Escape to the internet during a pandemic, a peaceful protest, or a riot, might not be the best landing location to while away the time. Rather than an escape, I find it puts you right in the middle. While it's great source of news, it's not a way to escape.
I do, like others, enjoy searching the internet for ideas, for deals on products, catching the news, or simply the mindlessness of the internet.
One day in February, I happened to catch an article by an AP writer, Sophia Rosenbaum that hit me at the right time. Her premise was, she learned five things by binge reading all fifty-two books in the In Death series by J.D. Robb.
To be honest, I had no idea who J.D. Robb was and looked it up; it's Nora Roberts if you didn't know. Now Sophia learned things like; you could read too much and get hurt, she loved the library, she began to think like a copy and reality and fiction are definitely not the same.
The series premise intrigued me and in late March, I downloaded my first book.
As a writer, I learned that people will be drawn to your series, first and foremost, by the characters. They might not love all of them, but they better like the majority of them or they won't care what their next adventure is.
I liked Eve Dallas, I wasn't crazy about her boyfriend Roarke, loved her friends. Some things, at first bothered me, but as I continued to read, I began to love them. While the story itself wasn't the most important, some were interesting, so much so, I would download the next book, seconds after finished the current one.
I was hooked after the first book.
While I didn't realize there were short stories intermixed in the main books, (and I'll go back and read those next), I read each book as if it were my job and I had to do it well. I began to figure out who the killer was midway through. I started dreaming the characters at night, as if I were reading another book while I slept.
I've been lost for a long time in the attempt to sell and make a living with my books. While I realize I need more content, I've been struggling with my focus, finding something that I enjoy writing, something I would enjoy reading.
I found, this series was it for me. Much like when I read Harry Potter, my own characters started to creep inside. I could imagine what their lives would be like and the stories they could tell.
It wasn't so much what I learned, rather what I realized. These are my go to books. The police, or mystery. Strong female characters who can kick ass, and take care of themselves. I read the Kinsey Milhone series much the same way.
Why hadn't I thought to write them sooner?
Thirteen weeks after picking up my first Eve Dallas novel, I'm on book forty-nine out of fifty-two and I know this is the direction I should go in. It's entertained, I've had a place to escape to, and I understand what drives me as a reader.
I've been afraid to start a new series. I've been afraid to put myself into a new character, a new situation, a new series. I've been afraid to write to similarly to what I've enjoyed that I won't be able to distinguish myself from the others.
The book is started but as I wind my way down to the last Eve Dallas, I'm starting to get my vision of who my characters will be, their lives, their stories. It won't be the same and yet it will be reminiscent of what I love. Writer's block is only fear, and with a little perseverance, you can come out on the other side.
A lot of this I think came from finishing my own series. It left me lost, floating around, trying to find my way to the next. As I maneuver through my writing journey, I leave in the wake, one police procedural, one cozy mystery, a series of novellas, and a book of short stories.
Eve Dallas, or J. D. Robb has reminded, that this is the genre that sparked my imagination when I was seven years old; that moment when I knew I wanted to write when I was older. It reminded me, it focused me.
Books and great characters make for an escape from a world that is crazy and troubling. For me, that is why I read.