I’m not dead, I’m writing + secrets from the process journal

The first part of the title of this post is also the title of an email I’ve been composing to my friends and family to explain my effective absence from their lives lately. (Friends, you’re getting it on Monday. It is no longer an email, but a 999 word essay. I only stopped writing when I hit 999 words, because… 999 words. It just seemed… poetically epic.)

The second part refers to the journal I’ve been keeping as I’ve been working on my newest WIP. So, yeah–I’m not doing a great job of marketing either Cherry Pie Cure or Consequences, because, um–shiny thing! New book! New idea! Squee! Meet… Text Me, Cupid.

It’s so good. (I love this part–when you think, you know–you just know–the work is good? Alas, it passes.)

(But it’s so good while it lasts…)

I’ve got to tell you–confess–that I started writing it with very mercenary thoughts in mind. I mean–I wanted to have four novella-length products to bring to market in 2018, just for the Kindle Unlimited platform. To test-drive how KU works, with an actual product.

I’ve been carrying Text Me, Cupid around in my head since about August  2016. As the title, and then this introductory scene that I wrote in a Twitter writing spring with Alberta writer Brandee Ackerly:

Initially, I envisioned Will and Florence having 10 dates over the course of a year (each about 10,000 words in length)…  during the course of each, they’d play Cupid to another couple… while not actually hooking up with each other. I’d release each as a short story-almost novella on KU, and then bundle them together into a mega-novel, and…

It’s still an intriguing idea and I might return to it in the future. Or you can steal if you like–maybe you can do it better? I did find out a few things about myself while thinking about this idea:

A. I don’t know how to write a short story to save my life.

B.  I don’t know how to delay the sex until a later part in a romance entanglement to save my life.

C. I’m not sure I particularly want to learn either. At least not right now.

D. I carry characters around in me for months. Incubation. Gestation. Pregnancy. It’s a thing.

Do you remember, I puked out Cherry Pie Cure in seven days after making myself not write for six weeks? So just before I went to the Romantic Times Conference in Atlanta in May, I started to feel that Text Me, Cupid started kicking and demanding to be born. It was done gestating. But I had two releases to shepherd out into the world! And, RT17!

So I gave my friends and lovers very strict instructions:

“Don’t let me start writing until after the Consequences and Cherry Pie Cure launch.”

(Incidentally, I am never, ever launching two titles six weeks apart. It was a terrible idea, and I supported each one badly. Also, next year–personal assistant! Intern! Clone! Something like that!)

My friends and loves failed me, btw.

I started writing Text Me, Cupid on June 5.

By June 18, the “novel in four episodes” was at 34,422 words, with the first three episodes in what felt like a pretty complete first draft, and the fourth in a solid chronological sketch.

A big chunk of the work got done during a writing marathon hosted by Calgary writers Ron and Elsa’s Writing Productivity Group, at Loft 112. Thanks Guys!

The marathon also gave me a chance to track my process. I made a few very startling discoveries about how I work. Do you see them?

By June 24, I had 43,893 words and a complete first draft. My target for the piece was 40,000-45,000 words, so I was quite pleased with this.

I also knew what I had to do next.

I then intended to put the manuscript away and let it marinate for a while.

But I couldn’t quite let it go. I kept on going back and tweaking and adding and revising… it worked, I saw, extremely well as a full novel.

Did it work as four novellas?

Would readers be… sufficiently satisfied and tantalized as Messy Christmas closed? Would they wait for Delayed Valentine? Or would they just hate me?

On July 3, I gave Episode 1 to beta readers, to see if they were tantalized… or frustrated.

Her: “I can’t tell if I’m more tantalized or frustrated! When can I read part 2?”

Me: “Did you like it?”

Her: “Yes! When can I read part 2?”

Me: “Did you like him? Did you like her? Did you feel there was sufficient closure?”

Her: “Are you fucking deaf? When can I read part 2?”

I sent them Episode 2 earlier this week.

It took me a few days to realize that was why I was feeling anxious and fidgety all week. It doesn’t seem to get any easier, you know?

The writing, actually–totally easier. It’s never really been hard for me. I sit down, I put words on paper–I fix them in revision. The art (inspiration?) part of it, in many ways, is the idea–getting it down on the page is a craft that, eventually, becomes second-nature.

The sharing the writing part? OMFG. I die, every single time.

Not with posts like this and my non-fiction work. That’s… I don’t know. That’s different.

The novels? The insecurity, sense of exposure, fear, vulnerability… shocking. So shocking that pretty much every time after I do it–press send on an email to beta readers, publishers, whoever–I wonder what the fuck is wrong with me. Who does this to themselves, willingly… and repeatedly?

Why is the compulsion to share (because I want you, them, everyone to read my books, of course I do!) accompanied by this near-paralyzing fear?

I don’t know.

I do it anyway…

Anyway. Text Me, Cupid is at about 64,000 words right. It might get longer–I don’t think it will get shorter.  But who knows… (Did I ever tell you? Both Consequences and Molly Jones lost almost 20,000 words in the final edit. Elmore Leonard has this really killer quote about how he tries to leave out, from his books, the parts that people skip. Yup. This, I think, is a huge mistake trad’ publishers make when they put out a call for novels that MUST BE 100,000 words, say. It makes writers pad what would have been a kick-ass 60,000 word story into a 100,000 right-size novel with a saggy middle. And additional paragraphs that people skip…)

I’m pontificating…

And writing this post because I’m making myself stay away from Text Me, Cupid this week.

And a little tired of flogging Cherry Pie Cure.

Still, if you haven’t bought it yet… it’s so good! Delicious! Read it!

Oh, and please read Alysia Constantine’s review of it. Which is fucking fabulous:

Full Review Here.

I’m also planning a fabulous audiobook blog tour of Consequences for the fall. Dammit, you know, fall feels so far away… but it isn’t, is it? I’ve got to get my ass in gear here.

mjanecolette

PS If you’re connected with me on Facebook, then you’ve probably seen or been part of the Christmas in July FB Hop that author Amanda Siegrist organized last Thursday and Friday. Can ya’ join me in thanking Amanda for putting that fun event together?

And if you missed it–well, the giveaways and the prizes and the games are all done with for now, but you can still visit the pages of the fabulous people who brought some Christmas cheer and chill to last week’s hot July days:

✰ https://www.facebook.com/authoramandasiegrist/
✰ https://www.facebook.com/pg/janeblytheauthor/
✰ https://www.facebook.com/SouthernRead/
✰ https://www.facebook.com/TheGenreMinxBookReviews/
✰ https://www.facebook.com/E.Jayebooks/
✰ https://www.facebook.com/mjanecolette2
✰ https://www.facebook.com/krissybeck73
✰ https://www.facebook.com/authorjcsteel/
✰ https://www.facebook.com/KateForestAuthor/
✰ https://www.facebook.com/ceciwolfe
✰ https://www.facebook.com/authorlyrashanti/
✰ https://www.facebook.com/romance.maryellenwoods
✰ https://www.facebook.com/authorbrookeo

Ta for now again!

mjc

About mjanecolette

Writer. Reader. Angster. Reformed Bohemian (not). Author of the erotic romance Tell Me, the erotic tragedy (with a happy ending) Consequences (of defensive adultery), and the rom-com (she's versatile) Cherry Pie Cure, as well as the non-fiction collection of essays Rough Draft Confessions: not a guide to writing and selling erotica and romance but full of inside inside anyway. Coming in 2018: Text Me, Cupid, a steamy romance in four episodes. Current WiPs: Queer Christmas in Cowtown, Jewel of the Not-So-Spectacular Boobs, All In the Cards, and Un-Valentine. Yes, working on four projects simultaneously is a spectacularly bad idea.

One comment

  1. I LOVE seeing your process notes! What a gift to the rest of us…

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