It's All About Timing ⏱️

Hi, all—

I hope everyone's September has gotten off to a great start! I've been playing catch-up on my end. When your Aug Mid-Month SitRep dropped into your inbox, I was sitting in a hospital, waiting for our middle son's emergency surgery to finish. Everything turned out well & he's firmly on the mend—so no worries there anymore. But due to a few complications at the time, he came to stay with us for the next ten days, instead of heading to his apartment. 

Why am I sharing this? Timing. As you can imagine, it's been on my brain of late. Naturally, with a grown son right outside my office & needing assistance, writing time was at a premium. But I've been thinking about story & series timing, too. I have been from the moment I starting writing Kate & Ruger's current release, Beneath the Bones. You could say I've become obsessed.

Why? How an author deals with time in a plot can make or break a novel, especially a mystery or suspense. After all, we tend to use the days of a week & often the hours, minutes & seconds not only to keep track of events but also to provide readers with that crucial "ticking clock" feeling.

I did okay juggling time in my stories for nearly two decades. But here's the thing: I was tracking the events of individual books & the backstories of just a handful of characters back then. As you all know, I'm currently writing 2 distinct series with 3 main leads. Once Invisible Wounds releases, each series will have 1 prequel & 3 books out—with many more to come. That's a lot of events to keep straight! Of course, I had to complicate it all further by tying the two series together in certain spots. (For example: when Kate takes a crucial call from Regan during In the Name Of…or when Kate needs to connect with Mira Ellis in Invisible Wounds.🤫

Until now, I've been using blank calendar sheets & have even crafted timelines in a nifty program called Plottr, so I could keep events straight & see the potential connections between all the characters in both my series. Perhaps stress upped my desperation of late. While my son was recovering & I was in my office, beginning to focus on writing again, the shortcomings in my current method began to bug me. Once again, I searched for an interactive alternative. 

When the Aeon Timeline app popped up, I almost passed it by. I'd bought Aeon 1 several years ago & found it more program than I needed for a single book. But as we discussed, I'm currently plotting multiple books across 2 distinct series. Desperate, I downloaded Aeon 3 & plugged in the initial dates for the first 3 books that are already out in Kate & Ruger's series. By the time I began adding in the markers for their prequel, I was firmly in love. I skipped the remainder of the trial period & clicked buy now.

For all of you like-minded data point nerds, you'll find two screenshots of Aeon 3's interpretation of my inner brain pasted below. Naturally, I grayed out several event/plot-point labels for the prequel snippet and the list view since, well, leaving them intact would spoil the stories before you had a chance to read them. 😂 

You'll note that 2017 is set for the portion of the timeline in the first image. When I began writing The Garbage Man, I used a 2020 calendar to keep everything straight. So those years are simply markers to keep me straight while I'm drafting a new plot, since while I do mention weeks, days, etc in my books, I don't specify the current year. This way, the stories retain a timeless feel and I don't have the growing decade pressing down on me, demanding events that I just do not want to incorporate into my stores. (Hint: a major series spoiler alert—Ruger will never grow old & die!)

So, take a peek at Kate & Ruger's lives inside my mind. It's a scary place, but Aeon manages to make it gorgeous, yes?! I'll be creating a second master timeline for the Deception Point series later this fall.

I can see & edit events in this view too!


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