Rerun — Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October — Thirty Years Later

Flashback 1985. I was much younger than today and started my adventure into reading books in English. Fueled by a stack of Sixties and Seventies classics from Perry Mason via Modesty Blaise to Alastair McLean and Hammond Innes, I browsed on day through Time Magazine and found the review of Tom Clancy's Red October. When I bought the paperback it was a fantastic read. It redefined the genre of military and thrillers, mixing latest technology with high paced adventure, fitting the sign of the times alongside "Top Gun". Clever twists and suspense made the book a fantastic read.


Fast forward. Can you believe it, I am thirty years older? Rereading Red October this winter after taking a long Tom Clancy hiatus. When he died recently I made the effort to recheck the catalogue and rediscovered the reboot of the Jack Ryan universe. I purchased the most recent book, not even written by Mr. Clancy but by Mark Greaney, and was hooked again. A very clever generational development where the hero is still Jack Ryan, but now the son, whereas old Ryan was once more in a second term as President. The president-twist had been the reason why I had abandoned the series altogether. That was a little stretched, right, a plane crashing into the Capitol during the State of the Nation address, catapulting interim Vice-President Ryan to the top chair... I had struggled through Executive Orders but then sworn off the series.

Well, that were the Nineties, pre-9-11, but sometime Science Fiction is overtaken by reality. Many years later, it turns out that the franchise is still working with some back to the basics. This sort of serial reboot happened a lot of times with many of the serial heroes I am following. Patricia Cornwell tried this with Kay Scarpetta, though it has not convinced me fully so far. Jonathan Kellerman had a stretch of very weak Alex Delaware novels, but bought the series back on track by concentrating on cases and the buddy relationship. Stuart Woods has moved Steve Barrington from a cul-de-sac story-line into enjoyable reads, too. Maybe a topic for a different post, anyway, who am I to argue, I am not in the double figures serial space. Yet.

Back to the topic at hand: So I decided to re-read Red October, too, the book where it all began. How does it hold up after thirty years of upheaval, left wing terrorism, right wing terrorism, iron curtain break-down, Russian revolutions, Russian economic development, 9-11? I must say, pretty good! The story of course builds on the cold war blue vs. red paradigm, which feels outdated, but, hey, the Russians are still the bad guys, right? They are no longer in Afghanistan, which is now the US playground, but now they muscle themselves into Ukraine and other states. But the submarine defection, the high-tech hunt, the clever twists and deceptions, all are still absolutely believable—well, in the definitions of the Clancy-verse.

The long march...

Writing is a lonely profession, especially when you are stuck at 47.000 words. My latest project, another romantic comedy, let's call it project RomCom2, so I don't need to give away anything, is coming along. I wrote the base storyline which centers around three girlfriends who start-up an online company, and I wrote some of the romantic entanglements. Did the word count on Sunday for the first time, just to get a lay of the land. Shocked: 47.000 words. As comparison: my previous romantic comedy "Five for Forever" came out in its first version at around 110.000 which I painfully had to reduce to 100.000. A lot of dear scenes went out of the window. 

 Excerpt "RomCom2" (Working Title)

Excerpt "RomCom2" (Working Title)

With RomCom2, I am now halfway there. Only halfway. How much more romance can I pour in? How many scenes do I need to make this a full length novel. Admittedly, 100.000 words for "Five for forever" resulted in a thick book. So, I give myself a target: 80.000 words for RomCom2. Let's do some quick math: 80.000 words target minus 47.000 words status quo equals 33.000 words missing. 33 chapters at 1000 words each. 16 chapters at 2000 words each. 24 chapters at 1500 words. Well, you get the drift. 

Let's break it down structurally on the basis of 24 chapters. I have three major characters with romantic developments and entanglements. So June, Carlotta, and Gracie receive eight chapters each. This gives me a lot of development room, as most of them already have their first and last acts already drafted. So eight chapters for each of the protagonists second, third and fourth act. Hope the quantity in relationship melee does not affect quality.

Let's do it. The long march...

8. February: 47.000 words down, 33.000 words out there...

Wattpad - Chapter 5 - The Big Man // Troubleshooter Serialization just out

Check it out, Chapter 5 just out on Wattpad of my first Troubleshooter novel — title: "The Big Man". The story is picking up. Head over to Wattpad!

But one look into Trouble’s eyes, and there was no underestimation of anything. His green eyes showed a strange mix of curiosity and hardness. He radiated confidence. None of the nervous wandering that many of Daven’s opposites had when they were sitting face-to-face with the big boss. For a second Daven had the impression that a large cat was sitting in front of him, ready to eat him for lunch, if it pleased to do so. Daven shook the feeling off and made a mental note to ask others who had encountered Paul if they were getting the same vibe.
— From: Troubleshooter - Chapter 5 - The Big Man

From the writer's desk... New Year, New Plans

I am not a backward looking person, so I won't check out the rearview mirror. 2016 is over and even though I had published a lot (Pieces of Trouble, Five for Forever, Troubleseeker and two large print editions of my German young adult novels Piratenjunge and Piratenkapitän), revenue-wise the plan is not where I want it to be. All in all—tax season coming up and I already prepared my author income statement. Revenues and costs are not in the black figures. Marketing myself and my books is still a hurdle. I could risk going public with my writer's identity and draw more sales through friends, colleagues and their respective networks. But I guess 2017 is not the time and place, yet. 


So, what's in store for 2017? As a side project I am working on a new set of "Pieces of Trouble", some more short stories from the Troubleshooter universe. I'll have to look at some magazines or eZines submissions that can generate interest in the series, so the Novellas are a good tool. Three of those stories are already in a good shape. One story centers around General McAllister, one story describes how Paul needs to handle a bunch of Kindergarden kids during a mission, and the third one follows Amy and Tom—Paul's underappreciated sidekicks—on a mission where they are without Paul's safety net.

Full time novels are some in the works, though I have not decided which one to finish. I have this high octane over the top science fiction horror teen military action drama that I would like to finish for two years now. As this one is a stand-alone story.

During the fall I had been writing on a new romantic comedy, though the tone is not there where I want it to be, yet. The setting are three girls who run a start-up from idea to go-public and their adventures with men on the way. I constantly find myself enjoying writing the business part of the book, neglecting the romantic part, and even worse, not getting a real grip on the comedy part. Dammit! 

Last but not least, I am considering another German story, this time a crime book. German for two reasons: the tone of the story I have in mind is a very German one: set in a small German village with eco-system and specific Bavarian cultural traits. Which I feel I can capture better in German language. The second reason is a private one. My mother has requested a German book, so that she can also read one more of my books. That is a strong argument. The story I have in mind is a bit more complex with a lot of players. Unfortunately for my mom, also with a lot of planned ugly violence. Working title is "Der Metzger"  / "The Butcher".

A third "Brilliant" book is also due. But with only two full size books per year, the schedule is already packed. Let's see. The good thing in all of this is that I have no schedule to keep, no contracts to fulfill. It's my making from A-Z. 

How I love that! Happy New Year to me...  And to all readers.


Wattpad Special — Troubleshooter Chapter by Chapter

Hi everyone, happy New Year, may the force be with you and all that...  To kick off the year and maybe generate some new Paul Trouble fans, check out the chapter-by-chapter reissue of "Troubleshooter" over at Wattpad. 

There are around fifty chapters, so for the next half year, this should do it. Chapters 1 and 2 are up,  I'll try to stick to a Saturday / Wednesday cycle.  

Alex Ames Troubleshooter at Wattpad