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Category: Bill’s Fiction Page 1 of 3


One of my awesome readers asked if any spinoffs or other authors were coming in The Last Brigade, and it seemed high time I brought you fine folks up to date on my thoughts about that.

First, and I guess primarily, I do not foresee where this series will end. The story has evolved quite a bit since I began writing in this universe, and there are a lot of different stories to tell. What I will not do is write books and stories that I’m not passionate about; if I don’t feel there is anything to say, then I won’t say it. In other words, I won’t write books just because somebody might buy them. I would never exploit my readers in any way, shape or form, so if I can’t write something that’s up to my standards, then I won’t write anything. Having said all of that, here’s where I see things going…

Standing With Righteous Rage is out now, and the next book will be Standing Among The Tombstones, Books 2 and 3 of The Showdown Trilogy. Once that is wrapped up, I see the scope broadening. The world still exists and humans still roam Earth’s surface in large numbers. Inevitably the political entities that have grown up since the Collapse will begin to seek our new resources in lands controlled by others. Some things never change.

There is already one prequel series, Task Force Zombie, with The Nameless being the first entry. A direct followup to that will be Double Down, likely a novella like the first story, followed by an as-yet untitled story about the loss of 2nd Squad in Venezuela. And there’s at least one novel that is already well underway, Not Enough Bullets, which is the origin story of Nipple. It is not only likely, but probable, that plenty more tales of the Zombies will be forthcoming.

The next most obvious series of books will be those of The Collapse. I envision this being a trilogy, I don’t know how to tell the whole story is less room. As things stand now, they will be the ending books of the Task Force Zombie series. But there is also the possibility it will bring together two spinoff series’, as they lead into the world of The Last Brigade. The second spinoff is still in the negotiation phase, but if it works out the first book is mostly written already.

The wonderful John Babb has discussed the framework of a novel set at the same time as Nick and the 7th Cav. With any luck, he will enjoy it and write more. This book(s) might or might not be spun off, but regardless would be canon to the main series.

Beyond all of that, an anthology titled Stand Fast: Stories from the World of the Last Brigade is planned for December of 2020. Invitations have been issued and at least one story is well underway. I have two ready to go for it now, both of the Snowtiger twins’ great-great-grandmother, titled The River of Walking Spirits and Nalusa Malaya. Other invitations have been issued to some writers I greatly admire, so we’ll see how that works out.

Lastly, for those who haven’t yet read Jurassic Jail, The Time Wars Book 1, it takes place in an alternate timeline where Task Force Zombie, Nick and everybody else also existed, but the nation survived the Collapse. It was wrecked, but staggered on.

There you have it, at least for now. I hope that answers any questions for those who are interested. As always, I am exceedingly grateful to each and every one of you.


Obligatory year end blog entry

I always thought that when you reach a certain age, say, your early 60s, you’d begin to slow a bit. Stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Take more trips to warm locales and read more books, visit museums and do all the stuff you once thought sounded boring, back when you could party all and still function the next day. You’d spend your days arguing with the government about all the personal stuff they never had any business getting into in the first place, like social security and medicare, and your grandkids would prop their heads in their hands and pay attention to every old story you told them. Regardless of how many times you repeated the same story, they’d always hang on every word.

When you weren’t arguing with some government bureaucrat, or refilling prescriptions to keep bodily functions running smoothly, maybe you’d play a lot of golf, or maybe you’d go fishing, plant a vegetable garden or tend bees. Maybe your spouse or significant other would shoo you out of the house because you were driving them crazy, or maybe they’d hand you a ‘honey-do’ list longer than your arm. All of those and more, either in full or in part, were what I envisioned life post-kids would be like. What I never, ever thought is that I would be busier than I ever have been in my entire life, and damned glad that I am.

I’ve been a writer for going on fifty years. My first (unpublished, thank God!) novel was finished in 1986, but it wasn’t until 30 years later than my first book came out, the one that started my diversion from a semi-sedentary life into an even more sedentary one, Standing The Final Watch, The Last Brigade, Book 1. Since then I’ve sold somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 books, in all formats.

None of that happened because I’m such a great writer. It happened because I’m lucky enough to have amazing friends and family in my corner, without whose support it could never have happened.

Next weekend, the first weekend in January of 2020, I will attend my first convention as Guest of Honor, SHADOWCON. It’s gonna be epic, not because of me, but because of the awesome people running it. In February I’m going to Colorado Springs for SUPERSTARS, a conference featuring some of the top writers in science fiction and fantasy teaching others how they became successful, and how to improve your craft. March will be MIDSOUTHCON, where I will again be a panelist and have a table in the dealer room.

In 2019 I was lucky enough to attend LIBERTYCON, and got up at 6 am on a Saturday to get a spot in the June, 2020, convention. If you know me at all, you know how nearly impossible that is for me. The convention sold all 750 spots out in 29 minutes and 9 seconds. I hope to get a spot at the 20booksto50k conference in November of 2020, but that’s not a guarantee yet.

See what I mean? Sedentary.

In March of 2019, my novella The Hairy Man, A Story in the World of the Last Brigade, was First Runnerup for the Darrell Award, and in October it won the Imadjinn Award. Jurassic Jail, The Time Wars Book 1, was First Runnerup for the Imadjinn Award. For me, and I suspect for every writer, awards are confirmation that others appreciate what you’re doing and the way you’re doing it. They help alleviate that voice in your head that whispers “this sucks” about everything you write.

August of 2019 saw Jurassic Jail as part of my first bundle with Science Fiction Writers of America. It sold close to 1,000 copies in three weeks. I could never have dreamed of such a thing even a year ago.

In 2019 I published one long novel, Standing Before Hell’s GateThe Last Brigade, Book 4, one novella, The Nameless, Task Force Zombie 1, four novelettes, Kill Me When You Can, Hit World #1; Shoot First, Hit World #2 (with Larry Hoy); The Sting of Fate and Grinning Soul (with my writing mentor Thomas Lyon Russell), a Time Wars short story, Tail Gunner Joe, and my non-fiction magnum opus, Killing Hitler’s Reich, The Battle for Austria, 1945. I cannot conceive that I will ever write a book with more long-lasting impact than that one.

Already written and scheduled or contracted for in 2020 are novella Hitler a la Mode (on pre-order now); novelette The Granite Man (in the Cthulu Universe!); novelette The Moles of Vienna, A Story in the World of the Last Brigade; novelette The River of Walking Spirits, A Story in the World of the Last Brigade; novelette Nalusa Malaya, A Story in the World of The Last Brigade, novellette Drumsticks Along the Mohawk and novelette Roland the Headless Mecha Driver, my first entry into the magnificent Four Horsemen Universe.

I have publicly vowed to try writing 1,000,000 words in 2020. For many writers that’s a drop in output, but for me, with all of my hand problems, it will be quite a challenge.

Novels already in various stages of writing and planned for release in 2020 include my first full length book in the Four Horsemen Universe, with the working title of High Mountain Hunters; Standing In Righteous Rage, The Last Brigade Book 5; Cretaceous Kill, The Time Wars Book 2 (with J. Gunnar Grey); The Demon in the Jewel, Sharp Steel & High Adventure 4; Ghosts of the Coast, an alternate history of the Battle of France, 1940, and Not Enough Bullets, a Task Force Zombie novel.

Novels planned for next year, but not yet begun, include Standing Among The Tombstones, The Last Brigade Book 6. Out For Blood, Task Force Zombie 2 will likely be a novella, as will Beyond The Dead River, Sharp Steel & High Adventure 5. On the horizon, but highly unlikely in 2020, are The Dragons of Anthar, Sharp Steel & High Adventure 6 and Dark Time, The Time Wars 3. I also have a sequel to High Mountain Hunters forming in my mind, but not yet planned or gotten permission to attempt.

As if that doesn’t sound like enough, in the non-fiction realm I’m planning on finishing Killing Hitler’s Reich, The Battle for Velikiye Luki, 1942-43; Unsuck Your Writing Career, What I’ve Learned; Essays on the War for Southern Independence and, should I somehow run out of things to write, there are further projects already in the works.

Four years ago today, December 31, 2015, I had the first draft of the longest novel I’d ever attempted, totaling about 175,000 words. I had no idea what to do next, absolutely no clue about the publishing industry of the 21st Century, no website, no Amazon author accounts, no twitter account or contacts anywhere in any genre. I literally had no concept of what to do next.

The point of all of this is to encourage others never to quit pursuit of your dreams, no matter what happens. For my fellow writers, I revel in every success you achieve and find inspiration from you. The list of amazing people I’ve met in the past four years is too long to list here, but nearly all of them are new to writing within the past five years. It really is a brave new world out there. Go get you some.



Writing goals for 2020

You can’t say that I overwhelm you with blog entries, now can you?

Among other things in 2020 I need to find a really good, really reliable cover artist. Not that I have much self-publishing to do, but even so it would be great to know someone.

For year 2020 my daily writing goal will be 3,000 words. That may seem like a lot, but many writers I admire would consider that a bad day. Given the arthritis in my hands, however, I have to be realistic about what I can accomplish. I also have something weird called Cubital Tunnel Syndrome that limits me.

3,000 words a day will equal about a million for next year, and that seems pretty darned good to me.

Keep in mind that the more non-fiction I write, the more that daily average plummets. Research intensive projects might only progress by 500 words a day, and yet have taken eight hours to produce.

Nevertheless, here’s my intended schedule. See if there’s something you like in the works.

The Last Brigade Books 5 and 6 – Standing In Righteous Rage and Standing Among The Tombstones, The Showdown Trilogy Books 2 and 3. These should equal no more than 300k words. One in Spring, one late Fall. 300,ooo words.

The Demon in the Jewel, Sharp Steel and High Adventure Four – Hoping to finish this before the end of 2019, but if not allotting 20k words to finish it next year. 320,000 words.

Cretaceous Kill, The Time Wars Book 2, with J. Gunnar Grey. First quarter of the year. Currently at 19k words, probably top out around 80k. If I do half that’s 30k, so let’s add that number to get us up to 350,000 words.

Not Enough Bullets, Task Force Zombie Book 2. Currently at 19,600 words. Want this out by mid-year, between the two Last Brigade books. Probably another 80k word maximum, so let’s add 60k to the total.  410,000 words.

Killing Hitler’s Reich, The Battle for Velikiye Luki 1942-1943. Non-fiction and needs a LOT of further research. This will slow things down. But currently at a whopping 69k words. This will end up around 125k, probably, so I’m adding 56k to the total allocation. 466,000 words.

Anonymous SF novel in an existing universe that I can’t reveal yet. VERY EXCITING stuff. Haven’t started, will require some research and reading. 80k words, aiming for mid-year. 546,000 words.

Those are the high priority books for next year, not in a particular order. Once those are done, these will come next.

Beyond the Dead River, Sharp Steel and High Adventure 5. Projecting this as a novella at 30k words. 576,000 words.

The Dragons of Anthar, Sharp Steel and High Adventure 6. This is a novel, probably in the 100k words range. 676,000 words.

Dark Time, The Time Wars Book 3. A novel, call it 80k. 756,000 words.

Kill Me If You Will, Hit World 3. Novelette, perhaps a novella. Probably 9k words. 765,000 words.

Double Down, Hit World 4. Novella, 15k words. 780,000 words.

Last Brigade world short story for an anthology of same. 10k words. 790,000 words.

Unsuck Your Book Career: What I’ve Learned. Sequel to Unsuck Your Book. Guessing at 30k. 820,000 words.

Ten opportunity short stories. I’m reserving time to write up to 10 stories for anthologies I might be invited into. Alternately, this could be a 100k word novel or multiple novellas. 920,000 words.

Ghost of the Coast. Alternate World War II history novel. Most likely 100k words. 1,020,000 words.

There…now that wasn’t so hard now was it?

I must be out of my mind.


Two years on…

Warning: self-congratulatory post ahead.

I don’t do this very often. My success is due to the brilliance of others, from my remarkable publisher, Gunnar Grey at Dingbat Publishing, to my awesome beta readers, writing groups and friends. But I guess I did play some part in carving out a writing career this late in life.

The other day I received an email from someone teaching a course about to get your first 10,000 readers. That’s a lot of people. If you had asked me two years ago whether I thought 10,000 people would ever read my books, I’d have answered with a quick and definitive ‘no!’ Ten, maybe. Or even one hundred. But 10,000? No way.

Well, I’ve got those first 10,000 and a lot more beyond. But I was kind of kidding about the bragging part. See, that number staggers me. More to the point, it humbles me.

On August 17, 2016, Standing The Final Watch became my first published novel. When you look ahead two years seems like a really long time, but looking back it might as well be yesterday. Especially when you consider how much my life has changed in those two years.

In Unsuck Your Book: Eight Months from First Draft to the Promised Land I detailed the story of how the book came to be written. The short version is that I wrote it without prior knowledge or planning. I sat down on Sept. 1, 2014, and started writing. No expectations, no pressure, just clack, clack, clack on the keyboard.

As of today, August 16, 2018, I have 11 published fiction books, and my magnum opus World War Two non-fiction volume, Killing Hitler’s Reich, The Battle for Austria 1945 is available for pre-order, with publication next March.


The audio book for Standing the Final Watch is finished and only awaiting approval from Audible (it’s amazing!). I have a LOT of short stories finished, three more books partly written and at least one novella half finished. I have no idea how many words I’ve written in the last two years, but it’s a lot.

All of a sudden, I have the career that I’ve wanted my whole life.

So what’s the lesson here? What can others learn from my success? It’s basic stuff, but also vital. Decide how you want your life to look, and don’t stop until you’ve achieved it.

That’s it. No magic formula, no gimmicks, just hard work and perseverance. Some days my right thumb hurts so bad I can’t sleep, and my left ring finger stops working if I type too much, too fast. Literally. It just hangs down until I let it rest. My back hurts constantly. Typing for me is sometimes an ordeal. But who cares? I’d type with my toes if I had to.

Last year a young man looked me up on the internet and asked if I still mentored young people. I was swamped at the time, and leery, because experience has taught me that many people say they want success, but aren’t willing to pay the price. This young man was already reading books like Think and Grow Rich, so I agreed to take some of my limited time and mentor him, IF he promised to take my advice and never, ever give up. He gave me that solemn pledge. Whatever happened he’d stick it out. Pay attention, get excited, never quit. That was the mantra.

So what happened?

He gave up. He encountered the inevitable failure that comes with starting any business or career and quit after two months. A complete waste of everyone’s time, but mostly mine. My skepticism is well earned.

I’m telling you this because starting the business I showed him was a piece of cake compared to the failure and rejection you meet as a writer. It’s hard as hell and very few people succeed.  But if you have the work ethic and sheer stubbornness to stay focused on your goal, regardless of the bad things happen along the way,  you have a chance to carve out your own career. And when you do, let me tell you, it’s awesome.

So learn from me, because if I can do it, you can too.

PLAN D…Why I Didn’t Self Publish My New Book When Plans A, B & C Fell Through

Once you have some experience as an author, having a plan for your book from the outset is critical. If you’re a new writer still struggling to produce book one or two, this blog post might be a little premature. Maybe.

I would argue that it’s never too early to learn the writing profession, but I get that inexperienced writers can be overwhelmed with all of the things they are told to keep up with. Do this, do that, build an author platform…no!  Author platforms are a waste of time, build your email list instead! No! First master facebook ads! Wrong, AMS is the way to go!

It’s a lot to absorb, and even harder to put into action.

My newest book, Jurassic Jail, The Time Wars Book 1, began life in 1992. AS DID THE TITLE. (The alternate title was Hard Time, but Jurassic Jail was the working title.) I know Jurassic Park came out in 1990 and my recollection is having begun work in the late 80s, but that’s all fuzzy now. Did that influence my title? I don’t think so…the first dated copy I have is 1992 and it was 15k words long then. In those days I wrote very slowly.

Anyway, the idea, the essence of the book, was spectacular. It was so good I couldn’t believe that I’d come up with it. But the idea was better than the writer who thought it up. In short, I wasn’t good enough to write it back then. By the time I got to 1996 or so it sputtered out around 25k words.

When I picked it back up last year I was a different writer. I also had some experience with publishing. I decided that the ultimate publisher for this book was @BaenBooks. (As if that was my decision.) So when the publisher of Baen was announced as a guest at MidSouthCon this year, I made elaborate plans to present it for consideration. My friend Shannon went so far as to paint her sister from head to toe in scenes from my book. Check it out:

Is that Allosaurus on her right thigh gorgeous, or what?

Anyway, it was made known that these things weren’t welcomed. I was pretty depressed by that, although I should have known better. It was all my fault. Acquisitions editors, agents, publishers, they’re all deluged at conventions with wannabe writers trying to impress them, and to this wonderful lady I was just another in a long line of such folk. I should be remiss not to point out that the publisher initiated a discussion as I was signing books and she was very nice, so it was me who violated the rules of how these things are done, not her. Another lesson learned.

However, as this stage of my career I don’t have an agent, for a number of reasons. For one thing, I write the world’s worst query letter, although someone suggested a new one…”Dear Agent, I make a crapload of money selling books, do you want 10% of it?” I had one, once, an agent that is, a very powerful lady who knew everybody who was anybody in the New York publishing world and it did me no good whatsoever.

So much for Plan A, attracting Baen at the convention.

Plan B didn’t work out any better. Without that agent go-between, if I wanted to submit to Baen it would have gone through the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts…nope, not again. Been there, done that. It can take up to a year and the odds of making it past the slush pile reader are infinitesimal.

That book care of Plan B.

Plan C was to self publish. I’ve learned a lot in two years and, while there is no question that my Last Brigade books were elevated in a major way by my publisher, I also thought I should experience self-publishing a novel. You know, hire my own cover artist, editor, formatter, etc. The downside is that it’s all up to me. The upside is that I get to keep all the royalties.

I had a wonderful editor all picked out, April Jones, and had even sent her the manuscript. I commissioned a cover painting by the incredibly talented lady who painted her sister in the above illustration, Shannon Ortberg. But here I made a critical mistake: I gave Shannon the wrong instructions on what to paint. That’s because I’m not as good at laying out book covers as I thought, a lesson I should have learned two years ago.

But I did learn one big lesson right about then. Or rather, I came to a realization. And that moment of clarity pushed me from Plan C to Plan D. Which is good, because the next plan was Plan 9 and it came From Outer Space.

My publisher, Gunnar Grey of Dingbat Publishing, has become a major part of my writing. Now, I suppose that’s what any publisher should be, but based on the stories of other writers I’m not sure that’s always the case. Quite frankly, Gunnar elevates my writing to a different level.

People tell me that’s the job of any good editor, and I believe them. I’m not saying Gunnar is the only great editor out there. But what I figured out is that, for the moment, Gunnar is my great editor.

Jurassic Jail was problematic, because my original style from the early 90’s bore no resemblance to the style I have now. I had evolved a lot in the interim and meshing the two styles proved a Herculean task. Then there was the issue of the narrative timeline. When you have three or four different timelines to follow in a linear narrative, it can get very confusing. I needed someone I could trust to help me figure it out.

Not to mention the eleven extra scenes she had me write to smooth things out. I didn’t see any of this coming. And then there’s the issue of the cover.

After much back and forth, which is usual for every book I write, we arrived at this cover, of which I am inordinately proud:

Plan D worked. Although the final edits aren’t quite done, I feel confident in saying that Jurassic Jail  is a spectacular book. It’s fast, it’s fun, the science makes sense, it’s everything I envisioned back in the late 80s.





On winning the 2018 Darrell Award for Best Novella

Dr. Darrell C. Richardson founded the Memphis Science Fiction Association, was a member of First Fandom, served as Director of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, helped create MidSouthCon, was an ordained Baptist minister and, in his spare time, wrote 44 books about great men of fantasy and genre fiction such as Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs and J. Allen St. John.

For more about Dr. Richardson check out this link:


I had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions and still own a number of his books, all signed by the great man himself. In 1996 a group of fans founded the Darrell Awards in his honor, to promote literacy in the Mid-South.

On Saturday night, March 10, 2018, at about 6:38 PM, this incredibly prestigious award was given to me for my novella, A Night At The Quay, which appears in the full length book Sharp Steel or as a standalone. In the audience at the time were such SFF superstars as Mike Resnick, Steve Miller and Sharon Lee. Holy humbling, Batman!

Buy Sharp Steel

I see awards as matters of trust between the recipient and the judges. I am eternally grateful to those who selected Quay and will try not to let them down with my future work.

The earliest version of this story dates to 1979. It was read by many of my college professors back in the day and all but one hated it. Of course, they hated anything genre related. I wasn’t lucky enough to get Dal Coger or Jack Beifuss as a teacher.

Anyway, I tinkered with the story and drew some illustrations for it up until the late 90’s, when I finally digitized it, copied it to a floppy disc and forgot about it. Then, in early 2017, I found the floppy.

My writing style had changed radically in the intervening decades, as had my ability to judge my own work. Plus, I’d forgotten most of the story. So I rewrote it and sent it to my awesome publisher, J. Gunnar Grey of Dingbat Publishing. She loved it as much as I did.

What I’ve always loved about this story is the interplay between the two heroes, Alden and Dexter, the evil wizard who really isn’t so evil, greedy hucksters, assassins, the misty seaport setting and a werebear who doesn’t actually change shape. Instead of the usual tropes I played with them and twisted them but still held true to the influences of my heroes, Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber.

Karf and Lef – Illustration by William Alan Webb

Sometimes a writer can’t believe they wrote something, and that’s how it is with this story and I. I’ve always said that writing makes me better than I really am, and this award proves it!

Cover for the novella version. Principal artwork by Shannon Ortberg, finishing artwork by William Alan Webb. Layout and typography by J. Gunnar Grey.

Why I’m a Pantser, or Where did this new story come from?

I’m a Pantser. I sit down to write without a whole lot of pre-planning about what I’m going to write. For example, when I woke up this morning, writing a blog entry wasn’t on my to-do list for the day. Other writers outline everything they do, and I confess I’ve tried doing that, but so far I can’t do it. Outlines just don’t make sense to me when I try to plan out my stories.

When people ask what advice I would give a new or unpublished writer, or someone who has writer’s block (which I don’t believe in, by the way), my advice is always the same: don’t edit as you go. Write and don’t read what you’ve written until you’re finished, and whatever you do, don’t try to edit what you just wrote. This goes along with my Pantser style…Write ’em all, let God sort ’em out.

It took me thirty long years of struggle to reach the point where I could do that, but when I finally did I started writing at a pace that surprises even me. Now I just write stuff when I think of it and my production has gone way up.

But I’m a lucky guy and I know it.

Like so many writers I have more ideas swimming around in my brain than I could ever possibly write into a cohesive format. Unlike most writers I know, I actually have the time to piddle around with some of the stranger ones. And the great thing about being a Pantser is that I can do it without forethought.

I’m now 10k words into a bizarre story that I neither planned or even dreamed of ahead of time. It wasn’t even one of my secret projects because I literally had no inkling about it before I started typing. One night a few weeks ago I started writing and poof! there it was. I think it’s pretty good, too, but who knows?

How long will it be, what genre is it, all that good stuff comes later. Right now I have no idea. And that’s because I’m a Pantser. My path leads into the wild unknown, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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?

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