DAVID NEES

Creating new worlds, one story at a time

Category: audio books

Musician’s Muse

I’ve had a Dan Stone novel in my head for a while but I’ve had to set up the character, and frankly, I didn’t think I had the skill to write the story a year and a half ago. I think I’m ready to try, but only after finishing my Mexico story. In this new story, Dan falls in love with a musician.  I’m interested in the unlikely pairing of a man of action, ostensibly without much in the way of artistic sensitivities, with a world-class artist.  And, further, how he becomes her muse.

Over the past year or more, as my mind had rambled over this theme, I found myself remembering an obscure book I had read years ago about the Spanish art of flamenco.  Now flamenco is often thought of as a form of guitar playing or aggressive tap dancing with much rhythmic clapping.  There are those elements, to be sure, but flamenco is really about the singer and the song.

Deep in the back streets of Grenada, Spain, you can find dark clubs, where you can hear the raw, gypsy-inspired flamenco.  It’s all about the songs; songs of raw emotion where the singer unabashedly shows his or her pain.  The songs are about a lost love, the love of a city or culture now gone, the singer torn from his or her home and roots.  The songs speak about pain and heartbreak being a part of life; a part one cannot escape.  If one has life, one has pain; there is no avoiding it.  You can let the pain eat you or you can force it through you and out into song.  In song you can let out the raw emotions, unashamed, unapologetic and, so, for a moment, shed your pain by sharing it with others.

The guitarist plays in an extravagant style that mimics the raw expression of the singer.  It provides a suitable fill and accompaniment for the rough-edged singing.  The dancing and clapping, sometimes done by the singer, provide the cadence and rhythm to the singer’s emotional expressions.

The best flamenco is found in the bars and clubs filled with small audiences.  The singer does not send out all that emotion, that crying out for what has been lost, that pain, into the vacuum that can often be found in a large concert hall.  The singer is communicating to his or her audience, looking to connect, to draw the audience into their pathos.  “You understand my pain.  Let me tell you more about my broken heart.  I see it in you. I want you feel it like I do.”  The singer connects.  The audience experiences the catharsis the singer goes through.  Everyone absorbs the sadness, the tragedy felt through the song and all go home washed in that experience.  I wonder whether or not the best flamenco singers could perform without an audience.

So, in my new story (still in my head), the protagonist finds he is touched by the artistry of this world-class musician.  This connection he experiences starts to feedback to her and she finds herself opening up her art to become more expressive.  She wants to touch him (her immediate audience).  He becomes her muse, and out of this synergy her music and a love story grows.

The musician in my story is like the flamenco singer without the rawness of expression.  Interestingly, I heard of a famous pianist (from Argentina) who retired from concert performances and would only play small recitals.  After some years of performing in large concert halls, she found them to be too sterile, too draining.  The smaller venues gave her the feedback loop she needed as an artist, the connection to the audience that fed her artistic expression instead of draining it.  Maybe the artist needs the audience.  Maybe the audience completes the loop of creativity and enriches both parties. Yes, I understand many artists would create even if no one listened to or looked at their work. But in the performance arts—music, dance, acting—the audience is perhaps a critical part of the creative process.

That’s what I’m going for as part of my story.  It should be fun to write and bring an interesting interlude to the middle of all the thriller action.  Let me know what you think.

PIcure is from a youtube video by Eli Ramirez. You can find the video here.

Catherine’s Tale paperback and a lesson from Amazon

For those of you who have been waiting for the paperback. It’s out now on Amazon. You can link to it here. Although I read a lot more ebooks since I received a Kindle reader as a gift, I still have a soft spot in my heart for a physical book. Seeing the proof copy of the paperback made it all seem more real. Ebooks sell in greater volume, but seeing one’s work in print is very satisfying.

I learned something very interesting over the last week. By my estimate there are about 15,000+ readers of Jason’s Tale. I always assumed that the sequel would start from that platform; that those 15,000 readers would be notified that I had written a sequel and they could then find me and jump start sales. As progress on the sequel dragged on and on, I took comfort in that fact; when it came out, it would rocket forward on the momentum of all those readers.

That isn’t the case.

From what I’ve been told by Amazon and Kindle people, no links like that exist. (Would that get too complicated for them to manage?) And after 13 months, many readers had moved on.

So…I am starting out anew, sort of.

People will have to discover me again and I’ll have to rely on my personal connections to get momentum going. After a few more books that situation can change. An author can reach some “critical mass” point where the momentum becomes self-sustaining. A broad enough reader following develops and they will look for new works by that writer. It seems I’m not there yet and (foolishly) thought my previous 15,000+ readers would get pinged and create that momentum. Again, I find that real-world lessons are often the most expensive.

What helps? It seems that reviews are the single most important element in that effort. They help convince readers to try a book if they are not familiar with an author (my current situation).

So I hope you will get a copy of Catherine’s Tale and if you like it, write a review (hopefully a five star one), however short or long. If you have other comments/questions about what I’ve written, send me an email at david[at]davidnees.com. I answer them all.

Coming up in my writing endeavors:

June, 2017: Catherine’s Tale Part 2; this is action packed with very strong scenes as the growing conflict in Hillsboro explodes.

August, 2017: Retribution, the Beginning; this is the first book in my new thriller Assassin series. It has lots of action and is definitely not post apocalyptic. Think of Vince Flynn or Lee Childs (I can only hope to achieve their levels of storytelling someday).

Fall, 2017: Trying for an audio book of Catherine’s Tale Part 1

2018: If readers call for it, I’ll write another in the After the Fall series and the second novel in the Assassin series with publication of one in the first half of the year and the other in the second.

Lots to do, but I’m enjoying it all.

Good reading.

David

Sequel Update

Off to the Editor

I sent the manuscript off to an editor last week.  He’ll take over 100 hours to go through it.  It’s a very particular skill set and the author is definitely not the one to edit their own work. I’m sure I’ll need a hug and words of encouragement after I go through his edits, but that’s what editors are supposed to do, find the holes, the misused words, the plot kinks, awkward dialogue and expose them.  It’s my job to suck it up, so to speak, and fix them.  You, the reader, get a better story, which I hope everyone will appreciate.

All successful writers have editors whether traditional or self published, so why shouldn’t I? Jason’s Tale was beta read by thoughtful friends and self edited by me dozens of times. That process took a long time. A professional editor can shorten the time to publish, getting to the heart of a story’s issues. By investing in an editor, I think I’ll save months to publication. I want to get this sequel out this fall as promised all summer.  That said, I think beta readers are still a good step for me to take before sending my work off to an editor.

Will I have a long term relationship with this editor?  Who knows?  Some writers do.  Like any relationship, one has to take time to see how it develops.  Does the editor like reading my work?  That’s important; if they don’t like the story lines or writing style, it’s harder for them to edit.  Will I like the changes he imposes/suggests?  Sometimes an editor may want the author to go in a different direction than the writer wants to go, or to not take “license” with the rules of grammar where the writer thinks they are justified for the effect…think The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

Publish date?

My editor will take three passes at the story, after each of my rewrites.  We’re looking at about a month to complete it all, so I’m shooting for mid-November.  Of course when I get his markup back, I’ll be “head down” and hard working to get the manuscript turned around and back to him.  He said the first pass would take over 100 hours, as I said above, the second pass, maybe 30 hours and the third pass less than 10.  Hopefully all will go as expected.

New Thriller Novel

I’m still going to try to fit this in and publish it before year’s end.  It sets up a protagonist, Daniel (Dan) Stone, who becomes a black ops assassin for the CIA.  This first novel, tentatively titled Retribution, tells the story of how Dan loses everything and winds up with the CIA.  Most of the action takes place in Brooklyn, with some pretty colorful characters.  I like it and I think you will as well.

Audio Book

The audio book of After the Fall: Jason’s Tale is on schedule for mid-November as well.  Gabriel Zacchai has completed the narration and now he has to do the editing.  Check out his website; he lives in Maine, is a folk singer, tattoo artist, story teller and dad along with being a narrator; a very interesting guy.

Audio Book

I recently signed a contract to produce an audio version of After the Fall: Jason’s Tale.  The narrator is Gabriel Zacchai, a folk singer/writer, teller of stories and book narrator from Maine.  He’s done two other book as far as I know and has an honest sounding, down-home voice that will bring Jason alive.  Check out his website here.

Book narration is not easy.  A standard book will be about 4 to 8 hours of listening and takes many more hours to produce.  Think about reading out loud with no stumbling over syntax or pronunciation.  Then add in getting the proper inflection for the drama of the moment.  Obviously one has to read the story ahead of time and then there are lots of starts and stops along the way.

You can link to the sample from the Home page, or just click here.  The sample is Gabriel reading the Prologue of the story.  It was quite a moment to hear my words come alive with sound.  I wasn’t ready for the rush of emotion that came with the hearing.  All that work, the time writing and the seemingly endless revising and fine tuning, and there it was, the words now alive with sound.  Audio books are very cool.

The full audio book will be out mid-November, just in time for a Christmas present for someone you care for, or leave a big hint about it with someone who cares for you.  I’ll keep you updated on progress.  Enjoy the sample.

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