Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


My daughter, Mary, at Filoli gardens.
Sometime last winter, I finished the third book in my Catherine Jewell mystery series, Ladies of the Garden Club, and put it aside and out of my mind for the time being. Instead I concentrated on getting the second book, Daylilies for Emily’s Garden published before Malice Domestic as well as my middle-grade book, The Sherlock Holmes Detective Club I had finished long ago, but needed attention to reformatting and a final read through.

Spring and summer are always a busy time for me. There’s the Malice Domestic Convention in May, vacations and various events like graduation open houses, picnics, wedding showers, and more get-togethers  with family and friends that come up when the weather is nice. For some reason this year has had more birthday parties for all the little ones now in my extended family. Of course, for me there’s the lawn and garden work that gets overwhelming from March through October. There’s not only the mowing – and not with a riding mower – but planting, weeding and trips to garden centers to buy more plants. Then comes strawberry season, and this year my patch had more than enough to supply my love of strawberries. Later the lettuce and peas were ready to be picked followed by cucumbers, beans and blueberries. This year, however, because of one of the rainiest summers I’ve ever had, the tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables suffered so I had little freezing to do and no canning  My sister living less than fifty miles south of me suffered from lack of rain, yet still had a bountiful crop.  Of course, my grass and weeds, if not my veggies, thrived like never before.

Maggie by my blueberry patch 
So any writing or writing related activities I’ve done this past spring and summer has been limited to my weekly blogs, the occasional poem, mostly started and not finished, and three short stories, plus a book signing for my second book at a local bookstore - poor neglected second child.  I did have it in time for the Malice Domestic at least.

Finally, after much nagging from those who have read and enjoyed the first two books in The Catherine Jewell Mystery Series, I started my final edit of Ladies of the Garden Club toward the end of August and finished my read through making corrections and changes. Now I’m sending it three to five chapters at a time to my Guppy critique partners. I’ve also given a hard copy to a writer in my local writing group, who has been my beta reader for my other books, and I respect her opinion, and I’m sending chapters by email attachments to my sister, who is now retired from teaching. And for all those who think family can’t be trusted to be critical enough, this sister is a very critical reader. Many, but not all of the mysteries I liked and shared with her, she found faults with the writing, and her comments were astute.

One of the things surprising me in going back to this book after so much time away from it was sometimes reading scenes or even once a chapter, that I didn’t remember writing. The same is true with my critique partners, Ann and Mary. Their comments are often “I don’t remember reading this. Is it new?” And I can’t remember if it’s a revision or an addition from their first reading and editing of this book. And just like me as I reread these chapters I’d stored in the closet in my mind for so long, they’re enjoying reading it again. They know the villain, how it ends, but they’re enjoying meeting the characters again and getting reacquainted with them. They’re also chuckling at the humorous spots again. And they’re finding the little glitches – the missed quotations marks, etc.

For me the most stressful time of writing is here. Soon I’ll have all my edits received and will do that last and final edit. My granddaughter, the graphic artist who has designed all my covers, is working on this cover now. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.  Hopefully, I’ll have this latest book up and out in the next month or so, and I’ll finally have copies of the Ladies of the Garden Club in my hand. Then I’ll be able to start scheduling book signings for this book and my others, too, including the anthologies I’m in.

So why is it so stressful for me? It’s because I want this book to be perfect. I know it’s not a book that will appeal to everyone. No book is, but at least I want those who have read and enjoyed my other books to enjoy this one, too. And I want it to be totally glitch free.

What stage of your writing is the most stressful for you?

If you’re not a writer, what do you find most stressful?


E. B. Davis said...

For me, the stressful time is during the first draft. That blank white page lends itself to so many possibilities, I feel overwhelmed in which direction to take the story. It may take me days of thinking before I can put a word on the page. If they aren't the right words, and I go onto the next chapter, going back to revise pains me. I know that I'll never get it "right" on the first try, but that neat package with all the ends tied and sealed and ribbons whirling in colorful curls, that's my objective. Ending up with a messy mish-mash frustrates me. I'm glad you are at the end of the process. Good luck with the next book. I enjoyed your first two!

Jim Jackson said...


I share your desire for a “perfect” manuscript. The most stressful for me is still the first draft, rather than the last polish. With Cabin Fever I’ll have the luxury of ARCs so if any error occurs there is still one last chance to catch it!

Best of luck with the final spit and polish. I’m sure you will love the cover your granddaughter produces.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Actually, I tend to procrastinate on actually starting the first draft, too. E.B. and James. I've been plotting and planning my next one for almost a year, even before finishing this current one. I know what I want to write about, I've been saving articles on the Civil War to read because the next book will have a Civil War re-enactment going on in Elmwood Gardens. I know the reason for the murder, but I still need to write my characters and start that first page. But once I actually start the book, I find it an exciting adventure.

Ann G said...

The first draft is the hardest for me too. I actively enjoy revising - even making huge structural changes. Or maybe I just hate the stage I am in...

I love the Garden Club novel, Gloria. You have created such interesting characters, and I want to know more about so many of them. That's what is so enjoyable about a series - revisiting characters I love already, and meeting new ones.

Now I'm really looking forward to reading the next one. The Civil War re-enactment idea is wonderful.

carla said...

Gloria, accepting that we can't actually be perfect is a challenge. Your writing comes pretty darn close!

Gloria Alden said...

Ann, I love revising, too, but it's that last edit when I worry about finding every little glitch and making sure the ending works. I am so grateful to you, Ann, and Mary, my other critique partner for all the help and encouragement you both give me.

I know you will get through these last changes your agent wants and hopefully be happy with them

Shari Randall said...

Gloria, I am glad you are on track with this latest Garden Club book - I hope I can get a copy - plus your autograph - at Malice in the spring!
Looking forward to seeing the cover created by your talented granddaughter.

Warren Bull said...

It's hard to choose just one stressful time but I suppose, like you, it is the final edit. A writer never finishes a book; he or she just stops writing it.

Patg said...

And I wonder why you don't watch too much TV. Sheesh!
Finishing that first draft is hard for me. I follow the writing route of first chapters and then the ending to see if the novel is feasible. Then I have that murderous middle to do. This time, I keep adding and subtracting, so just finishing it with a The End is hard. Editing and rewrite seems less stressful.
I keep saying I'll write a series, but so far NOT. I have a need to do three of four crossover mysteries first.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Carla. I appreciate that compliment from such an excellent writer as you are. I know all too well we can't be perfect. In fact, I just came across a typo in a book by a well published and very popular writer yesterday.

Gloria Alden said...

Absolutely, Shari. I look forward to seeing you again next spring at Malice. I'm eager to see what Kristen comes up with, too.

I so agree with you, Warren. I will go back over poems I've written that were published, and will change things that I think will make it better. It's probably why I don't want to read my books once they're out.

Gloria Alden said...

Pat,I do watch Masterpiece Mystery, usually. :-) I keep hard copies of each chapter in a binder with a paper at the beginning listing each chapter, the characters in it, and a brief synopsis of what that chapter was about. I can look at it and notice that certain characters need to come back in or some clue needs to be dropped, etc. This is the closest I come to outlining. Sort of an after the fact outline.

Kara Cerise said...

I look forward to reading the next Catherine Jewell mystery and seeing the cover made by your granddaughter. I'm sure both will be beautiful. Best of luck with your final edits, Gloria!

Gloria Alden said...

I'm sure the cover will be beautiful, too, Kara. I also can't wait to see it.

Anonymous said...

I loved your first two Catherine Jewel books, and I'm looking forward to the third! I'm in the midst of my 5th Jesse Damon Crime Novel, and much to my dismay, I discovered a major disconnect in a subplot that of course impacted the entire thing. I am now busy unraveling it and (hopefully) weaving it back together.

I'm not sure about the Civil War reenactment part--the last few years (and next year) there have been major reenactments within a few miles of my house, and while I can see the appeal, to me it means rerouting my trips to everywhere, having the dogs nervous because they think the cannons are nonstop thunder, and remembering not to plan having anyone over for that week or so.

I love your pictures! I get such a peaceful feeling from them, but somehow I always think a body is lying just out of camera range.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, that has to be frustrating for you. It would be so much extra work.

We don't have a lot of Civil War reenactments around here although there usually are some, but not with canon fire. However, I do plan to have some of that at Elmwood Gardens. :-) I'm sure if I lived as close to Gettysburg as you do, I would get tired of it, too.

Do you think of a body lying just out of camera range because I had my son pose as a dead body for the cover of the first book? Or is it because Portage Falls is a peaceful small town with bodies showing up here and there?