Everything Slows Down

I’m so glad I have plot points, because somewhere in a novel I’m writing, I can’t remember what I’ve said and what I haven’t.  I lose my sense of direction, and ideas don’t bubble and flow like they did in the beginning.  I just reached 30,000 words of the 72,000 I’m hoping to write.  And the words are getting harder to find.  Everything’s slowing down.  Becoming work.  And I know some of you are rolling your eyes because you write volumes of words and then have to cut.  But not me.  I write lean and then have to go back to add descriptions and emotions.  All the extras.

The middle.  Ugh.  It’s a juggling act, keeping all of the story points in the air.  Even the best juggler, though, eventually times the balls wrong or gets tired, and the balls crash down.  That’s what the middle feels like to me.  So far, I’ve accomplished what I wanted to.

  1.  Jazzi’s sister, Olivia, finds the new girl she hired for her beauty shop dead in the chair that’s tipped back at the wash basin.
  2.  Jazzi’s ex-fiancée comes to her for advice, worried that his new wife is going to leave him.  And then she disappears.  And then the cops find her empty car near a field in the country with her purse on the front seat.  If she met someone to run away, why leave her purse?  Unless….
  3.  I’ve started introducing suspects, witnesses, and clues.  There are plenty to choose from for Misty.  Not many people liked her.  It’s slim pickings for Chad’s wife.  Everyone liked her.  And of course, he’s the main suspect.
  4.  At the same time Jazzi’s trying to piece together clues, she, Ansel, and Jerod are working on a Colonial house to flip.  Its rooms are huge, and they’ve decided to make this house a little more modern than what they usually do.
  5.  They’re trying to finish the flipper and help Ansel’s brother, Radley, and his fiancée Elspeth move into the house they bought on Wilt Street before Easter.  Easter’s a big event–a big family celebration.

I like the mix.  I just don’t like middles:)  But the only way out of them is to trudge forward.  So that’s what I’m doing.  Trudging, one word, one chapter at a time.  And I have a lot more to go.  And eventually, clues will add up, the pace will kick into gear again, and the words will flow faster.  Until then, no one said that writing was always fun.  Fulfilling, but that’s a different matter.  Sometimes it’s just a win when you get the words down.

Whatever you’re working on, good luck.  And Happy writing!

A busy April

Our daughter drove from Indianapolis to visit us yesterday.  Her birthday was March 28th, but she worked too much to celebrate it.  We wanted to do something special for her, so we made reservations at The Oyster Bar–a small, crowded, quaint bar known for its upscale, wonderful menu.  The bar is so small, it has tables on one side of the room and tables on the opposite side that are so close to each other, I had to turn my walker sideways to sidle through the center to our seats.  It’s a good thing my leg’s better now, but it was worth it.  The food was wonderful; the atmosphere was warm and friendly.

Holly’s staying with us again tonight, so I’m making Cajun shrimp fettucini for her for supper.  She’s a pasta lover.  We’re having a wonderful visit, and when she leaves tomorrow, it will be hard to get back in gear.  But I need to knuckle down and start cranking out pages.

It always feels like it takes forever to accumulate any pages when I start a new book.  I do character wheels and know the big stuff about the major players in my story before I start, but I learn their nuances as I go.  I need to listen to them, understand them.  I have a setting in mind, but I need to walk around in it, drive from one end of town to the other, before I can live there.  And I keep thinking of more details, so I have to go back and tinker with earlier scenes, fine-tuning them, before I can move on.

In the mystery I’m working on now, I want the grandma to be a bit senile.  Sometimes she lives in the present, sometimes she lives in the past.  I decided I could show that by what she calls my protagonist, Jazzi (a nickname for Jasmine).  When she hugs her and says, “Good to see you, Jazzi,” her mind is clear.  When she says, “You’ve always spoiled me, Sarah,” she’s talking to her dead sister and whatever she tells you is suspect.  That’s fun for a mystery.

I’m up to page 71 now, and the set up is beginning to fall into place.  I’ve introduced most of the characters who’ll inhabit the book.  My goal, always, is to finish the set-up by the first fourth of the book–in this case, at about 80 pages.  I’m almost there.  And then it’s time to dig for clues to solve the murder.  The vast middle lies ahead of me.

Our friends who moved to Carolina are stopping in Fort Wayne on their way to visit their son in Chicago on April 13.  By then, I’ll be pretty sick of pounding out pages, so it will be a nice change of pace to see them.  I’ve invited them and some of our mutual old friends to our house for supper that night.  It will be fun.  And that will lead right into Easter and ham and carrot cakes.  More fun.  So I’ll be ready to hit the keys again for the second half of April.  The girl who grew up across the street from us, who’s my daughter’s best friend, is coming to town on the last weekend of April, so we’ll get to see her, too.

April looks like a good month.  Hope it is for you, too.  And happy writing!

P.S.  I put up chapter 1 of Bruin’s Orphans on my webpage if you want to check it out.


Writing: Aargh! Snow and more snow.

This is the first day of February, and snow’s burying us in a serious storm. We did what everyone in the entire city did and stocked up with the important things for Super Bowl Sunday–guacamole, chips, and salsa. I bought an extra bottle of wine. My husband bought two steaks (in case of trouble, that’s his first defense–I married a carnivore). We bought deli ham for sandwiches. In dire emergencies, we could probably live out of our freezer and cupboards for a long time. And most importantly, I bought two new books to read, and John hit the library. It looks like we might hibernate for a while.

I was supposed to spend Sunday afternoon with my sister. She’s my “little” sister–12 years younger than I am–and every year, since she was a teenager, we’ve watched Miss Universe together. Okay, my friends laugh at me when I tell them that, but Mary and I have a great time trying to choose the winner before the top 15 contestants are announced. We gossip and snack. We vote on evening gowns, and we wince at the answers the top 5 give to weighty questions. Really. Most of the time, the answers are pretty bad. Anyway, forewarned about the snowstorm, we did that on Saturday afternoon (it was DVR’d), so that we could stay inside today and wait for snow plows to clear roads. I feel sorry for anyone who has to drive in this mess. My daughter’s a nurse. She’ll have to fight her way to work tonight. But John’s retired, and we don’t have to clear our driveway until we feel like it. So today, we’re cocooning. And I have plenty of time to write and work on my blog.

I’ve made it past the halfway point in the book I’m working on. Always a good feeling. I have the rest of the book plotted out, but just like in the last few stories I’ve written, my characters follow the dots, but they do it their way. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been working on series, so I’ve lived with my characters longer, but they’ve definitely gotten more opinionated. If I say they have to fight a battle in chapter 12, they’ll fight it, but the young vampires Reece and Damian are protecting might jump in front of someone to protect them and then get stunned when they weren’t supposed to. What can I say? They keep surprising me, and I like it.

The middles of books aren’t very exciting to talk about, though, so I thought I’d shift gears and offer you a short-short romance on my webpage instead, something to put you in the mood for Valentine’s Day. My agent swears that she’ll be finished with my romance manuscript in another week (New York time doesn’t always agree with Indiana time, though), so someday, my Mill Pond romance might actually be ready to be sent out into the cold, cruel world. Until then, I hope you enjoy a short story set there: Stranded in Mill Pond. It’s on my webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/