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Children of Tarot (formerly Boiling Point)- A social science fiction thriller
Witch’s Rock (formerly Hero Nation)- A literary nightmare

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High Ground
 – The Bizarre Story of my Awakening
Tao & Zen – Opening of the Hand, Closing of the Fist

Dropping In – An Exercise in Surfing the Now
The Question of Nihilism The Virtue of Uncertainty
Defining the Problem – Fixing Democracy
A “New” Christianity – A 12 post Debate Series
A Writer’s Guide to the Hero Way – A Book of Changes

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Posted in Writer's Way

A Writer’s Guide to the Hero Way

Author’s Note – This is difficult to deliver with any kind of credibility as to my qualifications for backing up my title. Honest, I don’t have a giant head about this. Please consider this as a writing exercise in which I attempt to propose a writer’s model of character and transformation, and how we, as writers, might work together to create a Peace Story.

Table of Contents

  • Danger at the Beginning – Refusal of the Call
  • The Game of Alchemy – Outward through Story Space
  • The Adventure of Awakening – The Escape from Story Space
  • The Character Wars – Thresholds of the Heart and Mind
  • The Peace Story – Hero Propagation

Danger in the Beginning…

The Hero’s Journey begins with The Call to Adventure. We are all born into a game in which Reality is continuously poking us with the question — “What should you do?”, and we are continuously responding. Those responses have consequences, and you would think that it wouldn’t take long for the epiphany that we are guessing to be triggered by the painful experience of guessing wrong. But there is a hidden trap here I am calling Danger at the Beginning.

Uncertainty can be frightening, especially for young children. Will the hero answer the call and move forward into uncertainty to begin their rising spiral of evolution toward reality and awakening? Or will they refuse the call, retreat from uncertainty to seek refuge in the illusion of some true story that promises to protect them from their fears in exchange for their obedience? If they refuse the call, they must blind their perceptions to the evidence of reality lest it contradict their true story, and they must suffocate their cognitive solution process to prevent it from producing answers that challenge their right answer. Rather than a rising spiral of evolution upward toward reality, they begin to spiral downward into delusion, separating further and further from reality.

The standard solutions to dealing with uncertainty appear to be –

  • Pretend that you are not guessing.
  • Follow the advice of someone you trust.
  • Try a more creative approach…

The Game of Alchemy

When I was six years old my brother told me that there was no Santa Claus, and in one moment I moved from inside of a story where Santa Claus was absolutely true, out into a story where it was all a vast conspiracy of lies designed to control how I answered the question. In the flash of epiphany I caught the pattern –

  1. Where I was standing was controlling what I was seeing.
  2. What I was seeing was controlling how I was answering.
  3. How I was answering was controlling my consequences.

In that same flash of epiphany I caught the geometry of motion, from inside of smaller false story, out into larger truer story. Because I had noticed once, I continued to notice, and it was if I had split in two. Part of me was answering the question, and part of me was watching how my answers were changing as I moved outward through story space. This was the birth of my first game, Largest Place. Asked what I should do, I responded – move out to a larger place with a better view from which to answer the question.

Zoom out fifty years. Zoom past my secret hero mission, undertaken at the age of fourteen to answer my mother’s prayers for peace, because I thought that someday I might find myself standing in a place large enough that I could understand why we all can’t just get along. Zoom past the epiphany of motion amplification my freshman year at the University of Notre Dame, when I realized that if I changed my direction from the search for largest place to mastering the process of motion, the further I moved, the more easily I should be able to move. Zoom through the playing of my new game, Jump Point, the heaving of my life again and again into uncertainty attempting to induce the phenomena of epiphany in my research into the laws of motion.

Zoom past landing at a tent site in the woods with a stack of ancient Taoist alchemical texts, the experience of awakening and the epiphany it triggered where I finally found myself in a place large enough that I could see the mechanism that makes world peace possible. Zoom past my vision in The Lord’s Bedchamber seven years later that revealed the forces preventing world peace, and the solution to the problem of man’s inhumanity to man. Zoom past the next thirteen years as I tried again and again to return from my hero mission with my solution, to share what I had learned for the benefit of all mankind.

The Adventure of Awakening

The story in which we are standing is controlling what we are seeing, which is controlling how we are answering, which is controlling our consequences. The benefit of experience is that it allows the realization that there is a larger story outside our current story, and if we were standing there, we would have a very different opinion about what it is worth doing with our time and energy, and it might really matter. The difficulty, in practice, is finding that larger place. There may be an infinite number of paths we can take outward through story space, but in the escape from story space, all paths lead through awakening.

Rather than spiraling downward into fantasy, separating further and further from the evidence of reality to hide from our fears of uncertainty, awakening is a rising spiral of evolution into uncertainty, an escape from the false stories that control our perceptions, our actions, and our consequences. Is your story stressing you out, enraging you, depressing you? Do you want to know what really matters? Take a deep breath and hold it. The answer will come to you.

Awakening is difficult. It requires the kind of time, commitment, and effort that it takes to get back into physical shape, or to learn how to play a musical instrument. You need to strengthen the spiritual force that drives you up that mountain when your body is screaming STOP! You need to apply that spiritual force to breaking your addiction to the holodeck by grabbing onto the present with your sense of touch. Stop thought, drop in, and surf the NOW.

I was living in the woods and trying not to step on a snake. The Taoist had an algorithm for becoming more present that began with “stop thought.” The attempt revealed everything that was preventing me from being present. This turns out to be very much like learning to surf. At first, all of your attention is focused on maintaining your balance. But eventually, you acquire the skill of balancing in the present. You are the child that has finally struggled to your feet. You are standing. You look around. Where do you want to go? (What should you do?)

Wooosh… Out into an infinite sea. “This changes EVERYTHING!” I’ve ridden some great expansion rushes, but the epiphany triggered by awakening rips your head off. Awakening is not the end of the story. It is the beginning of an extraordinary new adventure. The Taoists have a saying – “You build a trap to catch a rabbit. When the rabbit is caught, you no longer need the trap.”

“The Master has taken charge of the servant.”

The Character Wars

I set out on my alchemical journey because I was seeking the truth, and did not trust anyone to provide it to me. I set out on my secret hero mission because I was grateful to my mother and wanted to pay her back for the life she had almost died giving me, but I could never be the priest she prayed I would become. What I realized in my “vision” in The Lord’s Bedchamber was that these are the thresholds of the heart and the mind, and that not everybody has made the choice to cross them. Many people refused to answer The Call to Adventure into uncertainty, and instead, retreated fearfully into some “true” fantasy. Many people refused to be grateful for what they have been given and give something back, but remain wrapped in the delusion of the “all about me” show in the selfish heart.

My epiphany in The Lord’s Bedchamber revealed how the people’s story had fractured into the four natural Characters  –

  • Grateful Heart, Seeking Mind – The Hero Problem Solver
  • Grateful Heart, Knowing Mind – The Saintly Preacher
  • Selfish Heart, Seeking Mind – The Pirate Predator
  • Selfish Heart, Knowing Mind – The Monster Punisher

People are not characters, and I have stood in ALL of these locations, and no matter where I was standing, was highly confident my view was clearest. (LOL) You can end up in any of these places naturally, as a response to your environment. Uncertainty is frightening, and hiding from it inside the selfish heart and certain mind are natural responses to our fears. The rush of the arrogant mind becomes too sweet to surrender, and ultimately, feeling like God feels better than being scared shitless. Likewise, the rage of the selfish heart empowers you in the face of a terrifying uncertainty that might otherwise leave you whimpering in a corner.

My hero character is what I call the People’s Hero, because they try to help the people solve their problems. It is the grateful heart that motivates the hero to try to help the people, and it is the seeking mind that enables them to work the solution process. A selfish heart will never undertake the hero’s journey, and a knowing mind is trapped inside their right answer and cannot work the solution process.

There is a character war in progress for control over the people. In my third letter to Pope Francis, The Hero Jesus Story and the Crucifixion Climax, I try to explain —

“I believe Jesus was a grateful seeker. I believe he was a hero, who fed the hungry, and healed the sick, and who went searching in the wilderness for an answer to God’s Question, and who returned, to set the people free. And the pirates, and the monsters, and the saints murdered him for it, because setting people free is not what pirates and monsters and saints do.”

Every day hero players are slaughtered by pirate predators and monster punishers for trying to set their people free. The characters of the selfish heart and certain mind will not allow their people to awaken. They want to imprison them in a sleepwalking fantasy that the pirates, monsters, and saints control. They will not surrender the power to manipulate people by trapping them inside their certain minds with the True words of God so they can trap them inside their selfish hearts with empty promises of heaven and threats of burning hell. Even to speak about this can get you crucified, and in many countries in the world today writing this paragraph could get me a death sentence. As long as this remains true, we can never end war and poverty.

The Peace Story

In my video New Atlantis (2009), I attempt to define the problem and offer my solution to man’s inhumanity to man. My general solution was “Hero Propagation”, through a restructuring of public educational philosophy to cultivate and nurture grateful hearts and seeking minds (see diagram below). I called it Hero Educational Philosophy — the training of the people’s students how to work together solving the people’s problems, and that if the students try to lift the people’s weight, they will gain the hero’s strength.. The implementation I suggested in New Atlantis to Governor Schwarzenegger was a California Hero Engine, which I also pitched in a petition to Governor Brown in 2012 – Bring on the Hero Show! In 2014, I pitched a Catholic Hero Engine in my Letters to Pope Francis.

The following projects are attempts to implement Hero Propagation through the nurturing of the grateful heart and the seeking mind.

The Hero Science Project: A university based team problem solving game on a hero rescue mission (and a reality series). Based on the scientific method where every solution is an experiment, this will be a scalable solution engine lifting the people from the very bottom by rescuing those most desperate among us as a team problem solving exercise. It will also be able to quickly refocus on disasters in progress. This project could graduate generation after generation of hero team problem solvers that will be like bolting a turbocharger to the intake of the democratic solution engine, and accelerate the people into a future of peace and unimaginable prosperity.

Samaka Permaculture: A permaculture design platform for sustainable gardens to feed families, communities, and refugee camps. Also a permaculture master gardener program integrated into science education for grades K-12. This project could graduate generation after generation of permaculture master gardeners that will transform our planet into a sustainable garden paradise and eliminate hunger.

HE1

Posted in Uncategorized

Random Walk 26: Suspense Thriller

In 12 days I fly home to California. With me, moves the setting of Bacchus Town, which was originally going to be Los Angeles –

As for you, Shakespeare, you and your pirate sun are going down. When the morning star awakens, L.A. will be Bacchus Town.

This story no longer happens in the Philippines, which I’m sure the Philippines will appreciate. And because it is no longer happening in the Philippines, but in California, it has now become returned to becoming the sequel to Witch’s Rock that I envisioned. In the first published version of WR, I out-framed to Los Angeles, where I was going to “rebuild” Witch’s Rock, the alchemy school disguised as a porn studio. I took porn out of the plot when the story moved to PI, because porn is illegal there, and I am a guest in their country. But the story suffered, because the essence of the conflict is free expression of hero sexuality, the propagation of hero sexuality through media, exactly what the Philippine laws are designed to stop.

This novel will be set in a contemporary L.A., where the U.S. government has now been purchased by the conservative Pirate/Monster alliance, and the POG (Party of God), is in no way amused by the pornographic antics of Mr. Christopher Sly. Yesterday while I was trying to define the central conflict in this story, I Googled “What are the types of story conflict?”, and Google replied –

  • Man Vs. Man
  • Man Vs. Society
  • Man Vs Himself
  • Man Vs. Nature

Not quite what I was expecting, but useful. The outer conflict driving the external action will be Man Vs. Society. As it was in Witch’s Rock, this conflict will be embodied with a Protagonist Vs. Antagonist, or several Antagonists: Pirates, Monsters, and Saints, representing social institutions. There will also be a strong Man Vs. Himself inner conflict line.

This is a teacher/student story that will in some ways echo The Karate Kid, except the student is a young woman, and the discipline is sexual alchemy. Cameras come into play for two reasons. The discipline has a strong performing arts aspect, and cameras help focus her on the performance and refine her technique. This plot uses pornography as a form of social protest and education. It is a direct challenge to conservative social mores, and a seduction to hero sexuality. It is designed to be a conservative’s worst fucking nightmare.

The conservative’s will react. This becomes a free speech issue, it may end up in front of the conservative Supreme Court. It may turn out that in New America, you only have free speech if you are voicing conservative opinions. Anything else would be corruptive, treasonous, and a terrorist act. Now I am in the Hero Nation pocket again. The story is coming alive. This convergence of Visionary Fiction with Man Vs. Society is exactly the genre that is me for the rest of my life.

There is still the problem of what shelf you will find it on, and this answer must satisfy publishers, agents, and readers. One label I am not considering is Visionary Fiction. I am going to write VF, but I am not going to call it that. If the agent and/or publisher chooses to do so, that would be fine with me. But I will not go looking for an agent boasting a novel in the genre of VF.

Neither do I want to call it erotica, and to be honest, I am not sure just how erotic I will be writing. The central focus is not really that he is making pornography. Many people are making pornography. The problem is that the philosophy he is pitching directly challenges core conservative values, and conservatives are in power. They are not attacking him for obscenity. They are attacking his corruptive influence, which is to say, his freeing of the people from conservative ideology.

I’ve been looking at an agent directory and the genres they cover. I think I have finally found my natural genre, the reader experience I want to provide. I will be writing Visionary Fiction that focuses in the evolution of consciousness, Speculative Fiction that examines how the change in consciousness effects contemporary society, and Suspense Fiction, that thrusts the reader deep into uncertainty, and has them clawing for the ending to find their way out. I am going to pitch my work as a Suspense novel, with a strong Protagonist Vs. Antagonist conflict that drives the suspense story line.

I should have figured this out a while back. The threshold of uncertainty is what permits transformation. It only makes sense that if I want to provide my readers with the experience of transformation, I must first plunge them into uncertainty. Maybe spiral them down into uncertainty.

There will be thrilling scenes, in which uncertainty intensifies. I am not sure I want to make thriller a focus of the story, but I might. I am going to write the story, and I am going to be very aware that I will want to intensify uncertainty at certain pivot points, and if I feel like I can get away with it, I will label this book a Suspense Thriller, and hope that the readers do not feel that they were misled.

 

 

Posted in Random Walk

One page at a time

I just read an interview with Dean Koontz on the Visionary Fiction Alliance website.

To let anyone else “take care of the revision process” would be to forfeit your right to be called either an artist or a craftsman. Often, it is in the revision that you find the truth you’re after, that has eluded you until that moment of satori. I don’t write a draft straight through and then go back to revise. I proceed one page at a time, polishing it 10 or 20 times, or more, before moving on to the next page. At the end of each chapter, I print out and pencil the script, sometimes two or three times, because it looks different on the page from the way it appears on the screen. No kidding, there are books that, toward the end, demand more than 20 passes per page, because what you leave the reader with either clarifies and shapes everything that came before the end–or ruins it.

This approach seems similar to what I settled on in the post — The Snowflake Melts. I wish he had discussed what happens before he writes page 1. Part of me wants to begin rolling out first page after first page until I find my voice and story. I am so sick of spinning in circles. Unfortunately, I sense that I am not there yet. Even today the story has undergone massive metamorphosis while making notes. Maybe tomorrow…

Posted in Writer's Way

Why I joined the Visionary Fiction Alliance

Why I joined the VFA

Visionary fiction would appear to be a new name for an ancient story. My alchemical practice began with the Santa Claus Shift when I was six years old. It was thirty years before I discovered there was a word for my alchemical games “Largest Place” and “Jump Point”, and that a bunch of ancient Chinese Taoists were a lot better at it than I was. I have been writing Visionary Fiction & Nonfiction since 1997, with the publication of High Ground: the bizarre story of my awakening. I have always thought of it as Alchemical Fiction, with a focus on the evolution of consciousness through the journey outward through story space, and the escape from story space by awakening. I recently submitted High Ground to the OpEdNews. I received a message from Meryl Ann Butler, Managing Editor –

Your writing is extraordinary, and you do an amazing job of describing some VERY hard-to-describe inner journeys! WOW! I honestly think you could be penning the next big classic in the genre of The Peaceful Warrior, Celestine Prophecy, etc.

Since I am writing this post as part of my Joining the VFA, I don’t want them to think I believe I am all that. But if you have been following this blog, you know I am locked in a conflict over what genre to place the Bacchus Town novel into, which is about awakening mankind to end war and poverty. I never read  The Celestine Prophesy, but I did read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. I could see what she meant, so I googled those books to find out what genre they were in, which led me to the Wikipedia page on Visionary Fiction.

Visionary Fiction is a literary form that illustrates the process of growth in human consciousness. While it contains an all-inclusive spiritual component and often makes use of paranormal modes of perception, it employs story elements like plot, character, and setting to immerse the reader in a drama of evolving awareness—rather than an exposition of specific teachings or practices.

I’ll be darned. I followed the links to the Visionary Fiction Alliance website, and for better or worse, discovered that I am not alone. On my writer’s wild ride to nail down the plot in my Random Walk posts, I often strayed very far from my intent to make this novel an alchemical text, and awaken my readers. The blurb from yesterday’s post returned me to my hero mission —

Bacchus takes on the role of a contemporary erotic novelist to free the Muses from a spell cast by Shakespeare and the Pirate Lords

Shakespeare has altered the people’s consciousness and trapped them inside of lies that the Pirate Lords control. Bacchus intends to “un-tame” Shakespeare’s shrews, to free them from the web of lies by awakening them using sexual alchemy. I figure it has bestseller written all over it — the most beloved writer in the English language versus the beloved Greek God of theater (etc;). Batta bing, batta boom boom, the people awaken, and that leads to ending war and poverty QED. Do it right and the readers awaken, batta bing, batta boom boom. Us Visionary Fiction writer don’t fuck around, and now we have a posse. The only thing missing is a writing school, which I’ve been thinking about for years. Writers getting together on how to write fiction that can awaken their readers — slam dunk. Apply now to the Bacchus Town MFA program in Visionary Fiction, my counter to the Pirate Writing FUM for manipulative little weasels.

And let us not forget the Festival of Bacchus playwriting competition, that I now place in the Visionary Fiction genre (it was already there). I’m so excited that I think I am going to work the VFA into the Bacchus Town plot just to piss off the Pirate Lords.

Here comes the VFA you SOB’s.

 

Defining Visionary Fiction

I don’t want to just parrot what I have read on Wikipedia and the VFA website, but I need to map what they are up to against what I am up to. They define VF as a genre that is focused on stories told from inside the evolution of human consciousness, with the intent that the reader experiences that evolution. Before discovering VF, I would have placed much of my recent work in the genre of “alchemical text” as a nod to the ancient Chinese Taoists that provided me the key to unlock the threshold of awakening. To me, an alchemical text not only provides a model for understanding the mechanism of transformation and the practices by which the transformation can be experienced, but also the inspiration to make the charge up Tao Mountain, and through the Mysterious Pass to awakening. In both High Ground, and the fictionalized version of this story, The  Uncertainty Principle, I was trying to provide the reader with a feel for the experience, and in some way, provide an experience through story to trigger the epiphany that frees them from the control of story space. Or as the Taoist say — “The master has taken charge of the servant.”

My understanding of the intent behind creating VF is to provide the reader with the experience of the evolution of consciousness. I am trying to free my readers from control by their misperceptions on the journey outward through story space. I am trying to raise awareness of the nature of the cycle of conscious motion so they can recognize the pattern in their own lives. I am trying to introduce to them the phenomena of awakening, how it can be accomplished, and why it matters to them personally. And I am trying to warn them how the Pirate Lords create stories to control them, and that these stories bind them inside of lies with the exact intent to prevent them from awakening.

It would seem that my work falls very naturally into the “bucket” of Visionary Fiction. It might perhaps deserve a sub-genre label because of my specific focus on the transformation of awakening as I understand it. But in a larger sense, awakening our readers to a larger story is the intent of every VF author, and we all approach the task from our unique experience and understanding of conscious transformation. I would suggest that VF authors come to the VF genre because of the powerful effect such transformation has had in their own lives, and the desire to share this transformation with the people. VF is the only genre I am aware of whose authors are explicitly on the hero mission to free the people’s heart and minds from the cage of their misperceptions, and stories designed to control them.

I would also like to point out that this effort in unappreciated by those who write the stories to control the people, and those who want the people to remained trapped inside the stories with them.

Even to speak about it can get you crucified.

Posted in Writer's Way

Defining My Novel Writing Career Path

The approach to plotting that I discuss in The Snowflake Melts is to begin with a solid understanding of my characters and their plans at the time of the story opening, and then step through the plotting one scene at a time so I have a more organic control over the reader experience I discuss in Plotting a Novel: Engineering the Reader Experience. Many times things unexpectedly happen in a scene that dramatically change how I plot the next scene.

But there has to be movement in a direction toward a climax that resolves the opening conflict in a way that gives the reader intellectual and emotional fulfillment. The essence of the climax must be found in the fulfillment of the blurb and the genre of the novel. The reader will choose a novel from a particular genre with a particular story for a desired experience. Thus, climax is not just a function of story, it is also a function of genre. Titillation must be consummated, mysteries must be solved, suspense must be relieved, thrillers must come to rest, romance must end in happiness.

My story is not free to break these expectations with any hope of readers ever trusting me again to deliver the experience they are looking for. While I do not know the story before it is written, I know that it must move forward from the opening to the satisfying conclusion. If I am going to target the erotic suspense mystery, I am promising explosive sexual consummation, the revelation of the mystery, the relaxation of the suspense. I can and will move the story through a series of “beginnings” and “climaxes”, but before I write the first beginning, I need to hook it to a final climax. The promise of the opening must be fulfilled in the final climax.

I am not going to break this reader/writer trust and claim to be writing in a genre I am not delivering. I am going to do my best to promise them an experience they desire, and deliver on that promise in a way that exceeds their expectations. Before I take the reader careening in the opposite direction of the happy ending, I need to know where that happy ending is, and how I am going to get back to it at the climax. Until I do, it is not the end.

My goal from now on will be to deliver to my readers a powerful example of the experience they came looking for, through the vehicle of a story that reveals the world in a new way.

My Theme

“Thus, whether he is an essayist, a pamphleteer, a satirist, or a novelist, whether he speaks strictly of personal passions, or he addresses the social order, the writer, a free man speaking to free men, has only one topic – freedom.” Jean-Paul Sartre

Main Genres

  • Erotic
  • Mystery
  • Suspense
  • Magical Realism

Sub-Genres

  • Inspirational
  • Thriller
  • Romance

By Christopher Sly

Bacchus takes on the role of a contemporary erotic novelist to free the Muses from a spell cast by Shakespeare and the Pirate Lords.

I am looking for something like this. The process of awakening is the freeing of our hearts and minds from the control of the misperception and deceits in which awareness is trapped. I am trying to construct a world based on magical realism, in which fictional characters and historical figures that have been fictionalized have used the “threshold” to out-frame, from their fictional (character) realm to the reality (writer) realm. In this contemporary reality, the Pirate Lords have seized power over the people by trapping them inside of stories the Pirate Lords control. Bacchus sets out to free the people from the lies of the Pirate Lords, and initiate the Hero Age.

 

Posted in Writer's Way

Plotting a Novel: Engineering Reader Experience

As I struggle to get my forth novel and a writing career underway, I have finally arrived at that exciting point in the process where I begin writing scenes. As I mentioned in the last post, I feel both unable and uninterested in the Snowflake approach to expanding the blurb step by step into a scene outline. The approach I am going to take is to create the Random Walk category notes until I feel like I have a clear understanding of the characters, their conflicts, and their environment, then begin the writing process of plotting and writing the novel one scene at a time. When I have completed the first draft I will try to engineer a second draft that continuously deepens the mystery, intensifies the suspense, and accelerates the danger.

The approach I want to try is to step back from what is happening to the characters to examine what is happening to the readers. I am going to start out by breaking down the reader involvement into 5 categories.

  • Erotic – Do I want the reader to feel sexual suspense, excitement, fulfillment?
  • Mystery – Do I want to create/amplify/satisfy the reader’s intellectual curiosity?
  • Suspense – Do I want to create/amplify/relieve the reader’s emotional concerns?
  • Thriller – Do I want to accelerate/calm the reader’s heart-rate?
  • Tragic/Comedy – Do I want the reader laughing/crying?

You could probably write bestseller after bestseller if you can continuously elevate the reader’s curiosity, concerns, and heart rate until a satisfying sexual climax. Since that happens to be my goal, I want to begin plotting every scene from inside the reader experience I am trying to deliver. I am not setting out to create a story, I am trying to provide an experience. Story is the vehicle I will use to provide that experience. Musicians and artists have the same goal, but use different vehicles.

This is an attempt to define the dimensions of reader experience. I think that the experience you are trying to deliver will determine which genre(s) your novel belongs in, for some genres particularly, and I would place the following genres into a group whose readers are looking for a particular experience –

  • Erotic
  • Mystery
  • Suspense
  • Thriller
  • Comedy
  • Horror
  • Romance
  • Inspirational

It might be an interesting experiment to reverse-engineer some bestsellers, scene by scene, to reveal how the experience is designed. Because of my background in alchemy, I am inclined to take this engineering task to the next logical level, the one most clearly implemented by inspirational fiction. Alchemical movement is the paradigm shift from inside of smaller false story, out into larger truer story.

  • Where we stand controls what we see.
  • What we see controls how we act.
  • How we act controls the consequences of those actions.

Epiphany is triggered by experience. I think we have all “experienced” how the experience of a fictional story can produce a change in understanding that changes our real life. The engineering goal is not simply to provide the reader an enjoyable experience, but an experience that triggers an epiphany that can transform their life for the better. Writers of this type do not begin with the experience they are trying to produce, but with the epiphany they are trying to trigger. It would seem the trick is to still provide the reader the experience they were looking for, but in a way that it triggers the epiphany they never see coming.

I’m not claiming I know how to accomplish this. I am only suggesting that before our story, and before our genre, writers should consider what it is we want to reveal to our readers that they do not yet see, and whose revelation they will find of value in their lives.

Posted in Writer's Way

The Snowflake Melts

I have decided to part ways with The Snowflake Method. I like the idea of a strong blurb that catches your imagination, wins you with its characters, and places the story into a recognizable genre. But I have decided that is as far as we go together. It sounded like such a great idea to identify the major plot points with five sentences, but in practice, when I tried to take it beyond this step I felt like I was bound-up, stuck trying to fill the space with something/anything, and it all turned into boring crap.

I am not just going to blast out a rough draft. The notes in this category are how I spiral my way into the story. Characters, story-line, conflicts, places, narrative structures, all evolving as the story comes slowly into view, then disintegrates, then comes slowly into view again in a new way. I have just added two new post (page) types to this process – Chapter Notes, and Chapter Prose. Yesterday I opened “Chapter 1 Notes” and starting with the opening scene, worked out the three scenes of Chapter 1. Then I opened “Chapter 1″, and wrote an opening scene.

It stinks, and something happened unexpectedly I am still trying to digest. I am that kind of writer – no matter what I set out to write, I will not know what I WILL write until it is written. I cannot know where this story is going to end up. What I need to know at the opening is who the characters are, what they want, and how they plan to go about getting it. That is what I have been doing as I produce the Random Walk notes. But, for me, the actually plotting of the story begins with the writing of the opening scene, and moving forward scene by scene until I reach the end. This process cannot start until I have compelling characters locked in mortal conflict. The second draft will be the story I should have written as the first draft, but couldn’t, because I didn’t know enough about the characters and story until the first draft was complete.

My current intent is to advance by this process through this story. I will begin by making chapter notes on the opening scene and move forward to the ending scene and when I feel comfortable with my story I will start with the opening scene and write the first chapter draft and see what really happens. I think this “moment to moment” plotting approach is the only way I can write a thriller. I think these preliminary notes on characters and conflicts is the only way I can continue escalating the suspense toward the resolution of those conflicts. I think the second draft is the only way to ensure that the suspense and pace builds to an explosive world-class climax.

I am beginning to emotionally and intellectual settle into a career commitment to the suspense/thriller genre. Yesterday I decided I need multiple POV’s to help build suspense, maintain pace, and increase the story density. My first scene was written third-person present tense. I may move to the “objective” POV for all of the characters.

The first scene is always the most difficult for me. I am going to rewrite it today, maybe more than once, and keep rewriting it until I understand my opening dynamic. I am not currently intending to make public any of these chapter notes or prose drafts. I have 16 days until I have to return to California and find a full-time job or two. Bacchus Town may go off-line if this does not happen quickly enough. If that happens, I will resurrect it when I am able.

Posted in Writer's Way

Random Walk 25: Samaka Permaculture

The attack on Christopher Sly is initiated because of his attempt to promote Samaka Permaculture. From The Samaka Guide to Homesite Farming (Philippines 1956) –

The name Samaka is an abbreviation of “Samahan ng Masaganang Kakanin” which in English means the united effort of a group to have more plentiful food for their families.”

According to “the father of permacultureBill Mollison

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.

Sly is trying to initiate a master gardener program integrated into K-12 science education that has a Samaka heart, and a Permaculture mind. Samaka is about feeding families, permaculture is an integrated and sustainable approach to living with nature. He imagines a world where every child becomes a master gardener by designing and creating their family and community gardens that cover the world with sustainable “food forests”. How could this be a bad thing? You could be the rich and powerful owner of a global agribusiness syndicate and designer seed supplier that would lose all of its business if nobody needed to buy your seed or food.

This plot sets up the two sides clearly. The rich and powerful oil companies discredit the science of climate change with no concern of the real consequence for the planet. These same pirates will not allow the people to free themselves from their dependence on pirate agricultural products. They will relentlessly continue their effort to capture global markets by destroying local production through legislation and “free trade agreements” that strip the people’s capacity for independent sustainability and enslaves them to the pirate economy. They will buy up water rights while restricting homeowner water usage. Stuff like that.

Sly does not set out to take down the Pirate Lords, he is just trying to eliminate hunger by blanketing the planet with a sustainable garden. He does not initially understand or expect the reaction of the vested interests. Because of the potential for Samaka Permaculture to become a global educational movement, the pirates must move quickly to extinguish the source of that movement. Once a Samaka Permaculture program is designed and established, it could spread rapidly, and become impossible to stop. Home gardens could quickly blossom as every school age child becomes a grower, and world food supplies could quickly be dramatically effected.

The Philippines are a logical place to initiate this program, and his poor family is a natural test case.

 

Posted in Random Walk, Samaka Permaculture

Random Walk 24: The Chess Game Template

*Note – The posts in this Random Walk category are brain-storming sessions on the plotting of the Bacchus Town novel. I publish them on my writer’s stage to demonstrate my process to those interested in writing a novel.

The last session had two exciting developments –

  • Increasing suspense by hanging the chapter – Consequences/Analysis/Response
  • Increasing suspense by placing the reader in superior position by adding the Pirate POV

What I want to consider now is how the Pirate POV fits into the chapter physics. My first thought was to write the Consequences from the Pirate POV, but my second thought is to write the middle of the chapter, the analysis, from the Pirate POV. I like this better. I can deliver the exciting consequences first person from the protagonist, as well as his response. In the middle I can present the Pirate POV response to the consequences and speculation as to the protag’s response.

I won’t know how this will really work out until I try it. This approach gives two-thirds of the story to the protag, and one-third t the pirate. Another approach would be to alternate chapters like a chess game, that opens with the player suffering the consequences of his opponents move, considering his options, and making his response. I imagine that this template could create a strong suspense thriller with a logical back and forth between the opposing players that always hangs on what consequences will be suffered, and what the response will be.

If I can nail this template, then my readers will know to expect a suspense thriller that is a back and forth writer’s chess game between “Bacchus” and “Shakespeare”. I could build a career on delivering this.

Suddenly I have “twice the story” in the same space, and a strong mechanism for building suspense and escalating action. Now I can reveal how and why the Pirate emptied Sly’s bank account, initiated the police manhunt, and framed him for murder. I can explain why the Pirate was watching him, and why Samaka Permaculture set everything in motion, and why her getting pregnant inspired the initiation of Samaka Permaculture. By bringing in the Pirate POV, the story becomes coherent to the reader, while remaining mysterious to the protagonist. I don’t lose suspense, I gain suspense.

I need to dive in and try an outline of this approach to begin understanding the Pirate story. Last night I started getting scene flashes. That’s a good omen.

I’m off to work out a new “chess template” outline.

 

Posted in Random Walk

5 Act Outline: Secret Heroes V Pirate Lords

Blurb: A California writer’s life turns into a suspense thriller when he hooks up with a Filipina dancer to write a novel about sexual alchemy.


Act 1: When a California writer hooks up with a Filipina dancer to write an erotic novel, they are targeted by vested interests.

Act 2: When Sly sets out to build a family permaculture business, the Pirate Lords turn his life upside down.

Act 3: When Sly returns home to grow medical pot, the Pirate Lords destroy his crop and chase him across the Mendocino Mountains.

Act 4: When Sly returns to the Philippines, he is framed for the murder of his girlfriend’s boyfriend.

Act 5: The Secret Heroes prove Sly’s innocents, and help him establish Samaka Permaculture, and help protect his secret school for alchemy.


Now I have an outline where there is a suspense thriller story in every Act. Making their first appearance in the plot development are the Secret Heroes, the counter-force to the Pirate Lords. Because of his hero mission and what he has published, Sly has come to the attention of some powerful Hero Players, who are in position to understand who is attacking him and why, and to block the Pirate Lords from having him executed or spending the rest of his life in a Philippine prison.

I am going to need to set this up. The logical point for a secret hero to appear in the plot is in Act 1 while he is trying to set up Samaka Permaculture. The natural contact would be a teacher or professor of agriculture. It is not really necessary that Sly’s work be familiar to the secret heroes before he begins trying to establish Samaka Permaculture. It is a stronger story if this is what brings his work to their attention. When the Pirate Lords set out to destroy Samaka Permaculture in its infancy, the secret heroes are in position to realize it is an attack, and identify the attackers.

They get outplayed in the woods of California, or maybe he escapes because he receives unexpected help that is coming from the secret heroes. This could be where he meets the secret master who is there to test if he is a true alchemical master. Now I have Lao Tzu! This will be a critical endorsement that will change Sly’s status to secret master, and gain him the backing he needs to establish his alchemy school.

This line is heading straight into the erotic suspense thriller series I am after. I think this genre hits both male and female markets, and I have begun creating a world that will hold many stories. This work sets up the writing career I am after – Secret Heroes V. Pirate Lords.

Coming next, I am going to try to expand this five act outline act by act.

Posted in Outlines

Random Walk 22: Story Evolution

*Warning – The Random Walk category post are a demonstration of how I plot a novel. These posts are published on my “writer’s stage” for those interested in writing a novel. They are not intended to be valuable to the passing surfer, and publishing them is of questionable wisdom. There will be a point when I begin writing prose, and will likely take this entire category private. Access to my private posts will be by request. I may publicly publish the first few chapter drafts to give you a feel for my storytelling, and solicit feedback.

This story began as a strange kind of “love” triangle. Older California man seeks younger Filipina as co-writer for erotic novels. The woman, it turns out, has other plans, and a boyfriend she passes off as her brother. This is a pretty common story in Bacchus Town. Many of the girls here looking for a foreign guy with money have local Pinoy boyfriends. There is a long culture of experience in “the task” that these girls share, and the plays for attracting, holding on to, and harvesting the men who flow through town are well tested with many success and disaster stories in circulation. It is not uncommon, but rather the norm, that the girl you are talking to has sisters or other female relatives who are also working in Bacchus Town.

This is an environment where actual trust is almost impossible, and foolish. The core romantic challenge of the story is for this couple to get past that mountain of distrust, past the differences in age, experience, education, culture, financial status, communication, and gender, to form and hang on to a true union in a world that looks down upon both of them for this relationship. Will they ever be able to trust each other completely? Maybe not. Even if the foreign guy tries to prove he is trustworthy, the woman grew up in a culture that deceives men as a common practice, and is frequently getting caught at it. Her cultural upbringing and her family needs that she does not want to admit to frequently produce “white lies” for money. Items appear he did not give her money for. He is not wealthy, they are on a tight budget. He needs to understand that she is with him for his support of her needs, and if he cannot or will not provide for them sufficiently, she will take what she can get and move on.

Dishonesty breaks the trust. The guy can come to except it if time demonstrates she is committed to the relationship, but whenever she tells him something, he will always wonder if it is true. This relationship is fragile. When I bring a baby into it, another triangle is formed. He is faced with decisions that will completely alter his life forever. The baby is a much greater vehicle of transformation for the man, who was childless, than for the woman who had three children before they met. Because they are not married, she has sole custody. At any moment she can take the child and disappear into the arms of a man with more resources. Sly has not spent his life preparing for the responsibility of ONE child. Suddenly there are MANY poor children in her family that require his support.

If he wants to raise his son, he must stay with the mother. But if he wants to support his son, his only real option is a job in California. He cannot support the family in California. Having a family on the other side of the world always in desperate need for money he does not have, while not being sure it isn’t all going to buy her new Pinoy boyfriend Red Horse, is a never-ending nightmare life. Knowing his son will grow up in this culture of scamming men for money, without the benefit of what Sly has learned in his life is like have a knife twisting in his guts that he must learn to live with in order to keep his son alive.

For the mother, life is no easier. She DOES need money for shelter, for, food, for medicine, for school. Her life is easier when Sly is around, and she is a constant state of uncertainty whether there will be money when she she really needs it. This is a story of poverty crushing a family a world apart.

But here I am about to abandon that story for the suspense thriller? Why? Duh. This story of improbable union, separation, and explosive reunion, could be a literary masterpiece if it were written by a literary master. Maybe I should try harder to plot this line without putting everyone to sleep.

I can drive them out of Barretto on the run from a bar-owner angry he is losing a girl without compensation Sly is in no mood to pay. They could end up at the farm where I bring in the permaculture line. Sly sets out to build her and her children a house and farm on a property owned by an aunt that the family has been squatting on for 20 years. Sly could set up the Samaka Permaculture site, talk to the teachers. He is just about to move to action with his life savings when they disappear from the bank. What happened? It is a mystery hook.

Now I have four potential villains –

  • The bar owner, who wants the girl back, or compensated for his property loss.
  • The wicked aunt, who might have murdered her husband, and who may want them off her property after Sly makes valuable improvements.
  • A mysterious American who appears after the permaculture site goes up.
  • The boyfriend, who has a gun (Chekhov’s gun?)

It is the mysterious American who shuts down Sly’s permaculture site and empties his bank account through official channels. JOE’S influence will reappear when the cops chop down Sly’s legal medical pot plants just days before harvest, leaving him and his family once again destitute. I can have it be even worse, they were really after Sly, and only his awareness, preparation, conditioning, and years in the woods allows him to escape a manhunt through the Mendocino Mountains. Yah!

I think I want Willy to be in cahoots with the bar owner. Willy prefers Katrina make money from random men; he sees her new California boyfriend as a threat to him. They may set up a robbery, or they may try an internet scam where they gain control of Katrina’s email and use it to stage an escalating series of  emergencies that leaves Sly penniless ten days after his son’s birth when Katrina asks him for money to buy the baby medicine. Her reaction to him telling her he has no money left is to say good-bye, I’m off to find another guy.

A short time after that, he learns that Willy is her boyfriend, not her brother. He melts down and threatens to cut her off forever unless she surrenders the child to a nanny he appoints. She tells him “Bye” again, and clearly, this was not a moment she feared, but had designed for and expected. This triggers Sly’s “dark night of the soul”. The irony is not lost on him. He had set out to rescue her from The Lord’s Bedchamber, and instead, she had trapped him inside of it forever by bearing him a son he had no legal control over, into a family of abject poverty, ignorance, and dishonesty.

I need an opening hook. I will work on that next, or maybe Act 3: The Return. Sly is clearly the protagonist now, his life undergoes seismic transformation under extraordinary pressure. His “save the world” agenda is hijacked to serve Katrina and her poor family. When he manages to return to the Philippines, where did the money come from and what happens when he confront Willy and where is this relationship going?

Stay tuned to Bacchus Town…

Posted in Random Walk

Random Walk 21: Mystery Thriller

I have three character in a weird triangle, but I am having trouble turning this triangle into a world-shaking suspense thriller. The key has to be Sly. The woman is a poor, uneducated mother of 3 working to support her children the only way she can. Her boyfriend is a pirate scammer. Neither of them are going to be into anything that could have global implications. But Christopher Sly is trying to awaken mankind and end war and poverty.

How is his current project an aspect of his hero mission? It has to be awakening. He is trying to learn the process of teaching awakening. His plan is to train a secret sorority of beautiful  women in the arts of awakening, who then use it to recruit particular hero players in particular positions to build a secret fraternity network to oppose the Pirate Lords.

In this line, the Pirate Lords are an actual group of pirate men who coordinate their vast influence in politics and communications to solidify and increase their power to enslave mankind. They become aware of Sly through his blog post critical of their political, religious, and media stooges. They control the masses by controlling their stories, and Sly’s intent to “awaken” them sets alarm bells ringing. But at this stage, he is a little-known writer, and they are arrogant in their power. Why would they feel the need to deal with him now?

Samaka Permaculture. He wants to train all of the children how to create sustainable food supplies for their families. This is a huge threat to their global agribusiness empire and their patented seed-lines. The Pirate Lords have a simple business model – everyone has to buy their food from us, or not eat.

I can hide this line. Samaka Permaculture could come into the plot early at the family farm. Sly wants to make sure they have food to eat, and wants to turn Permaculture education, supplies, and services into the family business. He creates a blog Samaka Permaculture and talks to professors at the local agricultural college and teacher at the local elementary and high schools. His idea of integrating a permaculture master gardener program into k-12 science education begins to gain local supporters.

The Pirate Lords did not get to where they are by not guarding their ASSets. The blog goes down. A professor dies in a car crash. A high School teacher disappears. Sly survives what he at first believes is a robbery attempt gone awry that kills his girlfriend’s brother. There is another close call that threatens his girlfriend and the kids, so he packs them all into a trike and they flee north along Dasol Bay with Willy, her surviving brother and his gun.

Maybe not exactly like that, but I finally have a thriller kick in somewhere in chapter 2 or 3. I think I will slide time. The permaculture set-up would take a couple months. She would know she was pregnant by then. I worry I am getting a late start. Maybe I should pull the trick, open the book with them running for their lives, then back up to tell the slower story of how they met and how come they are running. When I catch up, the pace takes off, with the suspense building chapter by chapter. If I am careful in the set-up, I have a mystery. They have to figure out who is after them and why before they die.

I can also set up the ending by adding a younger sister who is also running with them. But she won’t be Katrina’s sister, she will be Willy’s sister. I think Willy is changing also from being a real bad guy. Still a pirate, but suddenly he seems like he has real emotions for her. I think they need to become buddies, of a sort. So the whole family is in on the scam. Perfect.

I don’t think he hears about the teachers dying before he takes off. This could be information he picks up later as a clue. I need the bad guy in the story. He should be one of the permaculture supporters, who infiltrated to identify the members who might be trouble.

Another 700 words, another huge step forward. I can almost see the story up to the point where they take off running, and now I have my mystery thriller. I also have a brand new Willy, and this character, and the new friendship that develops between him and Sly is going to become an important part of the story.

I need a red herring. Enter the wicked witch auntie who everyone believes murdered her husband to inherit. This allows me to make it look like Katrina and her family are the targets, which is why Sly stays with them to help protect them.

Going to sleep on it. I feel a little guilty not trying one last Indiegogo campaign to save the day. But it would consume a lot of time and almost certainly fail. In the next 18 days I may be able to bring this story into crisp focus. I would love to be writing prose before I leave. I think I fixed some major problems with the story in this walk. I have a new Willy, his sister, The Pirate Lords, a permaculture bad guy, a wicked witch.  Big day.

Posted in Random Walk

Random Walk: Walking Backwards

I’ve been doing some research, and it seems likely that the “alchemical erotica serial” for a “girlfriend school” cannot be legally  published in the Philippines.

Based on the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines and Republic Act No. 7610, pornography is defined as doctrines, publications, and shows that are immoral, obscene, and indecent. Philippine legislations penalize involvement in these activities.

This all began as a book I could sell on the streets of Barretto. What I was excited about was a chance to stay here and work on a book. I might be able to smooth this out. I just need this to be the love story. He is not training some young women to prepare them for their knight. He is training his wife in alchemy, giving his son’s mother the most powerful gift he has so that she can pass it on to the children if he is gone. He uses sexual alchemy as a way to bring them closer together. I go back to the line of interleaving the back-story and the present. This is actually a much stronger, more marketable story. Written well and carefully, it can still be sold on the streets of Barretto, and to the women of America.

But this just doesn’t have the energy of the “girlfriend school” story for crowd-funding. I don’t lose my audience for the completed novel, but I lose my audience for the play of creation. I still have the trading girls story. I can still have the “girlfriend school” story preparing them to meet their knight. I just have to leave out the sex scenes. I don’t think this works. If it is going to be about the trading, again, I should make her his wife, and he is also teaching her the second most powerful thing he knows to boost the family mojo. Carefully written sex scenes between a man and his wife are going to stay on the right side of the law.

This story needs a lot more work. I think what it is telling me is that it is a literary romance. It doesn’t seem to want to be erotica. The present tense part of the story can’t be just a daily tale of sexcapades. I am starting to lose faith in this story as “the one.”  Maybe the problem started when I brought in Secret Spot. Or maybe I should drop the back-story and focus on Secret Spot. I can still write the girlfriend school story, I just can’t publish it in PI, and I don’t have to base it here either. It is the erotic teacher/student story that I that I think has strong series potential.

I can’t publish it here, but I could still offer the completed novel as a perk. I could still create a private blog where I publish a project journal.

In reality, I have 19 days and then I will fly home. I could write the first novel I have already researched and end it in a way that sets up the girlfriend school series. I think I just figured out how. Then I simultaneously query 30 agents that I have already had contact with on twitter. The only thing I have to give up is pushing my novels in Barretto unless I find out it is legal.

There is some resolution here. I am going to return to the story that begins when he arrives in the Philippines looking for a female writing partner. Now I think I know where it ends.

Posted in Random Walk

Random Walk 20: An Erotic Serial

The last post ended with a major story shift. I have 19 days to pull off a miracle, and not have to leave my son and move half-way around the world to try to scrape out a living that will support this circus. To that end, this post begins development for a new Indiegogo Campaign for  an alchemical erotica serial to be published at 1000+ words a day, Monday through Friday, for 60 episodes (3 months) for a total of at least 60,000 words.

The story will involve a “girlfriend school” in which Christopher Sly  teaching 2 young women how to catch and hold onto a foreign gentleman, and it climaxes with the hook-up to their knights in shinning armor. The story will be written by myself, with my 2 female writing partners, who will help me thoroughly research all of the action sequences, and who will split the profits from sales with me in a three way split. We will be taking applications from single gentlemen who wish to consult on the boyfriend character, and the women will choose their research partners from among the subscribers, with my input.

Readers can subscribe to the serial after the Indiegogo campaign ends, at a higher price. This project is likely to include the trading show performed by my writing partners and myself. If this actually works, you can expect it to be repeated with new partners. The serial will be published in book form after is finished. The trading show will be published as a trading workshop DVD. I can also add a documentary on the project that does not include sex scenes.

I am not afraid to admit I am a little nervous. Now that I have this approach in my head, I can’t imagine wanting to pursue a writing career in any other way. I have recently discovered and followed some literary agents on twitter who might handle this. I may write a query to send out just to give them a heads up on my Indiegogo Campaign.

I need to get this organized quickly. The Campaign needs to end before I get on the plane May 25. The readers need to know that they are saving me from leaving my son. They need to access to the private site where I publish the serial, and the private webcast site where the trading show is broadcast. I need to hit agents with a query, and use twitter to update the writers and readers. I can link to the Random Walk post as the back-story.

I am going to give myself 7 days at most to launch Indiegogo or Kickstarter. At that time I will email my queries with a link to the campaign. I am going to stay away from Facebook this time. My strongest tool has been twitter, and I have reoriented it toward writing. This will be all about a massive tidal wave of directed tweets.

I wish I could get the goal down, but the last post I ran the budget for the three month start-up, and I’m afraid it is going to have to be $15,000. This will be a huge problem. I am going to need some high dollar perks to try to get there. I will probably try the sponsor dodge for the trading show.

I have a chore, I’m going to close here. I wish I had some killer artwork for the cover. Maybe I will try to make something. I will work on the campaign or the query tonight. I hope to have a rough draft sometime tomorrow. Here we go again…

Posted in Random Walk

Random Walk 19: Pivot Point

Estimate for a 3 month trading show 

  • $4,500 for my family
  • $2,000 for the facility
  • $600 for data and utilities
  • $1,500 for computer/monitor/camera
  • $2,000 for furniture, household items
  • $3,000 for two performers

$13,600 Total Set-up Cost

Monthly Maintenance Costs

  • $1,500 for my family
  • $500 for rent
  • $200 for data and utilities
  • $1,000 for the performers

$3,200 Total Maintenance Cost.

This looks difficult to justify unless I can demonstrate the ability to register subscribers. I need to get 1000 people to pay $5/month. With these kinds of numbers, I am much better off writing the novel I can sell on the street. This looks even worse if I bring in a partner.

If I reconfigure this story to replace the performers with myself and my girlfriend –

  • $4,500 for my family
  • $600 for data and utilities
  • $1,500 for computer/monitor/camera

$5,600 Total Start-up

$1,700/month Maintenance

I think this is all a fantasy. Sly could not pull this off with just a trading audience. The only path that works is to have a sponsor that brings him an audience. The only sponsor that makes sense is a brokerage. But from my recent research, I would guess that a broker would be very sensitive to anything even slightly sexually suggestive. These people are 100% business. So maybe I am shooting for the wrong audience. What if it were a reality dating show. I may still include a trading competition to add suspense. Drawing a blank at what else could make this interesting without going to jail. I could return to looking at the workshop lines.

I liked the idea of the girls becoming traders and trying to hook the girls up with traders. I need to keep looking at the trading show story. It is totally possible to produce a quality trading show that is both educational and entertaining enough to be worth $5/month. I need to treat this as a 3 month training program, and try to crowd-fund it as a 3 month workshop. I am going to have to set a $15,000 goal, and make the product access to the live trading as well a DVD of the entire “experiment”.

I am not optimistic, but this is a project I can quickly plan and take live. I will tweet the shit out of it from Daily Trade, and post at Daily Trade. I need to get creative here. I may turn it into an erotic fiction serial published Monday through Friday, and target the women romance readers with a sexy story about 2 women learning how to trade and fuck a guy’s brains out. Instead of filming it, or calling it a memoir, it is serial erotica that is kinky enough to catch their imagination, but not explicit enough to be porn.

I have managed to switch markets from traders to women who voraciously consume erotic stories. I still film the trading for the subscribers, but now most of the subscribers are really there for the sex. Brokers may be allergic to sex, but erotic readers and agents and publishers are not.

Wow. Mark this post. This is a major plot point. Ending this post here to open a post on the Secret Spot Serial.

Posted in Random Walk

Random Walk 17: Outlining

The Snowflake Method begins with a blurb, and I still like this as way to ensure I understand the story and that it is worth writing. This story is a fucked up romance. That needs to be the focus of the blurb. Without Willy Wacko I don’t have a thriller line, and I worry that is going to hurt me. I have suspense, but I’m not sure how I put the audience in the superior position from First Person. There is no fantasy involved except sexual fantasy.

I’m not sure you would call it a light read. There are some good times, there are some bad times. It is a human drama about three flawed characters caught up in the story of being human.

When a California  writer asks a Filipina bargirl to be his writing partner on an erotic novel, he gets caught up in a romantic mystery.

Feels like I am one adjective short. I want to say something like “dangerous romantic mystery”. If I can add danger to the blurb line, I add a great tension hook. Or I could say “hilarious romantic mystery.”

When a California  writer asks a Filipina bargirl to be his writing partner on an erotic novel, it was not supposed to be a love story.

This one is submerging in the romance genre. The problem with that is women writers writing for women readers. Very few guys are going to buy something labeled romance, and very few women will buy a romance written by a man. I could list my co-writer…

This is a male/female relationship story. I can’t disguise it as anything else. But it is not a typical romance written for the typical audience, but the romance is the story. The title helps.

Maybe I can pitch this as a male adventure –

When a California novelist teams up with a Filipina bargirl to write alchemical erotica, it was not supposed to be a love story.

When a California pot grower teams up with a Filipina dancer to write alchemical erotica, it was not supposed to be a love story.

I just don’t know if these blurbs have the juice. I need expert opinion. I need a new blurb post with numbered blurbs I can asks agents to take a look at. Maybe I should set it up as a poll.

Just posted a hook an an agents website, but was to afraid to post the blurb. I guess I don’t believe in it yet. I need to think a little harder about making this a thriller. I just don’t see it with the whole story.

Part one is like Act 1 of the Hero’s Journey. I need to build up to the whammie when he discovers his bank account is empty. Also, maybe the sex was not what he had planned. Everything changes when she goes from being his employee to his girlfriend, and he loses the ability to direct the exercise. He didn’t see that coming, or what would happen to his sex life once she got pregnant as she intended. Everything he had set out to do had been blocked, his writing silenced, and he was trapped. She had out-written him, and now she owned him forever.

The duplicitousness of moving her boyfriend under his roof pretending he was her brother was the perfect excuse to bail. But he wasn’t looking for an excuse. He was looking for some way to be responsible for his son, and still have the freedom to continue his research into teaching alchemy, and to establishing the secret sorority.

I lost that from the line. I can layer it back in the story of how he gets hooked up by Shakespeare to side-track him from freeing the muses. A little weak. I should just accept that what I have is a literary romance, not a heart pounding suspense thriller, and get on with it. I can layout what he is really up to and why out-front using first person voice. In the end, he returns to this story.

Getting tired of making notes. Got a couple days of outlining, maybe, before I have to head home and look for a job. Sucks, I am ready to drop in and pound out a first draft at 10 pages a day. I’ll get up early, put in 5 pages, go look for work, come home and put in 5 more and go to sleep. I don’t have a job growing pot like Christopher Sly, and I’ll be lucky to find a job making $10/hour, and send almost all of it to my family. I may never see my son again unless I sell a book. I am going to finish this novel, blanket query, and start the next one. I am sorry, son, that I have to say goodbye.

Daddy will be back.

 

Posted in Random Walk

Bacchus Town Belles V the Scottrade Studs?

I booked a flight back to California and I have started looking online at job postings. I removed the novel posts because I applied for a job where I wanted the employer to see my earlier stuff more relevant. Instead they are sending me emails asking for money. I have 10+ kids to support and no job. I can’t afford to donate to political causes right now, even though I completely agree with them. The novel posts are back.

I want to focus on designing the trading game show that Sly starts producing at Secret Spot. I am going to be in California soon, and I have decided to try to convince Scottrade to sponsor an actual trading game show produced in Bario Barretto on Subic Bay in the Philippines. They have over 2.5 million trading accounts. I have used them on a number of occasions and have been very satisfied. If I fail, at least I will have done the research for the story, and hopefully gotten some valuable feedback.

This idea of finding a sponsor has evolved the story.

  • At $5/month, 10,000 subscribers would be $50,000 a month. If my sponsor is a broker with access to 2.5 million traders, and the show is worth it, the need for an income from a Bed & Breakfast disappears.
  • A broker might balk at a trading show starring girls in bikinis. So I have decided to put them in evening wear, dressed to the nines. Rather than bawdy, the tone is now glamorous and elegant.
  • There is nothing fake about the trading. It is my intent that my students become masters of the Opening Move Method. Actual trades are made and results reported.
  • Bring on the Scottrade Studs! How about a little girls versus boys competition? All players must be single and men are appointed by the sponsor. I’m still working out the prizes. Men will be attired in formal evening wear.
  • The rooms in the facility are exclusively available to be booked by the sponsor, at no charge. This is a private facility.
  • The sponsor can provide market professionals for talks that add value to the production and the website.
  • The sponsor can design the trading stage to showcase Scottrade.
  • Traders with an account at Scottrade can subscribe for $3/month, a 40% discount.
  • This trading method and show is explicitly targeting non-traders, particularly college age, to interest them in a game of guessing right that is often exhilarating and addictive. My goal is to double the number of Scottrade accounts by creating a new generation of college age traders making at least 3 trades a week for the rest of their lives.

 

If Scottrade, or any other broker, wanted to help make the show a success, it probably would be. The Opening Move Method is a solid approach to an exciting trading game with low risk, low capital requirements, and daily high adventure. With the Scottrade Studs in the game, and the Scottrade discount, they would be stealing customers. With The Hero Science Project and Samaka Permaculture in the story, they would be helping to end poverty and hunger, and helping to create a new generation of savvy traders mastering the universal and timeless game of guessing right.

Which way should the novel story break? It will follow the reality line. If Scottrade comes aboard as a sponsor, they could be in the novel backing Samaka Permaculture to end world hunger. Consider this a rough draft of the proposal I will be taking with me to their office when I get back to California.

I guess we all know how THIS story ends, so next I am going to look at three other potential start-up stories, the last two of which could be implemented immediately. Flowing up and down the streets of Barretto right now are rivers of men who do not want to go home.

  • I self-finance
  • I crowd-finance
  • I find a silent partner

 

Posted in Trading Show

Random Walk 18: Secret Spot

After thinking about it for awhile, and looking at the first outline, and thinking about it some more, I realize that Secret Spot is not really in the story unless it becomes the whole story. I can think of two ways to do that –

  • Abandon the story in place and start the story over with Secret Spot.
  • Use the story in place as back-story, and open with Secret Spot.

The first option actual kills the entire story line, which I am reluctant to do. But there are advantages as well. He is single, and she does not get pregnant, and the sex line is now uncomplicated. But it is a weaker story I think, because the story has some very valuable knowledge for new players in Bacchus Town.

The second option keep the story as back-story. What I am seeing is to create two story lines, and slip back and forth. There is something that happened in the past that remains hidden, so I have a mystery hook to the climax now. Also, I can avoid spending the middle of the book with them split up, and only reveal the most powerful moments of the head-fuck, while hanging the present line every time I pull a Crazy Ivan. This seems to help a lot. I chop the back-story into the adventure in progress, and the readers get both the cautionary tale, and Secret Spot. This could be a template.

What is the mechanism to leverage the suspense? Because it is in the past, it can be hinted at by their interaction. I don’t really have the big thing being hinted at, unless it is just Willy being the boyfriend. This gives me a chance to find something that kills it and sets it up. What about the end hook of the present line? It could be the performance. That doesn’t seem big enough. The students are already having sex with their guys all week, I don’t think it would stay completely in the bedroom very long. It has to be something that the reader is anticipating with sexual excitement. That would typically be a first sexual encounter between two people. It could also be a sexual performance. It could be a sexual lottery. It could be an orgy. It could be romantic sex. No, I am talking about an event to be anticipated and worth reading the entire book to get to.

It could be the making of a video. I just don’t know if I should go there because it would be dangerous in PI, so it shouldn’t be in the story.

Two lines. First line leads up to some mysterious event that occurred in their past that led to Secret Spot. Second line is a workshop in sexual alchemy building toward some final climax. The two events have to reinforce each other. It should probably have something to do with awakening, or opening the threshold.

I could bring back some fantasy element. This is building toward a ceremony that may bring across the Tarot teens. Or it could be an initiation where the mysteries are revealed. He could be a bad guy planning an attack when the secret tribe gathers for the initiation.

The first line may end when she finally performs the ceremony and they out-frame to Bacchus Town. That makes the first story inner frame. When that happens, the reader will realize that Secret Spot is in the outer frame?

This separates Barretto by the threshold, and the entrance to Bacchus Town from Barretto is on the stage at Secret Spot. The workshops are really initiations, and that is why they are by invitation only, and there might not be two rooms available because one at a time is simple and it won’t be about the money. I would love to work the real secret spot like this, with the workshop being free to the player chosen by the girls. If they treat these guys right, Lots of guys will sign up for the trading show. The girls get a piece of the show.

This means the 2 bedroom in Baloy works just fine. Now I’m under $600 for the place.

Not sure about the magic story. This book needs to lay out the rules of the game. I can see traders winning a workshop. Or I can see the girls choosing the best tippers. Or I could see a random drawing. It matters that the winner makes an appearance on camera to prove they are there. I like the random draw. I don’t want the girls to loose the big tips but I don’t want to see the workshop purchased. I feel safer with a random draw.

I will need to work hard on this story. This approach does two things. It serves as a player orientation, and it wets their apatite for Secret Spot. It raises awareness about Barretto as a tourist destination. It also makes it easier to hit 60k words without getting boring.

I don’t want to forget that I need to write a GREAT book. The interleaving of the first story and the second story. Starting to get flashes where he uses SS to stage the Samaka Permaculture and the Hero Science Project. Now the second story is taking on a mystery line. What is Christopher Sly up to? Now I have a hero line. Here he comes to save the world.

Stocked. Now I have my hero story. Makes me smile. All those words above brought the hero back into play.

Posted in Random Walk

Bacchus Town Novel: Last Post

This may be the last post on the novel for awhile. I started making an outline but all it did was convince me that I’m not there yet. If you read these posts you will get an idea of the characters and their conflicts. I’m going to consider this a starting point and keep working out options until I have an outline where I can feel the pulse pounding. I’m going to stop giving the story away now so I don’t ruin it for you. I’ll post updates of my progress.

What I expect to happen is for a story to emerge that drives forward from the opening scene. I want this book to sell, and when it does, I want it to be the kind of book I want to write more of. What you might be reading in these Random Walk posts is not the story, but the back-story. This is not just about planning a book, it is about planning my career as a novelist. This goes far beyond the idea of planning a series. I need to do some deep extended thinking on this.

According to book sales reported by the Romance Writer’s of America Association, citing figures from Simba Information, the most popular book genres (top five categories) are: 1. Romance/Erotica ($1.44 billion), 2. Crime/Mystery ($728.2 million), 3. Religious/Inspirational ($720 million), 4. Science Fiction/Fantasy ($590.2 million), and 5. Horror ($79.6 million).

The Romance/Erotica market may not really be open to me. Any story I write is going to have sex, but I am guessing these numbers are mostly women reading women. What I want to strive for is to have authentic female characters, and sex scenes that are about much more than reaching orgasm. Maybe my being a male can be turned to my advantage if I can avoid pissing them off with the goal of training women who want to be excellent partners how to give a guy what he really wants but can’t ask for. (Hint 1: don’t be shy) A woman can’t tell them that. Is it really so wrong to want to be thorough in my research?

Beyond that is the goal of sexual alchemy, an exercise in awakening. The Hero Way is actually religious/inspirational, and I would be crazy not to have a focus here. I may want to build a world that looks much like contemporary reality, but with the Character Wars in progress and Bacchus V Shakespeare. How can I not have a world saving theme? It is what I have done in all three novels, and almost all of my nonfiction. On the other hand, I would guess that this is not what the religious readers are looking for

The Crime/Mystery genre is a favorite of mine. I don’t want to try to write cop or private eye crime novels, but there are other types of mystery, like – What the hell is going on?, where you challenge the reader to figure out who is up to what. I like this type of stuff also, because it drives the reader onward to know the answer, and if they guessed right. This fits very well into the Character Wars, where everyone is concealing who they really are and what they are up to. Mystery novels have a very powerful ending hook that drives the reader through the story to resolution, so I better be damn sure it is an awesome resolution.

Science Fiction/Fantasy is also a favorite of mine. But it seems very demanding. What I did in The Children of Tarot is the kind of speculative science fiction where I invent something in contemporary society that is a game changer. I can see there being secret laboratories where the Pirate Lords, and the Hero Players are both busy inventing devices to give them an edge. If I cross the threshold, I can bring in the Fox and Kyle Cooper. But if I avoid crossing into fantasy, I can still capture some of this market.

I look at what is written here and realize I have a huge amount of work to do on the story if I want to adapt it to fit these genres. I may return to the simpler line of the erotic adventure, create a 20 chapter outline, and try to produce a 200 page rough draft with 10 page chapters at a chapter a day, just to begin fleshing in the story. For now I am going to keep working on the outline. I’ll post and update when I start on the rough draft.

Posted in Random Walk

Random Walk 16: Secret Spot

I think I have a strong enough feel for the triangle characters and Parts 1 and 2 that I could begin outlining. But Part 3 must make this a blockbuster, and I am not there yet. The line I am looking at is him finishing the book in Part 2, and returning to push it in Barretto and open Secret Spot which is how the book ends. He makes some money trimming to finance the opening, and hopes that book sales will keep them afloat. The idea is pretty simple. Rent a 3 bedroom house in Baloy, bring in 3 students, start the bikini trading show and book week long workshops with two of the bedrooms for $1000/week. At half occupancy he covers expenses and makes enough to support the family. Anything from the trading show and book sales is gravy.

Uncle Willy wants in on the gravy train. How would he go about it? He might steal the book and start selling it in Manila. He might have a hard time getting it away from Katrina once she has it. She would quickly figure out that Willy is no longer necessary. Willy would figure that out also. This is when things start getting dangerous. Handing over part 3 is the suspense of how and when Sly is going to discover Willy is her boyfriend, and what happens then?

Also in play is Sly bringing in students for Secret Spot and begin “training” them. Katrina is not pleased, and there is still the chance that if she thinks she will keep getting the money from the book, she might leave him for Willy, or leave them both. Sly no longer has his job on the mountain, he has to make money to support what has become an extended poor family, and he has to do it in PI with limited options and resources. Hooking up male tourist with dependable and extraordinary partners is how he intends to support the family. Katrina has a low sexual desire, focusing mainly on the task of mothering. Sly has a high sexual desire that he uses to fuel his work. He wants them to be a family, but he needs to make money to support them, even if how he does it breaks them apart as a couple.

This may not play well with most people, but my target market is going to understand it. Guy are frustrated by partners that, once they are a couple, she dials down the sex play. She neither wants to play, nor wants him to play with anyone else. This novel is a male revolt against women putting a lock on our cocks. It is also one of the secrets he teaches his students. Most guys like to have a steady relationship, but they still fantasize about sex with other women. Get past the jealousy and the fear of losing them and give them sex with other women, and you will be their perfect partner. This GREATLY reduces their “fear of commitment”, making it much easier for the hook up to turn into a relationship. Give him his fantasy sex life, and he will be yours. The monogamous true love story is bullshit in this particular situation, and if BOTH the men and women can be honest about that, and accept that, it is an even more powerful love story. The feelings expressed are real, instead of pretense.

Which is to say that Sly could put up with her boyfriends as long as they are not taking the money he gives her for the children, or behaving in ways he does not want the children to think are cool. He keeps the kids away from Secret Spot, she keeps her boyfriend away from the kids. She absolutely does not move him in pretending that he is her brother. This has to be a major plot point. When Sly discovers that Willy is her boyfriend instead of her brother, and that he is dangerous, he goes off for a much bigger reason than jealousy and humiliation.

“How could you do this to your children?”

This needs to be the moment she sees herself through his eyes and is shocked by how her actions reveal her failure as a mother. She placed the welfare of her boyfriend above the welfare of her children. There was a time at the beginning when she did not fear being found-out, she expected it and welcomed it. But as Sly demonstrates his intention to be a responsibly provider and good father to all of her children, to help out her family when they need it, she doesn’t realize how her emotions have slowly evolved until that moment comes and she realizes what she has done and how she could lose him. What man would NOT leave a woman that did this to him, to his infant son? A father.

“I will not leave my wing man.”

Sly works through this because if he leaves her he leaves his son. There is also the self-realization that he had it coming, that he couldn’t blame her for the boyfriend, for not trusting him, for going back to Willy when he left her pregnant and alone. He had told her several times he intended to have sex with other women. When he returned they were together, the lie that he was her brother was long in place. Willy is a bold rascal, and moved himself in. She fears crossing him. And rightfully so, it turns out. But in a situation where trust is fragile, this is a crushing blow. She turns out to be a fantastically talented liar, and capable of outrageously large lies. He had set out to un-tame Shakespeare’s Shrew, and instead, had been tamed by Shakespeare with tits, and trapped within her web of lies.

Willy disappears with the baby, and suddenly, it is all too real. I need to keep the suspense building toward this moment. Without the kidnapping, this story ends with a whimper. With the kidnapping, suddenly it accelerates over the cliff. Everything is at risk. The boy’s life, the parent’s lives, their relationship if the boy is never found. I could just fuck the readers and hang it there LOL. But I won’t. Not sure of the best way to handle Willy at the end. He could die, go to jail, disappear. I could leave Willy hanging, but why would I? His fall will give the readers some satisfaction. I have painted him as a very bad guy, but actually, all of his actions up to the kidnapping are totally understandable and natural. To really enjoy his fall, he has to really deserve it.

It is possible he really loves her, and loses her to the stinky old foreign drunk with money. He would be bitter. And he stepped in when Sly left her, and he was there with her through her pregnancy, and he was there when the child was born. This is a much stronger story. When he takes the child it will not be to sell it, but to raise him as his son. This line needs to be hidden. This is the surprise twist. Sly lets him slide when he sees that the child is safe. Or does he? Maybe he doesn’t have the option. How the hell is he going to  find Willy unless he is hiding somewhere Katrina would know to look? The police are the obvious ones to find him.

Maybe I want to rethink this whole idea now. With Willy being the scorned lover, maybe he does not look to steal the boy, but punish Katrina. The climax of the story is how this triangle resolves. It could get bloody, but it could also end with Sly accepting she has a right to have a boyfriend, that they are in an open relationship, and them agreeing on rules to protect the children. This is a more valuable insight for the male readers than a kidnapping/murder. This is the reality of Bacchus Town, the girls are going to have their Pinoy boyfriends. Get over it. Sly is having sex with other women, preparing them as partners for other men.

Welcome to Bacchus Town.

It can’t end like that. It has to end in a way that proves they really do care deeply for each other, that they are a family, that he needs and depends upon her, and she upon him. Another way to end it would not be for him to try selling the book in town, but also finding an agent. The book could end with the news that the book was sold for 6 figures. How is this going to effect their relationship? I think I might leave that hanging.

I’m going to cut here and open a post on outlining. Getting pretty real. I am starting to get a feel for the characters and the relationships and how the story rolls out. It is not looking like a thriller at this point, but I have suspense. Let’s see what happens.

Posted in Random Walk