And We Made Our Plans*

January is often a time to reflect, make plans, and set goals. For authors, that includes making plans for the year’s writing. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.  But they don’t go at all if there is no plan. So, with your indulgence, I thought I’d share what I’m working on this year.

Right now, I’m writing a Joel Williams novel (the fifth in the series). For those of you who haven’t ‘met’ Williams, he’s a former police officer-turned professor of criminal justice. He lives and works in the small town of Tilton, Pennsylvania. And he has a way of getting drawn into murder investigations. You can check out the other books in the series right here if you’re so inclined.

Case in point, the story I’m working on, tentatively called The Cost of Learning. It features a popular local diner called Maggie’s, where the real action of the story begins: 

‘Cheryl Macomb bent to pick up the plates and cups from one of the tables. She’d been on her feet since six, and it didn’t look as though she was going to get a break any time soon. For each table she cleared, three new parties came in. Oh, well, at least the tips would probably be good. And she really couldn’t complain; everybody else was working just as hard. It was that kind of a morning. And it didn’t help that the diner had a VIP guest today: State Representative Doug Kauffman. He was in town to do a meet-and-greet, and someone had probably told him that everybody went to Maggie’s. 

Shouting from outside made Cheryl look up and out the window. A group of protesters had been gathering for about half an hour, and now they stood as close to the restaurant as they could, holding signs and calling out slogans: “Hey, ho, Kauffman’s got to go!” and “Education for everyone!” The local television affiliate from Harrisburg had sent a crew, and customers braved the cameras and the protest line as they made their way inside. For the most part, the protestors left them alone. 

Cheryl and her co-workers had been told that something like this might happen. Kauffman had recently proposed much tighter restrictions on higher education loans and grants, and his position was not popular in college towns like Tilton. Cheryl didn’t like his view herself. Her parents didn’t have a lot of money, and she depended on state grants and her job to pay for her Tilton education. It wasn’t up to her to decide who could come to Maggie’s, though, and staring out the window wouldn’t get the work done. She finished putting the plates and cups on her tray and used her shoulder to open the double doors to the kitchen. She wished the camera crew wouldn’t come into the restaurant and bother the other diners, but she didn’t have much hope of that. 

Outside, a dark blue Lincoln pulled up to the restaurant, and three men stepped out: Kauffman, his assistant Charlie Metzger, and Alan Hyland, who did Kauffman’s publicity photos and videos. One of the protestors pointed and yelled “There he is!” as the men made their way around the car and towards the restaurant. The noise got louder, and the crowd started to move. So did the TV camera crew. Max Ingle and Talia Blaire, who were leading the protest, called to everyone to stay calm. “We have no argument with Maggie’s!” Max shouted. “No damage!”
 “Let’s keep it peaceful,” Talia insisted.
 Still, the crowd got closer to the car. Someone yelled, “How many of your corporate friends are getting our money?” “You’re cheating us out of our future!” someone else screamed. Kauffman, Metzger, and Hyland did their best to ignore the crowd as they moved towards the restaurant. The protesters followed them but didn’t stop them. Finally, they got inside…

On her way back from her break, Cheryl noticed a large plastic trash bag next to the restaurant’s back exit. She picked it up and took it outside to the dumpster. Somebody – she couldn’t see clearly – was hurrying towards the front of the diner. What was a customer doing back here? About twenty feet from the dumpster, she stopped and stared. There was something there on the ground next to it. She slowly walked a few feet forward, then stopped again. She felt her stomach heaving as she got closer. There was a man’s body next to the dumpster, with his legs and feet pointing towards her. Her stomach heaved again, but she couldn’t resist moving just a few steps closer. When she saw his face, she dropped the trash bag and rushed over to some bushes next to the restaurant, where she vomited.’ 

I don’t have a publication date yet, but I am hoping to get the novel done this year. We’ll see how that goes! Watch this space… In the meantime, I hope you reach the goals you set for yourself for the year.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s James.

18 thoughts on “And We Made Our Plans*

  1. Margot, I was looking for the first book in the series, Publish or Perish, for Kindle on Amazon and can’t find it. They have the next two but not that one. Am I looking in the wrong place or is it not available as a Kindle read?


    1. Thanks, Cath, for your interest in my books – that’s very kind of you! Unfortunately (it’s a long story with which I won’t bore you), Publish or Perish isn’t available on Kindle. But the books don’t have to read in order, so if you’d like to read any of the others, you don’t have to start with the first.


  2. Thanks for clarifying, Margot. I’ve purchased B-very Flat because I saw that it’s a book involving music and I need one of those for the Book Bingo challenge I’m doing. Perfect!


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