writing

The Midnight Society Prelude

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This is the prelude to the second Ghost Zero book ‘The Midnight Society’, due out this spring.

The ruined destroyer, USS Reuben James, cut her way through a blood sea full of corpses.  The entire bow had been sheered away by a U-boat torpedo at the beginning of World War II, but her ghost still dwelt in the realm of shadow, doomed to repeat the day of her destruction.

Solomon Strange had changed that, however.  He stood on the ragged, steel beams that jutted out from the smoking hull, precariously balanced over the dead sea, shrouded by white cloth.  With his outstretched arms, and his covered head thrown back, he vibrated with the Words of God.  His spider silk throat shimmered and bled white ectoplasm that curled in the corpse wind that always blew cold in the world of shadow, but he kept commanding the ship with words that were felt more than heard, commanding it on…to America.

Solomon Strange remembered.

He remembered being a boy, Paul Ecks, and learning the Words of Life from a dying rabbi, who had no son of his own to give them to.  He remembered wearing an ebony tuxedo with a hood, calling himself after the Jewish King, and devoting his life to fighting crime.  He assembled others of like mind, and they stalked the crime-festering streets as The Midnight Society.  The underworld syndicates feared them.

Then came the second war with Germany, and the arguments within the team.  Solomon wanted to go to Europe to fight Nazism, the Revenant and the Scarlet Specter insisting on fighting domestic crime, the Resurrectionist and Mary Midnight undecided.

So, he went alone.  Full of plans and patriotism, he made his way to Italy covertly, only to die with a group of resistance fighters beneath the crushing explosions of a confused, allied shelling.

But, death was not the end for Solomon Strange.  He awoke in the land of the dead, at first without purpose or understanding, but slowly his thoughts became clear.

He must return to America.  He must unite the Midnight Society.  Crime must be extinguished.

And so, he struggled across the haunted battlefields of Europe, passing ghostly soldiers from two wars locked in eternal battle, and fought his way to the sea.

It was at the sea that she met him.  She was a stranger, but knew his heart, and promised to aid him in his quest to return to the land of the living.  She told him of a place…a town named Limestone, where the veil between the living and the dead was pierced…where he could enter in.

It was in their talks together by the sea that he realized that the living were predisposed to crime…all of them…and even though they may be temporarily wiped clean of their sins, they would soon return.  He realized that it was not crime itself that was the evil, but the living who made it eventual.  The only way to truly end crime was to end the living.

When she saw his lament at the realization, she cried with him cobweb tears, and with her tenderness, she agreed to help.  The old rabbi had given him some of the Words of Life, but she could give him more.  She could give him the Words of Death, with which he could finally wipe the crime of humanity clean.

And so, filled with purpose again, the Words of Death twisting inside him like a shivering child, he commanded the haunted destroyer home.  He opened his fevered eyes and saw, through the eternal mists, the dark and bloody coast of America rise before him.

The thought of saying a prayer of thanks came to him, but the knowledge of how to do so, like so many other things, was lost.

His purpose was all that remained.

Soon.

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We now interrupt your regularly scheduled writing….

Do you know what wins in life?  It’s not talent, it’s consistency.

I wasn’t born rich, but we have a budget, stick to it, and we do okay.

I’m not a great artist, but I keep doing art, and I get better every year.

Similarly, a book gets written when you sit down every day and write.  My creative time is every evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  I work all day, come home, take a walk, eat whatever cool stuff my wife has prepared, do the dishes and sit down to creative work.  I do this every day, am more flexible with my time on Saturday, and I don’t do anything but rest on Sunday.

It’s a habit.  I don’t ask myself if I feel like it, it’s just that thing I do when 7:00 rolls around, and it’s how progress happens.  As of now, I’m at 23,700 words on the novel and it’s going great.

But. (more…)

Ghost Zero: Spookshow

Working Cover

Um….so….

I’m writing a book.

See, a funny thing happened several weeks ago.  I was in the local public library and saw a copy of “Fugitives”, one of the “Escape from Furnace” young adult books by Alexander Gordon Smith.  I didn’t know anything about them…I just saw the cover, thought the premise was interesting and took it home for a look.

Now, I’m fan of 1930’s pulp fiction, and I know it when I see it.  This stuff read like that…fast action, heaps of trouble, and the main character has to do something about it.

What WAS new was that it was written from a teen’s perspective.  I’m not a teen by any means, but I enjoyed the character and the story enough to keep the pages flying by.  Then, I had a realization.  Well, two of them, really.

  1. Ghost Zero IS a Young Adult novel.
  2. I was pretty sure I could write it.
One of the really frustrating things about turning out Ghost Zero in comic form is that it takes so…freaking…long to tell a story.  Honestly, it would take me a year to complete a 32-page comic book.  A whole year.
If I wrote a novel, I could knock out a rough draft in a couple of months, polish and revise the thing in a few more and have it ready for publishing in maybe 3-6 months.  A whole novel of 50,000 words of GZ, while keeping my day job.  Win.
So, I pulled out my Ghost Zero moleskine (Yeah, I have one of those) and started jotting down ideas, mapping characters, and shaping plots.  I came up with a novel that tells the Ghost Zero origin story.  I’m calling it Ghost Zero: Spookshow.  I started writing it last week and am roughly 7500 words in.  I’ve got a small group of “Beta-Readers” who I lovingly call “Grave Digger Local#66” who are looking over the bleedingly-raw words and giving me reality checks.
Grave Diggers.  Gotta love these guys.
So far, it’s been a hell of a ride.
One of the things I realized quickly is how much more I had to know about….EVERYTHING…when I was writing the novel than when I wrote the comic.  It’s actually been really cool to come up with back-stories for all of the characters…I mean, I’ve had plenty of thoughts about them, but writing a novel means you have to have them DOWN.
It’s also an incredibly intense and exhaustive experience.  I’ve lost sleep because I’ve been so excited and involved in the story. 
It’s like your imaginary friend comes over to stay for a month.  It’s a little weird.
But, it’s fun, too.  It’s great to have such awesome things to think about, and to push such depth into a world I’ve been running around in since 2007.  My task now is to cross the 50,000-word finish line, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be pretty.  That’s okay…pretty will come later.
So, here we go.  I’ll be putting out a general call soon for more Grave Diggers, so if you’d like to be in on reading the novel and giving feedback, keep an eye out.
More soon!