My life has been a roller coaster of late, with a LOT more downs than up. The biggest down came 11 days ago when I lost my Dad. Now it's time to find what a friend of mine called "the new normal" after she lost her Dad earlier this year.
For the past three months, there was no normal. I stuck pretty much close to home as I was needed by my family. Now suddenly I'm free, Free, FREE to do whatever I want. Well, not really. I've got a new book coming out on Tuesday--Bookplate Special, and I've got a blog tour to do. (I've got most of the posts written--just need to tweak them.) I've also got a lot of signings to do in the next six weeks. (Those of you on my newsletter list will get an update on Monday. And if you're not on my newsletter (e-mail) list, WHY NOT? (Hey, you can join here. )
And a major, MAJOR thing I'm involved in is polishing the first book in my new Victoria Square Mystery series (being written under the name Lorraine Bartlett). A Matter of Murder will be published in February 2011 (unless they change the date--hey, it happened with Bookplate Special, which was originally supposed to come out later).
The thing about A Matter of Murder is . . . I finished the last draft of it a while back. (Okay, we're talking a YEAR ago.) I knew it was short on word count then, but I figured it would be so easy to tweak it and get up to word count in no less than two weeks. And then my Dad got sick. I have four weeks left until deadline, and I'm still 11,000 words short.
What's the problem? I know a lot of authors have said that when they've lost someone close to them, they shut down in a funk and can't write. But my Dad always encouraged me. When I'd come to see him, the first thing he'd ask was: "Did you get your words today?" He was very proud of me for A.) getting published at all, and B.) when I hit the NY Times list. Nobody (not even in my wildest dreams) thought that would happen. And then it did.
Getting back into the manuscript has been a bright spot for me. Except . . . what's an author do do when she thinks her words are golden? I'll be reading along and say to myself, "Hmm. I like this. Why do I need to change it?" I'll tell you why, because YOU'RE ELEVEN THOUSAND WORDS SHORT OF YOUR WORD COUNT!!!!!
The other problem is--I don't want the book to read like it's padded. Therefore, in pops a new subplot--maybe two. Did I follow up on that clue back in Chapter 3? Where's Katie's candy dish now? How about the apathy factor in Artisan's Alley? I have a million little details and notes to myself (boy, do I like to make notes to myself--and then, inconveniently, seem to misplace them) to make sure I add clues and texture to the manuscript. And just where are the holes in the story?
Getting back into the manuscript is like riding a bike after a long absence from the sport. I was a little wobbly at first, but now I'm pumping the pedals and will maybe even go no-handed in another week or so. And at the end of the day I know I'll be able to answer that question: "Did you get your words today?" with a resounding YES!