April 2018

April 2018

Sunday 1st April 2018

I have just finished Between a Rock, my latest book in my BREAKING CAMP MYSTERY SERIES. I had hoped to have it through its final edit and on sale by spring, but spring is late coming to England this year, and I'm afraid I'm a bit late as well! One of the more onerous tasks of self-publishing is self-editing. I have always hated going back over anything I've done before—but I actually don't mind editing my books because I usually wait a day or two and then it feels as if I'm reading a new book- even though I know what will happen, I'm usually surprised! I think this is because there is a lot of action in my books, so the story moves along. I'm quite pleased that the biggest complaint from my readers is that 'I couldn't put it down'!

I realized early on that I would need to include a map with this book, and in fact, I drew myself a map and had a calendar by my side soon after I began Between a Rock just so I knew who was where...and when!

I remember in eighth grade reading Around the World in 80 Days for which I made a salt map of Phileas Fogg's travels, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I love looking at maps, old and new. I love reading about how maps were made, and still wonder at the early navigators looking to the stars for guidance. I like knowing where I'm going, what are the features of the terrain, what do the place-names mean, who lives there? What do they do? What do they eat? Where do they work? And I like thinking, and planning, about where I'm going to go- both personally and in my books. I always want to know where North is, and really miss not having a compass on the rearview mirror of our latest car. It does have a SatNav, which yes, comes in handy, but it doesn't plan hours, or days, or weeks in advance. You can't pore over a SatNav...and dream!

I do enjoy mapping out my books. The setting for my story is a huge part of my beginning process. First of all, is it going to be written with an American voice or a British voice (and I've been told by many that never the twain shall meet!). I always need geography; it's my starting place, sort of like a home base. I need to visualize the place where my story takes place (or is this just an excuse for more travel?). I am a big plotter or planner, and these all go in my opening notes—descriptions of people, and, of course, places.

I often look at my life as a map, which is still unfolding. Yes, there were times I thought my map was 'flat' and I was going to drop off the edge, but for the most part my life has been a 'circle', what goes around in my life, comes around. The people and places I know, visit, experience, come back to me again and again, altered, yes, but also the same. Also, what I see and experience today I'm pretty sure is mapped in my brain, and someday will come out in my words, if not in an actual map.

Between a Rock was written with a specific place in mind—Sylvan Lake, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My father took us camping there when I was 14. I've been back two more times—it is a stunning place; I couldn't make up a more beautiful lake. And so it morphed into Yellow Trees Lake. My next book (already in process) will also make use of a map, or perhaps just a floorplan (big hint!)