The reality of research…

I’d like to say I had an epiphany about my WIP, MacKenzie’s Hell, but it was more of a hell of hand to the forehead slap.

Hang on, let me back up a little.

I moved to Florida May 2nd of this year. The weather was glorious. And I do mean glorious. Cool nights, warm enough days, only occasional rain. It was like Mother Nature touching my shoulder saying – here – this is the right place. Granted, I know it wasn’t about me at all, but it’s what it felt like. The heat held off for three weeks, while I did virtual walkthroughs of places to rent and crunched numbers and restructured my budget this way and that. I settled on a place, signed the lease, figured out when I could move all my stuff. The day – I mean the absolute first DAY I moved into my house Mother Nature was all – Ok love, now here’s reality.

Honestly it hasn’t been horrible. Living in Atlanta did a fair job of thinning my blood from the treacle-thick state of living in Buffalo, NY weather. I’ve been accustomed to flipping my calendar – you stay in during the summer, do all your outside things in the winter. But what’s settled on me over the last week is what it means for my writing, specifically MacKenzie’s Hell, but also for other things.

I’ve always loved writers who embrace setting as a character. And I do my best to do that, but now that I’m living in Florida I’m realizing that there’s a whole level of character that I need to work into the flow of MH. I embraced the culture, the people, look of the place, but I missed the feel of it. I talk about the impact of the weather but missed the reality of LIVING in it.

The inspiration for MacKenzie came to me over a weeklong trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida for spring break. I did more research on our annual trip to stay on St. George Island year after year. What I didn’t realize over those years was how influential the time of year was. Spring break is amazing. The Gulf is cool, so even if the high is in the 80s there’s a refreshing breeze off the water. Our summer trips usually occurred in mid-June. The water is still on the cooler side, still a refreshing breeze, still lovely.

The novel opens in July and carries on from there. The first few chapters are day by day. Frankly, you don’t go anywhere outside in Florida with dry clothes. You walk outside and perspiration pops to the surface. You walk into air conditioning and you’ve goosebumps. Go back out and repeat the process, this time with your shirt already clinging to the small of your back.

MacKenzie is returning home(a town on the gulf of Mexico) from working in the Dakotas. She’s been away from home for over a decade. Her blood has thickened. She’s used to being outside all the time in what, for a Floridian, is COLD COLD weather. I skipped her acclimatization. I don’t even have her bitching about the heat(and honestly she would, SO SO much).

So – I’ve been struggling to get the story moving forward, but I think it’s because when I read it through it’s ringing a little hollow in that specific way. It’s missing the mark. So I’m about to dive back in and see where things go after I do a pass through edit for the effect of heat!

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