On the road one of the most frequently asked questions is this: What is your process?
So that’s what I was thinking about while I was outside getting 8000 steps in 81 minutes—my process.
We’ve all heard that Law and Order intro that talks about the criminal justice system being divided into two separate parts—the police who investigate crimes and the attorneys who prosecute them. Ditto with my process. It’s divided into two very separate parts.
One of those parts is being on tour. For that I’m out in public, interacting with fans, doing interviews and speaking engagements, and signing books. For that I’m sleeping in strange hotel rooms, eating in restaurants, living out of a suitcase, and paying attention to my makeup and hair. For those, other than doing my weekly blog, writing is the last thing on my mind.
Then I come home and suddenly I’m living a completely different life. Hair and makeup are no longer an issue because here I’m not a celebrity. Here I’m the door opener for Jojo. We have a dog door, but it came with the house and was built for a much larger dog. Jojo, the miniature dachshund who underwent back surgery a number of years ago, has four-inch legs. She can go out the doggy door if it’s time to bark at the neighbors’ dog, but for anything else she prefers that I open it. Since I’m the in-house clean up crew for any kind of mess, I’d rather open and close the door. I’m also the chief cook and bottle washer.
Since I’m a night-owl by nature, on tour I have to be up at what feels like the crack of dawn. At home I crawl out of bed whenever it suits me, have some coffee while reading and replying to whatever emails have come in overnight. After that I scroll through the news. It’s definitely news light. I used to be a two-newspapers-a-day girl. I’m over that now. These days the news is so consistently bad that I take it in very small doses. I dip into the headlines, follow a few comics, and read the advice columns. That is followed by making and serving breakfast and getting my steps.
Then it’s time to go to work. I write in an easy chair in the family room using a laptop on my lap. Bill’s chair is to the right of mine with the TV set directly in front of us. He watches endless episodes of Escape to the Country, Homestead Rescue, Star Trek Next Generation, and Fringe. Does that bother me? No. Growing up in Bisbee in a family of seven kids, I learned to work in a certain amount of chaos, and that early training has served me in good stead in my adult life.
This time it took me the better part of a week to transition from being on tour to getting back to actual work. (I used to be able to make faster turn-arounds.) Day before yesterday the “first pass”, aka the galleys, for Blessing of the Lost Girls showed up in my email. Doing the galleys is the last stage of editing on my end of the publishing process. After being out on the road talking about Ali Reynolds et al, I’m suddenly plunged back into the worlds of both the Walker family and the Bradys. In the Ali books, an AI named Frigg is often front and center. In the Walkers, the folklore and legends of the Tohono O’odham are woven into the fabric of the various stories.
In order to edit the book, I obviously have to read it—word for word. I’m happy to report that I’m loving it. On page 134, a conversation between a mother and daughter sent a wave of goosebumps up and down my legs. If reading the story can do that to the person who wrote it, shouldn’t it have the same effect on other people who read that passage?
The battle to write Collateral Damage took a full year, from March 2021 through March 2022. After writing a third of the book, I had to go back to square one and start over. With Blessing I wrote the book from beginning to end in two months flat. In both cases the magic is there. In Collateral Damage I had to fight to find it. In Blessing it was there from the get go. And in Girls’ Night Out, the Twinkle Winkleman novella I just sent to my HarperCollins editor, the magic showed up in that as well.
Once I finish doing Blessing’s first pass, it’ll be time to turn my attention back to my guy, J.P. Beaumont. I don’t know much about the story so far, and the book still doesn’t have a name, but I’m walking into it with the hope that the magic is still there for all of us—for Beau, my readers, and for me.