Friday, October 15, 2010

My Passion and My Obsession

To many people, I have mentioned the many different books I've written. I sometimes wonder if they believe me. Mostly because all the people I talk to, at most, have two or three. Even if those with more published books than I have, don't seem to have as many finished manuscripts. Am I bragging? I'm not trying to. I'm just trying to understand. What is it that I did different than these other writers? I know one big thing, I'm certain they all spent more time socializing - 'developing their platform', as I've been told needs to be done years in advance of publishing their work.

In contrast, all I did was write. I had stories to tell - tales to spin, and when I wasn't spinning a tale, I was reading through it, just to make sure it said what I wanted it to say. It was very important to me that actions and scenes were as clear as I could make them. As I've covered in an earlier post, I made many mistakes in the mechanics of writing, mistakes I'm now trying to iron out. I don't know that I'll ever iron all the kinks out - I'm thinking part of it is simply my way of telling my story - my voice, if you will.

Anyway, for those of you who might be curious, I thought I'd tell you a little about the books I've written. Many years ago, long before I even thought I'd be a writer, I decided to write a story in an open notebook. The job I had at the time required a fifteen minute break in the morning and afternoon and a half hour break for lunch. Not one to twiddle my thumbs during these breaks, I wrote in my notebook. During the course of various moves out here, that notebook got lost, but I tried to recreate it from memory, with slightly less magic. I'm not all that happy with the result, but TO RECLAIM THE THRONE is 212 pages long as of today (that's 58,728 words).

Many of my stories started with one of my rather vivid dreams. One such dream was a young man gazing across a wide valley. In the center of that valley was a dome, and littered all across the horizon was hundreds if not thousands of Star Wars-type ships of all sizes - he was taking pictures of it all - he was so happy - he wanted a beer, and then suddenly it all exploded into action and the young man that was me had to run for his own ship - a ship he spoke to as if it was another person, like you see in the movies sometimes. That was the dream - for the book, I had to come up with names and reasons for what he was seeing and why he was so happy. Then I had to figure out what might happen next. It was really an interesting journey, both for my character and for me. THE SPEED OF DREAMS ended up being 254 pages long (67,699 words).

THE MYSTERY OF PLANET WER also started with a dream, but this dream was an ending. The scene was a loving couple hugging each other tenderly while standing in front of a house-less fireplace and chimney. That was the picture, but along with it came some information. He was a werwolf and she was blind. She was also the only person on the planet who could end the quarantine. Now, I must confess, another influence for this book was a cartoon I used to enjoy. One of the crewmen was also a werwolf. As long as he was off planet he couldn't be anything but a werwolf, but as soon as he was home, he could be human and change at will. This werwolf, and mine, wasn't the monster from the movies, though that didn't mean that he couldn't be very dangerous in his wolf form. Well, now I had a main character. All I had to do was introduce him to the love of his life and figure out what the quarantine was and how to end it. I had so much fun with the wer-people as they worked their way through the mystery of their roots, which of course tied them to the native creatures of the planet. As you might guess, this story did not take place on Earth. It is 254 pages long (69,324 words)

WHAT FUTURE, SLAVE did not start with a dream. Instead I wanted to experiment with the concept of slavery as it should have been handled, not the way it was handled in our history. No, in my book slaves were every bit as important as livestock and treated much the same. As we all know, not all animals are treated well, and the same is true with slaves in my book, but that's not what the story is about. The story is about a girl, a slave, who's father was a free man, and though he acknowledged her as his daughter, he refused to free her. The story is wrapped around the reason for that action. Why couldn't her father free her? Why could none of the women in her bloodline be freed? Why did all the women in her bloodline die the moment they gave birth to a girl-child? All questions that get answered in the book, but I warn you, though it has a good ending, it doesn't have a happy ending. This book is 268 pages long (75,531 words)

THE TRIALS OF THE YOUNGEST PRINCESS was my first attempt at writing about a girl. I sculpted the girl after myself somewhat. I was shy when I was little and yet very independent, and interested in things most girls really weren't, like riding horses. When I was little, I dreamed of inheriting the family ranch and running a riding camp for city kids, where I could teach them to love horses and the country as much as I did. That concept, coupled with my liking of the medieval society of kings etc., I decided that my little girl would be the youngest of several children of a beloved royal family. Like me, she would be the black sheep of the family, though not overtly so. So, now I had a character, what to do with her? All powerful people, no matter how loved, have enemies, and of course, little girls doing things no self-respecting royal daughter would be caught dead doing, meant that she wasn't where she was expected to be when the royal family was brought low. Now, she was forced to become the best in the land at something she should never have been interested in in the first place in order to make the murderer of her family pay for his crimes. This one is 285 pages (81,581 words)

LORD OF THE LAND was another story that started with a dream. The scene was three young men dressed as soldiers coming into an inn. The innkeeper sees the king's men and as a retired soldier himself and loyal to the king, he'll feed and house them for a night. It was raining and miserable outside and the young soldiers looked much worse for the wear. One of them was wounded. Of course, it was the wounded one who became my main character. Who was he? Why was he here? Why were the three of them dressed in the uniform of soldiers they were too young to wear? All questions answered as he journeys through his life, trying to find peace and happiness only to have a past he can't escape rip his happiness away. Only then does he face the fact that he can't escape his past, he must face it head on and make things right. This story too has a less than happy ending, though a good one, I think. This book ended up being 316 pages long (88,790 words)

That's half of them. I'll continue telling you about my books next week. I hope you like the workings of my mind. Every story is a problem to be solved, a puzzle to be put together, or taken apart as the case may be. I'm always having these dreams and I have a folder full of scenes. Each one the seed of a new book or a scene in one started from another such dream.

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