Mystery Author: Strong Women, Great Stories

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I write three series: The Loser Mysteries, The Dead Detective Mysteries & the Simon & Elizabeth (Tudor) Mysteries as well as stand-alones that offer readers "Strong Women, Great Stories."
These days I also answer to Maggie Pill, who writes a cozy sleuth series. Maggie is a lot like Peg, just younger, cooler, and funnier.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Author's Bucket List

Panel at Printers' Row 6-16
 In the preface to Iberia, James Michener explained that he'd conceived the idea for the book decades before, made a bunch of notes about it, and then put it on a shelf because he had too many other things going. I think many authors have the same experience: too many ideas, not enough time. I always tell people I'll die with ideas for more books in my head.

It takes time to make an idea into a book, which is why, though we all might have "a book inside us," we don't all write it down. It's a daunting task, and even if/when you do write it down, it needs editing and reworking, over and over. Even books that seem light, like cozies, require multiple drafts. (I know there are authors who claim to write it down only once. A: I don't believe them and B: if it IS true, I'm guessing they work it over many, many times in their heads before they make that one draft. The rest of us can't keep all that stuff inside--we'd explode.)

Some ideas are good but difficult to plot. I have a couple of books that I started and had to leave because I eother don't know where I want it to go or how I'm going to get there. A book I released last winter, DOUBLE TOIL & TROUBLE, was years in the making because it was a romance (not what I'm known for nowadays)  and a sequel to MACBETH'S NIECE. I wanted to finish the macFinlaech story, but each girl's story unfolds in turns, and I hadn't been able to make them come back together in a balanced way until inspiration hit--years after I began it.

I also have ideas that are cool but I just don't have the time right now to write them. With three series going, there wasn't time to write the mystery about the woman recovering from a coma or the sequel to SHAKESPEARE'S BLOOD I'd started back when an agent first took the book on. She said, "Get to work on the sequel NOW!" I did, but I never finished it, and that agent never sold the first book, so the second one's been lying around 3/4 finished. Maybe this fall...

There are other ideas, some vague, some partially done. It might be true that they don't deserve to be completed if they haven't fired my imagination enough to do it, but on the other hand, I'm by necessity a compartmentalist: I work on the book I'm working on until I'm happy with it (or until a publisher is!) That means the uncompleted books on my bucket list are probably deserving, they simply have to wait their turn. Now that I've finished the Dead Detective and Loser series, and now that my publisher for the Simon & Elizabeth series has announced they won't be publishing any more mysteries, it might be time for some of the books on the bucket list to get their turn at bat.

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