I heard a line in a movie once that made me nod my head. The main character was a writer, and he told someone, “I’m 300 pages into this book and I still don’t know what it’s about.”

That probably sounds strange to those who don’t write, but I identified with it immediately. When I am half-way or even three-quarters of the way into a book I am writing, I start getting paranoid over whether it’s really any good at all. I’m sure a lot of writers go through this. Sometimes I just ask myself, “What the hell are you doing? Is anybody really going to care about this story?”

Apparently SOMEONE cares, because my books keep selling. But the story (and its characters) is so close to me that I begin to wonder if all I am doing is living with the characters in daily life. Daily life does not consist of “plots” and “goal-motivation-conflict” in such fast movement. All those things happen to us gradually throughout our lives, and they keep changing, depending on our age and life’s circumstances. I am so close to the story that I don’t give any thought to the common rules of writing. Rather than a carefully-crafted beginning, middle and end, I just walk into the characters’ daily lives and continue their story. I never use a outline.

I am currently about three-quarters done with SHADOW TRAIL, which is scheduled for a June 30th release. Yikes! I have some fast writing to do! A lot of personal and emotional things have been going on for me since January or I would have finished the book by now. Along with all of that, I have felt very much like the quote above. I don’t “plot” my stories. I just move along in the lives of the characters. I create a problem for them, and then they have to solve it. Very little mystery and suspense, other than, with Jake Harkner in this series (this is book #6 for the Outlaw Hearts saga), the suspense is usually, “Will he live or die?”

I think I have a good story here. According to one of my beta readers, it’s the best one of the series. I hope she is right. “Life” has forced me to write this one hit-and-miss. I usually write fast and straight through, so having to stop for days, or even a week or two at a time, has made it difficult for me to stay coordinated with this story, which brought to mind the above quote. Of course, I do know what it’s about – Jake’s past has revisited him in a whole new and surprising way, forcing Jake to admit something to his wife that he’s kept a secret for 37 years. Now he has to take care of something that is a total surprise to him, and he will face a lot of danger in doing so.

I guess if I stay true to Jake’s character (and his wife’s and son’s), I can’t lose, because all of you wonderful, supportive readers love these characters. I am working hard to get this book done so you can enjoy the story by the end of June. I already have ideas for a book about Lloyd and Katie, and after that, a story about a grown-up “young Jake,” so I can promise more from this saga. I am just venting through this blog about how, sometimes, authors begin doubting their own story and wonder if it is developing in a way that will keep readers coming back for more.

Be prepared! Jake is coming back into your lives the end of June!




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