be at my best if this book is to live up to my hopes for it. I’m so tempted to get back to it!

I’ve also got to take down the Christmas tree. That’s a two hour job, and I still don’t have two hours’ worth of energy.

Patty advises me to wait another week or two before I go back to the book. I asked for her advice, and I’m going to take it. Can’t help it, losing all of January. *Sigh*

Maybe I can do the tree a little bit each day until it’s done. Tally-ho.

I Haven’t Forgotten that I Have a Book to Write

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I haven’t worked on The Witch Box since just before New Year’s. I hope no one thinks I’ve abandoned the project.

But you can’t write a novel (especially a fantasy novel!) when your head’s not in the game, so there it sits. Sort of like the way I’m sitting here, trying to find words. Good thing I already have a complete manuscript, albeit in longhand on a set of legal pads.

Yeahbut! You’re writing blog posts, ain’t you? But it’s a totally different kind of writing, and it takes me about three times as long as it should, just to generate a little blog piece.

Well, I haven’t forgotten, and I pray it won’t be too much longer before I can go back to work on the novel. Patty and I are sick and we need to get better: we need the Lord to heal us, and we need your prayers. Please keep them coming.

Should I… Well, Stop?

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I’m currently working to finish Book No. 15 of my Bell Mountain series, The Witch Box. If my execution lives up to my vision, it’ll be my best book yet.

Edgar Rice Burroughs kept writing Tarzan because the Lord of the Jungle put most of the food on the table; but he complained a lot about having to do it. Agatha Christie came to a point where she was really and truly sick of Hercule Poirot; but she kept on writing him because the readers still wanted him.

I am not tired of writing Bell Mountain. In fact, next time out, I’m thinking I’d like to go back in time 2,000 years to tell the story of King Ozias. But there are some folks out there who think it’s time it was “Lights Out” for Bell Mountain, adios, don’t let the door hit you in the tuchas on your way out…

Of course my books are microscopic, compared to Tarzan or Poirot. I don’t have to worry about angry mobs besieging my publisher because they want Bell Mountain back (which is what happened, literally, when Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off his creation, Sherlock Holmes). I have no advertising. Just this wee blog.

My question to readers is, Should I put a cork in it? (One reader says even Wytt bores him, anymore. Good grief.) Have you had your fill of Bell Mountain? Or should I keep on going for as long as the Lord gives me something to write and Chalcedon’s willing to publish it?

Just askin’.

Ta-Dah! It’s Finished

[Pardon my use of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme music for Patton (1970). It’s my way of enjoying a victory lap.]

It’s a beautiful gorgeous day today, with honeybees busy with the white wildflowers that have grown up around my writing chair. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get cold rain, but I don’t mind–

For I have finished writing The Witch Box! And if my execution is worthy of my vision, well, wow–I’ll have done something well worth doing. There’s life in the Bell Mountain series yet, and plenty of it.

Now I have to go back and fill the hole I left when I stopped writing Chapter Set 4 and decided to jump ahead to the double climax; but that shouldn’t be too hard to do. I also have to type it all up and send it off to Susan to be edited. That’ll be a big job but again, not too hard to do. I never expected to fill up another 165 pages of legal pad; but at least I don’t have to worry about the book being too short.

But give God the glory, for guiding me through this work from beginning to end: and may it be fruitful in His service. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S.–I’ll bet I’ve once again finished a book on the last day I could have finished it, taking into account the advent of cold weather. That’s what happened with Behold!, too. It does make me wonder…

Five More Pages–and Time to Shift Gears

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Well, I’m as cold as a mackeral now, but I got five more pages done and the next two days are supposed to be warmer, so maybe I’ll be able to finish writing my second climax for The Witch Box: I’ve got a good start on it.

But now I’ve got to shift gears and write my Newswithviews piece for the week. If you think this is easy–! Well, think again.

I’m going to write about Scottsdale and the scandal ignited by their district board of education–board president and his father (!) stalking parents who don’t like the board’s mask mandate and unlawfully collecting private information on them, etc. That any member of any school board should ever do a thing like this is astounding. Who do they think they are?

We are not subjects, we are not serfs, and they are not our masters–unless we allow them to be.

Let’s see if we can defend our freedom. We’ll wind up like Australia if we don’t.