A couple months later, the public relations lady and her editor friend were no longer in the picture. I finished the book in September and started again, refining the story with ideas I was capturing. The series grew from three books to five, all outlined in painstaking detail. I had defined my own process to get to know the characters and developed a methodology to open a gate for synchronicity to work its magic with my storyline and ideas.

It was a time of extreme concentration and exhilaration, yet a minefield managing the multiple roles in my life.

By January of 2015 I was half-way through the rewrite and overjoyed at the insights I was getting for the other books, where I was leading the characters. But it all came to a halt one February morning when I woke to a rattle of dialogs and scenes for book two. I couldn’t quiet the thoughts by simply writing them down. Against my will, I opened a new file and began book two. What was then lovingly known as Book One, sat untouched for a month. 

I returned to Book One but I had changed, elements of the story and the characters had become clearer in writing and refining the first three chapters of book two.  Capturing all my notes, I went back into Book One.  My goal: complete it by September. The house went into crisis mode, figurative swords lined the door to my office; no one dared enter (okay, just a bit of Leonine drama; it wasn’t that bad).

Or maybe it was.

I sat at the dinner table that August night, my stomach in knots, irritated with life and mostly, myself. The candles on the cake were lit, decorated packages stacked high on the table. My mom, husband and daughter sang to me, my son mouthed the words but I listened and took in their love, wondering how long the process of celebrating my advancing age would take, how soon I could usher my mom out the door, clean up and get back to my office.

You need to know this before reading the next paragraph. This may be hard to believe, but at this point in the two years of writing the series, my husband never asked about the story. He may have asked how my day was going, but never, ever asked about the characters or the story, not even the setting.  Detecting his disinterest, I never shared. This is not an easy memory to write, it was even harder to live through.

So, that evening with my small family gathered around the table, I opened the first gift, then the second and third and finally the one from my husband: a manila envelope. I pulled out the small packet, papers stapled together like a first grade book report. I turned to page one, a picture of London, an airplane, a ticket, little quips about things I could do there and the hotel where I would be staying: Grosvenor House. He had no idea that I had written a scene where James walked Kathryn past Grosvenor House, the night of their dinner at La Gaveroche. He had no knowledge that my character Kathryn worked and lived just steps away from the hotel where he placed me.  Chills?