2011-03-19 Update: Most of my previous updates were from selected transcripts made from my turn at the podium during our Maryville Authors' Guild general meetings. A few come from posts I made to our forum boards before the site meltdown. I've been walking on very thin ice this past year since my major heart attack. However, not able to do much of anything else, I've have had all the time in the world to recompile my notes and write. The backstory and backgrounders I have written and added to a little at a time, needed a major rewrite to keep things from getting out of order again.
I changed gears more or less and decided to write a history of my town, covering all the major highlights I deemed noteworthy. This history draft, which covers a time period from 1807-1976 is the basis for the town itself. I am quite pleased with these highlighted events and how this draft turned out.
On another note, I have been studying four possible ways to present the opening for the first novel in the series. Presenting these for review during our small group team sessions caused a few conflict of interests with other authors who were taking the same approaches as I experimented with. Hearing each authors ideas, I decided to come up with something none of them have ever mentioned before, and chose not to return to the group or attend the Maryville Authors' Guild meetings any longer. I did join up with a few locals at a separate critique group, and they introduced me to the Knoxville Writers' Guild. I attended an introductory meeting on March 3rd and joined their guild at their next meeting.
2011-01-15 Update: Transcribed from our Maryville Authors' Guild meeting. I'm only given five minutes to bring everyone up to speed. I do not have much to add from what I have covered over the past two meetings. Most of the work has revolved around building character and scene sketches, and starting on a written all-encompassing backstory. This has taken a considerable amount of time and produced many changes to my small working outlines.
The overarching outline now spans a time period of 175 years, and I have several broad outlines for each time period. For each of these outlines, I have the associated maps for how the city and its population has grown. On an interesting note, I am interviewing my characters independent of the story, to learn each character more intimately. Over the next month, I will take each character and have them write the story from their point of view, then study these to see what they come up with that I never would have considered.
2010-10-16 Update: Guild meeting transcription. The results of my questionnaire from last month have determined which names will be used. Thank you for participating, it helped tremendously. Dorsey ran each of the names through the the databases his company has access to and all but two were clear and free to use. Bluff Mountain and Horseshoe Bend, were not clear, but not considered unusable due to commonality. Due to our general meetings being open to the public, the board of directors have advised against sharing the finer details of our works in progress in this venue. I was asked not to run through the list of top names selected and only speak in generalities, which would be helpful to everyone. In keeping with that request, I will give an overview of what steps, not already discussed, were taken to arrive where we are today.
After a long battle to find the starting point for my story, I moved back in time, way back, to when the first pioneer settled the area. My purpose in going back was to establish a town history as a reference to work from, and to find the beginning phase of the detective agency. For a detective agency to be viable, I needed a major metropolitan city, but the city first need be founded before it can grow. So much of my research, the many sketched maps I made, were all toward building a city from scratch. The city needed a county of residence and county seat, and the county needed to reside in a state.
I chose to make the city, counties, and state, entirely fictional. Then I had to come up with a place big enough to place a fictitious state, while at the same time, making such an event a possible alternative history. I studied our history books at great length until I found where such a location could have been viable. Much more was involved in pulling this off than one can imagine. My original storyline concept was geared to a different time frame and location, than where I decided to place my state. So to keep everything as historically accurate as possible, with no conflicts to our existing history, many time shifts were coordinated to fit with the chosen area.
Things possible in my time line at the original location, could not possibly take place where I set my city and state, because necessary historical events did not take place yet. The population density was not adequate to follow the time line of the true stories in my rendition. This is where my biggest nightmare came into play. I had to maintain accurate time lines true to the story events, but shift them to another time line to align with recorded history for the location.
As an example: The time line for events which take place in the state of Virginia, could not apply to the time line for developmental events in let's say the state of Nevada. While at the same time, all national events had to stay on their accurate time line. So, in essence, I am working with three separate time lines, and the chronology of events which took place in the east, must fit with the national time line, and the setting is in the west under yet another time line. Clarence is threatening to slit my throat if I don't stop here. I'll share more with you at the next general meeting.
2010-07-17 Update: Transcribed from our Guild meeting. I enjoyed listening to our guest speakers at the June joint groups meeting. We ran out of time, so I held my progress report for tonight. I have rejoined the biweekly group sessions after being away for some time. Most of you know I was the primary caregiver for my wife's late mother, the reason for my long absence from the individual groups. Thank you for the many care packages and cards during her long illness.
Before I run out of time here myself, the packet I handed out has several names in highlighted groupings, and a short paragraph describing each land feature. Some of the names have a one line reason as to why they were selected from previous suggestions. Please look over these names and number them as 1st through 3rd or 4th choices, and return the papers to me at the next general meeting.
A few of the names shown for collective groupings, like Butterfly Lakes, the Regal Quartet, and Trident Tines, do not have options, they are now set in stone, due to how the story has unfolded thus far. The names under these, with the boxes, are for the individual peaks, lakes, or rivers. I hope this is clear enough on the rating forms. I am currently working on the massive genealogical tables for the growing populace of the town.
The current working titles for this series are Weeping Belle Falls for the historical series section and Branom Yard for the mystery series section. I have other working titles I am seriously considering, and will know more as I make further changes to the outline. Although world building is still ongoing, it will now be broken down into a chronological progression and matched to the stories time line.
2010-03-20 Update: Transcribed from my turn at the podium at the Maryville Authors' Guild meeting. A most pleasant Saturday night we have, especially after all the rain we've had this week. If I appear excited, I have two good reasons. As you can see, I'm alive, thanks to the expertise of the heart surgeon who saved my life. I'm still high risk, but just had to get out of the house tonight. I guess I just missed getting bashed.
With all this recuperating time on my hands, my world building experience has come together much better than I imagined. I still have a lot of work ahead of me with all the elements of the story to keep track of throughout the series. During my first month home from the hospital, not able to do much, I spent some time developing an organizational system. But let me explain why I'm so keyed up tonight.
The entire setting for my story has pulled together better than I first imagined. One of the key elements in my town is a massive waterfall, set just outside the center of town. To get a waterfall I needed a mountain, and in the process of designing the mountain range, I added a plateau with four mountain peaks.
Wait, it gets better. I have come up with several names for the mountain, the plateau and its four mountain peaks. The three rivers that flow through these peaks into three lakes, which in turn feed the waterfalls, and placed a beautiful lake beneath the falls. I also outlined each county in the state and determined its borders, after deciding where in the Midwest I was going to place this fictitious state.
As of last night, I have placed several tentative routes through the city as former Indian trails, and added some landscape features. I'm hand-drawing maps as I write small rough drafts for each major scene to see how things pull together. Each time I study my notes and outlines then sit down to write, I find more interesting concepts to include in the story. Such as adding a landing on the river to attract a riverboat, to make it a stop, build up land transportation, and I'm just starting to add a few buildings that dot the initial landscape. I'm more than happy with the way things are coming together and moving forward.
2009-11-14 Update: Posted to the main forum board. I have great news to share tonight. The starting point for my story is settled, the overarching outline and several working outlines are written. The story breakpoints for each novel are not yet determined, and won't be until I see how the writing goes. Here is what I have planned; a two part main series, with a third series as an adjunct. A historical series will open the story as part one, then transition into a second part, a mystery series as the detective agency grows.
All the research has paid off as well. I have tentatively established my town, and will continue with the world building process. Studying the Jefferson Territory in great depth has allowed me to create a fictitious state in an area where such could have more than likely occurred. I will hand out my new outline at the meeting next weekend.
Posted to the mystery groups board. My teams brainstorming sessions have helped to expand the series concept into another genre. It will still be a mystery series, but is now preceded with a historical series as part one of the series. I will remain a member of the mystery group, as will four of my teammates. But three of us have also joined the historical fiction group, and merged with one of their small teams. One of their team members will be joining the mystery group, and the forensics team, because of the direction their story has taken.
2009-08-29 Update: Posted to the mystery group forum. Thought I would jump in before the end of the quarter, to let you all know what I've accomplished in only two months time. The more I worked on finding a starting point for the detective agency, the further back in time it took me.
The overarching outline was extended again once again, after much historical research provided the perfect location and setting. I have studied many different paths the story can take, which considerably alters how the story will grow. I am seriously considering starting the story shortly ahead of the forming of the detective agency, to bring the founding characters into the picture.
Many of the details of what I propose will take me some time to assemble and correlate. I'm setting aside the backgrounders for the mystery series for awhile and see how beginning with a historical series works out.
2009-06-20 Update: Posted on the main forum board. Another Saturday is almost over. Time ran out at tonight's group meeting for me to give an update. So, I'm taking a moment before I hit the horizontal to share what I've been doing. Many changes have been made these past couple of months. I am completely rewriting the backstory and diligently working on an extended overarching outline. I'm breaking down the foundation for the story into its individual components, so I can work on each phase of development individually. It looks like it will be quite some time before I have all the elements assembled to tell the group about them.
2009-03-14 Update: Originally posted to the guilds private forum board for our mystery group. Rather than our small team of four members meeting in person between guild meetings, and with our larger group of six members later on in the meeting. We've been using the closed private forums to discuss our individual team member works. I then post what I've been doing in the open mystery groups forum.
If what I said above is confusing, this may help, we have the main guild forum, usable by all members. Links from this take you to forums for the individual groups, such as our mystery group. These forums are readable by all members, but only members of those specific groups can post to them or add comments. Within these group forums are closed team forums, which are only usable by members of your team. Most of my posts were made in the team discussion forum, and I only made a few posts to the group about my working on character sketches. I was so busy, I forgot to post to the group forum for a long time.
My post to the mystery group forum was as follows: I apologize for the long delay. Over the past six months I've worked on character sketches, and building a backstory. This led so selecting a suitable location for the story setting. I also decided to look at character growth and the many problems they face. The amount of research into finding the perfect location for the story, and bouncing my ideas off fellow authors is time consuming. I look forward to seeing everyone at next weeks guild meeting.
2008-09-20 Update: After last weekends three-day long brainstorming session, and a most favorable review at the start of tonight's meeting, of the many backgrounders I submitted to the group members over the past three months. The group was enthusiastic and urged my moving forward in building the worlds largest detective agency, and the murder mysteries they solved.
The last two meetings we went over other members works, and I only submitted backgrounders for review. Four of us met together at a restaurant every night for three nights to go over my overarching outline, create better scene concepts, and we talked about character building.
2008-06-21 Update: Tonight was my second and most important meeting of the Maryville Authors' Guild. More members showed up for this meeting than were at the joint groups meeting. Timing could not have been better, as they were forming some new sub-groups for new members, by where one was in their current work.
Since I was just beyond the concept stage and had my overarching outline and a few smaller outlines, plus many scenes. They placed me with an existing start-up group rather than a new group. Soon thereafter the meeting split into these small groups of four to six members. All of these members were at the joint meeting so they heard my storyline concept twice already, so I did not have to rehash it again.
We dove right into work, and each were interested in my unique way of building my story. It wasn't all that unique, I was already familiar with how publishers build up a story. So we ended up talking about the phases of work in my employment venue.
2008-05-17 Update: This seems like the best place for this note as I rebuild message data from my old web site, and our private group forum. Unfortunately, I only have those forum messages that were commented on, which caused a copy to be sent to my e-mail inbox.
Back in August of 2006, I began ghostwriting for a prominent author, and a short time later his major publisher invited me to work through them with their team of writers. Through conversations with my fellow co-workers about an idea I had for a novel, one writer took a special interest in my concept. After he learned where I lived, he asked a local writer friend of his to contact me with a request to join their writers club.
I chose the date I joined the club, May 17, 2008 as the date to show for this update. My first meeting was most confusing, because it was not a single club, but a group of independent member clubs going under the name Appalachian East Writers' Guild. Not to be confused with Appalachia East Authors' Guild. I thought the individual groups were like other guilds, and for a particular genre.
Once I learned more about how they worked, I joined the Alcoa Writers' Association, where the person who invited me was a member. Before the end of the meeting, after I shared the concept of what I was considering, my membership was transferred to the group named Maryville Authors' Guild. This worked out great for me, and was closer to home than the Alcoa groups meeting place. Individual group meetings were considerably different than the collective group business meeting, and the main group rotated meeting places to member group locations.
The Maryville group meets twice a month, on the first Saturday for the business meeting and guest speakers, and on the third Saturday of the month for critique or other activities dealing with writing or publishing. They also hold sub-group meetings whenever the smaller groups decide it is beneficial.