Now that the book is done and I can think about anything else for a while, back to the Once Upon Stilettos commentary, with chapters five and six.
The visit from the parents came from two things. One, I realized that we were approaching Thanksgiving on my book calendar, and two, when I was thinking of the worst thing I could do to poor Katie, it was having her parents show up while she's in the middle of all kinds of craziness. She's still getting her bearings in the magical world, and then she's having to confront what to her are the primary symbols of her nonmagical life. She doesn't want her family to worry about her, but she's now in a situation where she's actually under attack.
The other big thing going on is the office politics plot, where they know there's a mole and that makes things get kind of crazy as everyone in the company becomes paranoid, and backstabbing ensues. This was roughly based on my experiences near the end of my tenure in the corporate world. We'd been in a real boom period in my industry, so we were expanding and hiring so many people that they joked about how you could get a job if you could fog a mirror when you breathed on it. Things were already getting shaky even before 9/11, but the bottom fell out afterward, and there were multiple rounds of layoffs. At first, it was just the fog-the-mirror people being let go, but then they started closing entire offices, including some that had just been actively recruiting. With each round of layoffs, people got even more paranoid that they would be next on the chopping block. I was dealing with an immediate supervisor who seemed to see me as a threat, so she kept deliberately excluding me from meetings, including the pitch team to re-pitch our biggest account, the one where I had become the CEO's personal speech writer. We lost the account, and I got laid off (which worked out for me in the long run, and that company hired me as a freelancer). If we'd set up an anonymous tip line around that time, I can only imagine the kind of stuff that would have been on it.
You know it's bad when even Owen is getting paranoid enough to rig a new security system on his department. It's worse when, as paranoid as he is, he misses the fact that his own office is being bugged. I liked when he was getting testy while working because it kept him from being too, too perfect.
By the way, I came up with this plot and figured out who was going to be the mole when I was midway through writing the first book. so the clues were already being planted in that book, even though the possibility of a mole didn't get raised until this book.
Then we have yet another big date with Ethan. I remember doing a lot of research to figure out things they might do. I knew I wanted it to be kind of an out-of-town event, but I hadn't actually planned all the other stuff that might happen. I was looking up some famous foodie restaurants in the outlying areas, and stuff like that. And then I thought it more likely (given what's to come) that he'd want to come to a magical party. There's also his spontaneous nature, which isn't a great fit for someone like Katie, who'd rather plan and know what to expect. So, all that research, and I didn't use it. But some good stuff spun out of it that I hadn't planned on, so I'm not complaining.