Slow and steady

This last week hasn’t been too stellar on the writing front. For one, my days have been taken up by this jury selection process, which is ruining my schedule (and, if I’m chosen, will REALLY ruin it). On another note, however, we’ve been looking for a new home, and yesterday made our first (ever!) offer on a local property. Keeping our fingers crossed!!!

It’s no secret that I am a pantser not a plotter when it comes to my stories, but I do understand how a novel should be divided up. I’m reaching that dreaded middle section with AHW2 where subplots, new characters and drama steer the story, and I’m suddenly finding myself having to plan ahead. This is a Very Good Thing – it helps to keep me on track as I write – but the middle of a book is where an author can so easily go off track. Internal pressure to get it “right”, guilt that I’ve added only a handful of words over the weekend, and the external pressures of potential jury duty and home buying are making me a bit anxious.

Or maybe that’s just because I haven’t had breakfast this morning. 😉

The lawn guys are right outside my window as I lay in bed, reminding me why I’m looking forward to moving. I’m not in a “bad” area by any means but I’m looking forward to a mortgage instead of rent, for the money I put into a house to be an investment and not paying for someone else’s Caribbean vacation. To each their own indeed, but we’re pretty excited for what the future holds.

Last night, I mapped out the next section of story, introducing key (new) characters and subplots, so at least that pressure has receded a bit. Lots to do, and I’d hate to miss out on a Snippet Saturday because life didn’t let me write anything. 😀 Hope all is well on your end!!

Snippet Saturday #2

This week has been busy with us looking at homes in (and not in) our area. The Dude and I made the joint decision it’s time to buy, but we’re stuck now on WHERE, so the last few days has had a lot of driving around, finding and speaking to realtors, etc, trying to find the “perfect” home within our budgets.

That said, I haven’t forgotten about you. 😉 Today is Snippet Saturday Part the Second, and I dug around for some meaty bits to the story so far. I’ll probably kick myself for giving away so much beforehand (you’ll know how it all turns out at this rate! 😀 ) but hopefully these make your weekend a teensy bit brighter.

*~*~*

Always before, Jeremiah had been in control, but somehow this was different. He didn’t try to restrain me in any way; his kiss wasn’t an assault or struggle. His lips caressed mine like a lover, making no demands other than for permission to continue. When I opened to him, still he held back, tongue dancing and teasing. I tightened my grip around his neck, pulling him close and wanting more, but he took his time, lips and tongue a gentle torment that was nothing like I’d experienced in his hands.

He broke off the kiss, leaning his forehead against mine. Firelight danced in his eyes and, my breath catching, I traced his beloved face with my fingertips. His eyes searched mine, holding back none of what he was feeling. I read him like an open book, and the knowledge was intoxicating.

“Lucy,” he murmured, my name a benediction on his lips. Desperate longing shone through his eyes as he kissed me again before asking softly, “Stay with me tonight.”

I shut my eyes, licking my lips, then looked back up at him. Desire ached in me, alongside a bleak loneliness, and ever fiber of my being screamed for his touch. He shifted, running a hand down the side of my neck and arm. A cool island breeze brushed against my hot skin, and I shivered as he whispered my name again, lips moving across my forehead.

**

Both of Jeremiah’s hands clenched into fists atop the table. “I spent years fighting against people like you in the Army…”

“Then you quit that life to take over mine.” Lucas’ lips kept their upward tilt but lost what humor was left. “I was pushed out of the only existence I knew by my own brother. He took over the gilded throne and let me fall to the wolves.”

“You didn’t fall,” Jeremiah said, voice as cold as ice, “you jumped. You kept jumping, and now you’re trying to drag me down with you. Our father…”

Your father gave you everything and left me nothing,” Lucas hissed.

“I didn’t want this!”

“But you took it anyway, didn’t you?”

“Hey,” I snapped, aware that the two men looked poised at any point to leap over the tables at the other’s throat. Peering around the room, we didn’t seem to be attracting any attention in the empty outside area, but if the conversation continued that would change. “Can we stay on subject here?” I asked in a low voice.

**

“You say I’m yours, but I’m not allowed to love you. So what am I? A responsibility? A liability?”

His chin came up. “I swore to protect you.”

I gaped at him. Surely he understood what I was asking. “I don’t care about my safety,” I snapped, “that’s not important right now…”

“It is to me.”

“Why?” My last word was a shout, and Jeremiah straightened up. I waved my hands around my head, unable to contain my energy. Giving an exasperated grown, I turned away, rubbing a hand over my face. When I looked back, that stoic mask was back over his face, and I suddenly wanted to cry. “Why do you think you can claim me, yet reject my love?” I murmured brokenly. “What gives you that right?”

He didn’t answer for a long moment, and I almost turned to leave when he finally spoke. “Love isn’t a happy ideal in my family.” The mask threatened to crumble for a moment before clamping back in place. “I don’t wish for the…complications love might bring.”

My shock at his short speech faded quickly. “That may be so,” I conceded, trying to make him understand, “but my parents were happily married for twenty-four years before they died. My grandparents, fifty-two. The words mean something to me.” I sighed. “I never asked for you to reciprocate, I only wanted to tell you how I feel.”

But Jeremiah just shook his head. “That word is a mere platitude. If the affection is there, why does it need to be named?”

Platitude. That word again. Oh, how I hated that word. My hands balled into fists, insides quaking at the sudden rage it induced. “You won’t even try to see my side, will you?” If it didn’t fit in with the way he believed, it was wrong. Was this the real Jeremiah? Had I been so blind this entire time?

**

I skittered across the floor away from the body, then beat at the hands that tried to help me up. “What the hell,” I screeched, pushing away from Lucas. Adrenaline coursed through my body and all I could do was pace, heart racing and body jittery. “Why does this always happen to me,” I demanded, unable to stand still. I dug my hands into my hair, pulling at it in frustration.

Then Lucas was in front of me, blocking any escape. “Hold still.”

I fought him for a minute, so he grabbed my shoulders and gave me a shake. “You’re bleeding, let me take a look.” His eyes narrowed shrewdly. “Stop fighting. I doubt you’d take kindly to being slapped right now.”

Damned right. The threat did however calm me down enough for him to press a dishrag that I hoped was clean against the wound. “I have a first aid kit in my bathroom. Kolya, take care of the body and figure out how he got onto this ship.”

I slapped away his hands, determined to walk by myself, then screeched again as he lifted me up in his arms. All I wanted to do was be left alone, but he carried me kicking and screaming back to the room, dumping me on the bed before shutting the door. He rummaged through the bathroom, then came out holding a big red box. “Hold still, I want to look at that.”

Grumpy, I complied reluctantly, flinching away with a hiss when the alcohol stung. “My life was so boring before I met you and your brother,” I muttered. “Is this some sort of cosmic payback for being the dullest girl on the planet for so long?”

“Perhaps,” Lucas quipped, and at my dark look he laughed.

**

“Then I’m to believe your visit here was totally by chance?”

Lucas sounded like he was talking about the weather, but like his brother I sensed something dangerous behind the words. Niall on the other hand didn’t seem quite as tuned in to the Hamilton universe. “I saw a chance, I took it?” he said, shrugging.

Rage suffused Lucas’ face, taking me by surprise. Gone was the happy-go-lucky persona; like flipping a switch, Lucas looked ready to kill. He advanced on Niall, the gun pointing at the Australian’s head.

“Son.” At Matthews’ gruff call, Lucas hesitated. The grizzled sea captain was watching the younger man closely. “Don’t do it.”

For a handful of seconds it looked as though Lucas wasn’t going to listen, then the switch was pressed and a smiling mask came over him again. “You’re lucky that I’m a nice person,” he said, raising the gun so it pointed at the ceiling. He signaled behind him. “Let his man take him downstairs, then lock them both in the hold with a first aid kit.”

“You’re going to pay for this,” Niall muttered as his man helped him to his feet. It looked as though Jeremiah had only shot him in one leg both times. “I know people on the outside, and they won’t take kindly when I tell them…”

Lucas lowered his gun again, casually firing at the good leg, and Niall collapsed into his bodyguard. “Okay, so I’m not that nice.”

*~*~*

Snippet Saturday #1

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Inaugural test spin of a (hopefully weekly) new blog feature! For those of you who are keeping up with me on Facebook, most of these small snippets, cookies, excerpts etc are probably familiar to you. Even there however some of these bits were added in comments and may have been overlooked, so here they all are, in one place for easy reference!

(Funny fact: this was supposed to be Snippet Sunday but, hah, I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. 😉 )

*~*~*

I cringed back as he reached for me, prepared to fight tooth and nail, but Lucas stepped forward between us. He moved so quickly I didn’t even see him pull the gun until it was already under Niall’s chin. The big Australian jerked to a stop, rage and sudden fear bursting from his face as he glared at Lucas.

“Ms. Delacourt stays with me.” There was nothing jovial about Lucas’ voice now as he leaned in close to the other man’s face. “My ship, my rules. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Jackson?”

Niall looked like he was sucking on a lemon. Behind him, his men had their guns trained on Lucas and I, and I prayed the gunrunner knew what he was doing.

“They’ll kill you and the girl,” Niall hissed, then grunted as Lucas pushed the gun harder against the tender flesh of his chin.

“Perhaps.” Lucas smiled, a hint of amusement in his tone. “But you’ll still be dead.”

*~*~*

“I’m curious,” Lucas said as if I hadn’t spoken, “what my brother saw in you.”

My smile vanished, as did any patience for dealing with the man in front of me. “You can leave now,” I said, marching across the room and opening the door. “I’d like…”

I broke off in surprise as I turned to see him standing only inches behind me; I hadn’t even heard him move. Startled, I moved back a step and came up flush against the wall between the bathroom and bedroom doors. Lucas stepped forward, far too close for my comfort, and I put a hand against his chest to keep him back.

It was a curious thing, having a man this beautiful standing so close. The smell of alcohol coming from his direction was more like a faint cologne, not at all the cloying odor I would have expected. Beneath my hand, I felt the play of muscles beneath warm skin and silk, and I swallowed.

Fingers pushed a strand of hair out of my face, running along my brow, and I shivered. I pressed back against the wall and he followed, my hand the only thing keeping him at bay. “You’re beautiful,” he murmured, dipping his face down near my temple. Warm breath flowed against my cheek. “And smart. And fearless. Is that what my brother saw?”

*~*~*

A high pitch shrieking woke me from a fitful slumber.

Jolted awake, I scrabbled at my sheets, groping for the edge of the bed. The ground was further away than I thought and I almost tripped as I leaped to my feet, but managed to stay upright as I stumbled to the doorway. Ripping it open, I immediately smelled smoke, and raced toward the stairs, not knowing what to expect.

Lucas looked up at me from the kitchen. Sunglasses covered his eyes, but he gave me a bright smile. “Good morning, sunshine. I’m making some breakfast, care to join?” He had a fork in one hand and an unplugged toaster, the reason for the fire alarm, under his other arm. He set the chrome appliance back onto the counter at my incredulous stare. “How about eggs?” he said, moving over to the refrigerator.

*~*~*

It amazed me how different the two men were. Jeremiah had the broody, tortured thing going for him, while Lucas… I wasn’t sure. He held a different type of mask in place, one that I found hard to pierce. There wasn’t much brooding here, at least not on the surface; his lips seemed locked in a Joker-like smile, as if sarcasm and pleasantries could keep people away.

As much as I enjoyed puzzles, the Hamilton men were a bit out of my league.

*~*~*

“Did you love her?” I asked bluntly, aware of the awkward direction our conversation was taking.

He started to say something, then paused. “Maybe once,” he murmured, not appearing to think this was an odd discussion topic given our current situation. “When I first met her, she was young and naïve. I was angry and selfish; stealing her away from my brother was a way to get back at him for taking over my life.” He sighed, staring blankly beside me. “Times change. People change. I didn’t do enough to keep Anya sheltered from this lifestyle, and now she’s dead.” He met my eyes again. “What about Jeremiah? Do you love him?”

“I…” My heart clenched painfully. “I thought I did.” Right now, my opinions about Jeremiah were all jumbled, due in no small part to the man lying atop me. “He saved my life.”

“I saved your life too. Twice.”

I winced at the reminder, hand going to the bandage at my throat. “Yeah.” A lump formed in my throat and I screwed my face up against tears. “That was the first time I’d said those words to anyone since my parents died,” I mumbled, “and he called them “platitudes”.” The memory was powerful enough to pierce my heart again.

“My brother is an idiot.” Lucas said it in a matter of fact way, like he was talking about the weather. Then he sighed. “Love is a fickle and cruel mistress. Confusing as hell too.”

*~*~*

Jeremiah grunted, and when he shifted I became aware of his proximity. As much as I wanted desperately to touch him, there might as well have been a wall between us. He was less than five feet away from me, but neither one of us would take that first step. Finally, Jeremiah spoke. “When I heard they’d found one of my drivers tied up in the bunkhouse, I knew something had happened. When I was told you weren’t in the house, then Jared was found unconscious, I couldn’t…”

Jeremiah cut himself off, and I saw a myriad of emotions race across his face. The stoic mask was gone, and he seemed to struggle with his next words. “By the time we started tracking the car, it had already stopped moving, and when we got there everyone inside was gone. You were gone.”

“So what did you do?” I whispered, scarcely able to breathe.

He stared down at me, green eyes bright in the dim light. “Moved heaven and earth.”

*~*~*

Stay tuned for more next week!! 😀

Live your life

Oh, but this made me cry! An illustrated talk with Maurice Sendak, one of his last interviews before his death last year. Heh, I’m getting all teary-eyed again thinking about it.

This month, Maurice Sendak’s last posthumous story “My Brother’s Book” came out. I haven’t read it yet, but I will. “Where The Wild Things Are” was one of those childhood memories that inspired me to dream, to create worlds and characters with my imagination. The world is a dimmer place without his creative genius.

Valentine’s Day special – Romance author interviews enigmatic CEO

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USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Sara Fawkes recently sat down with the enigmatic Jeremiah Hamilton, CEO of Hamilton Industries and heir to one of the most powerful New England families. Before all the recent hints of scandal and wrongdoing, Ms. Fawkes was granted the rare opportunity of an interview with the billionaire at his family estate in the Hamptons.

How does a romance writer manage to get an interview with THE most eligible bachelor in New York City? Well, your guess is as good as mine, because when I was told by my publisher that I’d been assigned to speak with Jeremiah Hamilton, CEO of Hamilton Industries, I fell out of my chair.

Literally.

To not know the Hamilton name and be a NYC resident is akin to not recognizing Donald Trump or Paris Hilton. The billionaire family has made a name for itself in the recent decades, ever since patriarch Rufus Hamilton ruthlessly climb his way to the top of the financial and business ladder, paving away for his continuing legacy today. Readers from elsewhere, however, have a good reason to be unfamiliar with the name: the current Hamilton leader, estimated by Forbes magazine last year to be worth in the low double-digit billions, is notoriously private about his life. Interviews are as rare as a true tabloid scoop, which is why when this author was told to be in the Hamptons at a certain date and time, I had to make triple sure the assignment wasn’t a practical joke.

The limousine that showed up outside my house that morning certainly seemed real, however.

The first time you see Jeremiah Hamilton in person, the man can seem intimidating. A former Army Ranger, the man still exudes the control and stoicism you’d expect from a military man. Impeccably dressed in a business suit and tie that probably cost more than my monthly salary, he was still a gracious host. I was treated to a tour of his Hamptons estate, one of the oldest in the area, and was suitably impressed by everything I saw.

Including Jeremiah himself.

Ladies, for those of us who have swooned over the beautiful man in magazines and Internet pictures, I am here to tell you a secret: he’s even more stunning in person. Pictures do not do him justice; when he walks into a room, he commands attention. Realizing that this man remains single and unattached sounds like a fairy tale, especially once I began speaking with him. Rumors circulate about his private life, as they do for any celebrity or bachelor of his status, but those rumors are kept low and, except by the truly stupid, unpublished. He will ruthlessly tackle any publications that threaten to expose, hint or in any way reveal details of his private life. The practice has earned him a fair share of enemies, but also serves to add to the mystique.

We sat down inside his living room overlooking the water and boathouse behind the house. Three panels of glass were missing, a remnant of the home invasion events that had been lightly reported in the news only one day prior. Jeremiah declined to comment on the matter, but it was obvious that the household was still reeling. On several occasions he was forced to step away to take a call, for which his personal assistant apologized to me. But fortunately, I was able to ask the enigmatic CEO a few questions, and managed to get some real answers (although not nearly as many as I would have liked).

2726a945a0d8b5f15f0ca8eaeb2b7b6d_zps11cd4a92Sara Fawkes: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. The limo to my front door was a nice touch!

Jeremiah Hamilton: You’re welcome. I prefer punctuality, but also wish for my visitors to be comfortable.

SF: I was shocked when my editor told me you had agreed to this interview. Why me?

JH: My assistant is a fan of your work, and my publicist insisted I make an effort to be in the public eye. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and had my men approach your editor.

SF: Oh, the blonde woman I spoke with earlier? Lucy? I’ll have to send her a signed copy of my novel.

JH: She would appreciate that, thank you.

SF: Now on to business. You’re a tough nut to crack, an enigma to much of my reading audience. I’m certain that my readers would appreciate a little information about your private life?

JH: Next question.

SF: Tough crowd! Very well then, perhaps you can tell us anything new about when you transitioned into Hamilton Industries after the Army?

Ladies, getting this man to talk about ANYTHING was like trying to pull a tooth. I went through several questions, ranging on topics from personal to business, with nary a response besides “Next question, please.” Well, at least he said please right?

That is, of course, until his assistant came back into the room. I may be a purveyor of fiction perhaps, but I know how to read people. His eyes were riveted on the woman anytime she was in the room, obviously aware of her presence. His tongue also miraculously loosened when he was distracted by the young woman, so I backtracked a bit to my original question.

JH: When I joined the Army, I expected to make a career out of it. Military life suited me; I found the strict regime comforting. Unfortunately, my father had separate plans, and even from beyond the grave knew how to ruin my life.

Ooh, juicy! I wish I could play back my recording, ladies, you should have heard the bitterness in this statement! Unfortunately, right after that he seemed to come to his senses, and skipped the next three of my questions. Meanwhile, he kept his attention on the little assistant, who always came into the room, so I redirected my questions to her. After she gushed a bit about my book and proved excited by the prospect of a signed copy, I asked her what kind of boss Jeremiah was.

The blonde woman gave me a bright smile, then told me that the man with us had pulled her from a difficult life, and she couldn’t believe her luck that such a man had noticed her. She then went on to say talk about his charities and how he recently agreed to fund a medical center down in Borneo, and I quickly realized that the young woman wasn’t only a fan of myself! Jeremiah seemed content to let her speak, but I did notice the silent communication between them. I knew that unseen bond was real when she declined to answer one of my questions, and Jeremiah brushed his hand along her arm.

photoMy goodness, you should have seen the poor girl blush! Her infatuation with the man before me was plain to see for all the world, and totally understandable. Jeremiah had been known, on several occasions in prior years, to use his assistants as pseudo “dates” to private functions, although he staunchly denied any personal connection to these ladies. But, my goodness, the look he gave her. Subtle though it was, I was melting into a puddle.

Once the young woman had left the room again, the stone wall was back up.

SF: You don’t seem interested in answering any of my questions, Mr. Hamilton. Let me make a wild guess: your public relations person threatened you on pain of death to do this interview “or else.”

JH: (this question managed to spark some humor, although I wouldn’t quite call the look he gave me a smile) Nobody threatens me, Ms. Fawkes. However, both he and my assistant made compelling arguments for your selection. I thank you for your time, the car outside will take you anywhere you need to go.

And just like that, the interview was over! Jeremiah, still the gracious host, accompanied me to the limousine. Whew ladies, you don’t quite understand the power of this man until you’re standing next to him. Not only is he tall, but he seems to radiate power. Shaking his hand was even interesting; these were no businessman’s hands, but the calloused hands of a working man. The kind you dream about touching, caressing your skin…

Oh ladies, I’m fanning myself here at the memory alone!

I turned and give the mansion a quick look back as the car drove us down the driveway. Watching the house disappear was like watching a cloud cover the sun. For a brief moment, I’d been in the presence of a great man, and while it ached to leave I knew the memory would stay with me. How I envied his little assistant her position in that household – perhaps it was time for me to look for some temp work!

*

imageSince this interview, so many things have happened, it’s scarcely possible to keep track of everything!

Amidst rumors of the billionaire CEO skipping the country, officials have revealed that Mr. Hamilton is under investigation, although few details are known at this point. Sources indicate that it has something to do with the alleged home invasion, which may have been something much more sinister. Also circulating is the news of a corporate shake-up at Hamilton Industries, where Celeste Taylor announced her resignation as COO of the corporation. Stock in the business, which you my lovely readers may not care to read about, has also plummeted after the vague investigation announcement.

Media outlets too, emboldened by his sudden disappearance, have begun releasing very interesting tidbits about his life that had previously been kept hidden. Family ties to an arms dealer, hints of a broken home, and a tie to two recent murders! Goodness, you would think this was pulled straight from one of my own novels!

… Come to think of it, Jeremiah WOULD make a lovely hero. If you go for the tall, dark and broody type. ~waves hand furiously~

So what do you think? How “personal” do you think that assistant was? Fill me in on all the juicy gossip you may have heard, or sound off in the comments section on the hotness of the man! Meanwhile, I’m going to go Google some more pictures and drool for a while. Toodles ladies!

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!

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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! 😀