Pheweee. It’s amazing what you come across when you’re editing a first draft, stuff you didn’t even realise you were writing. Or repeating for that matter.
In Tokens of My Confection, which is heading towards publication in (hopefully) the not too distant future, one scene involves my heroine Cady, who is hanging out with her sisters in Garrison Park, making a snowman on Christmas Eve.
When I wrote the first draft, like a lot of writers, I was just trying to get it out of my head, getting all those little bits and pieces and all the ideas in a pile on the page. At that stage, I try not to think too hard about the final product and avoid, wherever possible, editing while I’m still getting the story out of my head. (Of course, I’m completely hopeless at that and do get bogged down with the editing part, because let’s face it, I’m OCD and anxiety-ridden – I strive for ridiculous levels of perfections. But that’s a post for another day.)
The editing process has been a little choppy, particularly because the Darling Husband surprised me with an announcement last week that we would be moving at the end of the year. He’s a nearly thirty year veteran of the Australian Air Force, and we’ve outstayed our welcome here in Western Australia, but this time we’ll be moving without our Gang of Four – seventy five percent, at least, will remain in Western Australia while we post to a base on the other side of the country. (Another reason for OCD and anxiety issues).
Consequently, the editing of Tokens, which started of swimmingly, has stuttered to a less than auspicious pace, while I try to get my head back in the game. (And simultaneously worry about my beloved family being split apart for a couple of years). Today, I’ve been working on Chapter Twenty Six, which includes the above-mentioned snow scene which has turned out to need a considerable amount of editing. The scene itself is fundamentally good, and I’m happy with it, but its the persnickety details which are giving me grief. And in this case, it’s the snowman the girls are building and the amount of time I’ve mentioned ‘snow in their glove-covered hands’. Obviously, I wanted to set the scene, and give the reader a ‘vision’ of what is happening in that scene – the scenery, the women, their outfits, what they’re doing. But I obviously (obviously!!!) got bogged down on those glove-covered hands. They’re EVERYWHERE! And repeated with endless abandon. And way too much. Over and over and over…
You get the picture, and as a writer, and an editor, it’s one of the things I warn people (including myself) to avoid. Don’t ever hit your reader over the head with information. Don’t repeatedly repeat the same piece of information. Give your reader some credit and know that they can invest themselves enough in the story so that when you mention someone’s eyes, you don’t lead with the color of them each and every time. (This is something I’m guilty of doing!).
And once you’ve put those gloves on those characters, and set them to making a snowman in a park in the middle of winter, don’t keep beating the reader over the head with THE GLOVES! They’re there! We know they are on their hands! Don’t beat this snippet of information to death!
And now, I go back to the grindstone and beat those gloves into submission!
‘Til next time.
Part-time librarian Aurora ‘Roe’ Teagarden lands smack in the middle of a baffling murder case in the fifth murder mystery from #1 New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris
Roe never liked Detective Sergeant Jack Burns, but she never wanted to see him dead – especially dropped from a plane right into her own front yard. Luckily, even Lawrenceton, Georgia’s finest, know that Roe couldn’t possibly be in two places at once, so her name is crossed off the suspect list.
But then other strange things happen around Roe, ranging from peculiar (her irascible cat turns up wearing a pink ribbon) to violent (her assistant at the library is attacked) to potentially deadly (her ex-lover is stabbed). Clearly there is a personal message in this madness that Roe must decipher – before it is too late . . .
This would be my least favourite of the Aurora Teagarden books, mainly because there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate reason for the characters doing what they do in this one. There’s lots of unrequited love/ex-lovers changing their minds/unexplained infatuations going on which frankly, at certain times in the book didn’t seem to make sense. And given that the vast majority of these situations revolve around our heroine, a bookish, wavy-haired, glasses-wearing married librarian – it just seemed a little odd to me.
Having said that, there was plenty of mystery going on, it just didn’t seem like really brilliant mystery in comparison with previous books in the series. I almost felt as if in this one, Ms. Harris was ‘phoning it in’ – making the plot suit where she wanted it to end up, and to hell with how that worked out on paper. Despite that, it was just strong enough to keep me invested in the characters, and wanting to find out who the culprit was in the murders.
Lawrenceton, Georgia, may be a growing suburb of Atlanta, but it’s still a small town at heart. Librarian Aurora ‘Roe’ Teagarden grew up there and knows more than enough about her fellow townsfolk, including which ones share her interest in the darker side of human nature . . .
With those fellow crime buffs, Roe belongs to a club called Real Murders, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It’s a harmless pastime – until the night she finds a member dead, killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss.
As other brutal “copycat” killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects-or potential victims .
I read these books a few years ago, and recently purchased them (in the omnibus edition) to reread. I will point out that unfortunately, my ebook was missing Chapter 15 of this first book in the series (I buy via Amazon but read with the Moon Reader app.).
Having said that, the story was as good as I remember, and I warmed quickly to the main character, Aurora Teagarden and the collection of characters who create the story with her. Ms Harris writes in first person, which I enjoy, and I found that the facets of Aurora’s personality were brought to life beautifully. The characters in these books are not the cardboard cutouts that are found in so many novels nowadays – in this case, the characters have flaws, idiosyncrasies and curious quirks to their personalities which make them three-dimensional and entertaining.
Aurora Teagarden has plenty of quirks of her own, but like most of us, she’d just trying to get through life one day at a time. With an interest in historic murders, Aurora is part of a local group named ‘Real Murders’ – a group with it’s own cast of quirky characters.
When those characters start turning up dead – their deaths styled to recreate famous murders from the past, Aurora starts to wonder if she’ll be a victim next – or get the blame for the murders.
The story moves along at a good pace, is thoroughly enjoyable, and an easy read. Aurora is easy to like, and her trials and tribulations were enough to keep me reading to the very end. Highly recommended.
As a writer, finding inspiration can come in many shapes and forms. For myself, it’s usually in the form of photographs, images which evoke a visceral response and spark the voices in my head.
These photos, of Bodie, California are those type of images for me. Looking at those old, ramshackle buildings from a bygone era, still upright and standing despite the passing of decades evoke such emotional responses I can’t help but find myself trying to find a way of getting them into a new story.
Bodie (/ˈboʊdiː/ BOH-dee) is a ghost town in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, United States, about 75 miles (121 km) southeast of Lake Tahoe. It became a boom town in 1876 and following years, after the discovery of a profitable line of gold, and suddenly attracted several thousand residents. It is located 12 mi (19 km) east-southeast of Bridgeport, at an elevation of 8379 feet (2554 m). The U.S. Department of the Interior recognizes the designated Bodie Historic District as a National Historic Landmark.
Also registered as a California Historical Landmark, the ghost town officially was established as Bodie State Historic Park in 1962. It receives about 200,000 visitors yearly. Since 2012, Bodie has been administered by the Bodie Foundation, which uses the tagline Protecting Bodie’s Future by Preserving Its Past.
(Courtesy of the Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodie,_California )
There’s something special about these buildings, as though their inhabitants and their memories are still making their presence known, even now in modern times. I’ve never visited Bodie myself, but it’s certainly one of the places on my bucket list of things to see.
What about you? What strikes a flame to the wick of your imagination?
LOYAL & TRUE
Hearts of Caledonia, Book 1
by Laura Strickland
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
In defiance of her father, Caledonian tribeswoman Barta leads a daring raid against invading enemy warriors. But the fight goes badly, and her beloved war hound, Loyal, is killed. Unable to imagine existing without her dearest companion, she nevertheless must return home and accept blame for her terrible blunder.
For the first time in his life, Loyal is unable to rise and follow his mistress. When he appeals to the Goddess for mercy, she grants him leave to return on one condition: it must be in the form of a man. And only if Barta recognizes him for who he truly is will he be permitted to stay.
Loyal never suspects that, as a man, his connection with Barta will deepen, becoming passionate enough to transcend nearly any change. Will Barta recognize him before he’s lost to her forever?
Life is good for globe-trotting supernatural agent Alyse Winters until she finds herself on the wrong end of a burn notice. Cuffed and cut off from her magic, Alyse is dumped in Philadelphia where her past is only too eager to catch up with her. Add a few supernatural murders to the mix with Alyse as the prime suspect and she’s ready to do anything to get her powers back…if she can survive being human long enough to clear her name.
This is the first book I’ve read by A. Blythe, and I enjoyed it very much. The main character was a kick ass, gung-ho heroine, who finds herself in an extremely difficult position when her magical powers are snuffed out for some as yet unknown reason. This is the makings of the start of a series, in which A. Blythe has created some genuinely interesting characters, and in the main protagonist’s situation, some unique issue for her to overcome. I thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling, and A. Blythe’s first person writing style with a touch of snark was most entertaining. There were a couple of points during the story where I felt some pieces of information were being repeated unnecessarily, and where the pacing felt a little bit off, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the reading experience. I will definitely move onto the second book in the Magic Bullet series. Highly recommended.
SIRENS & SCALES
Genre: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
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With 26 full-length stories of enchanting fiction, you’ll learn the secrets of Atlantis, soar to uncharted peaks, and discover creatures of wing and fin and those who love them.
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