I’ve often wondered why I never get to the end of my to do list. Today I finally got it, because it’s a to do list, not a done list, or a never mean to do list, but a to do list, and the items that you don’t get accomplished just get transferred to the next to do list.
I’ve noticed that the ones that get left over from the list the day before, are also the ones that don’t get done today or tomorrow. There’s a message there. So tomorrow i’m putting the ones still to be done tonight at the top of tomorrow’s list. Think I can make it work?
For example, this blog. I have three novels and a novella coming out from now through September. Just thinking about it amazes me. I’ve been doing edits, copyedits, proof reading as well as beginning next years books. (May the force be with me . . .and you too.) I’ve written blogs for other people, but I forgot about my own.
But I’m still here and this year’s novels will be here soon.
My beach book comes out first. It’s sort of a Big Chill -2015 Jersey Shore Edition story. Four childhood friends , well actually three friends and the other girl who sometimes hung out with them, come back as adults to attend a funeral. Things have changed . . .or have they? Maybe they are finally experiencing all the things about friendship that they never understood before. But can they trust it? Or each other?
It’s a theme I like to explore, the meaning of friendship and trust and how far love can bend before it breaks.
What about friendship interests you most?
Whisper Beach June 16
Shelley Freydont mysteries coming in July, August and September. Whew!
What a winter, right? Add to that moving and a deadline that galloped toward the present and I’ve been hibernating in front of my computer screen.
But now the novel is finished except, fingers crossed, a couple of more read throughs. I have a couple of days before I need to start on the next one in earnest. And the weatherman promises Saturday will be warm enough for my first extended walk on the beach.
I’ve been several times. Thanks goodness for thermal clothes and warm coats, hats, gloves. Still except for a few occasions, my nose gave out before my feet did. That ocean wind can be a deal breaker for long strolls along the shore.
But now I’m psyched. I’m turning in my super dooper hybrid mountain bike (really it belongs to my daughter) and getting myself a beach cruiser. No gears, it’s flat here. And I don’t need to feel the wind whizzing by as I ride, I just need to peddle to the beach.
We Jerseyans love our shore. We go down the shore for vacations, for holidays, for relaxing, for inspiration, just for the heck of it. Memories are made there. Lives are changed there. And many good times have been had there.
Hurricane Sandy did a lot of damage. It hurt individuals, families, friends, neighbors. But in new Jersey’s indomitable spirit, everybody came out to lend a hand, donated goods, time and financial support, trying to make life a little more comfortable for those who lost their home, business or a loved one.
BUT WE’RE BACK!!!
Seaside Heights back and building
I’ve been busy with a bunch of deadlines and hours of writing, but I took a day off to drive over to Seaside Heights to see how things were going.
And they were going. It was a Tuesday and though the boardwalk wasn’t thronged, it is the very beginning of the season, it was there and looking good. Arcades were open, games and food lined way. Both carousels were up and running.
I’m a big carousel lover. I’m exultant that I finally got to put a carousel in my upcoming book Stargazey Point. The book takes place in a fictional town on the South Carolina shore, and strangely enough , though written well before Sandy, it’s about a town devastated by decades of hurricanes that looks toward its old carousel to lead it back into prosperity.
Yike’s, kind of scary. Little did I know then that I would be getting first hand experience of how my characters were affected and how their lives were changed, and most importantly of all, how they made a comeback, stronger than ever.
Carousels are more than just a ride, a fun few minutes, to me at least. They are symbols of childhood innocence, of hope, of dreams. A lot to ask of a ride that goes around in a circle with none of the high tech thrills and chills of being suspended in air, dropped through space, scared out of your wits. Up and down and round and round, sort of like life, and if you’re lucky there’s a brass ring to take home.
Here’s an excerpt from STARGAZEY POINT
Even when the carousel music slowly wobbled to silence, Cab could still hear it playing inside his head. Sometimes he heard it in his dreams and he and Midnight Lady would gallop over the sand, wild like the wind, his Uncle Ned had read that from a book once, wild like the wind.
His uncle locked up the carousel, stuck the cash box under his arm, and came to stand beside him. “Tired, son?”
“No sir,” Cab said, stifling a yawn.
“It’s a mighty fine night, ain’t it?”
Cab nodded. Stargazey Point was just about the best place in the world. Like living in a carnival.
Uncle Ned said goodnight to the women closing up the community store. They were going home for the night, but out on the pier people played the arcades and ate cotton candy and drank lemonade. If he listened real hard, Cab could hear music coming from the pavilion out at the end, where the grownups would be dancing to a real live band.
Ned put his arm around Cab’s shoulders. “Time we were getting home. Have us some left over barbeque and get to bed.”
They walked away from the beach, the lights, the sounds and into the night. They were half way home when Uncle Ned stopped in the middle of the dark street. “Look up at the sky, Cab.”
Cab did. The sky was black and there more stars than you could ever count. He sighed. School would be starting soon and he’d have to leave his uncle for another year. He didn’t want to go, he didn’t like boarding school, everyone here was nice.
“I wish I could stay in Stargazey Point forever.”
“Maybe you will one day. It’s a magical place, sure enough. It can mend your heart, make you strong, and show you the way to follow your dream. You remember that, Cab. There’s not a better place in the whole world than right here at the Point.”
I confess, I took off from my current work in progress Friday and went to the beach or as we say here in Jersey, down the shore.
I had way too much to do to think I could take off like that, but it was the last day of summer and besides my mind was working so slow I knew I wouldn’t miss much while I was gone.
My beach pal picked me up and off we went, beach chairs , umbrella , cooler. sun screen, books and even a notebook and pen in case inspiration struck. It didn’t, but that was okay.
I spent the day reading someone else’s book, staring at the ocean, or closing my eyes and contemplating the inside of my eyelids. Occasionally I’d take a short walk up the beach and back. There was a handful of people on the beach catching the last rays of tanning weather. A few read. Most just sat back in their chairs, eyes closed trying to soak in enough summer to last through the winter.
We left before rush hour so we wouldn’t get annoyed at traffic on our way home. And there was a rush hour, all those people who didn’t play hooky to go to the beach. Or those who were coming to spend the entire last weekend of summer’s end down the shore.
I got home with no more words written than when I left. But I felt energized and when I stopped to think of it, I had acquired several new characters to incorporate into some book some where at some time if I ever needed them. (The lady at the deli definitely will have a place in a future work.)
So I guess you could call it a working day off. Or a field trip. Or just being receptive.
Since March , I’ve written a Christmas novella , a Thanksgiving novella and I’m now working on a Christmas mystery (Dec 2013). The days grew longer, the plants sent out new shoots, the snow melted, and I was still enjoying the holidays in my office. School let out, graduation came and went, the pool was cleaned and opened. And I was deep in bleak midwinter.
Well not so bleak. I was having a ball following my characters through the snow, tackling their problems as they prepared turkeys, decorated trees and learned the true meaning of the holidays. I was totally engaged.
Then one day I caught myself going to the closet to get my coat to go to the gym. It was 80 degrees outside.
Talk about being lost in a book.
So last week I took a break and went down the shore with friends. We went mid week so the beach wouldn’t be so crowded, the traffic wouldn’t be so gnarled.
At least not so crowded and gnarled as the weekend would be. It was still pretty busy. And hot, oh boy was it hot. And muggy.
Never fear, what time we didn’t spend on the beach, we spent in air conditioning, playing dominos and drinking some excellent wine made by friends. They have over two hundred bottles in their basement. They get as involved in wine making as I do in my characters and their stories.
One thing that I did notice. It’s hard to relax, even when you’re relaxing. Even the folks lying out in the sun, seemed to be tanning with a vengeance. All loaded down with coolers and chairs, and books, and e-readers and boom boxes, and ipods. Phones are constantly in use though the glare of the sun really cuts down on efficient texting.
Still, a good time was had by all. We came home on Friday. I was still in ninety degree beach mode. In domino victory mode. Still thinking about drinks with little umbrellas in them.
But it was time to get back to work. So I booted up the computer, back to my Christmas mystery.
And stuck. I noodled around. Tried to pick up where I left off. Couldn’t get a rhythm going. So I took a break. Made some dinner. Turned on the television, promised to get an early start the next day.
Channel surfed for a bit and landed on the Hallmark Channel. And guess what they were showing. Hallmark Christmas Movie Weekend. In July. Several hours later I was back in the snowy, festive days of December.
Cape May Christmas
Evidently I’m not the only one who needs a little good cheer in July.
And as far as inspiration goes , I’m back in the swing of all things mystery and holiday. And I realize that it helps sometimes to have a little distance on what you’re writing about. Christmas seen from the summer.
What do you think? Do you write or read “in season” or does it matter? Do you find yourself listening to the Beach Boys in December or the Vienna Boys choir on the Fourth of July?
It reached eighty degrees here last week. Normally I’d drive down the shore, take a beach chair and a book and sit out for a few hours before treating myself to a nice lunch and driving home.
But a weird thing happened. Last week I also put the finishing touches on a Christmas novella and sent it out. A couple of days later I started on my next mystery which as it happens also takes place at Christmas. The beach idea flew right out of my mind.
I was in word count mode and my imagination was full throttle. I had to set a timer so I wouldn’t forget to go to the gym each day. Now here’s the weird part. Do you ever get lost in your book, whether reading or writing so that you lose track of time, or place or . . . the weather? The timer went off. Time for the gym. I finished my sentence and headed to the closet for my coat.
And stood there. There were no coats in the closet. No scarves, no winter hats, no gloves.
Because I had put them all away several weeks before. I’d forgotten because I was so immersed in snow and good cheer (No I was only drinking black coffee all morning.) that I had totally worked myself into thinking it was winter outside.
That’s a great thing to happen when you’re reading and writing. It makes fiction seem so real. But it’s just a little scary when it doesn’t stop when you close the book or when your lap top switches to sleep mode.
I’ve pretty much successfully trained myself not to plot while driving. I’ve been known to arrive at a destination that wasn’t intended. Or look up at a light and wonder how I got there. But that was in years past and needless to say, not in a high traffic area, for instance midtown Manhattan, but in those places where your full concentrations wasn’t needed. Regardless, I decided that plotting time would have to go during driving time. Now I listen to music as I drive and keep my eyes and mind on the road.
Which means my mind has to take over other noncrucial moments to play out a plot line. Which has led to the charred dinner rumor my kids passed around. Let the record show, I do not burn everything I cook. In fact, I hardly ever, well, not often, not too often . . . It was just those grilled sandwiches that I wandered off to look at my email and forgot until the smoke alarm beeped sending me running back to the kitchen. Now if I cook, I stay in the kitchen. We eat a lot of takeout.
They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste. It’s also pretty funky when it wanders off like a misbehaving child. But what adventures it has.
I hope you’re just like me nad have learned to coral those pecky ideas. Where has your mind wandered lately?