Archive | April 2014

The Origin of my Next Publication

The Taste of Her is a romantic suspense contracted with Soul Mate Publishing and coming out sometime this year. I am very pleased about this. When I shared the good news with friends, sometimes they’d ask me how I come up with my stories.

The Taste of Her was the easiest plot to design. Briefly it’s about a serial killer who delights in licking women’s bodies before he kills them.​ ​The homicide detective on the case who’s close to identifying him is herself kidnapped. You know romance stories have to have a happy ending, so I don’t need to go into any more detail here.

The origin of this story involves a practice I suspect many writers employ. I have a manilla folder (when I can find it) with the label “Story Ideas.” I’d done as much as I could on The Third Wife, a historical romance that chronicles a Seventeenth-Century witch who is befriended by a talking cat. I’ve worked on that story for a couple of years, and I needed to put it aside, let it rest, and start something new.

Tidying up my very messy desk one morning, I found the “Story Ideas” folder. Oh, great, I thought. Just what I need–a collection of ideas I’d saved. I got myself a fresh cup of tea and settled down to peruse the scrawled notes I anticipated were in the folder. I laughed when I opened the folder because there was just one yellow sticky inside. On the sticky, I’d written or copied a line from somebody’s work that I liked. I make all kinds of notes like this, copying good phrases, descriptions, and examples that I use to trigger my own writing. I don’t use any of them verbatim, just as triggers.

The note said: He enjoyed the taste of her skin. That was it. I stared at the note, and in a flash the entire plot of my story emerged. I envisioned a perverted serial killer who licked drugged women’s breasts just before he killed them. I could see a female homicide detective who struggled with sexist assholes in the homicide bureau and her over-bearing retired cop father. She fought all of them to be put in charge of a task force to catch the killer. She went undercover in the bar from which several of the victims had been abducted. And then she’s kidnapped in front of her own home. Etc etc etc.

All the pieces were there. I grabbed a yellow pad and jerked out my story structure notes from Michael Hague’s workshop I’d attended at the Romance Writers Convention in NYC three years ago (http://www.storymastery.com/). Within thirty to forty-five minutes I’d scribbled out the entire plot. Writing it took a little longer, but I had the entire framework. This was the first manuscript where I resisted my tendency to edit extensively as I write. I tried hard to just get it down on the page. When I finished, I found a fellow writer from my RWA chapter who was willing to read it for me.

I will acknowledge her in the publication because she gave me six single-spaced pages of notes and suggestions that were golden. I did a thorough revision based on her comments and sent it off to Debby Gilbert, the publisher at Soul Mate who’d contracted The Red Halter Top, my first fiction publication. Debby replied within a couple of weeks, sending me a contract. So stay tuned; I’ll promote this one when it’s out on Amazon. In the meantime, check out The Red Halter Top. Link is to the right on this page. It’s a novella, straight sexy romance. Give it a good review if you like it. If you don’t, just tell me. (-:

Struggling with the Plot

When I’m writing, I always plot out an entire story before starting. The three-act structure advocated by Michael Hauge http://www.storymastery.com/ works well for me. I’ve got two new books coming out this year with Soul Mate Publishing. The Taste of Her, and The Jury Scandal. Stay tuned for release dates.
I’m stuck, however, with the current story, Her Faithless Lover.

For my first couple of manuscripts I scribbled out several long-hand pages on a yellow pad, and that seemed to work pretty well. Then I tried using Scrivener but gave it up. I even bought a how-to book. I couldn’t get the program to do what I wanted. So I decided to go old school for this manuscript. I wanted to create the plot in such a way that I could view the entire story. Here’s what I produced: 2014-04-21 08.51.12
It’s not as messy as it looks, but I hit a stumbling block after I’d written about 40 pages.

This story is romantic suspense, and one of the cardinal rules for any type of romance genre (I’ve been told) is to keep your main character likable. The problem I realized was that I had her committing adultery with her cousin’s husband. Bad Move. I took the advice of several fellow authors and changed it so that she’s in lust for him, but never acted. And that was fine, except I had her become pregnant and her lover was likely the father. Getting rid of her adultery changed the whole plot.

Now I was kinda stuck with less conflict, less problems for her, and no villain in the plot. Rats! The next step was to go back and create a threat to her husband, a homicide detective. That’s wasn’t too hard, but I’ve got this whole plot to do over. Rats, Rats, and double rats.

Sadly, the weather has finally turned beautiful in New Orleans, and the distractions are legion. Next weekend Jazz Fest starts, and while I don’t plan to attend, I live too close to the Fairgrounds. That means BIG traffic jams with lots of foot traffic and no place to park if should go out. My driveway saves part of that, but we have four cars for the crowd living in my house (my two adult sons, a daughter-in-law, and adult grandson). Worse, people walking and talking outside has my three dogs bark at them here beside my computer. The shortage of peace and quiet almost makes writing impossible.

Enough of my bitching. If you’re a writer, tell me how you rework your plots when you hit a stumbling block. And if you’re not a writer, good for you. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather.