The Three Questions I Am Asked The Most

Standard

I have a lot of friends who, until I released The Grandfather Clock, had no idea that I was writing. And there was good reason. I never talked about it. Then a few years ago I wrote my first novel and word started to leak out. And then curious people started asking lots of questions, as if I were John Grisham. Here are the most common questions I get?

1. Have you written anything else? Lots over the years, but only one other full novel manuscript. That first novel isn’t The Grandfather Clock. Stored in several digital locations, in order to survive nuclear winter, is a 130,000 word thriller with Swiss banks, base diving daredevils, and a female romantic interest based on my wife. To this day, my wife is the only person who has read that book. It doesn’t even have a title, but let’s call it Golden ParachuteIt’s possible that it’ll get rewritten with a different main character, or I’ll write the main character into another book and spin it off into an other series. I don’t know. It currently sits like a 1978 Camaro, on blocks, under a tarp, rusting.

2. Is this a true story? Yes. I really did chase down an Argentinian soccer player who fell in with Neo-nazis. Okay, that’s a lie. I had a lady come up and ask me if I’d really been beat up before, because she thought the scene felt real. A nice compliment, but no, I haven’t been beaten up. I’m undefeated, ma’am. Here’s what’s true: I do have a grandfather clock that I had to retrieve from a storage unit in California. And there is a Napoleonic muzzle-loading gun as well. But the similarities end there. My character’s brother is loosely based on my brother, because he’s a great brother. Everyone else is fiction. Sorry. There might be an anecdote or two that are semi autobiographical, but even then I take real events and then go nuts.

3. How do you write your stories? Good planning. I start with a framework. A 30,000 foot view of my story. What’s the main concept, the main twist, and how does it end? The end is hardest part to write, so I try to write it first. It gives me a target to aim for when I start writing from the beginning. That way I don’t end up with wizards or zombies popping up. Then I outline each section of the book, do character composites, and research. For The Grandfather Clock I read everything that I could about Nazis in Patagonia and the theory that Hitler died there in the 1960s. It’s a fascinating story. Read The Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams.

grey wolf

So far, I’ve failed to completely stick to my original outlines. As I write, I find plot holes. issues with character motivations, and main characters developing the decision making powers of a five year-old. If Michael Chance is a little hapless at the beginning of the book, in the first draft he may as well have had pepper in his teeth and mustard on his shirt through the entire book. That’s why I pay for editing.

Update on the follow-up to The Grandfather Clock: The second book is flying. 4,000 to 5,000 words per week. Hoping to be editing in May. I will announce the title soon.

Thanks for reading!

-J.K.

Writer’s Block and Seller’s Block = It’s Just Worker’s Block

Standard

This month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in which participants around the world commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November. The idea is to throw your ideas on the page and get a manuscript you can work with. It’s brilliant because you don’t sweat the style of the prose, the little plot holes – you leave them behind, and you just pound out 50,000 words. In my first year I knocked out the first 50,000 words of a book that would top 100,000. That book, working title The Golden Parachute, went through a couple of massive renovations until I decided that the book was like an ex-girlfriend… It was a good story, a great learning experience, and best left behind for something better. Last year I missed the 50,000 word goal because I spent the last week of November turning 40 in a house on Newport Beach. But the 35,000 words I wrote were the start of The Grandfather Clock. This book will be out before I turn 41 later this month.

My Word Count this month is ZERO

So this year I signed up for NaNoWriMo and in five days I’ve written 0 words. Not one. I’m 25,000 words into the sequel to The Grandfather Clock, but this month is about EDITING. I need to edit 50,000 so that my friends will stop asking where the damned book is. Which brings me to the topic of this blog-post.

Worker’s Block

From an early age we hear the term Writer’s Block. It’s a writer’s mysterious inability to think of anything to write. It’s an excuse for being a writer but not writing anything. I’m not saying they are lying. What I am saying is that if you are a writer, you should write even if you have “writer’s block”. In my day job, I definitely get those periods of time when the sales just don’t seem to fall my way. We joke that in these selling doldrums we get this stench that the customer can smell from a mile away. We could have the perfect product, the best price, and the best sales call, but the buyer won’t budge. Like a single guy whose pheromone is “desperation.”

In sales, you keep selling. Eventually your luck will turn. For me, I’m busiest when the deals aren’t coming my way. I might even get a little discouraged. Then suddenly things start landing in my lap. I’ve actually walked in to potential accounts with the decided intent NOT to sell – almost like I’m there to tell them that they CAN’T have my product – and I’ve closed the deal.

It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a writer, or you aren’t in sales. We all get Worker’s Block. We have periods of time where you look at clock at the end of the day and say, “I didn’t get anything accomplished today.” During these periods I try to start each day with a list of 5 things I want to get done. Then I try to get them ALL done first. The rest of the day is smooth sailing. Right now, I’m in one of those lulls in my day job. I’ve got a couple dozen good prospects in the hopper, I’m doing everything right, but nothing is closing. I just had my best month ever, but it seems there’s nothing new on the horizon. Tomorrow I’ve got a full day, including a couple of “closes” that I’d like to make. I’m going to go in with the confidence not to care. Next week, I’ll let you know if I land any.

Thanks for reading! Sign up for updates on the left. Feel free to drop me an email at jkilewrites@gmail.com. The Grandfather Clock will be out in time for holiday shopping. Plan on putting one on every Kindle and in every stocking.