How I Write – by Keith Blackmore.

This is the second of a series of guest-blogs from writers who I really dig.

Today’s guest-blogger is Keith Blackmore. Keith has been writing horror and science-fiction over in Newfoundland for sometime now. He has got a fast-paced style and I really admire his work ethic.

The rules for the guest-blog are pretty straight forward. I simply asked Keith one question – “How do you write?” – and then I let him take it from there.

**************************************************************************************************

Hi Steve—thank you for hosting me today. 

Initially, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do this—mostly because I’m still learning as I go. Hear that? After 24 years, I’m still learning. Stuff I wrote way back then I can’t even read without dry heaving because the style has changed so much. The two first books I ever pushed on publishers still sit with me today, because they just aren’t up to snuff. The ideas are good—the writing, amateurish. During a good chunk of those years, finding the minutes to write became the challenge, between family, friends, girlfriends, and work, it was a real challenge to designate a “time” where I could sit and crank out whatever I could. If this sounds like you, well, I’ve been there, and I understand what you’re trying to do. Keep at it.

When I jumped into full time writer mode a couple of years back, I finally got into a semi-grove of writing. I wrote from Monday to Friday, semi-irregular hours, punching in days where I produced anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 words. How much is that you ask? That’s a goodly chunk of change, and it left me feeling drained at times, but in a good way. There wasn’t any real timeline. Books were done when they got done.

There wasn’t any preparation in the way of plotting. Some people will plot chapter by chapter and while I think it’s a good idea, I’ve always found that the characters, as weird as it sounds, usually deviated from the plan. Even now, I’ll have mental checkpoints in my head where I want to take the story, but sometimes I just don’t get there (*shakes fists at characters*), and have to adapt. Books took anywhere from two to four months to complete a first draft, and I realized, being lucky enough to be doing this full time (for the present, anyway) that there had to be a more organized way of getting my word counts, and producing books on a more regular basis.

In September (2013), I started a new schedule. Seven weeks to produce a 70-90K novel.

That means, from Monday to Friday, I’ll be attempting to hit 3,000 words a day. Saturdays and Sundays are off (unless I miss a day, so Saturday would be designated as ‘optional overtime’).

If I finish a book before the seven week block… I’ll take whatever days are remaining as time off, relax, and gather my notes and thoughts in preparation for the next book.

It’s the first time I’ve done something like this, so I’m not sure how it’ll go. The first week I actually crapped out, producing only 6,000 words when I should have gotten 15K. But I still get up in the morning, telling myself I’m going to get those 3,000 words.

It also should be mentioned that the seven week block only produces a first draft. Second, third and even fourth drafts might be needed, and I’ll have to fit in those polishing periods in between books. Then there’s the editing process. It all takes time. In the run of a year, if I can get three books out there, I’ll be happy. If I can get four, even better.

The important thing is to produce something on those days where I have to work, and get into a more consistent routine instead of the irregular one from before. These days, the more titles you have out there, the better for you. I’m to get forty titles out. Forty because, if each one is selling one a day, then that’s about minimum wage for me. If they sell more, that’s great––it’s all gravy on for the fries. The more titles, the better.

Everything else that comes with the craft, characterization, pacing, plotting, etc, well, that’s all important too, but there’s too much to cover right now. And, more importantly, I’m no expert. I’m still learning as I go. I have a notepad with me to scribble down ideas, lines, conversations, similes and metaphors because sometimes, they’ll come at you from outta nowhere. I also read a lot—you have to in this business—and study how other writers do things. If a person telling a story grabs you from the first page and holds your attention right until the last word… that writer is firing on all cylinders. And for me, I need to know how it’s done, and then apply it to my own work.

And maybe, if I get it right, and get it right consistently…I can keep this dream job.

*****************************************************************************************************

If you want to find out MORE about the works of Keith Blackmore just check out his website.

But before I let you go I want to tell you all a little bit about Keith’s novella THE BEAR THAT FELL FROM THE STARS.

I am a big fan of ninjas in general. I mean, the dudes can pop out of shadows and twist you into any number fatal positions or just stick a sharp object into you and you never see it coming.

Unfortunately, most of the ninjas out there on television and movies are mostly a bunch of Star Trek red shirts in black formal wear. Their sole purpose in life is to be knocked down by Daredevil, Wolverine, Bruce Lee or – god help us – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I know that you could argue that they were ninjas in their own right – but I am sorry – they’re turtles, dang it – and not even those proper gooey caramel-filled, pecan-ated Turtles that sometimes haunt my dreams late at night.

But THE BEAR THAT FELL FROM THE STARS changes all that.

It is a straight forward story that would make an absolutely rock-solid sci-fi adventure flick – like say PREDATOR or THE TERMINATOR. It seems this pack of scallywag aliens accidentally abduct themselves and honest-to-katana ninja. It seems they want to study the human race to judge their ripeness for conquest.

Well – turns out that this ninja dude is about as UNRIPE as you can get.

Keith Blackmore does an amazing job of creating the alien race and there is a lot of room for growth there – but the real star of the show is Jimmy “Kuma” Kazaka.

Jimmy is a ninja.

He is about one of the toughest ninjas you could imagine.

I mean – the dude would make The Wolverine wet his yellow-and-brown panties – he is that tough.

Jimmy’s nickname is “Bear” – which is what “Kuma” apparently means.

I don’t really know if “Kuma” means “Bear” or not – but I wasn’t going to argue with a dude who can make Wolverine lemonade his BVD’s.

I’m not going to tell you much more than that – except this is the sort of an adventure that ought to be read at a gallop. Sit yourself down with a cold bottle of beer – or better yet some Sake – and some sweet and sour pretzels – and chew right through this nasty little yarn. It is the perfect reading material for a rainy Saturday when there isn’t much more to do than to sit around on the back stoop, sharpening your katana.

If this story was a baseball, Blackmore just knocked it out of the park and clean clear over the highest stratovolcano of Mount Fuji. If you are holding out for a hero – look no longer.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s