This week I printed off copies of my Demon's Wager manuscript and passed them out to the writing group I've been part of since 2002. They'll need a month to read and review, so it's time to move on to the next project.
I have two new stories in mind, plus two more old manuscripts that early readers have asked me to finish. By which they mean, go back and rewrite with actual plots.
All four of the projects interest me and each has its own argument for being my next endeavor. (Why don't I work on two or more? you ask. Because I barely have enough short-term memory to keep one set of characters in my head, much less two or three. Seriously, try walking around with an entire town in your brain. It's not easy. And the more stuff you carry around this way, the less likely you are to remember things like "turn off the oven, dinner is ready.")
So I thought maybe I'd do an informal poll and see what you Raisin-ets think sounds interesting:
The candidates are:
1) Jephthah's Daughter--historical YA
Seventeen-year-old Lucy Johnson wants to be a newspaper reporter, but Angus Hay, owner/editor of the Hinckley Gazette, believes women belong in the home--or the school or the flower shop, anywhere but his newspaper.
Pros: Lucy is, of all the characters I've ever written, hands down readers' favorite. The background event, a massive forest fire that destroyed the town of Hinckley, MN in 1894, is fascinating. Plus, a lot of the work is already done.
Cons: Every attempt I've made to change the book so that it has a plot has resulted in changes to Lucy that make her less likable. And it's been ten years since I did the research.
2) Demon's Design--paranormal, second in the series I've dubbed Touched by a Demon.
Asmodeus runs DemSec, the satanic bureau in charge of outfitting demons for Aboveworld assignments, but he wants more--to be second-in-command to Satan for all of Hell. So he takes on a mission to corrupt and destroy Zora Neal.
Pros: If any agent/editor shows an interest in Demon's Wager, there's a good chance they'll want a series, and if they want a series, they'll want the second book soon.
Cons: I have no idea who Zora Neal is, other than the fact that she has two moms who are anthropologists and think her new boyfriend would make an excellent research subject. I have even less idea what would make an up-and-coming young techno-demon abandon the pleasures of Hell for a short, messy life on Earth. And I know from painful experience that having God and Satan as secondary characters is a huge challenge because it's so tough to get anything past them.
3) Widow's Peak--suspense thriller
Julie Pontrain is a woman-in-hiding from her abusive husband, Kyle. Kyle wants her back--along with the $3 million she stole when she took off. He plants a video, purporting to be from a department store security camera, of an unknown woman beating a young child. Close-ups of the woman in the video are engineered to look like Julie, and the media goes crazy: Find This Woman. Rick Porter is a radio shock jock in Boise, IA who has a personal vendetta against child abusers. He's determined to see the anonymous mother located and jailed.
Pros: Like Jephthah's Daughter, early readers still bug me to finish this one. It's a fun story that could really benefit from all the stuff I learned in McDaniel College's Writing the Romance Novel course. Plus, a lot of the work is already done.
Cons: Julie ranks second on the list of all-time most unlikable characters I've ever created. And, if I ask my writing group to read this sucker even one more time, they'll commit hara-kiri.
4) To the Bone--women's fiction
When telemarketer Adrianna (Adie) Phelps applies for a job in Corporate Sales so she can rescue her home from foreclosure, they turn her down as too homely. But after she wins an extreme makeover in a Hollywood contest, she returns home to find everyone treats her differently, including her high school sweetheart husband.
I'm not even sure who the antagonist is in this one--Adie's husband, Pleasant, who had his reasons for marrying a homely woman, or her boss, Dick Wolf, who refused to hire her.
Pros: I already love Adie and Pleasant and I'm really intrigued at the idea of exploring how we, as a society, feel about beauty.
Cons: Women's fiction is a lot harder to sell than romance.
So--what do you think? If you found all four of these in a bookstore, which (if any) would you buy?