Working Notes – December 12, 2011
I’m one of those writers who doesn’t believe in writer’s block. I don’t think it exists as an independent condition. If a writer can’t bring herself to write, then there’s an underlying reason for the “block”. Resolve that base reason, and the writer will be able to write again.
But there isn’t a disease that blocks writers from writing for no good reason.
I also have never been “blocked,” until this year.
All the marketing experts and industry wisdom, and readers and my sales, everything, insists that the best thing I can do as a writer is to pump out book after book after book, as many as possible, all the same series. Readers like to read books in a series. They like to get to know the characters and follow their on-going adventures. (Right?)
Because of this very sound reasoning, and because I don’t like to let readers (you) down, since March this year I have been faced with writing the sequel to Blood Knot.
2011 has been my annus horribilis (as Queen Elizabeth put it). It began on Christmas Day in 2010, with the death of my brother, and has rolled onwards with family crises, health crises, and financial crises, until now, here I sit in November with hopefully, the last of it behind me. I can’t think of what else could possibly go wrong, and I’m not going to tempt fate by speculating on what might.
Throughout all that I started off on a wrong foot. I began writing a brand new series, Branded Rose. But then I got some very good advice from a few different sources, and switched over to writing the sequel to Blood Knot, which eventually became Blood Stone.
Now, I’m a fairly prolific writer. Even with a full time job, I usually manage to crank out about four or five full books a year.
But by early November, I was still sitting on Chapter Three of Blood Stone, and I had to force myself to sit down and write.
I stopped for reassessment. All my “crises” were behind me. I was (relatively) healthy, and the lights were all green. There was no reason why I shouldn’t be able to zip through the book, finish it, and get it out for readers, pronto. Just like usual.
The only underlying reason I could think of for not writing the book was the book itself. For some reason in the back of my brain where I couldn’t reach it, I just didn’t want to write this book.
There was only one way to find out if that was the problem: Try writing a different book.
I thumbed through my dog-eared and drooled-over collection of series and novel ideas. Some of them I have been itching to write for years. Some of them are half-written. Some series have two or three books already completed, and just need the rest written to be put out there as a complete series. My collection of ideas is a junk yard of bits and peices, scraps and bodies, skeletons and parts. For a writer, it’s a goldmine, if you like digging through ideas and story starters and fragments of story, character profiles, etc.
But I didn’t just jump for the series I most wanted to write. If this was to be a fair experiment, I had to pick a series according to what I thought my readers would want to read the most, and try writing that.
So I did. I found amongst all my series and novel ideas a series that had all the hallmarks of a great read: Erotic romance, MMF storylines, urban fantasy, paranormal elements, vampires, and time travel — therefore, historical settings, too.
The series has been retitled: Beloved Bloody Time.
I brushed off the dust, reworked the storylines and romances, and started writing.
And ohmigod, I can’t stop!
It’s only been ten days since I started working on the first book in the series, Bannockburn Binding, and I’m already more than halfway through the book. And it’s fun!
So I think my plan is to put out a few books in this series, and then I will go back and tackle Blood Stone. Or maybe I’ll be suddenly inspired one day and start working on Blood Stone just for the hell of it, and the block will be gone.
For now, I’m writing at full tilt again…and it feels very good indeed.
Update. I wrote this post and scheduled it about ten days ago. As of November 26, I finished the book (first draft). It took me a whole whopping 16 days, and when I couldn’t access my laptop or desktop, I was scribbling notes in my notebook for yet another series idea that is banging inside my head. I think the dam has burst, well and truly. Interestingly, I wasn’t actively partipating in National Novel Writing Month, but as I started the book on November 9th and finished on November 26th, I actually did manage to write a book for the month of November, and completed the NaNoWriMo objective, quite by coincidence.
Tomorrow I’ll be starting Book Two in the series. :)
Here’s a snippet from Bannockburn Binding, and the blurb.
In the early 23rd Century, vampires learned how to travel back in time, and created a time-tsunami that threated life as we know it, until they corrected their mistake. They created the Chronometric Conservation Agency, which is tasked with preserving history and therefore protecting humanity’s future. The Touring arm of the Agency offers trips back into the real past, with vampire guides, called travellers.
When Natalia (Tally) Marta, vampire and traveller, takes her client to visit the seige of Stirling Castle in 1314, she is caught and held hostage for ransom by Robert MacKenzie, a Bruce clansman. Rob finds himself drawn to the willful, stubborn and very different English lady he has captured and the relationship becomes an intimate, highly-charged sexual pairing. Swiftly, Tally and Rob realize their bond is more than sexual, that the emotions stirring their hearts are true.
Christian Lee Hamilton, vampire, one of the last true southern gentlemen, and Tally’s ex-lover, knows the 1314 time marker enough to jump back and help Tally return home. His arrival at Bannockburn adds complications, for Christian finds himself drawn to Rob MacKenzie as much as Tally is. But neither of them can stay in the past forever. To do so means certain death.
Rob managed to stay away from his tent until sunset, then he could stand it no longer. He found a platter that was near to clean and heaped piping hot stew upon it, grabbed a hunk of honey bread and even managed to scrounge up a spoon. He took it all back to the tent, with a lantern in the other hand.
She was slumped against the tent pole, her face against her arms. His heart leapt into his mouth at the paleness of her. “Natalie, lass,” he murmured. “I’ve food for ye.”
She didn’t move and his fear bloomed larger. After all, she had been doing naught but picking mushrooms. If he’d killed her….
He sat his burdens down and cut her hands free with his dagger. She fell against him, a dead weight.
“Ye should’ve called out sooner, lassie,” he told her, knowing she probably couldn’t hear him. He began to massage her upper arms and shoulders, where most of the strain would have been.
She flashed to life, her knee driving into the front of his kilt, aiming for parts that no maiden should have been aware of. Her arms stiffened, the elbows driving into his chest. Her right elbow landed true and his shoulder instantly numbed, leaving his left arm useless.
She squirmed out of his reach and lunged for the dagger he’d left on the skins behind him.
Both furious and amazed, he threw himself on top of her, reaching over her head to pin her forearm to the floor, even as her fingers closed on the haft of the knife. With his left arm useless, he could only pin her down until his weight and her own struggles exhausted her.
“Wriggle all ye like,” he told her harshly. “It’ll do naught but tire ye, and make your meal cold. I have no intention of letting ye take the knife.” He shook his fingers as feeling started to return to his arm. “And the longer ye wriggle the sooner my other hand will recover.”
She lay still, silent. Waiting.
As soon as he was able, he reached with his left hand and tossed the knife far out of the way. Then he flipped her on her back.
Instantly, she heaved upwards with her head, intending to smash her forehead into his and blind him. But he had been ready for such a trick and was out of reach, so she did nothing but strain her already stressed shoulders. She fell back on the skins with a cry of pain, her eyes closing.
It was much too close to a more intimate positioning than Rob cared to consider. He cleared his throat. “Ye cannot win any match against me, Natalie.” His words emerged ragged and harsh. “D’ye not see? Will ye not give it up and let me treat ye civilly?”
She was breathing deeply, but the eyes slitted open, showing dark brown and black. “Give me back my manservant.”
She turned her head away. “Then I cannot, either.”
“Look at me,” he demanded harshly. When she remained still, he brought both slender wrists under his left hand and gripped her chin to bring her head around. She merely closed her eyes.
So Rob kissed her, intending merely to shock her into opening her eyes. And they did open wide, but that was all he noticed before the sensations of kissing her swamped his senses. Her mouth was soft, pliable and tasted like ripe peaches. Everything about her was soft, warm, delicate. His tongue slipped between her lips. Sips of honey, he thought.
It was the last coherent thought he had. His body took over. He let it happen. The drive to have more of the taste of her, to take more, was overwhelming. He let his body press against hers, feeling her with every inch of his length where she lay beneath him.
And her tongue met his.
Her soft moan as she melted against him made the internal flame blaze up, demanding more and more. Silvery excitement shot through him.
Abruptly, with a cold dash of alarm, he realized what he was doing. What they were doing.
He wrenched himself away and she, too, slithered back until she was up against the tent pole, her arms against her chest defensively. Her veil had dislodged, reveal pale golden hair tied back in a thick skein at her back. The brown eyes were very round. “What…do you think you are doing?”
It was the proper question any maiden would ask.
Rob spoke carefully. “I am a block-headed fool. I must be, for the only other truth is that you and I both know what we were just doing.”
She bit her lip.
The small sign of doubt was more endearing than anything else she had said or done this day. “We cannot,” she said and it had a hopeless, final quality to it.
“Aye and I would not, not with you.” He got up, the heaviness in his limbs making his actions awkward.
“Because I am English,” she said, her voice harsh.
He picked up his dagger and slid it back into his boot. “Because ye are my captive. Only the English spoil their winnings, lassie, but ye could say more on that than I.” He pointed to the platter, which was still steaming. His hand shook. “That is for you. I suggest you eat it, for there’s naught else to be had this night.” He threw the rope aside. “I’ll not tie ye again, so I must guard ye instead. Don’t try to go under the back of this tent, either. It’s dark now. Anyone caught wandering the camp who can’t answer the day’s challenge will be run through.”
And he got himself out of his tent while he still could and let the leather fall across the opening. He hoped it would be barricade enough.