We’re still in the midst of the pandemic that has affected us for more than six months now. People get sick, and fortunately many heal . . . though not everyone does. And it’s affected us in ways beyond illness–economically, for example.
Even when things seem to improve some, they don’t always stay that way. Sometimes they get worse again. We still don’t know when things will settle down and start resembling normal once more.
And as a writer, I’m wondering when to use all of this.
Right now I’m still working on my third book in the long-running Colton series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, featuring characters in one of the many branches of the Colton family spread all over the country. I’ve known what has to happen in this one, and that’s what I’ve done.
But I’m also plotting some other ideas. Stories that will take place at least a little in the future.
Should I mention the pandemic? The social unrest? What it’s all done to our economy?
Or should I assume that readers will prefer that I don’t go there, that I ignore all that nasty stuff and just create my own issues in my stories, the way I used to?
I’m pondering all of that even as I plot. But like everything else these days, who knows what the future will bring–and if things will ever return to what had been deemed normal before?
Of course, as a writer, I want to satisfy my readers. It’s okay to scare them in romantic suspense and mysteries, but we need satisfying endings in which all gets resolved in a reasonable, acceptable, perhaps optimistic way. Never mind what happens in real life. I write fiction!
Well, I’ll figure it out and decide which direction to go in each story I write.
And hope that reality gets better even as my stories continue.
For the last couple of months, my posts here included some of my take on what was happening with the Corona virus and how it was affecting my life–and how the changes had become my new normal.
Then there’s the economy, and all the people suffering because we mostly need to stay at home. Businesses are closing. People are losing their jobs. Where’s the money??
My new normal now also includes worrying about the protests occurring in many places in our country–including areas of Los Angeles, which is where I live. Oh, I sympathize with the protesters who are out there marching peacefully against racial inequality. The death that precipitated it all this time shouldn’t have happened. But now looters are using the protests as an excuse to get out there, break into stores, and steal a lot. And injure others. A lot of businesses in areas near me that haven’t experienced the riots are all boarded up, just in case.
And now here, and in other blog posts I’ve done, I’m wondering what’s next.
I’m writing, of course. Right now I’m working on my third book in the long-running Colton series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, featuring characters in one of the many branches of the Colton family spread all over the country. I keep thinking about the second one I wrote, when much of the action was precipitated by an earthquake–Colton First Responder.
Are we due for an earthquake as yet another major issue in our existence, like a pandemic and riots? After all, as I said, I live in Los Angeles. And there was an earthquake worth noting in Ridgecrest, a location not far from here, this week.
Other areas may be deluged with hurricanes or other storms.
Or will our next problem–no, read “disaster”–involve something else?
Well, I am a writer and my imagination never stops. And I keep telling it to calm down and imagine instead what things will be like when there’s at least a small semblance of a return to normal.
Although what normal will be next…?
Anyway, I hope that all of you who are reading this are well and safe and not subject to any of those or any other major issues.
Who knows? Next time I post here, things may be quite different… again!
Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published 53 books so far, including mysteries and romantic novels. More than twenty-five of them are romances for Harlequin, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Nocturne. Her latest release is Colton First Responder, for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. She has also written several mystery series including the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries and Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and Pet Rescue Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Nearly all Linda’s current stories involve dogs!
Last month I posted here about the Corona virus and how it was affecting my life and writing. Well, guess what, everyone? Reading that post again now, I realize that what I described has become my new normal.
Oh, sure, I used to stay at home a lot and write. Not much different about that now. But I still don’t go out to my exercise classes, which remains fine with my dogs since they get more walks.
I plan in advance when I dare to go shopping for essentials like food, and then I plan the times to arrive at those stores to be when any lines will hopefully be short and I’ll be able to breathe at least somewhat through my mask.
Otherwise, I pretty much stay at home. And write. And wonder if I’ll ever really want to incorporate much of this into a novel someday. It is novel, of course. New, but extending. I never dreamed what’s going on today ever would. If I’d written about it in the past, people might have enjoyed the fiction—or not—but that’s what it would have been. And tomorrow? Will I include any or all of this in my writing? I’m still not sure.
Meanwhile, I hope to attend the meeting of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America this weekend—the way I’ve been attending such meetings for the past couple of months now, online, on Zoom. Not that non-techie me has completely figured out how to use Zoom. But I know enough to at least watch and listen.
And now? Well, I’m working on the final edits of the manuscript I was writing last month. I hope to send it to my editor soon. It’s another Harlequin Romantic Suspense book in one of my mini-series, and I’ve been having fun with it.
What else? Well, my husband and I used to go out at least once a week to see a movie in a theater. Now, we watch all movies or shows on TV. And my dogs have always been good about communicating with me, so having me around even more to give orders to seems to suit them just fine.
Okay, back to work now. Let’s see what I have to say here next month!
Life has changed. For everyone. At least for now.
Covid-19, the Corona virus, is out there. Hopefully none of you reading this has caught the virus, and neither have your family members or friends. But even so, it has affected you.
For one thing, I’m in California, where we’ve been directed to stay at home except for important outings such as buying food. Most states have given the same directive to their residents. As a writer, I’m used to staying home. But it still feels different when I don’t have an option, even for good reason.
So, no visits to exercise classes. My dogs are happy enough about that since my husband and I are taking them on more walks. Everyone else in my neighborhood seems to be doing the same thing, dogs or not, so we cross the street often to stay away from one another.
And writing? Well, I’m in the middle of an important edit, and that’s what I’m concentrating on. I’ve more writing to come, too. But I’m wondering how I’ll refer to the pandemic in future stories, when hopefully this is all behind us. Will I mention it? Will I ignore it? Will I take on writing a fiction story that is based on what is currently happening?
Even my reading now has been affected. When I read about a major gathering in a story, for example, my mind leaps out of the book and I scold all those people for getting together till I realize where I am and what I’m doing. Or even as I’m editing, I think about whether the people in my story need to be together at their workplaces, then slough that off as being today’s reality, not the fiction I’m writing.
So how long will this last? The experts vary in their estimates but in any case it’ll still be going on tomorrow and the next day and most likely several weeks, or months. It feels weird. It feels scary. And as a fiction writer having to deal with reality—it’s definitely difficult.
So… hang in there. I will.
My first new book of 2020 is a February release. It’s Colton First Responder, a Harlequin Romantic Suspense book.
Yes, it’s one book in the HRS long-lived series about the Colton family, which is large and has family members living in branches all over the country. A Colton is a hero or heroine in each of the books in that series, so it contains a lot of highly romantic members. And of course they’re romantic suspense books, so those Coltons keep getting involved in relationships… and suspense, including murders.
It’s my second Colton book, and I don’t have any more planned, although that could change. Meanwhile, I will have more HRS books coming out, though I don’t know if any will be published this year. So Colton First Responder may not only be my first book of the year, but also possibly the only one.
I mentioned last month that I wouldn’t be going to many, if any, conferences this year, although I attended four last year. The one I wasn’t sure about when I wrote my last blog post here was the Romance Writers of America National Conference. Since then, I’ve made up my mind—I’m not going. There has been a lot of controversy in RWA lately, and I’m hopeful things will eventually be worked out enough for the organization to survive. But because of the controversies, Harlequin will not be attending the conference, hence my decision not to, either.
Despite all the stuff that’s going on, I have renewed my membership in RWA and my local chapters. I’ve been a member for a long time, and hope to keep it all going.
How about you? How is your year going so far? Looking forward to anything in particular soon?
Bethlehem, PA has a werewolf problem.More info →
A touch of witchcraft around every corner.More info →