Slogging on with A Snowball’s Chance

Folks, under the “no kidding” category, I’ve missed my own deadline (last summer!) for publishing the second novel in the series. I’m working hard on A Snowball’s Chance, but it has proven to be far more of a challenge than I anticipated.

To cap it all off, before I realized that Snowball would be so tough to write, I agreed to help a friend during NaNoWriMo this year, and that’s coming up in two days. Truth is that I’m looking forward to doing something completely different for a month during November. I’ve been fighting World War II in my mind since November of 2010, when I wrote the first draft of Boxcar Red Leader (I called it The Sluggers and the Palookas back then, and if you ask nicely, I’ll explain why!) and kicked off this whole adventure.

Some of you know this story, but for those of you who don’t, Boxcar Red Leader was originally written for NaNoWriMo 2010. It was not, however, the story I began writing that year. My original idea was to write a story I still (someday!) want to finish, a sci-fi-fantasy novel set in the far future titled The Once and Future Grail. I wrote 7000 words or so in the first three days…and something sort of unprecedented for me happened.

The words dried up. Whatever pipeline I had into that story, it was gone, and when it didn’t come back by that weekend, I was worried. To be a NaNo finalist, you have to write 1667 words per day, and I usually shoot for 1700. So by that Saturday I was six days into the contest with 7000 words written when I should have been over 10,000.

Not insoluble, but worrisome, definitely. So I asked my subconscious, what’s going on? I know you don’t want to write the Grail story, so what DO you want to write?

Turns out what I really wanted to write was the story of our pilots in the SW Pacific in early World War Two. Never mind that I hadn’t done a tenth of the research I thought necessary, never mind that I didn’t have a clear idea in my head of the plot or the characters, evidently on some level I made the decision to just start the damn story already!

So I did. By then I had 24 days instead of 30 to write 50,000 words on a story I had neither plan nor intention of writing. That, my friends, is perhaps the epitome of “pantsing.” I finished by November 30 — a day or two before, actually, with over 50,000 words — and after going through several revisions, changed the title twice (from The Sluggers and the Palookas to I Wanted Wings and finally to Boxcar Red Leader) and finally came up with what I think of as a finished product.

However, somewhere during that process I realized that, in Boxcar, Jack Davis alludes to previous service in the Philippines and Java.

Meaning there were two books existing prior to Boxcar.

They just weren’t written yet. Oh, dear.

And, as the members of my writers’ group pointed out with a certain sadistic glee, since I’m not George Lucas I can’t release books out of order.

So Boxcar Red Leader has languished on the shelf while I wrote Everything We Had (finally!) and finished A Snowball’s Chance.

The good news is that Boxcar Red Leader will only require relatively minor tweaks and updates to reflect the narrative in the two preceding novels.

But I won’t sacrifice quality just to get something out there. These novels, at least in part, are in homage to the people who were there and lived through it.

I owe them, and you, gentle reader, my best effort, and that is what you shall have.

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