I'm out sailing this weekend, but please welcome Judi Fennell, the author of In Over Her Head and Wild Blue Under to Passion for the Page.
Thanks so much for having me today to talk about the second book in my Mer series, Wild Blue Under. This was the first book I wrote under both contract and deadline—a completely different experience from pre-publication writing, when I was essentially writing for myself at my own pace. If I didn't make my word count for the day, it only meant that my submission process was delayed, not that the Marketing Department's schedule would fall behind schedule, or I'd miss the Fall catalogue, or the printer's schedule would get out of whack.
But with Wild Blue Under, I was suddenly writing to an entire corporation’s (Sourcebooks, Inc.) time frame. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had input into my delivery dates, but it's one thing to want to finish a book by a certain date; it's another thing entirely to have to finish by that date.
So whatever writing process I had prior to selling, I now had to take into consideration that this was a job. I could no longer wait for the Muse to visit. I didn't have time to cajole her out, to offer her tea and shoot the breeze with her before she decided to impart maybe a scene or two. Now I had to drag her out, kicking and screaming, tie her to the desk top, and make her spit out her words.
Have you ever tried to reason with a recalcitrant three year old? That's what Muse-wrangling is like. And when the deadline is looming, you don't have time to bargain with candy.
So, I set goals for myself each day. Two thousand words a day is ten thousand a week. Forty thousand a month, and eighty thousand in two months. Then another month for revisions and voila! A book in three months.
Yeah, and then real life skews to the left, the characters go right, your mother comes to visit and a kid gets sick. Then you're scrambling to make up lost word count, you dig through the piles of manuscript pages on your desktop to find which one the Muse is hiding under, only to find she's taken off with a leprechaun someone let loose and you're on your own, your house is a disaster, the sick kid isn't heading back to school any time soon, and the bills need to be paid.
Sadly, that's not an exaggeration. We all know how life intervenes in the best laid plans, but when it's your job to get the story written, you have to work at it like a job.
That's what's been different since becoming published. Oh, the kids still haven't totally grasped the idea that when Mom has her earphones in and her head buried in the computer it means she's working and does not want to answer the question of what's for dinner four hundred times. That just because Mom is working from home does not mean she can drive you and five of your friends to the mall/paintball/movies/take your pick of teenage venues just because you're bored. It doesn't mean that she can run the gym clothes you forgot after she reminded you SIX times the night before to school so you don't have to make up the class (which, no, she can't pick you up from after school because she's - hello? - working!)
Where was I? Oh, yes, how do I write?
I write like I did when I worked in an office. I have a routine where I say goodbye to the lovely children, go to the gym, come home, shower, eat, go through email/blogs, then start writing. I give myself a lunch break. Since my husband also works from home, this is when we chat about our day because he's learned that just because I'm sitting there, looking off into space does not mean I have free time. It means I'm working through plot problems, or listening to the Muse (who's returned from wherever she and the leprechaun ran off to, thank goodness!) Then I'm back to work. I push myself to make my word count. Sometimes I go above and beyond (13,000 words in one weekend was a very nice treat - the Muse must have gotten lucky that weekend), and sometimes I don't hit it, but the point is, I work with that goal in mind. I also don't beat myself up if I don't make it. Life happens, but the idea is that this is now my job and I have to treat it as such. There are way more people than me counting on this story.
I wish I could say that along with my daily word count, I have the story outlined in my head or on paper, so hitting those two thousand words is only a matter of putting the words on paper. I should be so lucky. Nope. I generally know where I want the story to go. The characters have some flesh to them, but one of the best parts of being a pantster writer, in my opinion, is discovering the characters and their story along with them. Yes, this means that I have to go back once it's written and add in elements earlier in the story, but when that "Aha!" moment hits of why a character is s certain way, or does a certain thing, it's so much fun!
I also wish I could say that I know when I get my best ideas. I have some tried and true methods, but sometimes a scene, some dialogue, or an opening line or black moment will just hit me. The shower is always a good place for ideas to flow (pun totally intended) and I've talked with a lot of other authors who say the same thing. There's something about water flowing over you that encourages ideas. I also awakened with scenes (usually at 5 am, an hour before I have to wake up, because my Muse is a trickster). I once woke up with the first 20 pages of a story that have barely changed since I wrote them down.
So, while I'm now writing under deadline as a business, and while I've developed some methodology to approaching this "job," there's still a lot of serendipity to the process. Does that help anyone with their writing? I have no idea. You'll have to let me know.
And while you're pondering that, feel free to stop by my website, www.JudiFennell.com, and register to win one of two remaining romantic beach getaway weekends (the first has already been awarded), to either the Atlantis Inn in Ocean City, NJ (www.AtlantisInn.com) or the Hibiscus House in West Palm Beach, FL (www.HibiscusHouse.com).
WILD BLUE UNDER—book 2 in the Mer Series—in stores November 2009!
The underwater kingdom is his as soon as he claims his queen…
Rod Tritone has the looks and charm to snag any queen he wants for his Mer kingdom, but unfortunately, it's not up to him. As fate would have it, the one woman destined to rule with him is terrified of water…
She lives in land-locked Kansas and has no idea she's a princess…
Valerie Dumere thinks Rod is gorgeous and irresistible—but why does he keep insisting she has another side to herself that only he can show her?
Somehow, Rod has to prove to her who she really is. But when she finds out the truth, will she ever forgive him?
About the Author
Judi Fennell is an award-winning author. Her romance novels have been finalists in Gather.com's First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, as well as the third American Title contest. She spends family vacations at the Jersey Shore, the setting for some of her paranormal romance series. She lives in suburban Philadelphia, PA.
Don't forget to go by Judi's web site for a chance to register to win a romantic beach get away. And for a chance to win a copy of both of each of Judi's books (one copy of In Over Her Head and one of Wild Blue Under) leave a comment telling me the title of your favorite funny romance. I'll randomly pick and announce a winner on Friday November 20th. Good luck!