How Time Flies

Yikes. How can it already be this late on Wednesday afternoon? Yesterday was the Fourth of July, but it felt like Sunday. That means today feels like Monday, but is really almost Thursday and the blog posts on Friday, so I’d best get my rear in gear.

Yes, yesterday was a holiday, but not for writers working a deadline. I banged away on the next Beau book all day long. I ended my work day at 55%. I know I’ve mentioned before that I count the words at the end of each day. Being at 55% means I’m only 5% from 60%, and 60% is magic because that usually means that the beginning of what I call the banana peel in each book. That’s the part where, for readers and writers alike, it’s tough to put the story down because everybody wants to get to the end.

For me the process of creating a book is divided into three parts. The first 20% is usually the most difficult. That’s where I need to introduce the characters to the readers. There are the new characters who are specific to whatever book I’m writing. Then, because I write series, I need to bring all the ongoing characters into the picture as well. This is a tricky process, not unlike walking a tightrope. I have to introduce on-going characters in a way that allows readers new to the series to feel at home while not boring long time readers to tears. Yes, I know from blog comments that at least on of my longtime readers doesn’t appreciate those little recaps.

The middle of the book from 20% to 60% is like slogging through mud or the sandy dry riverbed of the Hassyampa River on a hot June day. The latter is a sure ticket to heatstroke. Don’t ask me how I know. That’s when I’m putting the pieces together and figuring out who did what to whom. Since I’m not an outliner, that’s how I find out about the story—by writing it; by telling the story to me.

When I hit 60% it’s time for a long, deep breath. By now the what’s happened has come into focus and being in that critical last 40% means it’s time to get to the resolution—to unmask the bad guy and put him or her out of business. That’s what usually happens in what I call the crashing climax. In Nothing to Lose, I had no idea that would involve Twinkle Winkleman literally driving her International Harvester straight through the locked security gates at a municipal airport. That really was a crashing crashing climax. (My grammar checker is busily pointing out that I’ve just used the same word twice in a row. Too, bad, Siri. As far as I’m concerned, autocorrect can go to he’ll. And just so you know, Siri didn’t like that one either.!)

So that’s my Friday morning day brightener. Now it’s time for me to make dinner which will entail warming up leftovers from yesterday. Once dinner is over. I’ll get back to J.P. When I left him last, he was about to have a telephone interview with an important witness. Just so you know, he’s not all the way there yet, but he’s on the right track.

Hope everybody had a great Fourth of July!

35 thoughts on “How Time Flies

    • My thoughts exactly!!! I know it’s his ‘turn, but I want Joanna or Ali lol. I’m happy with any of JA’s books though.

  1. Love hearing about the creative process.
    P.S. “Heating up leftovers”…you’re my kinda gal!

  2. Looking forward to seeing Beau very soon. Thanks for every word you write, no matter what % it’s in.

  3. This is so cool! I love learning about your process! Why “banana peel”? Slipping danger? Last strip of revealing?
    My gripe with AI trying to write for me is that I can’t live with it and I can’t live without it. I get aggravated with it for making me look stupid when it replaces my words with “better” ones, so I turn it off, and then wonder why it’s not fixing my atrocious spelling.
    Happy writing!

  4. I look forward to Friday mornings so your blog can start my weekend on a happy note. This one did also

  5. As a reader, it is the first one per cent of a novel that tells me whether I want to continue. Luis Alberto Urrea’s Good Night, Irene had me hooked on page one. But Foucault’s Pendulum (Eco) put me to sleep after the first six lines. Those are just two examples. I don’t care whether you spend a few pages telling the backstories of your principal recurring characters. That’s no big deal. I just want your characters to be interesting. Or in Twinkle Winkleman, fascinating.

  6. Happy 4th to you as well!

    Bless our forefathers for their trials and tribulations in forming our country as a ‘free’ world.
    Good luck with keeping it all in place (heart moji)

  7. I love your books! I like the recap on each because, as I’m thinking of getting older, I tend to forget parts of previous books! Especially if it’s been over a week or so since I finished the last book. And I don’t necessarily read them in order. Don’t ever stop writing!

  8. I trust the dogs were safely tucked inside and distracted from those scary fireworks on the 4th. Our neighborhood was relatively quiet, for which I was grateful.

    So much of the country has been overheated this past week that I hope all the readers are able to keep comfortable and safe and hydrated. At this time of year, I settle in with a book about noon when it gets too hot to be outside — earlier for the past several days.

  9. I think a recap on different characters is necessary because folks may not have read your books in order. Like Windy above I forget parts of previous books as I’m getting older.

    I’m looking forward to another Beau book. I assume he has a car rental adventure which is one of my favorite things about his life.

  10. Another great blog. I enjoy learning about the various steps that take place along the road to completing of a book. I like it when you make reference to something that has happened in an earlier book. It is like a little inside gossip from an old friend. Serial authors must need a good memory to keep all of the characters straight. You do a great job. One of the authors that I read changed the name of one of the husbands from Alan in Book 2 to Brian in Book 3. That is why good editor are important.

    While writing a book, it is during that last 20% that we come to the “chase.” Like when you are racing to the airport before the plane takes off. Do you stress yourself? Does it raise your blood pressure. It sure does mine. There is a point in everyone of your books when I have to stop and take a break before finishing the rescue.

    Keep writing. Take good care of our Beau … my William Holden look-a- like. We love him and only you can protect him. You have a mighty big responsibility. We are counting on you.

  11. Goodie–another Beaumont. He is my favorite followed by Ali.

  12. I enjoyed your description of the way you wrote the book.

    I am actually glad that you do a little recap of the characters because it brings me into better focus of the story. And occasionally for writers I really enjoy, if there are audio books available I got back to the beginning of a series and listen to them on audio books while I walk.

  13. Hahaha! You’re great! Can’t wait for Beau again! (Pardon the !!!! But it’s how I talk!) (Lots of enthusiasm!) More and more I wish we had become friends when I saw you at my book distributer. Ah well —-

      • No it was that distributer in Tukwila – kinda buried at the south end of a small strip of warehouses. Can’t remember the name anymore. I’ve been out of the loop for 10+ years now.

  14. Can’t wait to read it! I’m in the heat and (ugh) humidity so decided to cool off with reading the J. P. Beaumont novels from the beginning.

  15. I sure hope we meet up with Twinkle again! She really deserves her own series (you know, in your spare time!).

    Congrats on getting to 55%.


  16. My wife and I had a quiet 4th. We took a few days to visit our grandson for the extended weekend. We came home on the 4th and did not run into any significant traffic jams on the roads. We have had 2 quiet days and then our granddaughter comes to our place for a few days.
    Glad the book is going well. You’ve got this!

  17. Looks like i am not tne only one wholoves TWinkle.
    I alsolike tefreshing my memory about characters.

  18. Absolutely loved this blog. Your writing process is heaven to my ears, and a big ” so there!” to my creative writing instructors insisting I outline! I love that you don’t know what’s going to happen till you write it. That’s the most fun in writing. Siri can go to “he’ll” too!
    Rosie (without the hat).

  19. I appreciate your commitment to your characters, years ago there was an author who wrote series who committed the annoying big change of a character, Peter. in the first 4 books she made a point of saying Peter would never do something. in the next book she said that something was something that he did and always had did that something

  20. Very interesting, and I can really understand how you experience the different phases. Have you ever gotten to/past that 20% mark, or more, and had a major rethink about the entire book? I know there are rewrites, but I’m wondering if you ever get well into something, and feel you need to go in a different direction?

  21. For some reason this fourth of July felt subdued to me- Not as many fireworks in our neighborhood of NYC as there usually are-
    I can tell when I am in the last 40% of your books- My heart beats faster, and I am so glued to the pages that I can pay attention to nothing else- Like riding a big wave in its rush to the shore- It is just thrilling!

  22. Speaking of ‘Twinkle Winkleman’, wasn’t she supposed to have a short story coming up soon?

  23. I for one like the recaps, it may have been awhile since the last read. And I cannot wait for JP, he is my favorite!

  24. Hi!
    I enjoy your blogs and always marvel that you take time out each week to write even more – above and beyond – your book series stories. From your “How time flies” blog you wrote, “I have to introduce on-going characters in a way that allows readers new to the series to feel at home while not boring long time readers to tears.” Again, I marvel at how you do this withOUT causing me boredom in the least! Well done, again and again. I’m glad to know that you are busy with another Beaumont novel; that’s my favorite series. I’ve been listening to the audio versions of your Walker family, Joanna Brady, Ali Reynolds and JP Beaumont for some time. All of your readers bring SO MUCH to the story. You’ve chosen well with them all (except somebody mispronounces Saguaro!) 🙂
    Best wishes,

  25. Dear Ms. Janice, I truly enjoy reading your weekly letters; you always have something interesting going on and or some wonderful memory that I love hearing about as it makes me (I want to say love) you more, but I don’t want to sound like a crazy stalker. lol. You have brought a lot of joy and tears etc to me through all of your books. I’m still having a tough time getting close to Ali; but I think it’s because I love Joanna and J. P. so much! Anyway please have fun getting through the rest of this next J. P. book as I cannot wait to find out what he’s up to since Alaska! Thank you again, Sincerely,, Teresa Leonard Snyder, West Palm Beach, Florida.

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