The grand plan this week, as I’m on holidays (much, much needed for a reset) was to get some writing done. But getting a chunk of work done while I was offline did the necessary…prep work, I guess? priming? (I don’t know, I’m tired), to get deep into the book. I just wrote 31K in three days, finishing Waverly 5 (A Dark and Distant Home) last night with an 11K-word day (and this on a loop for HOURS). The book ran short at like 73K, but that’s common for that series–I usually add about 15-20K in flesh, and this one does have plenty of [describe] this notes, as well as a few early plot tangles I have to unravel a little.
This has been a year-long detour, writing two books in that series I hadn’t planned on, but now I can go back to the one I started last year, which will officially be the sixth book. I’m 21K into that, though it needs a rehaul to account for these other books.
Where things are headed work so much better now. The one I wrote last December (which is a horrible mess) and this new one get the primary characters to a place they needed to be for later events. Waverly, in particular, has had to grow a little–she still hates everyone and I’ve shown she is, perhaps, straddling that line into darkness a little closer to the bad side than anyone previously realized, but she’s had to be on her own again and better…I guess, figure out who she is now. She starts the series sort of adrift, is given an anchor point again for the next couple of books, and then was left adrift again. Now she’s, perhaps, not exactly her own anchor, but she’s a little steadier.
She also saves herself, which she has certainly done in other books but it was really important for me to have in this one.
I’m still planning on one a year for these books after Alone at Night releases in April, so that puts A Dark and Distant Home out…2026? If the fourth wasn’t such a mess, I’d slot it into next fall, but it’s going to be a lot of work, so I’m doubtful.
I really ended up loving this book. This might be a series breaking point for some people, because the subject matter is as dark as it gets, but I try to balance that with…just, not having graphic detail. I have little interest in detailing horrible things; I’m much more interested in the human, emotional element. Probably because I don’t think readers need graphic detail, so much as they need it acknowledged “Yes, this is horrible; here’s the aftermath”. This is why rape in books so often comes across like it’s trying to be titillating even if it isn’t the author’s intention–they focus on the wrong aspects (eg, the physical act in detail, more than the psychological). So while there isn’t on-page rape in this book, CSA is a theme because Waverly is tackling a situation where an adopted child was “rehomed” and you can’t not talk about child trafficking and that.
The trouble with crime mystery books is that they require, well, crime to be solved. So you can either have your protagonist solve crime that happens to terrible people–and who cares?–or crime that happens to non-terrible people. And the latter means being very careful about not leaning too hard into the lurid details.
Keeping it grounded means every book is at least a little sad. Because violence is sad. But I try not to dwell there, because each book is also about picking up the pieces after violence. And Waverly, oddly, with her lack of sentimentality and typical feelings, has been the perfect vehicle to explore this subject matter.
All this and readers don’t even have the second book yet, lol.
So now it’s only Tuesday on my week off and I have to decide what to do with my time. I might tackle a review of what I’ve written so far in Waverly 6, to better arrange those pieces now before writing anything new.
If I was smart, I’d finish either The Only Way Out or Stranger in the Halls, both horror books. I’ve been invited* to participate next month in a live author roundtable with other horror writers for Kobo Writing Life. A smart person would have a new horror book up for preorder for next year but…I’m a contrarian.
I would also like to finish my very personal gothic romance I’ve picked at for years (and will never be published), but that’s a whole other headspace to get into.
I could also “relax”, I guess, but who has time for that.
*I said yes, even though I very rarely, like…talk anymore, and that is why you’ll see a new photo of me here and on my social media pages–they wanted a headshot, and I’ve just been using a picture I took seven years ago on my iPad. So now I look like I’m about to shoot the PI I hired to investigate my husband’s death because he figured out I was behind it.