Thursday, February 11, 2016

How I was saved by a goddess

First of all, I need to ask you to be patient with this post. Read it with the knowledge that I do have a point. The back story I'm about to tell really is important to the final conclusion. This time, my rambling actually does serve a purpose.

Back in November of 2013, I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month, more commonly known as NaNoWriMo. I was involved with a writing group at the time, and had some friends who were excited about the challenge. I'd never done it before, but had been thinking about a story idea and was interested in giving it a go.

We were living in Germany. My husband is employed by General Dynamics, and he was working on a military contract that took our family to Europe at the end of 2011. Smack dab in the middle of my NaNoWriMo experience, he got word that his contract was ending. We had about six weeks before his job there was finished, and so my attention was redirected to a monumental relocation back to the States. The story I'd been working on was shelved.

That was a little more than two years ago. The story I was writing was a funny one ... light-hearted and a little goofy. I've always been fascinated by Greek mythology; something handed down to me, perhaps, from my father who came from Greek ancestors, and who was also intrigued by the stories. In seventh grade, my literature teacher taught a semester long unit on the Greek gods and their religion, which only intensified my interest. I've done a lot of reading and researching on the topic between then and now, and this book I wanted to write had a lot to do with what I'd learned. 

When we finally settled into our new home in Colorado, my writing took a different path. It was all about starting over for me, and I decided to pick up yet another story I'd started. It was inspired by my grandmother, whom I'd lost about seven months prior to our arrival back home. I began focusing on that, and eventually it became Alabama Skye. I always thought of Alabama Skye as a stand alone novel. I had no intention of picking the story line up again once it was published. Happily, many of my readers disagreed with this, and I began receiving feedback from them saying they wanted more from the characters. They wanted more of the story. That's how the second book in what became The Gannon Family Series was born. In August, 2015, A Skye Full of Stars was released.

When I published A Skye Full of Stars, I was suffering from a wrist injury. (If you're interested in reading about it, you can do so here.) After months of different treatments, I finally had two surgeries and wound up with an ulnar wrist joint replacement. I was unable to type for more than five months, and the voice recognition software I was using was less than perfect. (Frustrating is a good, if not somewhat inadequate. way to describe it.) I was feeling sad ... and, although I had an outline written for the third book in The Gannon Family Series, I was struggling to put down the words. 
The thought of beginning a whole new novel felt daunting without the use of both hands. Sure, I had a story line in my head ... the outline was (very nearly) complete, and I had readers excited about the release of Under a Southern Skye  ... but it was too big a pool to jump into. The Gannon Family Series is a rather serious group of books. The story is, at times, somewhat dark. The third one goes back to Scotland during WWII, and getting into the character's heads is such an important element of the telling of their story. I was frustrated with my injury ... and my months' long inability to do the simplest of things such as drive a car or tie my own shoes. I wasn't feeling on an even keel emotionally, and was afraid I wasn't going to be able to give Finlay, Sarah, Alicia and Una the justice they deserve. 

I needed to do something less serious. 

I needed to write something that would make me laugh.

I needed to work on something I'd already put a lot of work into so I wasn't starting at page one.

I thought about compiling some short stories and poetry I'd written years ago together, and publishing that along with some of the scenes I'd deleted from both Alabama Skye and A Skye Full of Stars. The problem with that was most of the stuff I'd written back then was done on a typewriter and put in boxes to be stored. With my wrist in a cast, I couldn't dig through everything to find any of it. (You can only bother your family so much. How willing would they be to go through a bunch of dusty old boxes when they had already taken up all of the cooking and cleaning chores in the house?)

I thought about picking up a story I'd started a very, very long time ago - then titled Fool Me Twice - which could be classified as a thriller. There was a problem with that idea, as well. Most of what I'd written on that project was printed out years ago, (way before my sixteen year old was born, and saved on floppy discs that were thrown out during one of our many moves.) In order to make any progress on it, I had to read it aloud with voice recognition just to get it into Word. I started that tedious and mind numbing process ... I even gave the book a new name - Clever as the Devil - but it, too, became too daunting. 

Both of these ideas were worthwhile, but the only thing they had going for them was that I wouldn't be starting at the beginning. They were still more on the serious side, and the only thing about them that might make me laugh was reading writing that I'd composed years ago. That would be more the kind of nervous or maniacal laughter, and not really what I would consider healthy in my already over-emotional state of mind.

This is where NaNoWriMo 2013 comes into play. (You see, I told you I had a point.)
I found the right project! It's less serious. It definitely makes me laugh, (and this is the good kind of laughter, the happy sort of giggle that makes me want to keep writing so I can find out what happens next.) I'd already written nearly 40,000 words of the manuscript before I picked it up again, so there was a great base for me to start from. It couldn't be a more perfect project for me right now.
I introduce to you Dead Beat Dates & Deities, book one of the new Goddess of Tornado Alley Series! (Click the photos to enlarge.)

Oooh, I'm so excited about this! Here's another teaser:

We (my amazing PA, Samantha and I) already have a cover reveal set up on Facebook for April 24th, and a two day release party scheduled for May 21 - 22.  I've had both hands for typing since January 21st ... and typing is what I've been doing!

Under a Southern Skye will, with any luck, still be released before the year is out. (This is optimistic - it will most likely be the first part of 2017.) Finn and Sarah's stories are waiting impatiently to be told. But first, I have a rather pushy Greek deity that's hogging all of my attention. And thank the goddesses that she is.