Or rather, in my case, one morning.
The Muses, with their unpredictable sense of humor, decided (as-yet-untitled) Book #4 would be a screwball comedy.
My original intent was to write something light-hearted, given the somber drama prevalent in The Puritan Chronicles Trilogy.
So, ok. Along comes Agnes Harper with all her eccentricities. She lives in Berryville, USA, a typical Midwestern town. Eccentric but lovable octogenarian who can wield a quilting needle like nobody’s business.
And then slowly but surely the population of Berryville emerges, and almost EVERYBODY is odd in their own ways. In fact, so far, the only straight man in the whole little fictional town is Lieutenant Bill Drinski of the Berryville Police Department.
Poor Lieutenant Drinski. Everyone in Berryville is either paranoid, eccentric, or acting suspiciously. Even his rookie K-9 partner, Kaiser, has behavioral issues. And when he discovers who the perpetrators of a recent rash of burglaries is, he is ready to retire!
First let me say, for those who don’t know, I am the youngest of 7, an aunt to 17 and a GREAT-AUNT to 24! (as of yesterday one of my nieces gave birth to the first set of TRIPLETS in the family!) And by June, the total will be 25!).
Coincidentally, although I haven’t been actively writing, my fictional town of Berryville is becoming populated with still more colorful characters! Emerging from my imagination now are the members of Agnes Harper’s little quilting circle, and not a boring one in the bunch!
Rita smokes like a stack. Genevieve is a bandana-wearing sixty-something former hippie. Madeleine fancies herself as an above-board proper lady, but can’t resist good gossip. Carla wears a wig she swears is black but is actually dark purple. And June speaks loud enough she can be heard over an approaching freight train.
Fun characters who will be fun to create and get to know!
“They” being my Muses! I have decided Main Character Agnes belongs to a tightly-woven group called The Stitchin’ Six. They’re going to be fun, colorful characters in their own individual ways.
Besides Agnes, we have Rita and Genevieve. Waiting on the Muses to reveal the names of the last 3.
Are they just an innocent group of ladies who meet frequently and quilt together, or are they a benevolent sextet of well-meaning witches?
I really want to weave a sturdy magickal thread throughout this story, so I might go with the latter….again, my theme for 2018 is EXPAND, so I am just gonna have to allow my imagination to do just that!
Earlier this month the our 50th state got this nightmarish message:
I love to get groceries around 6am; practically have the whole store to myself. But due to the recent low temperatures, I have been putting off this chore, dreading to venture forth into the bone-numbing cold. In fact, I have been holed up for several days, not going out unless i absolutely have to.
But as I stepped out this morning, frost glistened like diamond dust on our yard and sidewalk. It transformed my mundane little Nissan into a glittering magical coach.
Or so my inner child tells me as i chiseled ice off the windshield.
There again, as I’ve said before, attitude is everything. So often people curse the cold, yearning for warmer weather. But these same people will complain when it’s oppressively hot. Having grown up where the weather can indeed be one of extremes, I have developed patience and a sense of humor when it comes to the cold. And–another bonus for a writer like myself—Book #4 opens on a sweltering hot June day in the Midwest. So I have to call up my imagination and plant my characters in stifling heat while my own arthritic joints ache from the current frigid weather I’m presently experiencing. Exercising the imagination muscles is a good thing!
Never particularly outdoorsy, I have always preferred to be inside, sheltered from the harshness of the elements. I am, admittedly, a wuss.
But despite how schizophrenic Mother Nature can be (one day last week it was almost 70!), I kind of like the extreme changes in weather. As long as my loved ones and I are safe and warm , I’ll happily hunker down with a cup of hot cocoa and store up the chilly temps in my imagination. Because when it’s 90 out and humid, I’ll fondly remember when my car was beautifully transformed by a glittering crust of frost.
This morning while journaling in my bullet journal, I realized (not for the first time) how cramped and restrictive (not to mention atrocious) my handwriting is. And it occurred to me that since the year is still relatively new, I should do what a lot of bullet journalists like to do and claim a word as their theme for the year. So in 2018, I am embracing the word EXPAND.
As in EXPAND my knowledge, courage, creativity, curiosity, compassion and acceptance.
KNOWLEDGE—have always loved to learn new things! Might learn a whole new craft this year 🙂
COURAGE—to conquer a fear that’s plagued me for the past 52 years
CREATIVITY—to get out of my comfort zone and really explore what I can do with these characters of mine!
CURIOSITY—to learn the WHY? of something I have never known
COMPASSION–I want to GIVE MORE. I think once a month I’ll donate a little something to the Humane Society, which is just down the road from us.
ACCEPTANCE–especially of myself. Happy to say, in the past few years, I have made GREAT strides with this one!
So anyway, for the first time, I have a THEME to my year!
Just thought I’d share. 🙂
A handful of my faithful Beta readers enjoyed a prologue I wrote (and have since discarded) rather early into this new book’s venture. I would like to work it back into the story, but this morning it occurred to me it would be a good idea to write the prologue AFTER I’ve written the rest of the story, because important elements are introduced in the prologue.
And I, being the impetuous leap-before-you-look kind of writer that I am, often write myself into a metaphorical corner. I write these great scenes, then hit a wall and ask myself, “And then what?!”
So needless to say I’m unable to actually work on the manuscript every day like I was hoping to do for 2018. But that was a lofty goal anyway. If I’m not actually writing, I’m at least blogging or plotting. And that is going to have to count toward my goal of writing (as yet untitled) Book #4. And in case these colorful characters demand more exposure after the completion of Book #4, I’m tentatively considering a new series featuring the citizens of Berryville, USA, the all-American small town with quirky, fun characters (and not all of them human!)
So while we have been holed up in our house during this recent cold snap, I have been plotting and scribbling out notes. Brainstorming. Seeing what the Muses might reveal to me. And all the while, I am enjoying the process!
–and what does she WANT?
So she’s an eccentric octogenarian with her own sense of style, a kleptomaniac tabby and a foul-mouthed gray parrot. She lives in an ugly little stucco house affectionately called The Peanut House. A widow, she spends her time embellishing a crazy quilt with objects her cat brings to her. This much has been established.
But she needs a crisis. A conflict. In other words, the story’s antagonist. Short-term goal=? Long-term goal =? Currently considering a rash of crime hitting her small town. How is Agnes affected? What does she do? And what is her temperament? A timid, reclusive Main Character wouldn’t be as fun to create as someone with some spark to her. Nosy, insistent, persistent. One of Berryville’s more colorful residents. Persnickety. Treats her eczema with THC oil. Despite her advanced age, I want her independent and feisty. And yet, she is a vulnerable, lonely widow who confides her concerns to the framed photo of her late husband Ned. This too has been established.
Going with the crime spree theme, does our Agnes cower in fear or defends herself, perhaps with a handgun? I’m thinking the handgun–probably once belonging to Ned–would be the way to go.
Keeping the story light and humorous was also in the original scheme of things. Would a reader find an eighty-something woman adept at handling a gun funny? Nobody will get killed. They might get hurt, but they won’t get killed. Agnes might have to hold her own against a pack of young toughs.
So these are my plot musings for this morning. I don’t want her frail and weak. Agnes is going to be a tough old bird I want my reader to fall in love with.
In the shadow of Chicago is my fictional small town of Berryville. Sitting on the flat Illinois plains as conspicuously as a raised mole on otherwise clear skin, it’s suddenly experiencing a rash of burglaries and vandalism.
This idea was prompted by the “inner city element” that has pervaded my own hometown; in this case it’s from Baltimore and D.C., but being a Midwestern girl til my last breath, I set my story in Illinois. (Hey, that rhymed!)
So this means my characters have a setting, and nobody has a more prominent setting than Alice Harper, who dwells in the almost-magical Peanut House:
Sunken flagstones embedded in a fragrant ribbon of Roman chamomile and lemon thyme offered up their calming, fruity scents to anyone who followed the meandering path to Agnes’s small stucco house. Painted a dull salmon with brown comma-shaped accents painted randomly on all four sides, it was affectionately called The Peanut House. Gypsum sand twinkled in the sunlight, adding to the odd structure’s whimsical air.
Detracting from the dwelling’s somewhat homely charm was the spiderweb-like crack in the south-facing picture window. It bespoke of the recent outbreak of break-ins and vandalism that had been plaguing once-peaceful Berryville for the past three weeks…….
And voila! We have a setting established!
So I am cracking down on my writing in 2018 as promised and dusted off this trio of books I got a year or so ago. Starting today, I am gonna use the Book of Writing Prompts ,
and Prompt #1 basically asks the simple question, What Does Your Main Character Want?
So eccentric widowed Agnes Harper is my decided Main Character. She’s embellishing a crazy quilt with various items, some of which kleptomaniac tabby William brings to her. She lives in a fictional Midwestern town called Berryville. Her beloved husband Ned has passed away, and when her home is vandalized, Agnes laments in William’s presence how the old neighborhood has changed for the worse. Unbeknownst to her, Ned’s spirit hears her complaint, and sends William out to help improve the lives of their neighbors and thus improve the neighborhood as a whole.
So I may have my crisis for the story. I plan to work on that theme today.
Happy 2018 to everyone!