Archive for the ‘Home for Christmas’ Category

Have you ever spent time with that One Friend who always has Problems? Every time you get together, this person is having some kind of crisis, and instead of hanging out and having fun, you’re drafted into fixing whatever it is that’s gone wrong for her. You’re holding her hand, patting her back, assuring her that everything is going to be okay, and the whole time you’re thinking, “Dear god, I gave up time I could have spent napping for this?”

For me, Maddie is that friend.

I like her, don’t get me wrong. Cool chick. But every time I sit down to spend time with her, this woman has Problems, and I have to fix them. Which isn’t really her fault – she didn’t ask to live in the zombie apocalypse, after all – but still. She’s exhausting. Even when I’m not writing about her she’s always there, in the back of my head, bugging me. How am I going to fix her shit? I promised her that things would work out, I’ve been telling her that for two years now, but she still doesn’t have her happy ending. Where is it? How is she getting there? Why am I washing dishes and taking history notes when her WORLD is FALLING APART?

Jesus, Maddie. Sit the hell down.

I needed to take a teensy break from Maddie and her goddamn Issues, is what I’m saying. I met someone new, who has problems but not zombie-level problems, and decided to spend a little bit of time with her instead. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two months. It was a nice break, and now that I’ve had it, I feel like I can go back to Maddie and deal with her Problems again. Sometimes that happens, you know? A little break, some fresh perspective, and things don’t seem as hopeless and terrible as they did before. I have a better idea of how to get Maddie where she needs to go, and I’m hoping we’ll get there before the end of the year. It’s been tough on her, too. She’s waited a long time.

Oh, the new friend?

Kiera McKinnley likes to be in control – in the office, the courtroom, and especially in the bedroom. Known to her conquests only as ‘Kay’, Kiera is exceedingly careful to keep her “real” life and her “night” life entirely separate – a precaution that is shattered when she returns home for Christmas to find her latest one-night stand drinking hot chocolate in front of her mother’s tree.

Let me talk a little bit about writing this book. Indulge me for a minute.

As I’ve confessed in the past, I am terrible at outlining. I start out with good intentions, but once I get going I veer off-course, start adding things in, taking things out, and there’s the inevitable moment when I hit a part in the outline where I’ve written nothing. I’ve shown you this before, but I’ll do it again, because really, it highlights how awful my outlines are.

Yeah. “Gap.” Super helpful, self, THANK YOU.

I started looking for a way to solve that little issue, and came across a very awesome book: Take Off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. If I ever meet the author, Libbie Hawker, it will be embarrassing, and she’ll probably have to call security on me, because this book completely changed how I write. I would erect a church in her name, if that wouldn’t be weird and creepy and also a lot of work.

I couldn’t go back and apply her outlining technique to my current story, because god I’m already 2+ years into it, I’m sorry Maddie, it’s too late for you. But I was kicking around the idea of trying to write a novella, and using this technique seemed like the perfect way to give that a shot.

And that’s how I met Kiera.

I like Kiera a lot. Love her. She’s got most of her shit together, she knows what she wants and goes right on out to get it, and she’s not ashamed of her choices. I would have a beer with Kiera – right before she ditched me to take home some guy at the bar. But she does have one teensy problem: the guy she likes, really really likes, is a little out-of-bounds for her, and so she needs to decide which is more important – what other people think of her, or her own happiness.

I had fun helping her make that decision. Frankly, writing her story was the most fun I’ve had writing anything in years. I’m sure the very long, very detailed outline helped with that – when I sat down to write everything out, I’d already done most of the hard work, and so getting Kiera from A to B was 75% less stressful than any other story I’ve tried to write. And I think the result was a tight, quick, sexy book that I’m very proud of.

So if you want to check that out, it’s available on Amazon right now. Current price is 99 cents, but on December 1 it will go up, so grab it before then. It’s also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, an experiment that I plan to analyze for any of the writers reading along, so if you have that then you can read it for free.

(I’m actually hoping to break down every part of this process, including marketing, for any would-be or current writers who read here, so if you have questions, something you’d like me to address, please go right ahead and ask.)

Anyway, check out Kiera’s story. And Maddie will be back next week, though she might not be terribly happy about it.