Ambition, why hast thou left me?

Hey, remember when I was a writer, and I would get totally distracted by this completely made up universe in my head to the point where I would have to compulsively write down the intricate plots of said universe in order to purge my brain and get on with my life, conveniently entertaining you at the same time?

Yeah, it’s been a while, a good month actually. Don’t get me wrong. There’s been outlining. I wrote two whole paragraphs today. But that’s as far as I’ve been able to get. I should be doing all these important things, including my writing (some of you out there have mentioned that I seem to have a knack for it). Life is short. But, damn, I’m tired.

Where do others get their motivation from? I want to be motivated. I want to do right, eat right, exercise, get all these important tasks accomplished, and still find the time to look and act like a human being. It all just seems overwhelming. Hell, some days, just putting pants on seems overwhelming (Oh, how I do enjoy my pantless days).

Flattery does seem to help. One fan told me I “outdid myself” with Blonde in the Backwaters. That felt good to hear. Another told me she liked it so much she immediately gave me a 5 star review online and told a close friend she had to buy the whole series, which the friend did, so that was nice. I love it when I get the “I read it in two days because I just couldn’t put it down. When’s the next one coming out?” And so it goes.

I left Bernice and Evan’s lives in just enough upheaval to get book six off to a running start. The stage is set. New characters are shaping up, and the plot is bursting with intrigue. Come on, Chris, just start writing. You don’t even need pants for that.

 

Location, location, location

One of the pleasures of writing this series is sharing my impressions of various places around the Upper Midwest with you, my readers. I am aware that some see this part of the US as “fly over country”, which sounds to me like it’s somehow being deemed as an inconvenience to tolerate between coastlines. I hope that reading my books might convince people otherwise.

Yes, there is a rawness to this place. Sometimes it is in fact bleak with its lack of civilization. But that isolation can be good for the soul. Removal from the constant white noise and blur of other humans, seeming to always crush in around you, can bring a clarity never before experienced. We need to be humbled by our own smallness in the scope of the natural world once in a while. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves into believing that we are in control of the universe, rather than merely being a part of it.

Some of the locations I describe are like old friends to me. I picked my way along deer trails and cow paths through brushy wood and neglected pastures. I traversed ravines above dried out creek beds blanketed with moss. I slipped and slid along sandy gullies left behind by logging machines that removed decades old forests in a manner of weeks. I’ve climbed ancient river bluffs and marveled at the enormous geological events that put them there. And I’ve meditated on the shores of the Great Lakes, feeling blessed that I get to live in such a dynamic and powerful place.

But the Upper Midwest is not as desolate as it may seem. People exist here in small pockets of communities, brought together by either fate or design. And it is through them that I glean my characters, and you get to witness this place through their eyes. They get to experience the history, the successes and failures of progress, the way nature takes back what humans leave behind and makes proper use of it. My characters are affected by their environment as much as by each other.

The location is it’s own character in my series. Book Six will be no exception. I hope you enjoy where I take you next.

Out of the woodwork…

Every once in a while, celebrity news programs will do a “Where Are They Now?” sequence of stories about long lost actors from old TV shows of Yore. Some of those famed actors would have gone on to more successful gigs, while others may have simply faded into obscurity.

It becomes very handy for me as a writer to use that same philosophy with some of the minor characters from previous books in the series. For one thing, I don’t have to come up with a new name (which, believe it or not, is harder than it sounds). And if they were really just a foot note, consisting of a paragraph or two, the sky is pretty much the limit on where I can take them in their re-introduction.

Maybe they were a pie-in-the-sky character whose reality never lived up to their expectations. Maybe they were branded a villain previously, and were never given the chance to prove themselves otherwise. Maybe their mold had already been set and they turned out exactly the way you and I expected them to. So many possibilities to choose from.

I reiterate that I am glad that Bernice and Evan met in their mid to late thirties. There’s a good three decades worth of people from their pasts with which to work with. I’m just chomping at the bit to show you “Where They Are Now.”