Monday, May 14, 2018

Slacker Bear

You will probably notice diminished output from the Bear for a while. For one thing, it is a lot easier to riff off the latest Pope Video or dog-bites-man story. Another thing is that he has no more intention of courting controversy in one direction than the other. It is unpleasant to be seen as suddenly turning on the very people who are following you (although that is a standard Bear tactic in the wild).

The main reason is that now that his books belong to him he’s not happy finishing the sequel (working title, Sandy Goes to Hell) without addressing some issues with Judging Angels. Not that he thinks it’s bad, but it can be better. Sure, there are the usual problems of excess dialogue tags and striving for ever-more-natural character voices, but mostly, it’s the length, especially now that it will be searching for a new publisher.

The Bear is certain readers of this ephemeris assume he is getting paid by the word. JA is good enough to be less self-indulgent and thick books are out of style. At 158 thousand words, it could stand to lose 30k at least. (To give you an idea, a chapter runs 2500 - 4500 words.) Part of the excessive length comes from too many digressions into legal themes, naturally enough, Bear supposes, for a lawyer.

Some of that is interesting, even essential, but a better, or at least more experienced, writer would have figured out which was which earlier. That also contributes to the impossibility of marketing a book that is not a genre novel at all, but looks like a mashup of a half-dozen genres. (Urban fantasy/police procedural/romance/mystery/Catholic/thriller/dark comedy.)

The Bear thinks of Catholic novelist Michael O’Brien’s Voyage to Alpha Centauri. If you had never heard of Michael O’Brien, you would assume it was a science fiction genre novel. Since a lot of people have heard of Michael O’Brien, though, he can get away with it. No one has heard of that Capps fellow.

In the Bear’s defense, all of these elements serve one theme: not only does no person or institution have a clue to what’s going on, as products of a post-Christian world, they can’t. Mistaken identities abound, and even characters think they are something they’re not.

No diet is easy. The most obvious problem is JA carries the dual weight of serious themes and a capering plot true to the Bear’s beloved old Hollywood conventions to keep the pages turning. (Especially the old “comedy of remarriage,” although it’s a pretty dark comedy.) More subtly, it is obsessively structured. Something in chapter one finds completion in the last chapter. Revealing a world charged with magic that is our world, not Westeros, and faithfully Christian at that, requires a lot of reminders, subtle and otherwise.

It is easier for people to feel at home with wizards and dragons these days than a Christian world-view that was rejected and is now mostly forgotten. It’s as if Dante had to stop and argue why Paolo and Francesca are being punished. Florentine politics is the least obstacle to a modern reader’s understanding of the Inferno.

Selling the sanctity of marriage when everyone has given up on it isn’t easy.

Given how everything is connected, the Bear can’t just drop bombs from 20,000 feet. He must stalk each page and murder a lot of beautiful children face-to-face while not “cheating” readers of the original.

JA was not conceived as the entree to a series, either. It came from an older “Adapt” universe of a very different project. (Opiuim is the religion of the masses, those clever devils.) It’s time to bring everything back together and reveal the domestic troubles of our unhappy characters in their much larger context. Marriage isn’t just good, it turns out, even one may be the cosmic lynchpin. So, this is also a good chance to address some continuity issues with the next two books, which are already well underway.

One minute you’re chatting up a strange redhead in a bar, the next thing you know, not one, but two worlds are in crisis. Well, thanks a lot you terrible Able couple!

So, that is requiring a lot of Bear hours.


  1. I've certainly heard of that Capps fellow! He's a hard-working guy, churning out blogs and books and in the meantime caring for sweet kittens and rambunctious goats. Never content to rest on his laurels, he's always got the next thing in production. A wordsmith, a scholar, a comedian. He's quite an interesting character himself.

  2. You're too sweet, Kathleen. Bear is dodging some bullets these days, but is so far unscathed. He's more concerned about a trip to the local zoo dentist tomorrow - er, today, now.

  3. I echo Kathleen's comments. I will eagerly await the newer Judging Angels (v 3.0?) as well as any sequels you care to churn out, as I greatly enjoyed the JA Beta as well as the published version. Will we be seeing that crow even more in the future, I wonder? :)

    We will try to muddle through without frequent posts here, secure in the knowledge that if anything really sensational happens you'll probably have something to say about it. Onward!

    1. Beta Readers were golden in both JA and the sequel. Their criticisms saved me from some serious mistakes. JA had one major character totally re-invented and a sappy ending turned into a taut thriller (in my Bearish opinion). The sequel was taken in an entirely new direction. Thank you.

      JA easily beats Windows 10 in terms of versions, although this will be more like "Judging Angels (subtitled A Divine Comedy of Errors) Creative Update" since it's mainly a lot of little fixes and trimming, with the occasional employment of the editing chainsaw. And, I'm re-adding all the adverbs. (Ha, just kidding, MA.)

      The crow with the lock of red hair in its beak is concept art for the cover of book three, "Conspiracy of Crows." The draft was awkward and overlong so I decided to tell the parallel stories separately. So, Book Three is actually further along than Book Two and both are on hold while I make the necessary changes to JA. I'm shooting to get JA & the (as yet unnamed) Book 2 ready by Feast of Grass, I mean Christmas.

      Conspiracy of Crows will take place in a setting only sketched in JA, and focus on Brian. Let's just say it's not a place that brings out the best in people and the family motto is still Anything for Sandy (a.k.a. Little Miss McGuffin). If you thought Red turned things upside down, wait until you see Brian in action behind enemy lines.

      Book Two introduces a fun new protagonist and picks up immediately from the "cliffhanger" (more or less) at the end of JA. As with JA, expect the unexpected at every turn.


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