It’s the Little Things

I just made the first of many small improvements on my RV’s interior décor, let’s call it the busy 90’s look in teal (see picture below). By removing the refrigerator door panel (six screws and it easily slid out), I was able to use the old one as a template to make a replacement panel out of plywood, add chalkboard paint, and you have a cool looking multipurpose surface. I’m definitely not the first person to come up with this idea, but isn’t that what writers do, steal good ideas from others and make it their own? I mean, other than Shakespeare, which of us has really come up with something new lately.

Working on my busy, crowded RV brought my thoughts back around to the first review of my forth coming novel, Control (August 28, 2017). Don’t get me wrong, making the Kirkus Reviews Best Books list as a Recommendation for the third time in a row is an awesome honor. It just sticks in my craw that they used the word ‘crowded’ in the one sentence review:

A fast-paced, crowded tale that’s sure to spark another sequel. —Kirkus Reviews

One of the great ironies of this review is the word sequel. I fully intended to end The Betty Chronicles on the third book, a trilogy able to stand on it’s own. I had already moved on to my next project while waiting for the manuscript to come back from my editor when she asked me to cut the last chapter and the epilogue. The final chapter was just that, the end of the

Chalkboard panel with a hint of teal.

story and the trilogy. The epilogue was an after thought that gave an opening for continuing the story if there was enough demand, but to be honest, at that moment I was ready to let go of Betty and move on to the stand alone novels in my pile of to do work. Having to adhere to and blend in previously salient plot points of the earlier volumes as the characters evolved was arduous, mind bending, yet rewarding work. Sort of like the self flagellation of training for a triathlon. Why was I putting myself through that?

So, here is this awesome review with two points only I deeply care about. Why did they call it crowded, and really? Sparking a sequel? I suppose I’ll feel better about this after my next book is in the hands of my editor. Now, back to erasing the massive wave of teal tinged, bilious patterns from my RV.

With a Critical Eye

I’m doing an Internet binge, the name of the show isn’t important, but my reaction to a plot pivot is—because it makes me think about my own writing in a constructive, critical way. Readers have no idea where the plot is going in The Betty Chronicles, in large part because I chose to not plan it out in advance and had no idea what the twists would be until the words formed on the page. The show I’m watching just lost me, the writers took a sharp turn that didn’t feel true to the character’s previous actions. Usually, I just stop for a random period of time and watch the rest of the episode with fresh eyes. I’ve also completely abandoned shows because of these awkward devices, even when the overall story and acting is stellar.

So, back to me. Have I done the same thing? Have I been guilty of using an ill fitting plot device? Ultimately, that is for the critics and readers to decide. I’m too close to the subject matter. My editors never hesitated to mark in red ink poor writing or ill advised angles and I only declared STET when it really mattered to me, so if there is such a stopping point in my books, it will be because of the individual reader’s tastes. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m looking too closely at the show’s writing and not just enjoying the entertainment, which would be ironic since I tend to live in the moment. The people behind this series are smart and extremely talented. Maybe I shouldn’t be so judgmental. What do you think?