Today I started the final chapter of the latest Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Casting Call For a Corpse. This novel has taken a really long time, probably close to 18-months. It’s not any more complicated than the others, but I’ve been a little busy, what with one thing and another. Let’s face it, just trying to decontaminate groceries from the possible contamination of COVID19 takes me awhile. I keep forgetting what I did and when I did it. That means I have to start all over again.
But back to my books. I can’t say I crank them out, anyway. It usually takes 10 to 12 months to finish one to my liking. Then I turn it over to my content editor and friend, Baird Nuckolls, and then the line editor, Paula.Grundy. That’s another month or two in the hopper.
When writing, I often hang myself up on research and details. Take today. The protagonist and her husband are flying to Paris to celebrate their 6-month wedding anniversary. Sounds romantic and glamorous, right? Truth be told, it didn’t take long to check out nonstop flights, how long it takes to get from San Francisco to Paris, the time difference, and stuff like that. But I needed to know what time they had to leave Calfornia in order to get to Paris to make their 8 o’clock dinner reservation the following evening. I just couldn’t get it. It’s an 11-hour flight with a 9-hour time change. My math skills, which are challenged to begin with, couldn’t get what time they arrived in Paris.
After about 20-minutes, I gave up and dashed into hubby’s office for a little help. Well, by counting his fingers and my toes we worked it out. They leave San Francisco at 8:50 pm (that’s a real flight and occasionally you try to throw in real facts to ground a novel). The couple land at 4:50 pm Paris time the following afternoon. But could they make their 8 o’clock dinner reservation? I’m thinking no. You can’t get from the Charles DeGaulle Airport to a left bank Parisian hotel, shower, change into glad rags, and still get to Eiffel Tower’s Jules Verne Restaurant by 8 o’clock. Not going to happen. I had to back the reservation up to 9 pm. All in the research, doncha know.
Okay, that really only took about an hour to work out in real-time. But while I was in hubby’s office, he showed me a video of a 10-year old Holland girl singing Nessum Dorma. A little screechy, but not bad. Then he played “All of Me” with his left hand doing something called bass walking as he sang. Very good! I asked him to play it again. Then Ellie needed to be brushed. After that, I decided to bake a blueberry pie. Then what do you know, it was Happy Hour! The workday was over and it was time for dinner and relaxation.
And that, my friends, is why it takes me a year to write a novel.