Saturday, January 12, 2019

Here You Come Again

I'm deliberately not setting deadlines right now, despite the fact that I'm currently working two projects. I'm trying to keep everything very creative and loose. Eventually (sooner rather than later) I'll have to impose a couple of deadlines or the books just won't happen, but right now I'm having fun simply working out details.

My story for the Footsteps in the Dark anthology is called "Stranger in the House". I know the basic plot--I've known that much for months (originally, this was a story I was going to write for my Patreon group), but I hadn't fleshed much out beyond the very bare bones of a young American inherits a large and mysterious house in a foreign country and discovers...something alarming. Something that will most likely lead to murder. Or has it already led to murder? Hmm...

So now I'm focused on the characters and their conflicts because a lot--if not most--of the plot will rise from there. (It always makes for a better story when I take the time to do this groundwork ahead of the real writing.)

The story is set in Westmount in Montreal. I liked the look and feel of Westmount when the SO and I were there two years ago. I LOVE Montreal, which feels like Paris for Beginners to me. (I'm only partly kidding.) Anyway, I decided then I wanted to set a story there, so that was easy. And it's always helpful having a live-in expert. ;-)

I didn't want to do yet another writer protagonist--or another cop protagonist. Not that I don't love writing both those--and I'm absolutely going to do them again--but this year I'm trying to forbid myself the comfortable, familiar pathways (except in cases where I'm writing sequels or series; I don't think anyone would appreciate me giving Jason and Sam or Will and Taylor new careers this late in the game). :-D

So I'm looking at an art teacher with an opportunity to try for his dream of being a full-time artist--AND for a romantic foil... The art dealer who discouraged him from trying for that dream in the first place.

I love that kind of dynamic because people occasionally offer generally good advice that turns out to
not be so good in the particular. The advice that a twenty-six year old might offer you could be considerably different from the advice a thirty-six year old might give.  Also, how personally responsible are you if someone takes your best advice, but your best advice turns out to be ill-advised?

Right now I'm testing out names. It's funny how hard it is to begin writing until I've worked out the names of the main characters. They have to feel right in order for me to get the feel of that personality. Jobs are another thing--maybe because, like it or not, our jobs define us to a great extent. And if our jobs don't define us, that's interesting too.

So... Miles... Miles? Myles? Milo? No. Not Milo. Eager to please, according to my Baby Names book. Hmm. And that might work too. Miles. Miles Tuesday. Really? But yeah, I kind of like it. Miles Tuesday...


Linley Palmer. Hmm. Interesting. Not even sure where that one came from. Is that strong enough? It's so...English. So civilized-sounding. But then an art dealer probably is pretty civilized. But should he be French-Canadian? Is there a family connection here? If not, why has Miles inherited this house and all its treasures? Linley Palmer... According to Wikipedia: Palmer is an occupational surname of old English, Norman French, German and Scottish origin. That pretty much covers all the bases. :-D

So that's where I am right now. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 4, 2019

5 Things I'm Looking Forward to in 2019

Here we go! It's the first Friday of the New Year--and all of 2019 stretching before us with infinite possibility.

1 - Staying healthy. 2018 was a good year for me as far as eating right and getting exercise AND taking time off. I want to continue that momentum and even build on it. Let's face it, writing is a sedentary profession. Nobody wants to get sick, but when you are the money-making machine in your family, the possibility of being ill or injured is a lot more frightening. I'm intent on making healthy choices all year long so that I can be my creative (and productive) best in 2019. That means come Monday ALL the leftovers go into the trash. ;-)

The fact that I am fighting a sore throat this morning is IRRELEVANT to the conversation.

2 -  New projects. And old projects. Unsurprisingly, I didn't manage to accomplish everything I hoped and planned for 2018. I still have to deliver Blind Side and Haunted Heart: Spring, which I'm aiming to do this year. We also have the fourth Art of Murder Book coming -- that's The Monument Men Murders. And we have the Footsteps in the Dark anthology (I've settled on "Stranger in the House" for my novella) AND the new Bedknobs and Broomsticks trilogy starts with Mainly by Moonlight. And I'm sure there will be other surprises (for me AND you) along the way.

3 - Learning new things. Last year was the year I stopped fighting the new reality of publishing--namely that there are now two largely distinct publishing worlds. The world of the Kindle Unlimited author and the world of the rest of us (which encompasses traditional publishing as well as wide indie publishing). It's amazing how freeing it is to stop fighting what cannot be changed and to focus on finding your own path. I think letting go of my desire to hang on to The Way Things Used to Be is why last year was both more productive (and, frankly, more happy) for me. My decision to begin a Patreon was part of that. So was my decision to take my audio and print wide. Yes, staying wide is a hell of a lot more work--but it also offers a hell of a lot more in the way of long-term benefits. The artistic life is an insecure one. Keeping your eyes--and mind--open means you're keeping your options open.

4 - Focusing on the Positive. There is plenty to be worried about in the world today, but there is also plenty to be encouraged by and grateful for. Worrying changes nothing. Action is what makes change, so worrying without taking action is pointless--but so is giving into worry and despair once you HAVE taken action. Which is to say, you can only do what you can do--and once you have done those things that are within your power to do, you have to let go and trust.  Making yourself crazy with fear and anxiety solves nothing. I'm going to consciously try to produce the positive action antibody so I can combat the fear and anxiety antigen carried by so many now. ;-D

5 - Getting organized. Jeez Louise. WHY CAN'T I GET MY OFFICE CLEANED UP? I always get to a certain point--the point where I am just about to begin filing--when all hell breaks loose again and my office ends up looking like it was ransacked. I need another filing cabinet, so why the hell do I balk at spending money on that but think $200. worth of doggie toys and treats is a sound investment? (I'm exaggerating and it was Christmas for Marlow the Mutt too. Still.) Nothing gets me derailed faster than not being able to find my notes or a reference book or stamps or that Sephora gift card when I need it. THIS YEAR I GET ORGANIZED AGAIN. FOR REAL. FOR GOOD.

What do you have planned for 2019? Is this the year IT happens? What is your IT?