I hit a point where I had to stop and think for a while in my writing today. I’m at an important scene, where the characters are emotional but also revealing for the first time the heart of the conflict between them, and I don’t want it to wind up hokey. It’s one of those times when the scene is so clear in my head that it’s not creating, more transcribing, except I’m not getting it right. And it has to be right.

So I take a break. I decide to nap for an hour. Sometimes naps are just pretend sleep, where I’m closing my eyes in order to better imagine my world and sometimes they become real sleep, but either way, it’s a Sunday afternoon and I need a chance to think a little.

Think a little about Natalya, that is.

Somehow I wound up, half imagining, half dreaming, Grace and Rachel. What are they doing in Seattle? How do they know each other? Did they even meet when Rachel was in Tassamara? Grace wasn’t at the diner that night. And wait, shouldn’t Rachel be in San Francisco with her mother?

But no, they’re walking along a waterfront in Seattle. It’s not Pike’s Place market, but it’s someplace I know. There’s maybe a fish hatchery? A canal? I know it’s familiar. The grass slopes down to a sidewalk and there’s concrete and people and they’re talking. Poor Rachel. She wanted a fresh start, but her D.C. neat perfection is an awkward fit in Seattle. Her clothes are wrong, her style is wrong. And she’s at a school with boys, which is completely scary and strange. No one’s mean to her, but it’s like she’s invisible. She might as well not exist. She can’t ask her mom for help because she begged to go to public school. She can’t tell her mom how unhappy she really is.

Oh, I just realized. Dillon sent Grace.

Huh. I wonder how?

I wonder why?

And mostly, I really, really wonder how Rachel and Grace wound up being the story in my head when I’m supposed to be thinking about Natalya and Colin?!

(Grace, incidentally, decides that they need to pick the girl whose style Rachel most likes and hire her. Not as a friend, because that would be awkward and creepy, but as a style consultant. Shopping ensues. I think Grace likes shopping. I have never shopped at anything other than a thrift store in Seattle in my life, so it just might be that Rachel’s style consultant/future friend is a thrift store kind of shopper. That would sure be a change for Rachel.)

But what the heck are they doing in Seattle?

An hour past the end of my scheduled nap time, so it’s time to get back to Nat and Colin. Or maybe start thinking about dinner. But it occurs to me that writing a story set in Seattle makes visiting Seattle a tax deduction, as long as I do some research.

Why Grace, though? Why not Akira? Well, no, she’d be useless. She’s not good at making friends herself and she doesn’t care about clothes much. And Sylvie…yep, equally useless. My subconscious got it right.