Writing a Novel

quill (2)You have to be crazy to write a novel…and I’ve done it twice, so I should know. So why did I decide to start a new series of mystery books after fifteen frustrating years with the first two — writing, proofing, re-writing, proofing, looking for an agent/publisher, proofing, giving up on finding an agent/publisher, and agonizing over the need for never ending promotion? (Assuming you want somebody to read what you wrote).

The flip answer might be I write because I’m lousy at tap dancing, but the real answer is I like to tell stories.

I’ve been making up scenes and characters for as long as I remember, as well as reading books since I got my first library card at eight years old. I like to make people laugh too, so no matter how serious the story, you will find a lot of humor sprinkled into the action.

Example from Identity Check:  “Okay,” she said, “It’s your turn. Strip for me.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Don’t tell me you’re shy. I could put on some music and whistle loudly.”

“To be fair, I never got to see your act,” he said, throwing the clothes in his arms onto a nearby chair, “just the remnants.”

“All right, I’ll let you look, but only a peek. Normal men have been known to lose their sight at such a vision.”

“Have you been flashing down at the blind school again? That’s just mean-spirited.”

“For that cruel comment, you’ve forfeited your shot at a piece of heaven.”

“Okay, I’m taking off my clothes, but, I don’t want to hear any crude remarks from you.”

“Me? Never. Whoa–somebody let the stallion out of the barn.”

“That’s it. I’m turning off the lights.”

My new fictional YA series features a private investigator, nicknamed “Tracker,” that uses his Native American skills to solve mysteries (aided by his teenage nephew). I’m about 25,000 words into the first book about a murder that happens in Crater Lake National Park…and the suspected killer is Sasquatch!

People ask me, “How do you get your story ideas?” My first novel, “Drafted,” drew heavily on my personal experience of being drafted into the US Army during Vietnam…an adventure filled with terror and humor.

I can’t wait to see how it all gets resolved. I don’t do an outline when I write, although I have a vague idea of the direction the story is headed. My technique is to create characters, put them into a situation, and see how they handle it. I’m also big on action and stingy on description. I hate writers that spend three pages describing the wallpaper (unless it is smeared with blood).

Well, back to the computer…another 75,000 words to go…maybe I’ll write a few pages describing the wallpaper.

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