i sent out this question to my writer friends via email:
-- how would you handle or introduce a scene that's taking place at the same time as another scene? would you use the phrase "at the same time" or "meanwhile" or something else?
i've had a lot of good responses, but the best came from my very favorite author Mary Connealy (who i was quite pleased to hear from and she was the first to respond):
Michelle, I think I'd just write it in such a way that people would figure out the timing. To say 'meanwhile' is sort of omniscient. But you could set it in time. Let the sun peak over the horizon and then in the next scene, let the sun peak over the horizon.
Or, just write it, make it clear you're somewhere else and then by the later scenes, when those two scenes collide, make it obvious that these previous things had gone on about the same time. Trust your reader to figure it out. I actually like playing with timing, even leaving the reader a bit confused about when things actually happened, how much time passed, until later, trusting them to be smart enough to remember and get it.