Sometimes I still can’t believe my murder mystery (Still Life in Blood) won First Place in both the Delaware Press Association’s Communications Contest and the National Federation of Press Women’s Communication Contest in 2014.
That was five years ago! I’ve been working on Still Life in Ice, the sequel, for the last several years.
First, I tried writing during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I burned myself out. I would work all day, then come home and write for 5 hours. I was exhausted—mentally and physically—from trying to crank out as much as I could. I had no concrete handle on the characters or the reasoning behind some of the plot points. Yes, I knew what happened in the first book to cause the events of the second book, and I knew those main characters well. But the second book was from a different set of characters’ points-of-view.
I jokingly tell people that I wrote the first book to set up the second one. I tell them that Still Life in Ice was what I had in mind from the beginning, but none of the events would make sense without the first novel.
I took a year off, literally, from writing. I didn’t write a poem, a paragraph, a short story, or even one sentence in my book. The only writing I did was email/business writing. During that year I watched other writers in my community post about winning awards and contests, of being published in magazines and anthologies. I wasn’t jealous of my fellow writers’ accomplishments. I was excited for them. I wanted them to win, to publish, to succeed. They worked just as hard as I had.
But I told myself to let the story brew on the back burner.
After that year was up. I tried again. Instead of writing during NaNoWriMo again, I took a one-on-one class with my former teacher/mentor. I gave her ten pages a week for eight weeks.
80 pages. I had a start.
I still didn’t know where the story was going, who most of the characters were, what was happening, why the killer was killing, nor who he was… among other subplots. But I had a great start. An 80-page great start.
When my eight-week one-on-one class wrapped, I was back to square one when it came to consistency. I no longer had a deadline. And with my day job as busy as it was, I didn’t have time. I was working overtime every day, sometimes weekends. Instead of plowing forward, writing chapter after chapter that would only need rewriting later, I committed to finalizing out the plot. I only wrote brief scene summaries. Before long I had 90+ scenes. But I was still lacking one key element: the ending.
I called a friend and told her I needed to brainstorm. She and her husband invited me over for dinner and we talked, the entire evening, about the book. And by the end of the night, as we were eating dessert, I had the killer’s motive, his profession, and most of the ending plotted out in my head.
That was a great feeling and I haven’t forgotten it. I think about my book, my characters every day. The actual writing has simply been on a brief hold while I have been busy opening my own business—also in the book business… I launched Byzantium Sky Press late last year and it has been growing steadily. I’ve been working on putting together/ designing other authors’ books and it has sparked my desire to finish my next novel.
So I just pulled out all of my written scenes, scene summaries, and notes on the sequel and have been flipping through them this evening. Happy to report that I am back to writing Still Life in Ice. I know most of you have already read Still Life in Blood, but if you haven’t, you can get it here.
However, if you can wait a few months, a re-release of Still Life in Blood, complete with a brand new cover and updated interior, will be out this Summer with an excerpt of Still Life in Ice! So stay tuned!
If you’ve been patiently waiting for the sequel, I am looking forward to bringing you Still Life in Ice by the end of the year—if all goes to plan! You will not want to miss what’s going to happen to our southern Delaware coast in this winter thriller!