Early on in my writing career, I didn’t have any deadlines. I wrote when I could until I finished my first book. Then upon the advice of authors, I kept writing. As the years progressed, I made a habit of writing Monday through Friday while my children were at school. Add in the pleasure of having publishing contracts and deadlines entered into my schedule.
Now, at first, I was okay with it. I was disciplined by the time I had publishing contracts and making edits and revisions were fairly easy (but painful). However, the start of 2023 seemed to kick me in the face (great visual, right?) with health problems. I’ve literally had something on my schedule every single day and sometimes leaving my weekends with me playing catchup or resting from mental exhaustion of appointment overload.
And my deadline approached.
Now, normally I don’t bat an eye at a deadline. I know how fast I write and know what I’m capable of. But I never had to write with so many appointments pulling me away from my desk or have so many health issues act up at once. To say I had no mental energy to right was an understatement. To top it off, my story has not been cooperating. I wrote about 20k words then realized it wasn’t working and started over.
I wasn’t worried about that at first. In fact, when I wrote the first draft of Finding Love, the same thing happened. I wrote 28k words before I realized the story stunk and it wasn’t working. (Isn’t it sad I remember the exact amount that I had to delete?) The chemistry between my hero and heroine was weak and I was bored to tears. So I sat and thought about how to change it. Enter Luke Robinson. He was completely different from the original hero I gave my heroine, Delaney Jones. But fortunately, the wrong guy ended up being the hero in book three. In this case, scrapping those 28k words worked.
I also did something similar when I wrote Winning His Trust. Every time I wrote, it felt like I was pulling teeth and couldn’t get into the story. I was surprised because this was the story I was really excited to write about. After much thought, I moved the file to my delete folder (I don’t actually delete stuff) and started a new. Immediately, I could feel the difference and I was doing a happy dance that things were coming together. I’m thankful that the reviews for this book have been positive and validates the changes I made.
Occasionally deadline drama is caused by characters who refuse to talk to me. This happened when I wrote Risking Love, in the Maple Run series. It turned out to be book four in the lineup because when I tried to make it book two then three, the characters refused to talk. It was maddening. I felt like it took me forever to start the story, and when I did, the characters gave me one or two lines here and there. Writing that story made time slow in the most frustrating ways. However, it became a finalist in the Selah awards which meant that maybe, just maybe, my efforts proved fruitful.
Every now and then, I get a book that just isn’t clicking with me mentally. I’m not sure if it’s life issues, disconnect with a story, or something else that I’m just not missing. When I wrote A Sidelined Christmas, that was the case. I worked on it every day, added words, but I just didn’t connect with it the way I wanted. Fortunately for me, readers still loved it. Someday I think about going back and adding to it or just refreshing it to see if I’d feel any different.
So what’s the issue with my current work in progress? Great question! I believe it’s a combination of life being particularly pricky, my mental health suffering as a result, lack of knowledge of the subject (Kentucky Derby is a huge focus and I’ve been researching like crazy), and the characters not sharing their whole life story. However, after restarting the story three times (that’s right, I deleted 20k, then 25k, and now praying third time is really the charm), I’m getting more words. I passed 30k and told myself we weren’t restarting. I was also blessed to write 10k last week in one day!! Surely that means I’m finally on the right track. But I won’t know until I turn in the book June 1st (my deadline), then wait to hear what my editor thinks about the story.
So in hopeful expectation, I’m believing that this book will be what readers need and want to read. I’m believing that God is working on this piece of coal and a diamond will emerge. So to celebrate, I’ll giveaway an ebook (international) or paperback copy (US residents) of your choice of the books mentioned above (Finding Love, Risking Love, Winning His Trust, or A Sidelined Christmas) to one lucky commentator. Leave a comment telling me what you’d want to read in a romance story that has the Kentucky Derby in it by 5/12/23, 300pm PDT for a chance to win.