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Drafting renaissance, Book recs, Upcoming events, blah blah blah
And, yee-freaking-haw, another sale
hello sweet kittens,
I hope wherever this letter finds you, you are finding joy in the changing season and taking time to wind down as the year sprints toward an end (seriously, I blinked and 2023 seems to be GONE).
Finally, I am so excited to be heading to Austin, TX next weekend (Nov. 10-12) for the Texas Book Festival! I’ll be doing a signing with Steamy Lit Con at booth 117 on Saturday from 1-2pm then heading to the Love Interest: YA RomComs for Every Reader Panel from 3:15-4pm followed by another signing! I’m equally excited to put on my reader hat and fangirl over some of my favorite authors that will be attending! I hope to see you there!
As I mentioned in my last letter, I am on my hot girl shit and by hot girl shit I mean devouring gothic horror novels at a rabid pace. My library hold just came in for The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi and I can’t wait to dive in. I started reading the prologue and was instantly hooked and had to forcefully shut it so I could get my silly little chores done instead of reading the whole thing in one sitting.
As far as romance goes, Erin Langston is the historical romance gift that keeps on giving. Forever Your Rogue is just like… I dunno… pure perfection? Like I want to physically melt into the pages and chill with this beautiful prose and witty banter for the rest of my life? Not to put a ton of pressure on you, but if you love yourself you’ll go ahead and read this book. And then, once your addicted to this writing and these characters, you can go ahead and get yourself a nice little treat of Langston’s holiday novella Some Winter’s Evening which, for those of you that have hung around since my bookstagram days, has the trope that I go ABSOLUTELY ABSURDLY FERAL OVER but is sometimes a spoiler so I won’t ruin it for you.
I am currently drafting what will be my seventh published book (and a few secret projects I am SO excited about but can’t really talk about ahhh) and I’ve realized, that my drafting process is continually changing from book to book. I’ve never written linearly, often writing an ending first or starting right in the middle, and have never been able to get my brain to cooperate with an outline. This makes for a pretty obviously chaotic experience, but a generally enjoyable one… well, for the first two books at least.
My third book, The Plus One, was my first problem child. It was written like the previous two, with a deep understanding of who my characters were, what their pain points were, but not so much an understanding of how they came together. And the initial result a horrible mess. I’ve talked about it before, but I sent that initial book to my editor telling her from the jump that I knew it wasn’t right, but couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I ended up rewriting it in about four weeks, and to this day it’s probably the book I’m most proud of not for it’s content or craft but for how it pushed me to dig deeper in how I approach the emotional tenor of a story. Looking back, I realize I needed to make the mistakes of that first attempt to gain the source material of Jude and Dira’s relationship. Every iteration of their love had them bickering and fighting and teasing each other, but it took getting it wrong to eventually get it right.
Next up was Tilly. In an odd way, I don’t remember laboring over Tilly like I did other books. I just had fun with it from start to finish, and embraced the giddiness of getting to try to write for a new audience (the YA demographic). It was like returning to the freedom of working on a that doesn’t yet have an audience or expectations—you get to reinvent yourself in a way, and I think my enjoyment of the process was a direct result of that.
Then came Late Bloomer, my April 2024 release. This book was originally set on a Christmas tree farm in the middle of winter. As the cover decked out in pink flowers indicates…. a few things changed along the way. While I loved the initial idea of the tree farm, it felt like I was wrestling my main character, Pepper, the farm owner of the book, into an environment she didn’t fit. She wasn’t made for pine trees and frozen ground and holiday cheer. She’s a grumpy autistic woman going through her own type of blooming, and she needed the hope and fresh life that comes with spring and flowers. Try as I might, I couldn’t get her to give a damn about the tree farm, and I eventually turned to my editor (god bless her for being so understanding when I try to explain that this person I made up in my head utterly refuses to cut down pine trees and is instead asking to live on a flower farm). But making that change, listening to my character and what she was earnestly trying to tell me, changed my feelings during drafting. This was the first book I wrote in order, the one of the biggest external goal when my other books have largely revolved around emotional/internal conflict. It also required more research than I anticipated, and there were many nights where I was sucked down an internet hole learning about the Appalachian mountains hardiness zones and the symbolism of flowers through various cultures and historical time periods. It was fun. It was a reminder that the process of creating a book doesn’t have to be a drag, it can be a time of play and curiosity and getting lost in extremely minute details that will never make it to the draft but are too delicious to ignore.
Book 6 is still a bit of a secret, and has a story behind its process that made me almost want to walk away from writing entirely because I was so frustrated and burned out… I’ll save that story for another day.
So, that brings us to now (are you bored to tears yet? If anyone is still reading I am thoroughly shocked and am giving you a kiss on your forehead for your patience with my ramblings). I’m doing something I’ve never done before with this book I’m drafting. It came over me on a whim, but I pulled out butcher paper (sitting in my craft closet which is more of a mausoleum to all the abandoned hobbies I’ve impulse buyed way too many materials for only to lose interest within days or months) and I laid it out on my kitchen counter and I just started… writing. I got my best sharpie and wrote words that sounded yummy and pulled on my brain and made me think of these characters that had been marinating in my head. I started crafting scenes and snippets and pieces of unattached dialogue and more adjectives for the vibes and… I played. I just played around on this big giant piece of paper and then a second and then a third. And, when it was all said and done, I realized I had myself an outline. It’s not pretty or cohesive or even mapped out in order—lots of asterisk and arrows and footnotes—but it’s their story and it’s made me so excited to write it. I’ve realized it’s given me the freedom to jump around from scene to scene as I’m want to do without losing the overall thread.
Through all of these books and all of the heartache and joy and agony that comes with pulling a story from the clouds in my head, I’ve learned that the most crucial part of drafting is to never lose that sense of play. Every day I sit down at my laptop and I worry and fret over if I’ll get it right. And then I remember, there is no right or wrong in a draft. There is only fun or misery, and I’m choosing fun. I’m choosing to toy with different processes in a pursuit of exploration, not to crack some code on perfect productivity. I’m choosing to trust that when a character tells me something isn’t right in their story, I’d save myself a lot of time and frustration by damn well listening to them.
The only one that can make the drafting process miserable is me. At the end of the day, I choose this job over and over and over again because nothing makes me happier. I might as well embrace that happiness, no matter what messy form it takes.
The [Horrifying] GIF
here's this thing:
The End 🤡
All my love,
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