Sometimes life is like a puppy’s dilemma. I use that phrase with a touch of humor this week. A lot happened. My good friend and author, Nick Johns agreed to read and provide feedback for Death at Ashford Castle. This is the second time Nick will spin through all 70, 000 words. He’s detail oriented so I know he’ll provide valuable feedback. And, if you like to read survival, apocalyptic type novels, check out his book The Darkest Winter on Amazon.
While Nick is busy with his review, I printed out all 245 pages and began reading them aloud to Bill. I’m using post-its in a variety of colors to make notes on each page. Next week I’ll update the current version with what I found during the read through. By the way, Bill likes it so far!
Then, the cover designer, Robin Vuchnich, sent me two cover design options to consider. It’s a difficult decision! Both of them are absolutely beautiful. As an Indie author, I’ve been told that cover design makes a big difference in readership. So I’m really taking my time with this decision. A few of my friends looked at them and so far it’s a tie. Dang! I was hoping for a tiebreaker to make my life easier.
And, we are noodling on an image for each book cover that would alert readers immediately that this is a Star O’Brien mystery. I have an idea that’s related to Star’s search for her mother. Maybe it will work. By the way, you can check out Robin’s web site at: www.mycustombookcover.com.
So, as depicted in my puppy’s photo here. There’s a lot to do and decisions to make. It ain’t easy. As Turlough’s face seems to say: do I stick with the sock or my avocado stuffed toy? It’s a dilemma. And, it’s also all something I’m grateful for and love to do!
I have to admit that I’m suffering from “book fright”. The second book in my series is drafted, it’s been edited once by an author colleague, and I’ve made substantial changes. The cover designer is working on the cover. But for some reason, I’m worried about sending the revised draft to my author colleague and another editor for the next set of revisions and review.
All kinds of questions and self-doubt are lurking around every corner. Is the character strong enough? Is there enough mystery? Is it easy to solve the crime? How much should Star’s character grow in this second book…after all it is a series and there’s more to come. Does Star face enough challenges in her life? Everything cannot be easy!
Everything cannot be easy! Not for Star and not for me. I guess that’s my answer. I’m growing my expertise and credibility in the craft: being a published indie author of mystery novels. It won’t be easy; I knew that from the beginning. I’ve been taking classes, joined Sisters in Crime, participate in an author’s group. I struggle to find the time to write for long periods each day (I’m a caregiver).
But it is all so worth it because of the family and friends who are supportive. Because of the readers who love Star and want more. Over time, Star will build more readers and I will get over this book fright. The book will be launched and Star’s journey will continue in book three.
I’m late in posting this week due to other commitments. I’m a member of a local Sisters in Crime Chapter and we had our monthly meeting today. Ruth Owen, an award winning romance author, was the guest speaker. She did a wonderful job of explaining what to do when developing characters. She also provided a wealth of resource books to look into regarding plot versus character.
Speaking of which…I write mysteries that I plot out before I begin writing. There’s a notebook for each of my stories. There are character descriptions, motivations, and hidden agendas. I call it my Star O’Brien Bible. Sometimes I write just one or two paragraphs that describe the scene which becomes a chapter. Other times, I’ve used mind mapping and diagrams with circles and arrows to plot out relationships between characters, their emotions, and motivations.
This week when I was editing the draft of the second book in the Star O’Brien mystery series, something happened that hadn’t been mind-mapped or decided upon ahead of writing: a new character showed up. Her name is Maeve Baldwin. She’s an older woman. She wears pearls. I like her. She has a minor appearance in this book but I suspect she’ll show up in one of the next books in the series.
In other exciting news, the book cover design phase for this second book kicks off tomorrow. I’ll be sharing updates in the next few weeks.
“The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”
That poem “The World is Too Much With Us” has been a favorite of mine since high school. I’ve muttered those first two lines to myself many times throughout my life. Always wondering if I’m following my heart…doing what feeds my soul.
This month is National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo). Taking the advice of a writing colleague, Valerie Willis, I decided to signup this year. Now, the goal is to write 50,000 words in one month which sounds gargantuan until you do the math. It comes out to somewhere around 1600 words a day. For me that equates to about four hours a day which is an amount of time that I don’t usually have at my disposal. So….I’d decided that this wasn’t for me.
But then I received the NaNoWriMo kickoff email from Anne Lamott. She wrote a wonderful book about writing several years ago: Bird by Bird. Her email challenged everyone to put aside one hour a day to write. It can be any kind of writing, a journal, a blog, a novel, play, poetry…So, that’s my goal this month. At least an hour a day. Some days that might mean 200 words; other days it might just be 50.
But that hour is not a waste of my power. It gives me the perspective I need to care for the people in my life; to do the things that I am responsible for.
So, my question to you Dear Readers: What is it you want to do with an hour a day? What feeds your soul? What gives you power? Do it. Take an hour. And, let me know how it goes.
Yesterday my Facebook author’s page featured a cottage in Ireland. Today, Bill and I went to see the Downton Abbey movie. In the very last scene of the movie, Charles makes the observation that 100 years from now Downton Abbey will still be there. The picturesque cottage on my Facebook page and Charles’s declaration caused me to recall a conversation with my mother, many years ago, in which she noted, with sadness, the empty cottages, some still intact and some just a crumbing pile of stones in Ireland. Homes from which many left to find work and life in another country. Homes where the family line has extinguished.
I guess this may be one of the reasons why some of us, me included, feel a deep connection to where our family comes from. Our roots. It’s one of the themes in my Star O’Brien mystery series. Star longs to find her mother or at the very least what happened to her. She’ll never believe her mother abandoned her. In her search for her mother, Star hopes to find herself and ultimately feel firmly rooted in who she is.
Isn’t this what we are all looking for? Isn’t it what we all hope for?