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I Need A Bad Guy

Whoa, can the title of this post be totally misconstrued! I see eyebrows of readers arching all around the world.

I don’t mean that I need a bad guy in real life. I’m particularly partial to the good guy that I’m married to.

I mean, I need a bad guy in my novels. As in, an actual person that has a point of view, or voice. I’ve had such bad guys (or, in one case, a woman) in most of my novels. However, when I began writing the “Pine Mountain Estates” series, I was toying with the idea of writing books along the lines of Jan Karon or Ginny Ytrupp’s first few novels. Basically, straight women’s fiction. Stories of nice people whose “bad guys” are metaphorical, consisting mainly of the struggles they encounter.

The first book in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series has a bad guy, but he’s in the background. I don’t want to say anymore, lest I give out spoilers.

It wasn’t the most fun book I’ve ever written.

Similarly, the first book in my “Rock Star Husbands” series (which is currently unpublished because I’m going to totally rewrite it) sort of has a “bad guy”, but not the kind that’s truly threatening.

The book became a struggle to write halfway through, and ended up being kind of boring.

On the other hand, the second book (also unpublished at the moment) does have an active bad guy. It was easier for me to write through the middle, and is a lot more fun to read.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to read well-written (and clean) straight women’s fiction. And if you’ve never read any of Jan Karon’s or Ginny Ytrupp’s books, I suggest you give those authors a try.

I even enjoy upmarket fiction, which is more realistic than genre fiction (thrillers, romance, mysteries, etc.) and thus doesn’t tend to have an active bad guy.

But what I figured out about halfway through my latest novel, the third book in the “Pine Mountain Estates” series, is that if I’m going to have fun writing a story, I need a bad guy. An actual person, who is messing with the protagonists.

And I don’t want to write a book that’s not fun for me to write.

Live and learn. Or, in my case, write and learn.

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“Pine Mountain Dreams,” FINISHED!!

I’m so excited! I finished the third book in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series, Pine Mountain Dreams!

YIPPEE!

Now comes the fun part: revising and proofreading. I’m actually going to start that process on the second novel in the series after I take a break for a couple of days. While I do that, I’m going to create a rough outline of the fourth (and final, unless readers beg for more) book in the series.

I always set aside a newly-completed novel for three weeks before I go back and do the first revision. That way, I can look at it much more objectively and make a lot better decisions about whether any big changes need to be made.

But for now, I’m going to relax for a few days. Play with Amazon Advertising and see if I can sell my vegetable gardening book that way (because it’s the right time of year).

And I need to finish the cover for the first novel in the Pine Mountain series. It’s been a struggle, because it’s also the right time of year for our wireless Internet to go all glitchy.

It doesn’t like spring as much as we do.

I’m having a hot flash now, so excuse me while I go cool off.

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In The Flow

Today, I wrote not quite my typical 2400-word goal. But it doesn’t matter.

After three days of writing the “next scene” wrong, I got it right today! As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I figured out that an idea on where to take the book – which deviated from my outline – was the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, finally, I went with it. And the words just flowed.

Today was an easy writing day.

And the rest of the novel, three or four more chapters, should flow as easily.

Because I’m nearing the end, and I know exactly how to get there.

Hallelujah!


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It’s Been A Week.

It’s been a week. A week of frustration. A week of decisions. A week of perimenopause.

In other words, a typical week for me these past few years.

Seriously, I haven’t blogged for the past couple of weeks because I’ve been trying to sort out what to do with my blogs now that I’ve made the decision to be a career novelist. Especially since I’ve been frustrated with the novel that I’m writing.

SO…let’s start with the decisions first.

Decisions made this past week

#1. I’m laying down my blog at liveyourdreamswithemily.com. If I try to keep it updated and write novels, I’m going to go insane.

#2. This blog is going to become…wait for it, wait for it…a blog. My author blog. In other words, I’m usually not going share family stories. Not because I don’t want to, but because I simply don’t have time if I’m going to work on novels.

I need to prioritize.

If not every day, then several days a week I’m going to try to publish a short post summarizing my day as a writer.

#3. I’m going to write 2400 words a day on my novel. Provided I don’t have a frustrating day or three – like the ones you will hear about shortly. This is not the most I’ve ever written every day, but it will be the most I’ve written daily in four or five years.

#4: I’m going to write mostly short-ish novels, between fifty and sixty thousand words. Much longer, and I start to hate them. Like the one I’m working on now.

#5. I’m going to start writing more feel-good, lighter, humorous stories. Because I’m perimenopausal and I need all the levity I can get.

Frustrations

#1. This blog wouldn’t work for two days.

#2. My novel wouldn’t work for three or four days. I got to a certain point, and wrote three different scenes to continue after that point.

Ended up chucking them all.

Know why? Because I was trying to stick to my outline, while my muse (okay, we’re mostly Christians here, so I’ll say, the Holy Spirit) was leading me to go in a different direction.

I know where to go from here, so I’m finally looking forward to writing the rest of it, for the first time in days.

#3. I did a particular promo with My Book Cave that requires me to keep The Envelope priced at free until August 1. I’d been planning to price it at $2.99 and see how sales went with it, because its ranking is pretty good right now.

Perimenopause

TMI coming for you men in my audience.

Looks like I’m skipping a period again. Hopefully, I’ll skip several like I did last July through September.

But because of that, my estrogen levels are whacking out, and hot flashes are back, brain blips are back, moodiness, digestive issues…*SIGH.*

The moodiness has done nothing to help me feel good about the novel I’m writing.

The good news

Last month, I scheduled a promo for The Envelope with, as I mentioned, My Book Cave. I got more downloads with it than I did the first time I promoted through them. Then, for some reason (God?), FreeBooksy decided that since I’ve been a past customer they’d do a pro-bono promo for me. It was just one day, but I noticed the boost.

Finally, I did a featured promo with Robin Reads this past Sunday.

Because of the momentum I’d received from the other two promos, the RR promo brought me into first place in three categories! Not for more than a day or two, but still!!

I continue to get a crazy number of downloads for the novel every day, and have sold more of my other novels and boxed sets than I usually have by this time of the month.

I am thrilled. And planning to either do more book promos, more often, or to start advertising on Amazon.

Because I’m finally getting serious about making serious sales.

Stay tuned for the upcoming reveal of the cover for the first novel in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series.

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The Halfway Point

The other day, I hit the halfway point of my novel. And just like with every other novel, I wanted to quit right there.

The other times, this frustration had made sense, because I hadn’t outlined the plot. But this time, I had a much better idea of where I was going than with any other story I’ve ever written.

But, I wanted to quit. I second-guessed my pre-planned ending. I decided the writing style wasn’t good enough, the dialogue not snappy enough.

I second-guessed the existence of the sub-plot. Heck, I began to second-guess the direction and plots of the other two books I’ve written so far in the series!

I am not alone

Many runners, whether in a marathon or doing their daily deal, experience overwhelm halfway through and are tempted to turn around and go home. A lot of people quit halfway through earning a degree.

People who could have had a forty- to fifty-year marriage give up on it twenty years in (or, of course, much earlier).

Why? Is it because humans are, by nature, quitters?

Au contraire, humans are, by nature, survivors. I think one big reason so many people quit halfway through to a goal is lack of support.

Writers are notorious for being loners. Our culture encourages isolation from others, so we lack cheerleaders and rear-end-kickers when we’re struggling in our marriage or career or with working toward any kind of goal we yearn to achieve.

Another reason people quit at the halfway point? We don’t count the cost ahead of time. Or, we do, but then when we get in the middle of a journey, stuff happens. We get tired and burned out, and forget that it’s normal to disagree with our spouse, it’s normal for experienced authors to think that they’re terrible and that their book is no good, it’s normal to be exhausted halfway through a marathon.

It’s normal to face obstacles.

How to persevere

I stated that I shouldn’t have experienced my usual halfway-point brick wall. However, this time I only needed a day to talk myself down from it, to convince myself that the plot wasn’t ridiculous and the writing wasn’t bad.

The other times? It took me several days, even more than a week (once or twice, more than a month) to get over the Novel Halfway Hump.

What changed? I’ve been listening to podcasts for authors, by authors, who have been sharing about having the same difficulties that I have. The same insecurities.

I’m talking about bestselling, traditionally-published authors.

It’s not the same as face-to-face support, but it’s helped take away the feeling of author loneliness.

And I’ve persevered because past experience has reminded me that obstacles will come, and they will pass.

Or, rather, I can climb over them. Sometimes, if I’m in a good enough mood, jump over them.

Do yourself a favor. Before you embark on a long-term project, remind yourself that obstacles are normal, and that you are well able to overcome them.

And surround yourself with some kind of support system.

Don’t quit halfway. Because then your only choice is to turn around and go back to the beginning, back to the place you were hoping to walk out of.

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