Spence Begins

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 9.35.05 AMPlotting is going well. After stumbling into a gruesome murder in a foreign land, Spence is chased by terrorists who’ve abducted his attractive female friend. Because authorities are more intent on stopping the terrorist attack rather than rescuing her, Spence must do it himself. In the climactic ending, Spence rescues her and kills the terrorists moments before they can simultaneously detonate their multiple suicide bombs and kill thousands of innocents.

What a guy!

Yes, it’s a novel. The working title is Wuhan Murders, so named because that’s where the story begins. But the final title will be something else and, with perseverance, hard work and some luck, it will also be the first in a series.

The main character will be an internationally traveling consultant of high tech software — sound familiar? — who accidentally (but repeatedly) becomes embroiled in murder and mayhem, and always with an attractive but ever changing, female associate.

As most will tell you who’ve tried, starting a novel is easy but finishing one and getting it out to the public is a major piece of work. First novels often take years to complete and, even for accomplished authors, a six month to a year’s incubation is not unusual. And since this is my first time — be gentle, OK? — there’s a lot of “Oh, crap, I’ve painted Spence into an impossible corner — there’s no credible way for him to do what I planned.

Select, delete and try again.

The work started in earnest in October of 2015 and, a month down the road, there’ve been some significant changes. For example, for longevity reasons, Spence just became married instead of divorced. [Later: Spence is back to being divorced. Why? Because romantic one-nighters sell better than 50 year relationships. The fact that I have no experience in the former and am happily stuck in the latter doesn’t seem to have inhibited my lurid imagination, however.] But his wife of several decades still has no name, no appearance, no hair color other than “brown” — it will be Caramel Chocolate, Bronze Brown or Darkest Intense Auburn, I haven’t decided but, nonetheless, thank you very much Garnier brand of hair color products (and web page). Much remains to make her human and, once that is done, she can be “plugged in”. (In this first story, I don’t think she will be a major player but her existence may, nonetheless, motivate some important choices by the main character.) [Later: The wife is gone. She became a nasty Scottsdale Attorney. Everyone knows all about them.]

I do know a lot about Spence, the main character. He shares many of my foibles — write what you know, they say — but he also borrows from several acquaintances who shall, as is traditional in works of fiction, remain nameless with only their characteristics distilled and sampled, rather than described in full.

Here is Spence’s physical description and a mention of one of his hobbies that is essential in this first work.

Spence is 53 years old, 5’11”, 205 lbs – a little overweight — with light brown hair beginning to  grey on the sides. He has full, widely separated eyebrows, brown eyes, a full nose  with a slight curve, a wide smile with moderate lips and good teeth — some caps. He has a blocky chin, and close ears. He wears a tightly-clipped mustache and goatee. He has strong legs and can walk or ride bicycle several miles, but doesn’t run except in extreme circumstances. His grip and arm strength are very good by virtue of his focused exercise to better his Bullseye and International (style) pistol shooting. Her prefers collared, print shirts with blue jeans most of the time but dresses up very nicely, his female companions note.

The bad guy for this story also has a full description and background but I’ll just summarize him for now. He was “born” via a Google search for “ugly middle age asian male face” and named via another search for “Mongolian male names.” Sartaq, predictably for his evil nature, had a bad childhood so it’s not his fault that he likes to saw off people’s heads and command naive college students into suicide attacks in foreign lands.

Yeah, he’s a really bad guy.

But the hero, Spence, kills him along with the other bad guys in an amazing display of precision pistol shooting. [Later: Only Sartaq dies. The suicide bombers were just misguided college kids who will spend the rest of their lives in prison. Poor babies.] By the way, getting a pistol into Spence’s hands in the extremely controlled and restrictive city/state of Singapore has been challenging but, with information from a real-life gun club member in that country who was introduced to me by a good friend and Bullseye shooter who also travels and teaches — some of you will know him — the task of arming Spence at the right time and place, has been done. Spence will be ready for his adversary.

Plot changes in this “work in progress” are winding down as the causes and effects of the big events are mostly fully crafted, and a good portion of the little ones are also done such as “why does Spence go to the hotel lobby now where he fortuitously spies the bad guy and his minions?” — Too much blind luck is a bad thing in a novel. Things have to make sense so crafting the plot (story line) is about making character’s actions seem natural to their personalities.

Not always an easy task.

I’m also working on some business aspects.

For example, it is common practice today for authors to have websites through which to promote their works, enable direct interaction with readers, and to preview upcoming works.

Indeed, some authors publish a significant percentage of each novel on their web page. Andy Weir, author of The Martian, published 100% of his story on an early version of his personal web page. It was there that the story attracted enough attention to motivate his creating a Kindle edition which, in turn, attracted the printed book publisher and, ultimately, the movie industry. (If you haven’t read and seen The Martian, you have a real treat in store — it is excellent!)

Stay tuned because, in the near future, I’ll be posting the first “grabber” chapter. First chapters are supposed to grab your attention and pull you from standing in the book store’s aisle and over to the cash register. What appears here on the website will be “subject to future revision” but even if it changes, you’ll still get a pretty good idea of Spence’s initial predicament.

Trust me, it get’s worse.

Subsequent chapters will then appear, in sequence, on this website as they become mostly finished. (But there’s always a chance I may have to go back and plant some seed so it has time to grow and sprout in a later chapter. [Later: That happened. Chapter “One and a Half” is the result, written late and inserted between one and two. Not an ideal way to release chapters to the public but, hey, you get what you pay for, right? So quit your grousing. {Bunch of pansy-asses.}])

Readers are welcome to comment on the work at any stage. He credits his readers with helping find, and solve, many technical and plot problems. I will be most grateful for reader comments, gut reactions, “that won’t work” finds, “why don’t you have him do this” suggestions, etc. See your name in the Acknowledgements? Buy you a beer? Send you a percentage of my second million (probably not but, hey, you can dream, too)?

We’ll figure something out.

Stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “Spence Begins

  1. Good for you, Ed. I can’t wait to see what you’ll craft.

    Although, your principal character sounds a little like you with a dash of Dr. Who.

    • A sonic screwdriver would come in handy but, no, Spence will be limited to today’s technology. But he will make considerable use of the Internet, GPS and other high-tech stuff — he’s very much at home with gadgets and apps. Spence is also a social animal which, according to the urban dictionary, makes him a geek, not a nerd.

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