Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Yardwork Approach to Writing

Historic Craftsman in Houston, Texas
Yardwork, like housework, is often only noticed when it hasn’t been done. Fortunately, I have an excellent house cleaner. Yardwork, on the other hand, is up to me. Sometimes I get it done in a timely manner.

I spent seven hours Friday weeding, trimming, mowing, filling dog holes, and performing other overdue yardly duties in preparation for the Saturday doggy play date and human dinner party. I’m pleased to say the yard looked quite presentable for my canine and human guests.

That’s all well and good, but my publisher is probably wondering what yardwork has to do with a writing blog. During those seven hours, I had plenty of time to think about Detective Scott McGregor’s house and yard and wonder whether he does his own yardwork.

Scott has an old Craftsman house; he likes the clean, straight lines and no-nonsense architecture. His manicured yard has a neatly-trimmed, flowering hedge around his covered front porch. The back yard’s covered patio is a necessity in Fresno’s sweltering summer heat. A high-end barbeque grill—his pride and joy—is built into an outdoor kitchen island.

Does McGregor do his own yardwork? If I do, he does too. He just does a better job.

Monday, June 1, 2020

McGregor Mysteries in Three Sizes

Plot ideas come easy. Making the time and effort to write them, not so much.

My McGregor mystery series arc is already plotted, but book ideas keep materializing. Some of the ideas aren’t fully fleshed out with well-defined sub-plots complementing the main story line, but the back burner in my brain is always simmering some concoction. I decided to write the extras as stand-alone novels occurring after the series arc of character and relationship development.

One day, as I avoided revising and editing the second McGregor mystery, it occurred to me to write the stand-alones as short stories. That would make McGregor mysteries available in three sizes. The first book, The Disappearance of Millicent Hart, is a short novel; the second case, Murder Goes on Vacation, is a novella.

I mentioned the idea to my publisher, and she suggested a book title and cover image. The first short story has been plotted and its first scene written. Now I’m dividing writing time between revising and editing book two, writing the first draft for book three, and creating short stories.