Posts Tagged ‘OSMB’
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.
I’m afflicted — cursed, if you will — with being that most heinous of attributes: Nice.
Some people — normal people — might think nice is a good thing. And that is, indeed, the case when you’re dealing with fellow human beings. A little kindness can go a long, long way.
But when you’re an author trying to make life difficult for your hero and heroine, a nice streak as wide as the mighty Mississippi just gets in the way.
Trust me, I know. That’s my CP’s main complaint with the MS she’s reading for me right now — and it was the main point of one of the agents who gave me detailed feedback on my 2011 Golden Heart finalist.
Obviously, it’s a problem for me.
I think it boils down to this: My characters are like old friends (some of them very old, having been knocking around my head since the mid-1990s). As I wrote in a guest post on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood last spring, they’re folks I’d enjoy meeting for coffee or dinner.
And because I like these people, the last thing I want is to see them suffer.
But suffer they must. In the words of my CP, I need to “Make them wiggle. Make them squirm. Make them unhappy. Uncomfortable. Put roadblocks in their way. Conflict is what drives a book and keeps the reader wondering how they will ever end up together.”
I can see her point. There’s not much keeping someone reading if they know the hero and heroine are meant for each other halfway through the story, is there?
That means I have to accept that torturing my characters — as much as I hate to do it — will make the story stronger in the end.
So I’m taking off the gloves. Now I just need to figure out how to channel the meanest person I know.
My writing output seems to drop in direct correlation to any increase in blog reading. That’s a problem, I know — but if I don’t take the time to read a few blogs, how can I expect anyone to read mine?
Besides, if I stopped reading, I’d miss out on gems like this one from Janice Hardy’s blog, The Other Side of the Story. She writes:
Choices that don’t cause trouble are wasted opportunity. The whole point of a book is to show someone overcoming adversity to win. If there’s nothing to overcome, there’s no point in the winning.”
What a way to put it!
It’s no secret that I struggle with conflict. (I blame it on being a Libra. Libras strive for fairness and avoid conflict.) Judges’ comments I got on my first completed MS — even after several new drafts — consistently said “not enough conflict to sustain the story.”
What? You mean a girl falling for one guy when she’s trying to “snag” another one altogether isn’t conflict?
Not according to Hardy. She writes, “A choice between two good things with no consequences for making that choice is probably not going to hold your reader’s interest.”
Well, I already knew Brad and Erin’s story needed help. I tried to remedy it in subsequent drafts by casting suspicion on him … I even hacked out their original “black moment” (such as it was. The “Battle of the Birth Control” was pretty silly when I look back at it with a more experienced eye.)
The key for me is to remember that my hero and heroine have to make choices. And those choices have to mean something. The potential for disaster should loom around every corner.
I think that is the case in my more recent stories. Bethany’s decision to talk Cody into applying for the TV show lands them in a heap of trouble. When Kenny asks Kristi to pretend to be his fiancee, things get out of hand quickly.
Hmm. All my blog reading must be teaching me something about the craft.
Thanks to one of my NARWA sisters, I found another contest to enter … a chance to win a pitch with a Harlequin American editor. Since I’ve long envisioned “Operation Snag Mike Brad” as an American Romance, I decided to go for it.
I can’t say I always envisioned it in that line. When I first wrote it, I had the Love and Laughter or Silhouette Yours Truly lines in mind. But since those are both defunct (sadly, if you ask me), I switched to AR.
The entry requires a one-page synopsis — something I’m getting better at writing, I think — and a logline.
Having never heard of a logline before, I did a little poking around at eharlequin.com. Apparently it’s also known as a “concept line” and is designed to give the editor a broad picture of your story.
One way to write one is to start with a well-known storyline, then reveal the twist that makes your story stand out. You can also use a familiar book or movie as your starting point, so you come up with something like “Elle Woods meets the Terminator” or “Beauty & the Beast set in outer space.”
The advice is straightforward enough, but I’m finding myself confused. Maybe it’s just because my MS is a big, confused mess.
I hope not.
Anyway, here’s the logline I’ve come up with so far:
“Operation Snag Mike Brad” blends “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” — but in reverse.
In “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” you have a reporter working on a story and using outrageous advice to get dumped. (Erin is a reporter following a book’s outrageous advice to snag “the man of her dreams” while she’s chasing a big story that’ll get her out of small-town Indiana once and for all.)
In “Some Kind of Wonderful,” you have a guy who thinks he’s in love with one girl but ends up realizing he’s in love with his best friend. (Erin thinks she’s in love with Mike but ends up realizing he’s more like her best friend and she’s really in love with with Brad instead.)
So both flicks apply — at least loosely. The “reverse” part is the whole using the book to snag the guy (not lose him) and the fact that it’s the girl, not the guy doing the falling.
I’m still not wild about it. At least I have a few more days to play.