November’s Novel: Perfectly Dead
I’d fully intended, during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to blog on a daily basis about the novel I’m working on for the month. The goal of NaNoWriMo, of course, is to kick out a 50,000 word novel, and that’s the length I’ve been targeting for my Homeland Security Services novels. Writing the second one during November seemed like a good choice and on 1 November I actually got a start on Perfectly Dead.
Then I got hit by a cold which left my throat raw, my head pounding and me spending more time asleep than awake. Yuck. It didn’t help that every day I didn’t work, I was falling behind on that project and others. Double yuck.
But this morning I got back on track and cranked out the first chapter for Perfectly Dead. It’s the second of the HSS novels and begins on 10/30/11 with a pretty nasty murder. Things will get even more gruesome from there.
I’m really excited about this book because I’m doing some things in it which will be a lot of fun to play with. Miracle Dunn remains the central character, but this story will take her a bit further afield than Perfectly Invisible. I mean that in two ways. First, the story is moved out to Phoenix. I’ve made it an “away game” for a couple of reasons, primary among them my desire to emphasize that HSS teams have a huge jurisdiction. They can operate anywhere and often do. Second, the story will move Miracle and Fyn past the realm of police procedurals. Sure, there will be plenty of CSI type stuff, clues to be found and figured out; but dealing with the aftermath of what they discover will take them in an entirely different direction than before. In Perfectly Invisible we got to see that Miracle and Fyn can kick ass—now we’ll get an inkling of just how much ass they can kick.
These stories are about more than just who done it because they challenge the characters and their beliefs about the world. In Perfectly Dead I’ll be able to push Miracle on her religious beliefs. You already know, from Perfectly Invisible, that she was raised Catholic and still attends Mass on a regular basis, though she’s not quite as devout as her parents—and certainly not as devout as they think she should be. In this story I get to examine that a little bit more.
To challenge her on those points I need a fairly strong foil character, and here’s the most fun I’m having with this book. The HSS universe is clearly not our own because of the divergent history of terrorist attacks. What I’m doing is dragging a character from another one of my worlds over into the HSS universe, to show how different his life would be under the 28th Amendment. The character I’m bringing over is Merlin Bloodstone, my occultist and detective, who chafes under the mildly conservative nature of our world, and who is not at all pleased with the HSS universe.
Being able to challenge Miracle is not the only reason Bloodstone is crossing over. I’ve always enjoyed crossover stories, so that makes it fun. The ability to take a character I love and run him around in a far more adversarial situation is entertaining and difficult—this is, in essence, an “away game” for him, too. Moreover, being able to have this novel support and promote work in both lines is important and, I believe, something we’ll see far more of in the new age of digital publishing. Not only can I do this with my own characters, but I can write crossovers with other authors. (I’d started to do that before with Bloodstone ten years ago, but that project fizzled since there wasn’t a way to make it profitable.)
And for anyone wanting to read between the lines, this does mean that I’m getting the Bloodstone novel, Mysterious Ways, edited and prepped for digital release. I’ll be updating it—tech references mostly; the things which will age it the most quickly—should have it out very soon.
The other thing with Perfectly Dead which is going to be fun is that I’m not working with a hard outline. I’ve made tons of notes and will be outlining about five chapters in front of where I am. I’ve done this with several novels before: most recently In Hero Years… I’m Dead. It’s a process that allows me a bit more flexibility to explore issues. Since the book will be written from Miracle’s point of view, the process works well because I don’t have to worry about balancing her viewpoint with anyone else’s.
As I get further along I’ll post some chapters; and I’ll certainly keep everyone updated as I write. It’s great being back writing about Miracle, and adding Bloodstone in makes it that much more enjoyable. And a really cool detail for anyone who’s read the published Bloodstone stories: the victim who’s body is discovered in the first chapter is Connor Moran. In our world, he’s Bloodstone’s faithful servant; but in the HSS world, there’s more there than meets the eye.
Chapter One word count: 2634
Writing blog posts is cutting into my fiction writing time. If you’re finding these posts useful, and haven’t yet gotten yet snagged my latest novels, please consider purchasing a book. Nice thing about the new age of publishing is that you become a Patron of the Arts, letting writers know what you’d like to see more of simply by voting with a credit card. (Authors charge less when they sell direct, so you save, we make more, and that frees us to write more.)
My latest paper novel, Of Limited Loyalty, is due out in December and is available for pre-order now.
For those of you who haven’t tried Perfectly Invisible yet, now is your chance. I’ve provided three sample chapters here on my website, or you can click on any of the online retailers below and download a free preview of the novel. You can get up to speed on Miracle Dunn and watch how the new story unfolds here as I blog about the writing. (The novel is 50,000 words long, or a five hour read for the average reader.)
The full novel is available for purchase right now from my webstore. Just click on the cover image to the left, or on that link. The novel runs $3.99, and the package in my store has both the Kindle and epub versions of the books, so you’ll have a copy that works with any of your readers. As always, the books are presented without DRM (digital rights management) and I have a note with instructions for getting the book onto ereaders and smartphones.
For the Kindle edition, just hit this link.
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