August and September were rough, but I made it. I turned Two Cuts Darker in on time, though it did come in a tad shorter than I expected.
I had some problems with this book that just made it harder to work my way through. The mind is a tricky thing sometimes and if my mind isn’t in the right place, the words are slow to come. I’ve been putting mental work into this book since May or even earlier–but the words were like pulling teeth. I had it plotted. I knew the characters. But I kept second-guessing my decisions.
Partly because I let reader expectations get into my head. It’s much easier to write a book when I’m writing it FOR ME. I don’t care if so-and-so won’t like it then. All that matters is that I’m happy with it. But the first book did well enough that I read many positive reviews, which is fantastic. But then you start worrying if the next book will match up to the expectations of the readers who enjoyed the first one. I joked with Molly that in some ways it’s much easier to deal with bad reviews. Then I can say, “HA, I’LL WRITE A KILLER STORY TO SHOW YOU!!”
Good reviews are harder to deal with sometimes, as crazy as that sounds. Will they like this as much? Did I make the right decision? Should I do xyz instead to make so-and-so happy?
YOU CAN’T WRITE THAT WAY. I know that, but it took me awhile to silence the voices that didn’t matter, and concentrate on the ones that did.
When I pitched book 2 to my editor, I didn’t expect Charlie and Ranay to be major characters. They’d show up, sure, but I just didn’t see a lot of carryover between those characters and the new ones I intended to introduce. But so many readers wanted more about Charlie, and I had enough time in between books, to start thinking, huh. Maybe I should plan more scenes for him.
Which meant a different plot than I’d originally sketched out.
Which made it more difficult to weave two separate story lines together.
Which made something as easy as POV a difficult decision. Because One Cut Deeper was first-person in Ranay’s POV. I needed to stick with that for her voice. But Vince didn’t want to talk in first-person, so his story line was in third. That can make for messy story mechanics.
I wanted to include Charlie’s POV at least a little, but he wouldn’t cooperate for so long that I finally gave up and skipped him entirely. Only after I turned the book in and told Alissa I wanted to try, did he open up a little. Worse, he wanted to talk in first-person PRESENT.
Those scenes may not stay in the book. They may make it even messier. If we cut them, I’ll offer them as extras here on the blog. Charlie’s head isn’t an easy place to be. He knows what he is and there’s no softening of those instincts and needs. It can make for a very dark place to be. So those scenes are short, and not nearly as crucial to the story as Ranay and Vince.
All in all, this was one of the hardest stories for me to write. I ended up very happy with it, but man, I really sweat bullets and blood through this book. I didn’t write it like any other book. Because I had two story lines, I had two separate folders in Scrivener and I wrote them like two separate stories, even after the lines merged near the last third.
I worried that I wouldn’t have enough sex to keep it in the same level of heat as One Cut Deeper… and then I couldn’t get the guys out of the bedroom. I had two couples to keep up with after all.
I even ended the book with two separate sex scenes for two couples. I think that’s a first for me.
I pulled some very late nights. I used up almost all of my vacation except for the already-scheduled days off around the holidays. Dark & Early did NOT work this time. I relied on the 10PM-1AM or later window, while still getting up at 5:45 AM to get the kids up for school. I start the Evil Day Job at 6:45 AM. Some days I was exhausted by 2 PM and I fell asleep after dinner for a nap several times. Keeping up with the kids’ busy schedule with marching band season in full swing and basketball tryouts right around the corner was rough. Keeping food on the table each night, ditto. I literally can’t remember what I regularly cook for dinner. Toward the end, we did more frozen pizzas, tortellini, bottled sauces, sandwiches, soup, etc. Easy stuff or quick things in the freezer.
Of course I also had edits on The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain to pull off these last two months too.
All in all, I’m exhausted and ready for some pleasure reading, crochet, and cross-stitching. I have one more task to complete for this month (other than edits on Darker when they come): Finishing a cute magic-themed novella. I have until 10/30 to get it finished and edited.
Otherwise, the rest of this month is going to be about rest, relaxation.
And planning what I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo.