Change, Mack, P.D. James, Book Clubs, & Continuity

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell is the author of six award-winning mystery novels. Her current literary focus is Route 66 as it traverses California’s Mojave Desert. Madeline is a lifetime lover of mysteries, and besides reading and writing, is also a potter. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the High Desert. For more information, visit her website or Amazon Author Page.

Adler “Mack” Jones thinks, A whole year has passed, and I didn’t even notice. Or see it go by? Or feel it go by? And who the heck is Mack, you ask? The protagonist in a book I just started (600 words written! (smile)) The whole idea for Mack, his friends, and this Mojave story came to me contemplating this blog, an email from Jacqueline Vick, and from Facebook posts by Paul D. Marks on TCM movies. I know, story ideas sometimes come via a convoluted path. But my point for mentioning is; what Mack is thinking, I’m also thinking this early January week of 2016.
My life so far, seems to be broken into chunks, often in ten-year or so groups, punctuated by change. Twenty-sixteen numerically marks the end/beginning of one of those periods—and like Mack, it’s hard to accept 2015 is over? The change has come, but I certainly wasn’t ready for it.
P.D. James advised to “Read widely and with discrimination.” Ha! Easier wanting to do versus actually doing. Give me a good mystery, and I’m set. At the beginning of my last 10 year swatch of time, we’d just recently moved to the high desert. Before that, in Puget Sound I’d been a member of a wonderful book club. And I sure missed it. Fortunately, in not too long of a time (end of 2005) we had a local book club up and going. It is through their wonderful selections I can follow P.D.’s advice. (If you know me, you know P.D. is my “rock star” author.) Here’s an old picture of some of the first members at one of our early initial potlucks at my house. As you might notice, after the book we read, food was an important aspect! We even called ourselves “Books and Cooks.” And how this fits in, besides enabling P.D.’s advice to read widely, is in relation to change and time flying by. (An aside note about time and change—the shelves in back of us are now covered with stuff accumulated over ten or so years! Jeez.)
Which brings me to the writing part of this meandering. Even though I write fiction, it is the “stuff of our lives” that forms, or at a minimum, colors and influences the tales we tell. And no matter what I might literarily imagine, what location I might want to visit in my writing, what intrigue I might want to weave—it’s everyday life, friendships, connections, happenings that take me there.
The personalnugget here—I’m powerless to stop change and time. And that is good—moves me forward! But for some other things, continuity is so important. For example, sharing reading adventures in a book club.
 And, the writing nugget here is; somehow, and I’m not really sure if you can make it happen, or precisely how—but opening our minds and emotions to the serendipitousness of change, while simultaneously holding on to the things in our lives that matter, is what brings richness and depth to our writing. Now, that’s a mouthful! But it’s what Mack is thinking about. What I’m writing about.
Indeed, even writing this post has turned me from, golly where did last year go and why haven’t I finished another novel—to looking forward to the start of a new wonderful year, full of change and continuity from last year—with endless possibilities for Mack!
Happy New Year!

15 thoughts on “Change, Mack, P.D. James, Book Clubs, & Continuity”

  1. It is the realities of life that make our fiction seem a little closer to reality and that's what makes it fun to read. You wonder how much is true and how much is just the vivid imagination of a writer who kept her eyes and heart open to the possibilities around her.


  2. I think you've hit one of “this writing stuff” nails on the head, Gayle. Making sure we keep our eyes and eyes open to the possibilities around us. Yep, you are so right. (or hoping our subconscious is working away on it behind the scenes!)


  3. That's exactly how I feel about 2016, Madeline. I loved P.D. James as well and to that list I'd add Elizabeth George and my new favorite, J,K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith and the wonderful series characters she's created in her new mystery series. I loved this: “…opening our minds and emotions to the serendipitousness of change, while simultaneously holding on to the things in our lives that matter, is what brings richness and depth to our writing.” Wonderfully said and again I agree completely. Now back to looking for that elusive publisher who is just dying to read a nonfiction proposal for an anthology titled: Equality–What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality? With Anne Perry, Catherine Ryan Hyde, and 22 other writing luminaries contributing their short personal essays on the topic, how can they not “nab” this one up? See. I am hopeful at the start of a new year and looking forward to change. Great post. My best to you and everyone on this wonderful site. Paul


  4. Paul, I'm putting all my mental energies into the universe that you find just the right publisher! And one that gives big advances, and offers wonderful promotional activities …it will happen, just know it will! (wish I knew someone–my publisher (very small) only does fiction)

    Agree on Elizabeth George and J.K. Rowling, who I also admire for her perseverance.

    Thank you, for following our blog. And your always kind words.

    It will be a good year for you!


  5. Another great post, Mad. I look forward to your next book and can't wait to meet Mack. It's funny how the end of the year (or the beginning of a new one) inspires us in so many different ways to ratchet up something to do with our writing.


  6. Thanks for the mention, Madeline. Ideas do come from anywhere and everywhere. We just have to notice them and pluck them from the air, so to speak. And you're right about time passing… Happy New Year! Paul


  7. So glad to hear you're working on a new book, Mad. I'm starting one too, so we can grope around the landscape together. PD James–love her work! I have an autographed copy of “The Skull Beneath the Skin” that is one of my treasures. And I so agree about the value of book clubs. They get me to reading things I would never pick out on my own, and 90% of the time I'm glad I did.


  8. Thanks for stopping by, Jackie! And yes, you go along “doing.” then all of a sudden a day or an event prompts you to stop, take stock. Especially when it comes to our writing.


  9. Thanks for stopping by Paul, and especially for taking the time to leave your thoughts. If you figure out a way to slow down time, I want to be one of the first to know! Maybe there's story in there…(smile)


  10. We can encourage each other along the way, Bonnie! I must come clean though, this is the third new book I've started in the last few months. Either I'm really moving forward, or I'm procrastinating with new “starts.” On book clubs, I'd guess my percent is about the same as yours, and also so glad I read those books–especially a couple biographies I would have never thought of.


  11. So glad to hear you're writing a new book (can't wait!), and more so that you that the idea came in part from contemplating our blog. Whenever I'm stuck in a writing rut, I dive into the WInR archives for inspiration and almost always find some there.


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