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Oh, those WIPs!

A writer’s WIPs, the Works in Progress, can be exciting or they can be discouraging.  In my case, they’re both.


I have The Great Idea for a novel!  Research supports that great idea—so much to consider, to include (or not) in the book.  Research almost becomes an end in itself.  Oops.  Then a  snappy opening, the perfect first chapter that draws in the reader’s interest and anticipates more to come.


And that’s it.


The next Great Idea!  Ditto.  Maybe not even an entire chapter.


The next Great Idea . . .

See what I mean? The ideas surge over me like waves on the beach and leave no time to develop before the next rushes in. The most ambivalent feeling of all is working feverishly on a wonderful project just knowing all those WIPs are lurking in the background waiting to see the light of day (or an agent's desk lamp.)

My current project is a mystery series set in London in the 1660s centered around the Good Morrow tavern. Here's the blurb from the fit book, Bless the Good Morrow:

Sudden disappearances in 1660 London can be for many reasons—all of them dire. Three days after arriving in London, brother and sister jugglers are separated when he vanishes leaving no clue. Bronagh sets out to find him in a city she doesn’t know with help she doesn’t have. The Good Morrow tavern provides unexpected support and encouragement from the taverner, Alain Vernier, from Quarter-wit, and even from the quiet man in the corner. But finding her brother Dathi may not be the good news she anticipates.

As excited as I am about this series which has the potential for several books, I still agonize over the WIPs languishing on my shelves and in my computer.  Here are some of them, and in sharing them with you I can 1) spread my misery to others and thus lessen it for me and 2) give the poor WIPs some recognition and hope for the future!


Knight in Exile – for fans of Rafael Sabatini who liked his 1904 historical adventure novel The Tavern Knight but were disappointed at the ending.  Knight in Exile follows our hero Crispin Galliard and his suddenly acquired young wife as they trail along in the court of Charles II while he is exiled to the Continent.  My plan is to turn Sabatini’s flat characters (after all, he is famous for his swashbuckling action stories) into living, breathing people with hopes, fears, doubts, mistakes, and ultimate self-realization along the way.  Good thing the exile lasted several years!  The first page of my first chapter is a sequel to the last chapter of The Tavern Knight and does catch the reader’s attention (at least it did mine) but there it sits.


Rendezvous with Destiny – made it to short story status and has great potential for a longer novel.  Takes place in 1934 Seattle where so much was happening in all areas of life, either in spite of or because of the Depression.  Our protagonist, Emily Standard, recent college graduate and enthusiastic worker for Seattle’s Social Welfare League, is caught in a dilemma:  to inherit the very sizeable estate of her late Uncle John she must marry within one year a man named from birth John Jay Smith.  Right now the story has a HEA ending for Emily, but I can see Emily’s friend Lydia stepping into the spotlight as she gives up her nursing position at Seattle General Hospital to pioneer as one of the first nurse-attendants on Boeing Air Transport flights.  And the burgeoning Seattle jazz scene needs some chapters as well!  And Amelia Earhart’s visit, and . . .


Untitled – American Civil War era set around Philadelphia’s Satterlee General Hospital.  Our heroine is Anna H.G. who wrote a letter to her friend Nannie dated March 4, 1863.  I have the original letter and envelope and spent hours and hours researching clues in the letter for people, places, and events of the time.  It’s a Great Idea but one that is waiting for a story.


The Write Friends – a disparate group of would-be writers gather to talk about their projects and end up sharing their lives.  Chapters follow each of the members as well as the periodic group meetings.  Sixteen chapters so far, but creating and tracking the character arcs for seven people is exhausting, especially when they’re all going in different directions!  What’s the difference between a group of writers and a herd of cats?  Nothing.


The Rantin’ Laddie – proud to be a debut novel and in final edit process!  Based on an old Scottish ballad of the same title, this tells the romantic story between the lines of the ballad.  But what’s more fun—trimming the first half of the novel that’s taken four years to write in order to move the story along faster or following Bronagh as she tries to find her brother in 1660 London? You guessed it.


So there are my WIPs that thrill me and bother me at the same time.  I want to finish them all.  I have to live to be 110.  Maybe it’s possible . . .

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