A King in Cobwebs Hits Shelves

At long last, A King in Cobwebs, the final book of the Tales of Durand trilogy hits shelves today.

In this final chapter, rival factions are straining the unhappy peace that was left at the end of Radomor’s war. The king rants in his throne room with his head full of plots and suspicion. Unholy creatures march from the depths of the forest and the high mountain passes. And, for Durand Col, the ghosts of his bloody past drive him toward madness.

If you’re a fan (or a friend) I hope you’ll pass the word. This one was a long time coming, and I would love for the book to find a home out there in the big world.

Get your copy at https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780765313225

Edits Complete


Curious Keck creatures consider Tor.

Your author considers Tor headquarters…

My third book, A King in Cobwebs, has come through a brief back-and-forth of the editing process over at Tor, and is now finding its place in the future plans of that illustrious publishing house.

Details will follow soon enough, but a cheque appeared in my mailbox this afternoon (hot on the heals of a rather alarming estimate from my local transmission shop).

In the meantime, I may have to think about a new author photo. The old one isn’t exactly an accurate representation of yours truly anymore….

The Gnomes of Our Unconscious Mind & Other Nonsense

The author mentions the gnomes of his unconscious mind.

The author mentions the gnomes of his unconscious mind.

Since my last report, I’ve been plugging away in stolen moments. (The best ones seem to be on the weekend– though there is a price to pay for holing up with a keyboard on a family outing while one’s wife entertains one’s five-year-old on a rainy day).

As time gets harder to come by (with the planning and marking and deadlines of a teaching day job crowding things out), I find that the toughest thing is to keep the book clear in my mind so that I know what the next steps were meant to be and what the current puzzles are.

We have all had moments where we’ve been stuck on a problem only to have a light bulb moment in the shower or the grocery store or some other place nowhere near a desk. We fill our minds with our work and then find that the ingenious gnomes who populate the unconscious corners of our minds are working through the night.

My current challenge is keeping my head full and the gnomes gainfully employed.

Wish me luck!

PS: The book is tight to page 504 and we’re in the midst of the most muddled.

Lost on Page 493

Keck Hits 493

Lost in a haunted forest, characters express their optimism about further progress.

Your author is striving to maintain something like progress as he makes the transition to moonlight part-time writer.

It’s fourth day of the school year (if you’re a teacher in the New York system responsible for various things), and the rewrite of the ghastly haunted forest scenes is underway. 

On page 493, the characters have put their noses in the terrible forest. And, while you and I know that scenes have been moved and motivations are shifting, the characters are only just getting started (the poor dears).

If you work in a creative field, you will know that it doesn’t take long to get your head out of a project. 

My characters might be lost in the woods, but, if I don’t keep pushing them forward, it’s likely that I’ll be lost in the same woods until the Winter Break. (And that really can’t be how this turns out).

[Author shakes fist at universe].


The Struggle of Stolen Time

Keck Struggles

Somehow your author believes this image represents a struggle of some sort.

The summer of 2014 is coming to an end and with the arrival of autumn I expect a return of the curious version of writer’s block created by the totally-otherwise-occupied mind.

Any of you who has read a little about creativity will have discovered for yourself the idea that people need to keep projects simmering on the various back burners of the brain.

When I, for example, am teaching, I spend a lot of mental energy on teaching. To teach the way I do requires a constant search for resources and the constant development of new tools. (Everything my students do each day is mounted online and loaded with links. They run into video presentations created by their teacher, they find themselves referred to online posters and screens with graphics and all kinds of things mostly designed for them by their teacher).

The back burners of a teacher are often filled with teaching.

This fall, I am very close to having a solid draft of Dave’s Third Book finished. This fall I will be a little better at stealing time.

Revision: A Disturbance in the Plot

Disturbance in the Plot

During the revision process, your author begins to suspect his own motives…

Several times during this big rewrite, I’ve found myself cheerfully writing scene after scene when I begin to suspect that something is not quite as it should be. 

Usually, it turns out that a character hasn’t spoken in forty pages (or the damned horses have disappeared, died and reappeared again). 

It’s the literary equivalent of that “Have I left the oven on?” feeling. 

Most recently, it was motivation that went wrong. After chapters of a building supernatural menace, suddenly everybody became thoroughly distracted by a crucial political issue.

Now, while the political issue was indeed crucial, the original supernatural menace really ought to have been on their minds. (To be honest, it ought to have been burned into their minds in such a way as to defy generations of therapy). But they simply forgot.

It’s this kind of thing that creeps up on you. It’s the growing sense everything is consistent and polished and sensible and solid — but fundamentally and increasingly wrong.

My hope is, it never happens again!

Yours from the last week of summer,


Read Ahead! Finding the Dead Horse

Read Ahead Keck on Revising

Keck realizes that he really ought to real ahead before he begins to make massive changes to the manuscript because his memory is rather an imperfect instrument.

Okay, it’s getting serious.

Revisions are probably most effective when a writer approaches a text that’s been left to cool for a while. 

Like a reader, you approach the text with fresh eyes. You forget most of the intentions and assumptions that you brought to the job and you can only see what’s actually on the page.

Which is lovely.

In my recent experience, there is a considerable downside to all of this freshness and clarity. Sometimes, you actually don’t know where the story is heading. You think you do. After all, this your story. You wrote sketched and planned and outlined and drafted. You might even remember where you wrote the scene and what fountain pen you were using.

But, if you’ve really left a scene sit for months or years, you don’t remember! 

And this means that time and time again, you will tear out weaknesses — that turn out to be crucial to the story. You will add lovely touches — that completely destroy revelations coming just around the corner.

My favorite recent one involved missing horses. (I wrote about this just the other day). Our hero borrowed a horse. Then, in later scenes, it seemed to have vanished. Later, it reappeared. I spent a careful hour finding deft and unobtrusive ways to slip the horse back into scenes. (Imagine it passing the salt at the dinner table, or commenting on the weather from time to time). 

Still later, I discovered that the horse had been dead the whole time.

It was a casual reference. I ought to have remembered. But it meant that my characters were riding and comforting and passing the salt to zombie horses.

A lovely blue-roan zombie in one instance.

Be warned.