I wrote the first three chapters of the third Niki Alexander mystery several months ago. Seems like ages ago. Everytime I revisited the work, I stalled. With the second book, Lost Witness, just out in October – actually the night before I went to Bouchercon in Indianapolis – I knew I had to promote the book. Too late, I told myself, to get my publicist, PJ Nunn, involved. But I had to do something – get reviews, get signings. Just before Lost Witness came out, A Box of Texas Chocolates, The Final Twist Anthology, which carried my story, “Dying for Chocolate” was released and the authors were promoting. Then, of course, I had my full time job at Black Pearl Exploration.
To tell you the truth, I felt overwhelmed. I’ve done a few signing for A Box of Texas Chocolates and none for Lost Witness. I’m waiting for a date with Murder By The Book. By word of month, I’ve sold several copies – not enough – and sent my book out for reviews, put up my author page on Amazon and Goodreads, let people know on Facebook, but there’s always more to do.
At the same time I was finishing a short story for next year’s Final Twist Anthology with the Texas Landmark theme. Once I finished, I was given the opportunity to edit other stories which would be included. That took time.
Don’t let me forget Mystery Writers of America and getting out the Sleuth Sayer for the Southwest Chapter and doing my Treasurer duties, and being on the nominating committee for next year’s election. A lot of work for a national organization who won’t even recognize my published books. But that’s another story for another day. No more whining.
All this time, the third book is calling me. I’m always thinking of the plot and the characters and what goes next. I read over the three chapters. I didn’t have a clue where to go next. I bought 3×5 cards. I set my eisel in the office next to my writing desk so I could do a story board. Materials were ready, but I was not. Darn!
So finally, I got most of the other stuff done and out of the way. Thanksgiving is finally over with, thank God! We won’t even go there. Too personal. Maybe another day I’ll write about my family’s dysfunction. For now I’ll write fiction.
So I spent most of the weekend rehashing the backstory of Niki and the characters that people my untitled manuscript. I found something I didn’t expect. I found my original character sketch of Niki Alexander. She wasn’t the same person I wrote in Less Dead and Lost Witness. Most of her character was there, but several paragraphs of her past had never come up. In fact, I’d forgotten the character I had imagined back then. Maybe that part belonged to another character whose story I haven’t written yet and but will someday. So I rewrote her biography the way she turned out in my books. Now I had to face the actual writing.
It took quite a while and then I realized what was wrong. I didn’t like the first three chapters. It had a good hook, but I couldn’t make sense of it. What I had didn’t go where I wanted, or how I had planned in the beginning. I needed it to start with a problem that I could fix. The new problem that I discovered by doing the synopsis. I had to kick life into the characters and get to the main plot. So the first three chapters went away.
I’ve only written three pages so far, but I like what I have and I’ll keep writing. I still have several hours of writing time today. So until later, I bid you adieu. No more procrastinating.