Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Following the sage advice of my editor, Nina Alvarez, I'm using an e-reader to listen to my next book to allow me to get outside the story. Hearing Keys Disease read by someone else is rather thrilling and even a little hair-raising. Listening makes it so much more realistic. What an ingenious idea! (And honestly, one I'd never have thought of, so thanks Nina!)

As you can imagine, my immature sense of humor gets the best of me when the computerized, emotionless female voice says bad words. (I've dubbed her R2M; Read to Me. Apparently, I've got a slight nerd gene floating around.) 120 pages into the exercise, and I still laugh out loud when R2M drops the f-bomb or gives a flat goddammit. We all know someone who laughs harder at their own jokes than anyone else in the room. Quite frequently, I'm that person, but I think it's swell. It makes spending time alone a damn good time.

Back to the point, Nina's suggestion was brilliant. I'm catching things that I'd overlooked in spite of multiple read-throughs. Not huge, glaringly ugly obstacles, but small bits that should be cleaned up. Repeating a word that was used a few sentences earlier, inconsistencies in a character's speech, that sort of thing. They were invisible to me until I heard the words being read aloud. I find that fascinating.

Stop yawning. This is exciting stuff.

Know what else is exciting? My Irish is coming right along. I can say please and thank you, ask for a menu, order a sandwich and a beer (critical), and talk about the weather. I'm currently working on the verb "to eat", which if you've seen the size of my caboose, is a very important one for me to master. I find it charming that instead of saying "The men eat." as we do in English, the Irish say, "Itheann na fir.", literally "Eat the men". Please admit you see the humor in that sort of sentence structure. If you don't, then perhaps this isn't the blog for you.

Fortunately, my high school French teacher, Catherine Nye, was a top-notch educator. Her methods for learning to conjugate verbs stuck with me and thirty years later, I'm using her shoe form to learn the verbs "to be", "to eat", and "to drink". These are probably the most important for me. You're scratching your head. Think about it. The things I will most likely need to convey or the things I'll want to talk about will involve my state of being, "I am...lost, tired, hungry, happy, etc" or involving the actions of eating and drinking. (Refer to a few paragraphs above regarding the size of my backside.)

Olaim beoir agus ta me sasta. (I drink beer and I am happy.) I suspect I will say this quite often whilst traipsing through the Motherland.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Keys Disease

It's been a productive few weeks for Book Three. Dynamic, you might say. The bottom line is that my next novel finally has a title.

Are you ready?

Keys Disease

It's okay to swoon. I did, too, when it slapped me across the face. Admittedly, I didn't coin the phrase, although I recall only too well how it feels to suffer from the affliction. Until this book, "keys disease' simply referred to that overwhelming desire you get to ignore your real life and make your Keys vacation your permanent situation. Each time Doug and I came to Islamorada with the kids during spring break or over Thanksgiving, I suffered from keys disease for months afterwards. I'd scour online job ads, apply to anything and everything, while day dreaming of palm trees and turquoise water.

This book has taught me that there are other versions of the disorder. I don't want to give away too much, but the symptoms may include excessive consumption of alcohol, drug use, human trafficking, unhealthy relationships, a sense of being stuck, trapped by one's income, etc. There are many forms the disease can take. None of them are terribly pretty, but all of them make for great stories.

In addition to establishing a title, the book's ending wrote itself yesterday morning. I thought I knew how it would end, but I was wrong. As is often the case, my characters have minds of their own and do whatever the hell they wish. I've lost all control over this band of boozing bandits and love-sick saps. It's so alarming when I think I have the upper hand and then one of these hambones takes control of the keyboard and before I can recover, we've shot off in an unpredictable - but wonderful - direction. They especially like to do this just when I think I've wrapped things up. That's when they pull at a loose thread in the fabric of the story, unraveling another mess for me to stitch back together. While I tell you now that the book's ending has been written, we all know that decision rests firmly in the hands of those telling the story; I'm just along for the ride.

I've worked on the book's cover, too. I'm not ready to reveal it yet, but I've shown it to a couple of friend's whose opinions I value, and their reaction to it was just what I'd hoped. I look forward to sharing it with all of you in the near future. Until then, I'll keep you posted on what happens as I make another attempt to wrap the book into a neat, little package.

Slan go foill. (Did I tell you that I'm teaching myself to speak Irish?)