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Maybe One Day


There are situations that just cry out for a novel…and some that are perfect for a series.

Years ago, when my kid was young enough to watch Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey with an open mouth (and you know how hard it is to impress the digital age), I was sitting in the local college arena, watching in delight as six men on mini-motorcycles did their act.

They roared in, filling the vast space with the vaguely dangerous scent of diesel, and drove around making noise and delighting the kids. Then they pulled up to a large ball made of pierced steel, so you could see inside.

A door in the side opened, and one of the motorcycles rode into the ball. There was no “floor” for him (or maybe her) to wait on; the ball was too small. The wheels of the bike were touching the slope in front and back. The door in was fastened closed. The biker started driving in insane circles, around and around, going higher and higher until—jeezum crow!—he was looping the loop, going straight overhead and not falling into a heap because he was going too fast.

It was shocking and dazzling and terrifying.

And then the door was open again and ALL SIX OF THE MOTORCYCLES got into the ball together and rode at full speed in an incomprehensible pattern. Each rider had his (or her) head hunched down because if they didn’t, they’d whack helmets with whoever was zipping by on a different rotation. The walls of the ball were blistering under the tires; the center was a crazy atomic accelerator of motorcycle helmets ALMOST but not quite cracking into each other.

Oh, it was a ballet.

And I thought—what if that crew of six (obviously as close as brothers) went from town to town with the circus and solved crimes as they went? And brilliant motorcycle choreography would always be a part of the solution.

And there could be an acrobat. And a contortionist. And someone who had the attention and respect of very large tigers. And an ethereal beauty who can stand on the back of her cantering horse. ALL of these could be uniquely useful in solving the crime…

…or possibly CAUSING the crime. Because who says they have to be good guys? It could be an entire circus of Robin Hoods, putting on entertaining performances and also robbing Daddy Warbucks wherever they go. “So, officer, you think the diamond necklace is in there with my boa constrictor? You’re welcome to check, but Ruby hasn’t eaten in a few weeks, so be careful.”

The question is… Is it YA? I know a lot of Young Adult fiction features hot sex scenes, but it makes me uneasy. If you have a sixteen-year-old heroine, I prefer her to remain chaste. Happily caught in a love triangle; yes. Torn between the wild boy son of the motorcycle family and the upright, blond junior ringmaster.

But if the heroine is a little older—if we’re into romantic suspense—then…yeah. She arrives at the circus, begins a satisfying relationship with the ring master. By book two, the motorcycle troupe arrives, the ring master has some reason why he can’t be with the horseback dancer, and she takes up with the bad boy father of insane bike riders. In book three, the ring master is back. Oh, the strain! Oh, the crime!

I’m editing the second book in the Ampersand series, and my task for the evening is to make sure every one of 245 semi-colons couldn’t possibly be changed into two sentences. Planning a delicious circus series is WAY more fun.

Must get back to work.

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