Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I Finished My First Novel

Well, I finally did it! I finished a novel.
That's why I haven't been posting on this blog much. I have been obsessed with my book!

I started a short story over a year ago about two people who meet in a sauna and things get overheated. But as I wrote it, the characters wanted more than just this one anonymous fling. So I set it aside for a future time, when I was ready to write something longer.

Fast forward to October 1, 2016, when I attended a Harlequin writers workshop. It was fun and I did get a lot out of it. At the end the editor invited all attendees, as well as the other members of our local RWA chapters who couldn't be there, to join in a submission blitz. We all had until October 15th to send in a synopsis and first ten pages of a super steamy erotic romance. Ding! Ding! Ding! My sauna tale!!! It wasn't finished, but I figured "what the heck?" At the very least I would get some much needed feedback about my writing. Sure I'd been writing for over 30 years, but I hadn't learned all the "rules" of writing romance yet. I knew there was a lot of room for improvement and I was excited to get advice from the biggest romance publisher in the world.

When I re-read my old story I decided the only thing I liked about it was the sauna incident and two of the character's names. The rest of it was B-O-R-I-N-G. I re-wrote the entire thing, starting first with the synopsis. I free wrote a synopsis, which became the outline to the story. I had never tried outlining before, having always been a pantser, but I will do this from now on.

At the eleventh hour, I sent in my synopsis and first chapter (plus a short prologue). When I got a reply six weeks later I was so excited! What I did not expect was a request for the full manuscript. I freaked out, posted to my writing group, "What do I do???" and an angel appeared. A professional editor in our group told me she would help me through this process. Without her I would have given up.

This thing has consumed my life! Writing is not for the weak. You must find a way to push through the depression when you feel like your writing sucks, play writing games when the words don't come, find a way to love your characters when you get sick of reading it for the 50th time, and beg your friends to be your beta (or alpha) readers because your eyes will glaze over and your brain will insert missing words for you. Oh no! Do not try to edit yourself. Hire an editor. I will hire my friend for future books. Her help was invaluable. She kept me sane.

It took six months, but I finally got the story to where I wanted it. Sure there's still room for improvement and I expect to receive a long list of revisions from Harlequin, if they decide it's right for them. If it isn't I will publish it myself. I'm already working on book two and three of this series. And don't worry, there are no cliffhangers, just other couples.

I'll let you know what happens, probably in four months or so.

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