Posted by Nancy Northcott Apr 26 2014, 3:12 am in books, escapes, focus, old and new projects, research, rewards
The time between finishing one book and starting another is always odd for me. Part of my brain wants to cling to the last book while another part wants to move on to these other people and their problems and hopes and dreams. With Sentinel out, I’m starting Warrior, Will Davis’s book, and I’m at that funny in-between stage again.
I’ve spent two novels and two novellas with Will, so I know him pretty well, but I’m still working on getting to know his Audra.
And then there are all these other people. Nemesis, the next novel, is plotted. Avenger, the next novella, partly is. And of course each book has a main couple and supporting characters, many of which overlap. But not all.
As though they weren’t enough, Griff and Val from Renegade peer over my shoulder and say things like, “You know, we had some interesting times off-page and between books. Maybe you should write about those.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t,” I tell them. “Don’t get carried away because you’re in the free stories on my website. It’s someone else’s turn now.”
They aren’t pouty, but they are persistent. So is Mel from Guardian, who likes to remind me that Stefan, her mage physician fiancé, is supposed to see if he can help her mom. This is by way of suggesting maybe I should write that. You know, NOW.
And then there’s Tasha, the heroine of Nemesis, who keeps muttering things like “I can’t believe you’re matching me up with that guy. He hates me. I return the favor. It’s never going to work. You’ll see.”
Mixed into all that are various plot ideas for Avenger, which pop up at odd and inopportune moments. To get anything done (like, oh, the first draft of Warrior), I have to bring order out of this chaotic swirl of ideas.
So I’m dealing with this clamor in my head in three ways. First, I’m doing the research for Will and Audra’s book. Warrior centers on an archaeological dig, so I have to learn about the procedures for that as well as the cultures they’d be uncovering (although, this being fiction, I can taken considerable liberties with the history).
When I’m into my research, I get ideas. Which help shut all those other books out of my brain for a while so I can home in on the couple who currently belong front and center.
Second, I’m writing in non-linear order. As a scene comes to me, I write the bare bones of it, no matter which book it belongs to. I figure that will not only keep me from losing it but stop it from popping up again. This is a new thing for me, but it’s working well so far. I’m still doing my usual scenes-in-proper-order thing with the beginning, too, but I’m also hopping around.
Third, I’m reading. Escape also narrows the focus. It’s as though my subconscious works out my plot or character problems while the main part of my brain cruises through a story that’s not my responsibility.
I just finished Laura Griffin’s new release, Far Gone. I’ve enjoyed her Tracers series. Though I’m not sure whether this book is actually part of it, I liked Far Gone a lot. It’s about a detective trying to get her brother out of trouble while her career hangs in the balance, an FBI agent trying to nail a mass murderer and stop his next attack, and the case that brings them together.
One of my favorites of the Tracers series, 2013 RITA winner Scorched, was recently back in stores. I have the ebook, but I grabbed a print copy. I like it that much. The Tracers work in an advanced forensics lab, and Scorched features a forensic anthropologist and a Navy SEAL.
As my focus narrows in on Warrior, I’ll read less new material. Books I haven’t read before will be saved for rewards at various writing or research milestones, and I’ll fall back on familiar favorites like my picks from the In Death series or maybe Nora Roberts’ The Search (a serial killer book but it has dogs and, at least in the beginning, comic relief) her Chesapeake Quartet, or Patricia Rice’s Mystic Isle or Rebellious Sons series.
When you finish a big project, do you ever have trouble letting go and moving on? If so, how do you handle it? If you reward yourself at the end of a project or along the way, what’s your reward system? Have you recently read a book you’d recommend as an escape or a reward?
Posted by Nancy Northcott Jan 26 2013, 1:15 am in escapes, ice, Winter doldrums
As I write this, the temperature is below 30 (Fahrenheit), and the ground is covered in ice from “wintry mix.” People on Twitter Friday were talking a lot about hot tea and cocoa. I had both, with the tea in this lovely mug Suz’s DARA chapter sold at RWA a few years back. I could do with some snow, but ice is just a pain.
The dh came home and announced that there was so much ice on the streets already that he thought we should stay home. If he, who grew up in the Colorado Front Range, is reluctant to venture out, conditions are bad.
Saturday is supposed to be much better, sunny with temperatures in the fifties. The ice should melt, and all will be well until rain rolls in on Friday. But it’s still going to be cold. And there will doubtless be more gloomy weather. So let’s look at coping mechanisms for those of us in the northern hemisphere while our friends to the south maybe envy our cooler temperatures just a little.
There’s reading, of course. I’m about to finish Dee Davis’s Double Danger, the latest A-Tac adventure. I love this series, and this particular story, featuring A-Tac operative Simon Kincaid and Homeland Security Agent Jillian Montgomery, is a second chance at love tale. I always like those. Of course I also enjoy the fact that this series is action-packed.
Simon and Jillian had a thing for each other a long time ago, but she was dating his best friend. Simon thought he was helping Jillian by staying away, and Jillian thought he didn’t want her. Now her husband is dead, killed on a mission Simon commanded, and the walls between him and Jillian seem higher than ever. But danger has a way of clarifying things.
Before Christmas, I read Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams. Adams was an editor at an adventure travel magazine and decided to have an adventure of his own, retracing Hiram Bingham’s expeditions to Peru. He has a comfortable, informal writing style with dry humor sprinkled through.
He alternates his experiences with information about Bingham’s life and experiences as well as Inca history and culture. Adams points out that Bingham didn’t “discover” Machu Picchu because it was never lost. The Peruvians always knew where it was. But Bingham did popularize it.
I’m doing revisions at the moment, so I don’t have as much time to read as I sometimes do. When I can’t read–getting sucked into a book just torpedoes the chance of accomplishing anything else–I daydream, thinking of crocuses and spring. I pull up pictures in iPhoto and look at them and remember the sun on my face and a warm breeze stirring the air. I think of fun things I did when the weather was warmer.
For example, this is a photo of me with Supergirl at Dragon*Con a couple of years back. Looking for a photo made me realize I haven’t had one taken at the con in a while. It’s always hot in Atlanta over Labor Day, hot and muggy, and the chill of air conditioning is a relief. Yesterday, though, I wouldn’t have minded a dose of muggy heat.
You may remember that the dh and I visited the Okefenokee again last November. Here’s a photo of the path to the Chesser Island Homestead. I love paths like this. You can imagine they lead anywhere.
The day after I took that shot, we spent four hours riding in a covered boat in shirt sleeves and were comfortable, sometimes a bit warm, even, during the day. As you can see, we had beautiful weather for our trip, sunny with temperatures in the seventies. Only as we were leaving on Sunday did the sky start to cloud over and threaten rain, and even then the day felt warm, not like November usually is in North Carolina.
Thinking about sunny days and summer travels helps me shake off the winter doldrums, just as reading helps me escape and tea warms me up.
Do you love cold temperatures, snow and ice, or do you have to compensate? How do you cope? I’ll give a signed Renegade bound manuscript, one of only five the publisher printed, to one commenter today. Be sure to check back at 11:30 tonight to see who won.