The Cavanaugh House

The Cavanaugh House has arrived! When Jesse Graham unlocks the door to the deserted house she inherited from her Aunt Helen, she doesn’t realize she’s unlocking secrets that had lain dormant for years...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Cavanaugh House has Arrived!

Cloaked in mystery and inspired by a muse, The Cavanaugh House is finally available for Kindle and will soon be in print. As I reflect back on the evolution of this book, I am amazed and delighted. Following its progress I can think of a fitting metaphor—pregnancy.


Conception
Driving along a crazy-busy highway does not seem like a fitting bed in which to conceive, although I’ve heard of the Mile High Club and that speed is much faster. But as I navigated the 403 toward the QEW in Hamilton, Ontario, a sentence floated into my brain: “This house held secrets…” Rich was asleep, and I couldn’t pull off the road to write it down. How would I remember it? But it had been planted. Without benefit of the usual, ah… physical sensations, I was impregnated with the seed of an idea for my book.

Gestation
More sentences immediately followed, and I was frantic trying to figure out how to capture them. I repeated them in my mind so I could remember. Then a memory of a childhood occurrence came to mind. One night a boy who lived near my best friend had looked out his third floor attic bedroom window into the attic windows of the house across the street. He saw a body hanging; someone had committed suicide. Every time I went to my friend’s house, my feet would slow as I passed that house and I would gaze at those windows.
All the homes on the street had single attic windows, but that house had two small windows side by side. I knew my house would have those windows. In fact, a very clear picture of the house in my story formed in my mind. It would be smaller than this actual one, and very run down…in fact, deserted. Finally Rich awoke and I recited the sentences to him and described the house figuring two brains were better than one, and maybe we could each remember some of this.

First trimester
Visiting Belhurst Castle
During this family visit, we drove to the Finger Lakes area of New York State since Rich, a Michigan native, had never been there. He suggested I set my novel in this area, and I loved the idea since I had spent many happy times there as a child. As we drove along the highway, there it was—my house! I could not believe my eyes. It was the exact house I had pictured right down to the color of the chipped and peeling paint. “Rich that’s my house!” I cried. We stopped and took pictures of it from many angles and my knees were shaking from the weirdness of it all.

On we drove to our wine tasting tour. Rich told the woman who served us at the Belhurst Castle about my books and that I was going to set my next one in the Finger Lakes, she laughed and suggested I set it at Belhurst Castle since it was haunted. “Haunted???” I said. She proceeded to tell us the legend, and I bought the book about its history, The Belhurst Story by David Sakmyster. This was getting better and better.

Second trimester
I knew the house would be like a character in the book, moving the plot, defining the characters, setting the scene. I began to write. As a pantser, I tend to just write and see what happens, but as little way into this book, since it was a mystery, I knew I had to at least outline background and motives for each character who would become a suspect. I was wary about my ability to insert red herrings and subtle clues, but as I wrote it seemed to happen organically.
There were some concepts in my original notes that did not occur in the book, and when I looked back at them, I was surprised they didn’t fit. One was a child character who initiated a relationship in the book, but the relationship developed on its own and the child never showed up. Another was complications in the romantic angle in the book, and while some of that did appear, it was not to the extent that I thought it would be.

Third trimester

Revision in Progress
My plot and characters moved along and I enjoyed discovering who they were and what they would do as I typed. That’s how my muse, Boris, roles. I learn as we go. There was a climactic scene that I knew had to happen, but when I wrote it, it was all wrong. It was an answer to a major question, and my protagonist was poised on the edge of a major discovery, but I had to throw it out. The characters were wrong, the relationship was wrong, the dialogue was stilted…ugh. So I did what any author would do, I went to Rite Aid and yelled at the clerk. Oh, yes I did. Then I got in my car, drove around the block, went back in and apologized groveling in my shame. She was very gracious.
The next day while sitting in the chair at the hair salon, my stylist said, “We’re going to paint our front door red.” With blinding clarity, the solution to that scene hit me right between the eyes. I know that’s a cliché, but it works. That’s why it’s a cliché. I knew what had to happen in that scene…once again I was in a location where I couldn’t write it down. Well, I scribbled it on my checkbook register using major words to jog my memory later.

With my Sweet Baboo
Labor
Revision and editing. “nuff said.

Midwives
Helping to deliver my new creation were excellent beta readers (Kate (daughter), Tina, Linda, Janet, Deborah, Luana, Sarah), a husband who puts up with more than any man should have to (my Sweet Baboo, Rich), and a final line editor (H.J.) who is worth a million bucks, but unfortunately she hitched her wagon to a barely visible star and so will get lunch and my eternal thanks. I am thrilled with the final project, and these characters are still whispering to me, so I suspect there will be a sequel.

Delivery
Elizabeth Meyette and Boris the Muse are proud to announce the birth of their newest creation The Cavanaugh House. Birthday: May 12, 2014. Sex Genre: Mystery. Weight: Heavy – it’s a murder mystery for goodness sake! Length: 325 pages.

The Cavanaugh House is available at Amazon.

4 comments:

  1. Wow!! The moment of conception gives me chills!!! I love looking into windows and barren yards of homes from long ago. The lives and stories that rattle inside called to you and I can't wait to read it!! Good luck Betty.

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. I'm a window peeker, too...and I mean that in a good way LOL. I often wonder what a deserted house looked like when it was new and the excitement the new owners must have felt. All the memories that lay within it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I loved reading about your conception, gestation, and birth. And yes - it's a beautiful baby! :)

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    1. And you were a midwife, Deborah :-) Thank you for all of your support, encouragement and very sage advice!

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