Welcome to November! If you're a writer--or if you know a writer--you may be aware that this is also National Novel Writing Month. Yes, I'm at it again. Every so often i find I need a little extra push to keep the words flowing, and that's what NaNoWriMo provides. It prods, it pokes, and it keeps graphs to let you see just where you've fallen flat.
So this year, I'm using the challenge to push myself through the end of a novel I've been working on for over a year. I gave up on it once because I could not figure out a way to make it do what I wanted it to do. But now, I think I've found a solution, and the possibility is enough to start the keyboard rattling again.
Here's what's going on. A couple of years ago, I wrote a book called "Henrietta's Journal." It was entirely written in diary format and followed seven years of a young woman's life as she made the transition from 19-year-old English schoolgirl to becoming the wife of a cotton dealer in 1830s South Carolina. I don't want to give anything of the story away here, but life did get very complicated for her. Not only did she have to learn about the institution of slavery; she also managed to get involved in a rape, a murder, and a kidnapping.
The book has done fairly well, and is a stand-alone good story.
But now I'm working on the second volume, entitled "Henrietta's Legacy," which takes place some 25 year later and involves Henrietta and her 20-something daughters in a new set of problems that result from the American Civil War. This time, the characters manage to get themselves involved in espionage, smuggling, stolen identities, and, yes, another murder. And it turns out that some of the clues needed to solve the mysteries of the second volume are buried in the pages of the diary in the first volume.
The problem, you may already be seeing, was how to connect the two books. The term "hyperlink" kept cropping up, but my computer skills aren't good enough to handle a book-length set of interconnections. Then came a gift out of the blue. The layout program I use to design the interior of my books added a feature called "Endnote." (Yes, I've used lots of endnotes in my academic life, but not like this.) It is now possible to have an event in Book 2 trigger a pop-up that reveals a section of text from Book 1.
As just one example, consider a murder that takes place in England in 1862. No witnesses, no weapon, no suspects. Just a dead body full of stab wounds. The clue that leads to the identity of the murderer lies in a liaison between two people in South Carolina in 1837. Who has a motive strong enough to lead to the victim's death? The pop-up will provide the answer.
I can hardly wait to start tying all these loose ends together!