IMG_0405Despite what you might think based on the title, this post is not about the new year or any of the familiar January themes.

This is about a space I have not often found myself in the last several years.

I’m not actively writing. But I’m actively dreaming up stories.

In fact, I’m working on three different synopses right now, so I hardly know how to keep the ideas sorted out. If any leak across universe boundaries, exceptionally odd combinations might result!

At this stage of story creation, typically I am surrounded by yellow note pads, print-outs from the Internet, newly purchased books, and lists of research books and journal articles requested through InterLibrary Loan. So I have all kinds of bits of factual information and fictional possibilities, and what I need is to discover how they connect into a story arc.

Or in this case, three different story arcs.

And over the weekend, I had significant breakthroughs on two of my story ideas. That sweet moment of illumination about what threads the climax moment must bring together, everything the story will point to.

And that, my friends, is the birth of a writer’s true excitement.

When I get to this point, I’m ready to start organizing all the bits into intersecting patterns—in other words, points of view that bring the characters through a series of decisions they can’t take back.

And for that, I need a big roll of white paper. After struggling with several books to keep all the ideas in nice neat files in my computer, for the last two or three I’ve admitted that what is most productive for me is brainstorming in large visual ways rather than small tidy ways.

Enter rolls of white paper! (I just bought a brand new one.) And colored markers!

It’s way too early to say anything specific about these new stories. So instead I’ll just highlight what’s already in the pipeline for this year. Peace Like a River released a few weeks ago as part of the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries series from Guideposts Books. (A number of wonderful authors are contributing to this cozy mystery series.) My next contribution is titled No Time for Trouble and will come out in the summer.

In the meantime, April 1 will bring the release of Hope in the Land, a continuation of my Amish Turns of Time historical series. Love’s Pure Light is a Christmas novella that will appear in a collection releasing in September. (Watch for further details once links are available.) What I loved about writing Love’s Pure Light is that it’s a prequel to Hope in the Land, so I got to spend more time with some of the same characters, but 25 years younger. I’ve never done that before!

In case you missed the first three Amish Turns of Time stories (Wonderful Lonesome, Meek and Mild, and Brightest and Best), they’ll be combined in one nice fat book that will release December 1. (Again, I’ll keep you posted with links.)

So I’m rarin’ to write and I hope you’re rarin’ to read!