Archive for March, 2012

I’ve worked up some preliminary cover art for the novel. This is the third mock-up I’ve done for the book, and the first one that met with my daughters’ approval. Let me know what you think.

I’ve completed the review steps and such for both of these latest thrillers (in Eye of Darkness’s case: Fantasy-thriller), and now they are ready to be purchased. In about five days they’ll be available on, but for now, you can access them directly from my Createspace store.







Spilled Milk – $9.99






Eye of Darkness – $12.99


I mentioned earlier that my daughter is all over The Hunger Games, and that I’ve been considering about writing my own dystopian teen thriller to sorta capture the sense of what these books were all about. I’ve finished reading The Hunger Games series as of yesterday, and I was quite impressed with the story. Suzanne Collins did a smash-up job putting this world together. Honestly, the only thing that hung up for me was the utter hopelessness with which the book ended. Okay, that might be too strong a word, there was a little hope, but so very, very little. Then again, what else should we expect from dystopian fiction?

Regardless, I’ve been thinking a lot about both the books and my own foray into this genre (and yes, I promise I will complete the other books as soon as I’m done), and I’ve decided to try something a little different for this one.

I’m going to give it to you, chapter by chapter, here on this blog. At the end, naturally, I will send the book out to both print and e-publishing (because who wants to spend all that time reading a blog!), but in the meantime, I thought I’d invite you to join with me (and my children, who are my Beta Readers for this) in experiencing the book as it unfolds.

With that in mind, I’m also soliciting your comments, thoughts, and suggestions both on the writing and on the story as it unfolds. You, dear readers, will serve as my editors and sounding board. You’ll also hold me accountable to finish it quickly, I suspect.

I will post the first chapter tomorrow, and then all subsequent chapters as I complete them. There may be a slight lag at the beginning as I have a little catch-up work to do. Expect about a chapter a day, with time off for weekends, probably, and I’ll do my best to hold to that schedule.

I hope you like the story!

So I decided to take the plunge and start my “Hunger Games”-esque novel. I’m tentatively calling it In the Widening Gyre. I say “tentatively” because my daughter Sarah informs me that it’s not a good “teen” title, because nobody knows what a “Gyre” is (Gyre = gyration, a spiral. Sheesh!). She’s probably right, but it is the opening line of Yeats’ poem. Unless I rearrange the wording and go with Things Fall Apart, which is supposed to be the next book in the series. I dunno. I have to think about it.

At any rate, I have the book outlined now, and I’ve pretty much wrapped up the first chapter and am into the second already. The chapters are a bit longer than what I normally write, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem. I’ve also chosen to do something a little different: I’m writing it in print-format. Rather than double-spacing it on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, I’ve set the document properties to a book setting, and I’m justifying the text, as well as using the fonts and so forth that I plan to use when the book is printed. I’m hoping this will save me some major editing steps, as I can see the book unfolding before me as I anticipate it will look once it’s finished. If this plays right, I may start doing this for all future books as well. I confess it’s a little odd, letting go of the formatting style I’ve grown used to for so many three decades, but I think it’s the right choice. We’ll see if it comes back to bite me in the hind end later.

On a related note, my print version of Spilled Milk has been delayed by production problems. Most notable is the fact that I’ve had to convert the file from Microsoft Word to OpenOffice format, so that I can use the pdf converter OpenOffice provides that neither my version of Word at home (2003) nor at work (2010) provides (for some reason, they never installed it at work). But this morning I discovered that my Word at workcan create the pdf after all. I can sneak it in through the “send to” function, where the pdf converting has been enabled. This means I no longer have to go through the entire document fixing all the page break errors that were created when I opened the Word doc in OpenOffice (it didn’t like the section breaks I used to change the header/footer information from the first few pages through the rest of the book. For some reason, OpenOffice wants to use just one header/footer throughout, whereas Word allows you to create as many as you want. Unless I’m doing something seriously incorrect.). Regardless, I should have the file ready to go on Thursday at the latest.

Oy! The perils of proofing!

No matter. I’m back to work on the book now. If I can crank this out as fast as I hope, then I PROMISE I’ll get right back to work on Topheth and Tree of Liberty before Spring is out.

(no title)

Posted: March 15, 2012 in Spilled Milk, The Writing Life

So my daughter is all over The Hunger Games, and I’ve spent most of today (when not parenting, working out, working, or writing) thinking about the way trends shift here and there. For a while it was Harry Potter. Then vampires were all the rage (leading many to speculate that the next great teen trend would be more paranormal stuff.). Instead, it turns out dystopian is the latest craze.

Which is even crazier, ’cause I write dystopian. Of course, my dystopian is meant for adults, rather than teens (especially teen girls). I talked it over a bit with my daughter, trying to get a handle on what makes a teen dystopian novel so appealing. She suggested it wasn’t just the sky-is-falling motif, but that there were a few key elements: 1) a malevolent, controlling government, 2) the teens are more virtuous than the adults (who too easily compromise), and 3) a love triangle between the main characters – typically a girl having to choose between two guys.

Mind you, I haven’t done anything with this, largely because a) I have way too much to write already and b) I don’t trust trends to last long enough for me to crank out a book (although I did do Spilled Milk in only seven weeks). But this hasn’t kept me from speculating about whether or not I could start my New World Order series, and give it a spitfire teen female protagonist. I’ve got nine titles in that series, and only the roughest of outlines to work from. All the titles come from Yeats’ poem The Second Coming, which I have reproduced below. I’ve highlighted the titles in bold:

Turning and turning in The Widening Gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things Fall Apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The Blood-Dimmed Tide is loosed, and everywhere
The Ceremony Of Innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely Some Revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The Darkness Drops Again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its [The] Hour Come Round At Last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

So there are the titles in their context. The temptation is to try and produce the first novel quickly, along the lines of what I accomplished with Spilled Milk, perhaps even in first person (as it seems easier to write fast in that POV, even with all its limitations), in hopes of capitalizing on the hunger for more dystopian teen fiction.

I may take a stab at it. I may decide to just let it go. I must admit, however, that I’m a little hungry for something I write to take off at the right moment, but that hasn’t happened yet. And maybe never.

This is the “potential” cover for the next Janelle Becker book. It’s called Topheth and is about a serial arsonist burning churches.

The story is taking a little while longer to write than I’d anticipated. For some reason, I’ve had a  hard time getting into it, even though I think the work is quite good. I suppose this is where discipline comes in. BIC is a hard taskmaster!

I have finished and released Eye of Darkness, and if you want to get a copy, it’s only $2.99 at Amazon and Smashwords (for non-kindle readers). While a fantasy novel is a little different from my “normal” fare, it’s still a thriller–just in a wildly different setting. At any rate, I hope you like it.

From March 4th through 10th there is a sale going on at Smashwords, and the book has been discounted there by about 50% (if I remember right).