In an unusual moment of clarity, I realized that I knew nothing of my fellow bloggers’ WIPs, an unforgivable lapse since we all blog to promote our work. Last week, I asked James Montgomery Jackson and Alex Morgan about their WIPS. This week, I ask the same questions of WWK alumnae Pauline Alldred and current blogger Linda Rodriguez.
1. What is the title or tentative title for your WIP?
The tile for my WIP is DAD’S CHOICE. As the protagonist confronts obstacles and antagonists, the choice becomes hers.
2. Tell us your jacket hook.
DAD’S CHOICE, combines a hair-raising plot involving murder, money laundering and human traffickers with the secrets and emotional conflicts of a family in crisis. The novel is set in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1995, the year when O.J. Simpson was tried for murder. Jess, the protagonist struggles to master Windows ’95 and learns her two pound mobile phone can be used as a weapon.
Co-owner of a visiting nurse company, Jess believes she’s reached the point of taking charge of her life with work she enjoys and a potential life partner. However, the death of her estranged father and the disappearance of her sister plunge her into the task of unraveling past secrets and forgiving family members who prefer her to focus on their needs. At a turning point in the story, the villain offers her the choice—to save her family members and, accepting disgrace, to give up her business or to keep her business and let her family members save themselves without her help.
3. In which stage of progress is your WIP?This is the first draft of my WIP. Since I belong to a Guppy critique group, I revise chapters on a regular basis. However, I am not trying to polish my writing to perfection because I want to give free rein to my imagination and subconscious before tackling the inconsistencies and gaffs I am sure are there.
4. How many hours a week do you work on your WIP?
I write for three to four hours a day but spend at least two more hours thinking about characters, plot, and problems in the writing so far. I am often doing other tasks while thinking about my WIP.
5. What are your aspirations for your WIP?
I plan to enter DAD’S CHOICE in competitions. So far, the competitions I am considering are, the Amazon Break through Novel Award, AWP Award Series, First Crime Novel, Daphne du Maurier Award, and the Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest. As the novel develops, I may revise this list. Briefly, I will look for an agent but, in the present and future publishing environment, I am not certain about the role of an agent. I attempt to keep up to date with news about small presses and e-books and about the future of reading in general. The digital age and even education has brought changes in how people satisfy their need for stories.
6. Where do you hope to be at the end of the year?
At the end of this year, I hope I will be at the point of deepening DAD’S CHOICE, revising the main character’s emotional arc, and I will be able to see when it is time to stop meddling.
1. Name the title or tentative title of your WIP.
EVERY BROKEN TRUST. This is the sequel to Every Last Secret, which is going out for reviews from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books as I write this.
2. Provide the jacket blurb of your WIP.
Here’s part of the jacket copy for Every Last Secret: Half-Cherokee Marquitta “Skeet” Bannion thought she was leaving her troubles behind when she fled the stress of being the highest ranking woman on the Kansas City Police Department, a jealous cop ex-husband who didn’t want to let go, and a disgraced alcoholic ex-cop father. Moving to a small town to be chief of the campus police force, she builds a life outside of police work. She might even begin a new relationship with the amiable Brewster police chief.
All of this is threatened when the student editor of the college newspaper is found murdered on campus. Skeet must track down the killer following trails that lead to some of the most powerful people in the university. In the midst of her investigation, Skeet takes up responsibility for a vulnerable teenager as her ex-husband and seriously ailing father wind up back on her hands. Time is running out and college administrators demand she conceal all college involvement in the murder, but Skeet will not stop until she's unraveled every last secret.
I don’t have jacket copy for EVERY BROKEN TRUST yet, but here’s the synopsis:
In EVERY BROKEN TRUST, Skeet Bannion manages, most days, to balance her job as chief of campus police with her unexpected responsibilities for raising a teenage boy and overseeing her difficult father’s rehab from a stroke. When her best friend and surrogate mother, Karen Wise, is attacked and becomes involved with murder that stretches back into the past and the supposedly accidental death of Karen’s husband, Skeet finds their relationship strained. As Karen grows obsessed with finding her husband’s killer and becomes a suspect in new slayings, Skeet must work with and against her beloved friend and her own adopted son to save Karen’s life and her freedom.
3. In what stage of progress is your WIP?
Every Last Secret is out for reviews while EVERY BROKEN TRUST is in final revisions.
4. How many hours per week do you devote to their writing?
I treat it as a job, 8 hours/ day to it, usually 4-5 hours/day writing with the rest of the workday devoted to promotion and writing business. Right now, with a book coming out, I’m devoting more time to promotion and writing business, so I’m only writing 3-4 hours/day. On weekends, I work for 2-3 hours/day.
5. What are your aspirations for this WIP?
Most of all, I want to reach readers who will enjoy and appreciate my stories and my people. I hope to garner excellent reviews and plenty of online buzz for my first book, Every Last Secret, and then I hope it will win awards. I also hope to sign a contract with my publisher for several more novels in the EVERY series with Skeet Bannion.
6. By the end of the year, where do you hope to be with this WIP?
I hope by the end of this year to have finished the first draft of the third book in the EVERY series, EVERY HARD HOMECOMING, and to be talking with my publisher about another series I have in mind in which they’ve expressed interest. I’d also like to see Every Last Secret up for some first-book awards in the mystery community.
7. In what area of the country are your novels set?
They are set in a fictional small college town a few miles outside Kansas City, Missouri, right next to the Missouri river and the border between Missouri and Kansas.
8. Will St. Martin’s help publicize your first release?
St. Martin’s has assigned me a publicist and will have an active campaign to sell the book to libraries around the country. They have been working to get Every Last Secret selected by national book clubs, and I hope to share good news on that front shortly. They are giving me a platform on their huge website, Criminal Element. I’ve been setting up events for a book tour myself, but my publicist is helping with that and making sure my books are in stores for all of them. My publicist is seeing that my books go out for review and persuading the big outlets to review them. Most of it I’m doing myself, but I feel fortunate they’re doing what they are since most big trade publisher do almost nothing for first novels.
9. How long have you been writing, and how long does it usually take to complete a manuscript?
I started as a novelist as a very young wife and mother (twins the hard way—less than a year apart). Later, I became a university administrator and turned to poetry because I never had any chunks of time to work on novels, just minutes here and there. Poetry works better under those circumstances. I had success—publication, books, awards—and I’ll continue to write poetry, but when Ill health forced me from my job, I turned back to the novel. I wrote Every Last Secret over two years and started sending it out three years ago. My newest book, EVERY BROKEN TRUST, was begun after I learned I’d won the Malice Domestic First Novel Competition with Every Last Secret—in May 2011. I’m finishing the last revisions right now. It wouldn’t have taken so long, but I had a lot of traveling in there.
10. Do you work with a critique group or partner?
I’m fortunate enough to be married to a publisher and editor. My husband runs a university literary press. He’s my first reader. Then I have a fabulous critique group, The Novel Group, with three other women novelists in Kansas City, and I regularly attend the Book Dissection Group of my local Sisters in Crime chapter. This is a wonderful post-graduate workshop in crime writing led by Nancy Pickard. So I’m very lucky.