My schedule in June has finally let up a bit, allowing me plenty of time to get cracking on book four in the Milligan Creek Series, The Great Grain Elevator Incident. I just cracked 20,000 words, which means I'm almost halfway to the finish line (novels in this series are running about 45,000 words). As in previous books, my characters keep laying waste to my outline, insisting on doing all sorts of things that I hadn't planned for. Thankfully, they're all smarter than me, so I just follow them around transcribing their antics. If all goes according to plan, I just might finish the first draft by the end of this month, which puts me on schedule to release at the end of August or early September. In the meantime, here's part one of a documentary on "The Disappearing Grain Elevator" to help whet your appetite.
The reviewer, Amy Westbury, was really hard on my first book, but I am continuing to win her over, getting 4 out of 5 stars! A brief excerpt: ". . . this third outing is an enjoyable read ripe with the fun of heat waves and summer vacation . . . a great choice for those looking for an engaging middle-school novel with a cavalcade of boisterous boys and humorous hijinks." You can read the full review here.
I've made a couple of forays into Manitoba this year as part of my multi-leg book tour for The Water War. While in Portage La Prairie, the local radio station came down to do a brief story, which you can see here.
For the past three years, I've brought out a Milligan Creek Series novel in the fall. This year is no different, though I must admit that, until this week, I was a bit further behind in my writing than I was on previous books. However, now that I actually have a bit of free time in my schedule, I'm using it to knock out a few chapters. I'm well into chapter three right now, and my goal is to have at least five chapters complete before I head out on tour again in mid-March, which will put me back on track. It feels great to be back in the saddle again, especially considering I wrote my initial outline for the book back in October. In keeping with its title, this story is going to be epic, and I can't wait to share it with you. Meanwhile, I'm also hard at work plotting book five, which is going to take place in winter and send things in an entirely different direction. More news on that book in the months to come.
I'm not sure why it took me so long to do this (the books have been available on Kindle for a while), but books 1-3 in the Milligan Creek Series are now available as ebooks in the Kobo store. And the price is right! Check it out here.
It was a lot of fun, especially the chance to connect by phone with Rick and Glenn Larson, the two guys who inspired the original idea for the book. Have listen here.
Wow, what a great surprise to find another five-star review of The Water War on Goodreads. And this one's a doozy! Here's an excerpt:
I think this is a great quality series (from a Canadian author!) that should be read to all children! Put this book in school libraries, use it for reading buddies, use it for library events and spread the word around! There are few books out there that have so much fun packed into one little book AND have a great theme.
Read the full review here.
A brief excerpt: "I loved “The Water War”, a story that will intrigue and bring laughter to the younger patrons of my local library." You can read the full review here. But be warned: it contains a couple of spoilers!
Something I've gotten a bit of flack about are how plain my character names are in the Milligan Creek series. One reason I chose to go that direction is because I wanted the names to reflect the milieu in which I grew up, where names were, well, plain. I mean, Kevin Miller. Do you have any idea how many of us there are in the world? To prove the point, on three occasions, I have been flagged by the police and US Homeland Security due to the nefarious actions of other Kevin Millers who happen to have the same birthdate as me. Yeesh. And no, for the last time, I have never been arrested in New Mexico!
Anyway, starting with Henrietta Blunt, and then continuing to Fiona Pickleberrybush, I decided to go in a more creative direction with names. Which leads me to the antagonist for book four in the series, The Great Grain Elevator Incident, which I am about to start writing (once I get issue 3 of Meth: The Immortal out of the way). I'm a big fan of NFL football, and I've often said sports is one of the best places to find unique names. Sure enough, in a serendipitous moment last week, I was watching a game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs when I noticed the Chiefs' place kicker's last name: Butker. Just as I was thinking about how that would be an unfortunate name to grow up with, I noticed Baltimore's place kicker is named Justin Tucker. Suddenly, I put the two names together in my head: Tucker Butker. What a great name for a bad guy! Suddenly, all sorts of story possibilities opened up in my mind.
Once again, as a writer, you never know when or where inspiration will strike, so keep your eyes and ears open!
As I've noted previously on this blog, The Water War was inspired in part by a game of Assassin that took place in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, in 1984 or 1985. The organizers were Rick and Glenn Larson, two college students looking to liven things up while at home for the summer. I dedicated the book in part to them and tried to track them down, to no avail. However, all that changed this morning.
Hot cup of coffee in hand, I turned on my computer and found an email from Rick and Glenn's younger sister, Coreen, who happens to work at CBC Radio in Regina. She had seen a press release I sent out about the book and reached out to me with a brief note and the photo below. So great to finally make a connection with the family and know that, within a couple of weeks, the guys will have a chance to read the novel they helped inspire.
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life