The Writing Life

Nature’s Glory (and a distraction from writing…)

HydrangeasA few weeks ago, I loosely connected the editing process to the emergence of the beautiful oak tree discovered hiding in the ugly shrubs in our backyard. Maybe the analogy was a stretch, but it worked for me.

I could tie a dozen other analogies to nature, I’m sure (anything to keep me from dealing with actually writing my books!). But sometimes nature needs to be appreciated simply for what it is, without making it into a story.

So, while I give my energies to my writing this week (have I mentioned that I’m writing TWO books at once?), let me just share some of the beauty from my garden with you. Next week you’ll get a sneak peek at what I’m working on, I promise.

I planted these hydrangeas two years ago, and last year didn’t have a single blossom. Not one! It was disappointing, but hardly a surprise, since I am “She-Who-Kills-Plants“. I figured the spot I selected to plant them was too shady or too dry or too something, and I had no idea what to expect this year.

Well, let me tell you – the hydrangeas have outdone themselves! The pastel shades are incredible, and watching them blossom has been so much fun for me. I want a whole house and wardrobe of just these colors. Wouldn’t you?

(click to start a slideshow)

The Writing Life

Getting Started on Cover Art!

Happy couple face to face

Things are getting real, folks! We’re taking the first steps toward creating a cover for my first book. My debut contemporary romance novel has now been firmly scheduled for publication by Harlequin Superromance in February 2017. Just in time for Valentine’s Day – yay!!

And what is the first step? Well….Harlequin sends a form to authors to complete that is loaded with detailed questions about the characters, setting, story, themes, etc. And when I say “detailed,” I mean DETAILED! Hair color alone has about thirty options. Along with eye color, hair style, clothing, and on and on. It’s really putting my brain cells to work!

My answers are important, because those answers are what the artists will use to create the cover art. Isn’t it frustrating when the people on the cover of a book don’t look anything at all like how they’re described inside the book? That’s why I really want to get this right. The couple in the photo above? I like them, and paid to use the image for quotes, etc. until we have an official cover, but they’re not quite right. Especially the guy – he’s way too neat and polished for Cole (who wouldn’t wear a white business shirt ever).

Fortunately, I already have an overflowing Pinterest folder for Hide-Away , so I can share those photos with Harlequin (and with you). Some of the images are just for fun, some might be just for clothing or mood shots, but they’re all part of the process of creating a setting and characters that feel real.

Some writers “cast” their books with real-world performers. They picture Chris Evans as their hero, and that’s that. I tend to have “types” rather than specific real-life people. In my mind, my characters are unique individuals, not clones of someone else. That makes my descriptions even more important, as I want the reader to visualize the same person I’m seeing – or at least as close to it as possible.

So when I say Cole is a “Scott Eastwood type” I’m not picturing Scott exactly. I’m picturing Cole, who looks similar to Scott, but also a lot like this guy . Does that make any sense? Yeah, I know – writers are weird.

And Bree? She looks a lot like Sarah Rafferty. Not exactly, but pretty darned close. And the setting? Well, the setting is a small town North Carolina farm. And one of my favorite scenes happens on a tractor. But there’s also a hot (in every way you can imagine!) scene that takes place in the hayloft.

Hmmmm – I wonder which scene they’ll use? Stay tuned – we should find out in the next few months……..

IMPORTANT NEWS! Welcome, welcome, welcome to all my new followers from the wonderful Facebook party last week: Romance Writers Gone Wild! I’m so glad you’re all here, and I hope you’ll hang around as I get ready to have my first contemporary romance published. And CONGRATULATIONS to the winner of the random drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card: Tracy Fowler! Thanks so much for the follows, everyone.

The Writing Life, The Writing Process

Editing: Finding the Hidden Oak Tree…

When we bought our house almost six years ago, there was an odd little holly bush/tree thing planted right smack in the middle of the backyard. It was a weird location, but it wasn’t hurting anything, so we pretty much ignored it. Despite Himself’s attempts to keep it trimmed, it kind of got away from us, and gradually became unruly and not very attractive.

Tree Before

I made a passing comment to Himself a month or so ago that it was getting downright ugly, but that in the middle of that clump of trunks and spiky greenery, there was actually an oak tree growing tall right through it. It was as if the ugly shrub had protected that oak, and now it was flourishing.

You can imagine my surprise on Mother’s Day when Himself dragged me away from my desk (I was on a deadline!!!) and showed me his gift to me. He had cut away all the ugly stuff and left the beautiful oak tree standing alone. It was as if he gifted me a brand new twelve-foot oak tree, and I loved it (and him)!

Tree After

Every time I look into our yard now, I think of how that beautiful tree was buried in the chaotic mess of holly and vines. It’s a lesson for several things in life, including editing. As writers, we tend to go big and messy on our first drafts. In fact, we’re supposed to! We throw everything in there, including the kitchen sink. We may fall in love with scenes and sentences, but those treasures are often being choked and hidden by all the other “stuff” we’ve filled our pages with in that first draft.

When we head back in for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or whatever drafts, that’s when we start hacking away at all the messy chaos in an attempt to find the hidden treasure of a story that works. And if we’re determined enough, and willing to chop away a few of our darlings in the process (favorite scenes that just don’t work for that particular story), sometimes we end up discovering a strong, nurtured, beautiful oak tree growing right there in front of us that we never saw before.

So, fellow writers, don’t be afraid to take the hedge clippers (or maybe even an ax!) to your first draft – just be careful not to chop down the buried treasure in the process.

And for everyone else – – – what part of your life might need a little pruning to let the treasure shine through?

The Writing Process

Falling in Love With Your Words

Halcyon Faded Stupid Story        For a writer, there really is nothing quite like the feeling of falling in love….with the book you’re writing. That moment when it moves from being a good concept to a good book is pure magic. All of a sudden the characters are behaving themselves and are doing and saying the things they should be. And not doing the things they shouldn’t be.
        In this case, I’m falling back in love with a book (Halcyon) that needed a heavy revision, including a brand new beginning. The new beginning was a challenge for me, but when editor and agent BOTH say a change is necessary, a smart writer gets busy rewriting the beginning. Knitting that new beginning into the existing story was hard, hard work. I flailed and floundered until I finally (just last week!) found the authentic voices for Blake and Amanda again.
        Let’s be realistic – Blake would never answer the door in Chapter 4 and smile at Amanda. That’s ridiculous. He’s guarding his heart and fighting his attraction to this woman, and he wants to discuss a business proposition with her. Smiling, or any other warm/fuzzy reaction, would be all wrong.
        Revised scene: he’s in the midst of an angry phone conversation with his father (yeah, they’re not close…at all) when he opens the door to Amanda after summoning her to Halcyon. She gets to hear him all snarly on the phone, with barely a hint of warmth, even after he ends the call and tells her they need to talk. Yup. That’s just the tension level they need.
        And Amanda wouldn’t be all chummy and jokey with the construction workers, even if it is in a toss-away scene. She’s a traumatized woman, for crying out loud! She needs to maintain a distance from them. Otherwise, it’s just confusing.
        Multiply those two minor changes by a few hundred, and the entire tone of the book changes. It’s genuine. The characters become compelling, and the reader actually cares about what happens to them. The story moves forward with the proper amount of tension, because the characters are doing things that are believable for them.
        Once I have characters properly formed, I can see their motivations and habits and defense mechanisms. I see their hearts. Not only do I know how they’d react in any situation; I also know why they’d react that way. And the reader can see it, even when the characters can’t.
        So ‘all I have to do now’ (that was sarcasm, by the way) is finish going through the manuscript paragraph by paragraph, and ask myself over and over and over: is this really what should/would happen? It’s a piece of cake (more sarcasm).
        Now that I have a full understanding of the characters with this new beginning, it’s a lot more fun. Take the first example mentioned above, a scene that has been written and edited for several weeks. All of a sudden I can see it playing out as if it was on film. When I’m immersed in the book that deep, it’s easy to say “Whoa – why the hell is he smiling?” Once that quick correction was made, the rest of the scene was easy to revise, and it ended up being SOOOO much better. Yeah, it’s still work. But instead of beating my head on my desk and spinning my wheels, I’m making forward progress.
         And I’m falling back in love with my favorite book and characters. YAY!
        Why should you care? Well, when an author loves the story, it’s a lot more likely the reader will love it, too. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to do just that later this year.
        Stay tuned!
The Writing Life

The Care and Feeding of a Romance Writer: Family

PillowA writer’s family puts up with a lot. They’re in the trenches with us through every up and down. They’re the ultimate cheerleaders, and you know they want nothing more than your success. And that’s exactly what a writer needs from family. I need my mom calling me in tears of joy after she hears about my book contract. I need a sister-in-law that has no problem sitting on the balcony of our shared beachfront vacation rental reading a book while I tap away on my laptop, writing one. That same sister-in-love (who really hates romance novels, but devours mysteries by the dozen) confessed to shedding tears when she got to the ending of Halcyon, and I knew she wasn’t just puffing me up. She meant it. And that meant a lot to me. Her husband, my brother, is pretty cool about the whole adventure, which is perfect. It’s as if he’s not even surprised that I achieved my goal. That kind of faith is precious. And then, of course, there’s my dearest husband, Himself (it’s an Irish thing).

Just yesterday morning, Himself looked at me over the breakfast table and asked a loaded question.

“Do you want to go to the golf club tomorrow and watch football? They’re serving beer and wings. Or would you rather stay home and write?”

My heart tightened just a little bit. Mind you, Himself and I are huge New England Patriots fans, and the reigning Super Bowl champions are once again playing for the AFC championship. But I’m a writer on a deadline. And I also love Himself very much. So I fell back on the typical married-for-twenty-years cop-out.

“What do you want to do?”

His steely-eyed stare told me he wasn’t falling for that trap. Which forced me to be honest. I wanted to write. While watching the game. At home. With him. And bless his heart, he shrugged and said it was fine.

That’s the kind of spouse a writer needs. One who may not always understand the writing process (and indeed, is often baffled by it), but who is able to put up with my idiosyncrasies with large doses of love and patience. Himself lets me write like a madwoman when the mojo is with me, and even brings sandwiches and the occasional glass of wine to my desk to keep me alive.

He hardly batted an eye when I had an epiphany about the ending of Halcyon months ago while on the treadmill at Golds Gym and interrupted his own workout to insist he drive me home immediately so I could get it down on paper before I “lost it.” That’s love.

And he doesn’t hesitate to let me know when I become too obsessed with the writing, to the point of ignoring piles of laundry and dog hair covering every surface. A writer needs someone to remind them of real life once in a while, because balance is critical. It’s really good if your husband is one of those balancing people.

I know it can’t be easy being married to a writer. We can be just a little…umm…moody. Some days we think we’re Charlotte Bronte, and we’re on top of the world, full of smiles and confidence. The next day we’re snippy and snarly because we’re obviously nothing more than a talentless hack.

And we never, ever stop writing. Ever. Even if it looks like we’re doing something else, we’re writing. We’re the ultimate multi-taskers. Himself is snorting reading this, I’m sure, but it’s true.

Even if we seem like we’re totally present, a writer can be somewhere far, far away mentally. In fact, we usually are. Walking the dog? No, I’m really thinking about whether Amanda should confront Blake’s family or not. Washing dishes? Shhh – I’m deciding whether or not to keep the tractor scene in Hide-Away. Staring at the television? I’m actually deciding if it’s more authentic for Bree to burst into tears or slap Cole right across the face during their Black Moment. Driving on the highway? I’m mentally spinning through options for the stalker scene and how best to resolve it. When a writer is in The Zone, it’s like being in a bubble. The Cone of Silence descends on our brain. That’s why we tend to say “Huh? What?” a LOT after someone speaks to us. It can be tough on the ego of a spouse, but Himself handles it really well.

He cheered with me the first time an agent requested more pages from a query. He dealt with my tears after yet another rejection letter. He hated it, but he handled it and encouraged me to get up and move forward. When I said I “needed” to spend thousands to attend an RWA convention in New York City, he sent me off with his blessing. He has been my champion every step of the way, and no one was happier than he was the day I got the call from Harlequin.

I can’t spend my entire life at the computer, and he’s my balance-master – he pulls me away when I need it, or when he needs it. And he gently nudges me back to it when I’m procrastinating (“shouldn’t you be in your office writing instead of sitting there on your ass?”).

I’m sure my being a writer bruises him once in a while. Like the Friday he told me he was not golfing the next day, and I looked at him and said “But, why?” He answered “Because I want to spend time with you.” And I said again “But, why?” You see, Saturday morning when he’s golfing and the house is quiet is my best writing time. And he knows that. He also knows we need to get away and have together-time once in a while. And I love him all the more for making sure that happens.

And for all those who wonder about a romance writer’s inspiration…. Yes, Himself is the laughing, mercurial, blue-eyed alpha-man hero in my own happily ever after.

Profile 2015

 

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: 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!