A week and a half ago, with ten days to go in the month of April, I decided to conduct an experiment. There was this book I wanted to write, that someone wanted to publish – and since it isn’t a done deal yet and the contract has neither been offered nor signed, I won’t give you the specifics. Suffice it to say that I didn’t actually have time for it, between the second futuristic romance, which still needs another 35,000 – 40,000 words before it’s finished, and DIY-7, which I have to write this summer. All 90K of it. There shouldn’t be room for another book in there… but I felt compelled to try.
So I gave myself ten days. Not too much can happen in ten days, not when you have a couple kids and a dog to take care of – not to mention a husband – and so many other things to write.
The ten day period was up yesterday. I managed to write just over 25,000 words. Almost half the book, since this is a short one. It’s a mystery, really, but because it’s written in third person, both his and her POV, and because there’ll be s-e-x later on, I think it’ll probably more accurately be marketed as a romantic suspense. Like the DIY and Cutthroat Business mysteries, it’s pretty light and funny at times.
Anyway, I thought you might enjoy reading the first few pages. Keep in mind they’re a first draft, unedited, that I started eleven days ago, and don’t be too critical of any errors. But for what it’s worth, here they are: pages 1-3 of ACT of Redemption (working title):
It was the kind of thing that should never happen, the kind of thing that would never—in a world where everything was right and good—be allowed to happen.
What kind of daughter loses her father’s ashes, for God’s sake?
But—Annika reminded herself—it wasn’t a world where everything was right and good, was it? If it were, her father wouldn’t have been shot and killed for the money in his wallet, and she wouldn’t be here, halfway around the world, sans his cremains.
And the trip had started out so well, too.
She’d been early to the airport, of course. The flight left in the evening, and navigating New York City at rush hour, straight through Manhattan from Brooklyn to Newark, had been a daunting task. She’d set out five hours early, just to be sure she wasn’t late, and had gotten to LibertyAirport with three and a half hours to spare. But the wait hadn’t been unpleasant. She’d walked around a bit and browsed in the duty-free stores. She hadn’t bought anything, but she’d noted a few things she thought she might want to buy, once she was on her way home instead of halfway around the world. After that, she’d bought herself dinner in one of the restaurants—hey, she was on vacation, and it was all right to eat alone in an airport—and when those activities had paled, she’d simply sat down in one of the seats by the gate and read, the carry-on bag with the ashes safely tucked behind her feet, where no one could get at it.
As a librarian, she should probably abhor eReaders—more than a few of her colleagues did—and as a librarian she definitely appreciated the sight and smell and feel of a “real”book in her hands, but for traveling, nothing could beat an eReader. She’d never run out of books again. And if she did, there were more just a click away.
For the trip, she’d downloaded everything she could find about Gotland—fiction, non-fiction, Frommers, what have you—and quite a bit about Sweden in general. Her Danish mother had made sure Annika, Andy and Astrid were grounded in the Danish language and Danish history and custom, but her father hadn’t seemed to care that his children didn’t speak Swedish or know much about where he came from. They’d gone to visit family in Denmarkevery few years growing up, until they were old enough to want to stay home with their friends during school breaks, and then Anne had gone on her own. But Carl Holst—Calle Magnusson, Annika corrected herself, still amazed that she hadn’t ever known her father had spent most of his adult life living under a name that wasn’t properly his own—hadn’t ever brought his children to Sweden, and hadn’t gone back himself, not in the more than thirty years since he’d left.
And she’d lost him.
So anyway, the trip had been uneventful up until that point. She’d spent the time in the airport reading, and when she needed a break, she’d watched the people moving through the terminal, wondering where they were going and what they were doing. Making up stories about them. That young woman, in the Indian clothing with the red dot between her brows and the resigned look on her face, dragging her feet… was she just tired, or reluctant; on her way to India to be married off to a cousin, against her will? Just before the airplane doors closed and the flight took off, would her boyfriend push his way onboard, to tell her he couldn’t live without her, and to convince her to elope with him? Would he succeed, or would she abide by her parents’ wishes? Would she find love, either way?
And the two backpackers, barely out of their teens, with heavy boots and bright smiles… were they off to explore Europe for a month, tramping through the Old World, gawking at museums and architectural gems? Or were they headed to Africa to dig wells and plant crops? Archaeology students, off to a job in Cornwall, or missionaries, going to preach to the heathens of darkest Siberia? Boyfriend and girlfriend? Siblings? Or just friends?
And the businessman, the one with the black hair and dark suit, hunched over his laptop… was he an engineer, going to save a bridge from collapse? An accountant, going to save a business from bankruptcy? Or a spy, going to save the world? With those kinds of dashing good looks, he could be anything. She could totally imagine him in full James Bond mode, navigating his customized Lamborghini along the beach in Monte Carlo, top down, wind ruffling those dark curls. She could see him pull up outside a casino and get out of the car, smoothing a well-manicured hand over his hair and straightening his bowtie before tossing the keys to the valet and going inside to the glitz and glamour, his stride long and unhurried; his face bland, but his gaze ever vigilant, missing nothing—
Just when she’d gotten to that point in her imaginings, he lifted his head and caught her eye, and Annika had found herself looking into a pair of brown eyes, as dark and melting as Godiva chocolate, surrounded by long sooty lashes. He held her glance for a few seconds, just long enough for her to start blushing, before he smiled and went back to work. After that, Annika kept her attention on her own tablet and didn’t look at anyone else for too long.
* * *
So what do you think? Was it worth ten days? Is it worth a few weeks more, to finish it? I think I can be done by the end of May, before I have to go back to the other obligations. Yes?