This week I finished the first draft of the first chapter of my work-in-progress, The Valley of Fear. In it I’ve created a fictional county in Oregon that is in the high desert, but only about one hundred miles from Portland. In Jezebel County, the citizens have voted to cut the budget of the sheriff’s office. This means there is only one Sheriff, and one deputy to serve the entire county. Therefore, they have had to close on weekends. (These things are actually happening in two counties in Oregon.) So when Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson discover bodies in the bottom of a well in a ghost town called Queen’s Valley (also fictional), they have to go to the Oregon State Police (state troopers). I don’t put in the boring parts, just the ones that drive the case.
I visited one of Oregon’s ghost towns this spring in preparation for this book. The one I went to is called Shaniko. The high desert was in bloom when I went, and it was a gorgeous trip. And there’s nothing like a ghost town to kick creativity into gear.
If I write a chapter a week, I’ll have a completed first draft in twenty weeks. According to my calendar that means I can finish the rough draft by the end of this year. Let’s aim for that, shall we? Cheerleaders, are you ready?