Tag Archives: new novel

Advance Praise for 24 Minutes

My first novel, Living the Dream, was released in August, 2009 – since then I have released at least one novel each year along with a couple of novellas, a collection of short stories and a co-written collection of motorcycle memoirs, bringing my total number of releases to fourteen in eight-and-a-half years.

Some people find that impressive, I just look at it as doing what I do.

Regardless…the streak has been broken.

I didn’t release a book in 2017 – even though I fully intended to. And naturally the reason for my apparent slacking comes with a story. I’m not making excuses, mind you…I’m just keeping you in the loop.

After Blood in the Water was released in late 2016 I was ready to begin work on my next novel. It was going to be another story set in Flagler Beach, involving Ike and some poor, innocent guy or girl being victimized by a less-than-scrupulous ne’er-do-well.

I had barely begun writing it when, as part of my day job (do you believe I still have to work?) I had to take a class called “Active Shooter Training.”  It was four hours of training on what to do, and what not to do, in the event a gunman should come into the building with a grudge.

It’s a very sad commentary on our society that this class was necessary, but that’s a discussion for a different day.

So there I am…sitting in the class learning the best ways to increase my chances of surviving an unimaginable event when the instructor said something that caught the attention of the writer in me.

He said that the average duration of a mass shooting situation was about fifteen minutes – with many lasting seven minutes or less.

The first thought through my mind was Wow! Those have got to be the longest fifteen minutes imaginable.

Sometime before the class ended I decided that this would be the subject of my next book, and that it would take place entirely within that fifteen minute time span.

Shortly after I began writing I realized that it would be nearly impossible to fill an entire novel with fifteen minutes worth of story…so I increased the time span to twenty-four minutes. I also thought “24 Minutes” had a catchy ring to it as the title of the story.

Work began in December of 2016, but progress was very slow – partly due to the holidays and partly due to my own lack of confidence in the story. I was concerned that the whole idea was ill-conceived…that the subject matter was inappropriate, and that it was taking the art-imitates-life concept a bit too far.

Nevertheless I continued writing.

Then in April I had a major setback…I was involved in a motorcycle accident (read the two part story on that here and here if you’d like) and I was unable to write for two full months.

Once I was fully mended I got back to work on the story, but it took me a while to get back in the groove. Then, just when I was getting up to speed again my girlfriend and I bought a house – which, thanks to some needed cosmetic renovations, consumed every free minute of my time for a couple more months.

Finally, somewhere in the beginning of August I had a finished first draft.

From there it went to my beta readers and, after some revisions, was sent to my editor in the beginning of December.

I have gotten the first round of editor’s comments back and have been going through the story again. The way things are going I am very confident that release should be in the middle of February.

In the meantime I shared some advance copies to a few trusted colleagues for review.

It is with great pride – and lots of relief – that I share some of their comments. They have dispelled my concerns about releasing it.

Here are portions (without spoilers!) of what they had to say

Author Susan M. Toy had this to Say:

In a departure from his popular “Ike” novels, Tim Baker has proven himself to be a multi-faceted and talented writer by handily taking on the very important, serious, and timely topic of what happens when someone who believes himself to have been wronged takes his revenge. I found 24 Minutes to be riveting reading that I could not put down. Baker’s characters are individuals, each of them very human, and just like those people we know as neighbors, co-workers, friends, family—which makes this tragic story all too believable, and heart-wrenchingly personal. Excellent writing, an engaging story, and an all-too-real situation – a story that needed to be told, from an author who I know is getting better with every novel he writes!

Author Rebecca Heishman wrote:

The ‘Ike books’ are wonderful entertaining, fun, and great reads. This book has the potential of becoming important to people because of the honesty, the vulnerability, and by Tim’s putting it all out there for readers to see. It was a little bit breathtaking for me. It’s a chunk of blatant reality playing out. It’s powerful. The reader can feel the passion that went into writing it.

From Author Susan Nicholls:

The tension throughout the book was incredible.

The multi-layered stories of each character drew me in and made me care, yet I sensed a tragedy unfolding. All of the characters were interesting in their own right, and I became emotionally bound to them whether I liked them or not. The writing was superb.

Throughout the book, (Tim’s) characteristic subtle, yet wicked, humor colored the pages. I was really glad to see that. It made for a great read. It’s the sort of thing that draws me in and keeps me reading because it gives me a light breathing moment to break the tension.

Author/book reviewer Kaye Lynne Booth:

Tim Baker addresses social issues which are prominent in our society today, offering an inside view illustrating the many sides of human nature which reveal themselves under pressure. A fast paced slowed to a readable tempo for maximum enjoyment. (Kaye’s entire review can be read here)

Author/book reviewer Carolann Padgett:  

How much could 24 Minutes mean in the course of our lives? Could events take place that change the trajectories of those who hold us dear? In the amount of time it takes to watch a network sitcom lives are lost, found, and forever changed. 

Through masterful characterization techniques, readers are introduced to highly unlikeable individuals including the bigot, the miser, the convict, and the shrew. Kind, thoughtful, and polite characters are presented, as well. 

As the tale unfolds the theme “perception is not necessarily reality” is repeatedly visited. Are the characters solely good or evil? In the midst of crisis do true natures rise to the top? In life or death gambles is survival of the fittest the status quo? Or are sacrifices made for the good of others? 

 

Now it’s time to get back to doing what I do…

I’ll be sending the book back to the editor this weekend for round two. I am hopeful that work should be complete in the next week or two so it can be released before the end of February – and who knows…maybe I’ll get another book out this year to make up for missing a year!

As always – thank you for reading

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How Important is Your Word count?

The Word Count Conundrum

When this past weekend started the word count on my work in progress (WIP), tentatively called Blood in the Water, stood at 29,822.

Given the way this story has been progressing I was looking forward to a very productive weekend.

Saturday was a day of limited work. I had to meet with my tax preparation professional in the morning (yes, that’s right…I procrastinated as long as I could on that one!) and in the evening I was out for dinner and a comedy show with the family to celebrate my sister’s birthday.

Total word count for the day…less than 1,000.

No problem.

Sunday was a free day.

No plans, no chores, no interruptions – I could make up for Saturday’s dismal progress.

After an early morning bicycle ride I got down to business.

I would love to tell you that I hammered the keyboard relentlessly all day and finished the weekend with a word count that exceeded my expectations.

I really would love to tell you that.

Here’s the thing…

I am at a point in the story where something big needs to happen. I think the technical term is the “mid-point shift”. Whatever it’s called…that’s where I am.

It’s like being at a fork in the road and trying to decide which direction you should go.

yogi fork

Except in this case there are at least four different forks.

They’ll all get me where I need to go, but which one is best for the story?

On my bike ride I gave it lots of thought.

I could go this way…which would mean this has to happen, and I wouldn’t be able to do that, and some of the stuff I wrote earlier would have to change.

Or I could go that way…which would mean something else would have to follow and the stuff I’ve already written would be good, with some minor tweaking.

Then again, if I choose fork number three it would mean something else would follow and there would be some significant reworking of previous material needed.

What if I sort of combined options one and two? Or one and three?

intersection

You get the point…

I’m not a planner. I don’t draft outlines of my story or write key points on index cards to keep me on track. At best, I’ll scribble a thought on a scrap of paper and add it to the pile on my desk (many of these notes go unread and get thrown away).

plan

In the writing world I’m what is referred to as a pantser. Which means I write by the seat of my pants. I have a beginning of the story, I know what I want to happen (basically) and I know how it will end, but the rest of it I make it up as I go along. (Here is a more detailed explanation of my style (or lack thereof).

wingin it with Calvin

So when I sat down to write Sunday morning with all of these possible storylines in my mind I knew my first task was to decide which one I was going to use. Unfortunately, with my writing style of choice, there was only one way to do this:

Pick an option, start writing, and see where it goes.

painting the road

Long story short…

After six hours and three different options I found the one I wanted/needed.

When I sat down at the keyboard it was around noon. When I shut the computer off it was almost eight o’clock (Yeah, I know – that’s more than six hours…I never said I didn’t take a break…or five).

After all that typing, I ended up with a net increase in my story’s word count of about 2,800 words – for two days!

Write 3 or 4,000 words…analyze them…decide they aren’t what I want…delete…repeat.

All the planners out there are saying “You see…this is why being a pantser is stupid!”

Sorry – you might as well tell me to not be left-handed.

And in reality – I’m not whining or complaining.

I understand that although my word count didn’t grow, my story did. Now that I know where the story is going I’ll be able to crank out the next 15,000 words (and maybe more) with minimal delays.

Which brings me to the point of this post…

I have a question (or two) for all you writers, authors and scribblers out there…

Do you keep track of your daily (or weekly, monthly, whatever) word count?

If so, how much importance do you put on it?

Personally, I keep track of how many words I write every time I sit down, but the number isn’t important to me. I use it as a gauge to see where I am in the story compared to where I should be.

My novels generally clock in at about 70,000 words – so if my word count is at 35,000, and I haven’t gotten into the story enough, I know I’ve got to get it in gear. It could also mean I’m being too verbose and need to go back and trim some of the fat.

Other than that, my word count means nothing.

As this weekend proved – progress is not always measured by the word count.

I would really like to hear your thoughts on this…

 

As always – thank you for reading

 

 

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Cause & Effect and the Story of My Next Novel

Cause and effect.

The relationship of one event to another – for example a left jab and a bloody nose.

Two separate events – where the first (the left jab) causes the second (the bloody nose).

Pretty simple. Left jab…cause. Bloody nose…effect.

It’s usually not difficult to follow the sequence from cause to effect…usually.

In some cases the cause may be separated from the effect by a chain, or several chains, of other events. In our example the effect was seen almost immediately after the cause, but it is entirely possible for the two to be separated by time – seconds, minutes, days, months or even years.

It’s like math – it can be really simple

basic math

or it can be really complex ,

diff eq

but it always works and, if you’re willing to spend enough time and effort, it can always be proven.

Every event in the history of the known universe has been the effect (directly or indirectly) of another event.

Nothing just happens.

history of the universe

I believe that it is possible to follow the trail from a seemingly random event to its original cause. Sometimes the path may not be easily recognizable because it may intersect with, or overlap the path of a completely separate chain of events, nevertheless it’s there.

To oversimplify my point – consider the day your parents met (which was the result of other events, but let’s start there). As a result of that meeting you exist, therefore everything you think, do and say can be seen as a result of that meeting.

coffee on keyboard

So you’re at work and you spill coffee on your computer keyboard. The guy from I.T. is in the middle of something when you call and request a new keyboard. He drops what he was doing to bring you a replacement. The guy who was relying on him to finish the interrupted operation is now waiting longer than he had anticipated, so he decides to walk across the street for a latte. The barista is cute so he asks her out. She accepts, they date and eventually get married. Their first child is born three years after the day you spilled coffee on your keyboard, so your clumsiness could be seen as the causation of the birth of their child…but remember, if your parents hadn’t met, you never would have spilled that coffee…

And it goes on and on and on…

Nothing just happens.

Picture an infinite number of chains, of an infinite number of sizes and shapes. Each chain has an infinite number of links. Links from some of the chains connect to links from other chains. Some of the chains never intersect – directly.

Your life is one of those chains.

chains

My life is another.

The act of you reading this blog post, written by me, means that a link from my chain is now connected to a link form your chain, thus altering both of our courses.

If you think about it long enough it can be absolutely mind boggling.

So…why am I waxing philosophical, you ask?

Because I want to tell you about my next novel.

The book is called Full Circle and it’s about the simple belief that what goes around, comes around.

Karma.

Life is not a coincidence.

karma

“Being in the right place at the wrong time” is not the real reason for anything.

Full Circle will be a departure from my usual Florida crime fiction stories (sorry, ladies…no Ike in this one). It will have more in common with Unfinished Business, but without the paranormal element.

UB cover

For the uninitiated among you, I actually began writing Full Circle in 1988.

At the time I had a deep interest in Karma, and a lot of spare time.

So I grabbed a spiral-bound notebook and started writing (remember, there were no personal computers in 1988). I wrote about fifteen chapters before I shelved it.

Although it’s been over 25 years, I’ve never forgotten Full Circle.

When my first novel, Living the Dream, was released I told myself that Full Circle would be my next project.

It didn’t exactly work out that way. There have been nine other projects since then, but Full Circle is now officially my current project.

It has the potential to be my Magnum Opus, but then again it could be the biggest mistake of my writing career…only time will tell.

There are two schools of thought on changing horses in mid-race…

Some say I should stick to what I’ve been doing. It may not be classified as great American literature, but it has a certain appeal, and my readers seem to enjoy it.

Others tell me I should stretch my writing muscles and venture off into new territory.

I’m a believer in personal growth and all that stuff…so what the hell?

The worst that could happen is Full Circle crashes and burns – and I go back to writing Florida Crime Fiction – which I was going to do anyway.

Regardless of the outcome, one thing is for sure – 25 years ago I began writing a novel…and we are now seeing one of the effects of that event.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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