Sooo . . . blogging. Yeah. It’s been a while.
It’s always a bit sad to have the Christmas season end. My two oldest girls headed back to college, so the household has shrunk again. When I texted my daughter a list of some of the things they’d left behind, she wondered what they DID have in their suitcases, considering everything they’d forgotten. They didn’t have the cat, unfortunately, but I would have stuck it in there if I’d thought I could get away with it.
And now, back to real life. Strangely enough, I didn’t do much in the way of writing over Christmas break, but yesterday, with the kids all back in school and the party officially over, I was out of reasons to stall. I made some good progress and was able to finish the third draft of my book. It also helped that I’d refilled my See’s candy Bribe Supply. Hooray for chocolate, which reminds me: over the holidays, I made my first ever Yule Log. I’ve never made a Yule Log or a jelly-roll-type cake of any kind, so this was a new experience. For the cake roll, I used Annette Lyon’s recipe from Chocolate Never Faileth—oh my, but I love that cookbook—put ice cream mixed with crushed candy canes inside for the filling, and drizzled Annette’s chocolate glaze over the top. As far as Yule Logs go, my efforts were pretty basic—the filling turned out looking a bit orange, since I used French vanilla ice cream, which is yellowish, and some of the red food coloring came off the candy canes. I didn’t make it look like real wood, or create meringue mushrooms, or spun-sugar birds, or a botanically accurate model of tree fungus fashioned out of marizpan, but man, I was proud of it. I rolled up a cake! And it didn’t fall apart!
Other holiday treats: Grittibanz (a Swiss bread shaped like little people, or in the case of my son’s creation, like an octopus); “elf bark”, made of dark and white chocolate, cranberries and pistachios, Danish puff pastry, two types of cookies from my husband’s new Tartine cookbook (the Christmas gift that keeps on giving! Tartine is an amazing bakery in San Francisco), and sugar cookies, wherein I accidentally put twice as much butter in the frosting as I should have—oops—but it’s not all bad, because you can NEVER HAVE ENOUGH BUTTER.
Mmm . . . Christmas treats.
Anyway, where was I? The third draft. For me, the third draft is the one I send out to test readers. Good luck to them this time around; I’m not sure what I think of this book yet. I hope it’s okay, or can become okay after my helpful test readers point what’s wrong with it (“It started out slow, but picked up around page 360 after I finished it and went to watch Psych reruns”). I hope the villain isn’t too obvious. The chronic fear of the mystery writer—worrying the villain is too obvious. And the irony is that one reader’s Obvious is another reader’s I Never Saw That Coming. On one of my books, I got heartily criticized by a reviewer for having the villain be too obvious—it didn’t fool her at all. On the same book, I got heartily criticized by a reviewer for having the villain be so “out of the blue” and unexpected that she found the ending disappointing. Sigh. Fact is, everyone will have his/her own experience with your book, positive or negative, so as a writer, you just do the best you can and hope the people who don’t like it don’t have Goodreads accounts. I've been grumbling about concealing villains lately (only fictional ones, in case you were wondering). I think I have Red Herring Burnout. For my next suspense novel, so help me, I’m announcing the villain on page one. Heck, I’ll make it the title of the book: “Jim Did It.” Ahhh. What a relief.