The Next Big Thing

Author Linda Cassidy Lewis tagged me to answer the following questions about my work in progress as part of The Next Big Thing meme. Be sure to read Linda’s responses for An Illusion of Trust, her next big thing.

At the end of the post, you’ll see who I’ve tagged for this meme.

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Here’s my Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your next book?
Moon Beach Magic

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I met Vince, the main character in Moon Beach Magic, in a short story I wrote a couple of years ago. That short story grew into a novella, Just Desserts: Greed. Lust. Death. Tiramisu.

I wanted to follow Vince farther on his journey, since he’d only begun to live at the conclusion of Just Desserts. Several other characters decided to come along for the ride, and I couldn’t bear to kick folks like Ernestine or Lizzie off the bus.

Maybe I pushed a character or two under the bus, but they deserved it.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s commercial fiction: a fun beach read with a splash of noir.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Vince and Lizzie are the only characters that I’ve cast so far. I’d love to see a Must Love Dogs version of John Cusack playing Vince. I’m enjoying seeing Cusack as Vince in my mind’s eye when I’m writing!

I loved Liv Tyler in Cookie’s Fortune and I’d like to see someone like that playing Lizzie.

My characters look like ordinary people, the kind of folks you see in line at the grocery store. I could spend an hour at Trader Joe’s and cast the rest of the movie. I hope I’ve written the characters’ personalities clearly enough so that you could, too.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After Vince’s world explodes, he lands in sleepy Moon Beach, where quirky neighbors, ricotta-cream pastries and local wildlife join forces to save the beach and each other from an eco-tourism disaster.

I won’t tell you how long it took me to write that one sentence.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m going to try for agency representation first for a limited amount of time. I’m kind of impatient, so if I’m not successful within that period, I’ll publish independently again through Edcentric. I like the control indie publishing allows, so it’s a win either way. Just Desserts was ebook only; Moon Beach Magic will come out in paper as well as ebook.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About a year, but I also got a couple of new knees at the same time and that took some time away from writing. I’m surprised at how long it’s taken to get from Draft One to Draft One Zillion. I’ve added several characters and subplots and ditched big chunks of earlier drafts, so it’s a very different book now.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
In my writing dreams, I sit at my computer, fingers on keyboard: I am channeling Carl Hiaasen through one hand and Anne Tyler through the other. Both of them would probably consider this dream a nightmare if they only knew.

I like to think Moon Beach Magic captures some aspect of both authors. Hiaasen and Tyler specialize in creating quirky characters and Moon Beach is certainly home to its fair share of eccentrics. I need to start ingesting swamp juice to catch some of the zany situations that seem to fly out of Hiaasen’s mind, though.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Vince. He deserved a decent shot at a satisfying life and I wanted to make sure he got it.

One of the things I love about writing fiction is the power to make karma happen at 60,000 words instead of over the course of eons. By the end of Moon Beach Magic, everyone will have gotten their just desserts.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I tried to include something for everyone: Mob threats, explosions, pastries to die for, a sleazy lawyer, redneck do-gooders, missing deeds, misunderstood artists, magic potions, shapely legs and long red hair, a loaded gun, a junkyard dog, hungry wildlife and the threat of massive development.

It’s a love story.

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In a week or two, each of these fine authors will tell you about their next big thing. Visit their websites and blogs and sign up for notifications so you won’t miss learning about their works in progress as well as their completed works. Enjoy!

Dana Mason

Linda McMann

Georgia Mullen

Inspiration

My next door neighbor rented a humungous – and very loud – wood chipper to deal with a tree that came down in our high winds a couple of weeks ago.

They started the sucker shortly after 7 AM this morning. At 10 AM they are still going strong. At least it’s pouring out. And cold.

I already have multiple explosions, voodoo, hungry alligators and sleazy lawyers in my novel-in-progress, but there’s always room for something more. Let me get back to work.

 

Nevermore!

I admit it, until yesterday I’d never heard of the Ravens. Or if I had, I thought it was a band, not a football team. I don’t generally think of sports in the same vein as, you know, culture. (I don’t generally think of sports at all, but that’s another story.)

I started thinking: What if other sports teams followed Baltimore’s lead? After all, these guys just won the Super Bowl. Did Poe come back from the dead to give them a boost? What if other major sports teams were renamed to reflect local literary icons?

I lived in Boston for many years, and my first ‘real’ job was at Houghton Mifflin. Every morning I walked from the Park Street subway station past the Old Granary Burying Ground, where legend and tourism brochures claimed Mother Goose was buried.

So, Pats, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins: y’all can duke it out over which team grabs my suggested rename: The Mother Geese. And if you don’t like that, there’s always the Walden Ponds.

I’m not holding my breath for either of these names to take, but I had fun thinking about it. So I’m punting the ball to your court (oh! sports reference! mixed metaphor!) Have a literary rename for your favorite team? (Dana Mason, I don’t want to rub it in, but the 49ers could really use some help.)

Feel free to share the new names here. Go team go. (Yeah, I’m a geek. But if you’ve read this far, you know you are, too.)

It's Game Time Again!

Well, it looks like posting this story might turn out to be an annual Super Bowl thang for me after all. Enjoy!

Game Time

All eyes were on Deirdre when she walked into the room. She hated times like this. Those stares, what they were thinking behind their glassy eyes – always made her uncomfortable. Wet circles began forming under her armpits.

Great. Now they could make fun of her hygiene as well as her clothes, her chewed nails.

The room was quiet a second too long; then Jed stood up. “Glad you could make it, Dee.” No one called her Dee. He opened the refrigerator and pulled out a Bud Light. He handed it to her and she nodded thanks, took a short sip of the watery liquid. It wasn’t even cold. Ugh, how could they drink that shit when there were so many decent beers out there?

Conversation started again. Larry launched into a monologue that left Deirdre dazed and everyone else entertained. She’d probably interrupted him by showing up. He finally stopped to take a breath and everyone except Deirdre laughed. He must have gotten to the punch line.

Tammy and Britt held their bottles up to Larry in a mock salute and clicked their bottles together.

They were drinking India Pale Ale from Deirdre’s favorite microbrewery. Then Deirdre noticed that everyone was drinking good beer – Larry, Jed, the rest of them.

What the fuck?

Deirdre imagined pouring her warm Bud Light into the big bowl of chips on the coffee table, or better yet, down Jed’s back. It was the first time she smiled all day.

Instead, she walked to the bar sink and tipped her bottle high, watching the foamy liquid swirl down the drain. She caught Jed staring at her as she opened the refrigerator and got herself an IPA. She took a long draught from the bottle and stared back. Much better.

So this was the “man cave” Jed talked about incessantly at work. She looked around. Testosterone oozed from the black leather couches, the big flat panel TV, the dartboard hanging on the wall.

She’d been included – inadvertently, she’d assumed – in an email inviting the staff to his house for potluck and the game on Sunday. Deirdre hated football, thought she’d leave before the game started.

But her new year’s resolution had been to get out of her own skin more, to act normal. This was an opportunity for her to at least try. Even her therapist would be pleased.

Her clothes were, as usual, all wrong for the afternoon. She’d worn dark slacks and a twin set. Everyone else was in jeans and a logo team shirt.

“Who’s playing?” This was wrong; she realized that even as the words were coming out. The looks ranged from incredulous to pitying. Well, screw them. They probably had no idea what was happening politically halfway around the world, let alone halfway across the city, if it wasn’t carrying a football team banner.

The silence lasted an instant too long. Tammy rolled her eyes for Britt’s benefit, and Britt barely stifled a chuckle. That did it.

Deirdre would play her own game.

“Hey!” Deirdre’s voice was jovial. “Who wants to play darts before the game?” Her co-workers looked at her. They’d never heard that upbeat voice. No one spoke.

I said, who wants to play darts?” This time her tone was different. Tammy shifted uneasily in the leather loveseat. Jed stood up. No one spoke.

Deirdre grabbed the darts from the corkboard. They were expensive darts – heavy, weighted just right. The kind she liked. At least Jed had picked those well. She aimed for him first. He dropped silently to the shag carpeting.

Were they all really moving in slow motion, or was it her adrenalin? Deirdre was able to aim slowly, carefully, accurately. Soon she’d used all the darts, and the room was quiet.

She stepped over Britt’s body on her way to the refrigerator. She wanted to grab a couple of beers to take home.

She might watch the football game after all.