“Every Family Has Secrets”

I’d finished writing the final working draft of a novel in progress. Which meant, other than trying to get it published, marketing, future editing and revising demanded by editors and proof-readers, I’m free to work on something else.

I’d already planned to shift to a series. A murder-mystery series, I’ve published two of those novels through KDP. More are in mind to be done, and people who read the first two are politely wondering when the third is coming out.

Meanwhile, though, I began thinking about my family as I was walking this morning. Oh, yes, I could write a novel about ‘them’.

Well, it’s not really them. The novel begins with Lisa, my little sister, being suspected of murder when her friend’s body is found in her house. Lisa isn’t there, though. It’s a bloody scene, and as the hours pass, Lisa doesn’t answer her texts or cell. She doesn’t post on FB or other social media, and didn’t show up for work. Her boyfriend says that he hasn’t seen her, and her boys, staying with her father, haven’t heard from her nor seen her.

Is Lisa missing and dead, or running and hiding?

Her older sister, Gina, a young and busy grandmother and physical therapist, is concerned about her sister. She’s the one who becomes the amateur private investigator, looking for little sister. Secrets about everyone begin showing up, of course. Every family has secrets. Fractures, tensions, and disappointments grow.

I thought that “Every Family Has Secrets” was a possible working title. There was more to the story and plot thought out, but that’s enough.

It was an entertaining twenty minutes of thinking and walking. Time to go home and get something to eat.

The Whirlpool

I finished the tenth draft of the latest novel-in-progress, April Showers 1921, several weeks back (Surprise!, September 26). I thought it was the final draft but knew that I had notes which called for more work before I could say that it was finished as a draft. I hesitate to say final draft. Nothing is final about a novel-in-progress until it’s published. I prefer to call it the working final draft. Yeah, that’s pretty ambivalent, isn’t it?

I’d begun April Showers 1921 back in January, 2019. It originated with a dream of a book that I’d written, resulting in a powerful impetus to make it real. It’s a hefty ms., one hundred eighty thousand words and six hundred thirty MS Word pages. I recognize that an editor will probably cut through some of that beef. The story is told by skipping back and forth through multiple versions of the same fourteen-year-old protagonist, Anders. I struggled with that, and that facet pushed multiple revisions until I fully recognized and understood why and how the multiple Anders interacted (or didn’t interact) with one another.

The other matter is, I’m sure that the working title of April Showers 1921 will probably be changed. April Showers is a machine invented specifically to interact with Anders, a human. As a machine, she generally acts and looks human. That simple claim gets complicated because the novel is about how multiple levels of filters interact to create realities and alterverses. After exploring everything, April Showers’ role was reduced from what I’d originally expected it to be.

I was right about having some work remaining. I’d identified five sections in my notes for further work. Before I dove into them, I read through the notes, remembering why I’d jumped ahead of those sections. Two of them deleted. I thought they were needed but they weren’t. This happens to me. As I write a novel and explore everything, I develop a sense about where it’s going and what’s going to happen. Sometimes, though, those insights are overtaken by events and turn out to be superfluous to the final tale.

The other three sections were filler/bridge sections. Impatient critter that I am, I didn’t feel like dealing with minutiae that these three sections demanded. As I read the preceding pages to them, I easily slipped into what needed to be done (all hail the muses!).

What became more time-consuming were the side roads I frequently stumbled down. To confirm a point of continuity or clarity, I’d open a second window and hunt my notes and the manuscript for specific points. I inevitably ended up becoming engrossed in the ms, reading chapter after chapter, which I call the writing and editing whirlpool, because it just sucks me in. Small errors, pacing matters, and typos were typically addressed during these periods, but I was mostly indulging myself. Part of the process was sometimes coping with surprise about what I’d written and where that section went.

Seems strange, doesn’t it? I wrote it, so it follows that I should know what I wrote. My conclusion about it is that I’m working on a different level. Two, my writing process is like weaving. I don’t hesitate to dip into a section of the book and edit it to meet my preferences. That tangibly results in many sections being re-written, revised, edited, and polished multiple times. I often wear reader or editor hats when I’m doing that, instead of my writer hat. Maybe I’m just blowing smoke, though, to cover a weak or faulty memory.

Anyway, I’m out of the whirlpool. The final working copy is completed. Now, the part I loathe, presenting it to the world begins. I need to write up a blurb, summary, elevator pitch, synopsis, etc., to entice others into my world.

It’s been a good nine months of writing, editing, and revising like crazy. As other writers have mentioned, and I’ve echoed before, finishing the novel leaves a void. A friend is gone, a puzzle has been finished, a routine has been completed, a desire has been fulfilled. Leaves me with wondering, where do I go from here?

Well, yeah, there is the aforementioned loathsome tasks. I don’t really celebrate the completion except to mention it to a few close, supportive friends and family members, and privately toast myself, “You did it. Well done.”

Then, I begin thinking about the next novel. There’s so much to read, research, think about, and write. Existence is a rich mine of potential stories to be found and written.

Off I go, at least one more time, to write like crazy.

Floofpool

Floofpool (floofinition) – A vessel or tub, usually designed for holding water, waste, or laundry, that animals (typically housepets) employ as a bed.

In use: “She didn’t know that the cats were using her laundry basket as a floofpool until she tossed a pair of jeans in, and tremors went through the pile of clothes, followed by an irritated meow.”

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I either heard this one used in some television or movie function, or in a car going by. Suddenly, Paul Young’s 1985 cover of Hall & Oates’ song, “Every Time You Go Away”, is streaming through me. I was surprised when Young’s cover arose as a hit. I knew it from a H&O album from a few years before. People liked it on the album, with one neighbor, a big H&O fan, saying that it was her favorite song. I thought it was a little too slow on the album, and do prefer the Young version, even though it has that disco-techno sound that irritates me. I don’t know how she thought about it; I knew her when I was stationed on Okinawa. She and her husband rotated to somewhere else and disappeared from our lives. By the time the Young version was out, I’d also left Okinawa and was stationed in South Carolina.

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