Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Four parts. Twenty-nine chapters. Two hundred sixty-three pages and 93,695 words.

I had to look to be sure. No, I could delete this last paragraph and let the one before it stand as my closer (with a little tweaking, of course). I looked at the time in the lower left hand of my screen. 1:59 a.m. 

Writing a novel is very much like herding zombies.
Once bitten, of course....
So it was on a Monday morning, 26 May—Memorial Day in the USA—that I concluded Grace Among the Dead. It took me two days longer to do than Bleeding Kansas, mainly because I thought I could write on top of the original story.

Now pay attention, because this is where things get twisty: the original story was my actual first novel, The Roiling River of Dead, which I’d completed in May 2012. Bleeding Kansas was to be the prequel. So I wrote that prequel. 

Evolve or d—okay, I don’t know what the moral
 to this is. Or if there even is one.
But in the course of writing that prequel, something wonderful happened—and that’s aside from being picked up by Severed Press when I’d only just finished Chapter 17—I’d developed my skill set to such a degree that The Roiling River of Dead reads like a middle-school play compared to the dark adventure of Bleeding Kansas, and a paper-hat pre-school skit compared to Grace Among the Dead.

Although Grace Among the Dead follows the basic plot of Roiling River closely, the characters changed tremendously over time. Pastor Bryce was a demented bad guy in Roiling River, Deacon Walsh even slightly more cynical than he proves to be in Grace

Derek Grace himself was a no-name character full of blackest misanthropic rage—the readers who found him abrasive and unlikeable in Bleeding Kansas would have been aghast at his prototype in Roiling River of Dead, who deliberately and with malice aforethought knifed a woman in the gut who had betrayed him. 

I should write a full history of how this series came to be, if only to center myself for the third book in the series. Incidentally, I wrote the entire first act for that book two years ago, and you can bet I’m throwing out everything except the first chapter. I am not letting the old get in the way of the new again.

If there’s a big takeaway for you here, other than my nifty sequel to Bleeding Kansas being finished at last, it’s don’t try and write on top of your old stuff. That way leads to madness and delay and despair. Throw that old and busted stuff out—and if you wrote it over six months before, it should be old and busted. You should be getting better at this, not holding steady.

The story of Grace Among the Dead is one of how my first novel became my third—and it would be out there already if that’s how I’d treated it from the get-go.

Live and learn. On to the next thing, then.