by Kathleen Ernst
Last Friday, I finished a revision of the third Chloe Ellefson mystery, The Lightkeeper’s Legacy. I’d already turned in a draft that let Midnight Ink finalize the title (yay!) and begin work on the cover art. Despite my best efforts, though, that draft wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I spent the next six weeks cleaning it up and trimming the word count.
Saturday was a family day. Late that afternoon, my husband and I attended the annual Solstice Service at my church. As the sun set we lit candles, sang, listened to an ensemble of nine harps, and honored the turning of the seasons. A storyteller acted out the Italian tale of Befana, an old woman who delivers gifts to children on Epiphany Eve. I always love this service—the celebration, the stories and traditions from many cultures, the act of lighting candles against literal and figurative darkness. (Photo at left from First Unitarian Society, Madison, WI.)
That evening, I sat down at my desk to work. I ran a spell-check on the manuscript, fixed a couple more small things, and hit print.
It felt like quite a milestone. The past year I’ve juggled promotion for The Heirloom Murders, researching and writing The Lightkeeper’s Legacy, and writing and revising a children’s project which will also be published next year. The new Chloe story was more complicated than the earlier ones. I didn’t plan it that way; that’s how the story emerged. I’m grateful for the opportunities, but the deadlines and travel have at times been a bit overwhelming. So it seemed a bit symbolic that I was able to print a working draft of Chloe #3 on the same day I celebrated the solstice.
Today I made copies of the manuscript to send to content reviewers and trusted first readers. While they’re out, I’ll take a break from the story so I can return to it during the editing process with a fresh eye. As the days start getting longer again, I’ll be able to look ahead to new projects. I’m already eager to get started on Chloe #4.
As 2011 winds to a close I wish you all a chance to pause and reflect, to celebrate the changing seasons, to feel the satisfaction of projects completed and the excitement of projects not yet begun. Happy holidays!