Everything and the kitchen sink

Writing can be such a balancing act.

I make no excuses: I’m a pantser not a plotter, the kind of writer who learns about the story as she goes. I may have some structure, such as knowing scenes or events that will come later in the story, but for the most part I don’t plan things out beyond the next scene. Not having an end game in mind right off the bat, of course, leaves me open to the possibility of meandering storytelling, or of putting too much in that would need to be taken out later.

One of the toughest parts (IMO) about writing is knowing what path you want your story to go down. For example, is it a revenge tale? A beach romance? A shoot-em-up action thriller? There are certainly stories out there that incorporate elements of all three of these things, but at some point something has to give. You can’t, for example, have werewolves and vampires attacking your heroine in a contemporary tale (unless it’s urban fantasy). Having space aliens show up in your sheikh desert romance might be…confusing to some readers unless you’ve set it up earlier that the story has scifi elements. Some surprise is good, keeps the conflict up, but there’s a tightrope to walk if you want to keep it believable.

For AHW, I kept my story tightly plotted, but because sequels up the ante I wanted to think outside the box. My resulting idea had the story including everything and the kitchen sink, so many ideas rolled into one book. That wouldn’t do – fun to plan, but when I looked at the logistics, it was a nightmare. So I backtracked, removing all the aliens and werewolves and vampires from my story plan (just kidding, but it may as well have been!) and tried to figure out a theme. What I want my heroine to learn. What I wanted my heroes (!!) to go through. Redemption? Revenge? I needed to figure out my motivations, or how their pasts affected their near-future (aka, the book’s plot line).

What did I come up with? Well, like I said, I’m not much of a plotter, but I do like having the bare bones sketched out so I don’t write myself into a corner. For years I couldn’t finish anything because I’d get to a certain point, then hit The Wall (other writers know what I’m talking about), and couldn’t bear to backtrack/delete words I’d written to go around it. By then anyway, another idea would beg to be written, so I’d leave the story promising to come back. Heh, yeah, that didn’t happen. *sigh*

The thing I’ve found, the more words I put down on paper, is that there’s never an end to learning. If it’s not learning your craft, then it’s learning how YOU craft. Every writer is different; I know folks who cringe when I tell them I don’t have a detailed outline for my entire series, down to hair/eye color and what shaving gel they used. Then again, the idea of writing from a detailed synopsis has my eyes crossing from boredom – I mean, the story is already written, why am I writing it again? Learn how you do things, and unabashedly DO THEM. Don’t let others dictate what works for you; listen, maybe try adopting new ideas into your pattern, but don’t be afraid to discard them if they’re not for you. Write your story as you see fit. FINISH your story. Then you can start thinking about how to incorporate all those fabulous ideas you came up with into your next book.

Oh, and leave the sink at home. 😉

Audiobooks and AHW2 totals

I was surfing through the Heroes and Heartbreakers website today and came across a feature about the narrator for the AHW audiobook, Clarissa Knightly. I thought it was a great article, and totally loved how she described her secret for getting past the naughty bits:

Finally I figured out the secret. The key was to stop worrying about my blushing and concentrate instead on making the engineer blush. So that became my goal—to engage the engineer, make him or her (these days there are many more female engineers) blush, and by extension you: my listener.

Pretty ingenious I think; even I would have a tough time speaking the dirtier parts of my own story aloud!!

Managed 3,559 words on AHW2 today, rounding off the first chapter. A big part of me had been reluctant to start because I wasn’t quite sure what would happen in the story, but I’m happy to say I’ve gotten over that pesky little hurdle. 😉 Now to keep going and finish this baby, keep an eye on that status bar on the top right!

The Dude is down in SoCal this week, attending King Of The Hammers (a desert race for boys and their toys). He doesn’t have much in the way of cell reception but still managed to call me a couple times to let me know he was okay; said it was all sand and dirt and nothing. Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it much, but I still miss the pesky bugger. Oh well, just a few more days!

Now it’s off to the grocery store to try and restock the house with food. The Dude, in all his wisdom, cleaned us out of any and all decent spices and snack foods, and managed to take all the lunchmeats but not the bread. I survived today on boxed pasta in the pantry and a jar of marinara, but it’s time to try and pack in some REAL food. Silly boys and their toys (and eating habits)…

Lauren Jameson talks serials!

AllSix

Amidst the wonderful rush of writing AHW2, trying to unpack from a month-long jaunt into the desert, and psyching myself up to edit a certain BDSM anthology story, I asked my buddy Lauren Jameson/Hawkeye to write me a guest blog post. The story of how I met Miss Lauren is funny and sheerly happenstance, but she’s become one of my best buds (despite her being thousands of miles away in Canada!) and we chat via email or iMessage daily. She also has a new serial out and this is her journey into that particularly awesome format:

Sometimes fate is delightful. Here’s the story behind that opinion.

Early last year, I was contacted by my Avon/ Harper Collins editor and asked if I would be interested in taking part in another anthology, this one with a spring break theme. She said that they had one other author lined up, and her name was Sara Fawkes. I had been under deadline, and was still working my day job. My response was “Sara who? Well, doesn’t matter; I’m sure she’s great. Sure, I’m in.”

Fast forward to July, the RWA conference in Anaheim, California. My two roomies came back from their dinner and said “Guess what just happened? We were eating at the Cheesecake Factory, talking about writing, when this sweet lady came up and shyly asked if we were with the conference. Then she told us about her mind blowing journey of self publishing her serial.”

Serial, I thought? What’s that? I thought that *might* make me sound dumb, though, so I kept that question to myself and instead asked “What’s her name?”

“Sara Fawkes.”

Ding ding, went my little brain. Hey, isn’t that that other author in the Avon antho? I should get hold of her so we can meet up.

We met for breakfast the next morning, and I was psyched to discover that my new bud was, in a word, awesomesauce. Truly, Ms. Sara Fawkes is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. For a woman who comes across as the girl next door, this motorcycle riding chica has a wicked (dirty!) sense of humor, a generous heart, and is incredibly shrewd about this industry.

I’ve been a part of this industry for several years, but somehow I’d missed the new serial craze that Sara helped to start. Listening to her talk about the format was enlightening. My brain started working away. I already wrote billionaires and BDSM. But I’d never contemplated a serial. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. As an author on contract, quite often you’re working on projects that you came up with months earlier. You write the book, and then forget about it for another several months—often it can be a year or more until that story hits the shelves.

The thought of self publishing a serialized novel, of that immediate excitement, was intoxicating. In the airport on the way home from Anaheim I started plotted, then writing. When I got home I downloaded Sara’s stories to see how she’d paced them—and wound up paying no attention to the pacing whatsoever, because I was so wrapped up in the story. My agent liked the idea. It was a go—we were going to self publish it, and I was ecstatic.

Then I sold a book to Penguin. While my agent was hashing out my options clause with my editor, she mentioned my serial. My editor perked up and asked if she could take a look at it—Penguin, after all, had had great success with Beth Kery’s Because You Are Mine. And so the work began.

Writing a serialized novel was a lot of fun for me. Often I would find myself drafting one part, working on content edits for another, and brainstorming copy as well. It allowed me to write a segment, then go off and work on another contract for a while. It also taught me a lot about pacing, since each installment had to be its own little story as well as falling neatly into the whole.

The end result? I loved it.

Surrender to Temptation hasn’t seen nearly the commercial success of its predecessors, but I’m okay with it, because I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and I’m proud. I also hope I’ll have another chance to work on a serial, because I’m now in love with the format that Sara introduced me to. I don’t have an answer for why serials became so popular when they did, but as the working mom of a toddler, I see the appeal—I love having a chunk that I can devour in one sitting. I like the anticipation of waiting for the next installment, which is not all that different from waiting to see if I’ll get to write another one, LOL!

Surrender to Temptation Part IV: Tempted to Possess is out on Tuesday, February 5. I’d love to know what you think of it! And it’s also contest time: Tweet “Serials rock!” to @LaurenHJameson AND @SaraFawkes in the next week, and you’ll be entered in a draw to win all six installments for your e-reader!

Sara Sez: Aww, thanks Lauren! I keep meaning to do a post about the sudden resurgence of serials, but my brain always skitters off into some creative venture and I get sidetracked. Bad Sara! It’s so interesting to see how a simple experiment of mine, trying out a serialized format like so many fanfiction writers do, has taken off just within the last year. Who could have guessed a style that traditional publishers and most of the reading public thought long dead would make a resurgence in modern times? Certainly not I, but I’m gratified to see it! Check out the first book in Lauren’s new serial Tempted To Submit available as an ebook from all online stores! (and doesn’t she have the more gorgeous covers?!)

I’m neck deep in the beginning of AHW2, so keep an eye on the bar widget to the right of my blog! I’ll try to keep it updated with my progress so far and let you know any details as they happen on release schedules etc. I’ve made you all wait for far too long, now it’s time to power through this baby! 😀

The Loneliest Profession

I used to think that writing was the loneliest profession.

Often, when a person tucks themselves away with their computer, laptop, notebook etc to start slinging words, the silence allows us to hear words in our heads. Some writers enjoy music, like making playlists to inspire them for a particular story, but usually the room we’re in is a quiet respite from the rest of the world (unless you have kids, but that’s another story). Over the last few weeks however, I’ve been blessed to be able to do some writing sprints (or word wars, or competitive writing, or whatever you wish to call them) with some friends. I can be a pretty competitive person, but these folks kick my butt in words per hour!! I’ll tell you what though, my productivity went way up doing these short spurts. In between these writing jags, we just shoot the breeze and chat. In a chat room.

I feel like it’s 1999 again!! 😀

Over the weekend I had several things happen which make me giddy. I finished the rough draft BDSM novella for the FLING anthology due out this summer by Avon. It’ll need a bit of editing but I’m pretty proud of this short story. Now I’m able to focus on AHW2 and I’m so excited!! A lot of you have been asking when I am going to start on it and I can finally answer: NOW. It’s technically begun already but I decided to give myself a project in the middle, sort of a palate cleanser, so I don’t write the same story accidentally. I have big plans for the sequel and…well, you’ll see.

I also found out yesterday that (squee) I may be on a panel at RWA Nationals this year!! The panel would be about serials (a format which I adore, if you didn’t notice already) and will also include Lauren Hawkeye/Jameson, Beth Kery, and possibly a couple of our editors. I ALSO made the decision to attend Romantic Times this spring in Kansas City; I’ll be rooming with some friends who I can’t wait to see. Yes, I will attend the book signings – look for the introverted redhead in the corner. 😉

2012 was an insane year for me, and I hope to make 2013 just as marvelous. There are things being planned in the background while I write: books are being translated into foreign languages (hello to all French-speaking readers, it’s so awesome to hear from you!), conventions, tours, and…wow. Just, stuff.

I’m on a rollercoaster barely to its first high point! 😀

Enthusiasm!

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good, either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.” – Roald Dahl

This is how I want to be about writing. I love writing, but I want my stories to pour through me, to be something I go to sleep thinking about and wake up itching to continue. The great thing is that with writing, there is always something new to be found; a new story, a new character to fall in love with.

Oh, how I love this job!! I can’t believe I’ve been given the opportunity to do the one thing I’ve always dreamed about, writing full time. I’ll forever be grateful to the readers who made it possible, and desperately hope I never let you down! 😀

AHW future plans

I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the future, particularly regarding the AHW series, and I think it’s past time I did a blog post talking about what the plans are for the series.

First off, a promise: the story DOES continue!! I expect that’s implied by the doozy-of-a-cliffhanger ending, but I wanted to go on the record about that anyway. The story does/will continue, but in what format I’m still not 100% sure. A lot of it has to do with what format the series is released as (serial or novel), and whether I will self-publish the continuation or if I publish through St. Martin’s Press. I can’t say much right now because that whole part is still in talks, but SMP is definitely interested in acquiring a sequel, and I still very much want to work with them. It all comes down to me now to get them something to publish.

Yes folks, I still need to write the story.

Right now I’m on a deadline for an Avon anthology story, so I’m focusing my writing efforts on that and hope to have it done this month. After that however, it’s all about an AHW sequel.

I really don’t mean to ignore anybody, especially since its all thanks to you that I’m even where I am. Many of the questions I’ve received are the same thing, and it gets hard to keep repeating the same answer: that, yes, the series will continue, and no, I don’t yet have a publication date. But as soon as I know anything, I’ll definitely let you all know!!

I really do appreciate every person that’s ever bought, read, or recommended the first AHW and its individual serials. It’s not my intention to ignore you, and I’m definitely online much more with Twitter and Facebook. But I’m thankful for EVERYBODY who’s allowed me this opportunity to do the one thing I love (and love making a living with), and would never want you to think I am not grateful for your support.

You guys continue to be the greatest!!!

2012 has been incredible!


With a new year only hours away, I got to thinking about just how utterly incredible 2012 has been. In April, I was a girl with an idea for a story, wondering if I’d crash and burn since, realistically, serials were not really all that popular in mainstream literature. Now my little story is lining shelves in bookstores and grocery markets, and contemplating the journey is completely overwhelming. I’ve been given a gift, something which I’ve always dreamed about, and despite being a writer I can’t quite put into words how I feel.

None of this would have happened without my readers. I know I say it a lot, but it’s true – you all are the best, most incredible group of people in the whole wide world. I am forever thankful that my little story reached so many wonderful folks, and know you all deserve the credit for everything that’s happened this year.

Tonight starts the new year (for most of the world, it’s already 2013), so I just wanted to wish you all a Happy (belated) Holidays and I hope your New Years is one to be remembered!!!! *hugs*
😀

Contest winners!


photo credit: crsan – christianholmer.com via photopin cc

I had a wonderful time in Canada visiting my sister and nephew (who holds the title of World’s Cutest and nobody can convince me otherwise! *g*), and now it’s time to announce the winners!!

First off, a special thanks to the Dude and my bestie Erin who used their Interwebz-Fu and helped me compile the final spreadsheet – I’d be lost without them! I want to thank EVERYONE who helped me get the word out for this contest, you are the BEST readers a girl could ask for and I appreciate everything you do and continue doing to help me!!

I’ve also decided to extend the number of winners for signed copies to a total of 5, including the grand prize of the ARC. I’d give ALL the people who helped me a copy if I had enough!!!

Okay, the winners are (drumroll please):

Grand Prize of 1 signed ARC: Katie Rose (@_katierose1107)

Signed Copies of the AHW novel:
Zoey Derrick (@ZoeyDerrick)
Sandy Lion (Facebook)
Adriana Santiago (@AndriiiSantiii)
Bellisimo (@starslite13)

I’ll be contacting the winners about addresses later today. Congratulations!!

Release day

Today was officially the release day for Anything He Wants the novel. After months of writing and editing and waiting, November 27 has come (and almost gone as I write this). Yet now, as the day ends and I reflect a bit, I’m still stunned by that fact. I’m in actual stores, next to other books by authors I read and enjoy.

My mind, she is blown, but right now I feel weirdly zen. I spent all day squeeing and bouncing and boggling at the Amazon and B&N rankings. OMG. Today was an emotional rollercoaster, it like I didn’t know what to think!

A few of you have already been gracious enough to lend the novel some reviews on Amazon, B&N and other online sites, for which I am thankful. Today also ends the free novel contest; it will run until midnight Pacific time tonight, and I’ll compile and choose the winners tomorrow. But… Wow. Wow.

I LOVE YOU ALL SOOOOOOO BIG!!!!!!! Thank you for coming with me on this journey, there’s no way I could have done this without your help and support!! Please know the story will DEFINITELY continue and I appreciate everyone who’s blogged, tweeted, emailed, or otherwise spread the word about AHW’s release immensely. Today feels like a kitten and unicorn all wrapped in one – immensely awesome but more than a little unbelievable.

…okay, I may be a tiny bit less zen now. But thank you, I’m amazed about everything that’s gone on over the last few months and it’s all thanks to you. ***HUGZ***

And because I’m trying to make every post have a picture, here are three of the most adorable pups I met today!