A Shot in the 80% Dark – Book Launch Eve Post

Here it is, the night before the launch of A Shot in the 80% Dark.  It’s the fourth book in the Bean to Bar Mysteries series, so it feels like everything should be routine by now.  But each one of these books has come together in a different way and presented its own challenges.  This time, it was all about time.  Some things happened earlier in the year that completely threw my schedule off.  And the manuscript stalled for a bit.  I had all the elements I needed to make the story, but it just didn’t want to gel.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure this book was going to come together on time at all, so I hesitated about putting the marketing pieces into place, and that made me less determined to push forward with the writing.  So how did I get it to come together after all?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  I visited Galveston to do some hands-on research, which helped me visualize what the story needed to be, and I could see how to do the puzzle, since I already had the pieces.  I knew what I wanted to highlight about chocolate.  I knew who the animal sidekick was.  What I wanted the main literary reference to be.  Where I wanted Felicity to be in her relationship.  Even why the victims in the story were killed.  The only thing missing was me, showing up and sorting that information into a piece of art.

So I pushed myself through, somewhat re-inspired by what I had learned from the research.  And as the book came together, there was a lot more in it than I had anticipated about finding art and beauty in life, no matter what you do.  Felicity discovers that her Instagram feed contains photos that others consider art, and she focuses in on what it means to have an artistic side inside herself – and to consider her ways of expressing that to be important and valid.  (This thought was in part inspired by a K-drama I watched about a girl who slowly realizes that taking well-received fan pictures of her favorite celebrities was a real creative outlet, and that the pictures are part of her sense of art. I’d never really thought in those terms before.)  In the book Felicity makes real strides towards finding meaning in living life on her terms, instead of lamenting over what could have been.  I always believe that we tell the stories we tell because we need them to heal ourselves, and I wrote this one so fast, there wasn’t much of a filter on that aspect of things this time.  When I read over the initial draft, I was moved by the power of it underneath all the silliness and murder-solving.

So what did I learn?  Trust the process.  And find the power inside the story by letting the characters be true to themselves as they make enough plot to cover the gaps in your outline.  And – remember why you started writing in the first place, and make art that pleases you before you start worrying about what other people are going to think, which can paralyze you.  It’s easy to tell those things to other people (I am an author coach, after all), but a whole different thing to feel trust in the midst of personal uncertainty.

I hope you all enjoy A Shot in the 80% Dark, which is a story involving so many things I love as the backdrop for the mystery.  Visual art and chocolate as art and local history and the ocean – I’ve written about all of them before.  But they way they’ve come together this time is very interesting.

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