Tag Archives: Doc Savage

Kicking off the annual PNWA writers conference

300px-DocsavageWell it’s that time of the year again–today is the first day of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, held in Seattle, Washington. I’m a proud member of PNWA, and find incredible inspiration at these conventions. This year’s keynote speaker is James Rollins, the well-known master of magic, mayhem, and monsters.  According to Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge,  “Rollins found the authors of the Doc Savage series inspirational as a youth and acquired an extensive collection of the popular 1930′s and 1940′s pulp magazine stories.”

Quite frankly, I too adored Doc Savage, and discovering that another author was influenced by that wonderful, lurid, misogynistic series is quite a treat.  I’m looking forward to hearing him speak tonight.

Another person whose seminar I am looking forward to will be given by Lindsay Schopfer, author of The Beast Hunter. He will be talking on the subject of unlocking character motivation, and I am quite interested in hearing what he has to say on the subject, as he is an accomplished author, and his characters leap off the page.

The Beast Hunter, Lindsay SchopferIt’s one thing to understand the mechanics of writing, the nuts and bolts of how to put together a coherent sentence and join it together with other sentences to make paragraphs. Most writers can do that. It’s quite another thing to write paragraphs that become stories other people will want to read.  Attending writers conferences and seminars gives me insight into how successful authors whom I’ve admired over the years think, and helps me stay fired up about my own work.

I will reconnect with many local northwest authors who I’ve become friends with over the years, and of course I’ll be connecting with agents and editors from all over the country.  This is a huge opportunity for me to absorb the mojo that happens whenever writers gather to talk shop. My next blog post will cover the events and hilarity of this one.

Jake RansomLast year I did learn one important thing–even the Hilton doesn’t have a clue when it comes to providing decent vegan entrees, no matter how the conference organizers claim they will offer them. Rather than starve as I did last year, this year I am commuting from home and bringing my own sack-lunch with plenty of snacks. It’s a bit of a drive, a little over 1 hour each way, but if the dinners provided are less than adequate, I’ll survive.

Today’s lunch will be an avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwich on whole-wheat. ♥  It doesn’t get any better than that!

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Lurid and Unsuitable. Yup.

Pinocchio

As you know I have been dealing with 6-year olds a lot lately, and they are full of fibs and fabulous tales. They crack me up with how obvious they are about it.

But little white lies happen in adult life, too.  They are usually a gut-reaction — a sometimes irrational reflex that we justify with the comforting thought that “it doesn’t really matter, and this way we’ll avoid an argument.”  We’ve all done it at one time or another, and in much the same way as our toilet habits are, it’s not a subject we like to discuss in polite company.

But it makes an interesting plot development. In real life, white lies can escalate into big, complicated messes that can end marriages.  Love and white-lies are like the two sides of the family I grew up in – they don’t really mix well. In a good marriage, there are no white lies.  White lies happen when you don’t trust the other person to accept what you have either done or plan to do.

Trust is the key word here.

In Forbidden Road I have one character whose life is one long string of white lies, and that made for the most pivotal plot development in the story. It was difficult to write his tale and yet his penchant for avoiding the truth is the snowflake that causes the landslide and it drives the plot. The repercussions of his white-lies forms the tension for the next book in that series.

Speaking of books I’ve written, you may notice that The Last Good Knight is no longer available. It will be republished when Huw The Bard is published. Right now it is being readied for a complete re-editing, along with new covers to better reflect the fact that both books are a part of the Billy’s Revenge series.

TLGK was my first complete novel. I didn’t know much about writing, other than I liked a good story, so I wrote one. I had been writing for years, but I was working and raising kids, so all my writing was for my own amazement, and the rejection letters didn’t really matter, since they never said WHY my work was rejected.

I have struggled with The Last Good Knight. Carlie Cullen tried to straighten it out, and she worked a miracle, but there is one flaw inherent in this book that MUST be eradicated for it to live up to its potential. TLGK was written for NaNoWriMo, and many of it’s flaws can be traced back to that origin – “did not” instead of “didn’t” (for word count) and two rambling sections where I was establishing backstory. No one but the author really cares about backstory, but I didn’t know this at the time.

I’d never taken the time to analyze what I liked about a book. I didn’t know why some books I read captured my imagination, and some didn’t. I was writing for my own eyes, and I wrote what I wanted to read, and I LOVED a good story.

This is the reason why:

TriplanetaryMy parents were a bit eccentric. (Understatement of the year.)

Dad thought we should read what ever we want to read and of course we wanted to read what Dad read, so my sister and I cut our reading teeth on E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Lensman Series.

This presented a problem at times in elementary school when we brought the book we were reading and it was deemed  to be ‘lurid and unsuitable’ by our teachers, frequently with negative consequences. My sister’s teacher went so far as to tell my mother, “A third grader should not be reading such trash!”  My mother’s response was that children should read whatever they wanted if they understood the words.

The series begins with Triplanetary, two billion years before the present time. What a great notion THAT is! The plot devices developed in this series of serialized tales forms the core of what we think of as traditional science fiction.  George Lucas liked it so much he used it in Star Wars.

200px-DocsavageThe other great influence on what I instinctively thought of as a ‘Literature’ was written by Lester Dentyes folks, my sister and I adored ‘Doc Savage’.  Clark Savage (or “Doc” to his friends), had no special powers, but was raised from birth by his father and other scientists to become one of the most perfect human beings in terms of strength, mental and physical abilities.

So, having spent my formative years fighting with my sister over who got to read dad’s Analog first, and having eagerly shared every crumb of any book, from Tolkien to McCaffrey to Heinlein with her, my notion of what constitutes a good tale was formed.

All these tales were TOLD, using phrases like “there was” and “he felt”.  These are HUGE no-no’s in the current culture of show-don’t-tell, as in the eyes of the modern reviewer there is no greater crime than that of “TELLING” a story.

Tolkien would have never gotten off the ground.

Thus, I need to completely rewrite two sections of TLGK, under the eye of an editor with a cruel red pen. It’s a great story, and I LOVE Julian Lackland. I just need to have modern approach to telling his tale and I think that when  he emerges he will be all that he is now, and more. So for the time being Julian Lackland is in literary limbo.

It’s been a hard decision to make, as I love that book, and the characters in that book have spawned two other stand-alone books and a whole world of tales. Once Huw the Bard is published I will re-release The Last Good Knight in some form or other. In the meantime I feel good about this choice.

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