“It’s not Valentine’s yet,” you reply.
“Yes, but tomorrow I’m headed away for a romantic weekend so I’m posting for V-Day now,” I say.
Who doesn’t like early presents?
This is not widely known but the first book I published was called Brave in Heart, a historical romance set during the American Civil War. Basically no one read it. And I can’t blame you all because beyond the setting, it’s very first-book-y. But had anyone read it, I intended for it to be the first book in a series. I had, in fact, started a sequel, which I never named, except then I started writing the book that became Special Interests and that project consumed me.
However, when I started to think about what kind of Valentine’s Day extra I could publish, I started to think about the words I’d written for the Brave in Heart sequel. Most of them aren’t great…except for these.
So if you read this, know that I don’t like the chapters I wrote after this one. And between my dissatisfaction with the rest of those chapters and a marketplace that’s not terribly interested in mid-nineteenth century American historical, I probably won’t ever finish this. But as long as we’re on the same page, this is your Valentine’s present from me: a meet-cute and a one very sexy, Creole, not-quite gentleman named August Wainwright.
I’m still writing, I swear. Slowly. One inch at a time. I have a plan for Matilda and August’s novel (Dauntless Love #2), including a solid first chapter. And I’m revising Brave at Heart and at some point, I’m going to take a swing at finishing The Easy Part.
But for whatever reason, writing’s gotten hard. I know that I need to get the momentum back and that once I’m going, the process will carry me. The damn ball won’t budge though. As Dr. Seuss tells us, “unslumping yourself is not easily done.” No kidding.
So I’m reading and I’m whining and I’m stalling and I’m waiting for the muse to come around again.
How do you get back in the rhythm of writing every day when you’ve fallen out of step?
The other day, I had a conversation with a potential critique partner. She asked, “What kind of books do you want to write?”
I’m embarrassed to admit, I was a little stumped. What I eventually said is that I want to write historical romances that show as much interest and enthusiasm in American history as the best European (read: British) historicals do and that I want to write sexy, youthful contemporaries that capture what I feel like is missing in the market today (e.g., romance between smart, ambitious professionals, etc.). The manuscripts I’ve completed so far are all pretty serious. I’d also like to lighten things up a bit and have a little more fun, while remaining true to myself and my voice.
In the next year, I’d like to finish The Easy Part and revise it. I want to finish the revisions of Brave in Heart and Together is Enough. I want to write a full-length book for the Dauntless Love series plus one other manuscript (either the next book in that series or a sequel to The Easy Part). I want to win NaNoWriMo, either with one of those manuscripts or maybe with a third project. I want to send out query letters for Brave in Heart and The Easy Part. I want to get ready to enter a manuscript in the 2014 Golden Heart. If I haven’t been able to find an agent or a publisher or to final in Golden Heart, I want to prepare to self-publish in mid to late 2014.
Most of all, I want to improve my craft. I’m a better writer now than I was 12 months ago. I want to be a better writer still 12 months from now. This means writing every day, focusing on showing versus telling, keeping my dialogue realistic and light, and becoming a better planner.
What are your 2013 writing goals?
I’m at 16,689 words for NaNoWriMo. I’m about 5,000 words behind, though I haven’t done any writing today. With some consistency and luck, I might be able to win. At the very least, I’m making good progress on The Easy Part, which now has 40,035 words and should be done by the end of the year.
Really, though, this post mostly serves as a reminder to check your characters’ names against those not just of the other characters in the book you’re writing but those in your other WIPs. The heroine in the recently finished Brave in Heart? Margaret. The heroine in The Easy Part? Millie (short for Amelia). The heroine in Brave in Heart’s sequel, which I’m plotting in my head? Matilda.
Why am I so fixated on the letter M?
I can’t change any of these names. I’m far enough along in the characterization that it would be weird. Margaret is Margaret. Millie is Millie. Matilda is Matilda. But I think it’s safe to say that I’m done with M-named heroines for a while.
The number of images I was downloading to track my inspiration for various works in progress was getting overwhelming, so I jointed Pinterest. You can see my boards here. Currently, there’s one for each of the (someday soon to be) four novels in the Dauntless Love series.
For whatever reason, I don’t tend to use inspirational images for my contemporary writing, but I find them very helpful for the historicals.
The first draft of Brave in Heart is complete. Here is a teensy-weensy teaser of the conclusion. Aren’t “the end” the most beautiful words in the English language?
Brave in Heart has been entered in the Novellas Need Love Too contests. Because, yes, I have a a contest entering problem. But also, I crave feedback deep in my soul.
I’d like to finish The Easy Part during NaNoWriMo — and yes, I know it’s not technically within the rules to to finish something you’ve already started, but oh well — and then start the second book in the Dauntless Love series in December.
Writing life is good.