Riding the Dragon

On December 16, I tweeted (in two parts): “Sometimes a book feels like a dead albatross hanging around your neck, drowning you. Sometimes it feels like a dragon you get to ride. Either way, you have to do the work. But NGL, I prefer the WHEE! swoops of riding the dragon to wearily paddling my way to shore.”

That got me to thinking about what I’m currently working on, which has been dragon oh-yes.gif.pagespeed.ce.SJvstdeUGXriding all the way. Some writers need a lot of fallow time, where they’re not creating or writing. For me, two things are essential in general: time off between projects (no overlap) because I immerse myself fully in each book and lots of reading during that down time. That’s how I refill the well and it’s not unusual for me to read thirty books in week, maybe more, depending on what genre and how long they are. When I’m drafting a book, I’m lucky to read one or two in a week. Besides that? I’ve learned I need the freedom to write impulse books, projects that aren’t contracted but whose ideas pounce on me and tickle-fight me until I agree to write them.

When your time is tightly contracted and scheduled, you lose that spontaneity. Don’t get me wrong; I can write good books on a schedule, but if I don’t wedge for-love projects in as well, I get cranky. Why, you might ask. Because writing professionally is a dream come true, right? I’m incredibly lucky to make my living this way. But that’s also part of the conundrum. Work is…work. It’s not joy if it’s something you are obligated to do, day after day, without regard for your personal preferences. Usually, my time is budgeted too tightly for me to go, “WHEE!” and chase a Shiny New Idea down a rabbit hole.

Yet I made time to do exactly that this winter. I write because I adore telling stories (this is my crack!), and I needed to get back to that. To quote Jessie J, “It’s not about the money, money, money.” I needed a project that’s not about promo or lists or deadlines or distribution. This one is for me, and for all readers who love a good against-all-odds love story. So when most people are winding down, I geared up to write a book over the holidays. And I did it. I love it so much that I can’t wait to figure out where this project is going. My agent is reading it right now, and I’d like to tell you a bit about the book I wrote for love. What new adult offers me is the chance to write about college-aged people, which is something I wanted to do before this market became a thing. Mine will be like contemporary romances for the college set.

From an email I wrote to Leigh Bardugo:

This NA is about a normal college girl who falls for a slightly older but still in college guy who’s a single dad. Nobody has any trauma in their past. The big conflict is the kid, basically.

The hero doesn’t want a relationship; he works, he goes to school, he’s a full-time single dad. He doesn’t have TIME to be with anyone. But he kinda can’t resist the heroine. And the heroine is all of 21, not remotely ready to take on someone else’s kid. But she too can’t resist the hero.

But they’re both so torn because you just cannot do that lightly. I mean, they can hook up but to actually date? The little dude doesn’t need to be hurt more. He’s already been left by his mom. I feel like -that- is conflict enough. And it should feel pretty real. There should be some bittersweet to it, too, like I wish I’d met you before, or later, or I could SO LOVE YOU, but maybe we can’t do this right now, but OMG, I want to SO MUCH, etc

The first book will be dedicated to Leigh because I got the idea from listening to her while we were on tour. “For Leigh Bardugo, who talks about love as if it is a question that must be answered. So I tried.”

Once I cleared my schedule, I roared through book one. And I had so much fun that I’m already writing the second book.

Series overview, (titles subject to change):

Book 1, I Want It That Way: (Ty + Nadia) grumpy ginger single dad hero + optimistic, financially struggling / hardworking tall heroine

Book 2, As Long as You Love Me: (Rob + Lauren) hot, blue collar not book smart hero who is the best friend’s older brother (heroine from book 1) + underachieving (recovering) computer nerd with social anxiety heroine

Book 3, Shape of My Heart: (Max + Courtney) my take on the NA bad boy hero with troubled past, tattoos, motorcycle, etc + bisexual Jewish heroine w/ dead first love & crazy ex-girlfriend (this one is likely to have the most cracky angst)

Anticipated questions:

1) Yes, I used Backstreet Boys song titles on purpose.

2) Yes, heroines 2 & 3 are named after Lauren Dane & Courtney Milan, though apart from being strong, smart, confident, beautiful women, they’re not modeled after them per se.

3) Yes, these are definitely romances, and there are sexytimes. I’d rate them 16+. I’m letting my 16 year old daughter read them but parents have to determine that individually.

Feel free to ask more questions about the series in comments! I won’t be disclosing any info about the pitch, once we move forward with these books, but I’ll keep you posted once I know how these books are reaching you, readers. Are you as excited as I am?!