A book grows

For reasons unrelated to much of anything, I needed to send what I have of TOUCHSTONE to my editor this week. I don’t normally give her–or anyone–a look until a ms is finished, but this one is feeling so strong to me I figured it couldn’t hurt the process any. So I did and she wrote back “You were correct. My life is irrevocably altered. Now what shall I read? Nothing else will please me.”

(You see why I love my editor?)

So that’s all good. Of course, it doesn’t mean I’m not in my usual fog of confusion, and doesn’t mean that I have anything but the faintest idea of what’s coming next. It does mean I feel solid about the book and have an anchor point at the end of it, and I know myself well enough to see that it will probably be enough to get me there.

TOUCHSTONE is coming up to 100 pages now, roughly a third of a first draft. Three central characters are now down pat, in the sense that I know how they speak, what they look like, how they will react in a given situation–with surprises, of course, it wouldn’t be writing if there weren’t surprises. A fourth character has just appeared, with the last two waiting in the wings.

And I’ve been reading a ton of boy-books, to immerse myself in the pace and feel of what are usually called thrillers–Lee Child, Bob Crais, Jeff Parker, Tom Perry, almost all of them books I’ve read before. Because TOUCHSTONE is that kind of story, harder and faster than the Russells, heavily populated by males (of the six main characters, four are men.)

And for the past week or so, the book has laid hands on me. It’s there during my every waking hour and some of my sleeping, its texture and the choices: What is the first thing Bennett Grey’s sister does when she appears? Would the American lawman have a gun with him in this English country house? How to show the relationship between Grey and the main woman character?

Small touches with major impact: If a young woman steps demurely out of the car and puts out her hand to her brother, or if she bounces out and flings herself at him, says the world about her, and him, and them.

Many of these small and vital episodes come to me when I’m doing something else, which is why it’s good not to try to write too many hours a day. I find swimming such a great means of generating plot twists and settling plot problems that I really ought to be able to deduct my mini-pool as a writing expense.

So at 1500 words a day, TOUCHSTONE grows. I’ve managed that stint for the past week, and have another few days before life interrupts during the mornings when I write–I’m taping some chat with the local PBS station for their Friday night mystery pledge break, which means half the population of Bay Area PBS viewers will hate me for that damned interruption of some great program. Sorry about that.

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  1. Anonymous on February 11, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    Aughhh!!! No-o-o! I am so envious! The mini-pool is the last straw! Girl, you have everything I want! 🙂 You’re wheeling along on a good, strong book, you live in a place with the word’s best climate, AND you have a mini-pool! I have wanted an Endless Pool for so many years it isn’t funny. Now I shall have to live vicariously through you. Joking aside, I’m glad that TOUCHSTONE is going so well … and that I’ll get to read it before too very long. Swim a lap or two for me! Iris Lady

  2. Jan on February 12, 2006 at 12:09 am

    I do so enjoy being “involved” in your thought process.

    Just fyi, I read all your blogs, although I don’t usually comment because I read them on http://www.livejournal, where I have my own site, so don’t get around to logging off there and coming on here.

    However, I do want to let you know how much I appreciate your oppenness, your candor, your willingness to answer questions. Also looking forward to the new Martinelli, and of course, to Touchstone.

    God Bless


  3. CarenP on February 12, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    Wow –
    I just have to say that you just named three of my favorite mystery authors: Robert Crais, Lee Child, and Thomas Perry (Oh, for more of Jane Whitefield!).
    And, since I’m here anyway, instead of my usual lurking around the back of the room, I’ll add that I’m hoping for another book in which Rae Newbourne is featured. I’m a clinical social worker and a serious woodworker, and I felt like she stepped off the page for me. I’d love to have lunch with her, and invite Kate and Lee, and Vaun Adams as well…
    A short story, perhaps?

    Thank you for many hours of wonderful reading!


  4. Anonymous on February 13, 2006 at 2:22 am

    Ahhh! This book sounds wonderful!!! It’s going to be hard to wait another year to finally see it!

  5. Anonymous on February 13, 2006 at 5:45 am

    A agree with CarenP … I’d like to see another book about Rae and woodworking. That series is a promising one, with an intriguing storyline. But a short story would be too small a bite for my voracious appetite. A book, please! Iris Lady

  6. 2maple on February 13, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    Where you are is the best place to be!

    I love it when my vision of a project of whatever sort moves beyond the ‘e2’80’9cbeing overwhelmed to the point of inertia by a seemingly ever expanding information, questions and ideas’e2’80’9d stage to focus, clarity and direction when everything starts to click. It is so much fun! Not that nothing is happening in the fermenting stage’e2’80’a6it’e2’80’99s just that the process is just impossible to see and you just have to trust it to happen within you until it becomes clear enough to take charge and know what to do with the things that are bubbling up.

  7. Anonymous on February 18, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    NEW BOOK ALERT *** Laurie (and others), you may be interested in reading LOST, by Michael Robotham. I believe it is the best example I’ve ever seen of writing in first person, present tense … and it is also a very good read. This is Robotham’s second book … I haven’t yet read his first, SUSPECT, but I plan to seek it out ASAP. Iris Lady

  8. christine on February 20, 2006 at 4:04 am

    I love hearing about your writer’s mind and how your book has “laid hands” on you. It’s an exciting feeling. A friend and I have been writing a story together for the past couple of years for fun, new scenes get added whenever the spirit grabs hold of us. I like what you said about small touches with major impact – we’ve been working on our little amateur story for so long without really advancing the plot because we keep throwing in the little things that define our characters and make them more real. Writing is such an exciting process, and reading about your process makes reading your final works even more exciting! Thanks for doing what you do!

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