Coming Home

I am creating another writer’s retreat for myself this weekend, but to tell the truth, right now my whole life feels like a writer’s retreat. I continue to feel conflict free, partly because I have put off worrying about the future and what is to become of me, and partly because I have temporarily found a safe place to land. (Hard to believe, but I’ve been here a whole month already!)  So far, my roommates are working out, with only minor irritations that I choose to let go and not obsess over. Surprisingly often, I have the house to myself, and best of all, even though I still don’t have a remote garage door opener, I do have use of the garage, which pleases both me and my aged vehicle.

I am living day to day (to the extent that it’s possible), making a point of noticing my moments, and being grateful for the good things in my life. With the questions and worries that usually plague me on hiatus, my stream of consciousness has nothing to do but let my work in progress steep, so I don’t often find myself tongue-tied (finger-tied? word-tied?) when I open the computer to work on my book.

I am going to dance classes four days a week and enjoying it as much as I did in the beginning, perhaps because when people irritate me, I can take them out of my head and put them in my story. Although I spend the remaining three days of the week working on my novel, I am sticking with the 250 words a day club, so I manage to write a bit every day. I am usually not one of those writers who live by word counts, but because of the club, I am keeping track of my words. I was thrilled when I realized that in the past two weeks, I have added 10,000 words to my novel. Wow! You might not be impressed, but I am.

I do continue to have a bit of a reality lapse when I go from my fictitious class to my real-life class, but trying to remain in the moment helps. And my teacher in life as well as in the book is always kind to me, which helps make for an even transition.

A real boon for my book has been my online life. For the most part, once I got online, I stopped writing fiction and went to blogging. I blogged everyday for about five years, but without conflict or adventure to fuel my posts, I don’t have much to say, so I have let fiction writing replace blogging. Now whenever I have a question, I Google it rather than spending months trying to find the information in the library, and if Google doesn’t have an answer for me, there is a whole slew of people all around the world to ask. Not only have I gotten medical information from a doctor friend, and help with the structure of a mystery story from a writer’s group, people have even offered me wonderful suggestions for motivation. (Not being a murderous type myself, ingenious motivations for committing such a crime are hard for me to come up with. I’d be more of a slam-bam-goodbye-ma’am sort of killer rather than a revenge-is-a-dish-best-served-cold murderer.)

The most wonderful thing about being back in writer’s mode is that I feel as if I’ve come home. So much of my internal conflict since Jeff died and more recently my dad, is that I have nowhere to call home. And now I do — inside my head, playing with words.

Not a bad place to be.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

Rubicon Ranch — The Saga Continues

More than a year and a half ago, nine authors from Second Wind Publishing got together to write a novel online. We knew nothing more than that a little girl’s body had been found in the wilderness near the desert community of Rubicon Ranch. Was it an accident? Or . . . murder! But who would want to kill little Riley? Everyone in this upscale housing development is hiding something. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone’s life will be different after they have encountered the Rubicon. Rubicon Ranch, that is.

From that short proposal grew a novel with intriguing and nefarious characters, each completely different because each was created by a different author.

Jeff and Kourtney Peterson are Riley’s “adoptive” parents who didn’t go through legal channels to get the child they so desperately wanted. Would they kill to protect their secret?

Moody Sinclair had once killed an eight-year-old boy. Has she killed again?

Fifteen-year-old Dylan McKenzie is a straight A honor student. By day. Did Riley discover the other Dylan, the one who prowls at night?

Cooper Dahlsing does strange things while sleepwalking. Could he have killed and not known it?

Mark and Jamie Westbrook, self-styled private investigators, show up to help solve the murder, but perhaps they had a hand in creating the crime?

Eighty-two-year-old Eloy Franklin sits on his porch and watches. But does he do more than watch?

Forty-three-year-old Melanie Gray found Riley’s body stuffed in a television console that had been dumped in the desert. But is she as innocent as she seems?

Sheriff Seth Bryan is bitter and cynical at having lost everything he values. Is he manufacturing crimes to bring him the notoriety he craves?

***

Life sometimes got in the way of this collaboration, so instead of posting a chapter every week, we went through a long hiatus where the authors suffered variously from cancer, death of a family member, house flooding, job loss, but we picked right up where we left off, and now this experimental novel is finished!

The book will be published during the next couple of months, but you can read the entire story online here: Rubicon Ranch, Book One: Riley’s Story

But that is not the end!!! Next week, we will begin posting chapters to a book in the series, Rubicon Ranch, Book Two: Necropieces — Residents of Rubicon Ranch find body parts scattered all over the desert. Who was the victim and why did someone want him so very dead? Eight Second Wind authors are collaborating to create another innovative crime novel set in the desert community of Rubicon Ranch.

Again, we will be posting a new chapter every week. I hope you will join us as the Rubicon Ranch saga continues.