2 years, 7 months in the life of a novel manuscript

Today I clicked the clicker, sending the edited novel ms to a very important person. In Feb 2012 I posted my last entry on my old blog, describing what I thought the book would be. I came close. Below, my notes then with what actually happened:

Working title: Willie Judy & The Mystery House

Actual Title: The Juliet

Tell the story in scenes, 3rd person, jumping into different pov for each unit–I think I did that.

keep it lean (70k?)–more like 106k

Plot. dominant story line, chronological, treasure hunt in Death Valley, world’s ugliest couture brooch (cursed? sure, why not)

err, sorta? the whereabouts of The J is one of several mysteries, like why the retired cowboy actor gives away the deed to The Mystery House

subplot1–the history of the brooch and its owners –check

subplot2–the cowboy actor’s career (western movies, tv cop shows, commercials, adult movie cameos) —there is some emphasis on the cowboy actor’s past, but I ended up spending a lot more time on his present


Willie Judy, failed NPS worker, animal lover who can’t stop killing animals. Now shuttles auto parts across the desert. Sometimes refereed to as weasel-girl, owing to sharp features.—yup

Scottie aka Rhys Nash, a Welsh ultra marathon runner, proprietor of the Alkalai Springs Resort (crush on WJ). Profound nose. Never really able to relax. Expects to be disappointed. has pot-belly pigs.–yup. part of my ongoing campaign for more large noses in literature

Tony Jackpot, celebrity gambler from the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, co-owner of Alkalai Springs Resort. Brains and a secret.–yes to all, but sadly no room for the secret. also I can’t remember what it was. 

Dawn, Tony’s niece, coerced to work in the ASR kitchens to keep her safe from boys (crush on scottie). –became two characters, Dawn, Tony’s recovering addict daughter, and Hilly, a worker at The Alkalai  with light brain damage. She’s seen a ghost at The Mystery House.

Rigg Dexon/Paul Lattanzi, retired cowboy actor. Convinced he is not long for the world, Dexon signs over The Mystery House to Willie in Part 1, mistaking her indigestion for starstruck admiration. –yup. I was supposed to kill him off in 15 pages, but I liked him so much he kind of took over. 


Death Valley during the Great Bloom of 2005

Alkalai Springs Resort, rustic accommodations, great food, greater bar. THE stop for the Outside Magazine crowd

The Mystery House–shack made famous in a 60s song

yup, yup, yup, plus the ghost town of Centenary (based on Rhyolite).


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