Monday, May 9, 2016

What's Happening Now

Well, I'm finally at my last post on the history of my writing. My next posts will be what I am currently working on and what I'm struggling with and how I'm progressing towards eventual publication.

So, 2015. The first year I wrote a Terry Macdonald story in a year that ended in a "5". Not sure why this is significant. In 1985 I was busy at school. 1995 was in the middle of my 90's drought. In 2005 I was working on other writerly things.

This year was the most prolific year as far as word count goes. Only 8 stories were completed. Seven of those were in the Terry Macdonald Mysteries. And in December 2015 I wrote the first book in the middle grade series "Terry Macdonald Case Files".

But let's step back a bit. In January 2015 I completed "Curse Of The Black Dragon" where Terry takes on a vicious biker gang. While in the process of writing this, I decided to bring back an old character from way back in 1982's "The Sea Treasure". In that story Terry and Van go camping to Catfish lake and meet Jim Logan. I brought back Jim for this story and wove a bit of his history. I had also wanted to do a biker gang story and with the recent viewing of "Sons Of Anarchy" on TV, I finally took the plunge. It's not a bad story, though the idea that a Canadian teenager can take down a major biker gang leader is a bit far-fetched. but, hey, this is fiction.

Years ago I had purchased some duo tang covers at a local stationery store. I had four colours that I alternated on a "blue/red/yellow/green" order. I ran out of covers in 2015 and had been searching for years to find a suitable replacement. I didn't want cheap quality covers and had a hard time finding some but finally did. I had many more colours to choose from and decided not to go in a specific order, just use whatever colour I felt like at the time.

The next story, "Danger on Flight 999" was the last book to use one of the original four colour covers. This mystery was an airplane hostage scenario. In this day of terrorism and plane hijacking it just felt like time. Not that I'm glamorizing this at all, it just fit with today's headlines. And not a bad story either, though I'm not wild about the title. It's a little corny.

The next book I really liked the title, "Night Of The Zombie" was the first book to use the new covers and I decided to change the internal font as well. Another change was that I took out the chapter titles. I was struggling for the past few years with thinking of interesting chapter titles so decided to not use any at all.

Following this was a title I had since the early years but found it a bit intimidating to write a story around. With the recent addition of Raj Mistry, an Indian from Mumbai, I finally tackled "Mystery Of The Maharajah's Tomb". Terry and Raj travel to Raj's hometown of Mumbai and go undercover at a university. I really liked this story when it was done.

After the personal success of "Maharajah's Tomb", I decided to challenge myself once more and up the word count again for the subsequent books. On the next story "Terror On Tour" I made a conscious effort to slow down the pace and just enjoy the story unfolding and not be in such a rush to finish it. Terry and Van accompany Corey and his rock band on tour of Europe. I enjoyed writing this and it ended up at 12 chapters and over 26,000 words, more suitable to the teen book length. It's still a little small, most teen books can be upwards of 40,000 words, most even longer.

I now reached the 80th book in the series. "The Vanishing Game" was a cool title that I've seen elsewhere but decided to use it anyway. Another interesting character, Terry's cousin Justin comes to town. Justin suffers from Asperger's syndrome, something I had heard about a while ago and decided to have one of my characters suffer from it. He speaks his mind and some of the exchanges in the book are very well written. Again this book is 12 chapters.

The next book, "The Deadliest Stunt" was another good story. Two brothers, twins Rhys and Reed Wyatt come to town with their stuntman father. Again, very well written (at least I think) and I think I'm improving with my characterization. I try to make my characters interesting.

At this point I was worried about the age of Terry and my target audience. He was 18 and a senior in high school. I originally intended the series to be middle grade but was told that 18 is too old for my protagonist. I fretted about this for a while, because I like the fact that Terry was old enough to drive a car and travel on his own, but feared the "voice" of my stories was middle grade.

In late 2015 I decided I would make his character younger, say 14 and rewrite my favourite stories and lower his age accordingly. I would start out by writing a new mystery to introduce the 14 year old Terry, and "Case of the Midnight Intruder" was written. It's a good story, but as I did some research, the idea of rewriting the older stories to fit the new adjusted age wouldn't work.

So many stories depend on Terry's driving a car and some of the themes of my stories are just too dark for middle grade. So not to put "Midnight Intruder" to waste, I decided to still start the new series and just write new stories that fit the target age "middle grade" voice instead of rewriting older stories. Terry is a little younger and more impetuous but still can't drive and can't stay out late at night.

"Midnight Intruder" clocked in at over 30,000 words and 15 chapters, by far the largest Terry Macdonald story I had ever written. And I had fun and took my time, not rushing the story. I think in the last 30 years I have really improved on my pace. I would go back and re read some of the earlier stories and almost get whiplash they move so fast!

At the end of 2015, though only 8 stories were completed, I had written over 180,000 words. More than even 2012 when I completed 10 new stories and 2 rewrites.

As we start 2016 (well we are almost halfway through), I've slowed the writing pace a bit. 2015 was exhausting but I'm not going to stop now. I'm going to continue with Terry in both the "Mysteries" series and the "Case File" series.

I have also written part of another Terry Macdonald story "Marked For Terror" that will eventually be a part of the Terry Macdonald: Teen Agent Series. It will be for older teen readers and will feature more guns violence and even terrorism.

So that is the history of Terry Macdonald and my writing experiences up to the present time (May 2016). I plan to write 6 stories this year (I had better get cracking!) as well as another in the Case Files Series.

As I mentioned in my first blog post I would eventually like to publish some of my stories. They need a lot of work, but I think it would be so cool to be published. I've been writing for over 30 years and I feel like this is the next logical step.

Stay tuned for more blog posts about my continuing writing and publishing journey in 2016 and beyond....

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