First, thanks so much for having me back here at Writers Who Kill. You guys win for best blog title ever!
People at author events often ask me how I write, and how I manage three or four series. “How do you keep them separate?” they ask, or “Is it hard to go back and forth from the present to 1888?”
For me, immersion is key. I need to dive into the pool that is the current book and stay there until my fingertips are wrinkled and my legs and arms are exhausted from swimming. And mostly I manage to do that. But the plan hits a snag now and then.
For example, after I returned from Malice Domestic in early May, I was ready to start writing the first draft of my second historical mystery. I set up the Scrivener project for Breaking the Chain, dusted off the synopsis I had turned in to Midnight Ink with my series proposal, set my weekly word count goal to 5000, and cannonballed in with a big splash.
Ten days later I’d been walking the streets of my town imagining the 1888 Independence Day parade, researching fireworks of the time, and conjuring up a nice pool of suspects when I took a break to check the mail. I squinted at two envelopes from Kensington Publishing, one fat, one slim. I was so immersed in the work in progress I couldn’t even think what my editor owed me.
I opened the fat envelope to find page proofs from my new alter-ego Maddie Day’s first Country Store mystery, Flipped for Murder. The thin envelope held editorial comments on the fourth Local Foods mystery, Murder Most Fowl. Oh. Rats. I reluctantly saved my ten thousand words in the new book and shut down Scrivener.
First I knocked off the editorial comments. My editor takes the wide-lens view, and he’s never asked me to make a change I didn’t think was justified. Then I turned to the page proofs. I sat at my kitchen table with a red pen and took about three days to carefully read through, page by page, marking their error or mine. I didn’t try to work on the historical in the mornings and proofs in the afternoon, because that ain’t immersion. My head kind of explodes as it is writing three contracted series, and I really need to just focus on one at a time.
Meanwhile, the date for the Farmed and Dangerous release crept ever closer. I am appearing as a guest on a dozen or more blogs, including this one, and each needs a a decent on-topic essay. By the time I finished the proofs and sent off my corrections, I still had a half dozen guest posts to write. So that became my immersion. I decided to just get them all done so I can get back to the book in progress. I’m happy to say that after this post, I have only two to go!
I love being a full-time fiction writer. I love meeting readers, reaching out in all different directions to find new fans, hoping the words I craft will entertain somebody on their deck or at the beach this summer, on their couch or in an airplane seat next winter. But what I love most is writing the first draft. And I can’t wait to plunge back into that 1888 pool again, and see where the story might take me next. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be stroking in the deep end.
How do you handle multiple projects? Can you multi-task three at a time, or do you also need immersion?
In the third Local Foods mystery, Farmed and Dangerous (May, 2015), snow is piling up in Westbury, Massachusetts. Unfortunately murder seems to be the crop in season. Supplying fresh ingredients for a dinner at an assisted living facility seems like the least of Cam’s worries—until one of the elderly residents dies after eating some of her produce. As the suspects gather, a blizzard buries the scene of the crime under a blanket of snow, leaving Cam stranded in the dark with a killer who gives new meaning to the phrase “dead of winter.”
Agatha-nominated and Amazon-bestselling author Edith Maxwell writes four murder mystery series, most with recipes, as well as award-winning short stories.
Farmed and Dangerous is the latest in Maxwell's Local Foods Mysteries series (Kensington Publishing). The latest book in the Lauren Rousseau mysteries, under the pseudonym Tace Baker (Barking Rain Press), is Bluffing is Murder. Maxwell’s Country Store Mysteries, written as Maddie Day (also from Kensington), will debut with Flipped for Murder in November, 2015. Her Quaker Midwife Mysteries series features Quaker midwife Rose Carroll solving mysteries in 1888 Amesbury with John Greenleaf Whittier’s help, and will debut in March, 2016 with Delivering the Truth.
A fourth-generation Californian, Maxwell lives in an antique house north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the other Wicked Cozy Authors (http://wickedcozyauthors.com), and you can find her at www.edithmaxwell.com, @edithmaxwell, on Pinterest and Instagram, and at Facebook.