Monday, February 10, 2020

Squiggly Lines...and Beyond

I am finally back to steadily putting words on paper. The morning after I created my previous entry, I managed to put down 3,200 words before my keyboard caught fire. After beating down the flames with my mouse and pouring my Diet Coke on the flaming mouse, I gave up for the day. Many times when I have such a burst, later review results in me deleting about half of them, this time it didn't, I added another 200 words to what I had written, for clarity, and now the dynamite passage. It tells how one of my characters went from being a sincere and loyal man to one with secrets– deeply in debt and coerced into doing many things he would never have considered previously.

The storyline for Stealing Ferdinand's Gold has been in my head for a long time without making it the paper in some form. I've told the basic story many times over beers with friends but have never taken the time to put the words on paper. Now I am, and I have found this book required more research than others because of the need to keep the timeline straight. The story is set inside actual events, so I have to mold my narrative around events and ensure events remain in the proper order. The easiest way for me to do this is to be utterly familiar with all of the events taking place to ensure I am clear as to which egg came before which chicken and vice versa.

This book is a break from my Evan Davis series, which I've decided will have at least two more books before I make any significant character changes. I have some great ideas that will wind up in those two books and look forward to how the story comes together when I sit down to create it. I hope followers of the series will enjoy where I take these next two stories.

In addition to Ferdinand's Gold, I am working on a few short stories as well. As soon as I get to a dozen or so, I plan on releasing them together. I enjoy writing short stories; the problem is getting anyone to notice and read them.

When I was in ninth grade, I remember buying many anthology-style books from Scholastic Books. Each had a dozen or so short stories by various authors with a particular theme. These introduced to Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, and the written works of Rod Serling. The last time I saw Scholastic Books flyer, it was more about Harry Potter than anthologies.

I think short stories are ideally suited for the kind of world we live in, where we are trying to fit a brief bit of entertainment into the time available. Of course, if you look at a lot of what is being sold as novels by independent authors on Amazon, you will notice they have page counts of 100 or less, technically this is a novella, but it might also be considered short story based on word count.  Previously, a short story was between 7500 and 20,000 words, now it goes down to 1000 words. Anything less is called flash or micro-fiction. Now you know.

What I like about short stories is that I can devour one in 15 minutes to an hour. This kind of speed allows the story to hit me very quickly, and depending on the work, it can be anything from a roller coaster ride to a trek up the mountain, only to find a cliff on the other side. I love the variety. Plus, they are all self-contained, you begin with nothing, and an hour later, you now have enjoyed a completely new story — a quick escape from the real world.

Writing short stories is how I maintain writer's discipline between books. It gives me something creative to keep that part of my mind humming while I'm dealing with other things. I used to consider these bits and pieces starts for new books, but realized most were finished within 10 to 20,000 words. So, I started making short stories out of them.

Alas, it is time for me to get back to work and create more of a world where you can take a few million dollar's worth of gold easily during a confusing situation, but once things calm down, it becomes almost impossible to hold on to any of it.