I’m baaaack! Actually, sleep will come shortly.More on that in a minute.
With Risen from Ashes now out, it’s time to turn my attention to the next project. Night Shadows is the next entry in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. I am really excited about this book and the plot is all but screaming to be let out. This is a good thing.
The bad thing is that every project seems to have its own idiosyncrasies that seem to slow down the actual writing. It might be needing to find a new place in the house to write. Sometimes, it means changing which machine I write on–the Mac or the iPad Pro or the PC laptop. Usually, within a chapter or two, I can move back to the Mac. Usually being the operative word.
It might also be changing how I write. I might need to do the first few chapters longhand. I might need to do more background work, figuring out characters, motivations, doing research, etc.
In other words, every new project presents new challenges. Night Shadows is no different.
The first challenge is something I have little control over at the moment–Covid-19. While I’m not particularly worried about catching the virus (I’m a writer. I self-isolate as a rule), it has changed my routine and, more importantly, my mother’s. She is in her 80’s and I’ve insisted she not do her volunteering at the airport. I’m also doing a lot of the running around on errands that she normally did. While I don’t mind doing those things, it means she is home all the time. She doesn’t understand writing is a job and I need to not be interrupted every time she thinks of something she wants to ask me, etc. Nor is it conducive to work to have her in the kitchen, which is next to my office, rearranging the cabinet contents because she’s bored. So I am staying up later and getting up earlier and doing much of my work when she’s in bed.
The second challenge centered on the need to do some background work on the story before I actually sat down to write. Usually, I type those types of notes so they are in my digital files. The problem is, that often leaves me feeling I’ve already written the story before I actually have. This time, I remembered an app I have on my iPad Pro and wondered if there was a Windows version. They did and I grabbed it without a second thought.
The app is Nebo. If you have a Windows, Apple or Android touchscreen laptop or tablet, you should look at this note taking app. It converts handwriting into text without any fuss. Even my handwriting which sucks big time. You can write, add images, draw, use different colors and then convert it all to text with the appropriate images/drawings/colors. You can export it as a DocX file. I wouldn’t use it to write a novel, but it is perfect–at least for me–for the pre-novel notes. It has also made it easier to work with Mom around because I simply convert my Acer Spin 3 from laptop to tablet and curl up on the sofa as she watches TV and write. I’m not sure what she thinks I’m doing, but she leaves me alone more with this than if I am keyboarding.
And that leaves me with the Spin 3. This is my first convertible laptop. I picked it up on a really good sale with the idea of using it when I travel. What I find is I like the larger screen (my iPad Pro is 11.7 in as compared to the 14 in Spin 3). My MacBook Air is still my main writing computer, but the Spin 3 is what I take when I leave the house.
What I’ve realized is I now have a different machine I do most of my work on for each of my series. Heaven help me if I start a new series. My pocketbook will kill me.
Now, why I haven’t found my bed yet. The cat is better. She is old and I tend to baby her when she isn’t feeling well. Instead of getting some sleep, I made a quick trip to the grocery store. I got there a few minutes before it opened. And, yes, I now have a story line tickling the back of my mind and I’m telling Myrtle the Evil Muse she cannot let it in.
By 0700 in my neighborhood, things are usually getting busy. Folks are going to work and kids are heading out to school. Trying to turn out of the neighborhood usually means waiting several minutes for a break in traffic. Not this morning. I had to wait for one car. The next car was probably close to a third of a mile away. At the traffic light down the road, cars are usually backed up. There were four. Two in each lane. The large gym was closed. Starbucks, which usually has a line of cars out into the street was dark. The drive through was open but no one was waiting to get their morning cup of Joe.
At the store, there were maybe a dozen vehicles, including a couple of delivery trucks, in the parking lot. For the most part, the eight or so folks waiting to get inside were observing social distancing. Everyone seemed to be in a good–and hopeful–mood. Then, as it got closer to time for the doors to open, about half of those gathered, and our numbers had grown some, began crowding together. The rest of us, looked at one another, and took two steps back and away. We were doing our best to keep the six feet between us and the next person.
Inside, it was immediately clear deliveries were still not meeting demand. The front fruit display held a single cantaloupe. Much of the fruit and vegetable area was empty. There was one lone bag of potatoes. No carrots, no celery, etc. As for bread. . . the entire row was empty except for Mrs. Baird’s that has just made a delivery. The butcher block/meat area was pretty much the same. If you wanted corned beef, you were in luck. To my surprise, there were probably a dozen whole fryers out–I grabbed two because I was actually looking for those. But no steaks, no chops, no roasts, no ground beef. (Although the fake ground beef was still in stock–no thank you) Paper products? Forget it. Same with much of the baking staples. Most of the flour and sugar was gone, cake mixes were picked over, etc. Hand sanitizer or sanitizing cleaners? Not a chance in hell. But everything else was in stock, or at least seemed to be.
In many ways, it reminded me of the panic buying I saw before Y2K. And, like that, this will pass. But what impressed me was how almost everyone there was calm, respectful of the next person’s personal space, etc. Of course, there were a few exceptions. But they truly were the exceptions. And, each time I ran across one of them, I saw others who looked ready to take them outside and teach them the error of their ways. In other words, I was seeing the beginning of not just social distancing but social enforcement as well.
And, a story idea begins to form. One I so do not need but that will probably come about, at least as a short story. Which might not be a bad thing since I have a short story I need to write here before long.
So here’s my request of each of you. Stay smart. Stay safe. Stay informed.
Oh, and buy some books. 😉