Category Archives: Books/Literature

Corrosive Knights, a 7/6/20 Update

Actually, consider it a mini-update.

I’ve been rather busy the last few days with various things that needed to be done and the rest of this week looks like it might be busy as well on things other than my reading/revision of Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series.

These are the types of bumps in the road that piss me off, frankly, when working on my novels but they always seem to come and they always seem to show up on the worst possible times.

Writing a novel is often an exercise in persistence. Just coming up with a decent first draft takes a hell of a lot of energy and patience on my part but then come the multiple revisions which are -again for me- absolutely indispensable to getting one’s novel ready for release.

Right now I’m reading and revising the latest draft, #5, and I’m roughly a quarter of the way through reading it and almost a quarter of the way through putting those revisions on the computer. Because I knew my time might be limited and because the novel has three distinct opening sections before getting into the meat of the story (not really much of a spoiler, but there you have a bit!), I read and then cleaned up the first two segments on the computer and finished reading and putting in the pen and ink revisions on that third segment but have yet to transfer those revisions to the computer.

Its worth noting there was a lot to fix up in the second segment and it is done, both pen and ink and computer transfer, at this point. The third segment required some work but not a whole lot and so far the “meat” of the story is going along pretty easily.

I don’t know if that will remain the case. In fact, I suspect toward the climax/end of the book there will be some things that will require my attention, but at least so far I’m pretty pleased that despite the things that are robbing me of my time, the revision is proceeding well and I feel that the novel should be ready pretty soon.

Let’s keep those fingers crossed!

Corrosive Knights, a 6/22/20 Update

First: I haven’t been posting as much as usual of late and I do apologize for that.

The reason is pretty simple: I’ve been laser focused on Draft #4 of Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series…

Corrosive Knights

Today -just a couple of hours ago, in fact!- I finished putting the last of the corrections into the novel’s Word file and will print the whole think out this evening and very shortly start up Draft #5.

Draft #4, as I look back on it now, was a watershed revision. What I mean by that is that this Draft felt like a very in depth, top-to-bottom revision which caught most of the important elements I needed to address in the book and fixed them. Hopefully, in completing this Draft, and until I get my fingers more into Draft #5, I feel like I’m very close to the point where I can focus entirely on how the story is told versus what I’m telling, and whether all the creative elements are in their proper place.

Looking back a little further, I regret my decision to do Draft #3 completely on the computer rather than as I usually do it, ie printing it out, reading the print out, and adding the voluminous corrections by pen on the pages themselves before going to the computer and putting those corrections in.

Which is, of course, what I did with Draft #4.

Mind you, I’m not saying the way I did Draft #3 was a total waste of time -it most certainly was not!- but given how early in the drafting process I was, I mistakenly felt I had advanced much further than I was. Therefore the corrections made for Draft #3, while they certainly moved the proverbial ball forward, in retrospect feel like they were pretty minor compared to the near total overhaul I did with Draft #4.

What pleases me the most now that I’ve finished Draft #4 is that the story elements are by and large where I think they need to be. There might still be some additions I’ll make -there often are!- but truthfully it feels like this book is very close to being done.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll repeat it again: For the last few novels and for whatever reason it has taken me 12 Drafts -not 11 and not 13- to get my novels to where I’m comfortable releasing them.

Not so with this book.

I believe when I’m done with Draft #5 I’ll be very close to the end. I will very likely need to do a Draft #6 but, after that, I can see myself finishing this off with either the 7th or 8th Draft.

This time around I either got really lucky and hit upon the plot quickly or I’m growing as a writer and don’t need to spend as much time in the earlier stages getting the book’s plot settled.

Regardless, I still feel like this is a book I can finish by the end of Summer or, unless some other problems arise, early in Fall.

I’m incredibly proud of this book and think it’s a wonderful addition to the Corrosive Knights series. I know Book #7, Legacy of the Argus, was presented as a conclusion to the major Corrosive Knights series and it remains so… but this new book, while not necessarily opening a whole new story line in this universe, adds an intriguing new piece.

I can’t wait to release it!

Denny O’Neil (1939-2020)

The name may not be that familiar to most people out there, but it can be argued Denny O’Neil -along with artist Neal Adams- were instrumental in making Batman what he is today.

See, back in the 1960’s DC comics were having a somewhat rough time with their superhero books. There were some really good ones out there, don’t get me wrong, but Marvel was commanding readers’ attentions with the iconic work of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Stan Lee. Among their most famous comics you have the building blocks of what we see today in the very successful Marvel movie franchise.

DC, on the other hand, released their most iconic material at the beginning of the age of comics, when they published the first Superman story in Action Comics #1, 1938 (the first actual superhero comic book) and followed that up with Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (1939).

Superman and Batman -and a little later Robin- dominated the superhero market, though they unleashed a flood of other characters, some of which did spectacularly (Captain Marvel, today known as Shazam!), while others didn’t do as well.

By the 1950’s, however, the books developed a certain pattern and when you got to the 1960’s, Batman in particular seemed something of a lost character. He passed through some weird phases (including more science fictional stories) but he -and his world- were simply not as fresh as they were a generation before.

The success -and then cancellation- of the purposely campy Batman TV show didn’t do the comics many favors afterwards and the character continued to float along, selling issues but never really seeming to do better than tread water.

Then along came Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams and the iconic issue #395 (1970) of Detective Comics, featuring the story The Secret of the Waiting Graves.

Detective Comics (1937-2011) #395 - DC Entertainment

In one fell swoop, Mr. O’Neil and Adams returned Batman to his darker roots in a story that also had more than a hint of the supernatural. It was a sober, serious story.

It was absolutely fantastic.

Mr. O’Neil -often with Mr. Adams- would continue writing Batman in his own unique -excellent!- style, bringing him into the then present as a force to be reckoned, a dark, mysterious being who scared the crap out of villains yet was very much human and decent at his core. The two would come together again to take on the Joker and also bring him to his roots as a homicidal psychopath in the absolute classic Batman #251 (1973)…

Batman (1940-2011) #251 - Comics by comiXology

But not only did Mr. O’Neil revive Batman, his cohorts, and his villains, he would also go on to create an incredible new nemesis in Ra’s Al Gul and his lovely -and deadly- daughter Talia… characters who would be prominently featured in two of Christopher Nolan’s trio of Batman films…

Batman (1940-2011) #232: Facsimile Edition (2019) - Comics by ...

Had his work on Batman been the only thing Denny O’Neil did as a writer, his iconic status within the field would have been assured.

But he did so much more. Again with artist Neal Adams, Denny O’Neil would write the incredible Green Arrow/Green Lantern series, which dealt with social ills in an adult manner and pushed the envelope of what comic books could focus on. Their run featured what is arguably one of the most famous sequences in comic book history, where the character of Green Lantern runs into the notion of racism …

Green Lantern No. 76 Was the Moment Superheroes Got Woke

While their run, unfortunately, wasn’t a big seller, the issues have become legendary for not only dealing with issues of racism but also political corruption, cultural fraying, and drug use…

Green Lantern Green Arrow #85 Facsimile Edition |

Indeed, it could be argued these books were the first “serious” comic books, and one imagines they must have been a big influence on the likes of Alan Moore (Watchmen) years later.

Mr. O’Neil continued working within comics and expanded into TV, scripting TV shows featuring Batman, as well as others.

He would move to Marvel Comics after his stint at DC and is credited, during that time, with being the person who named the Transformer’s Optimus Prime. He also wrote and edited many books during that time, from Daredevil to Iron Man.

In the late 1980’s he would return to DC and edit various Batman titles and began, in 1987, a lengthy run on The Question, another high water mark in his writing career…

Question TPB (2007-2010 DC) By Denny O'Neil comic books

He continued to work in comics and, sadly, yesterday the news came out that at the age of 81 Mr. O’Neil passed away.

He led a long, incredibly productive life and is one of the authors, along with the recently passed Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, I recognized by name when I was very young and really getting into comic books.

A part of me is obviously very sad at his passing, yet another part of me celebrates the fact that he was around as long as he was and that he was able to do as many great works as he did.

2020 has been a hell of a year -mostly bad- and the loss of Mr. O’Neil certainly doesn’t make things any better.

On the other hand, its given people the opportunity to look back at one of the icons of the so-called “Bronze Age” of comics, a man who left an indelible mark on the comic book world.

Rest in Peace, Mr. O’Neil.

You did more than good.

Corrosive Knights, a 6/1/20 Update

It’s been roughly two weeks since my last update (you can read it here) regarding Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series…

In that time, I’ve done a read-through and pen/ink revision of the book and today have turned to putting all my notes/changes/corrections into the Word copy I have.

There are quite a few things to fix!

Having said that, most of it is grammatical/spelling/ease of reading type corrections. That’s not to say, though, that the story is “locked in” yet.

There were also a few parts that required some reworking and/or expansion along with those simpler to fix clarifications.

Having said that (redux), I’m very happy with the overall place I’m at with this novel. I strongly suspect once I’ve put those corrections into the book, I’ll be very near the end of this work.

Like, really near.

And we’re on Draft #4 here and for my last several books, I’ve had to go through 12 Drafts before feeling these books were ready to be released!

I don’t want to get too ahead of myself because you never know how things will work out. Perhaps when I’m done with putting these revisions into the computer and I’m starting up Draft #5 I may find some really big problems that need to be addressed and they may require even more work to fix.

It’s certainly possible… but not super likely.

No, I’m happy with what I’ve written to date. I feel I’ve created a damn good story to follow up Legacy of the Argus. While it isn’t the promised “Epilogue” story, I feel it is a pretty damn strong story set in the Corrosive Knights universe which will, hopefully, be a great standalone story for anyone who wanders into my works and picks it up without reading the others but will also feeding the mythology I’ve built and be a satisfying addition to the saga for those who have read the other books.

I’m once again in a familiar position: Eager to get these revisions finished up as quickly as I can and excited by the prospect of getting that much closer to actually releasing a new book.

It’s a good one and I can’t wait to see what everyone out there thinks of it!

Curtain (1975) a (very) Belated Review

Published in 1975, Agatha Christie’s Curtain, featuring the last case of her most famous creation, Hercule Poirot, is a novel that I’ve read before and, to this day and after reading it again (perhaps for the third or so time), bewilders, amuses, amazes, and frustrates me, almost all in equal measure.

Curtain (Hercule Poirot, #42) by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie wrote the book in the early 1940’s and while World War II was raging. She feared she wouldn’t make it through the war and decided to create a final tale for Hercule Poirot and put it in a lock box with the intention of having her heirs release it at some future date.

Of course, Agatha Christie survived the war and continued writing until her death in 1976 and, shortly before passing away, she authorized the release of Curtain, which wound up being the final book released while she was still alive (there was another book, Sleeping Murder, which was her last written work and which was released posthumously).

Intriguingly, I’ve read the there was no attempt to revise the novel and it was released as Mrs. Christie wrote it back in the early 1940’s, even though its actual first publication was some thirty five years later.

In this novel, we’re witnessing an elderly, frail Hercule Poirot, bedridden yet anxious to solve one last crime involving a mysterious man or woman he calls “X”, who may well be the most nefarious criminal he’s ever tangled with: The wo/man has had a hand in at least 5 different murders yet somehow is never suspected and, further, in all cases others are very clearly the murderer.

Yet, Poirot insists to his companion/Watson/narrator Arthur Hastings, this “X” is clearly the puppet master and the one who caused the murders… and is about to commit another.

The story takes place in Styles Court, the same location Agatha Christie’s first novel (and first Poirot novel) The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) took place.

Thus the proverbial circle closes, with our Belgian detective and his right hand man, now some 25 years or so later, come together one last time to solve one last mystery.

Agatha Christie would write several Poirot novels after Curtain and, while this novel does make mention of previous books/mysteries Poirot was involved in, there are no mention of the novels that came afterwards. Further, Christie, no doubt realizing the novel would be released in some unknown future date, kept any real world events/technologies to a minimum. We get no descriptions of vehicles, for example, and the entire story takes place in its one setting, isolated from any other locations.

I said above that the novel bewilders, amuses, amazes, and frustrates me and I mean what I said.

The story itself is somewhat typical Agatha Christie: Once again we have a clever murder story which (as is typical of Mrs. Christie), the murderer is the person the reader least suspects.

Mrs. Christie made a literal king’s fortune out of her ability to present her story, then build up our suspicions on this character or that, sometimes hitting us with red herrings, before often shocking us with the surprising murderer.

This is very much the case in Curtain!

But the novel frustrates me at times, too. The plot, once all is said and done, is almost too clever for its own good. Both Poirot and our “X” are engaging in such a high level game of chess that can only exist in a novel and not in real life.

This is a common complaint, by the way, I have of Agatha Christie’s stories: If you take a cold look at the plot, you realize there are so many things that have to fall into place for the story to work that its an impossibility.

However…

The books are so damn well written and Curtain is yet another example of Agatha Christie’s incredible talents.

The book itself, compared to some tomes (looking at you, Stephen King) wastes no time getting going and has almost no fat at all to wade through. Each word, sentence, paragraph, and page present something interesting for the reader to read, and you’re so involved in the book you don’t notice some of the absurdities until well after you’ve come to the wrapup.

Interestingly, Agatha Christie chose to end the novel not unlike (you’re not going to believe this in a million years) And Then There Were None. If you’ve been reading my ramblings for the past few weeks, I’ve noted how I’ve been in a weird And Then There Were None temporal/spatial trap (read all about it starting here, continuing here, surprising me here, and then ending with my review of the famous novel here!).

Thinking about it some more, Curtain is in many ways very much like And Then There Were None, though to get into the details involves considerable spoilers (I’ll do that below).

If you’ve already read both novels, then by all means read what comes below but, if you haven’t and are curious to read these books, please DO NOT READ WHAT COMES AFTER THE SPOILER WARNING.

In sum, Curtain is another grade “A” Agatha Christie novel, slim and to the point yet entertaining as hell even as the story told is at times rather preposterous.

Highly recommended.

Now then…

SPOILERS FOLLOW!

I’M SERIOUS!

*****

STILL THERE???

*****

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

*****

Let me start with the differences and then I’ll get to the similarities between And Then There Were None, what many consider Agatha Christie’s best novel (I can’t say I disagree!) and Curtain.

And Then There Were None involves a group of 10 people called to a secluded island under false pretenses who realize they’re trapped and accused of murder. In the course of the book, one after the other is in turned killed and those who remain become suspicious of each other, thinking they could be the murderer.

In Curtain, we have a group of 13 people at Styles Court -not trapped- who are enjoying their country vacation (or working, in the case of a few of them) with Poirot aware that one of them is a mastermind murderer targeting the others.

In And Then There Were None, the reader suspects everyone even as they do as well. We have a couple of semi-clear protagonists, but with each murderer, anxiety and suspense rise.

In Curtain, we have, in the end, “only” 3 deaths, two of which are considered by everyone but Hastings and Poirot suicide and the last which is Hercule Poirot’s death… which may well have been by natural causes.

And Then There Were None has all the murders being obviously that. In Curtain, the deaths are obviously more devious.

Those are the differences.

Now the similarities:

In both And Then There Were None and Curtain, we’re dealing with a master manipulator/murderer. Both novels feature masterminds and, in the end of And Then There Were None, the murderer is indeed the one we “least suspect” (a trademark of Agatha Christie) because it is someone we thought already dead.

In Curtain, there are two killers: our Mister (as I said, SPOILERS) “X” and… Hercule Poirot himself.

Mister X tries, as we find out in the end of the novel, to kill three different people. He’s thwarted, we find in the end, by one of the manipulated people missing his shot (or perhaps sanity prevailed before the murderous impulse was let loose), while in another Poirot defused the situation. In the third case, one of the cast of characters is indeed murdered but it was because of confusion on the part of others, and this character’s death is labeled a suicide in the end.

The final murder is that of Mister X, and that death is also ruled a suicide because it is in a locked room with no possibility of anyone else having done it…

…which, of course, turns out not to be the case. For the “invalid” Hercule Poirot, with no way to stop this mastermind killer, created the illusion to others that he was a total invalid and confronted Mister X, drugged him to sleep, then put him in his room, shot him in the forehead, left the man’s door key in his pocket, and with a duplicate key, locked the door from the outside and returned to his room.

Everyone thought Mister X killed himself and Poirot himself is found dead the next day of natural causes. Or, perhaps, he purposely didn’t take his heart medication, knowing this would end his life after he -the one person we least suspected of murder- actually committed the murder.

Like And Then There Were None, Curtain ends with our murderer (in this case Poirot), writing a declaration of everything that happened and explaining what he did in the story. He, like the killer in And Then There Were None, is dead and this is his declaration and explanation.

The only reason this exists, by the way, is to give readers a resolution of the story. For if either book didn’t have these declarations, they would be left in the dark as to what exactly happened.

It’s not unusual for authors to reuse certain concepts and when you write as prolifically as Mrs. Christie did, its bound to happen.

Still, it was interesting to see her using the “written last testament” ideal found in And Then There Were None used again in Curtain to give us this finality to the story.

Corrosive Knights, A 5/19/20 Update

Quick update (my last one was from 5/13/10 and can be read here) for Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series…

I printed the book out last week and started the process of reading and revising it.

Unlike the previous draft, this time around I wanted to do my revisions on the printed out book versus doing them directly on the computer (ie, using Word).

Does it make a difference?

For me, the answer is yes.

I don’t know why but when I have a physical copy of a novel before me, versus looking at the same thing on a computer screen, I seem to have access to/a clearer view of the novel and its story in its entirety.

While last time I went ahead and did the revisions completely on the computer, the fact of the matter is it was an experiment on my part and the first time I did a “full” revision that way versus printing out everything and revision with pen and then putting the revisions in the computer.

While I do believe the previous (all computer) draft moved the proverbial football forward, the experiment, I feel in retrospect, wasn’t a total success and I should stick with my preference of printing out the work and doing the revisions on the printed pages.

Please note: This is my preference and I’m certain other authors have theirs but for me, I will continue to print the whole thing out and revise the work that way from here on in.

Having said all that, let us get to the good stuff!

My update for today is: I’m just a tiny bit shy of halfway through the book and while there are things I need to fix up, at least for this half of the book, I seem to be moving into the grammatical/spelling area versus the active creative writing.

This is significant -and pardon me if I’m repeating myself as I am certain I have written about this before with previous books- because when I’m happy with the story as written and feel there is not much more to add, things tend to move quickly once I am in the grammatical/spelling focus. Indeed, when my sole preoccupation is to make the story read well versus coming up with new scenarios/story ideas , things move much more quickly to their end.

Having said all that, a word of caution: I am just shy of 1/2 way through the book. There is quite a bit of story still in front of me and we will see how that plays out and whether that half requires more creative writing than the first half.

Having said all that (redux), I still feel I’m ahead of schedule with regard to finishing this novel versus previous works.

While there were several false starts early on which cost me many months of work (ouch), once I found my direction it seemed like things fell into place a lot easier than they have with other novels.

It could be a sign of my growth as a writer or it could be that this time around I “got lucky” in that the plot worked itself out easier than before.

Either way, I remain optimistic this novel can be finished up in/around the end of Summer.

As soon as it is, I will let you know!

Corrosive Knights, a 5/13/20 Update

On April the 14th, 2020, I printed out the latest copy of my latest Corrosive Knights novel, Book #8…

Last time I wrote an update about this book (you can read it here) it was April 29th and I was roughly 1/2 way through the revision process and…

…I was feeling a bit down.

Frankly, I was a little disappointed by the progress of the 3rd Draft revision and the realization of how much I still had to “fix” or “rewrite” before finishing up that draft.

Sometimes, the amount of work you have to still do gets to you.

Especially when what you thought would be a quick turnaround becomes longer and more involved. When there’s that much more work involved, it has a way of wearing you down.

However…

Just as one has their good and bad days, so too do I have my ups and downs with the writing process.

Today, I put the finishing touches on Draft #3 of Book #8 and… I’m really happy with what I’ve got here.

Yeah, it turned out I had to put in extra efforts and some things I thought were damn good/didn’t need much work did, but as I sit here today after finishing writing what is effectively a new Epilogue to the book (and a much shorter one, to boot), and as I look back in my rear view mirror at the work I’ve put into this book and where it stands today versus in mid-April…

Things are looking pretty damn good.

I like what I have and what I have, I feel, is really close to being done.

I’ve mentioned it before: On average I’ve found myself going through 12 Drafts with my latest batch of novels. A strange number, I grant you, and it seemed that was the amount -not 11, not 13- that needed to be done before my books were “ready” to be released.

Even as I started up the 3rd draft of this current novel, I felt like it was closer to being complete than those other novels. Much, much closer given the fact that we were so early into the revision process.

I even mused in previous posts that maybe this book would take only 5 or so drafts before it was ready. A remarkable turnaround from 12!

Welp…

still feel like I won’t be needing 12 drafts to complete this book. In fact, I’m confident enough to say that I won’t need anywhere near that amount.

However, I’m not so sure 5 drafts will do it either.

Tomorrow I plan to print out the current draft and begin the process of reading and revising it and thus starting Draft #4 of the book. When I’m done with this draft, I’ll be, I feel, damn close to finishing up this novel.

At the very least, the book will be that much closer to complete.

However, I think I’ll need at least 2 or 3 more drafts after this next one, which means that if I’m now on #4, we’re looking at finishing up with Draft #6 or 7, and there is obviously no guarantee things might drag a little beyond that, too.

Having said that, each new draft should take me less and less time to finish up and whether I’m done with Draft #6, 7, or (baring any problems I find along that way) #8 or above, there is a good chance I may be finished with this novel by the end of Summer.

We’re obviously still a long way from there and my next update, when I’m finished -or near finished- with Draft #4 should give me an even clearer idea of where I stand.

But finishing up this book by the end of Summer?

Man, I hope so…!

Regardless, I’ll keep you updated!

And Then There Were None (1939) A (Mysteriously) Belated Review

As I’ve said before, it seems I’m on a And Then There Were None trip of late, what with seeing the 2015 mini-series based on the novel (my review is here), then seeing the comedic take on the book via the 1985 film Clue (you can read my review of it here), and finally seeing the 1968 western film 5 Card Stud, which was clearly influenced by the book (you can read my review of that here).

So I figured why not conclude this trip by re-reading and reviewing Agatha Christie’s original 1939 novel?

I mentioned it before and I’ll repeat myself: In Agatha Christie’s very long -and incredibly successful- career as a mystery writer, there are two novels that many consider her best: The Hercule Poirot mystery Murder on the Orient Express and the novel we’re focused on, And Then There Were None.

Re-reading the novel (I’ve read it at least twice before), I again marvel at the concise nature of it.

Author Elmore Leonard famously wrote a fascinating list of 10 things an author should/shouldn’t do (you can read the full list here) that concluded with this piece of advice:

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip

Looking at this piece of advice, it sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yet it may be one of the hardest things an author can do.

Why?

It involves looking at your baby, your lovely work, and realizing you need to cut it down, that the brilliant description you made of a home and its sparkling marble floor simply doesn’t need to be in your novel and does nothing more than slow a reader down. There could be any number of wonderful (to you) bits and pieces of prose and passages you’ve spent way too much time writing about which you have to come back to and realize they need to be cut and never to see the light of day.

There are plenty of authors I’ve read who simply couldn’t do this.

They may have pages upon pages of at times flowery -even beautiful!- descriptive passages that simply do not move the novel forward.

I’m certain I’ve done this as well in some of my books, but in the process of doing revisions I genuinely try to cut things to the bone and leave behind -as Mr. Leonard put it- the parts readers will read versus those they will want to skip and which -despite my best efforts- drag the book down.

And Then There Were None is a beautiful example of a stripped down novel that moves along quickly and never lags. It is a relatively brief work yet within its pages one gets a wonderful taste of 10 disparate characters who are invited -under false pretenses- to a distant island where they stand accused of various murders and are then themselves killed one after the other.

The great suspense is not only in the fact that these people realize they’re being hunted, but in the further realization that one of their own is the killer.

So the characters suspect each other of being a mad killer while, paradoxically, they’re forced to keep each other as close to them as possible… for each time someone is alone, the odds are good they will be dead.

It’s a brilliant scenario that has clearly influenced a lot of other works, including various adaptations for the screen. I also understand it was the most difficult novel for Mrs. Christie to write and I can certainly see why: Having that many characters running around and figuring out ways to off them which are logical to the novel’s end is not an easy thing to do, especially when the book is written in such a beautifully stripped down way.

Having said that, let’s be honest with each other: The novel’s plot is preposterous.

While Mrs. Christie does her best to give explanations to all the various details presented, including the murderer’s motivation and the way in which s/he picked out the various “victims”, the reality is that for something like this to have happened, and further actually worked as presented in the novel, would take far too many things going “right.” If it wasn’t for Mrs. Christie’s lively -and highly entertaining- writing, a reader might be tempted to call bullshit on quite a few of the things which occur in the book.

Still, the so-called “suspension of disbelief” is a prime factor in enjoying any work of fiction and pointing a finger at this particular one, whether merited or not, is somewhat unfair on my part.

So I’ll end this review agreeing with the many who feel this may well be Agatha Christie’s best novel (or, at the very least, one of the two best novels she wrote).

And Then There Were None, despite its at time preposterous nature, is nonetheless a terrific work, a masterpiece (or master class) in concise writing, suspense, and well earned surprises.

Highly, highly recommended.

Corrosive Knights, a 4/29/20 Update

It’s been roughly two weeks (actually, just a little shy of that) since my last update (you can read it here) and I figured it was time to give a new update.

So I printed out the latest Corrosive Knights novel, #8, and decided this time around I’d do something different with the revision of draft #3 of the book: Instead of reading through the printed copy of it, writing up a bunch of corrections, then going to the computer and putting them into a new copy, I’d strike while the proverbial iron is hot and just read and revise the book on the computer simultaneously.

I didn’t know how it would work out.

On the one hand, printing the book out and revising the printed work allows me to more easily flip back and forth through the pages, sometimes even quite literally cutting up pieces of a page here and there and taping it to another section. This sounds dreadfully low tech and it is, but lining up all the “cut” pieces does allow you to look them over better than the way it is presented on the computer screen, at least for me!

On the other hand, because much of what I wrote I felt was pretty good as it was, I found there were sections I was able to whiz through, making my corrections as I found the “errors” and not wasting as much time as I might have.

But, in the end, have I saved time? I haven’t finished the third draft yet. In fact, I’m roughly 1/2 of the way through the thing but do feel the second half is a lot stronger/better developed than the first half, which did require some big changes. Bigger changes = more rewriting/new writing = more time.

If I had printed the whole thing out and revised it first, would I today be done with the read through and placement of corrections on paper? Would I now be entering the revisions on the computer stage?

Or is it possible I’d still be reading the printed out stuff and working on fixes?

Hard to say, really.

But it does bring me to the inevitable reality check one seems to always face: As optimistic as you may be about your work (and in that last post I wrote I was damned optimistic about how things were going), one shouldn’t get too excited -as I admit I did- about where things are because when you get to the next revision and it turns out what you have isn’t quite as great as you thought it was, it can really take the proverbial wind out of your sails.

Mind you, I wasn’t entirely wrong in my last post. I do still feel this book is further along than the others I’ve written. For a third draft, it is remarkably “complete”, story wise. This in turn means I’ll be getting that much quicker to the stage of dealing with grammatical/writing issues, rather than dealing with the more time consuming creative writing stuff.

Yet I’d be lying if I said that the work I’ve done in the last two weeks didn’t do just that: Deflate my sails just a little.

As I said, I’m halfway through the book right now and I’ve done a lot of fixing up, especially in the very early going of the book. I still feel there is some work to be done there but I don’t want to get totally bogged down with fixing every little detail at this point.

Part of the revision process involves assimilating the entire novel into your mind, realizing how one detail leads to the next and the next and the next. Sometimes something that happens on page 6 of the book becomes important on page 106.

So I plow along, fixing the big stuff while slowly memorizing almost every element of the story. I suppose its not unlike an actor memorizing a play, only in this case I memorize not just one role, but all of them.

When one has a clearer global view of the book, from page 1 to the very end, one then knows the actions on that theoretical page 6 should go this way or that. You maximize the elements, whether it be dialogue or action, so that when you get to the theoretical payoff or reference to that action/dialogue on page 106, you hope everything is there for the readers to make that connection.

Hopefully by the very end, when your reader gets to that last page and it all comes to an end, every plot point or bit of dialogue made sense and led you to that very ending and you close the book (or turn off your Kindle app) with a satisfied smile on your face.

In the very end, I am to make you as a reader satisfied.

I’ll get back to you when I’m done with Draft #3!

Corrosive Knights: A 4/15/20 Update…!

As I wrote before a few days ago, if there is any upside to this whole Coronavirus mess its that with the “free” time I’ve come into I’m able to focus a lot more on my writing and have put in many more hours doing so of late.

On Monday, the 13th of April, I finished the 2nd full draft of Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series.

And I’m damn happy with the end results!

Usually when I get to the end of a second draft of any of my novels, I’m still a pretty long way from having what I consider a “complete” draft. I might have quite a bit of the plot to sort through or there might be big chunks or pieces missing. Hell, there might be quite a bit to re-do, story wise, before heading to the later stages/drafts which require more grammatical review than anything else.

Welp, in this case I feel like I’ve gotten most of the story elements done. There are a few things that need to be smoothed over and/or expanded upon, but the story, beginning, middle, and conclusion, are effectively finished…

…and to my liking!

I truly believe I’m one more draft away from having all the story elements in their place and perhaps another two or three drafts away from being done with the book entirely!

In other words, I might be done with this book by Draft #5 versus my usual twelve drafts…!

Needless to say, I’m very excited because I can envision -provided no pitfalls appear along the way- being done with this book by either the middle or late summer versus toward the end of the year.

Obviously things could change and dramatically but I’m excited with where I’m at today.

Yesterday, I printed the whole thing out and starting today or tomorrow I’m going to start the revision.

Let’s see how quickly I make it through Draft #3, shall we?