SOMETHING IS MISSING

So, my new novel, a follow-up to The Little Girl Waits, is finished.

Well, maybe.

I adore the plot, love the way the returning characters have changed and grown, and how they are also very much the same people they were in TLGW, and I think the story is tight, just the way I like it.  Unless your name is Tolkien, Asimov, Rowling or Homer you probably shouldn’t be writing winded and wordy works of fiction.  So this is not an issue of length for me.  I’m not trying to make it longer.

But I feel like something is missing–like I need to add something.  Not much, mind you, but something.  Here are my options, as I understand them.puzzle

  1. I could add a mysterious stranger.  I’m thinking an additional chapter somewhere, before the rising action really takes off.  In TLGW this function is played by Shark, who only has a brief appearance in the story but is pivotal.
  2. An action scene might help.  I am hesitant to add action scenes “just because” even though readers really like them. I believe action scenes should further the story, but sometimes you need something like that to keep the reader keyed in.
  3. Flashbacks have helped me in the past.  There are several flashbacks in TLGW, and that can give great insight into what a character is thinking.  My thoughts right now are for the bad guy (actually, in this story it is a woman) to have a protracted flashback.  This might give the reader a little more insight into why she is doing all these horrible things.
  4. Maybe it is the ending.  I finish the novel with Butch talking with someone about the why and reason of the events they go through in the book, but no real clear resolution is found other than the world is messed up.  At first I liked that ending because the world is messed up, and sometimes good people get caught between different factions of evil pulling in different directions.  But perhaps I need a tidier resolution.  Perhaps.

There is one other thing.  It might be the title.  I have yet to decide its title.  For the entire time I wrote it was simply “Butch Gregory 3” but titles like that only work for Iron Man and X-Men movies.  Right now the title is “How Great The Darkness” but I don’t know if that will last.  Perhaps I’ll feel better about after I title it officially.  However, my experience is that often the title gets changed or adjusted during the publication process.

Writer’s neurosis and self-doubt might also be at work here.  I find that letting go of a manuscript is one of the hardest things I ever do.  This is true whether it is a novel, short story, poem, or sermon.  I want to hold on to them like children, and never let them go.

I need to make a decision this week so I can get the project finished, hopefully get it published, and then get back to my retro-scifi stories.  They have been on hold until this is complete.

puzzle image from radicallychristian.com

THE MONSTER STORY

“Well, that’s mostly true, and I know who and what you are and what your expertise is,” he picked his teeth with his fingernail, “But we’re not going to beat the Russians with rockets and Buck Rogers alone.  We need more.”  Then the President paused and looked away, as if suddenly saddened.  “We are going to lose Vietnam.  There is no way we can win.  What is worse is that it is only a matter of time before they will be in France, Saudi Arabia and even California for all I know.  We need more than troops and firepower too.  We need something else, and your job is to provide that something else no matter what the cost.”

“What exactly are you asking me to do, Mr. President?”

“I want you to work at militarizing wildlife . . .”

From The Deep Cove Lineage

My first book, The Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory and Other Short Stories, was a mostly spiritual endeavor, as are most of my short stories such as Speculation and The Land Begins to Heal.    To be a writer, though, I think, means in part that I am able to tell stories that don’t necessarily carry a spiritual message.  To that end, I began working on a purely secular plot revolving around a monster.  I chose the monster/horror/science fiction milieu because I personal enjoy these types of stories.  What resulted was The Deep Cove Monster.

I published the first short story last summer and then followed that up with the second one in the winter of 2013.

Last week the third, and by far the longest installment of the series was released by my publisher, bardandbook.com.  It is available at their website or at amazon.com, smashwords, bardandbook.com and it should be available at other outlets soon, such as barnesandnoble.com.  Click on the image below to buy from Amazon.com

Newest Release--Third installment in The Deep Cove Monster series.
Click To Buy

Title--The short story, about 12,000 words, is titled The Deep Cove Lineage.  In essence it is an origins story so I almost titled it Deep Cove:  Origins or maybe Deep Cove Beginnings but decided that both of those seemed a little too copycat.  One of the elements in the story is the successive generations of monsters that are bred in captivity, hence the word lineage.  I decided that I liked that idea better and it felt less used.

Horror--I believe that the horror genre is over populated with mass murderers or homicidal paranormal creatures.  What I wanted to do was bring elements of the horror story motif in a more realistic and less personal environment.  I don’t know if I achieved true horror story status, but there are some scenes I wrote that felt, well, gruesome.

Science Fiction--Somewhere along the way, and we can probably blame Star Trek for this, science fiction turned into outer space.  However, the origins of science fiction are not really outer space as much as scientific innovation that leads to disaster or danger.  It was this concept that I worked on in The Deep Cove Lineage–science that has gone too far and caused a dangerous situation.

Period Piece--I am still intrigued by working on a period piece.  I was not born until 1971, so the 60’s and 70’s are in my thoughts but I still have to work on it.  The Deep Cove Lineage begins in the late 1960s and ends where the first two begin, 1978.  It is fun to think about music, food, and fashion and the way people might think about life a generation ago.  One of the ways I did this was to emphasize the formal feeling of the lab–everyone is required to wear their white lab coat.  No one in my generation would think of enforcing such a rule, but in the 60’s that might be something people are sticklers for.

Sex and Violence--There is sex in this story, but it is not graphic and more suggestive than actual.  The violence is tough though.  People die an alarming rate once things heat up.

Changing Attitudes--Without giving anything away, I worked very hard to drastically show, and hopefully not over explain, how the scientists change in their attitudes toward human beings as their work progresses.  Most of the change is influenced by the villain, Dr. Sleeth.  People change as we slowly warm up to ideas that are convenient.  There is a little political commentary in that concept.  We accept things today we would not have accepted 12 years ago because it is convenient.

The Monster--In the first two stories all we see of the monster is its destructive power.  In this origins story, we learn why the monster is the way she is and who is to blame.  I think, maybe, I might have even been able to build a little empathy for the beast.  Maybe.

I hope you enjoy the story.  If you haven’t already read the first two, you can buy them from my Buy Jamie’s Stories page at the top of this blog.  Thanks for reading.  I really do appreciate it.

 

CHRISTIAN WRITING

Yesterday Matt Ventura came by the Pastor Greenbean office and recorded on video for my upcoming presentation about literary apologetics for the Christian Writing Conference.  The webinar is free this year, but you have to sign up (click here to register).  The conference is put on by my publisher Athanatos Christian Ministries.  This is the third one I’ve participated in and it is always a learning experience for me.  I’ve cut-n-pasted a small portion of my opening.

. . . Let me start by taking you back in time.  Yes, let’s start our story with a little time travel.  Let’s go way back in time—not days, weeks or months but years.  Go back in time, let’s say, a decade ago.  Can you remember?

It is a decade ago and I am at a camp, a children’s Bible camp and some of the children and I are helping the missions teacher clean up after a lesson.  One of the children asks me, “Pastor Jamie, have you read Harry Potter?”

“No,” I said.  “I’ve never heard of Harry Potter.”

Yeah, that is how far back in time we are, pre-Harry Potter saturation.  It feels like forever ago, but, yes, once upon a time no one had ever heard of a muggle.

Another woman, who was also helping clean up shouts across the room, “Harry Potter is evil and is a book of Satan!”

I asked the woman, “Why is that?  What is it about?”

She told me that it was about witches, and any book about witches is evil and against God.   Her pastor had said so.

That was when it got really interesting.  I said to her, “Well, we need to remember that perhaps one of the best children’s Christian books ever is titled, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

“I’ve never heard of that book,” she said.  “Who wrote it?”

Befuddled, I replied, “C.S. Lewis—the great apologetists and scholar of the Christian faith.  ScrewtapeMere ChristianityA Grief ObservedThe Problem of PainThe Weight of Glory?”

Nothing.  She had never heard of any of these.  I was making no progress.

Finally, she said, “Well, I’ve have to look into this Lewis guy, but I seriously doubt anyone who is a true Christian could ever write about witches and magic.”

She stayed away from me for the rest of the camp.

If we do literary apologetics correctly it is likely that people within our own faith community, people who would agree with our worldview and our love of Christ will misunderstand us and think we might be the enemy . . .

There will be many other presenters at the seminar, and remember, it is free.