Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Writer's Update

It's been a bit of a slow winter. I struggled through the first revisions of Death By Trombone, the second of the Pismawallops PTA mysteries. After about three months longer than I intended, it finally yielded to my efforts. By that time I was no longer sure if I had a book at all. So I sent it out last month to a crew of beta readers. I'm happy to say that word has come back from at least two that the story does hold together, the mystery works, and they were not hopelessly confused by things that I failed to explain. With that encouragement, I sent the book out last week to the editor who did so much to make Death By Ice Cream into a real book, and am awaiting her feedback, along with that of other beta readers, including my long-time writing support, Lisa Frieden.

Sending the book off left me a bit at loose ends. Aside from doing the taxes, and my first ever run at the FAFSA (the "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" which pretty much all US college students--or rather, their parents--need to complete to have any hope of any kind of aid paying for school), I didn't get much done beyond this blog. I manged a bit of work on a free-lance project, and then this story, which ran out of control. First it grew to two parts, with an ending that didn't satisfy me. So I backed up, ran at it again, and ended up with over 11,000 words, now awaiting an edit to see if I have something.

Finally, today I got down to the project I've been nibbling around the edges of: the 3rd Ninja Librarian book (which might be The Problem of Peggy, or might be Further Tales from Skunk Corners). I hauled out everything I've written so far, rewrote the first chapter where I had experimented with writing in the voice of the Librarian himself (kind of fun but not sustainable), and put all the bits together in their probably order, and created a rough outline. Then I looked at what I had, and found that it was just short of 16,000 words. That's a third of the book. I was dumbstruck, to put it mildly. I thought I'd barely made a start.

Just seeing the reality of what I'd produced was the biggest boost I could have given myself. I worked hard for a few hours, and had far more than those few hours' work to show for it. Maybe I've invented a new cure for writer's block: stealth writing. Just put down a bit here and there, in different notebooks and files. You don't have to worry about that block, because it's not really writing, you know. You're just filling time. Getting some ideas down. Maybe having a bit of fun.

Then when you really need it, put it together and see what you have. More than I expected, that's for sure!

Oh, and for a final boost, I got an email from our local Project Read (adult literacy) leader, saying they'd like to use Death By Ice Cream for their book club read. So I ended the day a great deal better than I began it (still adjusting to that blasted time change!).

What great discoveries have you made this week? Is your work thriving or in need of a shot in the arm?


Dang, I'm having trouble thinking of a good gratuitous photo for this one. Maybe...

This, to celebrate the first two Ninja Librarian books.

And this, to remind me that my output really has been respectable since I published The Ninja Librarian in 2012.

And, finally, this. Because Death By Ice Cream can happen in the coolest places. Like the Kelso Depot.


  1. How fantastic, love hearing your progress. You know, first person narrative is incredibly hard to pull off. I tried it with Frankie originally, but abandoned it after once critique partner swiftly told me that on the masters can pull it off, lol. So glad to hear all your bookish achievements, keep writing by Stealth. I do that too, on my iPhone and all of a sudden I have an outline.

    1. Thanks for coming by! I actually have done best with 1st person, for some reason (though I lay no claims to being a genius). I think it's because I can't help using a slightly snide tone, and that works better in first person than 3rd. Though I also love those old-style narrators who comment on the story, and that happened here and there in Halitor.

  2. I enjoy your first person, and I hope my first persons worked ok, too. I'm trying to imagine Julie's Frankie as first person now, but maybe it's about whether your first person fits what the intended reader can imagine as their own first person. Does that make any sense at all?

    I'm totally boggled at present with getting my memoir out and the fast-approaching holiday followed by the A to Z Challenge, so forgive me for being absent or just skimming your posts.

    1. I think the 1st person in yours has works great! it is a limiting thing, of course, since you can never write anything the narrator couldn't know. That works really well for mysteries, I think, since the story is looking at what the detective knows. I have trouble with a 3rd person omniscient, though--feels hard to keep from jumping around. Rather, I find that there is a temptation to abuse it. I used a very limited 3rd person for Halitor--really just a variation of 1st, since the narrator knew only what Halitor could see and hear, but with a better perspective than he has. I think it's kind of fun to play with narrative voices, and no place like Flash Fiction to challenge myself--I need to do more that way!

    2. I think that's the fun thing about 1st person; when they aren't as smart as the reader, or simply easy to mislead, so the reader sees what they don't :)

  3. Oh, the FAFSA...yep, did it all, too. I hope you printed it all out 'cause it's very helpful when you have to do it every year, to have it to refer to. Makes it much easier!

    1. Hmm...Didn't think of printing it out. I'm too used to everything being on the computer and available again when wanted! But it wasn't hard--just a hassle gathering all the numbers, and those will change each year (I get the feeling the savings accounts are going to get much smaller!).

      Writing stories is much more fun :)


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