Lucky you! You’re getting two blog posts today since I’m part of a blog hop.
This one has been called by a few different names, including My Writing Process and the Faberge Blog Hop. I prefer to think about it as an opportunity to tell you about my latest Work in Progress (WIP). This is the contemporary story I’ve been hinting around about for a while now. Since it’s nearly ready to go to beta readers and then my agent, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give you a little tease about it.
1) What are you working on?
I am finishing edits on my first contemporary story. I don’t know exactly what to call it in terms of book genre, so I refer to it as a romantic comedy. The closest comparison I can draw is Bridget Jones’ Diary. This is my first attempt at summarizing the story, so it’s not nearly as polished as a query or back-cover copy would be:
Annabeth Coe is a hopeless romantic who is still waiting for her soul mate to appear. When, on her 34th birthday, she meets a handsome professor named Alex, she thinks she may have finally met “the one.” But when he fails to ask her out, she determines she will do whatever it takes in the next year to find the guy she knows is out there somewhere. Hilarity ensues as Annabeth navigates the world of online dating, Meetup groups and being set up by well-meaning friends and family in her quest to find love.
When she’s finally happily dating an artist named Victor, fate throws her a curve ball by thrusting her and Alex together in a working relationship, where they get to know one another without being able to pursue one another. Then, just when Alex is in reach, a blast from Annabeth’s past shows up to stir up trouble, in the form of her ex-boyfriend, Nick, who broke her heart and ruined her ability to trust years before. While she’s dealing with the unresolved emotions his reappearance has brought to the surface, Alex is offered the opportunity of a lifetime to teach at Oxford, where he becomes embroiled in a scandal that threatens their relationship. Can Annabeth move beyond past hurts to trust Alex in his time of need? Is their love strong enough to survive what is either Alex’s greatest mistake or a pack of well-planned lies? Or will Nick’s meddling be enough for Annabeth to give up on love completely?
This summary doesn’t do the story justice – it’s even missing my favorite character, Mia – but it’s all I’ve got for now.
2) How does this story differ from others of its genre?
This is a tough question to answer because I don’t know exactly how this book will be classified. It’s not a traditional romance for a few reasons:
- While it’s clear the characters are having sex, there are no explicit love scenes. I did this on purpose because I didn’t want the sex to be the focus of the book. Rather, I wanted the characters’ story to be what keeps you reading.
- It’s written in first person. This is Annabeth’s story, so I wanted you in her head, experiencing things as she does. Traditional romance is written in third person, telling both sides of the story.
- While Annabeth’s quest for love and her relationship with Alex is certainly the focal point of the story, it also makes a strong statement about the value of education, specifically how important reading and writing are for young people. I never intended my book to have a “theme,” but it naturally occurred as a result of Alex’s passion for his students and a project he and Annabeth work on.
- Annabeth is older than the traditional romantic heroine. I made her my own age because I wanted to write a book for women like me who are older than the norm for those never married. I wanted a book that those of us who are still waiting for someone worth our time can relate to. I may end up having to make her younger to appease the market, but I’m hoping not.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I never thought I’d write something like this. I’m not normally a romance fan. But as I said above, this isn’t what most people think of as romance. I wrote this story because I had to. The plot came to me and would not be denied. I wrote the whole book in two months, which is only a fraction of the time it normally takes me to write my historical fiction books.
This book had it’s genesis when my best friend, Courtney, introduced me to the song “To Whom it May Concern” by The Civil Wars. I fell in love with it immediately because it’s basically a love letter to a soul mate you know is out there but have never met. I loved The Civil Wars’ music, so I listened to another album and found the song “Dust to Dust,” which was to me, a bookend to “To Whom it May Concern.” “Dust to Dust” is about two people realizing they’ve finally found one another after a long period of being lonely and trying to convince each other to let their guards down and finally love. I told Courtney that someday I was going to write a book that started with the words “To Whom it May Concern” and ends with the words “Dust to Dust.”
A few days later I was watching the British TV show Inspector Lewis and I saw actress Nadine Lewington. As soon as I saw her, I knew she’d be a character in one of my books someday. The next morning, Annabeth was in my head, and it was Nadine. Two weeks later I had a full plot. Two months later, the book was done, complete with the opening and closing lines I wanted. That’s not normally how it works for me.
4) How does my writing process work?
I pretty much chronicled the process for this book in my last answer, but I will say this: normally the whole thing takes a lot longer. But no matter if it’s contemporary or historical, every book starts with the characters. I usually know who they are and what they want before I even have a plot. When I write historical fiction, I go on from there with research into the time period/myth I’m writing. That usually helps me fill in the plot details. Then I outline and start writing, knowing full well that the characters will mess up my outline at least once during the first draft.
When I draft, I mostly write on weekends since my day job is also writing and there’s only so much my brain will do in a day. I don’t have any rituals or anything specific that I do every time. I just plop down on the couch and write. Sometimes when I need motivation, I will look at Twitter to see what the successful authors I follow have to say. Sometimes they spur me into action. Or I also watch things with the actors who play the characters in my head to get a feel for how they might move or sound. Since I’ve been to Hedgebrook, I also light incense that smells like the wood burning stoves in cabins to take me back to a time of peace and creativity. In the end, it’s the characters who write the book; I’m just their scribe.
Once I have a first draft, I set it aside for a month to get some distance and clarity. Then I go back and do a first pass, catching typos and noting major problems. I fix those and then read it again, making more changes. Then it’s time for the beat sheet, which is my last round of edits before anyone else sees it. Then my two alpha readers (one writer and one average reader) read it and I make their edits. Then a group of beta readers see it (again, a good mix of readers and writers, plus one amazing proofreader). After a few more edits, it’s off to my agent and we do some additional editing. Then it’s ready for submission.
I was tagged for this blog hop by Elise Forier Edie. Make sure to go and check out her answers about her latest book. She’s a playwright and author based in Los Angeles. This month she is looking forward to the release of her paranormal romance novella “The Devil in Midwinter” by World Weaver Press and the opening of her one woman show “The Pink Unicorn” at Stage Left Studio in New York City. You can learn more about Elise’s work and writing at these links:
And next week, look for these authors to answer the same questions about their WIP on their blogs:
Shauna Granger (she writes paranormal, post-apocalyptic and erotica), Jamie Krakover (she writes YA) and Courtney Marquez (she writes historical fiction – she’s a maybe for the hop).
What do you think about this book? Does it sound like something you’d want to read? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.