The Writing Process

How I Became a Romance Writer – A Timeline

By tree croppedSo the website is getting fired up again, less as a log of my struggles to get a contract (mission accomplished) and more as a conversation about the writing and publishing process. Hopefully readers will enjoy not only hearing about the books I’m working on (and reading excerpts from them), but will also enjoy my observations about the writing process, which is definitely not for the faint of heart, and about the publishing business and all its twists and turns.

If you’re an aspiring writer, you might learn something from my journey (Lesson One: NEVER GIVE UP!). If you’re a published author, you might be able to teach me and my followers a thing or two – feel free to share! And if you’re a reader of romance or any other genre, I hope you’ll find this “peek behind the curtains” interesting.

Let’s start with the timeline of my journey so far:

HOW I BECAME A ROMANCE AUTHOR

1968 (approx.): My best friend and I started writing our “Great American Novels”. We were ten. Mine was a romance. I no longer have it, but I remember it took place on a farm, there were horses and a tornado, and the heroine’s name was Destiny.

1970s – 1980s: I grew up, got a job, and dreamed of writing “someday”. In the meantime, I devoured books by Victoria Holt, Danielle Steele, Jude Deveraux (my all-time favorite romance: A Knight in Shining Armor), Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss (my all-time close-second-favorite romance: A Rose In Winter), and many, many others.

1990s: I call these years “The Oprah Effect”. Suddenly the only cool thing to read was “lit-er-a-ture” (spoken with a fancy accent). If it wasn’t tragic, it wasn’t considered serious writing. I finally had the time to write, but I allowed myself to be intimidated by the book snobs who were convinced that romance was tacky and somehow undesirable. I tried to make myself write “lit-er-a-ture”, but damn it, I like happy endings!

2000s: Buried myself in a corporate career.

2013: Heard a lot of buzz about a sexy romance called Fifty Shades of Gray. Yes, that book. And the next one. And the next. By the time I got to the end of it all (and I’ll admit I enjoyed a lot of it), I realized it was basically a regular romance novel with some naughtiness added and enough mind-numbing detail to stretch the story over three books. It made E.L. James a boatload of money, and it showed me that romance novels were far from dead. Where had I been, and why the hell wasn’t I writing? That summer I sat at my laptop and started my first romance novel. It was basically a learning experience only, but I did get some positive feedback from agents/editors. And the hook was set. I was going to be a writer, come hell or high water.

2014: Wrote Halcyon, the first of four stand-alone romance novels about four cousins finding love. Submitted it, got some nice rejections with some encouragement. Entered it in the 2015 Golden Heart Award competition at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City. While it didn’t make it into the finalist division, it was in the top 25% of entries.

July 2015: Completed The Hide-Away (second in the series) just in time to pitch it at the RWA Conference in NYC (my first conference). That’s where I met Victoria Curran from Harlequin’s SuperRomance collection, and she loved the concept and requested a full manuscript.

August 2015: I started working on my next book, The Wishlist (all titles here are working titles only), and completed a couple chapters of the first draft.

September 2015: Victoria, like all editors and agents in the industry, is swamped with work. She sent very encouraging updates on Hide-Away, but no commitment yet. In a bit of a panic, I decide to start submitting Hide-Away to a few agents…just in case. I pick five agencies that are at the top of the food chain in the industry (in my opinion). Why not dream big?

October 2015: I get The Call from Victoria on October 16th. Harlequin SuperRomance wants to offer me a contract for Hide-Away. Angels sing, bells ring, rainbows arch through the sky and unicorns dance in the front yard. Yeah, I’m that happy. My dream was to get a contract, and now I had one! All I had to do was rewrite a couple of major scenes and cut 8000 words. By Thanksgiving. Piece of cake. Oh, and I created a Twitter account (@JoMcNallyAuthor).

November, 2015: Once I have the signed contract for Hide-Away in my hand, I reach out to the literary agencies I’d queried to let them know the book was now under contract. It’s a professional courtesy to keep them from wasting time reading the book if it’s already taken. I received a couple brief thank yous and congratulations. One agent seemed sincere in her regret that she missed it. And another was not only sorry to have missed it, but asked me some interesting questions about representation on other projects. We emailed back and forth. The emails became phone calls, and Veronica Park of the Corvisiero Literary Agency became my agent, representing Halcyon. Unicorns danced again! Of course, first I had to complete the rewrite of Hide-Away. That was accomplished just in time, and it was submitted on Thanksgiving morning.

December, 2015: One deadline down, and another is already looming. I have to rewrite the beginning of Halcyon, and have three chapters and a synopsis (outline) ready to submit to Harlequin by the end of January. And oh, yeah. It’s Christmas. My church choir tackled a simple little ditty for the holidays called Handels Messiah. Parties were planned and attended. Family time. Did I mention I work a Monday-Friday, 9-5 office job? And have a marriage to pay attention to? Writing got squeezed into every spare moment, but it was stressful!

January, 2016: With the tireless assistance of my now beloved agent, Veronica, I work like a madwoman and complete three brand-new chapters for Halcyon. And I like them! We will be meeting our deadline (again). And I start messing with this website again. And I made my Pinterest research pages for the books public (JoMcNallyAuthor). Came in First Place for Contemporary Romance in the Windy City Romance Writers Four Seasons writing completion (Hide-Away). My first win!

Windy City Contest Winner

Wow. No wonder I’m tired. And very, very happy. Thanks for joining me on this crazy ride, and stay tuned for more adventures!

Excerpts

Excerpt: She’s Far From Hollywood

Twitter 10.25

He meant to wake her without startling her. Really, he did. But the porch swing rocked unexpectedly when he put his hand on the chain, nearly sending Bree to the floor and causing her to sit up with a jolt. Their eyes met, and he couldn’t help but admire the fire he saw flaring up in her emerald glare. She was like a wild horse just looking to be tamed, and he wanted to be the one to tame her.

What?

He scolded himself mentally for thinking such a stupid thing, and her voice sliced into him to remind him why.

“What the hell are you doing here? And why are you trying to throw me on the floor? What do you want?” She blinked, trying to catch her bearings.  

“I’m an invited dinner guest, Hollywood. I’m sorry for startling you, but dinner’s ready.” He couldn’t resist giving her a jab. “And real farmers don’t sleep while the sun’s still up.”

Her eyes narrowed as she stood. Even in flat sandals, she was only a few inches shorter than him. What little she lacked in height, she made up for in spirit.

“Don’t give me that crap.” Her lips curled in anger. “I’ve worked my ass off since I got here, and I’ll keep working as long as I stay. Now excuse me, but I’m going to see if Nell needs my help with anything. I didn’t know we were having company tonight, but it figures you wouldn’t turn down a free meal.” She brushed past him with her head held high, looking like god-damned royalty as she slammed the screen door closed behind her.

Well…shit...

It seemed as if all their conversations ended with her storming off mad as a hornet. But she sure put on a fine show while doing it. He followed her into the house in bemused silence.

The Publishing Process

They Like Me! They Really, Really Like Me!

PillowI’M GETTING PUBLISHED!!!!!!!! That’s right, folks – I’ve been offered a contract for “The Hide-Away” (officially just a working title now – it will not publish as that). It will be published by Harlequin SuperRomance! I am absolutely on cloud 9, and still feeling a little whiplashed by the ride I’ve taken over the past eight days.

So picture this – on Friday, Oct. 16th [semi-interesting side note: 16 has always been our lucky date. My birthday is on a 16th, Hubby’s birthday is on a different 16th, our anniversary is on another 16th, and now, I found out I was being published on October 16th!] , anyway – I’m at my 9-5 job and it is The Friday-From-Hell. Of the five people in our little office, three are on vacation together, and the fourth is at an appointment. Every call is another deal getting ready to burst into flames. So I’m manning the front desk alone and playing virtual whack-a-mole. I’m on one phone line, and the other line is ringing and I’m just watching it ring because I can’t get off line 1. Then my cell phone lights up with a call, which hardly ever happens. And the caller ID reads “Ontario Canada”. There is only one caller who would be calling me from Ontario, Canada, and that’s Harlequin Books.

AND I CAN’T TAKE THE CALL.

More than one friend has suggested I should have hung up on the office call, but that’s not how I do business. I let the Harlequin call go to voicemail while I started to shake all over. I finally connected with the most wonderful senior editor at Harlequin later that afternoon, and she confirmed that Harlequin SuperRomance wanted to offer me a contract for The Hide-Away. Like…a real contract, with an advance and everything, like a real writer would get. The word “joy” doesn’t quite capture how I felt. How can you possibly describe a moment when a lifelong dream comes true?

Harlequin SR 10.25

Since then, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster of ecstasy and panic and everything in between. On that first call with the editor, I casually mentioned that Hide-Away was actually the second book in my series of four stand-alone titles. Harlequin rejected the first book, Halcyon, a while ago, and I acknowledged that the beginning needs major changes (like I need to throw out the first two chapters and start over kind of changes). SuperEditor agreed to take another look at Halcyon if I could make the changes. So now we’re talking the possibility of TWO books! Unreal. Midweek, it looked like they wouldn’t take Halcyon after all (which was oddly a bit of a relief in my panicked state), and then we went back to thinking maybe they would take another look at it. Holy crap!!

My dear SuperEditor and I came up with a plan later in the week, after my adrenalin rush began to settle. For the next four weeks, I am doing revisions on Hide-Away. While she felt the book is mostly good as written, there were a few suggestions made that I agreed with right away, and now I have to implement them. Most involve making minor changes to the ending so that things aren’t quite so tidy all of a sudden. Oh, and we also have to cut 8000 words from the book to fit the current parameters for the SuperRomance line. That’s 10% of the book. But it’s okay. It’s going to be fine. Totally cool. I can do this.

After Hide-Away is resolved, I will immediately begin the MAJOR revisions required for Halcyon. If I can have those completed by the start of the new year, I will resubmit them to SuperEditor and we’ll see what happens. If she likes it, I could have another book deal, and Halcyon would be published first, then Hide-Away. Which is just amazing. I’m still pinching myself.

And then this happened on Twitter (where you can follow me at @jomcnallyauthor):

Twitter 10.25

I am officially part of the Harlequin SuperRomance family, and I could not possibly be happier. At the very least, Hide-Away will definitely be published. Right now the SuperRomance line is primarily digital, but I’m hoping that will change so that folks can order paperback versions of my work. It will not be sold in stores, which is a tiny disappointment, but in the big scheme of things, I’m not losing sleep over it. It’s an online world, and I, for one, read nearly all my romances on my Kindle.

I’m walking on air. It occurred to me the other day that the only time I remember feeling like this was when I was first falling in love with my now-husband. I’m in the same exact state of mind: distracted, giddy, nervous, emotional, occasionally teary-eyed, at other times ready to leap up and dance just for the hell of it. Pretty appropriate that learning my romance novel is going to be published has given me the same sense of joy that falling in love gave me – can’t get much more romantic than that!

So this blog will now swerve away from “how will I ever get published?” to “what’s it like to get a book deal?” Follow along on the ups and downs that are surely ahead of me as I negotiate this new world of success. I’m not quitting my day job (yet), but I’m definitely looking forward to an exciting year in 2016 (look – another lucky 16!).

Excerpts

Excerpt: She’s Far From Hollywood

Coffee DeskHuh – I missed a week, didn’t I? Ah, well. Life happens sometimes, and October is a busy month. But I’m here now, and posting an excerpt from She’s Far From Hollywood. This is my most recent book, and I’ve sent it out to a number of agents/editors to see if they might be interested. Time will tell! In the meantime, enjoy this tidbit…

Before Bree’s brain could fully absorb what that meant, Maggie bounded down the driveway and across the road, running directly to her. She’d never really been a fan of dogs, but she found herself dropping to one knee to greet the happy girl. She was a pretty thing, with those expressive brown eyes and her glistening dark coat. She looked like a German Shepard, but darker and more finely-boned.

“A little early for drinking, isn’t it?”

Bree’s head snapped up. Cole was standing in the middle of her yard. He’d stopped there as if that was as far as he dared go, which made her smile just a little as she rose to her feet.

“That’s rich coming from the guy who was drinking at a bar in the middle of the day yesterday.”

“Yeah, well, I’m a man.” He made a point to look her up and down, taking in her bare feet, jeans and t-shirt. “Women in the south tend to be a little more ladylike.”

“Sorry, I left my hoop skirt at home.”

His eyebrow arched and she thought she saw a touch of admiration there. The two of them had the ability to exchange scathing sarcasm down to an art. She bit back a smile of triumph and turned to the door to leave him standing there, but Maggie’s soft whine stopped her. She looked down and couldn’t resist scratching the dog’s ears one more time.

“Maggie hasn’t seen anyone at the cottage in a while, and she seems to like you for some reason.” His expression made it clear he couldn’t understand the dog’s logic.

The Writing Process

A Writer’s Soundtrack

 

Last night, I did something I haven’t done in years. I went to a live country concert to hear Dustin Lynch at the North Carolina Seafood Festival. Dustin is one of the newer country artists, and he sings lots of songs about drinking and partying and about how his girl “cranks his tractor.” It was loud and fun and I had very little voice left this morning in church. But those pounding songs weren’t why I wanted to see Dustin Lynch perform. He co-wrote and recorded one of my all-time favorite love songs, and indeed, a song that very much inspired my most recent book, The Hide-Away.

The song is “Cowboys and Angels,” and he wrote the song in honor of his grandparents. It’s a nearly perfect love song, at least for this romance writer. And it was worth the drive and the noise and the crowd to hear him sing it live last night. And come on – look at that smile!

I love listening to music. I love to sing music. I love to dance to music. In fact, I have a hard time sitting still and not breaking into song if there’s something great playing. I’ve been known to boogie my way through the house while cleaning, much to the amusement of the dog. I love music of all kinds, although I confess I can only take small doses of heavy metal, rap or opera. My music of choice tends to be country with a healthy dose of pop. The common denominator is, of course, love. Finding love, losing love, fighting to win love back – it’s the stuff romance novels are made of.

And yes, I usually write to music. Many writers do so, some even going so far as to create a playlist for each of their books. Often those playlists are ones only known to the writer, but more and more frequently with contemporary romances, the author’s playlist will be printed at the end of a romance novel so the reader can listen to the same music.

If I’m doing heavy-duty writing, as in starting a new book, tackling a major scene, or breaking through writer’s block, I write best in silence – preferably in an empty house (thank God my husband golfs). But if I’m editing or working through an easier stretch, I like a soundtrack, and I have an ever-evolving playlist. In fact, it’s playing as I type this.

At the moment, I’m listening to Justin Timberlake’s “That Girl.” So sexy. I have several favorites from Justin’s first 20/20 album, including “Mirrors” and “Pusher Love Girl.” Speaking of sexy, there’s always the frankly-titled “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz-II-Men or “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye.

Some songs are perfect for the passion-filled moment that comes along in every good romance novel (no, not that moment – I’m talking about the first realization of love). Songs like “That’s When I Knew” by Alicia Keys, “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones, “Come a Little Closer Baby” by Dierks Bentley (hell, any love song by Dierks Bentley!), Adele’s version of “Make You Feel My Love,” and a personal favorite of mine – “Wreck You” sung by Kristen Chenoweth. That song is the true ballad of the romance novel heroine.

One of the reasons I’m drawn to country music is that it tells a story that is so easy to visualize. Brad Paisley is a master of the story song, including one of Hubby’s favorites, “We Danced.” It’s an entire love story told in a song. Another great example is the lesser-known song playing right now – “Fall” by Clay Walker. It’s what every single woman wants to hear from her man (take note, guys!).

While The Hide-Away doesn’t have a specific playlist, it was heavily influenced by the aforementioned “Cowboys and Angels”, as well as “Walking Away” by Jason Aldean, and “Who I Am When I’m With You” by Chris Young. Those last two reflect a lot about Cole’s character.

My first book, Halcyon, actually does have a short playlist, because music factors so heavily in the story. The romantic ghost of Halcyon likes music, and has fun messing with playlists at times. The playlist is listed below, and all of the songs appear in the novel. So tell me, what are the songs from your soundtrack?

Playlist for Halcyon:

“Let the Groove Get In” Justin Timberlake

“A Thousand Years” Christina Perri

“Say Something (I’m Giving Up on You)” A Great Big World (with Christina Aguilera)

“I Won’t Give Up” Jason Mraz

“Tonight I Wanna Cry” Keith Urban

“All of Me” John Legend

“The Mess I Made” Parachute

“Make You Feel My Love” Adele

“Hymne” The O’Neill Brothers

Excerpts

Excerpt: Halcyon

Coffee DeskAn excerpt from Halcyon. This is my first book, to be published in 2016. This excerpt is subject to minor changes before publication. As always, this is make-believe – any resemblance to actual people/places/etc. is unintentional and coincidental. It’s fiction, folks!

 

 

     Amanda was having the weirdest medieval dream. She was in a massive, heavily-carved mahogany bed, covered with a satin comforter. Heavy tapestries draped the canopy of the bed and hung behind the huge headboard. The room was large and round. The only light came from a fire in the marble fireplace. The flames flared and danced merrily when she looked that way, then settled back to a gentle glow. Tall windows were set deep into the walls, framed with heavy damask curtains.
     A wing-backed chair was pulled up close to the bed, and a man was sleeping there with his feet propped up on the mattress next to her. But this was no knight of the round table. He was dressed in blue jeans and a plaid shirt. Black hair curled down over his forehead.
     Blake Randall.
     This was no dream.
     Peeking under the sheets, she saw she was wearing a large t-shirt she didn’t recognize, and nothing else. She sat up, and the quick movement was enough to wake him. His eyes opened, but he didn’t move. He just watched her cautiously as if he thought she might bolt. And she was seriously considering it.
     “Where am I?”
     He sat up and slowly dropped his feet to the floor. Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands in front of him. His voice was soft and deep.
     “You’re in my suite at Halcyon.”
     “What time is it?”
     “A little after eleven.”
     “What happened?”
     Before he could respond, she remembered. Greg and Katt. The storm. Her panic attack. She groaned at the memory.
     Blake muttered something under his breath, but he didn’t move. She frowned at him.
     “Did you undress me?”
     “No. Your cousins and my manager Julie took care of that. I just donated the shirt.”
     “The girls know I’m here?”
     He nodded. “Of course. I didn’t kidnap you, Amanda. I just wanted to keep you as far away from Greg as possible. Nora’s asleep in the suite next door. Your other cousins went back to the resort a while ago. All of your things are here.”
     “And Greg?”
     She was shocked at the rage she saw flash across Blake’s face. He took a deep breath before he answered in a low growl. “He’s gone. That’s all you need to know.”
     She felt a little light-headed as she propped herself against the headboard. She had the strangest thought, and spoke it out loud. “Did you kill him?”
     Blake’s eyebrows raised, and his mouth quirked into a smile. “I’m impressed you think me capable, Miss Lowery. But no.”

The Writing Process

One Way or the Other…

PillowLast week, I talked about the “joys” of trying to break into traditional publishing. It’s pure luck to have your submission looked at for more than a few seconds by over-worked editors and agents. And then you have to hope it’s what they’re looking for and they actually like it. It’s been a long, painful slog of rejections for me. Even the personally-written encouraging ones (as opposed to form letters) hurt.

But traditional publishing is no longer the only route to writing success. You’re reading this post on a computer, or perhaps a tablet, or even a phone. And I’m willing to bet many of you read at least some of your books on an electronic device like a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. And that technology has brought some earth-shattering changes to the publishing world. Some publishers haven’t survived it. But eBooks are here to stay. I do 95% of my reading on my Kindle, which has hundreds of books on it.

The alternative to traditional publishing is self-publishing. I know, I know – “self-publishing” used to mean “vanity press” – people would pay a not-so-small fortune to have boxes and boxes of books printed that they would either hand out to friends and family (“look, I wrote a book!”) or attempt to sell to bookstores, at flea markets, etc. For fiction writers, it was almost always a losing proposition unless all you wanted to see was your name on a printed book. Finding a paying audience was tough, although a handful of people made it (it’s easier for non-fiction writers). But I can’t afford to quit my day job and drive around the country selling romance novels out of the trunk of my car.

Technology has changed all of that. It costs virtually nothing to publish an eBook, if you want to do the formatting yourself. I’d rather have four root canals that fight with formatting, so I’ll pay a nominal fee and let someone else handle that hassle and then the book just gets uploaded to Kindle, Barnes & Noble, etc. Easy-peasy, right? Why haven’t I done that already? Why shouldn’t I control my own destiny?

Well…because it’s scary as hell. Publishers provide a corporate team for writers, as well as help with publicity. I have worked most of my life as a corporate gal, and I’m used to that environment. Going it alone is frightening. I’ll be responsible for trying to find an audience for my writing – an audience that will hopefully write nice reviews and recommend the books and build sales until the book starts getting noticed and moves up the rankings at Amazon et al. It’s like jumping off a cliff and praying for wings on the way down.

And there are some god-awful self-published books out there – mis-spellings, no paragraphs, and truly terrible writing. Because there is no “gate-keeper“, anything can (and sometimes is) thrown out there on Amazon. And smart readers might shy away from indie books after being burned a time or two, so a good writer has to win them over.

But on the plus side of becoming an “Indie” writer – – – you make more pure profit on each book sold; there are multiple outlets for Print-On-Demand books for fans (and writers!) who like holding paper books in their hands; and there are many, many, many NYT and USA Today best-sellers these days that are self-published. It’s no longer a niche. It’s an accepted path, and even large publishing houses now offer e-publishing only collections.

So when I say things here like “to be published in 2016”, I mean it. One way or the other – traditional or indie, I will be published in 2016. If I can’t crack into the traditional market, then I will push myself out of my comfort zone and head into the brave new world of self-publishing.

And I’ll be expecting you all to buy a copy! 🙂

Excerpts

Excerpt: She’s Far From Hollywood

Coffee DeskAn excerpt from She’s Far From Hollywood. This is my second book, to be published in February 2017. This excerpt is subject to minor changes before publication. As always, this is make-believe – any resemblance to actual people/places/etc. is unintentional and coincidental. It’s fiction, folks!

 

     “Would you like another glass of wine?”
      Bree stared at her empty glass, still burning over Cole’s judgment of her.
     “Gee, Ty, I wouldn’t want to offend your brother’s sensibilities by ordering more wine. Maybe I should try what he’s having.”
      Cole let out a sharp, humorless laugh. “You’d hurt yourself, honey.”
      Oh, no he didn’t. “Let’s make one thing clear. I am not your honey.” She impulsively reached for Cole’s glass. His hand shot out so quickly she didn’t see it move until he grabbed her wrist tightly. His fingers were as hard as his eyes, and she gasped at the feel of his calloused skin on hers.
      Ty’s voice dropped to a growl. “Cole, I’ll throw your ass out the door myself if you don’t let her go and knock it off. What the hell is wrong with you today?”
      Cole pierced her with his eyes, and he didn’t let go. His voice was low and rough.
      “Don’t start something you can’t finish… honey.”
      They glared at each other, then he released her hand and pushed it away, causing some of the golden liquor to slosh over the rim of the glass onto her fingers. She kept her eyes locked on his as she lifted the glass to her lips and emptied it. His eyebrows raised just enough that she knew he was surprised, even if his expression remained carved in stone. Both men probably expected her to have a coughing fit or some other girlish reaction, but they were going to be disappointed. Thanks to her father, she was no stranger to hard liquor, including whiskey. She welcomed the burn as the strong drink warmed its way to her stomach. After setting the glass on the counter, she slowly licked the spilled whiskey from the tips of her fingers. Cole’s nostrils flared just a bit at that move.
      “Not bad.” She shrugged, settling back down onto the barstool. Ty’s eyes were bright with laughter, and he was staring at her in awe. He nodded toward Cole.
      “Brother of mine, I do believe you’ve finally met your match.”

Excerpts

Excerpt: Halcyon

Check out my new page – My Titles! My plan for the website is to provide a personal post once per week, plus an excerpt from one of my romance novels and/or a commentary on other authors’ books I’m reading.

When reading excerpts (or any work of my or anyone else’s fiction), please remember that it’s make-believe. The characters and stories are fictional. Any resemblance to real people, stories, places are strictly coincidental and unintentional. These are excerpts from unpublished works, so the copy may or may not change slightly before publication.

EXCERPT FROM HALCYON (see Titles page):

I don’t need a twelve bedroom castle, Miss Lowery.”

“It’s been a home before, and it could be again.” She was like a dog with a bone.

“Yes,” he said with a heavy sigh, “it was a home. And yes, the stories are full of romance and tragedy, but…”

“Stories? Tell me!” Amanda was leaning forward now, eager to hear. A smile teased her lips. Very rarely had she given him a genuine smile this week, and the effect of it caused him to stutter.

“T-Tell you what?”

“Tell me the story of Halcyon.”

He shook his head. “There are plenty of people around who know the history of this pile of rocks better than I do. I just wanted the land, not the legend.”

“There’s a legend? Now you have to tell me!” Her blue eyes were sparkling, and she laughed out loud. It was his heart that stuttered this time.

Blake racked his brain for the history of Halcyon. He’d been disgusted with the whole stupid story right up until the moment Amanda Lowery fell in love with it.

The Writing Process

Getting My Mojo Back…

If you read last week’s post, you know that I’d hit a rather epic wall of “writer’s block.” The characters of my last book flatly refused to leave my brain to allow the characters of my current book room to take up residence. After writing that post, I forced myself to get a first chapter on paper (well, on screen, in Word, whatever). It wasn’t easy. It’s a very rough draft of a chapter, and it has all the clumsiness and hurriedness of a draft, but it’s a first chapter completed. And it has set the mood for the book and the characters.

As the chapter began to percolate in my brain, I started to get that old feeling back. It’s the opposite of writer’s block, but it doesn’t have an official name that I know of. I suppose it’s just called “writing” as opposed to “not writing”, but it’s more than that. It’s an energy that starts building inside a writer and it starts to burn like fire. I call it my writing mojo.

Suddenly scenes are playing out like a movie in my head (I’m totally a visual writer – I see my scenes before and as I write them). It can happen at inconvenient times, like while I’m driving, or at work (I spent several lunch breaks this week sending emails to myself of totally awesome scenes that refused to wait). The new characters have not only taken up residence in my head, they’ve now taken it over. And that zip of energy they bring with them is exciting. I’ve visualized that scene that has to happen in every romance, where Melanie and Shane first feel the spark of potential between them. It’s funny and sexy and emotional and charming. I’m a little in love with it, and with them.

And just like that, writer’s block is a think of the past! I’m now typing words so quickly that my fingers can’t keep up with my brain. The story is just spewing out of me and onto the pages like a monster I can’t control. And it makes me smile. There will be a book after all, and while there are certainly points over the coming weeks and months where I’ll hit the brakes again and fight with scenes and argue with my characters about what they should and shouldn’t be doing, I know there’s a romance novel here – and it’s a story that’s worth telling.

Welcome back, mojo!