When Rebecca Leigh Joyce’s ex-boyfriend from high school, Henry, kills himself on her lawn, she vows she will never fall in love. She seeks comfort in material things to fill the void in her heart - fancy clothes, pretty jewelry, pampering at the spa. That’s why Connor Bankert is so appealing to her. As the owner of a local night club called the Cherry Popper, he is loaded and will pay for the rest of Rebecca’s fashion school tuition if she will give him sex. But Connor is dangerous. He has a rape history and is known around town for raping pretty, innocent women. Rebecca doesn’t like the idea of having to put out to get what she wants, but she will do it because becoming a successful fashion designer is her lifelong dream.
Grant, the boy that Rebecca works with at the Cherry Hut restaurant in Beulah, Michigan, is in love with her. He tries to get Rebecca to see that being with Connor isn’t safe. What Grant doesn’t get is that Rebecca doesn’t want love. Love is a distraction that will keep her from her dreams. Through selfless acts, Grant tries to show Rebecca that it is human nature to love - to give love and to receive love. Haunted by Henry’s suicide on her lawn, Rebecca is afraid to love anyone, but Grant eases his way into her heart. He makes her feel safe and wanted, whereas Connor only wants her for her body. Yet, Connor has a captive claim on Rebecca. Grant must prove to Rebecca that he is man enough for her. He sustains Connor-related injuries when Connor learns that Rebecca has been going out with Grant. Rebecca must find the courage to leave Connor, even though it would mean no fashion school tuition, if she wants a happily ever after with Grant.
Man, I can't imagine what it's like to be an author on contract! Putting in 2k words a day is way too much work. I crashed and burned the other day and decided that 1k words is sufficient progress. After all, I only need to do about 13k more words until I'm finished. And when I do finish, I'm going to open up the almond champagne from Fortino's that my wonderful husband got me for my birthday.
When I finish Island Girl in two weeks, I hope to be able to send the draft in, but I assume I will probably still be working on edits for a while. There are lots of little things to watch out for: character development, character mannerisms, making sure everyone's story is resolved by the end, improving the world-building, etc. That's the problem that comes with writing a story with lots of characters. Island Girl has lots of them.
This second draft counts as an edit (and the one that won a full request from an agent, one third of the way through -yeah!). I've resurrected certain characters from the dead. As a romance writer, I believe in happy endings for everyone, especially the hero and heroine. During the revision process, I discovered that my work should not have been categorized as romance in the first place, because the heroine doesn't meet the hero in the opening chapter. (The standard rules of romance novels require them to meet in the opening pages.) The heroine goes to bed with the wrong guy, which many women can relate to. Island Girl would be categorized as commercial fiction with strong elements of romance. Commercial fiction allows for more creativity and fewer rules, as opposed to other genres. I suppose it's better to categorize my work as commercial fiction, which would appeal to a wider audience.
During my rewrite, I learn more about the stories these characters have to tell, and I learn more about their history and personality. It was hard to come to terms with having to do a rewrite because I had poured out my heart and soul and beat my brains out on the first draft, but rewrites are absolutely necessary for making any story better. I just have to pour out my heart and soul and beat my brains out again, and pray this turns into gold.
I've tried to set myself on a writing schedule to get this rewrite done in an efficient manner for the agent who wants to see it. Like Stephen King, one of my favorite authors, I push myself to write 2,000 words a day, writing 1,000 in the morning and 1,000 in the afternoon/evening hours. I achieved 4,000 already this week, putting me at 46,000 words (66% progress). At this rate, I'll probably finish my rewrite by my anniversary in 3 weeks. And then there are those lovely edits.
Most of the time I write at home on the recliner chair in front of the tube, with either Pandora running or watching something on Netflix. Some people have to have absolute silence when they write. I've met some NY Times bestselling authors who say they give up TV while they write a book and go out and buy a season or complete series of their favorite show on DVD as a reward when they finish. I have to have some kind of noise going on in the background to make me feel like I'm not alone in the house while my husband is working all day. It's a source of comfort.
I have recently discovered a great writing group that meets at Barnes and Noble on Monday mornings, so I usually go there to write on Mondays. It's a fun and motivational group. Lots of writers come to write. We sit there from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and write for forty-five minutes and chat for fifteen minutes every hour. Now I feel motivated to go check out other places where I can write, like a library or a Starbucks (where they actually have outlets for my laptop), It gets old writing in my house all the time, but sometimes I am too lazy to venture out and explore. I need a change of scenery.
This has been a long journey, going from the initial idea to getting all the words down in GoogleDocs and getting them perfect. Tonight I reached the 42,000 word mark. I had spent several months on the first draft and pitched to agents at the San Francisco Writers Conference. Several of them loved the idea for Island Girl, a contemporary romance in which two workers from Mackinac Island, Michigan fall in love in the heat of danger, One of them would only see it if I had it professionally edited, but that costs lots of money which I don't have. Lucky for me there are some agents who don't care about that, so I focus on them. Another agent requested to see the first six chapters and rejected it several months later. And yet another agent I talked to said I needed to start the action from the beginning, not the back story. I figured if I followed this agent's advice I would have more success.
After the conference, I sent out forty queries for Island Girl. One agent was totally interested and would have loved to have seen the manuscript, but didn't have time. She said to contact her again in six months if I don't have an agent by then. Query #21 came back wanting to see the full manuscript and synopsis! Woohoo! Unfortunately I was in the middle of a rewrite at the time I received this email from the agent, so I asked her to wait until I finished the rewrite. I want it to be perfect so that she'll sign me on and so that it will sell to her friends in publishing. I wish I could fast forward through time so that I could see what will come of all this hard work. Hopefully by my anniversary in three weeks I will finish this thing.