Showing posts from 2017

The Abverb Liberation Front?

Adverbs: Hate Speech Tolerated
I remember learning about adverbs in school.

Today, that prompts one of two questions. "Just how the Hell old are you, anyway?" or "What's an adverb?"

I'm old enough to know what an adverb is, and that's any word that ends in "ly." (It's more complicated than that, but there is no room for nuance.)

Adverbs are the criminals of prose. Real writers roam the streets with torches and pitchforks shouting, "Death to adverbs and the writers who use them!" Stephen King alone has killed millions. (Far fewer writers.) Editors pretend hunting down and executing all your adverbs is a wearisome task. Secret- er, possessed of a motive to hide the truth, they love the job. They keep score, you know, and boast of their kills on their private message boards. They stencil little "A's" on their desks for all I know and strive to become ace editors.

The Rules of Good Writing
Nearly every article ever writt…



More 5-Star Reviews for Judging Angels!

JUDGING ANGELS picked up a couple more Five Star reviews at Amazon when I wasn’t looking for an unbroken string of 23.

Thought About Your Style Lately?

Have You Thought About Your Style Lately?
Over at the other blog, St. Corbinian's Bear (who some people - and one Bear - claim is the actual author of Judging Angels) a comment about Walker Percy turned into a discussion of style.
Whether the Bear is right or wrong is not what I want to talk about, though. Far be it from some hack paperback writer to criticize Walker Percy, anyway.
It made me think about my own style for the first time, though. So, I flipped through Judging Angels with that in mind.
I noticed how I tell my story generally from the point of view of a scene's focus character, but usually revealing his state of mind, not what is actually in his mind.
I also noticed how slowly I dribble out exposition, keeping the reader in the dark or even misled. I set up familiar tropes only to defeat expectations. I use that to set the tone and rhythm. It also keeps the reader guessing throughout the entire novel and rewards her with many twists along the way.
Finally, I seem …

Judging Angels Book 2 and "The Minuteman Act"

I think I'm getting this whole novel-writing thing down at last. I am very pleased with Judging Angels, but less so with the process that got me there. It was wasteful because I like to write more than I like to think.
I ran into the same problem with the sequel. It was far too ambitious. I realized it was two novels combined into one overlong one. So, I split them by their settings and have returned to the more straightforward telling that served me well in the original Judging Angels.
Now, I have two much better novels, and I don't feel like I'm bogged down in a land war in Asia (on this 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride). I still have as much to say, but I'm not going to say it all in one book. 
It would not make sense to deal with the same themes in the sequel as I did with the first book. I promise there will be a new slice of the moral universe to explore from a traditional Western perspective. There will be some characters from the first book, but also som…

If Writers Were Plants, I would be Kudzu

I don't know why I should find myself wondering why I have so much to learn after one published novel. After all, after my first murder trial, I still had a lot to learn. I never stopped learning as a lawyer.
Don't get me wrong, I would never have consented to the publication of something I wasn't proud of.
But what I am learning is that I write very inefficiently. I like big. I like complicated.
Too big, too complicated. (Even at 500 pages, Judging Angels is much less big and complicated than originally conceived and executed, but apparently works.) If I've learned one thing, it's don't make things harder on yourself than necessary as a writer. It's tough enough as it is.
If writers were plants, I would be kudzu.
So, I'm splitting the too-long sequel into two novels, each with slightly overlapping story lines, and each focusing on one setting. The whole parallel plots between two vastly different settings is too complex to make work, I have realized. …

Two Brand New 5-Star Judging Angels Reviews for 20!

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!

Another Funny Review (With Author Comments)

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. 

So did the author.


Scrivener Program Helps Reach 83,600 Words

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…

53k Words - Thinking about an Ending

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.

And I think I have an idea.

Book 2 and How do You Know You are Human?

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…

Your Second Book

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.

Even the Author's Fetishes Are Exposed
One reviewer recently wrote "Mr. Capps obviously has a 'thing' for red hair." Granted, that was based on a running joke on my St. Corbininan's Bear's Ephemeris, a Curious Entertainment for Discriminating Catholic Ladies and Gentlemen. Even so, now I look at the bare feet prominently displayed on the cover of Judging Angels and wonder what conclusions people are…

JUDGING ANGELS: Something Different & Thinky, but Shooty, too

"Dostoevskyan... theological climax." - reviewer D.C. Alan.

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.

If you…

"Dostoevskyan Climax" - Excellent, Meaty Review of Judging Angels

St. Corbinian's Bear's Ephemeris reader D. C. Alan has reviewed Judging Angels for a forthcoming limited-distribution anthology.  He is pleased to share it in advance for others interested in the novel. - Tim
D.C. Alan  ·  Review of Judging Angels, by Tim Capps August 2017 Copyright © D. C. Alan 

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, Qu├ębec 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.  …

When Nuking the Draft of Your Novel is the Only Rational Choice

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…