I just learned that my latest Salem Mathews novel, Pieces of January, will be released by Torrid Books on June 20, 2018.
One of the most difficult things about a new writing project is deciding where to start. I’ve got my title, synopsis, and list of characters. The narrative is in my head. Now it’s time to begin the story. I can feel the nervous anticipation in my fingertips, especially the two I use for typing. It’s the same feeling I used to get on the starting line of a 10K or in the batter’s box of a baseball game. It’s not the same feeling as speaking before a large group of people. That, of course, is terror.
Simply put, I’m looking for the doorway, the magic portal that will take me into the story in a way that will make readers want to follow. There are no rules for this process, at least none that I follow. Call it intuition, a feeling, a sixth sense about the way to begin that makes sense to me and, more importantly, will grab the reader by the balls and make his eyes pop. By the way, those last twelve words are a clue that I don’t write for children.
Once I’ve found the doorway I’m good. The characters take over, twisting and tugging the narrative into something that’s always a little different than I imagined. That’s all right…once I’m inside the story my role changes from that of an author to a journalist of sorts, a transcriber of the actions and events that unfold. It’s an interesting and powerful transformation.
Why is finding the doorway so important? What does it matter?
If I don’t find the doorway, the magical entrance that transports me inside the story, I will have to write the story from the outside looking in. Writing anything from the outside is impossible; the prospect of not finding the doorway to a project is even more distressing to me than that last sentence I ended with a preposition.
Good news…I’ve found the doorway to my next story. Shenandoah Dark will be my fifth Salem Mathews novel. Here we go.
One of my favorite bands is AC/DC. I love the raw, shrieking, horrible voice of Brian Johnson, the showmanship and guitar licks of Angus Young, and the thunderous backbeat of Phil Rudd. Fans of the group love their powerful metronomic style and suggestive lyrics. These are songs that can make a packed arena or a strip club come alive. Detractors complain that the lyrics are banal, the musicianship is no better than average, and all the songs sound the same. Regardless of your opinion, there is one important thing that AC/DC has that every writer needs – a powerful signature.
According to Webster, one of the definitions of signature is “something (as a tune, style, or logo) that serves to set apart or identify; also, a characteristic mark.”
The music of AC/DC is easily identifiable by it’s style, sound, and lyrics. I know it’s them almost as soon as Angus plays the first chord. Their signature is strong and unique and their music, love it or hate it, is consistent in its instrumental sound, tempo, and voice.
I strive for the same things in my writing: a powerful and consistent voice, proper tempo, and words that will keep readers nailed to their chairs. I want readers to know that whatever stories I write, my voice will remain the same. You’ll know it’s me from the first paragraph…no unwelcome surprises.
It seems to me the relationship between writing and music is almost symbiotic. Both involve creating, writing, re-writing, and, hopefully, a publishing or recording contract. Writers and musicians are both striving for the same thing – creative and commercial success and recognition. We’re traveling the same path. Authors would do well to bear that in mind while listening to their favorite songs.
All right, that’s my music lesson for the day. If you’re interested in adding a little spice to your Sunday afternoon, let me recommend Whole Lotta Rosie. Whatever you do, play it loud.
I’m happy to announce that I have signed a contract with Rogue Phoenix Press for the publication of my new John Howard novel, Stone Ponies! This is the follow-up to Tears at Sunrise. It should be released some time next year.
It appears that I will have two novels (so far) published next year. The Salem Matthews novel, Pieces of January, should also be released by Torrid Books in 2018. This is the sequel to Silent Waltz.
My next project is currently in development. I have a title and synopsis, but am not entirely satisfied with either. I’ll need to do some more work before I break ground on the actual writing.
My thanks to everyone that follows this blog and supports my work. You’re the reason I keep going.