In a Mood

I’ve been in a very grouchy mood this past week, mostly due to the day job. That’s been making it hard to work on my WIP, which is a light and fluffy holiday tale. I’m just not in the right mindset for light and fluffy–I want darkness and despair (with a happy ending, probably).

I don’t know to what extent this is true for other writers, but for me, the overall tone or mood of a story is as important as the characters and plot. In my head, I don’t just hear and see what’s going on–I feel it. My best writing happens when I become full immersed in the story’s world, so that I’m sort of a ghost experiencing events along with the characters and recording those events as they occur.

I find some moods especially easy to immerse myself in, such as mid-century West Coast noir (as you may have noticed from the Bureau series). Sometimes moods are influenced by my location. I’m likely to write a different kind of story while sitting on a balcony in a cruise ship, for example, than I would while sitting in a coffeeshop in the Loop in Chicago. Weather also plays a part–it can be a struggle to write a Christmas story when it’s the middle of summer and 110F outside. And of course the things happening elsewhere in my life can bleed over into the tone of the story. Like now, when my day job is frustrating me.

I don’t mind writing dark stories when I’m in a dark mood. In fact, I think it’s a little therapeutic in that it helps me express those feelings in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone (except my poor fictional characters). I often like reading darker stories for the same reason. And hey, if we can pull off an HEA or at least an HFN after the gloom and doom, even better.

But for now I need to finish the light and fluffy. We’re talking fairies, magical coffee houses, and holiday cheer. I’ll get there. Sigh. Maybe more caffeine will help?

Oh, what tangled webs

After allowing my yarn stash to sit dormant (and mocking me) for a decade or so, I’ve finally returned to it. I made a scarf/shawl thing that I really like. And last week I finally finished the Century Afghan!

The real name of this pattern is Lizard Ridge. But I knitted those many squares over a decade ago and picked them up again recently. It took another zillion years to join them and then knit on the million miles of I-cord edging. So I think of it as the Century Afghan. I blocked it yesterday and thanks to warmish, windy weather it’s almost completely dry this morning. I love the way it looks and I am so happy to have finally completed it!

I decided on socks for my next project. I have a lot of sock yarn. Unfortunately, the particular skein of yarn I choose was done up poorly by the original dyer and spent the last decade tangling itself into oblivion. Despite help from a swift and my patient husband, it was a knotted disaster that took hours to deal with. Niki helped too, toward the end.

As you can imagine, she was extremely helpful. But we finally have the yarn wound into submission, and today I can cast on the socks.

Oh, and in Book News: Did I mention that Potential Energy released last week?

I can get satisfaction

You know how sometimes very small things can be supremely satisfying?

I just drove my younger kid back to her college in Portland. It’s the same college I attended, a very, very long time ago. I haven’t lived in Portland since I graduated, but my family is up that way so I do visit. But here’s the satisfying thing–I remembered exactly which lanes I needed to be in for the somewhat convoluted route between the college and my parents’ house. I felt very competent.

Here’s another satisfying thing. I always feel slightly cheated when I see those signs on the highway warning of wildlife, but then don’t see the actual wildlife. Today, though, there was an elk sign–and a mile or two later, there was a herd of elk. Exactly where they were supposed to be! Clever animals.

And then I got to my hotel (the drive is 700 miles, so a bit much for one person in one day) and I was hungry. I had a Grubhub gift certificate. I was in the mood for something different from what I usually eat. And lo and behold–empanadas! And with tip and fees, my order came in almost exactly at the gift certificate amount.

Of course, major things satisfy too. Like the release of a new book. Potential Energy is available in a couple of days–April 5–and I’m ridiculously excited about it.