The Surprises of a Novel

IMG_1840Writing the first draft of a novel is like opening the door to someone’s oven to smell fresh baking cookies and not knowing what type they are until the aroma unfolds and touches the sensitive neurons in your brain and makes that electric connection.

For a novel, the questions are more interesting: Who will live and who will I kill off? Will Cele grow to love the dog or take him to the pound? Will Jason take her back or will the judgmental chaplain loosen up and make a bid for her affections?

Anything is possible when you are at the controls. I love the feeling so I’m doing Camp Nanowrimo this April. How about you?

Weather or Whether?

With the weather approaching single digits and threatening 6-12 inches of snow in SW Wisconsin, the urge to cozy up with two warm dogs and binge watch on Netflix is almost overwhelming.  When what I should be doing is writing or more accurately editing my next novel, Body of Fear, so it is a sparkling jewel when it hits my editor. So, whether or weather?

If you’re staying, pick up my sweet romance novella, Mixed-Up Christmas by Dixie Jo Jarchow via @amazon

Let’s try a month without complaining!


Griping comes naturally for us. During an average conversation, we lob complaints at each other about once a minute, according to research. There’s a social reason for that. “Nothing unites people more strongly than a common dislike,” says Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps. “The easiest way to build friendship and communicate is through something negative.”

Desperation preceding the Storm

Does anyone feel the desperation in the week preceding Nanowrimo? I do. I’m editing for the God-Who-Knows-How-Many-Times my Body of Fear novel.  I hope to work with the amazing and talented Jill Swenson @SwenBooks so there’s some stress there, hoping I’m good enough to even grovel at her feet. If not, maybe she can take me there. Then, a new job with new expectations this year.  All those unwritten taboos that no one thinks to tell you until you fall into a pile of Wisconsin’s best cow manure, face first. Planning my novel this year? Give it up, girl. I’m a pantser by necessity, not by


Shades of Pink

“Hello, I have pink eye.”  How does one respond to a guest in one’s home, a houseguest who drags disease to your inner sanctum?  And PINKEYE, that most contagious of the many common plagues. 

I responded politely, mostly because it is my son.  “Are you on meds and for how long?” I demand. I work back the 24 hours and breathe out again.

But still, my inner eye turns to thoughts of the quantity of bleach on hand and noting every single surface he touches. My OCD drives me up and to the sink to wash my hands with soap twice the required length of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” just like they teach you in grade school.

O ruby sclera, be allergy based and not viral or bacterial, I pray. 

Writing “It”
Anyone who reads my novels know I don’t write about swapping spit. No bodily fluids are exchanged in my pages and nobody’s nipples pucker in ecstasy. 

(And, yes, by the way, even writing that made me uncomfy.)

So, when tasked with crafting drabbles, 100 word stories, I seized the opportunity to try writing a steamy, smoldering scene in a short, controlled burst of passion. Couldn’t I do just that much? Getting my toes wet, so to speak.

I tried, really I did but when the prompt was, “Set something on fire.” I ran trippingly after it. 

Maybe it’s just not my style. 

My drabble 

He reached out and brushed the russet curl from her tear streaked face. “It’s okay. I love the girl. I don’t give a rat’s ass what she’s wearing.” She ground her teeth and ripped the stiff flounce from her sleeves. His lighter appeared and he extended the flame until it danced like a hair ribbon in the cool night air. The polyester of the disgusting and unflattering dress her mother had made for her burned with the shimmering colors of an aurora. As she released the scrap, it escaped the bonds of earth in a burst of glowing cinder.  


Do you know what these are? I didn’t and I consider myself well-versed in all things English expository.
Drabbles are one hundred word stories, not ninety nine and not one hundred and two. Exactly one hundred, as my instructor, Michelle Harrell told me at the Oshkosh Public Library recently
I’m used to novelling away to a bare minimum of novella length at 35,000 or stretching to a full novel at 50,000. 
So it surprised me as all get out to find how pleasurable it was to craft a tight, well spun story in barely a few well-crafted paragraphs.