Webb's Blog

Read the first chapter of THE PUFFIN OF DEATH at


Saturday, June 30, 2007

On my way to the north woods!

It's 115 degrees in Scottsdale, so I'm loading the dogs, cats and hubby into the SUV and heading up to a small cabin in the piney woods of northern Arizona. This is supposed to be my vacation, but one look at my luggage shows me I'll be doing more work than relaxing. A laptop. Six pads of yellow, legal-sized paper. Something like 20 black gel pens. Two shopping bags full of books (and I'm only reviewing three for Mystery Scene). Obviously, I'm a workaholic.

Since I finished "Desert Cut" a couple of weeks ago, I've been roaming around aimlessly, trying to figure out what to do with myself. I can't start on the next Lena Jones book until my editor decides which of the four ideas she'd like me to develop into a full novel. So other than the Small Press column for Mystery Scene that I'm tidying up, I'm not writing anything. This is a bit traumatic for someone who is used to getting up around 3:30 or 4 every morning and writing until 11 or 12, taking a break, then returning to the toil.

Out of frustration of not being able to write about Lena again yet, I've been coming up with ideas for a new series. Male protagonist for a change? A female again? First person? Third person? Someone living in the sticks or in the big, bad city? West coast? East coast? The hearty heartland? Cozy? Noir? These are all the decisions a writer has to make before writing down that first sentence -- or maybe that first sentence itself will inform the writer what kind of book it's going to be. Books do tend to boss writers around.

I was talking to James Sallis once, and he told me that the idea for "Drive" came to him in one image: a man sitting against the door of a cheap motel room, with blood flowing towards him. Out of that one image came a small masterpiece. If you haven't read "Drive" yet, do so. To my mind, it's flawless. The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Entertainment Weekly, and other media agree with me -- they voted it one of the Top Ten novels of the year.

Back to my own writing frustrations. I have about six file drawers full of ideas for novels, so I'm not exactly lacking material. The problem is that right now I'm loathe to make that emotional decision as to which idea I want to throw my heart and soul behind. Since writing a book take over your every waking moment, you have to make certain it's exactly the right project. And the project has to fit in with whatever Lena Jones I'll be working on next (I have a suspicion which of my LJ ideas my editor will want developed, but I've been wrong before). So I guess what I'm really thinking about is writing TWO BOOKS at the same time.

Geez, I must be nuts.


Julia Buckley said...

It looks terrific, Betty! I look forward to reading your tips of the trade and seeing more of these wonderful pictures.

Marilyn said...

Betty, it's a great website, love the photo with the "stars" in your eyes.

From one who is far more wrinkled as you, you look terrific.


Lonnie Cruse said...

Hi Betty,

Love the blog. You mentioned on DL that one picture is larger than the other? You can fix it (or any pictures) IF it's in the body of your blog post? If that's where you uploaded it, go into "edit" and click on that post, then click on the picture when the post opens and you should be able to resize it. To move a picture to another spot in your post, you can go into the HTML function, copy the code for the picture and re-paste it where you want it. (I confess, I haven't tried that yet.)

I met you in Nashville when you spoke to the Mid-TN SINC chapter. Great to see you here.

Marilyn Victor & Michael Allan Mallory said...

Betty -- the North Woods is in Minnesota : ) Love your blog. And am thrilled that Desert Cut is finished. After our talk at Mayhem, I can't wait to read it. I picked up Desert Wives this week and am going to start it as soon as I finish the other two books I've got my nose in.

Enjoy your vacation!