I’m on Cape Cod now for my annual Novel Fun in the Summer Sun tour. Being on the Cape is physical therapy for my body, with restorative long walks and beach yoga in the early morning. It’s also mental therapy for a tired writer’s mind.
I am finishing Storm Watch, the third book in the Unfinished Business series. Synchronicities, a theme I touched on last time, abound. It’s been difficult to keep up the momentum, but it’s not writer’s block. Storm Watch is more than half complete. I have lived with these characters for over 10 years. But I have lived with myself for many more, which is probably the reason.
Part of this process is closing an arc of one part of my life as well as closing out the character arcs in the stories, which sometimes are far too close to my personal ones. Liz’s losses have mirrored many of mine over the last few years. That makes the plot lines richer but it also makes the writing much harder.
I spent time in Boston recently, reliving both my happy times there as well as Liz’s bittersweet memories of her life before her first husband died setting off a chain of events she could never have imagined. My life was very different ten years ago, and none of what I worried about back then came to pass. But writing helped me escape from, and cope with, a whole lot of personal and family health crises and a major career change–which we all have to deal with, but can never anticipate or prepare for.
I’ve also walked in Mike’s shoes since he is a composite of my beloved uncles, grandfather, and father. Seeing a boat beached on the sand, I imagine any one of them waiting patiently inside for the tide to rise. In fact, seeing someone waiting inside this boat was the original kernel that started Storm Watch.
As soon as my feet touched the muddy sand at Breakwater Beach, and my eyes took in the a panorama of errant boulders, pastel blues and pinks muted by the shimmering sand, I was transported to back to the life of the heroine, who was born, here died here, and came back to life here. I grabbed my phone and dictated three pivotal scenes as I trudged along the Brewster Flats, nearly two miles out to where the Cape Cod Bay tideline lapped gently in the early morning sun.
My characters have been beached like the outboard motorboats, waiting for the tide to come in and suddenly, they’re afloat and making their choices clear. Now as I complete Liz’s feminine journey, Mike’s hero’s journey, and close the arcs of the other characters it’s hard to say goodbye. I also have to take back baggage I asked them to carry with me, and that is slowing the writing process.
After a long, peaceful solitary walk today, I recalled the twists and turns of the process, and how the decade began with great joy and has ended with great sorrow as my children grew up, my parents aged and my father died, leaving my childhood years and young adulthood just a series of misty memories.
I relive all that and more every time my toes touch the sand, I dive underwater, the salt touches my tongue and stings my nostrils, and my hair streams out behind me like a mermaid’s. My arms are still strong as I swim again the current, and so is my resolve. I will move on to a different series, new characters, and their new arcs. But this is a bittersweet summer as I complete my unfinished business and the Unfinished Business series.
From Storm Watch: Book Three in the Unfinished Business Series
Either it was age or too much on his mind, but forgetting your morning routine was like getting lost in your own back yard. Mike was in the parking lot before he realized he’d forgotten to stop for tea. There was some water and soda aboard the Whaler-warm of course-some stale snacks, too. The sun peeked through a bank of puffy white clouds, giving the hint of a beautiful day to come. In the west, a dark expanse rolled over itself like a giant octopus, its tentacles undulating, slapping the shit out of the cottony sky. “Damn ghosts.”
Just when it seemed they were under control, the familiar gut twisting visions and visitations had resurfaced. That spectral fog, invisible to those who had not had the dubious pleasure of a ghost living inside them, mocked him from above while he tromped across the still damp sand. Ripples carved by the outgoing tide massaged his bare feet. The detritus of seagull breakfast, an odd crab claw, a gnawed fish, cracked, ravished quahogs, bivalves attached but their guts picked clean and bleached bone white crunched with each step. They were all dead and gone. Why couldn’t human ghosts go quietly? The entire Cape was a graveyard full of souls clinging to life, haunting the living and breathing inhabitants of the Barrett Inn–and Breakwater Beach.
Carole Ann Moleti lives and works as a nurse-midwife in New York City, thus explaining her fascination with all things paranormal, urban fantasy, and space opera. Her nonfiction focuses on health care, politics, and women’s issues. But her first love is writing science fiction and fantasy because walking through walls is less painful than running into them.
Books One and Two in the Unfinished Business series, Carole’s Cape Cod paranormal romance novels, Breakwater Beach and The Widow’s Walk, were published by Soulmate. Book Three, Storm Watch, is expected in 2017.