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?