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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Galloping to the Finish Line

Up to page 231, but while I have not produced many new pages, I have gone a l-o-o-o-ong way to outlining the rest of the book to its climax. It's sort of like story-boarding in the screen writer's world. Who needs to be where, how do they get there, what happens. That also required some back story, things that happened "off stage," including the murder itself, which details will be revealed in the chapters to come.

In the back of my mind, the first inklings of the next mystery in the Jack Watson series (OMG! I'm calling it a series now!). The first notion is to have two mysteries to solve--one concerning a stalker and the other will have to be something more insidiously criminal. I'm also thinking that Tabitha Solo will take more of a back seat, and I'll introduce a new POV on the protagonist side. I'll keep that purposefully vague for now until after "The Changeling Kill" hits the market.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Nitty Gritty

Not much real writing done today, a few new pages and some reworking in previous sections.

Getting closer to the Big Climax, and it was time to take a step back and work through some of the details. I knew for quite a while who killed the murder victim and why and how, but the details became more important. Tracy is trying to gather facts about what happened--both to the murder victim and herself--and she will ask a crucial question that will kick off the major action sequence.

Before that happens, though, she has to draw some relationships that begin to point to a motive. (She'll develop one that may or may not be correct.) So today I started drawing diagrams to figure out who is related to whom and how. But knowing is not enough. The relationships must be able to be discovered by Tracy in her searching or else she can't use them to form a hypothesis.

I can almost sense a dyed-in-the-wool outline writing author rolling his/her eyes at my lack of planning and organization. But therein lies the beauty of the computer age to the writer. I can go backwards, forwards, fix, adjust, change, rewrite, put it back, rewrite it again, and on and on until it's right. No wasted paper, no massive retyping. How did people ever create a clean manuscript back in the days of typewriters?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Comic Relief

Page 224 and the end of Chapter 14. I added a scene today, all of Chapter 14 pretty much, which I thought was required for a number of reasons:
  1. Tracy needs a chance to show her smarts and problem-solving ability.
  2. She also has been pretty down--wounded physically and emotionally--and her return to normal cannot happen all at once. She needs first to resolve to take charge and then take an action which builds confidence.
  3. While the big denouement is looming, I needed to slow the pace a bit lest it be reached too quickly. My characters need time to develop their viewpoints.
  4. The last few chapters have been rather dark, and I saw a chance to inject some lightness and humor by giving Tracy a scene with her father.
That's a fair amount of ground to cover in a single chapter, but I'm happy with the result. It reads more like mischief than the sort of dangerous endeavor it is. But each time I seek to write some humor into it, I wonder once again if my earlier success at doing so (and I've had a number of people tell me I was successful) was a fluke. Can I get it right again? Humor is hard, after all. Scary, angry, sad--those are easy. Humor is tough because it's so individual. My own sense of humor tends to like the droll and clever stuff rather than silliness, something I share with Tracy for the most part. Letting her funny side come out to play is what makes her so much fun to write.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Turning Point

Page 205, still in Chapter 13. Had to go back and change where a connection was revealed, which required rewriting a couple of passages, thus reducing my output today.

Still need to work out the big, final showdown scene. It's a matter of how to get people where they need to be. Motivation is, as ever, key. I actually made reference to this in "The Dreamer Gambit," but everyone has seen low-budget slasher movies where the young heroine is fleeing from the Killer That Cannot Be Stopped. Where does she go? Straight down the path to a dead end. She runs upstairs of all places, and the only reason the screenwriters did it was so that there can be a dramatic scene on the roof, a struggle, maybe ending in the mad slasher falling off and then disappearing mysteriously. After all, a fall from a two story suburban house probably would not kill a regular person, much less a super-human knife-wielding guy in a hooded robe and scary mask.

So planning the Big Showdown is a careful process. How to get Tracy there? I have an idea, but her motive must be sound and believable. I would never want a reader to say, "How can a smart woman like Tracy make such a stupid move?" The same goes for the ultimate rescue. It's got to be the right people doing it for the right reasons.

I'm also getting closer to playing The God Game, which I alluded to in a post about "The Changeling Kill." I have several villains, but should they be arrested or killed? Should any of the good guys make the ultimate sacrifice? This can be almost as tough a decision as the wrap-up and where my characters end the story.

One thing is certain, I always, always go for the happy ending. Never did like a bummer book.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Better Than I Thought

Almost skipped today's post because I thought I had not completed much. Then I realized I did more writing last night after my post and more today, bringing me up to Page 199 and Chapter 13. Heading into major action leading up to big climax. Now it gets really tricky because I have to think about the ending. My ideas on that are still vague because I've been concentrating on the build-up passages.

My day job severely interfered with my progress today too. A long meeting in the afternoon sucked up a lot of the time I would usually use to write after work. With any luck, perhaps that will soon wind down to nothing and I can get down to doing what I love most--creating fiction.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Big Bang or Whimper?

Chapter 12, page 192. Big progress today as a background player comes forward and provides information about the first of the two murders. Connections are being made, pieces coming together, and Tracy's getting angry enough about what happened to her to fight back.

As I write, more details fall into place. I'm at that stage where it's hard to put on the brakes when I need to go do something else. Ahead, I see the sequence of events unfolding, and I know where it all leads. Oddly enough, I still don't know the exact ending. Even the final confrontation is still a bit up in the air. The major climactic moment can sometimes end explosively or sometimes with a whimper of ordinary people revealing their very human frailties and selfish motives for their actions. Perhaps that's more like real life.

Does an action-filled build-up to the whimper come off corny? Or unsatisfying? I think that can be resolved by having more than one issue resolved at the end. A crime has been committed, and someone must pay for it. That can be the "big thing." Revelation of the whys turns into the whimper. Once again, the ending must also address Tracy's personal life, where she's going and who she's going with. I haven't figured that out just yet either.

No one seems to want to vote on "The Changeling Kill" covers . . . (sigh)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

One Problem Down

Page 180, now starting Chapter 12. Tracy has resolved one conflict, but her troubles are far from over. She thinks she has done the right thing, following the legal process to find justice, but it won't be enough. The next level of conflict begins.

The passage just completed, however, will probably be retooled a time or two before I'm done with it. Arguments are always hard to get right, especially when the subject is a matter of differing opinions and there is no right or wrong. The first pass seems pretty satisfying, but when I read it again on a different day, in a different mood, I may change it all around. This one ended in sort of a stalemate, and I left it open as to how Tracy really feels about it. The character she just argued with may show up again in another book in the series.

Yesterday, I put up some of the cover art I put together for "The Changeling Kill" along with a blurb about the book. There's a survey along with the covers, and I hope some people will let me know their opinions. After a week, the survey goes down, and I'll see where I am with it. Maybe in a couple more weeks, I'll have the galleys to proof and have to make a decision when that's done.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Covers for "The Changeling Kill"

See four of the covers I have designed for "The Changeling Kill" which is pending publication. Vote for your favorite in the survey.

Cat and Mouse

Not much done in writing today. Just a couple of pages. This is a tricky passage, and I know how part of it should play out but not all of it. Certain things must be accomplished to move forward, but it's all going to happen in conversation, a duel of wits. That can be difficult to do while making sure the upper hand is evenly divided between two characters. Tracy is a smart woman, and the man she is facing off against, is smart too. When their conversation is done, a new source of conflict will emerge which will be vital to the final "big scene."

Once again, I had to stop at various times to do research: what is the location of the Miami Police Department headquarters? What other places surround it? These are minor details, but they are the sort of thing that a reader familiar with the locale would notice. If I get it wrong, such a reader might be distracted from the story with an "Aha!" moment of noting my error. Some details of this sort are bound to get by me, but the more I can eliminate up front, the more comfortable I'll be about knowledgeable readers.

OTHER UPDATES: Now have  7 cover designs for "The Changeling Kill." Two might already be out of the running, and three of them are essentially the same but with slightly different color schemes. I'm not sure which would be the most eye-catching. Maybe I should post them on this page and see if anyone has a preference!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Forging Ahead

Page 172, Chapter 11. Big events on the way with details coming together in my notes. The danger Tracy encountered in "Two Faces, Two Faced" was a stroll in the park by comparison. "Game Faces" is starting to read like material for an action movie.

I still back up and tweak things here and there, sometimes because I return to read a passage for its details and notice things I need to change--repetition of words, something I missed while typing. Other times, rereading will provide ideas for the next passage I'll be working on. It's all fluid.

Once again I marvel at other authors who can and insist on producing a detailed outline before commencing to write anything at all. I'd be afraid half my good ideas would fly right out of my head as I tinkered with the outline trying to get that right. Of course, maybe those terribly organized writers have the luxury of doing it as a full-time job. Those of us "still workin' for the man every night and day" (as the song goes) must divide our time with too little of it going into doing what we love.

Someday . . .

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Which Way To Go?

Page 162, still in Chapter 10. I've got two situations coming up, and each one has two possible directions it can take. Decision making has put me in a stall. Should Tracy act on Pappy's advice? Who should be responsible for a burglary? I also have a choice in how to proceed: make a firm decision or pick one or the other direction, start writing it, and see how I like it. I can always go back and change it around as necessary.

A friend of mine who read "Two Faces Two Faced" expressed an opinion about the relationship between Tracy and Alex, how she would like it to turn out. I know how I would like it to be in the overall, but I must also consider it from one book to the next. I like Alex and there's plenty of conflict to mine from the differences between him and Tracy. I'm thinking in terms of their relationship having its ups and downs throughout a series. (No, I don't have any ideas for a third entry yet. I'm still working out the second.)

Another pending decision is the cover art for "The Changeling Kill." I've got four designs made up, but I definitely have a favorite which has two versions. The difference is slight, but each time I think I'll go with my top choice, I begin to wonder if the second one might be better. And I had another concept I thought might be worth trying, potentially bringing the possibilities up to five. This is the first time I've come up with so many ideas on a cover. Well, once the galleys arrive for me to proof, I guess I'll just go with whatever favorite I have at the moment.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Too Much or Too Little

Page 154 (so far) and well into Chapter 10. Tracy is approaching a turning point, a "don't get mad, get even" moment. She's not quite there yet. Still, there are some more bumps ahead when people take their own actions. Getting this part right--the perfect amount of information at each step of the way--is very important. Glad I made a bunch of notes as I noodled it out, as close as I ever get to making an outline.

I had to go do some quick research as I wrote to make sure I got the facts right. In this case, the facts deal with a medical procedure, and while I have no intention of trying to describe it in detail, I want enough of it to ring true with anyone who knows about it already and to bring the appropriate amount of drama. Yeah, I want to make the reader cringe a little. What happened to Tracy is awful, and the reader should share her feelings about it. On the other hand, I'm not trying to gross anyone out. What's important is that it happened and how she feels about it. Too much detail would also slow the pacing and eventually have no bearing on the outcome.

Still working on cover art for "The Changeling Kill." Here too it's a balancing act. The cover should be intriguing  and relate to the novel inside, but it should not provide too much information that could give away the answer to the mystery. I'm going to cobble together a couple more covers, and then I'll decide which one looks best. Shelley, the editor at Write Words, always sets up some kind of cover for the galleys. Who knows? Maybe what she comes up with will be better than any of my designs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Now That I'm Unstuck...

Page 145, most of the way through Chapter 9. My chapters tend to be about 15 pages each, give or take. Sometimes if I really get going, I don't bother with making a chapter break and then redistribute later. The important thing with chapters, though, is that each end should prompt the reader to want to keep on reading. A book on writing that I read a long, long time ago had its own chapter titled "I Just Couldn't Put It Down" that discussed pacing and making the reader do just that.
So between the closing sentence of one chapter and the opening one of the next, I've also added chapter titles which (hopefully) hint at what's coming next.

Today, I also called the folks at Google advertising to try to get my Google ad up and running. The instructions provided on the website were not terribly clear about display vs. destination URLs, but I think I got it fixed. It may take a couple of days to be approved, they said.

I'm hoping, too, to set up a quiz on Goodreads. The idea is that if readers can answer 10 questions about "The Dreamer Gambit" (things you can't find in any of the previews on the net), I'll send the first five (or some other number) a free, signed copy of the paperback edition. I'd like this to be a lead-in for "The Changeling Kill" when it comes out. While I tried to write "Changeling" in a way that reading "Dreamer" first is not essential, I hope it will grab a few curious readers who like to read a series in sequence.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Page 135 and now starting Chapter 9. I would have produced a lot more except that I spent some time working through details of who does what to whom and why. When it comes to the actions that move the plot, even the minor characters need believable motivation. While what each one does based on those motivations may be good or bad, there must be a reason.

Although I am writing fiction here, I feel it's important to make it as close to real life as it can be in the important ways. Very rarely is any one person totally good or totally evil. Sometimes we cannot agree with their choices or actions, but those should at least be understandable and come from a reasoning process that people can relate to. It would be easy to just label this character or that character an evil person and not try to rationalize what they do, but I think that's more like comic-book fare. Figuring out all the motivations involved in "Game Faces" was a challenge because there are a lot of different factions involved.

On a side note, a friend just finished reading "The Dreamer Gambit," and her praise for it and my abilities made me blush. She said something very interesting,, though. She commented that after reading the book and being a bit awed by the intricacies and the ideas, to be sitting there talking with the person who wrote it inspired even more awe. Meanwhile, from my perspective, I don't feel very awe inspiring. I'm just a person who likes to make up stories and weave mysteries which I am fortunate enough to have read by others.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Keeping it Real

Up to page 127 and part way through Chapter 8. Tracy and Alex went head-to-head over relationship issues. Writing emotionally charged arguments is very draining and at the same time cathartic. I think I've been dreading this confrontation which I knew had to happen. I'm not a big fan of disharmony, and I don't enjoy putting my characters through it either. I like  these people whose story I tell. But they are flawed, as they must be, or else, who would ever believe in them? And flawed people sometimes get into it.

Tracy is not me, although parts of her are me. She is many things I would like to be, but she is not perfect. I want her to be likable as well as capable and heroic enough to survive the adventure of this story. While there is a mystery to solve, she is also on a voyage of self-discovery called "LIFE." One of her flaws is her blind assurance that everyone else sees her and her actions the same way she does. She believes she is forthright and above-board and presents her inner self as plainly to the world as her exterior, but she doesn't. Because the story is from her point of view, it takes confrontation with someone else to help her learn about herself and realize her shortcomings.

Regular people face conflict and confrontations all the time, so it seems almost absurd that they look to fiction to provide more intense versions of those things. It's not absurd, though. I think part of what people enjoy about all kinds of fiction is to see how someone else overcomes conflict and problems and feel reassured that they, too, can overcome. Misery loves company? Maybe that's too strong. The individual merely wants to know that we're all in the same boat, being human, and we all have our ways of overcoming the tougher times life can dole out.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Catching Up

A little more added to "Game Faces," the new working title for the sequel of "Two Faces Two Faced". The next section is tricky--a showdown between Tracy and Alex over their relationship. I have a couple of ways I could go and am still mulling over which would be best.

Spent more time trying to come up with cover art for "The Changeling Kill," and have some interesting results. I'm still not very adept with image manipulation. I've got Photo Shop and Paint and software from my digital camera, each has tools the others don't always offer, and trying to get the effect I want without it looking cheesy is almost as tough as finding usable images from  the web. The Photo Shop program is good for setting up the size of the cover image and for adding images, but I always have trouble overlaying images on the background without the overlay taking out some of the background. I've still got some time before the galleys come to me, get edited, and then must go back with the cover art.

Oddly enough, even though it is Saturday, I seem to have even less time to work on the new "Faces" than I do during the week.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Dreaded Middle Part

Well, in typical fashion, I have reached a "stuck place" and as always, it comes at Chapter 7.

We have a mystery (a murdered girl), we have suspects, we have a heroine whose interaction just took a dangerous turn. Now it's time for her to get mad and get even. On the relationship subtext, facets of her love life are coming to a showdown, and she must decide what she wants to do and how to handle it.

The "stuck" part comes from deciding what Tracy is going to do in each case as well as, and perhaps more significantly, having to figure out the motives and actions of each of the players on the antagonist side. Is this one a bad guy or another victim of circumstance? Did this big event happen as an accident or part of a clever plan? Are all the baddies united or are there factions within?

All those questions usually get answered by a very undisciplined process of my own. I start jotting one-liner statements of this person's actions or motives and then follow the thread to who reacts to it and how. Steps get rewritten, revised, new things added until I have a good idea where it's all going. Sometimes a scene will begin to develop as a result. Then I start adding to the manuscript. It might even result in retooling something earlier on.

How do other writers diligently create an outline before writing a single word? I don't think I could do it. Usually, I'm just too eager to get to creating the manuscript. The process is always fluid, always flexible.

I absolutely love it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dark Times

Page 112, still in Chapter 7. Tracy now has to deal with her relationships as well as the trauma she just suffered through and the aftermath of it. Not much room for humor there. Luckily, she's about to turn a corner and wrest back control of her life. At least until the next obstacle presents itself.

I find this dark section of the book making me somewhat melancholy, but I suppose that's a good thing in a way. If it makes me emotional, hopefully that will come through for readers too. At the risk of coming across as cliche, it's all about telling a good story. (I actually hate that prefacing phrase "it's all about" because seldom is anything all about one thing.) The stories happen and I want to share them. As I've probably said before, I can't not write. It's like breathing. If telling these stories turns into a money-making proposition, fantastic. I'd keep doing it anyway.

To make a living doing what you love should be the highest goal for anyone. Unfortunately, it cannot always be, but I won't give up trying.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting Serious

Page 104 and chapter 7 finds Tracy in a bad way. Her sense of humor eludes her completely under the circumstances. It's something of a challenge to convey the situation from Tracy's point of view and relate information and build up to a shocking revelation and do it at a pace which builds suspense and perhaps a sense of dread as the reader finds out particulars at the same time Tracy does.

There's a really fine line which divides showing and telling, showing being the most highly desired form of writing. In the first person POV, just about everything is "telling," and I don't think there's anything to be done about it. The trick is to have Tracy tell it while it's happening to her, even though it's all in past tense as if it has already happened. I'm not sure I can characterize the challenge any better than that it is tricky. What it requires is many re-readings of the passage, reworking sentences, and sometimes changing the order of each step.

The best technique I've found is to imagine the whole scene happening as though I am watching a movie, with a narrator's voice filling in Tracy's thoughts, observations, and feelings. "Take the reader where the action is" is yet another rule for writing fiction. That's how the reader is able to share the experience, whatever it may be. As I "watch" Tracy on this one, it gives a little thrill of danger and awe. Now I just have to convey that in words.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Big Trouble

Page 89, well into chapter 6. Tracy is now dealing with more complications in her relationships and still uncertain how she feels about someone new who entered her world. A character from "Two Faces, Two Faced" made a brief return appearance. Next up, for the remainder of the chapter, she probes deeper into the murder and gets deeper into danger.

I did have to go back and rework a previous section. It had to set the stage for what's about to happen, but the way I first wrote it seemed too stagy and maybe too obvious. That's one of the challenges of writing a mystery. You have to provide enough basis and clues early on so that later revelations make sense and don't require exposition of things that occurred "off stage." At the same time, it all has to be natural and not too suspicious, lest the reader think, "How could she be so stupid to fall for that?" If the reader sees it coming before the character does, I've failed to get it right and might lose credibility.

Still toying with the ending, specifically the relationship issues. The mystery? That's solved, at least in my head.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ah, Romance...

Reached page 79 today and the end of chapter 5. Writing romantic scenes can be a challenge, especially so with Tracy's sense of humor. But what happened on page 79 wasn't funny. I can only hope it's tantalizing. I know I felt a touch of goosebumps writing it.

In a much older post, I mentioned that I don't write sex scenes. I don't think a second-by-second description of the full sex act between people really belongs in a mystery/thriller. Anyone who wants the graphic details knows what kind of reading material to buy to get it. I prefer a "to the bedroom door" method, the leading up to and the aftermath but nothing in between. The reader's imagination can fill in the rest and probably do a better job than I could with words.

Still, a little titillation can be entertaining, but it must also serve a purpose. Arline Chase of Write Words, Inc., provides writing advice in her own blog, and in one posting, she mentioned that each chapter must bring about a change, an event that changes everything forever. A romantic scene leading up to sex does that, I think. It changes a relationship, removes all the mystery and the flirtation and the anticipation. Suddenly, these two people who have been intimate see each other in a different way, good or bad, and they can never go back to the way they were.

If this book were a true fit for the Romance genre, the sex scene would probably wait until much later than chapter 5. Everything else would be leading up to it, the (dare I say it?) climactic moment. (Okay, so I said it. I couldn't think of a better word than climactic.) Because the sequel to "Faces" is not a solid romance, I've used today's romantic interlude to set the stage for another giant step along Tracy's path of self-discovery and to determining what she wants her life to be.

Next up, an obstacle as the antagonist(s) make their move.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Weekends are never my best times for writing. I certainly want to spend time with my husband, and there are always chores that need to be done. Writing is a solitary occupation. I sometimes bounce ideas off my husband and draw on his expertise in all facets of the physical sciences, but constructing a plot, building characters, and putting them all together is all on  me.

I'm at the stage of my current book where I need to think things through to a greater extent. There are timing issues: what happens when, should one scene come before another. For example, Tracy is heading for a big scene very soon, and I began toying with the idea of her seeking more information about the other person involved, but should that happen before the scene or after? I don't want to have her tapping her father's wisdom too often on this one. He makes an appearance or two, but for those who have read "Faces," he's not destined for such an active role. Since I am determined not to write any "spoilers" in this series on writing, I dare not say more than that Pappy's participation serves to direct Tracy's thinking about herself and her relationships.

Still hunting for elements of cover art for "The Changeling Kill." I'm also at a stage now--post submitting to publisher--that I begin to question certain decisions I made about it. There's one scene in particular which is sort of graphic in nature, but I wanted readers to be as shocked as the character experiencing it is. But I did I go too far? Maybe I'm just being wishy-washy or cowardly. Some people will like my novels, some people won't. Some will be shocked, and some will shrug a shoulder and ask, "So what's the big deal?" The one thing that keeps coming back to me in this regard was from the keynote address given at Love Is Murder. "Write the book that is in you." That's what I did in "Changeling," and if it reveals some of the darker depths of my mind and imagination, so be it. Sometimes, life is shocking.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Off Day

No new pages today, but did a lot of planning in my head. Sometimes, I "write" scenes in my head, playing them out like a movie. A couple of big ones are coming up, ones which define and redefine some of the characters and their interrelationships.

In the way of progress, I did some hunting for images on the web for the cover of "The Changeling Kill." It's very strange how one time I'll be searching and think I've found the perfect thing, a free image of one of the elements I need, and then the next time I go looking for it, I can't find it again, even with the same search terms on the same sites. My editor at Write Words advised that there should not be any need to pay for images as there is plenty out there for free. I guess I just haven't caught the trick of finding it. Images, clip art, royalty-free, vectors--the terminology of the web seems to evolve just one step faster than I can keep up. But I have some time on this cover as the galleys probably won't be ready for proofing for a few more weeks.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tricky Business

Just started Chapter 5, and it comes in the midst of some relationship stuff. I always find it difficult to introduce strife between two characters who love each other or characters I like. (I like most of my characters, even the baddies.) But the highs and lows of relationships, the fights, the making up, the getting to know someone and responding to mutual attraction, are part of life and, let's face it, the juicy stuff is something that people want. I know I look for it in a book I'm reading and get bored very quickly if there isn't any.

I also did some advance planning about the plot points ahead, sorting out the order of things. I still don't have the exact ending down yet; I toss around ideas to see how they feel and how I feel by the time I get there. I've found it doesn't work very well to plan the entire book to the end because I always wind up changing it. I know there are authors who carefully outline and even do a synopsis before starting on the actual manuscript, but for me, the characters come in and take over and make decisions that suit them and guide their fate. When that happens, the nice, neat ending I had in mind goes right out the window, and I have to re-examine everything to figure out what the characters want to happen.

Also did some tinkering with the motive for the murder. It could be a couple of different things, but while one might be very surprising and dramatic, it might also be unbelievable. The same can happen if the motive behind heinous acts comes off too lame. It's a tricky business.

Got another review on "Two Faces Two Faced" via Amazon today. I'm also rethinking the cover for "The Changeling Kill." While it may be a while before I need to have it done, the cover for "Faces" taught me a lesson about waiting too long. That line which forms the two faces for that cover took FOREVER to get onto the computer and into the cover. I'm about to go searching for images on the Internet to see what I can do for "Changeling."

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Page 58, Chapter 4. Tracy has her hands full now and is getting involved in the murder investigation. I wrote a scene where she learned, up close and personal, the method of the murder, and when I was finished with it, I felt as if it had really happened. (One of the dangers of writing in first person POV, I guess.)

I took a break to get myself in hand and started to wonder, where does this stuff come from? I invented a grisly sort of end for my victim and a pretty nasty way for Tracy to find out about it. But the whole plot, not of the book but of the bad people in it, and what lengths he/she/they are willing to go to for their own reasons, how did my imagination come up with that? Who are these people I invent?

I've been asked a number of times if I write people I know into my books, and the answer is an emphatic "no." I even avoid naming a character with the name of someone I associate with so that no one thinks there's a parallel or connection. My characters simply materialize and develop themselves as needed. And the heinous things that some of them do? I don't know. Perhaps a conglomeration of all the news stories I've heard and read, bits and pieces that seem scary or shocking. If I can scare and shock myself, hopefully my readers will be too. That's part of what people read fiction for, right?

As serious as all that was, I still managed to inject some humor, absolutely necessary for Tracy. There's a new character who made the scene today, and he has a sense of humor too. Should make for some good banter between them.

Had a couple of ideas for a title. "Three Faces Have I" or "Game Faces." But usually I don't really have a final title until somewhere near the end. I'll see where it all goes and then decide.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's Murder! And Notes on Research

Up to page 47 today and already at 10,400+ words. Introduced the murder in today's pages--there had to be one, of course. Also brought in another player, a cop who will figure prominently in the story. I had to stop and do some research about what particular law enforcement body would be called in on a crime at the place where this occurs.

Thank goodness for the World Wide Web! Once upon a time, a writer had to spend hours in a library or write letters to experts or amass tons of reference books which most likely became out of date in a hurry. Now, when I need a fact, I turn to a search engine, type in what I want to find out, and start picking through the hits. (Sort of like a detective?) You've got to be careful about what sources you choose to believe. Wikipedia is a good first stop for the overall. In the case of today's fact finding mission, I then turned to the website of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and read about their services and what they investigate.

I've also used mapping software and satellite images to determine if a locale I want to use is valid. Is there actually a beach where I need it to be? Are there buildings in the way of something? Is it feasible for a character to get from one place to another in a predetermined length of time? Can he/she stand in a certain spot and see the sight they need to see? There are so many possibilities for getting facts right and doing it quickly, there's really no excuse for getting it wrong.

On another subject, I heard from Shelley, the editor at Write Words, that she received "The Changeling Kill" manuscript I sent the other day. She said it might be 6 to 8 weeks before she can work on it, but I hope what I've sent is very clean and we can get through the galley process quickly.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On a Roll

Chapter 3 and page 36 so far today. (Slow day at work, so I stole a lot of time there.)

Faces 2, as I've called it on my computer, is becoming a story of layers. I've set the stage for the mystery/predicament from which Tracy will have to extricate herself, but as with "Two Faces, Two Faced," Tracy is also on a journey of self discovery and figuring out what she wants her life to be. Already she is encountering conflicts in her personal relationships. I had not really planned it particularly, but the situation which generates the mystery to unravel is such that it causes her to re-examine her own daily life and the people in it.

I just love it when a story comes together.

Now, back to writing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Updates and Creating Villains

I just sent "The Changeling Kill" to Write Words, Inc., to be prepared as an ebook. At present, I'm not sure if there will be a third entry in the Jack Watson Mystery series (as it is currently tagged), but the door is open for it.

Right now, it's all about the sequel to "Faces." Writing is going along swimmingly; I'm into chapter 2 and on page 25. Tracy has entered the "lion's den" although she does not know it yet, and she has met one of the baddies. It struck me as sort of magical how this villain character came out of nowhere. I had reached a point where Tracy was to meet this person and I stopped to try to figure out things like appearance, attitude, mannerisms. And went from no idea to a full picture in a matter of minutes. It started with hair, of all things. (Starting from the top?) Then I decided an air of agelessness--someone who could pass for old or young--would play well into the mystery part of the plot. Clothing came next, a sort of uniform but with personal touches.

Anyone reading this might notice I am being extra careful not to reveal too much about characters or plot lines here. My goal with this now-daily blog is to talk about what the process of writing is like for me, and who knows? Maybe when I reach that stuck-point around Chapter 8 or so, the blogging will help me work through it and show me the way to go forward.

As usual, I'm using a working title of "Faces 2" until the appropriate final title presents itself. Of course, I'd like to have it follow a theme. For "The Dreamer Gambit," the sequel follows the pattern with "The <something> <something>". For this new novel, I'm not sure if I should pick up on the Face theme, or perhaps numbers, or both. Once I get an idea, I'll do a web search on it to see if there is any other book from the last several years with the same title. Don't want to create any confusion with someone else's work.

Writing will naturally slow down a bit when I get the galley of "Changeling" to proof, but until then, I'm stealing every minute I can to keep the rhythm going.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Using Personal Experience

Now up to page 15. Not too bad for a day which must also see household chores get done before the workweek begins again.

Back in the 90's, my husband and I made several trips to Florida on vacation, usually centered around Miami Beach. But we also made it a point to get out of the city and see more of what the state has to offer. One of those outward excursions was an air boat ride and tour of the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. While the current story does not have anything to do with the Reservation, Tracy's first stop on her new adventure takes her into the region, and I dug into my memories to incorporate them into her experience. She rides an air boat through the swampy Everglades region, and I recalled how loud one of those boats was even with earplugs inserted. I tried to recall and capture the feeling of heat and humidity, the sounds, the sights. It sometimes amazes me with how little effort I can bring it all back.

And in the middle of the reality that I remember, I get to invent the stage for the mystery about to unfold.

On a side note, I sent an email to my publisher regarding "The Changeling Kill." Hopefully, the ebook will be underway before long.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Already Editing

Barely 11 pages into the "Faces" sequel, I have already gone back to edit. Had to change the time of day at the start from late afternoon to midday in order to fit more action into the first day, i.e., the first chapter. I've gone back to modify paragraphs of exposition to move the information into conversation and vice versa.

In spite of that, I added 4 pages today, and Tracy is about to embark on her "case." She's using her skills as a problem-solver alongside her lover, lawyer Alex Laughlin, an idea introduced at the end of "Two Faces Two Faced".

Next up, setting the crucial scene that will lead Tracy into trouble--straight into the camp of some very bad people.

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Faces" Sequel - Progress Report

Up to seven pages today and still rolling. Creating is fun!

One major point I've picked up in the last couple of years is the importance of getting the conflict out there as fast as possible. This one's  got conflict aplenty--relationship problems, a budding mystery, self-discovery for my character. I've introduced a couple of conflicts already and am now into setting up the mystery part of it.

Tracy Wiley (for those who haven't read "Faces") has a smart mouth and likes to crack jokes. I let a friend read the first paragraph today, and I immediately got a laugh. I'm really surprised how well Tracy's humor has come in and taken over so quickly. I'm back in her head in no time at all. But then, I know her so well. She, like all my characters, is part of me. They must be since they come out of my imagination.

That being said, they are also amalgams of my traits and traits I wish I possessed, of what I am and what I might like to be or at least try. It takes me back to something that occurred to me a long time ago as a teenager trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. I knew I enjoyed writing, but I could imagine doing all sorts of things more exciting (and better paying) than that. Then I realized that by becoming a writer, I could be anything I wanted whenever I wanted. I could have every adventure I might dream up and always have it turn out just right.

Imagination is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Here I Go Again

"The Changeling Kill" is ready. Final proofread, spell check, and all that done. Still needs a cover, but it will need to wait until I have assembled all the essential props.

And now begins the sequel to "Two Faces, Two Faced." The ideas have been flowing almost faster than I can write notes to keep from losing anything. I created a new folder, opened a new document, and started on Chapter 1. I'm now on page 2. Very exciting.

Since I am starting this one from scratch--no rewrite, no earlier opening chapters, no drafts--I'm thinking about following its progress more closely via blog posts, so stay tuned.