Working with the Real World

So! October has not been going the way I’d like it to, in terms of writing, mostly meaning that the Changeling story continues to limp on and not get finished.

But, since the end of the month is a little over a week away, I have to accept that it’s not going to get done, and that I really need to get on planning my cozy mystery for Nano, or that’s not going to get done either.

So, alas, here we are.

I love mysteries, and I like cozy mysteries, though I do admit that the “theme” really makes or breaks them for me. My favorite series is the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews, of which I have read all 20-odd books (there’s a new one coming out for Christmas), which I suspect I like because the theme is mostly bird-pun titles (brilliant) instead of book content, and because they have a wonderful selection of weird relatives.

I’ve avoided writing one before because the whole concept of writing one is terrifying, but the thought of writing a novel with no speculative elements is ALSO terrifying, so, uh, I’m not going to. Luckily paranormal cozies are a thing.

Now, even so, I can’t really set a mystery in a secondary world of my own creation. Well, I mean, I can, but it’ll get categorized as fantasy and not mystery and long story short (too late), that means I have to use the real world as a backdrop.

Cozies usually take place in made up towns located in general real places. I intend to follow suit. I’m thinking small mountain town, probably here in Colorado. And I’ll do a better job than a certain cozy author I shall not name who I’m pretty sure has never stepped foot in Colorado in her life. But! I will have to make it up. Something to do over the weekend, I think. Make maps. Maybe I’ll share them next week. Maybe I’ll horde them. Who knows!

Anyway, real world. I’ve decided my main character owns a New Age shop. She’s a witch (kind of a mash-up of real world and fairy tale sorts of witches) so it helps her to hide in plain sight. Now, I haven’t been in a New Age shop (are they even called that anymore?) in a while, aside from booths at festivals and cons, so I went out this morning for research purposes.

I found three shops within a ten-mile radius and laid out a circle route to hit all of them.

Now, a good author who understands people would tell the clerk that she was researching for a book, and would the clerk mind answering a few questions about what it was like to run the store, and how busy they were, and what sort of people came in.

I, however, arrived at the first store, and when the very helpful clerk asked me what I was looking for or needed a solution to, I said, “I’m not sure,” and meandered about the store for ten minutes, looking at the offerings.

(I ended up with a book about Christmas magic and a stone bracelet made of sodalite, which is apparently good for creativity and focus.)

(With how the Changeling story has been going, I need all the help I can get.)

It’s probably a combination of being an introvert and not having had to talk to anybody new in approximately seven months, but despite the clerk being very nice and very helpful, the whole experience was overwhelming.

Next I drove to the second store, sat outside, decided I was done for the day, and went home.

So, uh, limited success.

I don’t know how people do that! How do you go up to someone and ask for their insights into their work? I know, probably, that most people like to talk about themselves, but it just feels like a huge imposition.

Eh, I’ll figure it out.

How’s your week going, squider?

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