Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Tying up the Loose Ends

Paula’s new novel, Irish Shadows, is released today.

There were times last year, during the upheaval of changing publishers, when I wondered if I’d ever finish it. I started it in March 2017 but had no real motivation to continue it for about three months. In August, I began again, with some new ideas about the problems I was going to throw at my characters.

The ‘blurb’ sums up these problems:
After a heart-breaking experience, Rose Finlay has vowed never to give another man a chance to hurt her – until Liam McKenna arrives at Mist Na Mara Arts Centre to organise an anniversary celebration event. Liam has his own reasons for not wanting to embark on a new relationship, and both fight the mutual magnetic attraction.
Shocks await them when Liam meets the boy his sister gave up for adoption twenty years earlier, and Rose’s ‘ex’ makes contact with her thirteen-year-old son. Rose also discovers a betrayal which has divided her family since the Irish Civil War in the 1920s.
Will Liam and Rose be able to resolve all the shadows from the past in order to find a future together?

As you can see, the characters have quite a lot to deal with in addition to their relationship issues, but I enjoy playing with different strands and trying to interweave them. My big problem came when I was nearing the end of the story, and needed to untangle all those strands and tie everything up so that there were no ‘loose ends’. I knew (roughly!) how each strand was going to be resolved, but didn’t know when or in what order.

I eventually made a list of the resolutions of each sub-plot, made some vague notes about possible events leading to these resolutions – and then worked backwards, which is something I’ve never done before. Doing that helped me to decide, for example, that event A needed to happen before event B, and that C, D, and E might work better as D, E, and C!

Long discussions with my brain-storming partner over several pub lunches helped, too, although I do wonder what the couple at the next table must have thought if they’d overheard our conversation about how long a body in a shallow grave would take to decompose! I do hope they weren’t the same couple who overheard us a couple of years ago (when I was writing ‘Irish Secrets’) discussing the best place to hide stolen goods.

Anyway, I finally managed to work out the order of events (although, of course, the characters did decide to deviate from my basic outline a few times!), until all the loose ends were tidily and happily resolved.

Irish Shadows will be available for a few more days at the introductory price of 99c/99p.


  1. Congrats on a new Irish release, Paula.

    You certainly do have a lot going on in this story. I can't wait to find out how it all turns out. (I'm intrigued that you wrote 'backwards' this time a little bit. I tend to do that a lot...or more accurately write all over the place and then need to tie things together.)

    I'm chuckling to myself about the people at the next table listening. I do wonder what they thought! :)

    1. Thanks, Deb.
      I didn't actually write any scenes 'backwards' but did a lot of thinking (and talking!) about how and when to tie everything together. With some of the subplots, I had various scenarios in my mind, but didn't actually write them until I'd managed to work everything out.

  2. It arrived on my kindle this morning and looking forward to reading it. All the loose ends sound intriguing and an interesting way of sorting them out!

    1. I did wonder at one time how I was ever going to sort them out! :-)

  3. Congratulations on your latest release! It's funny how helpful a timeline/outline can be, whether you use it forward or backward!

    1. Thanks, Jen.
      Sometimes a timeline is necessary - and even vital e.g. when I realised I'd only had 3 weeks between Valentine's Day and St Patrick's Day!
      Working out in what order various events should happen proved to be quite complex when I had to interweave several different strands, so that they eventually all came together!