Caitlyn | M. E. Maki

When life interferes, keep plugging along. Not only did I lose my life partner in January, the first week of October I sold my house in Virginia, closed on a house in Connecticut, and moved in on Oct. 8. Packing, unpacking, and all the details surrounding a move kept me pretty busy over the summer months into fall. But now I’m back working to finish mystery number four. Almost ready to send to a beta reader. Getting close. I’m having a problem finding a cover photo. I like to support local photographers and not just settle for online photos. I’ll keep searching. 

Over halfway through the story and now Ethan’s boss has taken him off the case. Just as he thinks he has a good lead. Caitlyn is racing against the clock to solve her mystery. Will they make it? 

Ethan’s investigation deals with cybercrime. A neighbor who works in cybersecurity offered to help. I’ve sent him my plot line. He’ll turn that into a case study, do the research and let me know how the crime can be committed. I look forward to his report. In the meantime, Caitlyn is busy in Pont-Aven, working her own investigation and time is running out.

In the next Caitlyn Jamison mystery, with the working title, “Secrets,” Caitlyn is making new friends in the town of Pont-Aven, a small rural community in the Adirondacks on the shores of Lake Champlain. But this  tranquil art community is treatened by a new commercial development to be built in town, destroying the green space, and threating the town’s history and culture. The development has created unintended consequences-an attack on a library employee, and then a murder. Both accidental? That’s what Caitlyn has to find out as she is drawn into solving the crimes. 

Caitlyn and Ethan are living in Stafford County, Virginia. He’s busy with his new job; she works from their new home with her graphic design business. Life is good until they visit her Aunt Myra who’s recently moved to Charlottesville, VA. Myra suspects prowlers have entered her new home, though nothing seems to be disturbed. The next day Caitlyn takes a short trip to the Adirondacks, but ends up involved in solving two crimes. A cybersecurity case at the Library of Congress Packard Campus has Ethan’s attention. He worries about Caitlyn, but this time he can’t help her. It’s an interesting intertwining plot line. Love getting into the character’s heads. 

No longer Immunity
It came as a shock that the plot line for my suspense novel with the working title of Immunity, that I had developed over a year and a half ago played out in real time. The story line I developed was almost exactly the path Novel Covid-19 took when as it ravaged the world. My super virus attack was contained to the Savannah area. Before too many people were infected, and the antagonist’s goal was met, an antidote and vaccine were revealed. Infortunately, that is not the case with Covid-19. Since there are too many similarities between what I had concocted and our new reality, I filed my manscript away. People I’ve told want me to finish the story with a happy ending. I’m thinking about that.  In the meantime, I’ve been working hard on the next Caitlyn Jamison mystery. Due to Ethan’s new job under the FBI umbrella, he and Caitlyn have been able to be together. This, I know, will please readers. So, back to Immunity. Do you think I can sue China for copyright infringement? LOL

Immunity is the working title for my suspense set in Savannah, Georgia. Under the blog tab you will find how my books seem to experience serendipity. I am in the process of moving chapters around, and adding more detail and descriptions to my characters. As that happens, I learn more about each character, which in turn alters the story. Take, for instance, Peter Doyle, the antagonist. The first draft just had him with one goal in mind. But what was driving him? He had to have another reason to want the CEO position. I went deeper into his personality and came up with the reason. Then there is the reason why Alaina cut her career short. I’ve got a lot of work to do!

I am getting better acquainted with my new characters Alaina and Duncan. It is always a learning curve as they develop their personalities, and have to tackle new challenges. Alaina thought she was done with her work with the World Health Organization. She’d seen enough death and disease. It was time for her and husband Jake to take time for themselves. But then Jake, on his last tour of duty with a special ops group in Afghanistan, is reported missing in action. Alaina’s former WHO partner, Duncan, who now works for the Savannah Police Department, calls on her to help to solve a mysterious death. She is being pulled in different directions. Her emotions fragile. But she can’t turn her back on the innocents that are falling ill as an unknown virus runs rampant through the City of Savannah. She steps up to the plate, but can she figure out how to stop this virus before the entire city succumbs?

What’s next for Caitlyn and Ethan? It was my intention to give them a rest. But, just as The Death of Cassie White was released, and I was able to give the suspense story my full attention, my daughter emailed me with a topic she would like Caitlyn to explore. It is a fascinating issue and I’m looking forward to doing some reseach. Then I attended a session yesterday that will be perfect for Ethan’s next challenge. The work never ends for any of us. 

Caitlyn is staying with her parents in Virginia’s Northern Neck region while she is interviewed by a new client. Unfortunately, the afternoon of her arrival skeletal remains are uncovered during an illegal excavation project that borders her parents' new home. Caitlyn is determined to learn the identify of the skeletal remains that appear to be that of a young female. In the meantime, marine biologist Chad Owens has his own mystery of figuring out why a dead zone has developed in the bay. Could the two cases be connected? [Posted Nov. 2017]

One of the fun things about writing is when the characters develop and change the story. It happened in Fatal Dose when Steven Sullivan decided he didn’t want to be the victim, and I had to do a rewrite and figure out another victim! In The Missing Waterman (working title) Bud Higley was developed as a minor character. As I develop the storyline, Bud decided he would play a bigger part. He and his wife Lilla are turning out to be a couple of main characters - characters I had no intention of developing at the start of the book. I’m excited to see where these folks take me. [Posted 12/11/17]

Even bad people have some good attributes, and that is why I have been reworking the first chapter. The point of view changes from Bud Higley’s to Vince Russell’s. Vince is the local developer that is upsetting the quiet community of Ingram, Virginia with his building plans. There are two sides to everything, and so I decided that Vince needed to have his side of the story told. This first chapter will be reviewed by the Old Town Sleuths, my mystery writer colleagues next week. It is then I will find out if my rewrite works!  [Posted 1/2/18]

I’ve received good reviews on the first two chapters - yeah! Old Town Sleuths pointed out a few minor things that I can easily fix. It is good to have different eyes on your work as readers interpret things in different ways. In chapter two I had a point of view issue. To correct that I was asked, who’s point of view is most important? I am now paying much better attention as I work on the scenes. [Posted 1/14/18]

I’m considering taking the story in a slightly different direction. I think it is too chopped up now, and I need to develop the characters more. I really want my readers to care about the characters. Did I mention that sometimes writing is hard work? :) [Posted 1/24/18]

Caitlyn thought she could investigate and solve the mystery on her own. In fact, she had to, because Ethan wasn’t there. After two failed interview attempts, she understood the importance of their teamwork. Her skills were in observing and being able to put the puzzle pieces in place before anyone else. They were a team. Would Ethan show up in time? [Posted 2/10/18]

What happens when the story loses momentum? It’s because something isn't working. I decided to start over by rearranging my chapters, introducing Caitlyn and the “event” to be solved in the first chapter. I’ve continued to rearrange, edit, flesh out characters, and even added a colorful character! [Posted 3/1/2018]

My do-over is working well, and the two plot tracks are coming together. Ethan doesn’t show up on the day I had originally planned. So when does he enter the picture? I hope readers will enjoy reading about his new adventure. In the meantime, Caitlyn is left struggling with a demanding client and an unidentified teenaged girl. [Posted 3/31/2018]

The characters keep tweaking the plot lines! Sometimes they drive me crazy. Caitlyn is meeting some interesting characters in the small southern town of Ingram. She will soon learn it isn’t th sleepy town she thinks it is. [Posted 4/28/18]

Caitlyn thinks Bud and Lilla Higley know more than they are willing to share. Caitlyn has to figure out a way to get them to talk. And without Ethan’s help. She has to sharpen her interview skills. In the meantime, her mother, Ann, has learned something very important to share. [Posted 5/11/2018]

Ethan has arrived in the Northern Neck, but with a new challenge. Why is Caitlyn and her father persons of interest in an attempted murder? She is going to have to work to find the real culprit while continuing to solve the cold case - could the two events be connected? And, she has to keep up with the work her new client demands. If she loses this client she will be in financial difficulty. [Posted 9 June 2018]

It’s happened again. A person I popped into the story to add a little local color and someone with knowledge of the area - in other words a bit player - has now demanded a bigger part in the book. She’s Irish and determined, so I guess I don’t have a choice. I’ll have to make some adjustments in the plot line to work Tricia in. I do want to keep my characters happy. [Posted 1 July 2018[

The person referenced above now has a partner who will also be helpful to Caitlyn. In the meantime, I’ve been struggling as to when I introduce Ethan. I think I’ve finally figured it out and my goal is to finish a first draft by September 1. Have 30,000 more words to go … [Posted 4 August 2018]

Don’t know if I’ll make the first draft date of September 1, but I am making progress. I’ve figured out how the story will unfold, and have added some twists. One of Caitlyn’s suspects was assaulted and is in the hospital. Can she get into talk with him? The sheriff has his eye on her. She’s a bit too nosy. [Posted 21 August 2018]

Caitlyn and Ethanagain have been challenging me with this third adventure. I’ve just rearranged the chapters and what prompted me to do that was reading 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias. The library had only the first edition of this book, but the first 60 pages were very educational. I have to admit that the book wouldn’t have meant as much to me if I had read it four years ago - before or even during writing Unexpected Death. But now that I have the two books done, and understand how the characters behave and change my intentions, the book was very confirming. A quote that I have typed up from the book becauase it hit home is: “Once characters take on lives of their own, they become difficult to control. They may not share your sense of plot. They may have their own agenda and leave you astounded by their imprudence. They defy you. They taunt you.”  Welcome to my world. [Posted 17 September 2018]

My writing friend and I are doing our NANOWRIMO Rebel again this year. We have slated 1 October to 30 November as our NANOWRIMO time period. I have three projects that I want to make progress on. One is finishing the transcribing, indexing, and doing some research for my great-grandmother’s handwritten history of the Jacksonville (NY) Community Church. I want to finish the first draft of my third Caitlyn Jamison mystery - yeah, I know I wanted that to happen on 1 September - and I want to make progress on my story set in Savannah (see my blog on this site about what happened with that!).  I hope within the next couple of weeks I will have the good news that the first draft is finished, and I am well into deep editing the ms. [Posted 21 October 2018]

Exciting News - I found the cover photo for the third Caitlyn Jamison mystery. My graphic artist has the photo now and when she has the cover developed, I’ll post it on the site. In the meantime I’ve finished the first draft of the third book, and am looking forward to putting the chapters through Prowritingaid software as well as editing, editing, and editing. [Posted 7 November 2018]

First draft is finished and I have put the book into 6 x 9 format for editing. Reading in this format gives the feel of a “book” instead of the 8-1/2 x 11 page. I can identify widows and orphans, check lenght of paragraphs, and how dialogue appears on the page. I’m up to page 81 of 244, plugging slowly along, layering in details, getting to know my characters a little better. I love this process.  [Posted 9 December 2018]

Self Editing - Oh my. The editing is slow going. Up to Chapter 42 of 67. The characters continue to be developed; the plot lines tightened. It’s about revisiting every word, every sentence. It’s about catching those details that may have changed because the story line was altered. Consistency in personalities have to be carefully managed. Check passive voice and use of was, were, is, was. Are the scenes written so readers can visualize? Will the main characters reach their goals. This question I can definitely answer - yes! [Posted 17 February 2019]  

The third Caitlyn Jamison mystery is now with beta readers. I’ve been working hard to finish this manuscript enough to share with beta readers. While I wait for their comments, I will continue to put chapters through Prowritingaid to make my prose as crisp and clean as I can. I love the fact the software tells me when I’m missing an end quote. That is so easy to do when editing, adding/deleting words, sentences, paragraphs.  [Posted 9 June 2019]

More editing and a second reader’s comments are coming today. I might make may fall publishing deadline after all! [Posted 31 August 2019]

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