Archive for the ‘OSMB’ Category
Well, it’s been a long while … but I’m finally back—and trying something new.
While I work on the first novel in a new five-book series, I put a story up on Kindle Vella, just to see what happens.
This is the very first story I finished when I decided I wanted to write romance, the first of my Women of Willow’s Grove books: Operation Snag
Mike Brad. It stars small-town education reporter Erin Mannering, her hottie coworker Mike James, and adorable social studies teacher Brad Kingston.
Life is what happens while education reporter Erin Mannering is making other plans. While she plans to snag smokin’-hot sportswriter Mike James, using the tips in a man-hunting book she got for her birthday, she ends up snagging sexy social studies teacher Brad Kingston instead … which would be fine with her except for one tiny problem: Brad may be involved in a grade scandal she and Mike are investigating in his school. Will she stifle the story of her career?
I broke the story up into 50-plus episodes, most of them containing one or two scenes, and plan to release one every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through mid-April.
Don’t worry. This version of Operation Snag
Mike Brad is much revised and extensively edited. I like to say it wouldn’t recognize itself if it ran into the original draft on a crowded sidewalk.
One of my favorite parts is the fact that I have scenes from both Mike’s and Brad’s POV … getting a glimpse into what makes them both tick is super-interesting. (Plus, it makes you want to know why Mike thinks he doesn’t deserve happiness with a “good girl.” That isn’t revealed until he gets his own book, Book 3 in the Women of Willow’s Grove series.)
It also gives a look into what it was like to be a journalist in a small-town newsroom in the 1990s, when I was an education reporter in Logansport, Indiana. Journalists are not an “enemy of the people.” They’re just people, who live, work and try to find love in their communities. But that’s probably a topic for a different blog post.
Best of all: No COVID-19. The story was written in—and will remain in—a world without masks and constant fear of large crowds. Erin and her friends go to football games and concerts without worrying they’ll catch a deadly respiratory disease.
Hell—cellphones barely existed when I wrote this story. I had to revise in a “new” cellphone in one of the later drafts, to make it make sense. The phone belonged to Erin’s friend and roommate Cassie, and Erin borrowed it when she drove into Chicago late in the story.
With BREAKING ALL THE RULES coming out in a few short weeks, I should probably be giving you a teaser from it.
But when I saw this week’s My Sexy Saturday theme was “My Sexy Addiction,” I couldn’t resist. I simply had to pick a scene starring Mike James.
You see, Mike is probably MY sexy addiction. Don’t get me wrong: I love each and every one of my heroes—all for different reasons. However, if I were pressed to pick one, it’d have to be Mike, the sports reporter/stripper/inveterate flirt who captures the attention of not one but two women of Willow’s Grove.
In OPERATION SNAG
MIKE BRAD, education reporter Erin starts out lusting after Mike but soon learns life is what happens when you’re making other plans. Mike, who has what he thinks are good reasons for flirting the way he does, secretly longs for the kind of girl he uses his reputation to hold at bay—until a drunken night with coworker Breanne forces him to face his demons once and for all. (That’s OVEREXPOSED, the third Willow’s Grove book.)
These seven sentences are from near the end of Erin and Brad’s story, in which Mike plays a big part. He’s a third POV in the manuscript—a departure for me, since I usually stick to just the hero and heroine POVs.
See? I know Mike better than any other character I’ve created, so he’ll always have a special place in my heart.
She followed her roommate’s finger to the couch, where a shirtless Mike snored. A blanket rode low on his hips, exposing the flat, tan plane of his stomach — and hinting at a bottom half as naked as the top. Erin quickly looked away, finding the cat that belonged to the cat condo in the corner of the room. A big, gray furball watched them from its perch on the back of the couch. She suppressed a nervous giggle and jabbed her elbow into Cassie’s ribs. “Maybe he really does sunbathe in November.”
“Maybe,” Cassie replied, appreciatively ogling the sleeping sportswriter. “I’m beginning to understand what you two see in him.”
“Not me. Not anymore.” Sure, Mike’s … umm … man candy was worth admiring. But she meant it when she added, “I prefer something a little — lot — more real.”
Cassie snickered. “Bree doesn’t share your sentiment.”
Sure enough, Bree’s gaze was still riveted to Mike’s bare midsection. Her eyes glittered with interest. Knowing what it was like to lust after something she couldn’t have, Erin took pity on her. With very little effort, she might be able to get the blanket to shift a little lower.
“Close your mouth, Bree. You’re starting to drool,” she muttered under her breath. Then she cleared her throat — loudly. “Yo, James.”
Bree squeaked with alarm. At the same time, Mike smacked his lips and rolled onto his back. The blanket moved a fraction of an inch higher. Crap. “Not what I was aiming for.”
Mike Brad is still unpublished — for now. But if you liked this snippet, check out my Amazon author page for my published stories.
It’s time for another My Sexy Saturday blog hop. For those of you playing along for the first time, here are the rules:
Post 7 paragraphs or 7 sentences or 7 words. The choice is yours. It can be from a WIP or something you already have published. Your post should be live by 9 am US Pacific Time on Saturday. Put those lucky 7s to work for you!
This week, I promised a hot scene between Erin and Brad. They’re the heroine and hero of the first manuscript I completed, the one that wouldn’t recognize itself if it bumped into its first draft in a dark alley — or in a brightly lit corridor, for that matter.
Erin is an education reporter for the Willow’s Grove Journal-Times; Brad is a social studies teacher at the school she’s investigating (with sportswriter/male stripper Mike James) for giving athletes inflated grades. Erin prides herself on not being superstitious — she goes so far as to go out of her way to walk under ladders. But she wonders if she’s jinxed herself to be perpetually unlucky in love.
In this scene, toward the end of the book, Brad has just learned about Erin’s investigation and asks to see her notes — a request she denies, citing freedom of the press.
Sometimes, there’s nothing hotter than a good argument …
“I’m familiar with freedom of the press.” Brad’s hand waved impatiently. “I teach government, remember?”
Erin spoke through clenched teeth. Why did he insist on being so obtuse? “Then you should understand why I can’t share my findings. I shouldn’t be discussing the story with you at all before it goes to press.”
He buried his face in his hands. Seconds ticked by, and when he looked up, all traces of warmth in his eyes had vanished. “Just tell me one thing: Are you sleeping with anyone else to get access to their grade book, or just me?”
The question hit her like a punch to the stomach, flattening her hard-won self esteem with one blow. As her surroundings dimmed, all the breath whooshed from her body. “You can’t be serious.”
“As a heart attack. You’ve obviously been cozying up to me so you can snoop through my stuff.”
No. He didn’t — couldn’t — mean it. She refused to believe he could even consider such a thing.
But the look in his eyes told her he clearly did. She ran her tongue over her lips as she gathered what was left of her self-respect, pulling it close as if it could keep her heart from splintering. “If that’s how you feel, maybe you should go.”
No doubt about it, writing is hard.
First off, it’s not easy to make the time to sit down in front of the computer. Life — in the form of work commitments and family time — so often gets in the way. Yet we do it week in and week out. Why? Because we love what we do, hard or not.
Getting the characters in your head to behave on paper can be even more of a challenge. My characters, at least, have a penchant for doing exactly what they want instead of what I’d like them to do. I implore, beg, plead and sometimes resort to trickery and still they take off in their own, often unexpected direction.
But the hardest part of writing, by far, is revising.
I know, I know. Plotters will argue that having a road map before writing would eliminate the need for so much rewriting. That may well be true. Alas, I am a pantster through and through. More than half the time, I start scenes with no clear idea where they’re going. They begin as a way to work in a particular line of dialogue or funny situation.
That’s how I wrote my first manuscript — and is no doubt why it’s giving me fits in this, its fourth revision. As I go back in to beef up the “scandal at the hero’s school” conflict (completely nonexistent in the first draft), I’m finding entire scenes that no longer have a point and will have to be excised. Good scenes … funny scenes … but they just don’t fit.
You know what they say: If it does not fit, you must —
Wait a minute. How’d OJ’s lawyer get in here?
But seriously, folks: A scene that doesn’t work anymore simply must go. On Saturday, while sitting at a table in Starbucks, I ended up hacking two scenes — about 2,000 words total. Hence the “ye-ouch” in the title of this post.
It’s painful — really and truly grueling, to strip moments I love from my story … to “kill the darlings,” as it were.
But if it strengthens the story and leads to a publishing contract, I’ll get over the hurt. (Don’t tell Brad and Erin, my hero and heroine, I said this, but it’s even kind of fun to torture them a little bit.)