One of the issues that has plagued me since the beginning is that the word count of the stories is not really a publishable length. Up to now, my stories have 6 chapters with about 2000-2200 words per chapter, so most books are from 13,000-14,000 words long.
Since this is a teen series (it was originally a middle grade series but that's not very realistic what with Terry's age (18) and some of the themes), 14,000 words is not long enough. So in 2013 I decided to make a conscious effort to stretch out the stories. It came about by accident really.
The first book I finished in 2013 "Clue In The Headmaster's Cloak" was still 6 chapters and about 13,000 words. It was a good story and we meet Terry's cousin Angie who first appeared back in 1979 and "Mystery Of The Haunted Cottage".
The next book, "The Jungle Temple" was the first story that I had written nearly half the book but didn't like the direction it was taking, so I went back and changed a major plot point and continued on. The story needed more than 13,000 words so it ended up being 7 chapters.
The next two books also had 7 chapters instead of the usual 6. "Mystery Of The Dark Mirror" was an interesting book as it dealt head on with Corey Cross and his depression. We find out that he was seeing a psychologist behind his friends backs and it turns out the doctor was a bit of a quack. I am quite proud of this story and it is very dark.
"High-Wire High Jinks" was a good story and dealt with a circus that comes to Port Salser.
Also in 2013 I wrote "Secret of Devil's Cave". I liked this story as well. But decided to push the word count again and ended up with 8 chapters and around 17,000 words. This was a title that I had since the early days of the series but never got around to writing it. I took it off the title list as it had the word "devil" in the title. But I dug it up in 2013 and finally wrote the story.
So even though only 5 stories were completed during the year, and no rewrites, I did up the word count. The word count would be upped again 2 years later.
I didn't take part in NaNoWriMo this year so no books were written during November 2013.
In 2014, six stories were completed. I find stories that I stop during writing and lose momentum usually don't turn out as well as ones where I push through and write in a short time frame. "The Space Shuttle Case" was one story that I wrote in bits, but it didn't turn out too badly. Terry and the gang head to Florida and the Kennedy Space Centre to help a friend of Jenn Vincent's brother who is accused of sabotaging a shuttle launch. We meet Jenn's brother Michael in this story.
The next story "The Eco-Warrior Mystery" introduces a new major character. I have always been fascinated with Indians and (east) Indian culture. I also wanted to broaden my ethnic base with my characters. I had a black character, Toby Gellart but he's not a major character.
I created brother and sister Raj and Neela Mistry. they are environmental activists and are integral to this story. I am still working on their characterizations, but Raj has sort of replaced Corey as part of the Terry-Van--?? trio. He starts out being Van's friend then during this mystery becomes Terry's as well. He will show up in more mysteries in the future. Neela will be Van's steady girlfriend.
The next story "The Arctic Island Treasure" brings back Van's uncle Ned who we met in "Mystery Of The Ivory Idol" back in 1984. This time Terry and Van are in the Arctic on an icebreaker and uncover a treasure. This is a title I had lying around for years and really liked it as a title and was excited to finally get to use it.
The next story was another title I had hanging around for years and always wanted to write a story about "Tahiti Spies". It was a pretty good story and Raj is in this one again, the first one since "Eco Warrior".
In most cases I think up the title to a book first, then think up the plot but I had an idea about a mystery surrounding an obnoxious deejay. I started writing "Peril On The Air" without a title and the story just flowed. I don't really care for this title, but couldn't come up with a better one. It's a little cheezy but it fits the story.
Another title I had in my arsenal for years but found it too ambitious was "Mystery Of The Dead Man's Double". this one deals with insurance fraud and "twin cousins", something I researched a little before writing.
I had written 74 titles in the Terry Macdonald Mysteries by the end of 2014 and was writing about 17,000 words a book or 8 chapters. In the early days I never dreamed I would get this far in the series. I had over 100 titles in the "arsenal" but didn't think I would get close to writing them all.
2015 would be another year of change. More about that in my next post...