Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Locked and Loaded, A Sneak Peek at "The Blood Cries Out" Newsletter!!

I have a confession to make; "Locked and Loaded" may not ultimately be the name of my new newsletter, but I figure why not try it on for size first?  It is kind of growing on me...

Now, if you're familiar with my Kickstarter Project (Spare a Dollar for a Great Book?), you've probably seen me referring to the newsletter.  I thought I'd offer just a glimpse of the kind of content I have planned.  First, I'd like to offer look at part of the novel's outline.  Second, I'll offer a few words about the places in and surrounding the story.  Third, I am going to include a short excerpt from the novel.  Fourth, I'd like to try a Q & A section.  The challenge here, is that I'll be asking and answering the questions.  In the future, I'd like to invite other authors to answer a few questions about writing--among other things.  As it is, I'll do my best to ask myself hard-hitting questions.

A Glimpse of the Outline

What happens when Seattle Police Detective David Lightholler must face the brutal death of a friend?  The story, divided into two parts of six chapters each, opens with the protagonist responding with his partner to a particularly bloody murder scene in Seattle.  He soon discovers something about the victim that sends his emotions spiraling out of control...

A Sense of Place

I seem to either connect or not connect with a place; there's seldom a feeling of ambivalence.  In the case of the south and midwest, for instance, I always felt like a fish out of water.  Don't get me wrong, I love the people, but I can't feel a sense of connection to the place.  In Washington and Oregon, there's so much beauty and majesty all about you, that it's sometimes hard to take it all in.  You get accustomed to it.  I think this is part of the reason why it was so important to me to get the details right.  I wanted to convey a strong sense of place in The Blood Cries Out.  Early reader feedback suggests that I was successful.

Neil Low gives me the royal tour of SPD.
I love Seattle.  I attended Seattle Pacific University in the late 1980s, and I worked at the university in the early 1990s.  It's a special place, and I love the light and atmosphere of the city.  I could spend a lifetime photographing it, but I never have the time these days to spend considerable time there.
  In the spring of 2011, we took a few days to visit areas of critical importance to the tale.  This included the Seattle Police Department, where Neil Low graciously came in on his day off to give me a department tour. The tour was great, but, sadly, the Seattle weather was...a lot like Seattle weather.

St. Francis Catholic Church, Friday Harbor, Washington
Friday Harbor was that other western Washington area we visited on that 2011 vacation.  The weather was lovely the first day, but things began going downhill on the second.  It didn't matter much to me, though.  It was wonderful to visit the island again.  It had been far too long--and it has been so again!  Some authors will say that that these kind of personal visits aren't necessary for fiction authors, but I think this kind of in-person research is terribly important if the writer is to successfuly capture and convey the unique feeling of a particular environment.

Welcome to Oregon's Wallowas.
While it's true that the northeastern region of Oregon referred to as the Wallowas only plays a minor role in the novel, that wasn't the original plan.  More on that later!

The Blood Cries Out Excerpt  (Updated July 2014)

It was early Friday morning by the time David was finally in bed.  Exhausted, he fell into an uneasy sleep, his bloodshot eyes closing on the image of his badge and holstered .45 caliber Smith and Wesson with its ejected magazine beside it on the bedside table.  The room was dimly illuminated by the moonlight beyond the rustling lace curtains.   Outside, the night wind blew the old madrona’s branches against the house.  The clanging of sailboat rigging blowing against the tall masts drifted up from the harbor along with sound of a distant foghorn.  The Friday Harbor ferry terminal below lay dark and still.  Deep sleep came eventually, but then the nightmarish blackness seized him.  He was dragged to the place he dreaded the most.  He tried to turn away, to run, but he stood immobile now before that evil house on Parkmont Place.  It was late evening with an unsettling reddish light, and he was utterly alone.  A damp and cold wind blew, and he felt something pulling him forward, towards the steps.  Against his own will, he pushed the unlatched door, and it creaked in protest--or warning.  He walked silently up the steps and turned into the second bedroom on the left.  The stillness of the room was in sharp contrast to his beating heart.     

The blood was everywhere, and Catryn lay exactly as he had first seen her.  Only this time there were no uniformed officers milling about outside, no detectives taking notes or talking on the phone, and no squawking radios in the background.  The night beyond the windows was an impenetrable mass now with no sign of life or light, a darkness that could be felt.  Her mouth was agape at a distorted angle, a mockery of life, and she was crumpled up in the corner like so much garbage left on the roadside.  Her torn blouse exposed that jagged and terrible laceration in her chest.  It was too horrible to look at, but...curse his eyes!...there it was.  He couldn’t turn away from the silent woman gazing up from the crimson floor.  His eyes were drawn to her slender fingers, now bloodstained.  No, it was impossible, but something was happening!  Her index finger gestured for him to come closer, but he managed to hold his ground.  It was madness.  In desperation and terror, David felt for the reassurance of his holstered service weapon, but it was gone.  Suddenly, his hand fell unexpectedly upon his grandmother’s familiar rosary, the one he sometimes kept in his pocket.  Something like a distant bell sounded from far off, and the icy chill of the room began to melt away. 

Questions and Answers: Karl and Karl

Q: What's a fiction passage you've read recently that you not only loved, but that somehow conveys something important about how you think about the art of writing?

A: I love Flannery O'Connor, and one thing I love about her is that her characters are real to me; they're authentic.  It's so hard to find characters I can connect with in a lot of modern fiction.  Flannery O'Connor has my attention at her first word.  Here's a passage from her short story "Revelation" that I am particularly fond of.  (It's not quite the same unless you read it in its entire context.)  

The book struck her directly over her left eye. It struck almost at the same instant that she realized the girl was about to hurl it. Before she could utter a sound, the raw face came crashing across the table toward her, howling. The girl’s fingers sank like clamps into the soft flesh of her neck. She heard the mother cry out and Claud shout, “Whoa!” There was an instant when she was certain that she was about to be in an earthquake.

Q: Why else is it important to visit the areas about which you want to write?

A: Another reason is that people are so different from place to place.  Having a conversation in Joseph, Oregon is entirely different than speaking with someone on the streets of downtown Seattle.  Authors who don't take the time to understand their settings, also usually fail to understand their characters.

Q: This Kickstarter thing of yours is kind of annoying.  Why are you doing it?

A:  Sorry!  I’m doing it because the publishing market has changed so drastically over the last decade.  This seems like a legitimate option to help an author bridge the gulf between the children’s market and adult fiction.  (I always have to mention now that, no, I don’t mean that kind of adult market.  I mean older readers, folks!  I also don’t plan to start writing romance novels…)

Q: What’s in it for me?

A: Well, I think crowd funding is a rather cool way to raise funds for projects close to people’s hearts.  It brings a sense of shared community and purpose, and it allows people be a part of some pretty exciting endeavors.  I was happy to be able to make a (very) small donation to Sean Astin’s recent Kickstarter success  for example, and I found it pretty rewarding to have played a tiny, tiny part in that project’s success.  

In my case, it’s only a novel, but I think in the right hands, this book could go far.  I will also say that I am always happy to help a fellow author with a similar venture down the road—if I feel that I can connect with their tale.  Some types of fiction are hard for me to enjoy, but I will do my best!

Q: I know your one of the original founders of the Catholic Writer’s Guild.  Has this book been awarded their Seal of Approval?  

A: No, unlike Tristan’s Travels, this book has not received this important stamp of approval.  There are a lot of reasons why I didn’t want to rush into that too early.  For one thing, the novel requires a strong editor’s hand.  I’m learning it takes a special author to successfully edit his own work.  Many self-published authors end up embarrasssing themselves with a wyde variety of editorial problemzs.  

My use of a hybrid press, such as Inkwater, is an effort to create the highest quality work I can possibly create.  Another reason is that the content of the book strives for realism, and realism isn’t always pretty.  In my younger days, I spent countless hours racing along as an observer with police officers in Washington State—from Yakima to Seattle and Port Townsend.  It was awesome for a young man to experience the excitement tearing down dark streets with lights and siren (at close to a hundred miles per hour a few times), and those experiences really helped shape my novel.  Realistic scenes and characters are always my goal.  I’d also add that, as author and teacher Regina Doman has pointed out, the Catholic reader is sometimes…a strange duck.  More on that another time perhaps.

Q: Are you planning to write a sequel?

A: YES, but I haven't started yet.  :)

If any of the preceeding content caught your interest, I hope you will check out my project on Kickstarter!

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