Kate Flora here, sitting at my desk with a pedometer clipped at my waist, trying to immerse myself in writing now that holidays and vacations are over. It isn’t easy. Those of us who listen to NPR or read the papers haven’t been able to avoid the latest dismal fitness news for ‘women of a certain age.’ That news basically is that even if you get regular exercise, in midlife, being sedentary for many hours a day may shorten your life. Writers are generally sedentary for many hours a day.
Argh. It’s enough to make a writer want to kill a scientist. Or a statistician. Or both. I don’t have the money for a treadmill desk, and so far, haven’t been able to find a good alternative. So, for now, I am still sitting at my desk, while the nasty and deceptive device I’ve charged with keeping track of my steps tells me that 45 vigorous minutes on the treadmill has barely brought me half my day’s quota. I’m sorry, but ten thousand steps sounds like an awful lot. So, like writers all over the country, I’m sure, I am shrugging off the challenges of GETTING MORE EXERCISE in favor of DOING MORE WRITING.
I lie. I want to be writing fresh new prose. What I’m doing is editing. People ask us all the time: What is your process? Currently, my process in trying to work through my “to do” list. At the top of that list is getting my fall books ready for publication. On the PR front, I am talking with a publicist about strategic planning for my book launch. About platform building and social media. I’m discussing what I should be blogging about (this isn’t it) and what are the best strategies for promoting a fiction and a nonfiction book both involving cops and crime.
On the writing front, I’m responding to the editors of the two books that are scheduled for publication later this year. This means that once again I’ve shoved Thea Kozak aside, at least for part of the day (I’m still dreaming the plot at night, and struck by edits and ideas while I’m driving, or doing laundry, or in the shower), while I struggle to answer the editors’ questions. For Death Dealer, my true crime about a murder in a small Canadian city that ultimately involved Maine game wardens, MESARD, and the warden’s K9s to find the body, I am reimmersed in my huge notebooks. I’m rereading interviews, looking at news clippings, and reading the transcripts of appeals to the Court of Appeals of New Brunswick.
It has been a long time since I’ve practiced law, and consolidating the 98-page decision into readable prose is going to be a challenge. How much does a reader need to know about the two-level charge to a jury about fabrication so they can understand how it applies to the many lies the killer told? About the Canadian law on post-offense conduct and what can be considered? On the nature of the preliminary void dire necessary to establish a life-long friend’s challenge to the killer that he has killed the only person who loved him as an adoptive admission?
Suffice it to say, it has been an interesting week. And there’s still the appellate decision from the second trial to reread and summarize. Still, I worked on this book for more than five years, and now it is really exciting to see that the book is already on Amazon with an August publication date.
The law is so detailed and dry. Writing about the murder of a real person so much the opposite.
Merging the two will be my challenge. Death Dealer, like my previous true crime, Finding Amy, is essentially a real-life police procedural. My central characters are the detectives who investigated a murder from day one, when the missing persons report comes into dispatch, until the day, more than seven years later, when the trials and appeals are finally over, and there is justice for Maria.
So no. I haven’t ordered a fitbit to keep track of my exercise, my sleep, and what I eat. If I were to get a device, it might be called a sit bit, a device that keeps track of how many things I’ve crossed off the list, how many words I’ve written, and how much progress I’m making on the urgent tasks of getting these manuscripts into final shape. Yup. Sorry exercise experts and statisticians. I’m more worried about their shape than mine.
Check in with again in a month, and we’ll see what the pedometer says. I’m hoping it will say: Both books are back in the mail, and she walked more than ten thousand steps today.