Monday, July 30, 2007

Deathly Hallows Completed...

SPOILER to Dealthly Hallows in Paragraph #1:

This is my immediate reaction to finishing Deathly Hallows, which I did Thursday, 7/26. I will write about my reactions to the content later.

There is something churning inside of me…and I don’t know what it is. I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night at 1:22am so I cannot discount fatigue. It did not help that my son woke up twice last night, around 2am and again around3:30. the second time was because he was scared and my mind flitted to the epilogue of Deathly Hallows where Harry himself is a parent, comforting his middle child on his first trip to Hogwarts.

So it might be fatigue. Another part, too, is the inevitable sense of loss and emptiness I feel for having completed the saga, having made it to the finish line with good friends and allies. We readers all knew the was coming, we all couldn’t wait to know how it all turned out but dreaded that very thing. We all wanted to savor these last few, never-been-read pages. Sure, we can—and we will—re-read these books but we’ll never agin have that feeling we had during one glorious week (or days or hours) in July 2007.

Now we must all ask ourselves “What’s next?” What other book can capture us the way J.K. Rowling’s books did? Before 21 July, I was reading Elmore Leonard’s first novel, a western. Now, it seems so quaint. I loved the epic nature of Harry’s story, his journey. I want that again. But, I think, reading only epics would dilute their grandeur, so I won’t. There’s always Stephen King’s Dark Tower series but that’s something else entirely.

Fatigue, loss and emptiness, longing for what’s next. That pretty much leaves only one thing: write one myself. Not a Harry Potter fan fiction piece, but a full-fledged epic. Maybe not seven books but something. But I’m not sure I’m ready yet. I think I need year on me, practice. JKR didn’t need practice, you say, and maybe I don’t either. We’ll see. But right now—as this little missive here demonstrates—writing is a salve and it burns within me to do only one thing: write.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Laziness is Next to...

My friend Doug has written about his current state of Non-Writing-Ness over at his blog. He talks about the differences in writing that first and second novel. He outlined his first but with his second, he is "flying blind." And that got me to thinking about my first two books.

My first novel, the Harry Truman mystery novel, Treason at Hanford, I decided to outline the entire book from start to finish. Back in 2005 when I was first writing that book, I learned that F. Scott Fitzgerald outlined all of his books. Hey, I thought, if he did it, why not me? And I also learned that even though outlining was a form of structure, the words and text took on a life of their own, revealing themselves in little nuances here and there. Another good factor about my outlining--I did it in scenes, written on note cards, and thumbtacked to a cork board--process was that in those precious two hours a day I had to write (10pm-midnight), I did not have any 'starting at the ceiling' moments. I knew exactly what I was to write that day. It helped. I wrote my first book in a little over 8 months.

With my second, however, things have changed. I am writing a contemporary crime novel set here in Houston post-Katrina. And, since I outlined the first book, I kept to that tradition. And I've found myself in Outline Hell! For the longest time, I told myself "You can't start writing until you know how the book ends." That has led to paralysis. I keep trying to figure out what the book was about and whom should be the focus. I keep trying to make the book perfect from the get-go. Wrong idea.

Originally, I had as my main character a black, ex-con, former enforcer, out of prison and seeking redemption. Now, my main character is a white, female, HPD detective with a streak of compassion running through her. How's that for a shift in focus?

But lately, I've made two crucial decisions and it all stems from the mantra Get It Written. One, I've decided to make my story a multiple-POV story. My ex-con, my detective, and some of the New Orleans evacuees will all share top billing and I will have certain chapters from each person's POV. That's a far cry from my original first-person POV versions of the book (I'm on version 4 now). Two, I'm just going to write it all down and if, after I've done that, the book does not flow with all of these characters, I'll trim it back. But I'll have the text down. As it is right now, I have nearly 100pp of written material...most of which I can't use. But it has all led me to this moment: Just Get It Written.

And, I've abandoned my intense desire to have the book 100% outlined before I start. I have 75-80% of it in my head and written down and I know how I'd like the book to end. It's just that the parts just after Act II ends and the big finale that are cloudy. But, I'm forging ahead.

I originally wanted the book finished by Memorial Day 2007 so I could shop it at the MWA-Southwest conference in Dallas back in June 2007. Then, I decided to complete the first draft by Labor Day 2007. Now, while I'll have a good chunk written by then, I'm not sure I'll have the entire thing finished. But I'll be well on my way. And, with a complete draft ready by the fall, I'll be able to start shopping my second novel around while I write/submit some short stories and start to work on Novel #3: probably a SF book. We'll see.

Oh, and once I get the software and hardware necessary, I'll be podcasting my Harry Truman novel over at And, if that goes well, I'll podcast my second book. It's an adventure, writing, but it is a glorious one.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Last Blog before the Deathly Hallows

It is now 9:42pm on Friday, 20 July 2007. Zero Hour is 137 minutes away. Wow. I have not felt this excited since Revenge of the Sith back in 2005.

I have just reviewed my list of predictions. I basically stand by them. I have learned since then that the true definition of 'half-blood' is *any* Muggle blood in your ancestry, not just one of your immediate parents. So, the Lily-losing-her-powers thing is one I should officially withdraw. But, the good thing is that if it *does* turn out to be true, I did see it.

The reason I'm writing tonight is that I was thinking about the prophesy. And I even did the daring thing of looking it up on Wiki tonight, complete with my eyes narrowed just in case a spoiler comes out. Here is the prophesy:

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."

Now, I'm still thinking that Harry will sacrifice himself...but the second to last line of the prophesy does leave the door cracked for Harry living. One must die. That is a given. You KNOW it ain't going to be Voldemort. So, that might be JKR's out. But I still can't see Harry and Ginny just living happily ever after having experienced so much. Who knows? We all will, starting tomorrow.

I can't wait. See y'all on the other side.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Voice of Harry Potter is Coming to Houston

In preparation for this week's release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I have been reading quite a number of articles online. The Washington Post has the Hogwarts Hub. Be sure to read the excellent essay, "Proud to be a Potterhead," by Sabaa Saleem Tahir. I'd be willing to bet that many adults followed the same path to Harry as her husband.

Today, in the New York Times, brings a great article about Jim Dale, the voice of Harry Potter for us Americans. In the article, I read the following magical words:

"After the book is released, he will do a tour of Houston, Washington, Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C."

A quick Google search led me to the delightful revelation that Mr. Dale is coming to Blue Willow Bookshop, the great little independent bookstore near my house. I called just now and they still have tickets. Give'em a shout.

I have already extolled the wonders of Mr. Dale's reading in my earlier Harry Potter posts. Now, I get to see him live.

I have to admit: as a Star Wars geek, I did not think anything would come close to the feeling of excitement I got from waiting on all the new movies, especially The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Waiting for Book 7 (with all of its double-edged feelings of excitement and dread at the end of the journey) comes close.