And Now A Word About the Weather…

Welcome to an icy and windy Pacific Northwest. (My typing fingers wrote Pacific Northwet which auto-correct instantly changed to Pacific Northwest, but the other version seems right as … well … rain.)

The last real snow here was the day before yesterday, but below freezing temperatures mean that everything on the ground has turned to ice. Currently the snowplow attempting to clear a path to my grandson’s school, three miles from here, is stuck in … well … icy snow. I have a feeling all available tow trucks are already engaged. It may be a while before that snowplow gets loose, and school is out for the third day in a row. Since my daughter’s home is directly across the street from said school, her street is an ice-skating rink, and she’s home from work for the third day in a row as well.

As for our house? We live at the top of a dead-straight and very steep driveway which is now icy, too. At the bottom of the driveway is a narrow private road. And beyond that? An equally steep cliff with no guard rail. So going down the driveway before the ice melts isn’t exactly an option. As for the private road? That’s icy, too. Yesterday, a neighbor’s vehicle spun out and spent most of the day aimed at but not hitting our mailbox. That car blocked traffic from below while another stalled vehicle just up the street blocked traffic in the other direction. You might say we were an island unto ourselves. There’s a palm tree in the corner of our pool deck. Because it’s sheltered from the wind that is knocking snow and ice off taller trees, that weighed-down palm tree is very unhappy right now.

But here’s the good news. My commute from the bedroom to my writing chair by way of the coffee machine remains totally unaffected by the weather. And this morning, my commute became downright terrific. I left the bedroom and walked two dogs, Mary, with her eye surgery cone in place, and Jojo, with a bit of a hitch in her get-along, to the doggy door in the laundry room. Mary went out. I opened the human door to let Jojo out. She can make it up and down the steps, (something for which I am incredibly grateful), but with three-inch-long legs, the height of the doggy door opening is too much for her. While they were outside, walking in the required number of circles, I continued on into the kitchen to turn on lights and the coffee machine. When I turned around BOTH dogs were back in the house and curled up in the family room. Thank you Dr. Qahwash! Thank you so very much.

So yes, we’re all snug as bugs in rugs around here, and with no power lines down our electric service is uninterrupted. That means I’ve been writing steadily along. Why not? With Jojo’s physical therapy canceled, with our personal trainer appointment canceled, and with company unable to make it up our hill, there’s no reason not to. And I have to tell you, I’ve been making good progress.

I may have mentioned before that I count the words every day. That’s how I keep track of forward progress. As of this moment, I’m 22,369 words into Joanna # 19, Missing and Endangered.(M&E as I refer to it in my files.) Books are supposed to be 95,000 to 100,000 words long. I always aim for 95,000. That means only 72,631 to go. Yippee!!!

Out in public people often ask me about my “writing process.” There are several answers to that. There’s the no outlining answer which means I start with someone dead or dying and then spend the rest of the book figuring out who killed that person and why. There’s the ‘here’s my day’ answer which means telling people that I get up, start the coffee, answer email, read my on-line papers, and then go to work. (This morning answering my email meant sending a relatively new reader, definitely an IOR (In Order Reader) a link to the books-listed-in-order link on my website. It also meant doing an online Q and A with a blogger who just read Sins of the Fathers and was surprised to discover that book was two dozen books into the Beaumont Series.)

But here’s the real writing process story. I sit in my writing chair, one chosen specifically to be wide enough to contain both a human with a laptop on her lap along with a dachshund lying next to said human’s hip and thigh. And the hours go by. Sometimes my fingers are actually typing on the keyboard—as they are right now. Sometimes my fingers are playing endless games of Solitaire. (My record time for winning on The Fan is one minute, forty-six seconds!)

Two days ago, I was supposedly working on M&E but playing solitaire, too. I had been working on part of the story that was keeping me engaged and connected, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering how it was related to the rest of the book. And then, suddenly, I knew—I figured out who was in jeopardy in that part of the story, and for murder mysteries, that’s usually the whole point. Who’s in jeopardy?

Yesterday when I went back to writing, KERBLAMMO!!! I had a 3,000-word day. Those don’t usually happen until I’m on the banana peel of a story. So I wrote 3,000 words and walked my 10,000 steps. They were all indoor steps, and those take longer—two full hours.

At that rate I could finish the book in jig time. Bill and my editor are probably both hoping the ice will stick around so I can finish the book that much sooner. But that’s not going to work.

We’re going to run out of milk sooner than that.

18 thoughts on “And Now A Word About the Weather…

  1. Love this! and so glad to hear the doggies are doing so much better. You’re on a roll; hope the ice stays a bit longer!! and you don’t need cow milk, switch to plant-based as it’s so much healthier for you. cow milk is for calves. oh, sorry, we won’t get into that. Anyway, re your email to the person who read Sins of the Fathers and didn’t know there were so many more good books, I loved Sins…it was really a good one. (well, they all are, although I can’t get into the Walker family set). Looking forward to new book… Having my cup of tea now. Keep warm and happy~~

  2. Good morning and a great Blog. I can feel the cozy world you live in. Wonderful news about the dogs. Our world is calmer when our pets are comfortable. I am sure that you are all adjusting to the ice and wet but burr. The icy roads sound frightening. I wonder how many days like this you usually deal with in the winter ? Let your words flow as the outside is freezing.

  3. Yay, glad you are safe and doing well! So excited about the next Joanna book, she is my fave and as such, it seems like the time between books is forever! She was pregnant with Dennis as long as an elephant gestation, or at least that was how it seemed! ? Stay safe!

  4. We’ve only had a dusting of snow down here in Vancouver, WA.
    Glad you are cozy and safe in your home. Hope the weather breaks before you run out of milk! Happy writting!!

  5. Going through the rain and ice here in southern Missouri as we speak (type). Your words really hit home even down to the dachshund at my feet. 33 degrees and hoping some warmer weather comes sooner than later. I love reading your blogs almost as much as your books. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I love that you play Solitaire while writing. I have a couple of games I play while writing as well, and I always feel a little guilty about it. I feel so much better now. Alas the paper I have written for for almost 22 years was just sold and I was left behind, but there’s always blogging. I won’t wish you more ice, but I am sure looking forward to M&E.

  7. Sunny and 66 right now in Tucson. We are headed to the 70s for the weekend. Do you miss us yet??? (grin) Glad to hear the pups are all on the mend. The cat who owns me (Fabian 16yo) is headed to the vet for a dental next Friday. Gotta keep the chompers in good shape. As to the milk–you do know that milk freezes beautifully. Keep a couple of containers in the freezer for times just like this and you’ll not have to ever worry about going out to get it when your roads/weather are icky. Stay warm and safe there in the frozen north.

  8. So happy to hear you have not been without power during the storm, as I set here in Savannah, Georgia, today it’s in the 50’s, earlier this week, it was 80’s!!! We are expecting freezing temperatures by Tuesday night, so the covers will go back on my outside plants. So happy to know another JB mystery is coming, I have missed her.

  9. I do so enjoy your stories and your blogs. Have been a dedicated fan from the first words I think. Friends and co-workers have shared your books over the years. Always keep an eye out for the next one. Thank you for your writing.

  10. Because I crunch numbers all day, I play Boggle. I tried Scrabble but Boggle is faster. So now I’ll tell my secret, I play boggle while listening to books. And I listen to books while working.
    Keep writing I’m waiting for your next book, I have several bank reconciliations to do.

  11. Ms. Jance – If you weren’t so new to Seattle I’d suggest Panorama City in Lacey. Our “hills” are the cut out in the sidewalks. Last Feb in “snowmagddon” the grounds crew had all streets clear within 24 hours. Of course they left huge piles in people’s yards. But we seniors don’t work in the yeards. That’s part of the Ground Crew job.

  12. I was raised with Dachshunds they are the sweetest little dogs but with any bred they have their problems one being the disc in their backs. I remember my Mom and Dad lifting our Hans up and down the stairs until his little back was better. Love our little one he’s a poodle because I became allergic to most dogs.
    I remember living in Federal Way and that one storm that came thru every third or fourth year that shut down the state always had extra milk. Lol
    The new fan who just found you I have to say I Envy her/ him . They have hours and hours of reading pleasure in front of them . All your past books unread wow what a gift from the Gods.
    It’s 65 in Surprise Az today. I am sorry you must endure the cold stay warm and you can live without milk stay off the road. Safeway delivers.
    Have a pleasant week .. Jan

  13. Don’t you wish you were in AZ with Joanna?! Des Moines, Iowa, is suffering the same ice issues. My driveway faces north, has an incline from street to garage, and is a skating rink. I’m getting a LOT of scrapbooking and audio book listening done!! Just counting down the days until I drive to AZ myself.

    I’ve just completed all of your series. So can you try for 4,000 words today? Hahaha

  14. Hey! I’m not an IOR. I’ve been reading your books for probably 20 years now, and still haven’t read them all. I tend to buy them at library books sales and thrift stores, but also a new one now & then. I prefer the older ones as I can more often find them in the smaller Paperback size. The larger Mass Market & Trade Paper sizes (not to even mention a Hardback!) are too big to carry around and too heavy to hold up for very long or to read while lying in bed (where I do most of my reading these days). Anyway, I enjoy your stories and characters, especially Joanna and Ali. I just read (finally!) Desert Heat, the story of how Andy Brady was killed. Good one! Thank you for the treasures you have created for us all and for many generations to come. I live just north of Prescott, so especially enjoy reading about the local places. 🙂

  15. Thank you for your weekly blog post, it is always nice to have something to look forward to on Friday morning. I just finished Sins of the Fathers. The story felt like it related to me in a way. I recently “found” my family via Ancestry. I never knew my biological father but had a father while growing up who had adopted me when I was very young. I am finding that learning about my biological father is like the proverbial onion. It is layered as I get all the versions of him from his 4 children. Actually that has been wonderful as I get a more rounded sense of him. Your story of JP dealing with finding out about his new daughter and her story of growing up clicked with me. Then his sort of realizing that this is a new person and new and ongoing story for his life too. Like the layers of an onion that will slowly drop away. That is what is happening with me and my new family too. Who would have known that telling someone about your life would be so complicated. Somedays, it would be nice if I could just give them a video of a particular time rather than try to explain it. And the same for them to me. But, with what Corky’s wife says, acceptance and patience we all hope to move on together. Thank you for writing this book.

  16. That is a very apt description of our weather up here in the Northwest at this time of year for sure. Today is rainy, rainy, with a chance of rain. I just finished Sins of the Father and it was great. I love a good Beaumont book. Especially loving his I love Lucy fix. Keep on plugging away JA! Can’t wait for your next endeavor.

  17. I am new to the blogs and I just loved it. Your description of your home made me feel I was a guest in your house. Thank you for that. My son lives on Vashon Island and he has been telling me about the very cold weather. He is coming to visit me in California to warm up a bit. I will be back to Seattle in June. I love visiting there.

  18. I’m so glad that Jojo is doing so well. I have just found your books. I started with the Joanna Brady series as I am somewhat familiar with the Cochise County area. I will be at the FMCA rally in Tucson. My husband and I have two Doxies so watch out for us. The WeavingRVer (Ann Weymouth)

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