STANDING IN THE STORM, The Many Worlds of William Alan Webb

We Sleep At Night Because America's Armed Forces, Police and Fire Fighters Never Do

Category: Bill’s Fiction (Page 1 of 3)

One Writer’s Life

Late Sunday night, that would be Dec. 10th, 2017, I emailed the 5th draft of Standing At The Edge, The Last Brigade Book 3, to my editor at Dingbat Publishing, J. Gunnar Grey. After the first draft I was lucky enough to get detailed feedback from four beta readers. Since then I’ve done a content edit, a timeline edit and two line by line edits. That’s about all I can do with it for now.

I trust Gunnar’s judgment implicitly and give her much of the credit for why The Last Brigade series has sold tens of thousands of copies. (Book 2 had over 2,000 pre-orders.) So sending it off has become very safe for me, which most writers will tell you is NOT how they feel about showing their work to others.

I’d already missed my self-imposed deadline, which put me back on all the other projects on my schedule. So as I wait to hear back from Gunnar, what now? What does an author do when they finish a book?

This writer immediately starts another one. I call this my secret project. In this case it’s a book from long ago that I quit working on after 27k words and which now sits at 36k. I realized that a big chunk of it needed a severe edit. It’s almost all exposition and description but the problem is…it’s damned good exposition and description. I’d forgotten how far I was along the road of that style of writing. The problem is that my style now is vastly different from what it was then.

But a major plot hole was fixed by a chance meeting with fellow writer Susan McKenzie, who also happens to be a nuclear engineer. Once I told her the plot she described a whole new motivator for my bad guys and it fit perfectly! So that’s what I’m doing today.

As those who know me are aware, I NEVER work on one project by itself. I can do it in short bursts to meet a deadline, but not for too long. So I’m learning to use Scrivener to outline book 4 of the Last Brigade, tentatively titled Standing By The Abyss.

I’m also prepping to do a looonnngggg deep dive into the WW2 book in 2018, because by contract it must be finished by Dec. 31, 2018.

In the meantime I’m waiting with bated breath to hear back from Gunnar. Tick, tick, tick…

 

Editing decisions, they all count

I’m in the middle of editing Standing At The Edge, The Last Brigade Book 3, and I realized how many thousands of little decisions go into the making of just one book. Let me give you a few examples.

First is the timeline. I’m a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants, making it up as I go. That’s not to say I haven’t outlined things in my head, only that I haven’t written them down and don’t follow a set script when I write. And here’s a confession for you: I wish that I could write that way. It would make the editing so much easier. But I can’t. I’ve tried and failed. I’m going to try again with book 4. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Anyway, the timeline is tricky. This book jumps to different locales and as the author I want to stay with characters long enough for the reader to connect with them. But what if others things are happening at the same time? Do I adhere to a strict chronological timeline at the expense of following a subplot until it reaches a logical breakpoint, and then go back in time when I switch to another subplot? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Some people prefer it one way, some the other.

You also have to make sure that all of the facts and revelations line up with one another. For example, does an action early in the book have repercussions later? Does someone make a reference that hasn’t happened yet? You’ve got to think about all of this.

Then comes the content edit. Anything that doesn’t advance the narrative has to go. In Standing At The Edge I’ve already moved two plot lines to book 4, which is awesome because I haven’t even started writing that book and it’s already close to 20k words.

But the hardest part for me is the line edit. I read every single word in the book at least three times. I agonize over every visual, every description, every phrase. I speak every word of dialogue out loud to ensure that it sounds natural for that character. It’s a long, hard and grinding process.

And the whole time I’m doing it the next book on my schedule is running through my mind like a movie in the background. It’s  distracting!

But I’m lucky. I have a publisher who happens to be the editor’s equivalent of Lebron James. I don’t have to make my book perfect because, after putting three of my books on the market, I know she will put on that final polish that makes it special.

If you self publish I strongly suggest that you interview editors until you find one that works for you, then pay them whatever they charge to make your books awesome.

 

 

 

#13 out again, and #28 done

Tail Gunner Joe is back out again, so that’s #13. And I added #28, which is a flash fiction piece I wrote a while back titled It’s a Job, which is now edited, re-written, formatted and out for submission for the first time.

Labor Day is for doing labor, right?

 

Check off #12 Again

Taking the suggestions of 4 beta readers I re-wrote and edited LifeEnders again, and now I’ve got a problem. It’s the best short story I’ve ever written.

The problem? What now? This story is great…I mean, it really turned out well. I can’t believe that I wrote it. How do I top it?

All that’s left now if formatting and then it’s off to one of the best SF markets out there.

Wish me luck.

 

Check off #12

If you look at the list I posted the other day, I checked off item #12, rewriting LifeEnders, Inc. Done, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. Now I’m waiting on beta readers to volunteer and give me some feedback.

I’ve also made good progress on #10, writing a book proposal for my WW2 book, non-fiction.

And just so certain people don’t get mad, I made good progress on The Last Brigade, Book 3, so far untitled.

Go me!

 

TWO MOONS WANING is out!

Book #1 in Sharp Steel and High Adventure is out, and I couldn’t be prouder! It turned out better than even I hoped it would!

Buy it here for a measly .99 cents, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

https://www.amazon.com/Moons-Waning-Sharp-Steel-Adventure-ebook/dp/B07543MQ63/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=SGS1BQFXGR37VBA1N0F1

To whet your appetite, here’s the first paragraph:

The shouts of battle faded as the men who made them cried and died. Echoes of steel on steel disappeared into the murky depths of the deep valley, below steep slopes, and the carnage of war lay scattered across snow-clad fields. The copper scent of blood tainted the wind. Here and there frozen hands reached skyward, as if in supplication to their gods.

My homage to Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber and Karl Edward Wagner could not have been better!

 

A writer’s schedule

People ask me what a typical day looks like and the real answer is, the hell if I know. My day’s are so atypical that no two look alike. I wish they did.

So instead I thought I’d make a list of all the things on my schedule that I’d like to accomplish before the end of the year. I’m doing this as much for me, as to answer the question of my usual day’s activities. What am I supposed to do before January 1? This doesn’t include my daily responsibilities of keeping the house clean, the yard cut, playing with the puppies and making the meals.

  1. Decide which cons I’d like to attend next year and see if they would like to have me.
  2. Finish writing the fourth novella in my new series Sharp Steel and High Adventure. The story is titled The Demon In the Jewel.
  3. Finish the cover for A Night at the Quay if Shannon O. can’t. This is a very short term thing, but still. If circumstances allow her to finish, prepare to be wowed.
  4. Finish cover for The Demon in the Jewel.
  5. Find new talent to mentor in business. Some of you might not know it, but I’m a business consultant and mentor on top of everything else. I have recently found an impressive young man to mentor and it rekindled the fire to do it again. If you know of anyone who might like to become a successful business owner, send them my way. But be warned: they’ve got to be serious, I don’t have time to waste trying to motivate those who aren’t ready to do what is necessary to succeed.
  6. Attend DragonCon and Imaginarium as a panelist.
  7. Finish book 3 of The Last Brigade.
  8. Finish book 4 of The Last Brigade.
  9. Finish prequel to The Last Brigade titled Not Enough Bullets.
  10. Write book proposal for Killing Hitler’s Reich: The Battle For Austria, 1945
  11. Finish re-writing and editing two short stories written with Tom Russell, then submit.
  12. Finish editing and re-writing my short story LifeEnders, then submit to markets.
  13. Continue submitting short story Tail Gunner Joe to markets.
  14. Re-write short story Winter Storm.
  15. Outline and prepare for writing partially written novel currently titled The Time of Your Life, which will likely be re-titled something like The Prison of Time.
  16. Decide whether to pursue partly written novel currently titled Suntans Within Suntans.
  17. Begin outline for novel idea The Halls of Heaven.
  18. Begin outline for two full length novels in Sharp Steel and High Adventure series, a prequel and a sequel to the novellas.
  19. Learn how the f*** to use Scrivener.
  20. Record audiobook of me reading The Last Attack. Use the result of this to determine whether I can do justice to the Brigade or Sharp Steel books.
  21. Get a recording of Standing The Final Watch on the market, regardless of who is reading it.
  22. Update Zero to Hero.
  23. Outline and begin writing We Are Rome.
  24. After #23, write book proposal for same.
  25. Outline unnamed alternate history novel about the War for Southern Independence.
  26. Outline prequel for The Last Brigade. The one where the world ends.
  27. Sleep. This is optional.
 

Cover reveal for THE QUEEN OF DEATH AND DARKNESS

Next week will see the launch of my first fantasy book and first in my new series, Sharp Steel and High Adventure. The first entry is titled Two Moons Waning, and is a rousing tale inspired by Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber, but with my own twisted twists. If you don’t have at least as much fun reading it as I had writing it, then I’ll be shocked!

Shortly thereafter we’ll launch the second book in the series, titled The Queen of Death and Darkness. This was the title of my very first novel, written in the mid 1980’s on a succession of typewriters. (Yes…typewriters.) Parts of this story are lifted wholesale from that unpublished work because I was so impressed with them I couldn’t believe that I wrote them! But the rest is all brand new and contains some of my best work. I’m inordinately proud of it, and don’t care that I just used an adverb.

So now, without further ado, let me reveal the cover for this second entry. I have to tell you that I’m stoked at how it turned out.

 

 

Cover Reveal for TWO MOONS WANING!

The first novella in my featured series Sharp Steel & High Adventure comes out soon, and the cover is finished! Very proud of how it turned out!

 

Please let me know what you think of it.

 

LIFEENDERS Fragment from 1999

I finally found the disc containing all of my digitized work from earlier times. There’s a lot on here, some of which I might eventually finish, but this fragment has a particular lineage that I’d forgotten.

During the heyday of AOL message boards, before they committed suicide by eliminating the boards and thereby giving nobody a reason to visit AOL anymore, among the reading boards was one called Hardboiled. The list of authors posting there on a regular basis is staggering.

Robert Crais, Randy Wayne White, James W. Hall, Robert Randisi, SJ Rozan, Harlan Coben, John Gilstrap, Laura Lippman, Max Allan Collins and literally dozens more. There were more famous authors on the board than there were fans. It was amazing.

For a while, James Hall (or Just Jim, as he insisted on being called), wrote a tongue-in-cheek short story every holiday about hardboiled PI James Holliday. I was inspired by these stories to write one of my own, not a Holliday story but in the same vein, and what I came up with was Lifeenders. This is the only fragment that survives, but I thought you guys might like it anyway.

This little bit dates from April, 1999. And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll finish it.

__________________________________________

The blonde was bleached, like raptor bones frozen in Cretaceous mud. The guy was fleshy, his jowls sagging like warm bread dough. Jewels glittered on most of their twenty fingers. They both smelled nice, like those French milled soaps hotels put in the little baskets in the bathrooms.

“You have read the contract, I assume?” I said. “You know my fees?”

“The terms are acceptable, the money is no problem,” he said with a dismissive wave.

“So who do you want dead?” I asked, leaning back in my old swivel chair and firing up a smoke. The man glanced to either side, as if he could spot my hidden cameras and microphones, and wiped his generous forehead with a handkerchief.

“Exactly how confidential is this conversation?” he asked. I pointed to the twin frames holding my license and my certificate of membership in the North American Life-Enders Association.

“I’m bound by the ethics of my profession and my organization,” I said. “As well as all applicable laws. It’s as confidential as the doctor-patient, lawyer-client privilege. It’s all spelled out in the contract.”

“Well, you see, it’s just that we’ve heard…heard things. People like you who carry out the contract, then inform the victim’s family who hired you. Drumming up business, so to speak.”

Assassins, by and large, are a live-and-let-live sort, slow to anger. Ours is not a business that lends itself well to quick displays of emotion. But what Mr. Delvin, that was his name, what he was insinuating was the deepest insult someone in my profession can suffer.

I narrowed my eyes theatrically. “I don’t usually do pro-bono work,” I said in a low voice. “Don’t tempt me to change my mind, Mr. Delvin.”

He blanched and rose from his chair, mopping at a new round of sweat. “Your pardon, sir. I’m not very good at this sort of thing. I meant no offense.” He began inspecting the books I keep on my shelves to impress clients, nervously distracting himself from his faux pas, and stopped at the same one they all stop at, the one with the famous name on the spine. He looked at me curiously.

“It’s signed by the author,” I said. “In 1925. A first edition. He wasn’t very famous then and the book is mostly gibberish. Nobody bought it.”

“You’re a Nazi?”

“I’m a collector. It’s my retirement fund. Can we return to the business at hand? Who is the victim?”

After another hesitation the blonde settled the issue. “What’s the matter with you, you idiot? Tell him.”

Delvin sat back down reluctantly. “My daughter,” he said. “God help me, I want you to kill my daughter.”

*******

Kids die all the time. Car wrecks, meningitis, freak accidents on the playground. A 9 year old boy playing baseball truck in the chest by a pitch. He keeled over, dead. The ball wasn’t thrown hard enough to break a window, yet it struck him in just the right spot at just the right time, interrupted the electrical impulses from brain to heart, and that was that.

Hiring to have one killed, however, is a different matter altogether. I’ve met a number of children in my life that under the right circumstances I thought should have been killed. It’s probably just as well that I wasn’t working during those times.

Leonard Acretius Delvin was having money problems of the sort that have plauged short, dumpy men with gorgeous wives for centuries: keeping them in diamonds. And fancy cars, expensive vacations, the whole gamut of the Sugar-Daddy scene. Lila, her name, and the first person actually named Lila I’d ever met, was his third wife and not the girl’s mother. She was better looking than most third wives and certainly more expensive than average. The bills had mounted while the cash reserves dwindled. Something had to give, and it did, in the form of Leonard Delvin’s backbone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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