Serial Fiction – As Old As Printing / As New As Your Smart Phone

Serial Fiction may have begun when the first person telling a story around a camp fire late at night got the idea to leave his or her audience at the edge of their seats until the next night with a cliff hanger ending and a “to be continued.” If we had a time machine we could go back an listen.

Printed serial fiction got started in the 17th Century with the introduction of moveable type. In the 18th Century, Dickens’ Pickwick Papers started an avalanche of serial novels. Wilkie Collins, the so-called father of the detective novel, published serial novels. In France, Alexander Dumas, author of The Count of Monte Cristo, published serial novels. Gustave Flaubert’s, Madame Bovary; Leo Tolstoy’s, Anna Karenina, and Dostoevsky’s, Brothers Karamazov were all published as serials.

American authors, Henry James, Herman Melville and Harriet Beecher Stowe all published serial fiction. Perhaps America’s most influential novel – Uncle Tom’s Cabin – was published as a serial.

Check out this entry at Wikipedia – Serial (Literature) to find out more.







Your thoughts on serial fiction

I’m writing two serial fiction stories. Please let me know what you think about reading serial fiction:

1. Whether you’ve ever read a serial?
2. What kind of serial fiction you’ve read?
3. Whether you like serials?
4. If you think serials can “work” today when people have less time to read?

This will be my approach to releasing my stories: one story will be released as novellas on Amazon and Smashwords; the other will be released on a blog website connected to this one with an entry appearing on a regular schedule, either everyday or every other day, etc. in short segments. The pieces will be collected after a time and also published on Amazon and Smashwords.

Both stories have crime themes. The first story is set in the near future in Southern California. The second story is a murder mystery with a magic and erotic element.

I’m writing them now, and they’ll be coming your way soon.



New eNovel – Insure to Murder is Published!

I’ve finally published my new Robert Champion eNovel – Insure to Murder.

Here’s a short summary: During private detective Robert Champion’s investigation into the death of his client’s mother, he uncovers a life insurance scam run by bankers, investors and the Russian Mafia, along with a caregiver who also delivers death!

I’ve enjoyed writing about Robert Champion and his world in the wine country of Central California and Santa Barbara. I hope you will enjoy stepping into his world too. You can read Chapter 1 of Insure to Murder right here on my website. You can read more and download Insure to Murder for $2.99 on Amazon at:

Or at Smashwords at:

Please give Insure to Murder a try and come back here an let me know what you think.

Insure to Murder – Tweeking the Novel

I’ve spent the last few days tweeking my new Robert Champion crime eNovel – Insure to Murder. What exactly is “tweeking”? It’s what I call fact checking, weather coordination, name checking, place checking and other cross-checking, as well as polishing the prose to make it read better and easier.

One of the handy tools in MSWord is the ability to bookmark specific items, be they words, paragraphs or chapters in a manuscript. When I started writing on typewriters (anyone other than writers remember them?) I used to have to write down page numbers, scrible notes on the pages or use Post Its and keep a list of notes in order to remember what to fix when I returned, sometimes months later, to fix problems. I still keep a note log of little and big details that pop up as I write, and in that way I can continue writing knowing that I’ve captured a detail that I need.

An example from Insure to Murder: “the tattoo on a man’s hand” – I bookmarked the first instance of this word in a conversation between Robert Champion and Wolf (Champion’s Native American associate). Wolf mentions a tattoo of a cat and a skull seen on the back of another man’s hand. I wanted to make sure I that I described the tattoo correctly as it figures into the story several times further on. I had also reasearched this specific tattoo before writing the passage, and I wanted to double check my sources later, so I added a book mark to the manuscript so I could return to it once I had finished the first draft of the novel.

Bookmarking – what a great writer’s tool. Now back to tweeking and spell-checking.

Insure to Murder – First Edit Completed

I’ve just completed the first full edit of Insure to Murder, my new Robert Champion crime novel. I’ll be going back to a few chapters I’ve bookmarked to make sure the writing makes fictional sense. And then I have to launch spell check and make the thrilling journey through all 258 pages again.

I’ll print out a copy for one of my first readers, after which I’ll enter the spelling and grammer corrections they find and look at any structural problems they might find.

So I’m just a little ahead of schedule for releasing Insure to Murder on Amazon and Smashwords, as well as put up the novel’s first chapter on this website. Keep your eye out for it. I’ll let you know on this blog when it’s ready to read, which will be before the complete book is ready to download.

First Edit – Getting Close to Finished

I’m closing in on the finish line on my first edit of my next Robert Champion crime novel – Insure to Murder. I’m still on track to finish the first edit by October 16th. The process is going well. As I mentioned in an earlier post, editing requires that I re-imagine the scenes and the characters. I must see how the characters look, hear how they talk and re-imagine what takes place in each scene in the book.

It’s not quite like the first draft and putting words on a blank screen or blank page. The words on the screen take me right back into the the characters’ imaginary world. When the original text works the entire process flows along in the fictional dream.

But when changes need to be made, or a “fact” needs to be check, I’m jerked back into real time and another part of the writer-brain takes over. Those stops in the flow might require a trip out on the internet, or picking up a reference book, or looking in a folder full of notes before the editing can resume.

I used to hate this kind of editing because it can be long, hard and tiring. But for me, there’s no way around it. No matter how hard I try to get things right the first time around, it’s impossible to catch all the misspelled words, bad grammer and punctuation choices, and bad sentence and story logic. So onward I press reliving the story with Robert Champion and the other characters.

If you’re a writer, please share your editing experiences.

Editing Process – Insure to Murder

After about 100 pages of editing, my new Robert Champion crime novel Insure to Murder, I’m discovering that after about ten pages I start to get tired and have a hard time concentrating and making decisions about changes. I read every word and sentence looking for misspellings, errors in grammer and other language problems.

I also try to strenghten the prose and tighten up the meaning of a sentence if it sounds vague or fuzzy. I try to edit my work from the 30,000 foot point-of-view of the overall story beginning to end. Since I know the ending I can take out anything that might give away the ending.

There’s a lot of balls to keep in the air from the reuse of specific names for places like coffee shops and restaurants, to time lines of past events, to the sound of each character’s voice in the dialogue. It amounts to reimagining the story again.

If you write tell me about your experiences with editing, and/or send me any questions you have about the editing process.

Spellcheck Yea-Nay

I’ve just finished the first draft of a new Robert Champion crime novel called Insure to Murder. I’ve begun to run Word’s spell check on the 80,000 word novel. If you’ve ever spell-checked a long manuscript you soon discover that if left to its own devices MS Word would change enough of your language to make you look like even more of an idiot in print. It has real problems with the contraction “it’s” versus “its” along with the spelling and uses of “their” versus “there”.

Yet spellcheck does catch a lot grammar hiccups in my prose like noun-verb agreement that happen when I’ve gone back and made my next-day revisions of the previous day’s prose that I do before facing off with a new day’s blank screen (comparable to the often dreaded pre-computer-stone age blank 8 1/2 x 11 page).

I wonder if there’s a way to correct or teach spellcheck-grammarcheck besides the “add to the dictionary” command. I admit that option has been one of the most helpful over the years. Any thoughts on the matter?