In trying to figure out what to do next, I'm aware that I need to figure out where I stand in the marketplace. If "Snaked" does well, then it would make sense to do another creature book. If Gary takes "Deadfall Ridge" it would make sense to do "Butcher's Cut." If he rejects it, then it would make sense to write "Takeover," a different kind of thriller.

Either way, it probably wouldn't hurt to challenge myself and try "Takeover."

I would call it my first "adult" book, in the sense that I would try to make it more serious, with deeper characterization, well thought out and believable plot, and realistic dialogue.

Can I do that?

The only way to find out is to try. I think it needs to be fully plotted and thought out in advance. I think I need to do character outlines. And I need to think a lot about dialogue.

I need to think about what style I want to do. Right now, I'm inclined toward 3rd person, straightforward with as little adverbs and adjectives as possible. Simple he saids, and she saids. But also try for a little philosophy and some poetic writing.

I want to start with action and keep the tension up, have as many things go wrong as possible right from the start, and then in the second half of the book, make it even worse.

The basic idea of a takeover, followed by a murder, and then a takeover of the takeover by more extreme elements, that all makes sense. That's about as far as I've gotten with the outline. (I wrote some scenes, but they were preliminary and don't start with action, and I'm going to try to avoid that.)

One trick I'd like to try is the read a little prime Ellroy, "The Big Nowhere," for a sense of how the characters talk and interact, before I start writing. Just soak up the tone.

I'm still in the mulling stage, which often only lasts as long as the first scenes coming to me. I'm going to try to forestall that for as long as possible.

This will be a challenging book politically too. I don't want to take sides, but show every side. But that's what makes it so intriguing to me. There's some real meat there.

I've written enough books to know I can do it. Now I think I need to try to up my game a little. What usually happens is that the new book ends up being a Duncan McGeary book that is a lot like my other books with maybe a few new wrinkles.

I figured out the middle of the process first: the writing of the first draft. Got that down to a science. Very effective.

I tackled the last part of the process next, forcing myself to take the time and effort to let the story sit for a time, doing research, and then coming back and doing a thorough rewrite, and then another.

I need to tackle the first part of the process next. Planning and outlining in advance. Researching in advance. Thinking through all the ramifications. This is the hardest thing to do, but I managed to take on the rewriting process, so I figure I can do this too.

I've got lots of writing under my belt. There is no hurry. Do it right.