I JUST KNEW SOMETHING BAD WAS GOING ON IN THERE

It’s kinda cool when someone remembers specific scenes from the books you’ve written . . . even if that someone is your brother.

My brother Rick and I were chatting a few weeks ago about novels and movies, and he brought up a particular scene he remembered from Plague.

“That building with no windows,” he said.  “I just knew something bad was going on in there, but I didn’t wanna know what.  I was sure it was gonna be something I didn’t wanna hear about.  But I kept reading.” 

How EYEWALL influenced CASCADIA

Eyewall-cvrOf the four novels I’ve had published so far, my first, Eyewall, remains by far the best seller.  That’s been a little difficult for me to come to grips with, since I don’t think the book necessarily reflects my best writing.  It’s not that it’s bad writing—or it would never have sold as many copies as it has—it’s just that I like to think I grow (get better) as a writer with each new effort.

LOOKING FOR A FEW THRILLS AT CHRISTMAS?

655191-christmas-trees-desktop-wallpaper-1600x1200In my newest novel, BLIZZARD, a corporate executive undertakes a desperate journey through an historic Southern blizzard, but quickly realizes the storm isn’t the only thing that can kill him. 

A question that naturally arises is Could a true blizzard really smack the Deep South?

The answer is yes.  In fact, one did in the not too distant past.  Remember “Superstorm ’93,” also called “The Storm of the Century,” in March 1993?  Honest-to-goodness blizzard conditions raked areas from northern Alabama through the southern Appalachians (and as far north as New England.) 

El Niño and BLIZZARD (the novel)


Blizzard-home-cvrAs you’re undoubtedly aware, a powerful El
Niño is expected to exert heavy-handed authority over our weather this winter.  And before I go any further, please, please, please remember El Niño is NOT a weather phenomenon.  It’s the name given to a particular Pacific Ocean temperature regime.  El Niño exerts an influence on weather patterns, but is not in and of itself a weather event.

Okay, glad we got that straightened out.  Anyhow, with a chiller- and wetter-than-average cool season looming for much of the Southeast (see graphics below) due to El Niño’s impact, I got to wondering if that meant there might be a greater chance than usual for ice and snow in the land of cotton and kudzu.

SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN WOLVES

imgresThere are no wolves in the southern Appalachians.  There probably haven’t been in over a century.

They do, however, make a guest appearance in my most recent novel, Blizzard.  In the book, I think I adequately explain their presence.  What’s more interesting, perhaps, is how the animals made their way into the story in the first place.

It started in Germany. 

Near my wife’s hometown in the Mosel River Valley of Germany, there’s a castle, Burg Arras, that overlooks the river.  The castle was constructed around 1100, and probably rebuilt a couple of times since then.  Still, the “bones” of the castle remain with its thick stone walls, dungeon and battlements.

PERPETUALLY AROUSED ZOMBIES?

images

I got an email recently from the VP of my publishing company, Belle Bridge Books, detailing the marketing challenges faced by smaller presses, like Belle Bridge, and relatively unknown authors, like myself.

The VP, Deborah  Smith (a New York Times best-selling author, BTW), harbors a great deal of wisdom and a laugh-out-loud sense of humor.  Her comments are worth sharing.

The email from Deb was in response to a question of mine about ARCs, Advance Reader Copies.  ARCs are sent out prior to the publication of a book to get endorsement blurbs, the brief quotes you’ll often see on the front or back cover of a book proclaiming what a great read it is.

GRABBING THE READER

imagesI preach it all the time in my critique group, so I don’t know why I have such a struggle doing it myself: grabbing the reader in the opening few paragraphs of my book; embedding him or her immediately in the drama.

Eventually, I always get things sorted out, but I usually have to get “slapped upside the head” before I do.

Maybe it’s because, as a friend who had an artistic bent once told me, “Buzz, your thinking is too linear.”

SLICING AND DICING MY “BABIES”  

 

imagesRewriting.  It’s not my favorite part of the writing process, but it is integral to it.  Movies often depict authors as being finished with their work when they type THE END.  Time to celebrate, right?  Nope.  In the real world of writing, that’s probably only half way home.  Any experienced scribe will tell you writing is rewriting.  And rewriting.  And rewriting.

Different writers approach the task in different ways.  I like to toss my first drafts out to a cadre of three or four trusted readers and let them have a go at it.  They’re good at what they do because they tell me what needs to be fixed, not how great the story is.

How I Almost Blew It With BLIZZARD

images-1You’d think after three novels I’d know the “rules.”  (Actually, as NYT best-selling author Steve Berry likes to say about his ten rules of writing, the number one rule is “There are no rules.”)  So let’s just call them guidelines.

I actually do know the guidelines, but I managed to ignore one of the most important as I pounded out the first draft of Blizzard, my work-in-progress.

Something kept bothering me about my opening chapter.  I just couldn’t pin down what it was.  There were two scenes in the chapter, and I kept switching them back and forth.  Alas, neither one seemed like the kind that would “grab the reader by the throat and drag him or her over the threshold into the drama.”  (Paraphrased from author Elizabeth Sinclair.)