Posts Tagged ‘thrillers’

I just got the electronic proofs (which I gotta proof) for the interior of The Compass Master.


I mean, I knew my book was long, but it’s something else to find out that this baby is clocking in at 526 pages.  And that ain’t with a large font, folks.

I should add that I wrote this thriller in short chapters, the better to keep the pacing going, so there are 100 chapters plus an epilogue, which means white space at the end of most chapters.  But still… 526 pages?  Really?

One of the first things I did after seeing the proofs was to head for a bookstore over my lunch hour (I was at work) and look through just about every large-ish trade paperback I could find.  Happily big honkin’ historical sagas sag in at around 700 pages.  And The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series was certainly up around 500 in thickish tomes.  Then there are thriller writers like Daniel Silva and James Rollins who write solidly long novels.

Best of all, there’s the “epic fantasy” writer George R. Martin, who I guess is a big name in the genre.  His new hardcover A Dance with Dragons is… wait for it…1050 freaking pages!

And when TCM was in the hands of an agent and being read by a dozen editors (and all the way up to the editor-in-chief at one pub house), I never heard a single complaint about the length of my manuscript.

So I’m starting to feel better about The Compass Master‘s length.  I remind myself that in my last couple read-throughs I edited that baby down by almost a couple thousand words.   It’s a pretty tightly-written story, if I do say so myself, with no scene that can be cut without hurting the plotting.  But I always, always feel as if I can cut a word here, a phrase there.  I’m never content with anything I write because by nature I’m an insecure compulsive rewriter.

Anyway, you know what I’ll be doing for much of this weekend and for the next week or two:  slowly, carefully reading every word of TCM and checking out every one of about a million punctuation marks.  Oh joy.

Also next week I’ll have my first phone consultation with a CreateSpace graphics person about the cover for my book and the art I sent her/him for it.  I’m pretty excited about that.  Will keep you posted.

Have a gorgeous summer weekend, y’all.

Writing Tough

on April 27, 2010 in Misc 16 Comments »

I’ve decided that, like me, Layla should get injured.


Yes, that sounds very cold of me.   It also sounds like I might be projecting my frustration and pain onto an innocent character who never did me any harm.   A character who is, in many ways, my alter ego, or at the very least the woman I want to be if only I were younger, cooler, better looking, better educated, had a super cool job and a lot more money.

It’s also a little extreme because it means more writing.   After all, Layla’s story/my novel The Compass Master is finished and just about ready for publication.   So if Layla is to suffer an injury, I’ll have to go back into the final quarter of the manuscript and change several scenes.   It means that after she’s in a fight with one of the bad guys and gets away, she must sustain an injury that hobbles her actions and even threatens her life.

But you know what?   This change could be a very good thing.

Ninja Assassin

So many thriller novels I’ve read and movies I’ve seen – no matter how gritty on the surface – are flat out fantasies when it comes to the consequence of a hero’s injuries.   The guy can get hammered and thrown around and lose consciousness for a couple hours, but he still gets up and fights on.   She can be blasted by a bomb or hurled against a wall, and she’ll moan and groan but still rally onward.   You never, at the end of all the body bashing, see him or her lying barely lucid in a hospital bed, drooling and mumbling and begging for more pain killer, PLEASE.

Not that this describes my recent personal experience in a hospital.

But back to Layla.  What kind of injuries will I give her?

A partially collapsed lung and fractured ribs, of course.

It makes perfect sense.  Write about what you know, we writers are always being told.   Well, I sure as hell know about lungs and ribs.   I can tell you all about the sudden and frightening inability to run or even walk fast for fear of passing out because I’m so short of breath.   I can describe in detail the pain that spiders across one side of the chest and makes any kind of lifting and carrying nearly impossible and ultimately dangerous.   But Layla will still have to lift stuff and run as best she can, and in the process try not to pass out.

Mila running

I gotta say I’m getting excited about making these changes in my manuscript.   They’ll add depth to the character, even more tension to the story, and will feel like a slap of hard reality in scenes that currently might be a little too typical for the genre.  

Who knew I would ultimately benefit, in only a literary way, from being banged up by an idiot?

POSTSCRIPT:  Here’s a personal note to Robert.  I’m still thinking about your crazy and semi-fantasy suggestion about an internet school for action heroes.  And maybe soon I can write a semi-fantasy school curriculum that I’ll post here.   Might be really fun.

Swords and Cars

on December 1, 2009 in Misc 3 Comments »

Epee fencing is not for wusses.


Last week in fencing I got a painful bruise on my left butt exactly where that sharp bone sticks out (WHY do I keep hitting that sucker?), a sore left hand, a jacked left knee and a re-injured muscle at the base of my neck.  All because I was retreating too quickly from my oncoming opponent, which made me stumble and fall backwards onto said left buttock, which made me fling my left hand out to break my fall, which jammed my neck and knee.

But the good news is…

While falling backwards I hit my opponent right in his chest and got a point.  Yes, he still went on to win the match.  But I was determined to get him even though I was careening toward the floor and that impressed him.  It certainly impressed me.

Anyway, by the end of the evening I was looking forward to the next week’s matches when I would strive yet again to fence better and cleaner.  But that’s not gonna happen for a while.  The reason?

My car has died.

Yes, my poor old Toyota Tercel (a.k.a., the Nerdmobile) has developed a terminal illness in the form of a cracked engine head and a fuel injector problem, and if the mechanic had kept looking no doubt he would have found more doozies.  The result is I am now car-less – no big deal for the time being, given that I take the bus to work and live in the city where pretty much everything is within walking distance.

Except for fencing.

Hence it appears that — damn it all! — I’ll likely drop out of fencing until sometime in January because I don’t see myself lining up a good inexpensive used car before then.

You know, my first two cars were used while three and four were new.  So yes, this is regression, but given the economy and my Layla plan which is using up all my discretionary funds (I have become very indiscreet), I gotta go cheap on my next car.

Action heroes don’t have this problem.  In thriller books and movies they drive outrageously expensive supercool sportscars.  They whiz through adventures in vehicles of roaring, gleaming, wind racing speed that make grown men moan with desire and teenage boys have wet dreams. Layla, being more down to earth, has a Jeep Wrangler that has traveled many an exotic mile across Europe and North Africa as she pursues rare antiquities hidden in treacherous places, and that’s way cool too.

Me?  I gotta get a used compact or subcompact.

I swear that sometime soon I’m going to make my life and its accessories so beautifully exotic I’ll be an object of envy.


Yes I know — this is a shallow, immature, unworthy goal for me.

Like I care.