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This year's weather hasn't been ideal for anyone: I took the above photo while thunderstorms were hitting northeast Indiana, and we were still second page news on the weather channels. I hope wherever you are, you have good air conditioning, or a good sump pump in your basement, or a fireproof home, or at least good luck. As I write this tornadoes have just gone through Michigan, large parts of the south and west are under heat warnings, and it's freaking flooding in Arizona! And what gave my photo such a neat color? Smoke from the fires out west.

I had to go back and figure out why I started working on my current novel-in-progress.

Ordinarily, when I finish writing a novel I like to have it finished--as good and polished as I can get it, before I move on to a new project. I also want to have it in circulation, submitted to literary agents and/or publishers, depending on the way I'm going.

That's how I left Fire On Mist Creek, Beowulf: In Harm's Way, and We Love Trouble, searching for attention in the cold, cruel world.  Smoke Showing: A Fully Involved Photographic History of the Albion Volunteer Fire Department, is our upcoming non-fiction book, and it doesn't count because it's waiting for Emily's contribution when her work schedule lightens up after Labor Day.

So, four novels I should be either self-publishing or submitting for traditionally publication. Then there's The Source Emerald, which Emily sent me notes on, and as a result now waits for another look. (The book, not Emily.) Add to that our already-published books, which are begging for some promotion and publicity time.

So when I finished the rough draft of "Found Dog Antique Fire Truck Romance Story" (still blocked on a title), it suddenly occurred to me: Why did I start a new book in the first place?

Realizing I started it in early spring reminded me of why.

My brother passed away at the end of January, and I started the new story about two months later, when the weather was still wintry-crappy. That was why I did it: depression. I don't mind editing or polishing a story, and I don't hate submitting, and I pretend I don't hate promotion ... but it's the writing, the actually telling of the story, that I love. So, to battle feeling down, I started working on a new book in April.

Yes, there is a Jeffrey (my brother's on the left) in the new book ... kind of. There is not a Mark.
 

As long as I was doing that, I told my wife, I would also use the new story to work through my grief over Jeff's death. My wife asked me if that was a good idea and I told her something along the lines of, "I know what I'm doing.".

Notice how people who say that so often don't?

Now that the rough draft is done, it's a pretty good story, although it needs more editing than usual. However, it's not the planned story.

You see, I write in several genres, and one of them is romance. Now, there's nothing wrong with a guy writing romance, although it isn't common. However, all mine so far have been romantic comedies. That's what I like to read (and watch), so that's what I like to write. This was going to be one, too.

 Should have known better.

Hey, sometimes even dogs get depressed.
 

Oh, it still has humorous parts, but let's take a look at some of the subjects covered in the novel: cancer; family loss; puppy mills; animal cruelty; winter depression (seasonal affected disorder); and the stages of grief.

This was supposed to cheer me up?

The final story isn't as dark as that makes it sound, but it certainly couldn't be described with "comedy". So, here goes a dive into another sub-genre. How many am I up to, now? In addition to those sub-genres there's humor, young adult, science fiction, mystery, history, and ... well, I guess The Source Emerald is urban fantasy, given that it has magic being used in modern society. If I had a publicist, they'd be horrified.

But what the heck ... writing's still my thing, and I still love it--even when it's therapeutic.

 

Genres? Yeah, we got genres.
 
 
I snapped a photo of this cold air funnel near Auburn, Indiana, July 17th. They're kind of mini-tornadoes and don't generally do much harm--this one dipped down a couple of times, spun around, then disappeared.
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