I love road trips, and I have an infuriating tendency to view life through “trip” or “journey” metaphors. (Do you think it’s a coincidence that the male lead character of my new series has the last name Journey?)
There are lots of “trips” going on in my world these days. My oldest son graduated from high school last week, and will be heading to college in the fall. My youngest will “bridge” from middle school to high school tonight. My middle son, who has profound autism, is always learning to deal with transitions, how to adapt to new situations and circumstances. It is a process—a journey, not a destination.
SILVER CROSS is in production. I’ve made all the changes I can make to it. I’m finally able to turn my fiction writing attention to the third book of the Journey/Tolman series. My working title is WOUNDED LAND, and I’ve done the reading, taken the research trips, written and rewritten the outline, then filled pages of incoherent notes to myself, which I will soon tape up above my desk, covering the wall.
It’s time to write the book.
There are always a few breathless moments before I start a new book, when I sit at the computer and type “Prologue” or “Chapter One.” It is like the beginning of a cross-country road trip. Did I check the tires, change the oil? Where is my Rand-McNally? Did I pack enough socks? But eventually I will stop pestering myself about the preparation. It’s time to get behind the wheel, pull out of the driveway, and point the car down the road. If I forgot something, I can figure it out along the way. That is part of the thrill of the road, the joy of discovering something unexpected…just as in my recent weekend trip up the road to Kansas, where I pulled off the road to marvel at courthouse architecture and to climb around a century-old steam engine in a small-town park. Likewise, in the research part of the same trip, I didn’t learn what I expected to learn…but I was able to fill in some of the blanks in the plot for the new book. I didn’t fill them in the way I anticipated, and the story took on a totally new dimension. My mind is filled with the history, with John Brown and John Wilkes Booth and Sergeant Boston Corbett, the man who shot Booth…and, as I have learned in the last few weeks, one of the strangest and most fascinating historical characters no one knows. My mind is filled with Nick and Andrew Journey and some difficult decisions that face Nick, with Meg Tolman and Ray Tolman and Sandra Kelly and Darrell Sharp and Kerry Voss, and with (as always) some shadowy figures who seek to twist history to their own ends in the present.
In the meantime, keep watching this space. I’ll post an excerpt from SILVER CROSS soon. It will publish on November 27.
Time to buckle up and head down the road. In a few days I’ll create a new Word file, and I’ll type the word Prologue…and I’ll begin to tell the story of WOUNDED LAND.