Progress on Valley of Monsters and beyond

Posted on September 3, 2013 (Subscribe to Blog)

First of all, a quick note about the new look to his website. I'm using the moonlit sky from the cover of Valley of Monsters (Island of Fog, Book 7), and I think it fits the "unearthly" quality I crave. Note the transitioning banner images, which satisfy my need to promote various projects without taking up too much space. I also ditched my ugly mug. The only reason I had my face at the top in the first place was because there are so many people named Keith Robinson and I wanted to be instantly recognizable for anyone coming to find me. It's not even funny how many artists and writers share my name, as well as an actor. It's not fair! Recently I discovered that my domain name, keithrobinson.com, is available to buy for $40,000. I decided I didn't need it that badly.

Anyway, back on topic.70,000 words done (about 77%) and five chapters to go. Book 7 of the Fog series is racing along! Yes, I'm now into the last five chapters of Valley of Monsters. Before I got started on the last leg, I took a pause and plotted how things would unfold. I'd done this at the start but have, for the most part, written this book organically with only a basic outline and a few hard markers to hit. But I didn't want to go rambling toward the end, so I wrote a quick chapter summary to get my head in gear.

For me, a chapter summary isn't so much about the words I write as the thought processes behind them. Ideas flit through my head all the time, buzzing around like will-o-wisps, always there but not quite in reach, and it's only when I write them down that they settle into tangible plot points that form a story. So when I got to thinking about it and started typing my notes, the final part of the story solidified. Now I know exactly what happens and how it unfolds, and I know which chapter deals with what.

I was mightily surprised at how things fell into place. I have several plot threads in this book that are coming together neatly without any sign of being forced. What's really exciting, though, is that the entire plot of Book 8 suddenly became clear. It's like it's been lurking there in the background all along and I couldn't quite see it. When I told my wife about this, she stopped what she was doing, gave me a funny look, and suggested there's something wrong with me.

Some readers will be pleased to know that Book 7, Valley of Monsters, will wrap up neatly without a cliffhanger. That said, it's the first of the third trilogy, and there's an arcing story that will continue in Books 8 and 9. I'm certain that shapeshifter fans will be excited by the premise of the eighth book. More on that another day, though.

I should add that I do listen to reader comments and mull them over in my head. One reader mentioned that Miss Simone's attitude toward Hal in Chamber of Ghosts was a tad unscientific. I happen to agree, and the reasoning is that Miss Simone has gotten deeper into politics than she ever wanted. As you know, she's the spokesperson for the somewhat lazy village council, so she ends up dealing with everyday minutiae instead of concentrating on science. With the events of Chamber of Ghosts, her work is cut out trying to smooth things over. Well, it's no big spoiler to reveal that she resigns from the council in Valley of Monsters; it's a small background detail that makes a lot of sense for the character and allows her to have a much more important scientific role in Book 8.

The really big question is about Hal. I can't spoil it for those who haven't read Chamber of Ghosts, but those who have know what I'm talking about. Will his "issue" be resolved? Well, it'll certainly be a major part of Book 7. :-)

Oh, and by the way, I can reveal that a certain character will be returning in Book 8 to cause mayhem.

Stay tuned for more!

Comment by NJ on Tuesday, September 3, 2013...

It's very interesting to read about your organic process of plot development...has it always been this way for you since you began writing the Island of Fog series, or did you start out plotting a lot more and then gradually learned to trust your own creative flow and surrender to that more and more? I've been a student of Freefall Writing for years (www.freefallwriting.com) which has taught me to trust the creative process; and I find when I do sit down and write, I'm always surprised by what comes out and where the story goes. However, I've recently wondered whether introducing a little more planning and plotting might help me to finish more of my writing projects and get myself published.

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Tuesday, September 3, 2013...

NJ, the first book in the series took me years and numerous rewrites because I wrote it completely without planning or having any idea of where I was going. A big mistake. After finally nailing it, I planned Book 2 onwards with a fairly detailed chapter summary and started writing only when I had a good sense of what I was aiming for. This worked much better! But the more books I write, the less planning I need. So I'm sort of returning to my less regimented method, although I doubt I'll ever jump in and start writing without some kind of overall guide. I think it's okay to pause once in a while and take stock, maybe plan ahead and see where you are and where you're going. Good luck!

Comment by LIZ on Wednesday, September 4, 2013...

I have loved all the Island of Fog books and can't wait for book 7. Great series.

Comment by RALPH CORDEROY on Saturday, September 7, 2013...

Hi Keith, I find the white flash on the slideshow transition a bit bright and distracting. Perhaps you can have a play with #slideshow's background-color to be darker; it would be more unearthly too. :-)

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Sunday, September 8, 2013...

Thanks, Liz! :-)

Ralph, thanks for the feedback. I changed it slightly so the flash is much quicker and not so noticeable. There's a reason for that flash, but it's too complicated and boring to explain here. Honestly, though, as much as I like the idea of the rotating banners — because it saves spaces — I always prefer the simpler approach and may go back to static images in the future. I'm trying this out for now. If anyway else has feedback, please let me know!

Comment by ANONYMOUS on Saturday, September 14, 2013...

I cant wait for book 7 to come out!!! Its driving me crazy!! I check this blog daily for updates and whenever i see sonething i get soooo excited! Its going to be a great book! I love hal and abigal and hope you keep them together!( what i mean is you do ANYTHING that breaks them up...and well lets just say itll be the last book you write) love your books write faster bye!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Sunday, September 15, 2013...

Yikes! Have you seen the movie MISERY, based on the book by Stephen King? Hehe. Anyway, I promise to keep Hal and Abigail together forever. As for updates, just "subscribe to this blog" and you'll be notified of updates as soon as they happen, which will save you checking every day. Thanks for being a fan! :-)

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