The Case of the Dog in the Invisibility Cloak

I started renting an office a few weeks ago for my day (paying) job. It's the first time in *cough* years that I've had an office outside my house to go to, which means that Mira, my dog, has always had a working-at-home mama. 

Now, over the years, it has been suggested that Mira and I are possibly a little overly attached and this new office thing is a bit of a change for both of us. I wasn't sure how she'd do for hours alone and I kept have visions of her jumping wrong off the couch and breaking a leg or getting scared by a loud noise and shaking/panting all afternoon. 

 

 

 

 

 This *is* Mira, probably plotting to nap with her butt on my pillow.

This *is* Mira, probably plotting to nap with her butt on my pillow.

 
 Not Mira. Just a cute dog in a blanket because Mira might kill me in my sleep if I wrapped her in a blanket.

Not Mira. Just a cute dog in a blanket because Mira might kill me in my sleep if I wrapped her in a blanket.

My neighbor (probably jokingly) said "You should get a webcam so you can check on her." I made it about five minutes before one was in my online shopping cart. Brilliant idea, I thought. I could check on her and make sure she was doing fine without me and in a few days, I'd probably feel secure enough leaving her to unplug the camera. Right?

Today, I get to the office, wait a while (3 minutes), and fire up the app on my camera to see what she's up to. Has she settled down since I left? Is she whining uncontrollably? Is she doing the sad, sad Basset howl as she wanders the house?

And, I see the couch, the living room floor, the steamer trunk she sits on to watch out the front window, the guest bed, the nice foam dog bed that I bought her that she refuses to touch, and her bedroom floor. No Mira. Not even a tip of the tail. I had positioned the camera to catch all of her usual napping spots so I'm mildly confused. This continues all afternoon. Not a whiff or a whisker of Mira. I even turned the sound on to make sure she wasn't crying somewhere in the dark. Nothing.

Now I'm left with a whole new set of questions: Does she have a secret invisibility cloak? Did aliens abduct her? Did she have an accident with the shrink ray gun and now she's the size of an ant? Is she laying in my bed with her butt on my pillow?

Finally, after about four hours (and 3000 checks with the app), I find she has reappeared and is laying in her favorite window seat, watching out the window. What she was up to, I may never know (until I buy more webcams), but I'm still washing my pillow tonight.

 

Blowing Up the Plot

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Every so often, some well-meaning person asks, "So, Melissa, how is the writing going?" Sometimes, it reminds me of the questions I used to get about grad school, with the underlying question of "aren't you done yet?" If I look a bit deer-in-the-headlights when you ask, that would be why. I'm always happy to have the question even if I don't always have a great answer.

One piece of the writing journey for me is taking classes. I know, *huge* surprise. Most I take through the wonderful Sisters in Crime Guppy Chapter offerings. This past month, I took a course on revision with Linda Rodriguez (author of Every Secret ThingEvery Hidden Fear, and Every Broken Trust, among others). During the course, I worked on revising pieces of my zero draft of "Lake Effect" (or at least that's the title for the next five minutes), a contemporary/urban fantasy set around Lake Superior.

As a zero draft/first draft, I knew the story was rough with lots of underdeveloped plots and characters. But I felt ok about the overall plot and where it would go in further revisions....Until I got to the assignment to diagnose the structural issues of the draft, including how the plot works and how to further develop subplots. Then I spent about an hour smacking my forehead about what I was seeing. My main plot was nice. It probably would have worked ok. But it also could have been plunked down into any setting (Lake Superior, Kansas City, a rock in the middle of the desert) and worked. My woefully underdeveloped subplot? Oh, that has Lake Superior written all over it. There's no way to tell it anywhere else. It has lake monsters and the Witch of November and all sorts of fun Lake Superior lore. It's the type of plot that I want to read. 

And so, I blew up my main plot. Pieces of it remain and pieces of it will get moved to what will hopefully be book 2 in the series.  Then, I got to work on that former-subplot-now-main-plot. Although I would have preferred to have had this little revelation about six months ago or that it had happened to a short story instead of my novel, it's a journey. I learned things. I get to write fun new scenes that include pieces of fabulous Great Lakes legends. I'm beyond thrilled that the Witch of November will get a bigger piece of the pie in the plot. She's fast turning into one of my favorite characters.

So that's what's happening in my writing world. I'll try not to run in the other direction if you ask me how the book is going.

 

The Devil's Standtable

Photo by SeppFriedhuber/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by SeppFriedhuber/iStock / Getty Images

Pleased to share that my short story "The Devil's Standtable" will appear in Day of the Dark, edited by Kaye George, published by Wildside Press. All of the stories in the anthology have an eclipse connection.  Day of the Dark will be published on July 21, 2017, a month before the solar eclipse that will be seen across the United States.