Tag: Maggie Dove

Maggie Dove

The Third Draft

I’ve been working on my third Maggie Dove book for more than a year. The first draft flowed out of me in a Nanowrimo eruption–more than 50,000 words in a month. The second draft took longer. I had to read through all those words and figure out what the plot was, which did not become clear to me until about word 17,000. Then I had to figure out who the characters were and what they wanted. You would think this would be a simple matter since my protagonist stays the same from book to book, but Maggie Dove is evolving (as am I) and I needed to think about how to reflect that. Then, of course, there are all the murder details, and those take a certain amount of cogitation. Drowning versus falling off a cliff versus getting hit on the head with an ax. I have to choose the right thing to go with the murderer, and oh, about halfway through I decided that the killer was going to be someone else entirely. I surprised myself, and hopefully will surprise the reader, but that meant I had to go back and think some more about what I’d plotted out. By the time I finished the second draft it was November, and now I’m in the midst of the third draft, which I find the hardest one to write. Because there are no more little spots where you can write in TK (meaning To Come, meaning, I’ll fix it later.) This is the draft where I have to fix that sentence that has been giving me trouble all along. This is the draft where I have to figure out how on earth someone can be some place on Tuesday when I’ve just set up a snow storm on Monday. I have the confidence of knowing the story’s there. The story is in place. But now I have to make it shine. All of which is to say, it takes patience.  So much of writing takes patience and I’m coming to realize that a big part of patience is trust. I know I will do this. Unless of course I go keeling over, I will get this done. I will make it through the holidays, I will finish up my manuscript and send it to my agent and she will say wise things. I just have to take the time to do it just right. But honestly, I just want it all to be done.  How do you keep your patience?

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I Have a Question

Book clubs seem more popular than ever. Focused on a variety of themes and genres, there are as many different types of clubs as there are different books. One thing common to all clubs, members talk about. Plots, characters, broader issues raised by the story—all serve as fuel for discussion. Authors may connect with readers by visiting clubs in person or virtually and sometimes facilitate discussion by providing discussion questions. Today, some of the Missdemeanors offer questions for book clubs.  Tracee1. Agnes lost her husband and changed jobs, taking on what many would consider a higher pressure position. What do you think about her decisions and her manner of dealing with loss and family and search for personal identity? 2. Julien Vallotton is clearly romantically interested in Agnes, yet she resists. Do you think there is such a thing as an ‘appropriate’ or ‘necessary’ time to mourn the loss of a spouse or partner before taking the next romantic steps? Have you witnessed a situation where the threat of external judgment prevented the bereaved from enjoying the next years of their life?     Susan1. Maggie Dove’s new client believes her sister is evil. Have you ever met anyone you believed to be evil? 2. As Maggie Dove begins investigating, she has to go through old high school year books and she’s surprised to see how some of the people she knows have changed. How have you changed since high school (beyond the wrinkles)?        Alison1. Abish has returned home to a state, and religion, she left thinking she’d never return. Now, she’s trying to reconnect with her family and navigate as an outsider in an insider community. How well do you think she gets along with a dominant outlook that differs from her own? 2. The first murder Abish encounters has hallmarks of a deadly ritual supported–in theory–by Brigham Young and other early LDS Church leaders. It has long been forgotten by most, but offers an interesting example of how communities handle dark parts of their own history. Do you think there are any societies that have dealt particularly well or particularly badly with this universal problem of processing ugliness in their own shared past (whether it be slavery, racism, sexism, violence, antisemitism, ethnic cleansing, pogroms . . .)? Is there a good template for handling these issues?  Michele1. Sabrina Salter’s gut told her that she and Henry should not take on an eleventh villa, but Henry was insistent and Sabrina relented. How do you know when to follow your gut instinct and not yield to the judgment of others or when to back down?. 2.Sabrina tells Henry at the end of the book, “I’m going back to Boston to meet the grandmother I’ve never seen before it’s too late.” What advice would you offer Sabrina about meeting a grandmother who has chosen to ignore her existence?    Alexia1.In Killing in C Sharp, Gethsemane has to work with someone she despises, someone who once libeled a friend of hers, in order to save people she cares about. How would you handle having to work with someone you disliked? 2. Maja’s relatives got away with her murder. She dealt with the injustice by coming back as a ghost and taking vengeance on not just her relatives, but anyone who reminded her of them. How would you deal with being a victim of injustice?      What questions have you discussed in your book club? Or what questions would you like to discuss if you belonged to a book club? What questions would you offer to readers of your books? Share in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/missdemeanorsbooks/   

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Second chances

  As I go teetering into advanced middle age, I’m more and more conscious of the fact there’s a surprising amount of fun yet to be had. Instead of sitting around waiting for one of my children to produce a grandchild (not that that wouldn’t be a good thing!), I’m cavorting with the Miss Demeanors, going to conferences, discovering new drinks, writing an exciting new novel, getting into trouble, planning to march in Washington. In fact, I’m doing things I didn’t do when I was young because I worried too much about repercussions.  Or because I was exhausted.    One of the things I like about the protagonist of my mystery series, Maggie Dove, (I hope it’s okay that I like her!) is that she’s given me a chance to explore more deeply what getting a second chance means. It’s scary for Maggie. She’s set in her ways. She’s found a safe place  and doesn’t want to emerge from it, and yet, when she’s forced to come out of her shell, to solve a murder, she loves it. She becomes a Sunday School hellraiser, if such a thing is possible.  A person who has been a great second-chance role model to me is the great First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She started off her life being a certain sort of person. A debutante, a society wife, a political wife. But then her husband got polio and everything in her life turned upside down. Although she was shy and insecure about her looks, she had to step out onto the political stage. She was a great advocate for women’s and civil rights during FDR’s presidency, and after he died, she continued as a diplomat. She also wrote a fabulous memoir, This is My Story. It’s one of my favorite books.  How about you? Are there any role models who inspire you?     

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