past year, I had the chance to work with some authors on a continuity
series for Harlequin. The editors gave us information about all of our
characters and plots. It was our job as authors to put together the
hundreds of details that make the series unique and completely real
I soon realized that I was out
of my league.
I am a pretty good plotter and
don’t mind writing synopses, but I’m not very detail oriented,
especially for the first draft. I write fast, and I write almost every
day, but I also give myself plenty of leeway to let the characters grow
and change. For me, this is the fun part of writing, the part that
allows me to spend four, five, or six hours at a time in my office. I
still find making stuff up very enjoyable.
I’m afraid I frustrated my
fellow Harlequin authors! I constantly received questions about eye
color or the car my hero was driving or strange quirks of my heroine.
Um . . . I didn’t know yet. But they needed the information for their
books, so I had to make some quick decisions. Some I was so glad
about―my heroine’s love for Snickers Bars meant I got to eat them, too!
I finished my book of the
series, and I have to say I became a better writer because of it. A
little bit of peer pressure certainly kept me working hard! However, I
have to admit that I’m very thankful that every book I write isn’t
under those parameters.
Now, writing A Texan’s
Honor for Abingdon Press was the complete opposite
experience. I began the book based on just one scene in my head: my
heroine, Jamie, being held at gunpoint on a very cold train. From that
point on, any and all of the details, craft studies, and character
questionnaires flew out the window.
You see, all I wanted to do was
to be on that train, too.
stopped caring about how many pages I had written a day. I just wrote
all of the time―on the weekends and in the evenings. I didn’t care if
my book was a little too violent or if the characters were a little too
bad. I just knew that I loved the book. Along the way, I took a journey
with a group of interesting characters who kept me on my toes: Jamie,
Will, Kent, and Russell; Scout, a sweet girl named Kitty, and a Texas
Rangers widower named Sam. And then, just as I was settling into
post−Civil War Kansas, the book was over.
I was exhausted and sad and more
than a little pleased. A Texan’s Honor came from my
not to say there wasn’t
anything wrong with it! There was plenty. I had messed up the timeline.
And I had some train research issues. And, well, everyone’s eye colors
changed. Multiple times.
But overall the book had been in
charge. I had merely been along for the ride, and I was pleased with
I’m not sure what these two
writing experiences mean. A Texan’s Honor was the
thirty-fifth book I’ve written. The Harlequin? Number 39. Daybreak,
the novel I recently started for Avon Inspire, will be my fortieth
Each writing experience has been
different. I’ve learned to be flexible and open to learning from other
authors, to take criticism from editors and my critique partners, and
to remember that the actual time spent writing is a gift. It’s such a
And at the end, it doesn’t
matter how a book gets done . . . as long as it does, and that it’s the
best I can make it be.
That’s all any of us can hope