Yeah, I promised weekly blog sessions and managed to keep it up for two months, and then the book from hell hit, and I am still scrambling out of my deep cellar hole and blinking at the light, surprised that people actually LIVE out there.
In the real world.
Anyhoo, I wanted to first say I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I think the holiday saved me from the insane asylum. I was forced to put on real clothes and eat real food and talk with real people. I even shopped. And saw two movies. And had fun.
Now, I’m catching up with all the people who probably vowed to never talk to me again, because I never answered their messages, emails, twitters, phone calls, or however else they tried to contact me.
I figured it would be nice for me to share something useful with everyone now that I’m back out.
To my beloved readers – please don’t miss out on my newest holiday novella, The Grinch of Starlight Bend – part of the Holiday Heat Collection. It’s a Beauty and the Beast inspired story and I’m overwhelmed with how many people have loved it. Give it a try for only .99 – plus you get 4 other author stories which are really good so it’s a win/win.
(Just hit the home button and BUY!)
To all the beloved authors, either aspiring or prolific, I’d like to talk about what to do when a book kicks your ass.
Besides trying to stay sane.
I’ve been writing my whole life, and this career still manages to delight, surprise, and shock me all the time. You see, the last three books I delivered to my editor were almost perfect. My editor is hard core: when she likes something, it’s epic. She doesn’t expect good. She expects great. I love this because it makes me work harder to achieve the type of stories my readers deserve.
Enter my ego. My ego can be all consuming when I’m feeling like the goddess of writing. I penned the first half of All or Nothing at All and I liked it. A lot. It was really good. My ego puffed up and patted me on the shoulder and basically said, “Who cares if deadline is right around the corner? You got this. You’re amazing!”
So I agreed with ego, and delayed a bit, since September was packed with lots of activity, and I felt like I didn’t have to scramble.
Then I sent my book to my editor.
Here’s a partial dialogue of the call:
Editor: “So, it’s good, but it definitely needs some work.”
Me: “Oh, okay, what tweaks are you thinking about?”
One hour later, I looked at pages of notes and scribbles and felt the beginning of a real panic attack.
Me: “Umm, my deadline is next week and you want me to rewrite the whole book?!”
Editor: “No, of course not! You just need to move the first half to the last half, then write the last half over again.”
Me: “Umm, that’s rewriting the book!”
Editor: Pauses. “Not really.”
Me: Freaking out. “Yes it is! I have to rewrite the book!”
Editor: Getting impatient with my upcoming freak out. “Okay, fine, I guess you have to rewrite the book. I can give you more time.”
Needless to say, I went to bed for a full 24 hours because I had no idea how to rewrite the book. She wanted me to change major things I’d already plotted out. But this was the real problem.
She was right.
It was a very good book. It was not a great book. And at this point, well, I only deliver a book if it’s great.
I spent the next week writing night and day. You know the drill. No showers, real food, real conversation, or anything remotely normal. I sent it to my editor in a mad rush to see if I was on track, and she called me the next day and said:
YES! I did it! All I had to do now was write the next 30K in, umm, ten days?
I disappeared again. Sent her the next batch. And she called me again and said,
“No, this is wrong. I don’t like this direction you’re going, let’s discuss.”
She wanted me to rewrite it again.
The third time, she called me and said I was closer but not there yet. After a long discussion, she told me I needed to leave my house and go to dinner with my family. She said I needed to shower and sleep. She said to take the weekend off and come back to it fresh.
My editor was right.
Amazing how taking a shower can make all the difference.
A week later, I finished the book. And I know it’s GREAT. I finally got it, but it took me a while because this hero was one of the most mysterious, pain in the ass, deep, confused heroes I’ve ever written. I needed to have a ton of patience with him. Coax him out a bit. Figure out his soul. He was TOUGH.
What’s the point of this long babbling whine about the book from hell?
I learned I will never reach a point where I’m writing great books right out of the gate. Or even after two times. This one took 4 rewrites and is almost as bad as the first book from hell, Searching for Someday. It’s like having two bad children I love and adore but I shake my finger at.
A lot of times, writing is not fun. It takes discipline and blisters on the ass. But eventually, I got what I needed by sheer strength of will, stubbornness, and hard work.
I once attended a Q&A with Nora Roberts at an RWA conference. She was talking about her Chesapeake Bay series – one of my faves – and said her readers bothered her about writing the last book for Seth – a younger character featured in the series. I clearly remember her face twisting in a grimace as she said that book nearly killed her. She said she hated that book. She also said she hadn’t let a book beat her yet, and she fought through every last damn page till she got it the way she wanted.
Don’t be afraid to struggle with your work. Not all books are easy, or even satisfying. Be open to each one being as individual as you are.
If you enjoyed this blog and want more of my thoughts about writing, check out my upcoming book, Write Naked: A Bestseller’s Secret to Writing Romance and Navigating the Path to Success. It comes out March 2017 and is up for preorder – digital preorder will be up soon.