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.
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.
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!
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life