I’ve finished the first draft manuscript of the fifth Alafair Tucker novel, Crying Blood. This doesn’t mean it’s done. The story needs at least one more go-over before I send it to my editor after the first week in May, and after she gets a gander at it, she’ll have suggestions. At least I hope she only has suggestions and doesn’t tell me this or that is unacceptable. That hasn’t happened before, and I don’t anticipate that it will happen this time, but believe me, the author really has no idea what her book looks like to other people until they lay it on her.
Right at the moment, I’m working on the extra stuff. If you’ve read my work, you know what I’m talking about: recipes, historical notes, cast of characters, definitions, maps, that sort of thing. I spent my entire writing day yesterday drawing maps. The precipitating event in this book is something that happened pre-Oklahoma statehood, when the eastern half of the area was still the Indian Territory. Now, I was raised in Oklahoma, and learned all about the IT and the Five Civilized Tribes, the Trail of Tears, and tribal allotments when I was a winsome little schoolgirl. But I’ve discovered over the years that non-Oklahomans, and that includes the entire rest of Planet Earth, has no idea. So the question is, how much explanation of places and events is helpful and interesting, and how much will make the reader’s eyes glaze over? Of course, you don’t actually put historical exposition in the story. You just add some short and hopefully interesting notes at the back in case anyone wants to know a little more.
In the new book, Alafair and her husband’s cousin, Scott Tucker, take a day trip in an automobile from Boynton to Eufaula, OK. Any idea where either of those places are, you non-Oklahomans, you? I didn’t think so. So I drew a little map. Since the story also deals with the Indian Nations and the privatization and allotment of their lands, I also drew a map of Oklahoma showing where each of the nations were located. The truth is, when you’re raised immersed in the history and lore of your place and your people, it doesn’t really occur to you that most other people in the world don’t know it. I wouldn’t have thought to include maps if a reader hadn’t told me it would be helpful.
Same with the Family Tree at the beginning of the books. Seems readers were having trouble keeping Alafair’s ten kids straight. Really? I know them all perfectly well. In the fifth book, now that the older kids are beginning to collect spouses and kids of their own, the Family Tree became so complicated that you’d have to have a magnifying glass to read it, so I’ve just included a straight cast of characters.
Since I’ve been immersed in working on this book, I haven’t been doing a lot of promotion lately. It’s my own fault. Unless you’re a big name author, you pretty much have to set up your own promotional activities, and after last year, I’m still low on energy and drive. Don is infinitely improved, but still in the doctors’ clutches for the foreseeable future, so we’re still schlepping to office appointments and outpatient procedures two or three times a month. Since I haven’t been to a doctor myself since his health started going south (about three years. Yikes!), I’ve been undergoing a bunch of tests myself lately, which just adds to the chaos. I’m proud of myself for actually finishing another manuscript, at least.
I will be participating in a live broadcast ‘webinar’ at www.wiredwriter.com on May 16, along with fellow PPP author Larry Karp. Check out the particulars on the Events page (link at the top of this page). It should be good.
And finally, as you know, Dear Reader, my fourth book, The Sky Took Him, was one of the five finalists for the 2010 Oklahoma Book Award in the Fiction category. The awards ceremony was held in Oklahoma City on April 17, and my book did not win. That makes me zero for three on the Oklahoma Book Award. The Fiction winner this year was Kirk Bjornsguard for Confessions of a Former Rock Queen.