I’ve been working on Stupid in Love for a few months now and had a vague idea of where it was going but that isn’t new. I don’t storyboard, I write spontaneously. I discover more about my characters that way. I like giving them the freedom to tell me who they are, and they always whisper in my ear if they have something important to say. I was already fifty thousand words in but I’d yet to introduce any conflict. A bad omen.

Last night, I didn’t sleep very well. It was hot in the room, even though the outside temps hovered in the 20’s, and I tossed and turned for hours. During those bouts of wakefulness, I had several epiphanies about the book and realized there were a couple of important changes that needed to be made.

Liam Coates was going to be a member of the Secret Service, in the CAT division, the group that rides shotgun to the president’s beast. Mari Zambrano is the proprietor of O’Farrell’s pub whose roots are deep in Eden. In fact, her great-grandfather opened it right before Prohibition and created a speak easy in the basement once the law went into effect so he could continue to support his family. He somehow survived the decade long dry period unscathed and opened up the pub doors as soon as he was able to.

This morning, I’ve got to go back to the drawing board, begin at the beginning, with a blank page. It’s torture.

The new version: Liam Coates is still a member of the service, but he’s been assigned to investigate a decades old IRS claim. It could be because he’s rocked the boat with his interpretation of ethical responsibility. (It means I can keep some of what’s in the first draft.) He’s handed a file that purports Aidan O’Farrell didn’t file taxes for 1929 and even though it’s been over eighty years since the malfeasance, the IRS just wants an investigation into it. Liam shows up at the pub and confronts the young owner, who is now at risk of losing it all.

As I write this, I wonder if I should have someone else, someone Liam knows, SS or FBI, who’s given the file to investigate. Liam could mediate the opposing forces and help Mari uncover the truth. There’s obviously still a lot of work involved, but whichever way I go, I’ll have the conflict I need to propel the story in a more interesting way.

I’m going to have to reach out to my cousin who worked for the FBI’s treasury department. He might have some useful tips I can use in the plotting.

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