I mean that in the past tense, of course. I had quit writing the Kari Hunter book for a few months. I thought about my next steps for a long while, and then told my writing group that the Kari Hunter series was dead. That book and I had tortured each other long enough. The story was wrong in many ways. I felt like every time I tried to fix it I somehow made it worse. I’ve spent more than two years writing it, churning the material over and over in an attempt to complete it, but something about the story was wrong—and I couldn’t put my finger on what. However, I knew that if I continued battling the story in the same way that I had been, I’d burn out completely and stop writing forever. And that thought terrified me. I didn’t want this book—this bizarre comedy that I loved so dearly—to be cause of the birth and death of a hobby that I love.
So, I told my Writing Posse that I was done with Kari Hunter. I was ready to take on a new writing project, starting from scratch on something else. They understood. They encouraged me to forget all about Kari and work on something else. It was decided.
Apparently, a few of you felt differently.
Exactly two weeks later I received an email from one of you asking for an update on the book. Two days after that, a different person sent me a message on Facebook, asking if there was still hope for a sequel. Three days later, someone on Twitter tagged me and my blog, hoping to get an update and a preview of the book.
The timing of all that is pretty stunning, at least to me.
One of my coworkers believes it’s the Universe sending me a message. I don’t subscribe to that particular belief system but I’m easily able to adapt it to my own. Someone is sending me a message, telling me not to stop writing this book. And it isn’t just you guys.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m receiving messages from my Higher Power because this book is going to revolutionize the world. It isn’t. This isn’t some real life version of Bill and Ted where my book elevates humanity to our higher and more enlightened selves and makes everyone be excellent to each other. Not to mention it causes the world to party on, dudes.
What I mean is that I’m pretty stunned to think that my Higher Power believes I shouldn’t give up on my “stupid” writing hobby. Writing is an important part of me and I shouldn’t shut it down. However, I see now that over the last 10 months, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve stopped writing. I’ve been avoiding Kari Hunter because the story was broken and, in a way, it sort of broke me. And because of the halted progress on the book, I’ve avoided my blog, because I didn’t know what to tell you guys.
To be honest, I think this lack of writing has made me a little off-kilter. I just haven’t been myself.
Anyway, the weekend following those three messages, I sat down on the couch with two notebooks, a half-dozen books on novel writing, and my laptop, and I figured out the problems with the new Kari Hunter book and how to fix them. It sucked up my entire weekend, but I did it.
Now, don’t get too excited. It’s going to take me some time to actually implement the fixes, and I have to write the new ending, but, for the first time in a few months, I feel really encouraged. I’ve been working away on the changes and things are going better than expected.
You all have waited a long time for an update, so here’s a little teaser for you. One of my awesome Twitter friends, Amanda Banker, tagged me on a “777” challenge. The idea is to post seven lines from page seven of your latest manuscript, and then tag seven friends to do the same. So here’s a little something from the next Kari Hunter book. Disclaimer: I’ve done this “777” thing once before and I find it impossible to follow the rules. A seven-line excerpt doesn’t stand out well on its own—it lacks context—so I’ve provided a few paragraphs. Second disclaimer: This is the only part of the book that has been seen by the Spouseditor, so anything you read “in the wild” is subject to editorial manhandling later.
Now, without further ado, here’s an excerpt from the coming Kari Hunter book:
I followed Brad through the steel doors and into a room so saturated in sharp, white light that no shadow existed. The overhead lamps beat down so hard I could feel their heat on my shoulders. I blinked, took a step back, and glanced over at Brad. The light seemed to have the opposite effect on him, but Brad lived for the spotlight. He stood a little straighter and his face relaxed. His cool, blue eyes swept the room quickly, then he shifted his bag on his shoulder and sauntered into the line marked for U.S. Citizens. I set my baggage down behind him but kept my hand resting on the handle. I looked around. Large, white posters plastered the walls: travel safety, tourism, and, of course, the FBI’s Most Wanted List. The Wanted List took up half of the left wall. It was bigger than the one I had seen at the Quebec airport and most of the names were different. The headshots were life-sized, with names and faces arranged in two rows of five.
I was seventh on the list. That made me a little more wanted in the U.S. than in Canada. My competitive nature kicked in and I had to remind myself that it’s not always good to be number one. The picture above my name wasn’t a photo, it was an artist’s black and white rendering—the same that I had seen in the Quebec airport. The image looked nothing like me. The face was bloated, with beady eyes, a tiny nose, and a cartoonish line for a mouth, drawn into a sneer. The name was typed in bold, capital letters beneath the picture, with the crime in smaller print. Unlike the poster I had seen in the Quebec airport, this one bore text in English, so I could finally read the caption beneath my alien headshot:
ELIANA RENDON, FOURTH CHANNEL MAGIC USER. DO NOT APPROACH.
Nothing else. Unlike the other entries, mine didn’t indicate the reasons for my notoriety. The room was crowded, but no one was looking at the posters or the guards or even at each other. They were staring at the television, at the breaking news feature that I couldn’t hear due to the general buzz of the airport terminal behind me. Fifteen minutes and two dozen paces later, I found myself standing beneath my entry on the Most Wanted List. Brad’s gaze slid to me, then up to the drawn headshot, then back to me. His eyes pinched shut and he turned away.
Oh no. Was I wrong and there was a resemblance? Maybe there was some likeness that I couldn’t see. Maybe the artist had seen me on a bad hair day. Maybe my ears were bigger than I thought. Maybe my face really was that pudgy. The last few months hadn’t been great and sometimes I stress-eat. Regardless of the inaccurate and ugly drawing, the five minutes that I stood beneath my criminal entry were the longest of my life. I was fidgety. I looked like I was going for a hands-free removal of the world’s biggest wedgie.
So yeah. There you go. A little snippet of book two.
For those of you who have hung in there, waiting for a new book release, I want to say thank you. I’m thrilled. And shocked. And elated. And baffled. But mostly thrilled. I will see this book through to completion. Thanks for waiting.
I Quit photo courtesy of Deviant Art: Lovehurt123.