In Brief

I've written a series of four lesbian detective novels, unimaginatively called, "The Detective Series." They are available for your purchasing pleasure on in paperback and Kindle versions and on for Nook. In addition, I like sunsets, single malt scotch, and some other thing that starts with the letter S. This blog gets updated once a week or so and usually has something to do with my experiences as a writer.

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Winning the war

I figured it out. Not on my lonesome as I had hoped, but I know when my ass has been handed to me, so I handed it to someone else and said, "Make this mess better." That someone was my partner, and I'd been hesitant to ask her for help, even though she's been helpful in the past with stuff like this, because this stuff was The Stuff. It was The Big Case, and if she helped me with this, the tension from that storyline would be removed for her. But screw her and her reading experience! I am apparently too stupid to do this shit on my own.

I remember putting into motion the final piece of the case puzzle last weekend and feeling like that was it. The last big problem was solved, and I was going to coast right downhill to the end of the book. Then I got my ass handed to me again with the very next scene. I mean, what the fuck, book, right? But that was dealt with too (on my own mostly, although whining about it to my friend Tamara was quite useful). And now I'm feeling, again, like this is it. Downhill, baby, right to the finish line. 

I'm 99% sure that I'm going to finish this story before February 1st. And I'm all jittery and freaking out. It's the end of a 300k word story, and when I think about it, my heart starts beating faster and faster in my chest, and fuck, I just don't know what to say except, "Hello, insomnia."

Is there any part of writing that makes you lose sleep? 



The losing battle

Taskmaster Me: You sit down and figure out this goddamn case already. You're not stupid. Just do it!

Creative Me: You're right. You're totally right. The case, the case. How will my detective realize that X didn't do it....? What sort of clue will be clear but not obvious right away....? .....

Taskmaster Me: That's it. Keep at it. But let's try and make some progress here. You've been stuck on this point for over a week.

Creative Me: Maybe X couldn't have done it because X was out of town. No, no, that doesn't work. That's obvious to everyone, and X would have just said that about a hundred pages ago.... Hmmm..... Need to figure this out.... I'd also like to figure out what's going on with Fringe. Hot damn, that is such a good show. A third alternate universe? WTF!

Taskmaster Me: Yes, that's very intriguing. Even to me. But no, that's not what we're doing here. Okay, so X wasn't out of town. Then what?

Creative Me: X has secretly won the lottery and therefore doesn't need to have stolen Y? No, that's stupid, stupid, stupid. You know, this whole situation gives me a new level of respect for Fringe. That show is so complicated! How do they figure out all those details and interlocking parts? And now that there's three universes, you know what the mind naturally wonders...

Taskmaster Me: Of course. Given an infinite number of universes, Agent Olivia Dunham must be a lesbian in one of them, and oh, sweet Jesus, we all hope the show stays on long enough for us to visit that universe.

Creative Me: Season five! Pray for a season five!

Taskmaster Me: Unfortunately, we live in a straight, straight world, and I think we'll need more than five seasons to get to Gay Olivia Universe. Hey, stop this right now. You're supposed to be figuring out... uh...

Creative Me: Who we'd like to play Agent Dunham's girlfriend?

Taskmaster Me: I vote for Shelley Conn. She and Anna Torv were smokin' hot in Mistresses...

Creative Me: Tru dat, homey. But it could also be fun to see her with someone new...

Taskmaster Me: Good point. How about...

Is there any aspect of the story part of writing that you struggle with? Plot points? Sex scenes (not you, Averil, of course)? Motivation? Kids talking? Time line? You tell me!


Stop me before I do something crazy

The internet runneth over with posts about resolutions and goals and whatnot, and then here I am, like a breath of whiny air, imploring you to stop me from doing what I fear I might: re-write book #1. Yeah, that's right. The book that already has a contract. That one.

But here's the thing (please find many holes in the upcoming argument): I wrote book #1 trying to make it a hard-boiled detective novel. I wasn't entirely successful at that--I wandered off regularly with private life stuff about my detective that had nothing to do with The Case--but I put a lot of effort into making it be hard-boiled, and I think that comes across. With books #2, #3, and now #4, the series has slid away from that emphasis quite a bit. When I look back at book #1 now, it glaringly stands apart from the other three. And that's a problem, isn't it?

Your answer: No. Come on, altogether now, tell me it's 100% okay for one book in a series to be unlike the others. Consistency is only for those who are too afraid to make something nonsensical, right?


Because I don't want to re-write book #1. I don't even know how to go about doing something like that. I've never re-written an entire book. And I don't know how I'd handle that with my contract and, and...whine whine whine!

Talk me down from the ledge, folks.


Time keeps on slippin'

Book #1 of this series takes place over a six week period, and there are only two long-ish time slips (or jumps). One is six days and the other is seven. Besides those, some action in the narrative is depicted at least every three days and often every day or two. With a time period of six weeks, this is possible.

With book #2, the time covered expanded massively from six weeks to five months. At that point, touching in with the characters every couple of days is impractical if not impossible. I needed more time slips, some of even longer durations. Book #2 has at least six significant time slips, i.e. more than a week, half of which were in the two week range. 

There's a time gap of one month between books #2 and #3, and then book #3 covers another five months, and here in book #4, I'll be covering a little over four months.

I've noticed something with my time slips, namely that they, by and large, occur in the second half of the book. I dwell in a lot of detail in the beginning, but eventually, I find myself in the situation I'm in now. I'm 52K into the story, which is more than half of my predicted word total (80k-90k), and I've covered less than half the story time.

I think some of this is a natural function of writing a book. In the beginning, you are introducing and describing all of the significant characters, their backgrounds and relationships to each other, as well as the environments in which they exist. It takes a lot of words without a lot of plot progress. But sometimes I wonder if my story isn't too front heavy on the time line. For instance, book #3 takes place from late May to late October. One of my beta readers commented that it was summer (and hot) and then she felt like, all of a sudden, it was autumn (and cold). In other words, the time slip jumped out at her. I'll have to work on that in my next round of edits.

Managing the passing of time in my books is something I'm always hyper aware of and struggle with as well. What about you? How do you handle time in your writing? Do you obsess about it? Is every day accounted for? Or is it like Tamara tweeted (rather poetically, I might add) about this time of year, "This stretch between Christmas and New Year's is such a weird, formless time. It has no gravity."?


Giddy up

So I'm back in the saddle again, baby. Oh yeah. I'm not exactly sure where the horse is going, but we're moving again. The good news is that my partner has two four day weekends coming up because of the holidays, and that means a lot of writing opportunities for me. I'm hopeful that by the time I go to bed on January 2, I'll be pretty much done with the middle.

Speaking of the middle, she changed her game on me, that fucking bitch. Usually I spend most of the middle fighting for words. This time she's all, "Words? Sure, write as many as you want." Typitty typitty type! Wait. Is this working? Should I really have spent three thousand words on that? Isn't my story supposed to be further along at this point? Answer me!

She shrugs and begins clipping her toenails. 

I'd been imagining that this story would require 70-75k, but now I'm starting to wonder if maybe it will be somewhere in the 80-90k range. I don't want it to be 80-90k, because that's more words than 70-75k, and I've deduced that if I'm writing 1k per day, writing 10-20k more words will take me 10-20 more days. That's what they taught us in that Math for English Majors class I took in college anyway.

But it will be what it will be, and I'm excited about it.

Oh, and by the way, happy holidays, everyone! I hope you're having good ones.