A Pantser’s Kind of Outline, by Amber Foxx

I sometimes say I don’t outline, but in a way I do—backwards. After I write a chapter, I take notes on the plot progression, including the events that might be clues or might be loose ends. This becomes a clean-up guide as well as a quick review of the story structure when I finish improvising and following my characters where they choose to go. I also note emerging themes and subplots. Later, I use the notes as revision tools. They help me in deciding what to keep, expand, or cut.

Having reached the near-end of my work in progress, the crisis and the partial solution to the mystery, I now have the denouement chapter to write, the one where I tie up the last loose ends. In looking back over my notes, I find about half are tied up. As for the remaining ones, many are so minor I can cut the lines that set them up, while others are significant questions that have to be answered. I’m glad I kept that list. Now I have something bordering an outline in advance for the final chapter, as well as a plan for future cuts and reorganization.

*****

The sale on books one and two in the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series will end June 13. Until then, you can still download The Calling free and buy Shaman’s Blues for 99 cents. No murder, just mystery.

New Release from Amber Foxx—Which May or May Not Be a Holiday Mystery

When I was working on Shadow Family, I didn’t think of it as holiday book, even though it starts on Christmas Eve and includes an unconventional New Year’s Eve celebration in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the Turtle Ascension. (We don’t drop a ball; we raise a turtle in Healing Waters Plaza.) The season is part of the story, and the book came out in December, so maybe it is, in a no-tinsel-no-snowmen way, a holiday mystery. Or maybe not. I’ll let readers decide.

Happy New Year, and here’s my new book.

 

Shadow Family

The Seventh Mae Martin Psychic Mystery

An old flame, an old friend, and the ghost of an old enemy.

 As the holidays approach, Mae Martin thinks the only challenge in her life is the choice between two men. Should she reunite with Hubert, her steady, reliable ex-husband? Or move forward with Jamie, her unpredictable not-quite-ex boyfriend? But then, two trespassers break into Hubert’s house on Christmas Eve to commit the oddest crime in the history of Tylerton, North Carolina.

Hubert needs to go home to Tylerton and asks Mae to go with him, though it’s the last place she wants to be. Reluctantly, she agrees, but before they can leave, a stranger shows up at her house in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico looking for her stepdaughters, bringing the first news of their birth mother in seven years—news of her death.

The girls are finally ready to learn about her, but she was a mystery, not only to the husband and children she walked away from, but also to the friends in her new life. Now her past throws its shadow on them all. Through psychic journeys, unplanned road trips, and risky decisions, Mae searches for the truth about the woman whose children she raised, determined to protect them from the dark side of their family.

The Mae Martin Series

No murder, just mystery. Every life hides a secret, and love is the deepest mystery of all.

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Stories Behind the Story

Amber in tree final

It was the mystical—some people would say woo-woo—aspect of Santa Fe that inspired the plot of my new book Soul Loss.  I had a friend there, an actress and water aerobics instructor, who channeled beings from the Pleiades, and her husband, an actor, did a little energy healing on the side. Through them I met a man, a gardener by trade, who could see energy. He said that most people had a dark crystal over their heads, and if they were ready, he could remove it, but the spiritual opening would be intense, and once it was off, it couldn’t be put back. This is only a small sample of the diversity of other-worldly connections I’ve encountered in the City Different.

When I started writing it four years ago, Soul Loss was meant to be the second book in the Mae Martin series. I began with the scene that is still Chapter One, in which a fortune teller gets a strange and chilling client. I knew what Mae’s role would be, and the nature of the mystery, which revolved around the troubles affecting a psychic fair. Then, about five chapters into the first draft, Jamie Ellerbee popped up out of the blue as a minor supporting character. With his eccentricities, his complex history, and his intense personality, he took over the book. I set Soul Loss aside and did the final revisions on The Calling, in which Mae’s life took an unexpected turn and a new world opened up for her. Parts of my original draft of Soul Loss split off and became Shaman’s Blues, and then Snake Face, giving Mae time to get to know Jamie and to adapt to living in New Mexico. Then, I could finally get back to what was now book four.

The seed for the scene I mentioned was planted by a sign I saw on the garden wall of a small adobe house many years ago: Fortune teller. Palm Readings. Tarot. I was curious and wanted to go in, but didn’t have time to stop. Later, when I thought to look for the sign again, I couldn’t remember which street it had been on. The idea of a traditional fortune teller in Santa Fe stuck in my mind, though, mixed in with a memory of a young woman of Romani ancestry I’d met while I was in graduate school. She gave occasional Tarot card and palm readings in the lobby of the campus center. I don’t remember what her reading for me said, but I couldn’t forget her forthright personality. She didn’t fit the stereotype of “Gypsy fortune teller,” but she was one. I began to picture her as the person inside the little house with the sign I couldn’t find again.

Another encounter that became a seed of this story took place at a complementary and alternative medicine conference. The workshops and presentations were enlightening—except for one, with a famous neo-shamanist. I wondered if the people who said they had visions and met guides were making things up, or if I was biased by prior experience with more traditional ceremonies. A few years after that, I met two women in a small town who conducted shamanic journey groups for twenty-five dollars a session. Their credentials?  A weekend training with this same famous teacher. Could they really have learned to be shamans? The question stayed with me and found its way into Soul Loss as part of a mystery only a psychic could solve.

soul ebook

Soul Loss

The fourth Mae Martin psychic mystery

Spring winds blow strange times into the City Different:

Mae Martin’s friend Jamie Ellerbee has dropped out of her life—and perhaps his own life as well. A teenaged model breaks contact with her parents after an encounter with a Santa Fe shaman. A psychic fair can’t recruit any psychics. Something is wrong with all of them … except one.

Faced with mysteries that reach into in the spirit world, Mae takes on her most challenging work yet—work that puts her gifts as a psychic and a healer at risk.

The Mae Martin Series

No murder, just mystery. Every life hides a secret, and love is the deepest mystery of all.

To learn more about the background behind the book, check out my guest posts on these great blogs:

On a yoga’s healing process: http://killerhobbies.blogspot.com/2015/06/yoga-stories.html

On the concept of soul loss: https://awomanswisdom.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/guest-blog-losing-and-recovering-the-soul-by-author-amber-foxx

To help new readers to get caught up on series, the first three books are discounted to $2.99 through August 18th. Happy summer reading!

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Goodreads giveaway for Soul Loss: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/143009-soul-loss

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