Archive for My Books

My Books

Other Worlds

I’ve got book 3 of the Lucky Lexie series, which I believe I’m going to call Mystery of the Drowned Driver, more or less done. I need to do a good editing pass to make sure I’m using all the right words in the right order, and then there’s proofreading. I’m aiming for a January release date, but that will depend on when I can have a cover done. I guess that’s next on my list. Aside from that editing, I’m done with the bulk of my work for the year, unless I pick up more freelance projects. I don’t yet know how busy they’re going to keep me.

I’ll talk more about this next book as we get closer to release day, but it’s very loosely based on something that actually happened in my city, though the circumstances surrounding the event are very different. The book includes a scene that puts the “fun” in funeral.

Now I get to really dive in to creating that new world for fantasy stories. I’ve always wanted to write a classic-style traditional fantasy — that fairytale type of pre-industrial imaginary world. That was what I fell in love with reading, and my first (very bad) attempts at writing fantasy fell into that genre. But I haven’t published anything like that, aside from the parts of Spindled that take place in the other world.

Now, I’m going to let myself play with creating a world and telling stories within it. The characters for the first book in that series have started coming to life in my mind, and the world is gradually developing. I’ve reached the point where I need to start coming up with specifics and filling in the gaps so that I can create an actual plot.

I’m trying to create for myself the feeling I had when I first started reading fantasy and the main thing I liked was that feeling of desperately wanting to visit those other worlds. I was homesick for places that never existed. If I do this right, I’ll create a world that I’ll want to spend time in and that will give readers that same sense of homesickness for an imaginary place.

So, no pressure at all.

My Books

Finding Home

Curious Crystals CoverBook two in my mystery series, Case of the Curious Crystals is now available. I’ve drafted book 3 and will start revisions next week, so I’ll figure out then how much work it needs and that will tell me when it’s likely to come out.

One thing I didn’t realize until I’d written drafts of two books is that the series is really about home and community and the threats to that community. At the beginning of the series, Lexie is looking for a home and a community. She’s never really had a hometown, but thanks to her addiction to Hallmark movies, she has an idea in mind of what the ideal hometown would be, and she thinks she’s found it. In book one, the threat is that pesky little murder case that might mean she won’t get the job that allows her to stay there. In book two, the theft ring is shaking up the town and keeping it from being the place she’s come to love. In book three, Lexie’s own place in the community is being threatened.

Oddly enough, it was Disney movies that gave me that realization. I think I was watching one of those Disney sing along at home specials and singing along (as you do), when I remembered the idea of the “I Want” song. I don’t think they were consciously doing it in the Classic era, but in the modern Disney era, they’re very specific about that song at the beginning of the movie in which the main character sings about the thing they want, even before the actual plot has kicked in. So we have Snow White singing about wanting that prince to come, Sleeping Beauty singing about wanting to find someone to love her, Alice wanting a world of her own, Ariel wanting to be where the people are, Belle wanting adventure and someone who gets her, etc. It’s a good writing tip to think about what your character’s “I Want” song would be about if your story got made into a Disney musical.

And I realized that was what I was missing. I didn’t have a strong “I Want” for Lexie, but then when I started re-reading, I figured out that it was already there. I just had to make it stronger in the first book. I had to do a lot of rewriting in the second book because in the original draft, she was waffling about whether or not she wanted to stay in town. That really wasn’t working, and it was when I shifted that perspective that I suddenly had an emotional through-line, where she wanted to stay and she loved the place, but it was being threatened. That gave her an emotional reason to want to solve the case.

It makes plotting each subsequent book easier when I think about how the case could threaten the sense of home she’s found.

My Books

Non-Murder Mysteries

It’s less than a week until the release of Case of the Curious Crystals, book 2 in the Lucky Lexie mysteries. This one is a bit different for a mystery because it’s not about a murder.

Not that a series that involves ghosts and people with uncanny abilities is at all “realistic,” but I didn’t want to strain credibility too much and give this town a murder rate to rival any major city. I want it to remain the kind of town you’d want to live in, not one where you’d be worried about a murder every week or so. So the crime in this book involves burglary, something that is fairly realistic for small towns. The danger is more emotional than physical. I guess this book is closer to the Enchanted, Inc. series in the sense of what’s going on and what the heroine has to do about it.

There are dead bodies in book 3, and it’s based on something that actually happened in my city (though it happens to different kinds of people, in a different way, for a different reason), but there’s another crime woven into it. I have vague ideas for the next few books after that. One is a story I came up with the core of back in the early 90s, and I haven’t found a good place to use it until now. That one’s going to be a lot of fun to write.

In the meantime, fall hit with a vengeance this morning. We had one of those drastic fronts come through. It was about 70 degrees when I got up at around 7 this morning. At the moment (just before 11:30 a.m. as I write this), it’s 58 degrees on my patio, which is probably warmer than it actually is because that thermometer is near my house, and my house is stucco, so it tends to retain and reflect heat. And it’s going to keep dropping throughout the day. I think it’s a day for making soup and baking. I’m on “vacation,” and this is a great day for cozy things.

My Books

Sudden Cold Snaps

I started my post-draft vacation with a trip to visit my parents. One good thing about being buried in a book was that meant I’d been isolating, and that meant it was safe for me to visit them. It’s only about 100 miles away, but on the way home I experienced some quirky Texas weather. It was in the upper 80s and very humid at my parents’ house, but a front had come through and stalled about halfway between my house and my parents’ house, so it was quite chilly at my house. I needed entirely different clothes only 100 miles away.

That goes to show that the kind of weather change in Interview with a Dead Editor isn’t all that uncommon in Texas. That storm is inspired by a few real-life storms I’ve experienced. When I was in college, there was a February day when I left for class in the morning just wearing shirt sleeves. It was in the mid-70s, a comfortable day that felt like spring. I was in classes all day, and when I got to my last class, it was still pretty warm. I never had a need to go back to my dorm to get a jacket. That last class was a journalism lab, so I had the regular class, followed by having to work in the lab until my radio news story was done, which meant recording and editing audio back in the day when that required a razor blade and splicing tape.

I finished my work and started to head across campus back to my dorm, stepped outside the building, and it was something like 22 degrees and sleeting. Fortunately, one of the RAs on my floor had a handicap permit and a spot right next to the dorm, and he’d issued a blanket offer that if anyone ever needed a ride, to call him (everyone else had to fight for parking, and if you left your parking space, it was lost forever). I went back to the lab and called him, and he came to pick me up, so I didn’t have to walk all the way across campus in the sleet in freezing weather without a jacket. I’m usually pretty good about keeping an eye on the forecast, and I’d spent the morning interning in a TV newsroom, so I don’t think that front was expected or I’d have been better prepared.

Another came in early January about 20 years ago, when my company did its statewide meeting. That front was forecast, so I was prepared, but not everyone was. The people who’d come up from the Houston and Austin offices for the meeting had mostly packed for the warm, muggy weather we were having. The temperature had already started to drop by the time we left the meeting to board the buses to the location for our belated company holiday party. By the time the party ended, it was below freezing. People had looked at me funny when I brought a heavy coat to work that morning when it was warm, but I had the last laugh when they were shivering in their short sleeves. I barely made it home before the precipitation started. The rest of the weekend, everything was iced over.

Then there was the infamous ice storm in early December about six years ago. The temperature drop wasn’t so sudden and drastic, but that was the year we got freezing rain, followed by sleet, and by the time it was all done, we had a four-inch thick layer of ice all over everything. Basically, we got covered in an ice rink. You can’t scrape that away. We just had to wait for it to melt. The whole area was iced in for days. A lot of big trucks got stuck on the highways, so the highways were blocked and motorists were stranded. Churches and businesses along the freeways went out to get people out of the cars and into warm buildings.

That’s what I had in mind when writing that book. I figured it was the best way to get someone stuck in town for a while.

If you’ve already read the first book, did you know that the second book is available for pre-order? Look on the book’s page for links to order.

My Books

Mysteries and Me

A mystery novel may seem to be a big departure for an author who’s been writing fantasy, but it really isn’t for me. I noticed not long after Enchanted, Inc. came out that many of the books listed under the “people who bought this also bought” section on Amazon for that book were mystery novels, and in a lot of ways, the Enchanted, Inc. books work like a cozy mystery series. We have a (mostly) amateur sleuth who gets dragged into solving cases and stopping bad guys, working with the hot guy who’s a kind of official, and the ongoing development of their relationship happens alongside the cases.

I wasn’t thinking in those terms when I was writing the books, but it makes sense, since I’ve been a mystery reader ever since I discovered Nancy Drew when I was in third grade — ironically, when I was looking for books about witches and got a Nancy Drew book with a misleading title. I remember always trying to find the last book in the Nancy Drew series to see if Nancy and Ned ever really got together for good. Little did I know that there really is no end. Around that same time, I also found the Trixie Belden books, the Cherry Ames books, and other mysteries aimed at younger readers.

When I was in junior high, I discovered Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, Dick Francis, and Ellis Peters. I love the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, but when I was a teen, it was her “contemporary” (from the time she was writing them, but they were set in the 60s) books that I really liked. There were several about the twenty-something son of a police inspector who tended to stumble upon crimes when he was traveling with his friends, but the one I really liked was Never Pick up Hitchhikers, which I wished would be a series, but I think it was a standalone. I still remember the nightmares I had when my mom made me turn out the light and go to bed just when I reached the part where the hero was about to go investigate something, thinking he’d surely make it out before that building closed. The last line of the chapter was “famous last words.” My brain kept trying to figure out what happened next, and I got no sleep. I may as well have stayed up to finish it.

These days, I lean heavily toward the cozy side of things, mostly because I can’t take a lot of stress right now. My new series wasn’t begun with the COVID world in mind, but I think it may be the perfect tonic for these times. If you’re looking for edge-of-your-seat suspense, these aren’t the books for you, but if you want to escape to a fun little town, where you can maybe try to solve a puzzle or just go along for the ride, hang out with nice people, and see bad guys get a comeuppance, this may be what you’re looking for. These books are also shorter than my other books. They’re the sort of thing you could easily read in a weekend.

Speaking of the COVID world, I made a conscious decision to ignore the pandemic, even though book 2 would have taken place during the first wave when the state was shut down. I never say in the book exactly what year it’s all taking place, but there is an election mentioned in book 1. I hope people are reading these books for years to come, and because it’s an election for the US House that’s mentioned, that could be two years from now or two years ago, as well. The ice storm that hits in the first book didn’t actually happen in that part of the world this year. And, besides, there are ghosts and people with supernatural powers in this world, so it’s already an alternate reality.

My Books

Welcome to Stirling Mills

Interview with a Dead Editor CoverMy new mystery series, like many cozy mysteries, is set in a small town. I have to admit to having mixed feelings about small towns. We moved to one just before I started high school — a truly small town that had only about 3,000 residents around the time we moved there. At that time, there were two stoplights. The only restaurants were the Dairy Queen, a little local barbecue place that kept going out of business and being reopened, and a fried chicken place. It was a major event when they opened a McDonalds near the freeway that passed by the town when I was a sophomore in high school. They subsequently moved the city limits down to the freeway so that the McDonalds and the Burger King that opened on the other side of the street a couple of years later would be officially in the town.

I wasn’t very happy living there. It was a big culture shock for me, coming from a military upbringing to a place where a lot of my classmates had been friends since kindergarten. We lived in the country outside the town, so getting to events was sometimes a challenge. I didn’t fit in at all. I couldn’t wait to graduate and get back to a city. But I still love the idea of small towns. I don’t like driving on freeways, so when I travel, I usually take back roads that go through lots of little towns. I love seeing the different kinds of little towns — the railroad towns, the county seats with courthouse squares, the old market towns. The neighborhood where I live functions like a small town even though it’s part of a big city. It’s a self-contained little bubble separated from the rest of the city by a freeway, with a mix of houses, restaurants, and businesses, all within walking distance. I’m not sure I’d want to live in a truly urban area.

I think one of the main reasons small towns are popular for cozy mysteries is that sense of everyone knowing everyone. There’s a ready-made pool of suspects whose secrets are already known, even if there might be additional secrets beneath the surface. That sense of familiarity gives the amateur sleuth a reason to get involved in solving crimes, and the police department might not be as procedure-bound as in a big city with more bureaucracy. You can imagine the local newspaper editor getting away with poking around and investigating a case in a small town, while that would get shot down pretty quickly by a big-city police department.

In creating Stirling Mills, the fictional town where my mystery series is set, I merged aspects of a couple of real towns that are in the general area where I’ve mentally placed the town, then created my own ideal setting that has all the things I’d love to have in a town. It’s a place where the old downtown has been restored and revived, where there’s a lovely historic district. The old movie theater still shows movies. There are newer things on the outskirts of town, the more common chain stores and restaurants and new subdivisions, but I haven’t explored that yet in the books. My focus has been on the downtown area where the heroine lives and works.

This is also a town with secrets, and some of those lie in the paranormal realm. One of my favorite TV series ever was Haven, which was based on a Stephen King book. The series focused on a strange small town in Maine where there were a lot of secrets. I loved the mix of the quirky small-town personalities and the eerie elements people didn’t talk much about. I’m trying to capture some of that feel in my books, but with a Texas accent. In my book, one of the odd things about the town’s history is that a carnival sideshow troupe got stranded there during the Depression when the troupe ran out of money. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill sideshow. Many of those people had uncanny abilities that they used in their acts, and now half the town is descended from those people, with many of them inheriting the abilities. Their abilities might be used for good or for ill, and their existence makes crime-solving more of a challenge, especially because it’s not the sort of thing the police can use as evidence.

Now we’re just a little more than a week from launch day! And I’m about to start writing book 3 in the series, so I’ll find out what else there is to learn about this town.

In the meantime, if you never tried my Fairy Tale series, you’ve got a good opportunity to do so while also getting a bunch of other books. The first book is part of a Storybundle, available from now through Oct. 8. You can get all the information here.

My Books

Meet the Heroine

I’ll be spilling a few more details about the new book as we get closer to the release date. Today, I’m going to tell you a bit about my heroine, Lexie Lincoln. She’s probably my most autobiographical character so far, and yet that wasn’t really my intention. It was just that I had to make a lot of decisions about what she was like, and for mostly plot purposes I chose a lot of things that happened to be similar to me or were from my life. She’s kind of like if you took a few of my traits and put them together in another person who also has some other traits.

For instance, her profession. Lexie is a reporter. I went to journalism school and have worked in print, radio, and TV news. My degree is actually in broadcast news, but I’ve worked more in print. I worked on the school newspaper in high school, which also meant doing some work with our town’s weekly newspaper. In college, I spent a semester reporting for The Daily Texan, and I spent a summer working for a weekly entertainment newspaper. My first job out of college was as assistant editor, and later editor, of the monthly campus newspaper at an academic medical center. In my initial plan for a mystery series, the newcomer to town who ended up solving mysteries was going to be a doctor, in a “Northern Exposure” kind of situation, in which she got a scholarship to med school in exchange for working a certain number of years in this small town, first as an apprentice to the town doctor and later taking over his practice. Because it’s a small town, the local doctor also serves as a medical examiner.

But as I thought about it, I figured she would be way too limited in what she’d do, since if she ever worked as medical examiner she might have to keep things official. I didn’t want every case to be a murder mystery. Plus, that would have required a lot more research to be at all accurate. I have some medical background from working at a medical center, but I don’t know the nuts and bolts of a small-town medical practice, and from what I’ve seen, a small-town doctor wouldn’t have time to solve mysteries, especially not if she’s also serving as a medical examiner. And I didn’t want to have to get into the gory details of death that would come with being medical examiner. I know about autopsies and have seen one (thanks to working at the medical center), but it’s not something I want to delve into. So, I thought, why not go with something I know a lot more about, someone who would have an excuse to do unofficial investigations, and make her a reporter?

Then I was wrestling with whether to make her a city girl coming to a small town or to have her be originally from a small town and finding herself back in that kind of environment. I could see pluses and minuses to both approaches, but then I thought of something else — why not make her a military brat, someone who doesn’t really have a hometown? Again, that’s something from my own background I was stealing, though my dad was in the army and Lexie’s dad was in the air force. The military life is in a weird twilight zone between small town and big city. There’s a degree of sophistication that comes with it because you move around a lot, experience a lot of different cultures, and deal with a variety of people. You get good at adapting and fitting in, and you’re always meeting new people. A small town can get pretty insular, and people who went to school with the same people from kindergarten through high school are the polar opposite of a military brat. At the same time, a military base can function a lot like a small town. Everyone’s parents work for the same employer, and if a kid gets in trouble, it will get back to the parents. The community is very tight-knit. You form these instant bonds with your neighbors, who become like family — until they move and you start over with the next people. I thought that background would be interesting for my heroine who moves to this town to take over the newspaper. She’s never had a hometown, so this is a novel experience to her, something she longs for but that also makes her a bit itchy. She fits in easily, but also feels like an outsider.

She’s also a tea drinker, like I am. That just sort of appeared as I was writing. There was a scene in the town’s diner, and I needed to give her a bit of business to give her a reason to interact with the waitress and we would get to see her around someone other than the cop. A scene about her trying to get hot tea in a diner in a small Texas town popped into my head (because that can be an epic ordeal), and thus she was a tea drinker. That fit in with her being an air force brat, because air force is more likely to have been stationed in England, and she might have picked up the habit then. I do sometimes carry my own tea bags, as Lexie does, but mine aren’t anything special, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually ordered boiling water in a diner so I could make my own tea (I did once resort to asking for iced tea, no ice, in a mug, and microwave it). I just usually have mine for situations like coffee breaks at conferences. I suppose there’s also some research avoidance involved because I don’t drink coffee and don’t know how to make it or what’s supposed to be good, so it’s a lot harder for me to have a character with a coffee-related quirk. Katie drinks coffee in the Enchanted, Inc. books, but you may notice that I never get into much detail about it or describe her making it.

Really, those are about the only traits I stole from myself. I’m not nearly as brave as she is. I’d probably let the police handle things rather than wanting to do my own investigation of something like a murder case. I wasn’t a very good reporter. I’m a good writer, but I hate making phone calls and asking people personal questions, so I was miserable while I was reporting. It wasn’t so bad in TV when I could just show up at an event with a camera, and people usually wanted to talk, but working on a newspaper requires making a lot of phone calls. I probably should have thought about that when choosing a career path because I’ve always had a phobia about making phone calls.

But there are other things about her that are different from me. One of her other quirks, aside from the tea, is that she’s addicted to Hallmark movies (though in the books I generally just refer to them as “cheesy cable romances,” or something to that effect). That’s her release valve from her high-pressure job. After a day spent covering mostly bad news, she likes to escape to those idyllic small towns and their seasonal festivals. When she finds this town, she feels like she’s stumbled into one of these movies, and she can’t help but see things through that lens. While I like romantic comedies, I’ve generally only watched Hallmark movies ironically so I can snark at them. I find them a bit too bland and trite for my taste. They’re frustrating because they sometimes have great casts, and they have lovely settings, but the scripts are weak, and it wouldn’t take much to fix them up a bit. I’ve read that they actually force them to be that bland. Anyway, that’s one area where I differ from my heroine because she loves these unironically. Maybe if I had her kind of job and hadn’t actually lived in a small town, I might see things the way she does.

So, that’s my heroine, a Hallmark-watching, tea-drinking air force brat who became a reporter. Which is totally different from me, a PBS-watching, tea-drinking army brat who became a reporter before becoming an author.

Next, I’ll tell you a little about the small town Lexie finds herself in.

My Books

New Book Alert!

Book one in my new mystery series is now available for pre-order, so it’s definitely real.

I started working on this last November after I went to Bouchercon (the mystery convention). I’d had some vague idea about writing a mystery for years, and I’ve always read them, so when I learned the mystery convention was going to be in town, a short train ride from home, I decided to go, and that confirmed for me that I was going to give it a shot. The week after the convention, I sat down and got specific about the setting and characters, then figured out a crime. And then I wrote the book. This was a National Novel Writing Month book, since I wrote the whole first draft during November.

Then because I wanted to make sure the premise would sustain more than one book, I started drafting the second book in February. I was near the end of that draft when everything got crazy, when we were seeing horrifying reports of the pandemic in Italy and then in New York, and then when our area went on lockdown. I think I must have emotionally shut down because the last few chapters of that book read like a recap. It wasn’t until April or May when I was able to go back and fix the second book, but I still wasn’t happy about either of them.

Then in the middle of the summer I had a burst of inspiration and figured out what I needed to do to fix these books and did another round of revisions. Finally, I was happy enough with them to start getting things into production mode.

And now, here they are. Book one is coming October 1, and I’m planning on having book 2 released on October 29. I’ve got a third book roughly outlined, and that’s probably going to be my October project, aiming at a release in January (if it all comes together and isn’t one of those books I have to rewrite a dozen times).

I’m publishing these as cozy paranormal mysteries, but they’re very similar in style and tone to the Enchanted, Inc. books. There’s a case to solve, a smart and snarky heroine doing a lot of the work, and there’s a guy who might become a love interest. This series verges more on paranormal than outright fantasy, but there are people with uncanny abilities — something that can both help and hinder the crime fighting. The setting is what’s really different. It’s a small town in central Texas, not too far from Katie’s hometown (I haven’t yet decided if these two towns exist in the same fictional universe). It’s a fictional town I made up based on a couple of real places mashed together and a lot of imagination. Basically, it’s the kind of town you’d find in a Hallmark movie, but in Texas rather in some snowy place, and with a lot of stuff going on beneath the surface that you’d never find in a Hallmark movie.

I really have fun writing these. The town of Stirling Mills has been fun to escape to while I’ve been stuck at home. I’ve put an excerpt on the book’s page on this site so you can get a taste for the style. This scene happens after our heroine goes to a job interview, only to find the person who’s supposed to be interviewing her dead on the floor. Of course, the police want to talk to her about that. The links to order the book are also on that page.

writing, My Books

The Birth of Ideas

When I was looking for blog topics, one reader suggestion was to talk about where my ideas come from. That’s a pretty complicated discussion because I feel like my best ideas are cumulative. There’s no one flash of light that results in a book.

The closest I’ve come to that lightning bolt feeling was when I came up with the idea for Enchanted, Inc., but really, the lightning bolt was just that I wanted to write something that felt like a contemporary “chick lit” kind of book that had magic in it, a book about a woman getting a job offer from a magical company out of the blue (a fantasy that struck me because I was really hating my job). The rest gradually built from there. I figured that my heroine would have to turn out to have magical powers, but the hero/heroine finding out they have powers has been done to death, so I flipped it and had her finding out she has no magic at all, but that’s useful. I’d wanted to write a small-town Texan in New York story ever since my first trip to New York, and I decided this would be the one. Those were the big ideas, but there are thousands of little ideas that built up along the way as I planned and then wrote the book.

For the Rebels books, it started with the general idea of wanting to write something steampunky. I love the aesthetic, and I love the sense of adventure. I just had zero idea of a plot. My initial lightning bolt that set it off came when I was finishing up writing the first Fairy Tale book but was distracted and procrastinating by studying the bookshelf nearby. I noticed my copy of Jane Eyre next to a Madeleine Brent Victorian Gothic adventure novel, and I felt a “click” in my head. I could write a book about a governess in a house full of secrets who ended up having adventures. The original idea was that Henry would be a mysterious, shadowy Gothic hero type figure, but he refused to cooperate, aside from having secrets. The revolution plot came from me thinking about how bizarre the British class system is, the idea that some people are better than other people because of who they’re descended from. I started thinking about what if there really was something different about the nobility. They’d certainly want to guard that, which would explain a lot of the rules of Victorian morality, though it would apply equally to boys and girls. It would ruin their hold on power if suddenly “common” girls started having babies with magical powers. The nobility wouldn’t be different anymore. Then I started thinking about how that would affect history, and I ended up with the idea that maybe the American Revolution would have failed, but in the Victorian era there would be more technology, so maybe they’d stand a chance. That was definitely a gradual build kind of story because I did tons of research, and each bit of research added an idea I wanted to explore.

The origin of the Fairy Tale books was a lot more nebulous. I had a dream-like mental image of a very dainty woman walking a bulldog and disappearing into the mist, and I tried to come up with the story behind that image.

There’s no one “aha” moment behind the mystery book that’s about to come out. Nearly ten years ago, I first started thinking of writing a mystery, and I came up with a reason for an outsider to come to a small town with secrets, her boss dying, and her being the suspect, so she had to solve the case herself. I revived that idea, but I changed the heroine’s profession and finally figured out what the secrets were. I really have no idea what sparked the decisions I made. It was like things started popping into my head, and I went with them.

Generally the process is that I get a burst of inspiration that sets me off on a voyage of discovery, and it takes a lot more thinking and work before it turns into an actual story idea.

TV, My Books

Mental Casting

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you should have received the link to get the Enchanted, Inc. short story (it was in the newsletter). If not, you can still get it by subscribing. A link to get the story should be in the welcome message (if I did it right).

Re-reading and editing that story was an interesting experience, taking me back to when the series was brand-new, with everything but the first book only being a vague idea in the back of my head. I have to admit that the story got me a little misty. I’ve generally felt like writing emotion is my weakness, but it seems I can do it when I try. I think it helped that this story was purely self-indulgent. I didn’t think anyone else other than maybe one friend would ever read it, so I went further than I might normally go with the pathos. Maybe I should let myself go more often.

It’s been interesting continuing my rewatch of The Office while working on this because it reminded me that one reason I first started watching that show was that when I saw one of the promos, it hit me that Pam was pretty much the way I imagined Katie. The series came on not long before the first book was published, so at that time I’d written two books in the series. I didn’t have strong mental casting for Katie, but then this show came on, and there she was. I didn’t imagine Katie with the curly/frizzy hair Pam had in early seasons. Physically, she looked more like Pam did when she got a bit of a makeover and her hair was straighter and a little shorter. But the way she dressed and her mannerisms were very much like the way I saw Katie. It’s weird to have a character you’ve been writing suddenly be brought to life for you in some entirely unrelated thing.

But then over the years as I wrote more books, Katie became more her own person in my head and although she still looked more or less the same, I no longer saw that specific person, mostly because I wasn’t thinking about The Office anymore. Then lately, the two things converged once more, with me editing a story in which Katie was discussed and made a brief appearance while I was watching the part of the show where she changed and started looking more like Katie, and poof, the Katie in the story was basically Pam in my head.

Alas, even if they did make an Enchanted, Inc. series, Jenna Fischer has probably aged out of the role, since Katie was 26 in the first few books and turns 27 between book 3 and book 4.

I have no idea who would be good casting now. When they were talking about a TV series, they were planning to go with an unknown they could make into a star, though at one time there was mention of going after Hillary Duff. And before that, there was a time when apparently Anna Faris was trying to get something put together for a movie. I don’t know how real any of that was or if it was just agents and producers talking and spouting off names.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the story (or enjoy it, if you don’t have it yet). I’m planning to add some other free stories as newsletter exclusives along the way.