Writing Goals

Monica Jackson has a post up on her blog about writing 10k words a day. That’s a pretty ambitious goal. I rarely get more than 2k-3k per day and that’s when my husband is home and able to watch the kids. I try to write at night when everyone else is in bed. Typically from 10-2. Then I’m back up at 6:30 to get my eldest ready for school.

I’ve noticed some authors are able to put out a half dozen or more books a year and I do wonder how they do it. I assume those writers have a substantial backlog. At least I hope so, because if they don’t then I really do feel inadequate.

Except for one story I’ve pretty much sold all the fiction I’ve ever written. I don’t have any stories under the bed, though I really wish I did. I’ve decided to make 2012 my Last Stand. Either I’ll make it this year or it’s not going to happen. To that end I have a pretty ambitious schedule. I’m covering all bases–self-publishing, subs to traditional publishers, namely Kimani, and continuing with e-pubs as well. So in the spirit of writing it down and making it happen here’s my schedule for 2012:

Y’all already know about Dark Star, which I’m self-publishing is slated for around Valentine’s Day. I plan another Rock Star sequel, Superstar, which is the story of Thad and the burned-out pop star, Sioux Duprée.

I’m also starting Book 1 of the Jump Off Chronicles, Hot for Teacher. This is the only story I’ve never sold, primarily because I never finished it. The Jump Off Chronicles is actually Lisa’s idea and with any luck (and lots of nagging) I hope to make it a series. Further down the pike, I’ve got a Pussycat sequel, Pussycat on Guard which is a Russian billionaire and his supermodel bodyguard. I’m hoping Loose Id will buy it, which they might not since the first didn’t sell well. I really love this concept though and who knows what might happen?

Right at this moment I’m working on Diamonds on the River which I plan to submit to Kimani. I’ve never had an idea that I thought was right for them, but this one seems to work. Diamonds is about a successful stockbroker who has to go to an ex to rescue her wayward brother from the clutches of the SEC (The Securities and Exchange Commission, not the football conference, though that would make an interesting story too.)

And believe it or not, that’s not all that’s on the agenda, but it’s all I can talk about at the moment or Lisa will hurt my feelings. I hope I can up my daily word count or I’m going to be exhausted to say the least.

Putting Dark Star to Bed

I finished Dark Star this morning. Now the real work begins. I sent it over to Lisa, this isn’t for editing, I just want feedback on the general feel of the book. To see if the plot works and if there are any gaping holes. If there are she’ll send it back and I’ll fix it. Then she’ll get it again for editing. There will be much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth and we’ll eventually have a book. Then it’ll go to my beta readers and after taking their feedback into account I’ll edit it again. With any luck we’ll be done in time for a Valentine’s Day release.

Defining “Asian” for Romance Hero Purposes

I’ve had lots of requests for an Asian hero and I’ve been kicking some ideas around mainly because of my unrequited lust for Troy Polamalu. When I mentioned this to my friend Lisa (who, btw has a smoking hot story featuring an Indian man After the Morning After) she laughed and said Samoans and Indians aren’t Asian. Of course, even though I’m geographically challenged I know that they are, but I do see her point. I suspect that for many people “Asian” is limited to Chinese, Japanese and Koreans.

So, how about it ladies? For the purpose of romance heroes what exactly is “Asian”? (And be careful here because if I can’t write a Troy story to resolve my “issues” I might have to actually have to start stalking him again, and that restraining order doesn’t expire until Valentine’s Day. And the judge might sic that perv Ben Roethslisberger on me again. Ew!)

Scene from Dark Star

I was editing last night and came across this scene. I like it a lot. What do y’all think?

Nate exhaled heavily as he pulled up a ladder back chair from the desk on the other side of the room. After sitting down he succinctly recited the events that had occurred over the past few hours. Tonya closed her eyes as the memories flooded back. Despite the death threats and mind-numbing fear, the shock of seeing Nate had somehow had more impact than the threat of being kidnapped by some international badass who wanted to kill her.

“Are you sure about all this? It just seems like it has to be some big misunderstanding. Or maybe it’s some crazy trick you’re playing on me,” she said grasping at anything to make sense of the bizarre circumstances.

“Do you really think I would make up something like that, Onion? I mean seriously. I know you’re pissed at me, and you have good reason to be, but I’d have to be one sick bastard to do something like that,” he said.

“Stop calling me that,” she snapped. The nickname brought back too many sweet memories.

“Why? Your ass is still so gorgeous it makes me want to cry.”

Vintage Nate, part courtier, part swamp rat. “Personally I wouldn’t believe you if you had your tongue notarized.”

“I might lie about some things, okay, a lot of things, but I’d never lie about your ass. Some things are sacred.”

“I’m not talking about my ass, I’m talking about this nutty situation you’ve dragged me into,” she said.

“I admit to being dishonest with you in the past. But you have to believe I wouldn’t risk your life for any reason,” he said.

Tonya sucked her teeth then took the water bottle up to finish it. The situation was totally Looney Tunes, but for some reason she did believe him. More fool her. “Can we start with simple questions? Where am I and what do you plan to do with me?”

Flashbacks

I realized the other day that Dark Star is the first book I’ve written with flashbacks, and I’m really not sure why. Certainly reunited lovers is one of my favorite themes, but I’ve never done flashbacks before. Looking back, I think that was a problem with Try a Little Tenderness. I wrote it as essentially a two-part story because I didn’t want to tell the whole story of them meeting in flashback. That style worked for some, but didn’t work for others. I think it might have impacted the pacing.

Now with Dark Star I’m wondering if the flashbacks might be hurting the pacing as well. I don’t think the story works as well without them and there are only two, but I’m not really sure. How do y’all feel about flashbacks? Do you prefer them italicized or in regular font? Do you like them, tolerate them, or loathe them with a deadly passion? Let me know what you think.

Throwaway Characters

I like creating characters. I was a lonely child and had lots of imaginary playmates. Now as a writer I get to put all those fun people down on paper. The thing that’s most interesting to me though, is the way those secondary characters tend to capture the imagination of my readers. I put in a lot of work on my primary characters. They typically have long a long backstory much of which doesn’t make it into the book. My secondary characters are typically created on the fly. Take Nate Randolph, the hero of my current WIP Dark Star. Nate was part of Tonya’s backstory, her long-lost love who takes off for the Peace Corps and is never heard from again. So when I was writing Rock Star I knew someday I’d do this story reuniting her with this secret agent man. The interesting thing is the way he popped up in Try a Little Tenderness. In that story once I’d stranded Koss and Lola on Ile de Lina, I needed a way to get them out again. As initially written Koss was going to do a rescue type thing and save Lola, but really that made no sense. Koss is one sexy geek, but he’s no commando, it seemed crazy to have him going up against professional mercenaries alone. So, I went through my catalogue of characters for a fighting man, it worked perfectly to have Nate show up and help them out. Also, Nate was talking to me incessantly the whole time I was writing Try a Little Tenderness. It was deucedly hard to finish that book because he simply wouldn’t SHUT UP! I had to put him in the book or lose my freaking mind. It wasn’t a big part, but boy did it have impact. I’ve had more emails about Nate than any other character I’ve created besides Tonya. And once I revealed that he was Tonya’s long-lost love the interest went stratospheric.

Another more recent character is Jacinto from Buttercream. He doesn’t even appear in the book, yet something about the adopted Vietnamese man with the Latino name who lives in a yurt in Kansas making goat cheese struck a chord with people. I do plan to do a whole series of novellas about this quirky little family which is near and dear to my heart, but this interest in both him, and Poppy’s sister, Daffodil caught me by surprise. I love off-beat characters and I think I’ll have a lot of fun with these ersatz hippies.

For the writers who read this blog, how about you, do you have secondary characters that have taken on a life of their own? Forcing you to write their story NOW! Readers, how do you feel about secondary characters, how much is too much? Do you enjoy having them, or are they a distraction?

Who Wants to Be a Beta Reader

Dark Star will soon be at the point where I need new eyes to look it over. Looking for a few good beta readers. This doesn’t mean you have to edit the book, but you do need to be able to provide good feedback. Let me know what works and doesn’t work for you and in a timely fashion. So, if you’d like to be one of the first to get a gander at the manuscript, post in this thread. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Wrapping Up Dark Star

I’ve only got a few more scenes to add and Dark Star will be finished. Then I’ll let it sit for a minute while I work on something else. I like to do that when I have time, letting a book marinate brings out all kinds of new ideas. This is especially true if I work on something else in the interim. Like right now I’m working on Dark Star, my next book, Diamonds on the River is driving me insane. When I come back to Dark Star I’ll be able to see all those typos and grammatical errors as well. For some reason, editing yourself is darned near impossible. Lisa will be editing this one for me, and she’s absolutely brutal, so I have to write clean or she’ll hurt my feelings.

I’m going to try my hand at self-publishing with Dark Star. A lot of my friends have encouraged it and I’d like to see how it turns out. I had wanted to get it out by Christmas as a gift to my fans, but I don’t know if that will be feasible. Maybe it’ll make a lovely Valentine’s Day present instead. Whit is designing an absolutely gorgeous cover that I can’t wait to share with y’all.