The Book That Almost Killed Me – #20

books from  your laptop on a white backgroundIn fifteen years I’ve actually written 26 books counting twenty for Harlequin since 2005, three for the Wild Rose Press of which two are now indie published, and three manuscripts are still safely tucked away in my closet. I promise to never unleash those books on the poor unsuspecting public.

Over the years I’ve tried to pinpoint my writing technique, but each book always seems slightly different. I do best when I write the synopsis beforehand, adding a conflict grid for the main characters, and some basic character development. Then when I start the book, I kinda-sorta have a handle on things.

#20 was book two in a Medical Romance duet for Mills & Boon. I’d come up with the great idea about two brothers from Wyoming who were raised on a ranch and who’d both become doctors. Book #1 of that contract played itself out in my head and when I wrote the synopsis I literally outlined what would happen in each chapter. The synopsis for the second brother was a bit more vague – really, really, vague, but my editor approved it anyway giving me some things to think about. Instead of doing a character study with the seven part conflict grid that I usually do, I just sat and wrote out everything I knew about the hero and heroine. As their backgrounds came into view I began to write the book. I’d always intended this to be a play on Pygmalion, so the hero was a bit older than the heroine and she was rough around the edges and he was stiff and standoffish. It would be a mentor/mentee relationship gone astray.

Image of opened magic book with magic lights

Let me start by saying that not a single one of my books has ever started smoothly. It is always like wading through molasses for at least the first three chapters, but this book, number twenty, felt more like wading through tar throughout the entire process.

Hands At Work

My husband had been gone for close to three weeks in early October and I was supposed to get a lot of writing done, but all I had to show for it was 14K because the characters insisted on hiding from me. Plus, I admit I was kind of blue about being alone. I also had a lot going on with my son’s upcoming long-distance wedding in early November, and by mid-October I couldn’t concentrate enough to write anything. We were away for six days during the wedding, then it was my birthday, then Thanksgiving, then I was called up for jury duty…well you catch my drift.Hacker

Slowly I got back into the habit of daily writing, and I insisted I write at least 2K any day I sat down. Some days I couldn’t convince myself to start, but finally I wrestled this beast onto the blank computer screen. By early December I had my first draft, which turned out to be my discovery draft. This was also different because I usually know how I want the story to go before I start. Not this time. I was way short on words the first time through, but since I’d discovered things as I wrote, the second draft wound up needing a lot of add-on scenes to make the story cohesive. Finally, earlier today I wrote the end, but had never felt more insecure about sending in a manuscript to my editor in my writing life.

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Looking back, I think part of my hesitation was knowing this was the final book in my current contract. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write more, especially after struggling with this book! Back and forth I swung regarding whether I’d write more books for Harlequin, or wondering if I’d even be offered more contracts. I’ve often said I’d like that twenty-five book pin or keychain or whatever tchotchke it is that Harlequin gives these days. But after writing the most difficult book of my life, I was exhausted both mentally and physically, and I honestly don’t know if I have a single book more in me.

To be Continued…

  1. Will Lynne have the worst revision letter of her life?
  2. Will or won’t Lynne get another contract with her publisher?

As they say in the U.K. – Watch this space!

Have you been challenged by something lately that you really didn’t think you could overcome?  Please share it.

Since it’s the season to be jolly, I’ll give a book away to one commenter.

Until next time, make it a great one!

Lynne

 

 

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13 Responses to The Book That Almost Killed Me – #20

  1. ButtonsMom2003 says:

    I’m glad you were able to finish the book. The only real challenge I’ve overcome lately is bronchitis. 🙂

    • Hi Buttons Mom!
      Bronchitis is one heck of a physical ordeal to get over. I hope you’re back in tip-top shape for Christmas.
      Wishing you good health in the New Year

  2. Katherine says:

    Hi Lynne,
    Congrats on finishing your book. 🙂
    My struggle isn’t one that’s relatively new. I’ve been dealing with it since mid-July. I suffered the devastating loss of a family member. She was healthy and thriving until she starting vomiting one day, was hospitalized the next day, and three days later she was gone. She was only 8 years old which I guess makes the whole situation worse if that’s possible. Since her death, it’s been a struggle for me to get words on a page. I’ve tried setting aside my current WIP and doing revisions on a completed novel, but still I can’t seem to make any headway. I want to write, but have such difficulty concentrating that it usually ends up being an exercise in frustration. When I get home from the day job, I’m just so emotionally and physically exhausted that it’s been hard to find the motivation to accomplish nearly anything. I’ve recently started a 100 day challenge trying to get at least 100 words written each day as a way to get back to a regular writing routine and in the hope it will help me deal with the loss.

    Keeping my fingers crossed you don’t get a terrible revision letter,
    Katherine

    • Dear Kathryn – first off huge hugs and condolences to you and your family. Grief is something that must be worked through. The shock of losing a child is something none of us can understand or fathom. Wow. Five years ago my mother died from a brain tumor and somehow I managed to make my deadline. Don’t know how I did it, but something about her age and knowing she was not in pain (living with us on hospice care) helped me have peace. Your situation is so different. A child, sudden loss, grief gripping you. I hope you can find a grief group and I know that over time you’ll get back into your writing. Right now the 100 words a day plan sounds perfect.
      Again, deepest sympathy for your loss.

  3. robena grant says:

    This is too funny. You will have to take a look at my blog post today, because it seems we are in the same space. Ha ha.
    Whew! So glad for you that you got that baby written and sent out into the world. I’m betting it is going to be just fine. The difficult ones usually are. I’m rooting for the 25 book pin. You deserve it. Your readers want your stories. Hang in their babe!

  4. Rachel Brimble says:

    Hi Lynne,

    I completely understand! I feel like I am trawling through mud with my current work in progress…and almost parts of every book – why do we keep doing this to ourselves? For me, it’s a compulsion. I can’t not do it! I, like you, am writing the last in my contract and then I have nothing on the cards. As much as this should feel freeing, it is the opposite. Panic! *sigh*

    Glad to share with other writers who understand!

    • Hi Rachel – so great to hear from you!
      Yes, panic, and lost sleep. Will my head explode if I stop writing the stories floating around in there? Or will I have a grand old time traveling the countryside and relaxing?

      I sure hope there will be more SuperRomance books from Rachel Brimble!

      thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  5. Sam Beck says:

    Hi Lynne,

    Congratulations on completing your manuscript! I struggle with every single one, (and I’ve only written a fraction of your total).

    You have a compelling voice and you bring amazing depth to your characters, and I’m pretty sure those talents didn’t disappear with this latest manuscript. They’re just part of you. Your editor will be thrilled to tell you where to trim words, or amp up a scene to make those attributes shine! (They like to feel needed too). 😉

    • Hi Sam –
      Thank you for the confidence boosting pep talk. I needed it! Also, you are very kind, thanks.
      Yeah – I’m afraid I’ve given my fabulous editor a big job and that my revision letter will be mammoth!

      I promise to post the outcome – hopefully it won’t be until after Christmas, because I don’t want a downer before the Christmas celebration, you know?

      re: struggling with books. Don’t you want to deck writers who say “This book practically wrote itself” ????

  6. Attention Buttons Mom – I’d like to send you a book for commenting at my blog. Please contact me through this website.

    Thanks!

  7. Robin Gianna says:

    Oh, Lynne, how I can relate! I’m an utter newbie compared to you, but already I’ve wondered about why I’ve struggled so with a couple of books, and if I have what it takes for the long haul. I look at some authors and what they’ve produced and think “How do they do that?” I wondered if maybe it got easier over time….but after reading about your struggles, it obviously doesn’t! 🙂

    I bet you’re right, though, that some of your troubles with that book were unconsciously related to the end of your contract and internal questions about your future and what you want. I, for one, would greatly miss your stories! Looking forward to hearing what you’re thinking a month from now….xoxo

    • Hi Robin,
      Somehow I missed this comment until today. Thanks for weighing in on a tough subject. I’m so with you wondering about the authors who pen 6-8 books a year. How do they do it without hating a book here or there. I actually love the premise of my last book, I’m just not sure about my construction of it. LOL. My editor said she’d have her thoughts back to me by early next week, to which I replied – Oh, no hurry, I’d kind of like to enjoy Christmas!
      I promise to keep you posted.
      Thanks for reading my blog.