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Monday, July 11, 2011

Seriously OR An Explanation for Bubba Fans OR Here Fat Woman Goes Again

Yes, I know.  I've told you all I write novels, too.  (Hey, not only am I a funny blogger, but I write books, too!  Are there no ends to my multitalentedness?  I think I made up a word.)  I write a lot.  What's really popular right now is the Bubba books.

Bubba and the Dead Woman and Bubba and the 12 Deadly Days of Christmas.  It's about a good old boy in Texas who happens into murder mysteries.  (Oh, my goodness, does that really happen?)  Most folks love Bubba.  They write me emails.  They say all kinds of nice things.  They ask me when the next one is coming out.  (November/December, depending on the whimsical fates and how fast I can type and proofread.  Yes, to some of you who believe I CANNOT proofread.  I do.  Apparently, I can't make all of you happy.)

And no, I'm not ranting about poor reviews this time.  (Surprise, since HIM, the man to whom I'm married, gets to hear this all the time.  HIM is probably sighing with utter relief at this very moment.)  No, it's another 'complaint' I get frequently.  Most folks are reading one of my books and then they go and get another one of my books and they're dismayed that they're NOT EXACTLY the same style.  Even worse, it may not even be the same genre.  Bubba and the Dead Woman and Bubba and the 12 Deadly Days of Christmas ARE the same style and genre.  The problem arises when one of the readers reads, say, Bubba, and then reads The Flight of the Scarlet Tanager or Shadow People which are action/adventure/whoa-hold-onto-your-seat novels.  Scarlet Tanager is suspense, pure and simple.  Shadow People is paranormal suspense.  No Basset hounds named Precious in either one of them.

For the most part, I like all of my novels.  I wouldn't have epubbed (made up another word) them if I didn't.  I have a few in my computer that I'm not sure if I'll ever publish.  (I'd have to rewrite them and then sprinkle pixie dust on them and think happy thoughts.  Wait, that's Peter Pan.  I'd have to do something to them, because they're...baaaaaad.)  But there is one that I'm holding onto because it's a Civil War mystery.  It's a good book but since it's a historical mystery and supposed to be number one of five, I'm disinclined to make it public right now.  (I love Geoffrey Rush from Pirates of the Caribbean.)  I'm also disinclined, you see, to write the four sequels that it desperately needs right away, and piss lots of readers off because the four don't automatically follow along.  I just re-read the book myself and it's damn good but since I'm committed to Bubba right now, I can't submerge myself into Civil War history and pretty much make myself into a Civil War Zombie.  Really, I would be thinking like a Confederate soldier for the next six months and it kind of melts my brain into mush.  (Screaming "Run!  It's the Yankees!  Dixie forever!" while I'm in the grocery line wouldn't go over well, even living in Manassas.)

Let me put it another way.  If I wrote Civil War mysteries, then I couldn't write Bubba mysteries.  Or the steampunk suspense fantasy one that I really, really, really, really want to write.  (So that one will wait a little bit.)  And I couldn't write the third Bubba book, which is boiling about in my brain RIGHT NOW.  (I hear the gasps of horrified dismay.  So relax.  I AM writing Bubba the third and I AM doing it right now.)

BUT, but, but here's the thing that I wanted to explain to people who wonder/complain/marvel at the way I can alter my style from book to book.  It's hard to describe but I finally thought of a way to do it.  I'm going to use a metaphor!  It's chintzy but it makes the point.

Writing a novel is like painting a picture.

It needs to be big and bold and in red and centered.  Maybe underlined and italicized too.  Maybe it should go on a coaster on Chili's.  It should be in a fortune cookie at a Chinese food restaurant.  Well, maybe not.

Writing a novel is like painting a picture.

(I'm also an artist and I've got lots of neat stuff in my house.)  You see, none of the pictures that I paint will ever be the same as another one, no matter how hard I try to make the same.  A few savvy people have noticed that the two Bubba books are even a little different.  (I wrote the first one in 1999 and the second one in 2010, so that's a big difference.)  For one thing, I headhopped like crazy in the first book.  (Incidentally, the very first person to complain about vainglorious headhopping in Bubba just posted a review on either bn or amazon as I was writing this today.  See, someone was paying attention.)  I stuck to Bubba's perspective in the second book, with a few jaunts into Miz Demetrice's and Precious's heads.  Honestly it made for a better book.  (AND BY GOD, I CUT WAY DOWN ON THE COMMAS!)  (I mean, I stopped to ask myself every time I hit the comma key, 'Do I really need that comma?  Is that comma truly necessary?  Would that sentence work without a comma?'  And Jeez, who needs that kind of pressure?)

Yes, I know this has NOTHING to do with this blog, but
I haven't harassed my sister's cat, Mellow, in two blogs, so
it needed to be done.  And yes, I know, I already used
this one maybe twice.  I'm lazy.  What can I say?

I get an idea for a book.  Sometimes I remember how it came about.  Sometimes I don't.  It kind of settles in my brain and ferments.  While I'm writing, I often will go to bed at night, dreaming about what's happening in my book.  Sometimes I'll have vivid dreams about what will happen next in the book.  I suppose it's a way of allowing my mind to brainstorm.  Anything goes, and often does, when I'm contemplating plots.  I usually have a rough outline but it never gets followed explicitly.  Things happen and then the novel magically elongates.  Mostly it elongates so much that I have to go back and cut stuff out because I made it too bleeping long.  Stephen King had a neat phrase for this.  He called it literary elphantitus.  (And heyheyhey, Steve, if you're reading this blog, let me know, because I would just die if you read my blog.)  I've never had the problem of my works being too short.  (The novellas don't count because they were supposed to be short.)

So the point of the story for those people who complain about my genre shifting and style bouncing and whatever else you'd like to call it, writing is like painting a picture.  I'm going to make sure that at the end it's pretty and cool and great to look at, but it isn't ever going to be exactly like the other picture that you really, really, really, really, really, really liked.  As a matter of fact, it might be better.


Bonnie said...

I for one, hope you continue doing things the same! Love your blog and one of the reasons you are one of my fav authors is BECAUSE your stuff is not the same thing over and over. I hope you keep up the good work!

Carwoo said...

I luv my fans. :) Thank you Bonnie.

Doc said...

Thanks so much for your stories about Bubba. I AM from East Texas and you have made me homesick. I had no problem with the way you portrayed the people or the Snoddys, so like we say back home, " Ifin it ain't broke, lea'v it lone." Keep writing sis, can't wait until the third one.

Doc Stiefer

Carwoo said...

Thank you, Doc!

Cubop1 said...

I bought my e-book reader fairly recently so I am pretty new to this medium. It seems to me that the nice thing about self-publishing is that the author can write what He or She wants to. Modern publishers tell writers what they want based on what the computer tells them will sell. You don't have that restriction so you can be unpredictable in what you write. I think that is wonderful, real art.

An email friend, who is a writer, says that publishers are little men with gold-rimmed glasses and calculators. They wouldn't know art if it bit them in the ass.

As for head hopping, some of the best writers, including the late, great Ed McBain did it all the time. Personally, I think it adds interest to the story.

When you see these complaints, just remember that, if they could write a better story, they wouldn't have time to bitch about yours. Everyone's a critic, right?

Carwoo said...

Yes, everyone's a critic. I'll get over day.;) Thanks for the support.

shmoou72 said...

I love your Bubba series and hope you keep them coming. I can so relate being from Bama! I can't wait to try some of your other books (and I will keep in mind they won't be like Bubba)! You can't make everyone happy all the time but you sure keep this one happy! Just found your blog too and living it!!!!!

Carwoo said...

Thanks, Shmoou!

MeL said...

I just discovered the Bubba books. I actually read Lake People all the way through before I realized they were by the same author. Totally different from each other as they are, I loved both.
I just finished the second Bubba book. I am still in love.
Books have been my drug of choice since the 4th grade.
The Bubba books remind me, in style, of the Stephanie Plum series... but I have to admit, I like Bubba much better.
You have a big fan here. Keep writing! A junkie needs her fix, after all. :)

Carwoo said...

And who am I to say no to a woman who needs her fix?