For many years I worked on writing a novel. I started at least ten years ago when, out of nowhere, this crazy title, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, popped into my head as I sat drinking a glass of wine in front of our home in Illinois. My initial thought was, “cool.” My second thought was, “I think I need more wine.”
And so it went for several years. The title would nag at me, but I had no idea what was supposed to happen in the book. Was it a romance? A mystery? What kind of mayhem might ensue? Perpetrated by whom? I’d sit down at my computer to write, manage a couple of sentences, and then go back for more wine. Still, that title wouldn’t leave me alone.
Then the main character’s name came to me. Something awful had happened in Paula Jean Arnett’s life and she was left with doubts about her husband and their marriage. With this revelation I was able to begin my story, and before too long I’d written 20,000 words. Cool, right?
Wrong. My characters stalled out at a dinner party. They wouldn’t shut up and I was petrified by the thought of throwing away a large chunk of the words I’d written. So I put the story aside and let it flit around the corners of my mind.
It kept flitting around, occasionally getting me to pull out my computer in an attempt to move the story along. I finally deleted the whole dinner party scene after realizing I could store it in another file for future use. Thank goodness for computers and word processing software.
After Studly Doright and I moved to Havana, Florida, I had a burst of new interest in finishing Mayhem, but still couldn’t quite make the commitment to go all in. I began writing this blog and gained some confidence in my own skills. I found a generous audience in my readers and found similar stories to mine. There are many would-be authors out there.
Then in the spring of 2020, just before COVID-19 shut stuff down, I took an Ollie course on writing at Florida State. While we didn’t get to complete the course, the instructor gave me a figurative kick in the pants, and within a few months Mayhem was truly out of my head and onto the published page.
Between the time I completed Mayhem and the time it was ready to be published I became restless. I wondered if I could write another book—something short and sweet and fun. Lo and behold, I did.
As I type this, my romance, The Cowboy and the Executive, is in the hands of Rachel Carrera, the lovely woman who guided me through editing and publishing Mayhem and designed the cover. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for Cowboy.
Yeehaw and peace, people!