The first is very short and the detective is a fictional version of my dog. That one is going fine, probably because I have no plans, yet, to submit it.
The other two are more of a problem. One is due in a few days, the second at the end of February. One is set in 1875 and the other in 1889. Both involve my prime protagonist Emily Lawrence and each contains a member of a prominent and real Cambridge family, bothers, both Harvard educated scientists. Both stories happen at times of natural upheaval, the real 1875 eclipse and a fictional blizzard in 1889. HAVE A STABLE OF CHARACTERS YOU CAN CALL ON IF YOU ARE IN A HURRY.
The first problem occurred when I met with my critique group last evening. They had just read the blizzard story, but I had not. I wrote the blizzard story first and then the eclipse story. I couldn’t remember a single thing about blizzard except the basic concept, the characters and the setting. What I really wanted to know was if the shift from one possible motivation for the bad guy to another worked smoothly. I found myself totally unable to explain this because I forgot everything about the villain. I was so confused by the end of the meeting that I have no idea how to fix the story or if it needs fixing. Ah, but I still have a month to work on it, and I have everyone's comments in writing. REREAD YOUR STORY BEFORE YOU GO TO YOUR CRITIQUE.
I've been part of a discussion lately on choosing character's names. I generally go through newspaper bylines, novels, the phone book (remember those?) and pick a last name I like. For the eclipse story I chose a prominent Harvard scientist who happens to have the same given name as my protagonist's husband. I was stuck with two characters named Charles. NEVER WRITE A STORY IN WHICH TWO PEOPLE HAVE THE SAME NAME.
Then I chose Cartwright for my WASP bad guy. I wasn't altogether satisfied with it but it would do as a place holder. I didn't realize what a big error I was making when I chose Joseph for his first name until one of my critique partners pointed it out. Oh, no Little Joe Cartwright can't be my villain. CHOOSE NAMES WITH CARE.
The eclipse story is pretty straight forward. My real problem with it is that no one but me has read it and I need to get it out to readers soon (today) in order to comply with the submission date. I am having trouble keeping the clues in order and I am under the word count required by the publisher. If I had a month that would be no problem, but I have only a few days. ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE YOU CAN TRUST READ YOUR STORY BEFORE YOU SUBMIT IT.
Wish me luck.