Old Friends

HH and I went to a bar Wednesday night to meet up with a group of old friends. Joyce and Abe used to live in town before they retired and moved to South Carolina to enjoy the sun and surf, but they went to visit their family’s cottage for a month and were passing through town on their way home, so we all gathered to meet them. There’s something comforting about being with old friends we’ve known for years and years and weathered ups and downs with. Like having a second family.

I’m writing my eighth Jazzi and Ansel now, and they get together with their family and friends every Sunday. On top of that, Jazzi gets together with her sister and friends every Thursday night for a girls’ night out. HH and I meet our friends at the same bar every other Tuesday. That way we can keep up with each other. The guys all worked together at a little hamburger/ice cream place during high school, and the joke is that when they got older and married, the wives became part of their group, whether we wanted to or not:) And it’s been nice. Over the years, we’ve had kids, watched them grow up and move out, survived health problems , dealt with aging parents, and now we’re all “couples” again–empty nesters.

Jazzi and Ansel and their friends are at the stage our group was at in our late twenties. Their parents aren’t old enough to retire, so they’re working. In this book, Eli (Jerod’s father) has to fire a mechanic who’s worked for him a long time. Vince began scamming clients into repairs they didn’t need when they brought their cars in to be worked on, not reporting the “extra” repair and pocketing the money. Completely out of character for him. When he ends up dead, Eli wants to know who killed him and why, but mostly, what drove Vince to such desperate measures. He asks Jazzi and Ansel to help find answers, and the mystery begins…

Writer friends

I met with 7 writer friends yesterday.  We had a NovelCon–an excuse for us to get together, read a chapter each, and talk shop. It was awesome.  Not just because my friends are great writers, but because they’re terrific people.  (And Paula happens to be a near-gourmet cook.  Lucky us).  We all belong to a writers’ group, The Summit City Scribes.  We meet twice a month, have 3 readers who get 20 minutes each to share pages with us, and then we go around the table to offer critiques.  We’re so different, we zero in on different things.   And that’s the strength of our group.  Somebody will catch almost any thing that’s gone astray.

The thing is, I’m lucky to have so many good friends who are so freakin’ talented.  And it’s nice to touch bases with them outside of Scribes.  At a NovelCon, we don’t just read.  We talk shop.  We throw out plot stumbles that have turned into black holes of “what-ifs” gone wrong.  We moan about characters who don’t listen to us and middles that turn to mush.  And none of the problems are as big as they look.  There’s a plot twist or a minor fix that somebody comes up with, and kazaam!, the book’s a whole again.

We’ve been together so long, we know each others’ strengths and weaknesses.  We make suggestions before the book reaches the spot we know it will.  We push each other, enjoy each other, and take off on tangents.  The bottom line is, we all want each other to write the best book possible.  And more than that, we have one heck of a good time in the process.