Hurray for the Series Novel: Val McDermid’s Splinter the Silence
I know a Good Story / December 8, 2015

They say publishers love novels that turn into a series.  The  characters in these collections of stories develop their own fan base assuring the publisher of a a steady and increasing audience to gobble up each new adventure as soon as it hits the stands.  Still, it’s tricky to write that kind of series because each book has to serve two plots.  Each book has a primary, short plot: it finds and resolves a conflict that involves the new characters and most (if not all) of the permanent cast. The second plot is harder because it’s part of the overall arc of the series. This plot creates some incremental change in the lives of the permanent cast and lets them create or resolve underlying conflicts (Continuing characters must evolve from book to book or the reading public gets bored and leaves).  Interweaving these two plots in each book is a little like jumping rope double-dutch style: it takes skill, balance and concentration.  Thriller/Mystery novelist Val McDermid has created three different detective novel serials, the most popular of which are the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan books.  Her latest in this series, Splinter the Silence, shows how a good author can make some…

Diary of a Mad NaNoWriMor
One of My Stories / December 3, 2015

Every November for the past 15 years, various aspirants to Literary Lionship have girded on their writing tools and thrown away their few remaining brain cells on what is known as NaNoWriMo – the Nation Novel Writing Month.  The objective of this event is to see if the would-be writer can create a first draft of a 50,000 word novel within 30 days.  What follows is the expurgated diary of one of these self-imposed masochists.   11/1/15 – Ok, here goes nothing, as the man said.  Got an idea, got a word-processor and the nice people  at   http://nanowrimo.org/  promise that if I’ll just scribble down 1,666 words of this thing every day, I’ll have a sure-nuff 50K  word first draft by the end of the month.   At least Darling Spouse is in my corner.  What would I do without him? 11/4/15 There are thousands of writers using this site and everyone else seems bustin’ loose and making literary history.  I’ve got a first chapter done – I don’t like it, it stinks, but at least it’s done.  I sure am glad six or seven of these people want to be my writing buddies – misery loves company and maybe they…

The Big Store (Part 9)
I know a Good Story , One of My Stories / December 1, 2015

     Those next hours were the worst and the longest I’ve known since Ponder died.  I kept struggling to move forward with Jerry’s arm around my neck, his bad right foot banging against my left like we were the last pair in a three legged race. We walked through fields a good five yards away from the road and tried not to stumble.  The hot still night hugged my right side and Jerry hugged the left.   Sweat and blood brought out ever biting bug and they got every inch of us that wasn’t covered by clothes or each other. As we rocked along like some old, drunken couple, I heard myself singing under my breath: “Leaning, leaning, leaning on the ever-lasting arms of God” “Leaning, leaning, leaning on the ever-lasting arms of God”             Jerry threw back his head and laughed “Viola, I’d never have picked you as a holy roller!”  Well I’m not but I’d gone to church enough to learn the old hymns.  Jerry must have too because he joined me on the chorus after we hit the paper mill smell.      On and on, over and over, I put one foot out and then the…