Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Who's in charge here?

A photo of my great-aunt Margaret
and some lost-to-time beau, 
used for the cover of Coming Together

Last week I wrote about finishing my draft of Coming Together, and that was true. But I didn't finish it in the way I had originally intended, and I thought it would be fun to share what happened along the way.

You see, I don't write to an outline. I know where my story starts, and I have a few ideas of what happens along the way - nails on which to hang the plot. Generally, by the time I'm about 20% in, I know how the story should end, but only in a loose way. It takes longer to work up the exact scene.

I wrote the ending to Coming Together about three months ago. I knew there would be edits. There are always edits. But it said what I wanted it to say, it gave a nice circular finish because it happened at the same time of year as the beginning of the first book, and it cleaned up so many dangling plot threads.

What could go wrong?

My characters could go wrong, that's what. Well there are three main characters in the series - Ava; her sister, Claire;and Pearl, Ava's daughter - Ava is the main main character. And that final scene / epilogue was from her point of view. Which made sense, because the books always begin and end with her.

As I got down to the end, I made a list of scenes that needed to be written. The last scene was Claire's, and it would tie things up until the Ava epilogue. Except that when I wrote Claire's scene, Ava spoke up and insisted she had to have a scene on top of that. Which would mean that she would have the final scene and then the epilogue, and I didn't want that.

But Ava's scene was good. It said what I wanted the epilogue to say and it tied in with the preceding scene. So what to do with my epilogue?

I tried to rewrite it from Pearl's viewpoint. Pearl started out writing diary entries in the first book, but she came into her own voice in book 3, and I have a sneaking suspicion that someday Pearl will have her own book. But not today, Pearl. So giving her the epilogue could make sense. Except that it needed to be her mother. There are things necessary to that epilogue that Pearl doesn't know, or doesn't know completely.

What I've decided to do is to finish the book with Ava's scene, as she insists. The epilogue will now become bonus content for newsletter subscribers who have read all three books. It won't make much sense any other way, but I can't stand for it just to remain on my computer.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Oops, I did it again


Book six, or book three of Ava & Claire, Coming Together, is DONE.

Well, not done done, but the draft is done and ready to edit. I'll leave it to rest for a week - difficult but necessary, and also I have a freelance editing job to work on during that period - and then I'll get down to it.

I'm on track for the scheduled preorder date of October 18, and even though I'll miss these characters, I'm really excited to share this last installment of their story.

Coming Apart was supposed to be a standalone novel but, as with my previous series, it just kept going. This was way more challenging to write, though - the Tudor books all had different main characters, and I could wrap up their stories and have them appear again later with no harm done. The sister books are consecutive, the second one starting only days after the first. There's a lot more to keep track of, and an even more riding on whether or not I can tie the story up properly, in a way that does justice to these characters I've lived with for so long.

Hoping I've stuck the landing. And I can't wait to hear your reactions when the time comes.

You can pre-order Coming Together here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Weather report

It's been another hot week. I got a call on friday, asking if I was up for vending at the Farmers Market on Saturday, because the artist of the week had canceled. I never say no - afraid to cut off the flow of requests, I guess - but it was hot and muggy and started to rain at the end. Add to that a near fistfight between the musicians performing and a few rowdy audience members, and it was four hours I'd have just as soon spent at home, though I wouldn't have made as much money.

I did a little bit of work in the back garden when I got in. Of course the rain stopped as soon as we packed the car. After a really late start because of inconsistent weather, the peppers and tomatoes are coming on strong. The photo here could have been taken any day over the past two  weeks. I should can some of those tomatoes, but the idea of steaming up my kitchen is enough to send me out of town again. And I can't make sauce at the shore.

I'm so close to being done this draft of Coming Together. Only a few scenes left, and then I have to let it sit for a few days and then reread to start tying it all together. I don't think there's going to be a lot of structural work, but standard edits and proofreading take time, and then I have to get it formatted for the October launch. I'm glad I bought the cover in advance; that's one thing I don't need to deal with.

After I finish that one, I have two editing jobs I'm working on, and at some point after that, I want to return to my Tudor historical series, but I may be slightly off my 6-month schedule because I'm starting to smell my brain frying. 

While it turns out I can write faster than I ever thought possible, I also don't want to completely burn out by putting myself on an unnecessary schedule. It may be June 2024, instead of April. We'll see. The minute I decide I can't do it, I'll decide I have to.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Jammin' with the figs


A few years ago, in the fall of 2019, I got a small fig tree from a neighbor. Small. As in houseplant sized small. I put it on an ambitiously large pot, but by the end of the season it hadn't grown much.

Since it was still so young, I brought the pot into the basement - my one exception to survival of the fittest - and tried to remember to water it monthly. In April 2020, it started setting fruit. In the basement. I put it in the soil, and the figs fell off, but by the end of the season it had grown more, and had grown to about 3 feet.

It overwintered fine outside, and in summer of 2021, it made some figs. Not many, and the squirrels liked them.

Last year, abundance. Mario wanted to make fig jam, so we froze them until we had enough. And then we forgot about them until the fig started setting new fruit. Even more.

Sunday we made jam. Lots of jam. Eight pints and 6 half pints, plus one tester with balsamic and a bit of salt.

It was easy. It was fast. And it wouldn't even have been a big deal to clean up if I'd known that we'd run out of dish soap earlier in the day.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Getting out of dodge

Somehow it's August. How did that happen?

One of the few unconditionally true things I was told as a kid is that time moves faster when you grow up. It absolutely does; it was just the 4th of July three days ago, I'm almost certain of it.

We've been doing summer things, most of which involves me either gardening or hiding from the heat, which I like less and less as menopause gets its claws further and further into me. I swear my base temperature has gone up by 5°, because I'm a stove, all the time.

This coming Saturday, we're going to do something fun. I'm not sure what it is yet, but it's not the fun our street has planned for us.

A few weeks ago, one of our neighbors knocked on the door, asking us to sign a petition so that she could get a block party permit for her grandson's tenth birthday. I don't want to be a party pooper, so I signed, but I also marked the date on my calendar to find something else to do, because the quiet enjoyment of my house is the thing I love most - and a block party, complete with loud music and bouncy castles and a multitude of over-excited children and their probably moderately drunken parents, running from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., is not my idea of fun.

So I'm going to pull all my breakable ornaments out of the front garden, tuck them away, and we're going to park the car in a friend's driveway overnight so we can leave whenever we want and not come home until 8:05 p.m. I think that's better for all concerned, because I guarantee if I was stuck at home with a full blast party going on outside my windows, I would want to write, or work on my audiobook recording, or do something else that required peace, and peace would not be occurring.

Quite a few neighbors didn't sign the petition, but she got enough names for the permit to go through. They can stay home and gripe about the noise. I'm getting out of Dodge.