I've written 6000 words of "Fires of Allah" in 7 days, which is a pretty pokey pace for me. But I'm still trying to overcome the inertia of having been interrupted several times and taking the last 4 months away from it.

It has so much potential, I'm just trying to hang in there, hoping that I'll ignite. If I don't ignite, I'll just keep trying. I've decided to dedicate much more time to this book. If I can get the framework down, then I can improve it later, especially if I do as much research as I'm planning.

The biggest worry I have is that there are too many characters.

The second biggest worry is that there is so much locational and technical detail that I'll get some of it wrong.

My current plan is to take what I've written and add magic realism. Also, if possible, to cut the chapters with the muckymucks. This will be killing my darlings. I like these chapters, but I think the book might be better if I stick to street level. Keep it real.

The magic realism is halfway between real and magic, and it is entirely possible that I'll tip all the way over to magic if I think it will make a better story. (It would also probably make it easier to market, frankly, and if I'm not going to attempt mainstream, which I have no intention of doing, I'll have to self-publish this and that seems to go nowhere.)

This is a different writing experience than I've had over the last 4 years or so. In a way, I've turned human. Normal writing blocks. I had that miracle year, followed by two strong years, but I always suspected that the blistering pace wouldn't continue forever.

But I'm by no means discouraged. This book has tons of potential and I think slowing it down might even be good for me.

One of the books I wrote last year was called "I Live Among You." It was a straightforward, first-person narration, requiring no research, very little rewriting. Wrote it fast. Done.

Thing is, it might be Linda's favorite book. In other words, the ease of writing didn't seem to affect the quality. And yet...I could write this kind of book all the time and it wouldn't be the slightest challenge.

The point is, I need a challenge. I've proven I can write books, now I need to try for more depth. How do I get more depth? Well, it can be hard to write a book deeper and smarter than I actually am, right? But I think time and research can fill in some of the gaps. A little more time thinking about it will plumb into whatever depths I have, and research will bounce ideas off of what I already know. Living with the characters longer will let me get to know them more. The fictional realm is somehow both inside and outside of me and my subconscious can provide surprising glimmers. I don't know. It's a strange process, but I do believe I can write a book smarter and deeper than I am, as impossible as that sounds.

That's my theory, at least.