It’s early, but it is the second of January, back to work. That includes my husband, at least in why I’m already sitting with tea, breakfast consumed. He woke at, well, at an hour in which he should have been sleeping. But I know that feeling; routine beckons, the body responds. As I arranged his lanyard, he sighed that no, he wasn’t retired yet. Then off he went, a PBJ in his bag. It’s the beginning of a new year, but some things never change.
Yet, other things do alter; for the first time since 2009, Alvin, Jenny, and Sam aren’t in my head, under my eye. While I’m still in the work-groove, the topic now concerns a deaf woman, a blind man, a missing child, immigration, and politics. And of course love; I can’t write a book without a good love story, and Penny Angel starts off with two unlikely characters unable to fight that pull. Mike Hope’s an African-American highway patrolman, also an orphan of sorts. When he meets Italian-American Penny Pentangeli, his life is destined for another course, not only for her fiery nature, courtesy of her Irish mum Barbara, but that Penny became deaf at eight years old. Mike will be learning ASL alongside the best ways for dealing with tempestuous women. He always thought a female would kill him; is Penny the one?
This novel has nothing to do with Oregon, rain, or apple orchards. This story rests in a southwestern state, in a former Italian enclave of a medium-sized city that as time passes has become a Hispanic hub. One of the biggest challenges was including Penny’s non-spoken dialogue; she still speaks, her post-lingual deafness the result of childhood meningitis. But I didn’t set off by italics or another font what is signed; I left those conversations as prose, also not written in ASL grammar. For now far more needs my attention, as I’ve not touched this novel since finishing it for NaNo in 2011.
This will be a year of transition, tackling new manuscripts while polishing a couple from 2008; Detours and The Road Home have been through several revisions, but I wasn’t the writer then that I am now, or the editor. The crux of 2013 is blending my recent writing history with that from years past. From 2008, I’ve been writing steadily, forty manuscripts produced. Now in the latter half of my forties, I feel (sort of) in charge of this tasking. It’s a lovely, liberating notion, also with a purpose; Penny Angel isn’t just about love and disabilities, it’s about looking past skin colour and lost senses and treating one another with respect.
Life is short, and I have much to say. Maybe it’s good this work-year starts off well before the crack of dawn. Love and angst await; best not be lollygagging about!