Where Do I Go Next?

[cb_profit_poster Acting]Clinton, S.C., Friday, December 6, 2013, 2:52 p.m.

I'm ready to write again, but what?

I’m ready to write again, but what?

Today’s a big day, not because Jimmie Johnson has been regaling NASCAR fans with photos simulating the movie ‘Hangover,” and not because Ford Field is hosting the Mid-American Conference championship between Bowling Green and Northern Illinois. It’s not because the Palmetto State is settling its high school championships. It’s not because the Seattle Mariners are signing Robinson Cano or the New York Yankees got Jacoby Ellsbury.

It’s because I finished the second draft of Crazy by Natural Causes, which I intend to be my third novel. I streamlined it a little, changed a character’s name, fixed a few discrepancies and the occasional imperfections of grammar and spelling. I’m sure more will materialize, but editing Crazy wasn’t all that crazy, which makes me feel like I’m making a little progress as a novelist. Now I’m going to let a couple people I trust read it, and then I’ll consider what they’ve got to say and give it another whirl.

A novel is a pretty long whirl. In fact, it’s several. I take some pride in not having to whirl as much in each of my whirls.

My second novel is more complicated than my first.

My second novel is more complicated than my first.

The blog tour is rolling along. I didn’t know what a blog tour was until I was on one. I’ve put lots of work in it: being interviewed, writing blogs when requested, shipping review copies, selecting excerpts of the novel, The Intangibles, that is brand-new to everyone but me because I turned my attention back to Crazy.

Which is crazy again, but that’s all right because here’s something that’s even crazier. I’ve got this hankering to set out on another. I haven’t decided which of a couple ideas I’m going to pursue, but when I wake up in the middle of the night and spend several hours floating along the river that separates the conscious from the unconscious, thinking plots, characters and settings, well, by gum, it’s time to sally forth again.

A good many readers have asked me if I’m going to write about Riley Mansfield, the pot-smoking hero of The Audacity of Dope, again. When I wrote True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, several years ago, I mentioned that I’d like to do another book featuring all women singers and songwriters, but I’m not going back that way, partly because I’ve gotten accustomed to writing fiction and partly because there is little apparent demand for a sequel.

I miss Riley Mansfield, but I'm not of a mind to write about him again ... yet.

I miss Riley Mansfield, but I’m not of a mind to write about him again … yet.

I really like Riley, and I might write a sequel (or prequel, I suppose) about him some day, but right now I’m still excited about inventing new characters and trying new styles.

Audacity was an irreverent, political, suspense thriller and a bit of a love story involving Riley and Melissa Franklin. The Intangibles is more complicated because it has more major characters, and it’s an historical work in that it was set in the 1960s. The Intangibles is more personal because it deals with events I experienced in a town based on my own. Crazy by Natural Causes is set in the present but not in a place so achingly familiar. It’s a commentary on the absurdity of the times in which we live. I relate to its main character, Chance Benford, in a way very different from Riley. Riley was a likable rogue. Chance starts out as a bad guy, and the second draft was partly an exercise in which I tried to make him likable enough at the beginning to keep readers interested enough to stay with him as he changes.

Part of me wants to write a crime novel. Part of me wants to write about a main character closer to my age. I might try to begin by writing separate short stories, then build on it with the one I like the best.

I might do anything. I’m even open to suggestions, though I’m probably too hardheaded to follow any. Writing a novel is quite a challenge, and I’ve got to come up with another story I love, one into which I can dive with passion.

I’ve still got new stories to tell, and unless Riley Mansfield, Reese Knighton or Frankie Hoskins makes me rich – no signs of that at present – I doubt I’ll revisit them.

Even though I like ‘em and all …

Send me $20, and I’ll sign and ship The Intangibles or The Audacity of Dope to you. Send me $35, and I’ll sign and ship you both. My mailing address is: 11185 Hwy. 56 N., Clinton, S.C.  29325.

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About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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2 Responses to Where Do I Go Next?

  1. Andy DeNardi says:

    Feel up to having a female protagonist as your lead character? It would defin itely offer a challenge and might prevent your writing from settling into a rut early on. It wouldn’t be easy to pull off a novel voiced by the opposite sex but it may be intriguing to play around with the idea in some short stories.

  2. Monte says:

    I’m considering it. Melissa Franklin was a major character in the first novel. The Intangibles is male-oriented. The third novel, Crazy by Natural Causes, also has a major female character and several more significant ones. It’s a thought.

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