First off a big thank you to Problem Child for inviting me to blog with you lot, and not minding that I delivered my copy about a nano-second before it had to be up.
Now, what to blog about, especially as my sneaky fellow Mod Hotters have gone and stolen all the best topics such as nicknames and sexy guys. FYI Kate, if you can have the vaguely creepy David Duchovny, I’m definitely having John Hamm, that retro-sexy, chain-smoking misogynist from Mad Men (which also gives me an excuse to stick a photo of some prime tottie into this blog for visual stimulation purposes).
As I’m currently sweating over Book Five which, as per usual, is turning out to be a total nightmare, I’ve decided I’m going to dip my toenails into the whole Pantsers vs Plotters debate (not quite as exciting as Antonio Banderas in a tight T-shirt, I’ll grant you). Or rather pose a question that has been keeping me awake nights recently.
Can you change the way you write?
I’m sure most of you are probably saying at this point, of course you can you ninny, what are you on about, don’t be so self-indulgent? But see, here’s my problem. When I wrote my first two manuscripts I spent years on them, dipping in and out when the mood struck, letting Madame Muse take her own sweet time about supplying me with inspiration and generally living with my characters for months before I ever put anything on paper. Then I got the Call from Bryony Green at Modern Heat, all fabulous and thrilling and the rest of it, but then the WOW factor wore off and I thought, oh crap, I’ve got to do it again. And my lovely editor said, very casually, ‘Oh, we’d like two or three books a year, but if you think you can manage more that’s great!’ Eh, more? What?
So here’s the deal. I have managed to write a few more, and I’m really pleased with how they’ve all turned out so far. The Mile High Club (aka The Millionaire’s Blackmail Bargain in the US) got a RITA nom this year (cue Heidi in her posh frock in Frisco looking very chuffed indeed), The Tycoon’s Very Personal Assistant is out now in the US and Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition will be out in November in the UK. But crikey, I’ve found my process means writing every book is like getting blood from a stone, a lot of blood from a very unforgiving stone. And it gets harder every time (or seems to). And I know I need to change my process, find a more efficient, professional way to get those books out, but so far, try as I might I can’t seem to do it. I thought I’d cracked it with Book Five, even got all cocky on my blog after I’d written a workable outline, but then a week from deadline I was writing my Black Moment and realised I didn’t have one, cos my heroine had whimped out in Chapter Five and I hadn’t even noticed.
What’s my process? As you’ve probably guessed I’m a total pantser. I kick off with an opening hook — maybe it’s a girl stranded in her underwear in a deluxe Vegas hotel being interrogated by the super-sexy tycoon that owns said hotel, or a London magazine journalist who’s hard at work one Friday when the one-night stand from three-months ago she never wants to see again comes striding into her office and demands she has a pregnancy test — but usually that’s all there is. Then I have to find out who the hell these people are. What drives them, what scares them, what they want or think they want, what they don’t want and to do that I have to write their story, see what works, see where they lead me. And quite a lot of the time they lead me up a blind alley, or paddle me up a creek, or just drop me off a cliff and wait for me to go splat (and I’m not even going to mention the Elvis Impersonator who popped up in the first draft of Tycoon and had to be kicked right back out again).
So I’d like to ask you all — and this includes unpubbed writers, because I’m thinking if you can get the process thing sussed and working for you before you get published that’s a huge step forward right there — What’s your process? How does it work for you and how has it evolved? Have you ever tried to change it, or modify it and has it been successful? And then I’m going to be totally self-serving and pinch some ideas that might help me get my own process a bit more sorted.
And to encourage you to divulge all your secrets and help make me much more successful (and get me breaking that three-book-a-year barrier at last), I’d like to offer one commentator a copy of The Tycoon’s Very Personal Assistant (completely devoid of any pushy Elvis impersonators or visible blood stains, I promise).
Visit Heidi on the web at http://www.heidi-rice.com/
Oh, Heidi's put a challenge out there today...and can I just say I can't wait to hear what everyone else has to say!