Sunday, September 23, 2012

Raising the Bar


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  Wow, I flubbed my diet big time, but other than that some cool things happened this week in Red Wolf Novel Land. First of all, my favorite Aussie, Kristy Berridge, author of The Hunted and its soon-to-be released sequel, The Damned, posted her review of The Draculata Nest. She warned me it was coming several weeks ago, and I’d been waiting nervously to see what she said. I’m delighted to report she gave it 4 out of 5 “fangs”. Y’all can check it out on Goodreads or scroll down a little on her blog… to find out what she said.
                                                           Kristy Berridge
   Then, Ray DeLotell sent me a photo of the finished cover art for The Dragon of Doughton Park. It was worth the wait, and now I’m that much closer to getting the second Red Wolf novel published. Here it is…
   It looks like things are moving ahead inexorably to the publication of my next novel. Being a glass-half-empty kind of guy, here’s the main theme of this week’s blog…
   There’s a scene in The Dragon of Doughton Park where the reluctant private investigator, Luke Saunders, is waiting nervously as the vampire, Roland Trudeau, watches surveillance footage he’s taken of Clifford Crane. Luke is sweating it out. He knows he’s done a good job, but he’s afraid he’s done too well. He’s raised the bar, and he knows Roland will expect more from him in the future. If he doesn’t continue to perform at the new higher standard, his life could be in danger.
   Of course, like so many of the characters in the Red Wolf novels, the thing Luke Saunders fears most is not the real danger he ends up facing. But as I read over that scene last week while doing “one more final edit” as I wait for the cover art and design for the new novel to be finished, I realized I may have been subconsciously trying to work out some of my own anxieties when I wrote it.
   You see, when I finished the final scene of Dragon back in May, I realized what has since been confirmed by the enthusiastic reactions of my editors and beta readers: I’ve turned out a pretty good piece of work here. It’s something that I can and should be proud of. And I am.

   But I’ve raised the bar. And just like Luke Saunders, it scares me a little.

   Publishing The Draculata Nest was a leap of faith. It was a necessary coda to dream I thought I’d lost many years ago. I’d started novels a number of times before, and never gotten very far. The simple fact that I’d actually finished one was an accomplishment in itself. The fact that it got some nice reviews and enthusiastic responses from some readers was a perk.

   I’d surprised myself on a number of fronts, and I’d surprised every one of my friends and colleagues, who had no idea I even harbored such a dream or had any talent for such a thing. Some folks were genuinely impressed. I began to be introduced occasionally as John Hundley, author. More important, I’d found something I truly loved to do.

   Writing is fun, y’all.
   I don’t necessarily mean it’s easy. I typically sweat for hours at a time over two or three paragraphs. But it is a labor of love, and I can now affirm what I’ve heard others say and scoffed at in the past: if you find something you love to do, it is not work!

   But now I have set myself a task that involves the expectations of others. The second book was better than the first. Will people expect the third book to be better than the second, and so on, until they reach some imagined reading nirvana? What if I I’ve already reached my peak, and it’s all downhill from here? What if…

   Okay, calm down, John. Don’t go there. Baby steps. But, on a practical level, I do have a rather daunting task in front of me. And as some of you finish reading The Dragon of Doughton Park, you’ll understand. In a number of ways, I’ve written myself into a corner.

   I won’t reveal too much here, but at the end of the book I’ve left Clifford Crane, along with a few other characters, with a major conundrum. He’s in a tough spot, and it was slightly different than I planned when I began writing the book, and I have only a vague idea how he’s going to handle it.

   And I’ve also violated a major rule espoused by many writers – I’ve fallen in love with some of these characters. (And so have some of my readers if I’m to believe their comments.) In many cases, I know they face a fate they don’t deserve. Will I have the guts to allow them to make the mistakes that will ultimately lead to their demise? Will I try to rescue them from their inevitable destiny?
   I hope not, but only the next nine to twelve months will tell.

   One final note:
   From now until the time Dragon goes on sale, the ebook price for The Draculata Nest has been reduced to only $0.99. You can purchase it through one of the following venues…
ebook for Kindle     ebook for Nook     Paperback Copies     in Charlotte

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