Anticipating the End

I love the tingly sense that the end of a story is near. You can see it out there on the horizon, so close, but not ready to be touched just yet. You know it’s creeping in, but you can’t look at it directly or it will dissipate like fog, gone forever.

And since it’s Christmas Eve I’ll use that analogy – it’s like being a little kid again, sitting near the tree with its lights and decorations, grasping that nutcracker and thinking, tonight the magic will happen and he will turn into a prince.

Hands hovering, fingers near the keyboard, or lightly holding the pen, breath almost held, knowing the words are almost here, almost free.

Of course the downside of that anticipation is the fact that soon, the gifts will all be open. The end of the story will be written and all that’s left to anticipate is the long slog of revising and the business end of getting the book out there.

But for right now, the story is still just mine, still magical, still unknown.

And oh so close.

Potential piece of cover for book #3, Ghost Roads

Potential piece of cover for book #3, Ghost Roads


Stubborn Characters

I’ve said this before, but I have fun with Yahoo Answers. I go to the books and authors section and read posts about writing. I answer quite a few, and in answering am forced to pause and think and learn. I see many topics that come up repeatedly. Some of the very, very common questions include ‘what should I name my character’, ‘what do you think of my story’, ‘I want to be a writer but need an idea’, ‘how do I get published’, ‘can I write a story when I’m only twelve’ and so on, each one so earnestly asked and so deserving of time.

The most recent one I saw asked for tips on how to develop a stubborn character. The person wanted to know what to do with an annoying character that refused to have the personality the questioner wanted.

Sounds like my kind of character. Or at least some of my friends. Stubborn, unique, individual, doing what they want. I like the character already.

Seriously though, I responded because I think all writers have had that happen. Matter of fact, those can be the best characters because they don’t do what we want.

There can be so many reasons for this. One thing I usually ask first, is if I am trying to force a particular character into the wrong role. Sometimes that character belongs in a different part of the story.

It reminds me of the time my friend (and author) Susan Schreyer, had problems with this one very meek character who just wasn’t doing what Susan wanted. Turned out this very meek character actually wanted to be the villain. When Susan realized that, the whole story took on a different shape and pieces fell into place.

Sometimes the character won’t do what you want because you let personal feelings get in the way. I actually had a character who reminded me of someone I did not care for. I so wanted that character to be the villain. Vicarious revenge. I struggled with the plot line until I realized that my personal emotions had to get out of the way of the character, and then the story line developed easier. Kind of the opposite problem that Susan had.

Sometimes it’s as simple as the writer not having fully developed the character, so that the character isn’t understood.

And sometimes the plot develops in a way that pulls out action from the character that the writer didn’t plan for.

There are so many reasons for something like this to happen. But it brings home to me just how wonderful it is when a character is so alive that they become a life outside of our expectations. If the character is alive like that, then I’m willing to bet the story will be, too.


Not a character in a story, but still a character.

Not a character in a story, but still a character.


The Traveling Interview

Author Susan Schreyer ( asked if I would like to be part of a ’round robin’ author interview. The questions stay the same so you can follow the trail and see what each author thinks.

What are you working on right now?

Book #2 in the Mountain Mystery series, Sparrow’s Silence, is due soon. Book #3 is beginning to simmer in the depths of that space where ideas come from. Oddly enough, the first new character to spring to life is a troublesome dog. And then there’s this story in a different genre plaguing me.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

Well, let’s see. Sparrow’s Silence is set in Wallace, Idaho, which is such a unique setting. One thing I strive for is a setting that becomes as important as the characters. I want the ‘place’ to be so real, that it pulls at you and haunts you. That’s what I like in books I read, too. I want to be swept away, not just by the plot and characters, but by wherever the author wants to send me.

What experiences have influenced you?

Moving to the woods was a huge influence. The mountains seem so mysterious. I just know there are endless stories up there in the areas few people go. Every time I try to write a story in a different landscape, say for instance the badlands where I have family, the story falls flat. If the setting doesn’t give rise to an almost homesickness for me, it sure won’t for the reader.

Why do you write what you do?

Well, the easy answer is because I love to read mysteries. The harder answer is that I love when a story pulls me in with questions. Not just plot twists, but character questions, too. I always want to know why things happen, why this person is who, and where they are.

How does your writing process work?

I have to say I envy Susan Schreyer, because she plots and outlines. That seems so organized and professional. I tried it once. And failed. I’m an ‘organic’ writer who always knows the very last line of the story. I may not know all the characters, I rarely know the plot. But I know how it is going to end. So writing becomes figuring out how to get to that ending.

What is the hardest part about writing?

Oh man, being able to find time. I want, and know I need, a set schedule. But just like my inability to outline, I also fail at schedules. I’m pretty good at setting aside weekend time, but I need more than that.

What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

The non-mystery story I’m attempting is one with multiple points of view. I’ve never written that way, and am intimidated by the scope of multiple voices. I’m not sure I can pull it off, but at the same time even if it never gets published, it’s going to make me stretch and learn as a writer.

Who are the authors you most admire?

Elly Griffiths. She is a master at the haunting landscapes. Try her first book, The Crossing Places.

Elizabeth Peters. I’ve been reading her books for many years. I love all her series, but especially the Amelia Peabody books. These are written in first person, but she does a fantastic job showing the point of view character through the eyes of other characters, even in first person.

Meg Gardiner. All of her books, but especially the Evan Delaney series. Meg knows how to write action and tension and how to grab the reader immediately.

S.J. Bolton. I love how she keeps me wondering what is myth, what is fact, what is ghost story, what is real.

Then there are the authors I love to read: Carol O’Connell’s Mallory series, C.J. Box, Val McDermid, Sharyn McCrumb, P. J. Parrish’s Louis Kincaid series, and Patrick McManus. He writes mysteries, now, too, but when I want to laugh, I pull out his earlier essays on growing up with quirky characters. Try They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?

Who are new authors to watch out for?

Kaylan Doyle, Susan Shreyer, Lisa Harris. Wonderful writers. And then there are the poets, Sabrina and Pat. I’m not using their last names as they are not ready (in their minds) to be public. But when they send out their poems, you’re going to be blown away.

What scares you?

My son is now driving. Enough said.

And here, for those who want to continue with these travels, is a link to the next person to get interviewed, author Lisa Harris. Lots of humor, quirky characters, and romance…if you like that mix in mysteries you’ll like her writing.

Where did this little guy go?

Where did this little guy go?