My dream, my desire, my ultimate goal is to be organized. Perfect cubby holes built in the exact spots where needed, shelves with labels, drawers with nothing stashed and forgotten: Nirvana. Everyone who knows me may now stop laughing.

The best I can do for today is a closet filled, top to bottom, with husband-built shelves, groaning under the weight of too many research books, and filing cabinets I periodically dare to open. "Dare" being the operative word here - because usually they crash over from the weight of the extended drawers. I swear I'm not a packrat, but you just never know when you're going to need the phone number for Military Records in D.C., or a copy of the original map of Ft. Larned, Kansas.

The one thing I can control is my writing's organization. I plot. Re-plot. Play with the plot some more. Move a pink character card into the space for Chapter Three and out of Chapter One. On a wall covered with thick rubber mats (the sort used by cashiers), are hundreds upon hundreds of thumbtacks, all holding storyboard cards. I love the ease of moving story elements around on 4 x 6 index cards. Nothing's permanent until the galleys, and then it's too late. Sometimes I play with the plotting so long, an entirely different story emerges than the one that originally popped into my head. And that's just fine. I need to know where a story's going to end before I start it. The final chapter may be the first one written, giving me a bulls eye to aim for when I start the first chapter.

Now if I could organize the rest of the house. . . .