I finally finished the first draft of my straight mystery, and my critique partner/friend has already given me back her notes on it. I’m waiting on my daughter, Holly, to give me her feedback, but she’s so swamped right now, she might not get to it. If not, I’ll do rewrites with just Julia Donner/M.L. Rigdon’s red ink suggestions. We trade manuscripts, and we trust each other. We’re also each other’s biggest fans. Not just because we’re friends. Because I think she’s that good. She caught two big trip ups in my story, but they’re both easy fixes. Hopefully, the rewrites will go pretty fast.

Also, I just finished the first draft of the Muddy River novella I’m trying for Vella. It’s going to come in at about 28,000 words. I’ve done a lot of rewrites as I go so that I can put up one chapter at a time. Soon, I should have the entire story available there. And then I’ll see how it does, but so far, nada. Nothing. No luck with Vella.

But now I can get to the wonderful news. Once I polish both manuscripts, I can start work on my 8th Jazzi and Ansel. And it’s going to feel like going home. Like being in the heart of a family, surrounded by people you love. This time, I want to have Jazzi, Ansel, and Jerod take an old barn and turn it into a house. When I was in high school, I borrowed my mom’s Grace Livingston Hill novels to read. LOL. I’d read one of those and then Germaine Greer or Betty Friedan and throw in Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, along with Agatha Christie. Quite a contrast, but it was all interesting to me. Anyway, one of Hill’s books was titled The Enchanted Barn. I don’t remember a lot about it except that a girl who was mostly broke got an old barn and made it into her home. That fascinated me. Of course, there was a romance with an HEA involved, too. I’ve seen a few barns in our area get converted into studios or homes. I thought that would be a fun project for my fixer-uppers.

I’m featuring Jerod’s dad, the mechanic, for the mystery part of the story. A few books ago, he hired an ex-con to work for him, and Jarrett’s doing his best to stay clean. But when one of the guys in the shop is found stuffed in a trunk, the cops immediately focus on him, even though Eli insists he’s innocent and Jerod asks Jazzi and Ansel to help prove it.

More added fun, for me, in this book is that Ansel gets good news that makes him a happy man. And I’m guessing many of you can guess what that news is:)

I have part of the book plotted already, but I have more plotting to go. And it’s going to feel good to be back flipping houses and cooking big family meals on Sundays. It usually takes at least three months to finish a first draft of a cozy. It will be three months of being with old friends. I’m so ready.