I apologize for the repost. I recently returned from vacation and I’m still playing catch up. However this repost, fits in with my vacation. I was in Paris for 12 days…3 days for business and the balance was vacation.
I love Paris…I thought I would say that.
Anyway, Paris has been a secondary character in some of my books. The series this blog post is about, THE GOOD GIRL Part Deux, spent some time in Paris. On my most recent trip, I tried walking around the city and seeing it in the eyes of my heroine Gabriella. I took some time to make mental notes for the third book in the series. I had hoped to have the book written so when I went I could verify things or make changes. That didn’t happen because I was busy finishing a different book.
My family and I had the pleasure of having French High Tea at the Paris Ritz. French High Tea is completely different from English High Tea. Gotta say, I like the French way better. Back to my story. We arrived early and were given a mini tour then left to explore the hotel on our own. We stopped in a jewelry store and of course I tried on some things. But the staff reminded me of some things I’d forgotten. One, Coco Chanel died at the Paris Ritz. I’m a fashion girl so that resonated with me, big time. Plus we were just a few streets away from the original Chanel Store and Coco’s home. I was in fashion girl heaven. Second, the Ritz is where Princess Diana and Dodi Fayeed were right before they…
I told the staff I was a writer and I was doing a little research for an upcoming book. They was very helpful and offered to give me advice on jewelry and share some of the amazing love stories that had taken place at the hotel. That got me thinking about a new direction for the next installment of THE GOOD GIRL.
All that to say, this is why I chose to replay this post. I’m mentally getting prepared to start THE GOOD GIRL Part Trois.
Have a great summer and see you next month.
I have come to a crossroads with a set of characters and I can’t believe the angst I’m feeling or maybe it’s heart-break?
me explain.This past summer, I had the privilege of being in my first box set. YEAH! My contribution to the Fling box set was The Good Girl novella. I wrote this book knowing there would be more to the story. However, I didn’t expect to become as attached to the characters as I am. That fondness is supposed to be reserved for my characters in The Alex Chronicles. After all, we’ve been together for years—that’s not an exaggeration. [Read my previous posts for details on that series. And for the record, The Alex Chronicles is still my baby.]
Gabriella and Phillippe, my heroine and protagonist from The Good Girl, are infants compared to Alexandra [Alex] and Moses, the stars of The Alex Chronicles series. Alex and Moses and I have been through a lot. That’s not an exaggeration. I wrote three books, well four if you count the prequel that can testify to the longevity of our relationship.When it came time to cause havoc between Alex and Moses, I had no problem doing it—yes, I cried inside when he—okay, I can’t tell you anymore because it might spoil it for you. But it was a difficult breakup. However, the possibility of Gabriella and Phillippe breaking up, is causing me great consternation and I don’t know why.
The difference in this proposed breakup might have something to do with the fact that I don’t know what will happen next. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a pantser. Maybe if I was a plotter, I’d feel different. In that respect, I’m like my readers, excited about the surprise outcome, sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next. Wondering if a HEA will exist for these two. If or when you read part two, a HEA seems inevitable. I think a breakup would be a shock to some readers and a given to others. Either way. I need a major shake up, otherwise the series will become a two hit wonder.
To prepare myself for the inevitable, I’ve started a new playlist complete with sad love songs. I’ve got some wine and popcorn, even reading books with devastating, heartbroken heroines, to get me in the right frame of mind. So far, I just can’t bring myself to break Gabriella and Phillippe up. I could write the breakup, but what if they don’t find their way back to each other. Yes, it would open the door to another book or would it? Another strike against being a pantser—know it all characters. It’s all Gabriella and Phillippe’s fault. Why can’t they be like Alex and Moses. Those two made it perfectly clear how their relationship was going to play out from the moment they met.
I’ve trusted Gabriella and Phillippe through two books. I have to admit, I was surprised at the story they told in Part Two. Trust is the key word here. I have to trust my ability to tell a story that will engage my readers, yet not be boring or predictable. Talk about a challenge. Like Carrie Underwood said, “Jesus take the wheel.”
In my quest to over think, I came up with a few reasons why they would breakup.
Have Phillippe realize he really can’t deal with a non sexual relationship. Which makes him look like the typical self-absorbed Alpha Billionaire in training with a slight French accent.
Then there’s the shocker that she doesn’t want to get married and she just considers this a great first love. Sounds good, but makes her look like a gold-digging whore, I mean tramp.
Or, I could go with the classic, she loses her virginity to him, gets pregnant and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with her or the baby. This would paint her as a naive single mother, with an uncertain future and a whole lot of anger.
Last but not least, a dreaded family secret preventing him from continuing the relationship. Problem with that one is it makes him look a little weak and that goes against the image I’ve created of him.
I would love to see a HEA, but these characters may not. Unlike Alex and Moses, I broke them up a couple of times. Oh crap! I wasn’t supposed to tell you that, but I didn’t tell you how their story plays out. I’ll just say this, I have a playlist loaded with sad love songs.
I also don’t think this angst would be such a big deal if the book hadn’t been as successful as it has. I’ll rephrase that. I hoped it would do well, but this is a surprise blessing. Yes, I called my book that’s packed with a few steamy innuendos and a blessing.
About a month before the free promotion, while it was still at regular price, it got to #167 without any promotion. When I did my first KDP Five Free Days, it made it all the way to #2 in one of my categories on Amazon. I stopped trying to figure out why it’s being received so well. And to be honest, I don’t care. I’m just grateful and thankful to God that it is doing well. This little book, is a great gateway to my other books.
Back to my problem, how to deal with my broken heart. Sunday or maybe it was late Saturday night. Anyway, I really started feeling a sense of loss towards this book. Sunday I picked up The Good Girl Part Two and started on the revisions and the more I read, the clearer it became that I needed to do something drastic. I kicked around ideas, all of which caused me more grief than relief. It was well around one in the morning when I gave up fighting, prayed and went to sleep.
Later, when I woke up, during my prayer time, I got a revelation for a possible plot idea. I’m not going to share it, in case those two bossy characters decide they want to go in another direction. I will say this, it will be emotionally painful to write, however, I think it’s going to lead to the perfect next step.
Funny thing, long before the dread of the breakup popped up, another scene began to bounce around my head, and it’s good. At least I think it is. Only problem, once I write it, I think that’s when the real heart-break will come, because it will be the end of Gabriella and Phillippe’s story as I see it. As writers you know a series never really ends, it just gives birth to a another baby.
So I have a few questions for you. How do you handle the breakup of your characters? Do you find it difficult to breakup your characters perfect relationship? Is the road to HEA easy or painful for you?
Happy Summer and post Independence Day. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.
Let’s talk about unexpected stories.
I apologize if I’ve already told the story about my upcoming release, “UNEXPECTED LOVE.” My relationship with this story goes back several years. When I first decided to become an Indie Writer, I had quite a few stories dancing around in my mind. I had this idea for a series about a woman and the many men in her life. More like all the men she’d married.
When I set out to start writing the series, the task seemed a little daunting. I don’t know about anyone else, I easily get attached to my characters. But if I don’t feel a connection, it’s difficult for me to tell their story.
When I got the idea for this story, I imagined it as a five book series. I had all the husbands mapped out. However, when I started writing, it felt very forced. I was so overwhelmed trying to tell this woman’s story. I abandoned the series and thought I would tell it as a stand alone. Summarizing each of the husbands and focusing on the one she really loved.
I picked up the pages I’d started, made a few changes and set out to write. I liked where this story was going, but as I got more involved with the characters, the story started to change. It was no longer a story about a bitter divorcee, but a liberated divorcee who finds love in an unexpected source, her ex-husband’s ex-best friend, who just happens to be her divorce attorney. That’s either a mouthful or a blurb.
The more involved I got with Fiona’s story, the more I liked her. But I also felt sorry for her. She’s a sweetheart, searching for her voice. In a nutshell, she married her college crush who later deceived her. Once she made up her mind to divorce him, she found her voice. I love her transition, although it’s not without it’s ups and downs. One of which is the change in her relationship with her attorney and her self-esteem.
Last year when I set out to write twelve titles in a year, I had this title on the schedule as a short story. However, I didn’t think there was enough story for a book. So I resolved myself to make it a short story. I cleaned up the first chapter and started writing. But when I started writing, the story took a turn. It was no longer about Fiona and her husband, but Fiona and her attorney.
I continued writing thinking I could tell the story in novella length. As I got closer to what would be considered maximum novella length, the characters kept talking. No matter how hard I fought to end the story, they kept talking, so I kept writing. I really enjoyed the direction the story was going. Then I wrote myself into a hole. Crap! I didn’t see a way out, so I introduced another character thinking she would help me. Instead, she led me to a wall and the only way around the wall was another character. Hold on, it gets better. When I introduced this character, he brought his own storyline in addition to tearing down the wall.
So here I was with a full-length novel. But here’s the kicker. When I introduced Fiona’s brother [aka “the wall”], into the mix, the story took another turn and led me to a place I never would have imagined being, “Cliffhanger Boulevard.”
Yep, my five book series originally titled, “My Five Husbands” was changed to a stand alone novel. Then it got a title switch to “UNEXPECTED LOVE.” Then it became a short story, that grew into a novella that reverted back to a full-length stand alone, which is now book one in a new series. Talk about unexpected.
So what’s the lesson learned? Never throw out an idea. Instead, put it aside and when the time is right, revisit it. You might be surprised what story you can tell.
See you next month.
Here’s a cover peek.
If you attended Cal Dreamin’ you’re probably still playing catch up. I love attending writers conferences. Where else can you be around your people? It’s wonderful being around people who don’t find it strange when you ask how to kill someone, get them pregnant or arrange their marriage. And then there’s the socializing. Writers get a lot of heat about the amount of wine and chocolate we eat. So we indulge a little; it’s research. If we were still in college, our conference would be considered “Spring Break”.
So my spring break was wonderful. And just like Spring Break, I got very little sleep, ate a lot and spent the weekend hanging with my friends.
Now that I’m back in the thick of things, I realize, I’m so behind. Couple that with my birthday on today, I was a little distracted and in need of a post for our new blog. [Thanks Marianne for all of your hard work on the blog].
Thank God for backup posts. I found a post I never published. Considering some of us are still basking in the afterglow of Cal Dreamin’ I thought it might serve as a little refresher. Keep in mind, I wrote this post around the time of publishing my first book.
Now that I have self-published my first book, I am officially a published author. Actually, when I published a couple of short stories awhile back, those made me a published author in theory, but not in marketing.
When I started my writing journey, I was focused on getting an agent and writing another book. I forgot about the other things.
It wasn’t until I went to an ACFW [American Christian Fiction Writers] conference that I realized I needed a presence before I needed a writing contract. [Since then, I’ve opted to go self-publishing. However, the information is still the relevant.]
During the conference, the same word kept popping up, “Platform.” I didn’t have a clue what that meant the first time I heard it. Once I got clarification, I was instantly overwhelmed. Not only did I have to write the book, now I had to market it. I thought that was what the publisher did. SURPRISE for all you newbies, no matter what route you take, ultimately, you’ll be responsible for marketing your book. So now I was faced with another thing to deal with before I finished the first draft. A Platform. Needless to say, a few choice words entered my mind about a platform and where I wanted to put it. And let’s not forget, the major thing I needed to do: define my look. What the !*#&…
Remember this was a few years ago. I went back to my room and immediately tried to figure out who my target audience was and what would attract them. Here’s the funny thing about writers. We can write eighty thousand plus words, but it’s the little things that seem to trip us up. You know what I’m talking about…blurbs, one-liners, platforms, etc. All the things that help sell the book.
I knew I didn’t write traditional Christian fiction or romance, but I really wasn’t sure who my audience was. I forgot; I was my audience. I made a big choice. I don’t write to market per se. I write what I like. Which is why that eye-opening ACFW conference was my last. Please don’t get me wrong. I loved hanging with my ACFW people. The problem was, I was writing for a different reader and needed to learn how to market to them.
I thought I was writing for women but turns out, men are reading my books as well. That’s right, men read romance. But in my defense, some of my books fall into a few categories: contemporary romance, women’s fiction, steamy romance, and chick-lit. This is why I was confused about who I was writing for. I’m definitely not a man. As my old tagline said, “I’m a Christian woman who loves God, cute guys and fashion.” But not all of my audience fit that, so I changed it. My new tagline is very simple and speaks to my platform, “Sophisticated Romance.” Or simply put, I write books for grown people. I know that’s bad English, but it’s the truth.
So what was my platform? Once I realized who I was writing for, my platform came to life. I write books that are faith based with sophisticated themes. So how was I going to show that?
I took cues from my other business [The Pink Duchess…lingerie for curvy figures. Everything is done in black and white with fuchsia accents.] I’m very clear about how I market it. I have two types of business cards [one for vendors and one for clients], an online invoice template and a booklet on how to shop for lingerie I use in all of my marketing. But when it came to writing, like most newbies, I figured the publisher would handle everything.
Surprise! I discovered what I was doing for my business, I also needed to do for my writing. That meant I needed business cards, online invoices [thank God for Paypal], event or direct sale invoices, giveaway items, and inventory.
Here are a few questions I asked myself:
How do I want to present my writing self?
How would my reader expect me to look?
How do I grab the attention of potential readers?
Everything needed to be consistent. I made sure to carry the same theme and colors over to my website, marketing materials, and advertising. [If you did Elena Dillion’s class last month, this makes sense to you. If you didn’t check it out “Visual Content Marketing for the Confused and Terrified Writer”. ] Since it takes between 7 and 10 times to make an impact on someone, it was imperative that I be consistent with my look.
Here’s how I chose to build my professional look:
I found an image I modified in Photoshop.
I opted not to use business cards. Instead, I have bookmarks with my logo and two free downloads on the back.
I use PayPal for direct on-line sales and a simple receipt book for In Person Direct sales.
Notecards and Thank You Notes…
I was fortunate to still have blank white note cards and envelopes with my name in pink on them already plus a few Thank You notes from my other business I wanted to use.
These are either the covers or an image that represents the story with a quote or the book’s one liner.
The hub of my platform. A few days before Cal Dreamin’ I launched my revised website. I wanted my new look to be a little more sophisticated and friendly to both sexes. I carried over my color theme to the site. It’s black and white with hints of fuchsia. I felt this look really said who I was and who my reader is. Contemporary with just enough femininity not to intimidate my male readers.
I have the whole pack…Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and a blog. All of them have the same sophisticated vibe. I still have a few tweaks to make, but I’m making it clear these are books for adults, not children. I found my reader is busy like me, and often in need of a visual break. Another reason why I opted for the black and white theme.
Now when people see my platform, I hope it’s understood who I am and what type of books I write.
Looking back to that conference when I first heard the word “Platform,” seems like a lifetime ago. Now when I meet newbies, I ask, “What’s your platform?” If they don’t know, I share what I’ve learned and hope they don’t freak out like I did.
As I continue to grow as a writer, I know my look will change…for the better. But right now, I’m very happy with the direction my platform is going.
Have you ever been too tired to think or create? That’s how I feel right now, but unfortunately, I can’t relax. Or rather, I tried to take a little time off from writing and creating, but my mind refuses to cooperate.
After the full writing year, I had last year, I figured I’d take some time off from writing and become more of a reader. For the past few years, I’ve been doing the GoodReads Reading Challenge. Last year, I read forty-five books, ten were my own. Not a lot for most romance readers, but for me, it was a lot, and I struggled to get those read because of my production schedule. This year I pledged to read forty-eight and decrease the number of titles I created. Unfortunately, the joke is on me. Instead of relaxing my creative muscle, I’ve been writing. What’s even more bizarre is I don’t know how to turn off my writing muscle or even if I want to.
Like most writers I use or follow a Production Schedule. Last year it was easy to follow or stay motivated with my schedule because I set a challenging goal, 12 Titles in 12 Months. This year, I knew I wasn’t going to set such a lofty goal for myself, so I was able to breathe a little.
When I sat down to do my Production Schedule for this year, I looked at the titles that didn’t make the grade last year. Although I published 12 titles last year, I had actually started and brought close to completion four additional titles. Technically, last year I wrote approximately a half million words. For some that may not seem like a lot, but for someone like me that hasn’t been writing that long, that’s a lot.
Those titles that don’t have 2016 as their birth year have become the stars of my 2017 production schedule. Now the question is, when will they be born? I’m not quite sure. So far, I have one of the titles completed, a non-fiction lifestyle book. I’m very excited and passionate about this title because it deals with a subject that is dear to meâ€¦being a fabulous Christian single.
Originally, I wanted this book out in January because that’s when most people are searching for help on how to change their lives. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the book until the end of January after rewriting the last chapter three times and adding an additional chapter. Now I’m waiting to proof it before I send it to my editor.
The other book I’m struggling to finish was originally supposed to be my December 2016 release. What started out as a five book series became a short story which has been reborn again as a novel. In its resurrection, it’s also undergone a name change and protagonist change. And one of the biggest changes about this book is voice.
I started writing this book in third person, but as the protagonist developed, I felt the need to tell his side in first person. So now, the story is being told by both the heroine and protagonist in first person. When I made that simple change…who am I kidding, that was by no means a simple task. Changing the voice meant I had to go back and rewrite and add some chapters after being thirty-thousand plus words into the story. I’m very curious to know how this story ends.
So here I am with a production schedule that’s taunting me because I’ve already missed my first release date. I want to move forward with the stories. However, I’m creatively tired. If you’ve ever experienced that, post or email me [firstname.lastname@example.org] how you worked through it.
As for the other two titles, one is approximately thirty thousand words away from completion. The other story so far is charting the opposite path of the one I’m currently working on. It started out as a short story, but after writing the first three thousand words, I fell in love with the character and see he has more depth than a short or even a novella. His story will definitely be a full-length book, and if he talks to me correctly, he’ll become a series.
Let’s see how my unborn stories turn out.
Happy writing and creating….