The writing blog of novelist Tim Capps. Psychological crime thriller JUDGING ANGELS draws deeply from the author's career as a death penalty defender, while incorporating unexpected elements of urban fantasy. Published by Hope and Life Press. OUT NOW!
I could not be happier to see TWO more nice five-star reviews tonight from readers who have been entertained by my genre-bending first novel Judging Angels! Of course, reaching 20 unbroken 5-star reviews is a nice little milestone for any first-time author, but it's more than that. Honestly, I think I took a lot of risks to give people something very different. Everybody seems to agree the risks paid off in something they didn't expect but sucked them in as a thought-provoking page-turner. I am so happy that people are losing themselves in the long and twisty tale of George Able and his plucky family.
Come for the smokin' guns and redheads, stay for the amateur casuistry, Thomistic table arguments, and mordant humor!
This novel was a shot in the dark for me. I bought it based on the writings in the author's blog. I rarely read novels and when I do, they do not have lawyers as protagonists. I had no idea what to expect, but I definitely did not expect what I got.
Nobody ever does, do they? Especially from authors who think they are Bears.
I found the first chapter disjointed and disorienting.
Mission Accomplished. Welcome to the disjointed and disoriented head of our protagonist.
At chapter end I thought "what the blank is this?".
Funny, my same reaction after writing it.
Except I didn't say "blank".
Neither did I.
Chapters two and three made sense of chapter one quicker than I thought possible.
Yeah, I figured people would be entertained by disjointed and disoriented for only so long. Thanks for sticking with it.
From that point on it was difficult to put down. As I approached the end of the book I kept wondering how the author would resolve things.
I am at 83,600 words, which is respectable novel-length already. The Scrivener program is really proving its worth in a novel that is a lot more complex than the original Judging Angels. The biggest difference in writing this one is the difficulty of maintaining "the big picture" with more characters, more plot, and more settings. It isn't easy to find the right mix and rhythm. Scrivener lets me see an overview of of scene summaries, characters and their goals/motivations/conflicts, so I can regulate pacing, keep characters true (and developing) and catch my tendency to wander before I waste too much time.
From a marketing angle, this second in the series avoids the confusion of genres of the first book, although as with much urban fantasy, there is a fine line between genres. Overall, I would still call it that with some good old-fashioned horror elements. It relies far less on the "capers" and philosophical ruminations of the first. There is a bit of cleani…
Well, lookee me, surprising myself by fast writing. Fifty-three thousand words.
Now I'm in the groove, rotating character-groups, keeping things moving. With the new writing, it is clear that I am going to have to bring things to an end sooner than I expected. In other words, I am not going to be able to finish the story intended for Book 2 in Book 2. So, I'm going to have to perform some radical surgery, and quite a bit of nip tuck, too.
That's great news, because it means I'll be done sooner than expected (God willing).
But if Book 2 of the Rubricatae Chronicles is going to be a stand-alone novel, as well as the next installment in the series, I need to decide what part of the original Book 2 story will fit, and plot the landing point of the characters' natural trajectories.
Book 2 of the Rubricatae Chronicles Back on Track, Different
I surprised myself when I checked my progress today. Thirty-seven thousand Forty-nine thousand words, more than half of where I was at when I nuked the previous draft. And that does not count a lot of words that will still work from the first draft. Most of the 37k 49k words are new, so I'm ahead of the game despite the nuke.
Sure, I'll lose some during the dewrites, but that's how I roll.
My wife agrees that this second novel is very different from the first one. That follows from the different characters in this one (don't worry, the story still revolves around the plucky Able family) and the rather dismal situation at the end of the first book. To say it is darker than a novel that begins with a drunken man setting out on Christmas Eve with a revolver in his coat pocket is not something I would want to admit.
I don't think it's true, either.
The first book portrayed the cozy demolition of one famil…
The Difference Between a First Book and a Second Book
Or, my second book, at any rate.
I started writing my first book, Judging Angels, for myself. It's about things in my psyche and has a large dose of crime and law, because my career was as a criminal defense lawyer.
After many rewrites, it became less about me. When I just wanted to get it the Hell done with and to the publisher, I had exorcised even more of my own ghost from it. The whole process was cathartic and therapeutic for me.
Which is good, because, of course, you don't give a damn about me.
I had long ago tried to sell my publisher on the tagline, "Like The Brothers Karamazov, only funnier." (It's true, though.)
She was not amused.
So now whose laughing, huh? If you want to make an author insufferable, put "Dostoevksyan" somewhere in a review. I shall now be known as Timothy "Dostoevsky" Capps, a.k.a. St. Corbinian's Bear. I'm already ordering a new monogramed bathrobe with the initials "T. Dostoevsky C."
Can I get a "Chestertonian?" Please?
But seriously, that is high praise, and if it is deserved to some small extent, than I am actually humbled and more than gratified.
The State of Reviews
Every review that has come out for Judging Angels has been highly favorable. Every Amazon review is Five-Star. The problem has been a matter of getting the word out and having written a novel not even the author can explain in three or four words.
There are seven and a half billion people on this miserable mud drop. A lot of us have to wear more than one horn.
Judging Angels, by Tim Capps (Dorval, Québec and East Longmeadow, Mass.: Hope & Life Press, 2017).
“Amazon” marketed Judging Angels as “Hot Christian Fantasy”, a phrase that I try to put out of my mind every time that I think of it. Judging Angels is an ambitious and idiosyncratic first novel, part crime thriller and part philosophical drama, suffused with what might be some paranormal / supernatural elements—although, if you are a materialist inclined toward skepticism, your attempts to counter with some “real” explanations will make the novel additionally engaging. …
Author Makes Humbling Confession
Well, I've done it again.
I have written a draft of a good novel on a terrible foundation. It is almost like I must get the "well written bad novel" out of my system before I can sit down and do serious work on a good sequel to JUDGING ANGELS.
So, now I'm poking through a 93,000-word pile of rubble, salvaging what isn't bent beyond hope, and holding to the vision of a chronologically straightforward, snappy novel like JUDGING ANGELS is. It will be a much better version than the 1.0 of the sequel.
I think it will also be better than JUDGING ANGELS. I hope I learned something at my first rodeo.
It will also be the stand-aloneish novel the original version of the sequel was never going to be. It is a sequel, but I want it to be enjoyable for people who haven't read the first one. (They are meant to be read in order, though, and JUDGING ANGELS clearly begs for a sequel. JUDGING ANGELS can also be read on its own, in the sense that…
This is a hilarious review by someone who obviously got a kick out of the read. Writers live for this connection - of playing on a reader's emotions like an out-of-tune fiddle. And yes, if it gets made into a movie, "It's a Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns would be a perfect, thematic, song. Indeed, our hero has been on a slow fade. Our story joins him, however, in four weeks during which the slow fade - or slow burn - lights up the night in the fireworks of his exploding universe. Now, here's the review for you to enjoy.
"If "It's a Wonderful Life", "The Screwtape Letters", and "MacGyver" had a love child, this would be it. Mr. Toad's wild ride on steroids, with Aquinas, Sue Grafton, Tom Clancy, and Barbara Cartland in the front seat; strapped in, hands up, screaming for nearly 500 pages. It grabs you by the throat (in that good way), shakes you 6-ways-to-Sunday (in that fun way), and spits you out, sweating and dazed (in th…
You don't make a Red this angry without expecting her to walk away only after taking a piece of you with her.
NOTE: I tend to post the more light-hearted parts of the sequel for some reason. I guess because they're pithier than something out of a horror or psychological thriller scene. For the most part, it is of a piece with the first novel (or that's my goal, anyway). A serious novel with meaty themes, with lots of twists but never far from some mordant humor.
The CIA could not function without those underappreciated veterans who know their way around all the forms. It is also helpful to have someone who remembers where all the bodies are buried. The CIA generates quite a few each month.
I am speaking of the secretaries.
Mission Controller Pecksley bears responsibility for each of Red's 28-day crow-borne missions. He must rely on his assistant, Tech-23 (later "Sucklow") to interpret a few hundred biological markers that comprise his field agent's telemetry feed.
(This is not hard science fiction, so just roll with it. I'm a lawyer. I don't know much science, and still less about the CIA, but no one knows more about American Hell.)
Pecksley cannot, however, do anything with Sucklow's information. There is no way of communicating with his agent in the field. He is a helpless bystander trying to divine his own fate from the Delphic mutterings of his teletech. The best he can do is remember to hold onto his tail s…
UPDATE: 4000 words written today, or one entire chapter. I call it, "RISK."
I am pleased to join Red in announcing a milestone in writing the second book in the Rubricatae Chronicles, which began with the award-winning Catholic-ish urban fantasy novel Judging Angels.
The sequel now has 83,000 words, or about the typical length of a novel. Judging Angels had twice that. In other words, if the sequel were to be the same length as Judging Angels, it would be halfway done.
The deadline for Christmas release is October 1st. I'm doing my best. Oddly enough, that's 666 words per day if I'm going to meet my deadline.
I am projecting a book about two-thirds the length of Judging Angels.
How will it be different from Judging Angels?
Less of a Stand Alone Novel
It is unlikely to be as much of a stand alone book as Judging Angels is.
While the possibility for a sequel was obviously left open, the story was properly ended and the characters had arrived …
All the words reviewers have used to describe Judging Angels in a word cloud. (All reviews have been 5-star.) Keep in mind some particulars can be misleading, such as "heavy-handed" without the "not." Still, it's a fun way of seeing at a glance what readers have found to say. "Ginger Rogers?" Fair enough.
Since the Bear's appeal for reviews of Judging Angels, there have been four five brand new five-star reviews, with promises of more. Reviews are, as the Bear has said, ridiculously important because they are like "leveling up" in a video game. New powers like "recommendations" are unlocked, all based on the number of reviews. Twenty-five is the Bear's target. Not so many, really, from 13, if you decide to do it today, before you forget about it.
It's easy. Pick a number of stars and write a sentence or two (or more, of course, if you're into that sort of thing).
Poor Bear Briefly Snivels
In other words, a book goes nowhere without reviews and Judging Angels is poison to mainstream Catholic media. You would think they would welcome a serious, well-written defense of holy matrimony that avoided moralizing and wrapped it in an entertaining yarn with real-life lessons. Sure, it's from "the other side" of the issue, showing people who aren&…
I share my drafts with my driver, bodyguard, and factotum, Red Death, who is also my lawfully wedded wife. Sometimes it is frustrating. She puts up with it, though, as she does with all of my idiosyncrasies, and is a good sport about cleaning up my crime scenes.
The clatter of the typewriter stopped. Home was uncovered by the silence.
There was a pot of soup on the stove. The dog warned of someone walking past the house, putting all six pounds of terrier into it. He could hear his wife singing a tune he did not recognize; she sang only to herself.
He rubbed his eyes. Loss of signal. He remembered the tension when, as a child watching the end of a space mission on television, mission control would announce 'loss of signal' during reentry. Minutes passed, then at last the voice would come from the Gemini capsule, or the Apollo.
They were back. They went places in those days, before it was routine, before it was forgotten until everyone learned what o-rings we…