This month, I completed and published my first novel, Bay City Runaway, and last week I dusted off an older project and began writing it.  It’s a different kind of novel–more of a mystery and perhaps less emotionally intense.  Bay City was rather dark and moody–like me sometimes. I constructed a scant three-act outline for Bay City and jumped right in because it was primarily a character-driven novel, I gave myself a lot of freedom with it, loosely aiming for the outline.  I feel good about the results, but this new book is a different animal.

I feel like writing a mystery has to be tighter, so I’m taking a more structured approach.  I wrote succinct character descriptions and fleshed out a much more detailed outline–chapter-by-chapter.  I have some qualms about doing it this way.  I don’t want to over-plan.  I want room for spontaneity and organic development, but I have more pieces motion in order to make it the ending pop like a good mystery.

In some ways, it’s easier to write with such thorough planning.  I take a peek at the chapter description (usually a couple of sentences) and begin typing with the goal in mind.  But I leave plenty of room to surprise myself. For me, writing fiction is strongly akin to reading fiction.  It’s true that I have a very strong idea about what’s going to happen, but I don’t know exactly how that will translate into words and scenes.  I get to enjoy it as it unfolds.  I get to be the very first reader!

A book has a life of its own.  It’s easy to say, “Well, David. You’re the author you have total control over everything that happens.  You’re the God of this world.”  In a sense, that is true, but that’s not my understanding of God.  Yes, I believe God can do whatever the hell he or she wants, but that doesn’t mean he does it.  God gives us free will and watches our lives unfold, sometimes working closely with us, sometimes just along for the ride.  I feel that my characters have some level of freedom to do what makes sense for them.  I can’t always make them do what I want because I don’t really know entirely who they are when I begin writing.  A common remark from my small circle of readers is that the characters feel so real.  Perhaps that is part of it.

Another thing I’m doing differently is formatting a bit more as I write.  I’m writing in MS Word, which is how I format and produce a file for Amazon KDP, but in the past, I’ve written in Google Docs.  The problem with Google Docs, for me, was that it was so much work to take a Google document and format it for print and Kindle. I’m hoping to save some time and formatting errors by doing it this way; the risk is that it will pull me out of the creative flow.

I’m also not in a feverish rush.  I wrote Bay City in a manic fever, perhaps worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish it.  But I’ve done it now!  I know I can write a novel!  I’m taking a steady, relaxed pace–enjoying myself!  I have no deadline and very little riding on this…

except for my hopes and dreams, of course.

shutterstock_1704911602Writers and would-be writers may dream of making a full-time career of writing, but that is becoming an increasingly rare option. Traditionally-published authors are not getting the kinds of advances they used to receive and independently published authors often spend more money than they make, so we must have day jobs to support ourselves and our families.

Although I’ve been writing for over twenty years, I am fairly new to professional writing, and I am an indie writer at the moment. I’m successful in that I’ve written and published five books. Am I earning a living at it? No. Do I make enough money to take my wife out to dinner from time to time? (Laughing) Yes! Is my writing good enough to read? Hell yes! Quick aside. I don’t like the term “self-published.” Many equate it to “vanity publishing” which, as we all know, is a monstrous abomination (see sarcasm.) Heaven forbid someone invest money to produce and share their art. Remember when labels and radio stations got to decide what would like to listen to? What music is good or bad? At that time, we had no idea what we were missing. Now we have an infinite world of music to try out. We, the consumers of art, should get to decide what is good whether it be music, painting, dance, or writing. If you’re reading this and are an indie writer, know that you are a writer. PERIOD. Ok, aside over.

And so, I must balance my writing and my day job. Here’s what I’ve learned, given my circumstances. My current job has a rather strict shift schedule, which is unusual for my career as a software engineer, but it’s what I have, and it’s too good a job to care either way.

I start at 8 am. I get a fifteen-minute break at 9:45, a forty-five-minute lunch break at 11:30, a fifteen-minute break at 2:45, and I get off at 4:45 and then write for an hour in the evenings. I can write as much as I want on the weekend–usually around two hours. That’s an average of 92 minutes a day. How did I write the first draft of my last book, Bay City Runaway (84,000 words), in five weeks with that schedule? That’s around 2,400 words a day, or 29 words a minute.

1.    I’m a better-than-average typist, thanks to Keyboarding I and II in high school.

2.    I have Bipolar Affective Disorder, which many writers have. Even medicated, I can ride a solid six weeks of hypo-mania (mild elevated, productive mood), and that’s when I do a lot of my writing.

3.    I don’t stop to edit, reread, or do a lot of planning. I construct a very scant outline at the beginning of the project (or not at all) and shoot for the main points as I write, permitting myself to break my plan. I know that I can fill in gaps, descriptions, themes, etc. in subsequent drafts.

4.    This is the most important key to productivity with writing: It takes a lot of courage, but I think it’s the reason most would-be writers don’t write anything or why writer’s block occurs. BE WILLING TO WRITE UTTER CRAP; otherwise, you will likely never complete a project.

This method of short writing spurts probably only works with a daily writing discipline. If I wait for days, weeks, or months to write, I lose the flow. I forget all the little seeds of suspense I had planted. It just doesn’t work! There are days when I only write 200 words. There are days when I write 4000 words. It averages out over time.

Editing, drafting, developing, getting feedback from beta readers, designing covers, publishing, marketing–these things may take longer and a lot more patience, but at the end of that month or two of steady writing, you have a damn book! Maybe not a good one, but that’s the thing people who want to be writers never get–a book. They plan and plan and tweet and read, but they do not write. They write the first thousand words and then spend the next months posting about it on social media, worrying that it is no good. Did you know that writers used to write entire books without Twitter and Facebook or telling anyone about it at all? The truth is, the WORST book is the book that never was never written.

There are thousands of articles, books, classes, seminars, and podcasts on how to write a book, but eventually, a writer must write–even if it’s terrible! Hopefully, with patience, diligence, practice, courage, and help from other writers, teachers, editors, beta-readers, or maybe even a publishing house, it won’t stay terrible.

There is nothing wrong with having a day job. I prefer the stability and benefits. Many of the great writers had day jobs. Perhaps it even gives you more to write about. You do not have to write eight hours a day or even ninety minutes, but you do have to write! So quit reading this article and write a sentence, a paragraph, a scene, or a whole chapter! Oh and don’t write on your work computer!

I’ve started writing a new novel–a journalist uncovers a dark secret centered around his childhood church in the south.  When I wrote Bay City Runaway, once I got into a rhythm, I wrote the first draft in about a month.  That’s an average of 2800 a day. A little bipolar mania, nudged that along, and I’m pretty level at the moment, although my kitchen is extraordinarily tidy this week.  Hmmmm…could be on the way!  But I’m out of the habit of writing. 

Although I have edited and published five books this year, I have not actually written anything.  I started this book a few years ago–rough outline (don’t like to over-plan), wrote about 8000 words, then put it away.  A few weeks ago, I sent the start of three projects to a faithful beta-reader to ask what she thought might be a good next project.  She picked this one–thought it could be my best work, yet.  I’ve begun dusting it off–reading what I have so far and trying to remember the seeds I had planted for suspense, polishing it a little (not a good idea for a first draft…gotta just write whatever crap comes to mind), and telling myself that as soon I was done with all that, I would actually write it!

I gotta say, it can be painful at first.  When you’ve just read the final, published drafts of books you’ve written, it’s hard to see the rough stuff that comes out on a new WIP.  I want it to be as good immediately, but that is a crippling idea!  I know so many would-be writers who are paralyzed by the idea of writing crap.  But that’s the KEY to writing for me.  Writing crap is a risk I have to be willing to take!  But when it is done, I never feel like it’s bad at all.  In fact, I feel pretty darn good about my writing!  Please check it out.

Amazon

Goodreads

 

“Sometimes it’s important to stop whatever break you’re taking and just do the work.”

I’ve establishing my author status on Goodreads!  I’m still establishing myself with my books.  Two of my books, Bay City Runaway and My Wife Says I’m Complicated, are associated with me and others to come!

My most recent book is a novel, Bay City Runaway

David Wilson-Burns, author of Whiff and My Wife Says I’m Complicated, offers his gritty and emotionally potent debut novel, Bay City Runaway, a story of two runaways finding each other in their escape from abuse and tragedy.

James, a thirty-something software wiz with a drinking problem, runs away to San Francisco to escape a tragedy in his home state of Oklahoma. In front of his favorite pub one night, a teenage girl with a nasty bruise on her face asks for a cigarette. He sees her several more times and gives her food and smokes. She appears to be living on the street, running away from abuse. Late one night, the frantic teen, Amy, shows up at his China Town apartment. Having nowhere else to go, she seeks shelter and protection from her abuser, who could show up at any time. They form an unlikely and complicated friendship.
Wilson-Burns’ moving and engaging novel brings to vivid life the struggling, lonely alcoholic, the precocious, street-wise teenager, and the sexually-charged complication of a would-be girlfriend, Kyra, as their lives become intertwined.

He also captures 1990s college life as he tells the story of how a new friend, Zach, helps James win back the girl he will marry, leading up to the tightly kept secret of the tragedy that puts him on a plane to San Francisco in 2007.

In gripping detail, Wilson-Burns delves deeply into how alcoholism can grow from little seeds into a tragic and disastrous bloom.

Wilson-Burns uses his expressive, straightforward writing style to create an emotional experience for the reader and brings a deep sense of redemption and faith in humanity into his characters and story. Those who have experienced alcoholism in their lives will identify powerfully with James and Amy’s struggles. He shows how love, friendship, and faith can redeem the running, lost, and hurting.%MCEPASTEBIN%

This is an audio excerpt from my latest novel, Bay City Runaway. James, a 35-year-old drunk running away from a tragic past in Oklahoma shelters a teenage runaway girl. They strike up an unlikely friendship.
In this excerpt, James takes Amy to her first opera.

David Wilson-Burns, author of Whiff and My Wife Says I’m Complicated, offers his gritty and emotionally potent debut novel, Bay City Runaway, a story of two runaways finding each other in their escape from abuse and tragedy.

James, a thirty-something software wiz with a drinking problem, runs away to San Francisco to escape a tragedy in his home state of Oklahoma. In front of his favorite pub one night, a teenage girl with a nasty bruise on her face asks for a cigarette. He sees her several more times and gives her food and smokes. She appears to be living on the street, running away from abuse. Late one night, the frantic teen, Amy, shows up at his China Town apartment. Having nowhere else to go, she seeks shelter and protection from her abuser, who could show up at any time. They form an unlikely and complicated friendship.

Wilson-Burns’ moving and engaging novel brings to vivid life the struggling, lonely alcoholic, the precocious, street-wise teenager, and the sexually-charged complication of a would-be girlfriend, Kyra, as their lives become intertwined.

He also captures 1990s college life as he tells the story of how a new friend, Zach, helps James win back the girl he will marry, leading up to the tightly kept secret of the tragedy that puts him on a plane to San Francisco in 2007.

In gripping detail, Wilson-Burns delves deeply into how alcoholism can grow from little seeds into a tragic and disastrous bloom.

Wilson-Burns uses his expressive, straightforward writing style to create an emotional experience for the reader and brings a deep sense of redemption and faith in humanity into his characters and story. Those who have experienced alcoholism in their lives will identify powerfully with James and Amy’s struggles. He shows how love, friendship, and faith can redeem the running, lost, and hurting.

Bay City Runaway: A Novel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0863X5ZHN/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_basIEbMTDGWRQ

Hey readers, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much shut in.  I’m able to work my day job from home.  I’m writing a new novel.  I’m doing a little baking and cooking.  AND I’m reading.  The problem is, many of you are losing income while at home, and reading isn’t always cheap.  So while we’ll all home, I’m lowering all my Kindle books to the minimum allowable price which is $0.99.

You’ll find them on my author page or below. Help yourselves!

Bay CityDavid Wilson-Burns, author of Whiff and My Wife Says I’m Complicated, offers his gritty and emotionally potent debut novel, Bay City Runaway, a story of two runaways finding each other in their escape from abuse and tragedy.

James, a thirty-something software wiz with a drinking problem, runs away to San Francisco to escape a tragedy in his home state of Oklahoma. In front of his favorite pub one night, a teenage girl with a nasty bruise on her face asks for a cigarette. He sees her several more times and gives her food and smokes. She appears to be living on the street, running away from abuse. Late one night, the frantic teen, Amy, shows up at his China Town apartment. Having nowhere else to go, she seeks shelter and protection from her abuser, who could show up at any time. They form an unlikely and complicated friendship.

Wilson-Burns’ moving and engaging novel brings to vivid life the struggling, lonely alcoholic, the precocious, street-wise teenager, and the sexually-charged complication of a would-be girlfriend, Kyra, as their lives become intertwined.

He also captures 1990s college life as he tells the story of how a new friend, Zach, helps James win back the girl he will marry, leading up to the tightly kept secret of the tragedy that puts him on a plane to San Francisco in 2007.

In gripping detail, Wilson-Burns delves deeply into how alcoholism can grow from little seeds into a tragic and disastrous bloom.

Wilson-Burns uses his expressive, straightforward writing style to create an emotional experience for the reader and brings a deep sense of redemption and faith in humanity into his characters and story. Those who have experienced alcoholism in their lives will identify powerfully with James and Amy’s struggles. He shows how love, friendship, and faith can redeem the running, lost, and hurting.

The Puddlegulch Post is live!

Posted: November 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

Welcome to The Puddlegulch Post !

PuddlegulchPostMasthead1

 

Puddlegulch celebrates the 150th anniversary of Possum Day

On a blustery December morning in 1869, word came to the town councilmen of Johnson Gulch of an encroaching army of rogue civil war soldiers who had not realized that the Civil War had been over for four years. No one knows which side they had been fighting on, and many suspected that they could not remember.

Mayor Sowser gathered the men of the town to come up with a plan to avoid a massacre. A young man named Nathaniel Puddle talked at length of the amazing properties of possums, known as the Possum Address, and a plan was quickly devised to “play possum”. Puddle and the other men went from door to door advising the residents to create scenes of death for each household in an attempt to convince the soldiers to pass on. Thinking that the town was already massacred, the marauders did pass on and massacre the neighboring town of Taylorfield (aka Bloodfield). Johnson Gulch has since been known as Puddlegulch in honor of the legendary Nathaniel Puddle, and the day will forever be known as Possum Day.

Festivities will be held in the town square on December 6th. The judging of the most creative family death scene competition will begin at noon. Bundle up and bring your possum pride!