Pre-order Comet’s First Christmas!

Pre-order now!

I’m so excited to finally share Comet with you! This lesbian low-angst Christmas novella was exactly what I needed during this brutal year.

Will a bad Santa ruin the holiday before the reindeer go hooves-up on Christmas Eve?

Claudia
I’ve dreamed of this day for years, and now it’s reality. I’ve been called up for the Big Show. Official Pole phone and email, Naughty-or-Nice login, and upgraded I.D. with my new job title—Comet. In three weeks, I’ll be part of the team flying Santa around the world.

In an instant my life goes from peaceful, if boring, to a blizzard of last-minute flight preparations, route planning, and anxiety-triggering stress.

The moment I meet my P.A., Jillian, her beautiful smile and sparkling blue eyes are an oasis of calm. But I’ve barely got enough time to wonder if her plump lips taste as sugarplum sweet as they look. Disturbing news has popped up on Santa’s radar.

Someone is turning Santa’s most fervent believers into non-believers overnight. If we can’t find and stop this hacker, there won’t be enough reindeer cutout cookies and hot chocolate in the world to restore balance to Santa’s Naughty-or-Nice list in time for Christmas Eve.

Note to reader: What sweet Christmas romance would be complete without reindeer, The Nutcracker, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, and New York pizza?

Pre-order now!

Now Available: Lab Rats

Lab Rats is out and available in the world! 2.99 on Kindle or free on Kindle Unlimited.

Everything changes the moment heartthrob Justin Carson shifts from human to Were Wolf on live television and is subsequently captured.

Dr. Benjamin Wells is tapped by the government to create a test from Justin’s blood intended to identify anyone who might be a Were. Dr. Diana Lutz is the Were Wolf sent by the Were leaders to stop him, and to find and hopefully free Justin, her twin. The only thing stronger than Diana and Ben’s mutual dislike of each other is their sudden attraction. Soon that attraction explodes, and in the same moment Ben learns the truth about his heritage—he’s part Wolf, and Diana is his mate.

As they race to be the first to discover the blood test and prevent the other organizations from endangering all Weres, Ben must decide whose side he’s on. Will he betray his people? How far is Diana willing to go to save her brother, and what is she willing to sacrifice?

CW: Violence

Here’s an excerpt, right after Ben has shifted back to human for the first time.

Finally all that remained was the nude form of a human man on his hands and knees. He panted, his sides heaving as he sucked in great gasps of air.

“There. You did it. Try not to shift without me until you get the hang of things,” she said, laying a hand on his shoulder.

His head snapped up, and he pulled away as if she’d burned him. “I didn’t try to shift this time, as you phrase it. How can I prevent it? Then I’ll never shift again, and I can pretend this was all the result of some food poisoning.”

She crouched down. “At some point you’ll start craving it like a drug. If you wait too long, you’ll lose control. There’s a reason we don’t let our children into your world until they’re old enough to keep their form. There’s a reason that werewolves figure into mythology. You have to maintain control. Emotions will make it harder—anger will cause a growl or a snarl, for example.”

“Then you should stay far away from me,” he pushed to his feet, gasping from the pain of his skeleton realigning. “It’s your fault that I shifted in the first place!”

Diana toyed with her braid. “If you don’t let me help you, I’ll go straight to the Lioness, right now, and she’ll assign someone else to you. Assuming she lets you live.”

“Who, or what is ‘the Lioness’?” Ben took a step toward her, then looked down in horror at his nudity. His hands immediately cupped himself to hide his privates away from Diana.

“She’s the ruler of Boston. Think of her as the Queen.” Then she smirked. “You’re going to have to get over any prudishness you have over nudity.”

Ben’s face grew crimson, although how much was anger and how much was embarrassment, she couldn’t tell. “I have a spare set of clothes in my office.”

“Go get dressed and we’ll talk more.”

She watched Ben storm into his office. The lights went on, then off a few minutes later. When Ben came out, dressed in his spare set of clothes, his shoulders were hunched. “Fine. I will accept your help.”

“We’re going to have to tell the Lioness eventually. She’ll find out,” Diana warned him. “But I think it’s best if you attend my ‘So You Found Out You’re a Werewolf’ seminar first. You have a lot to learn, and no time to learn it.”

“You can do all of this quickly? Does it still hurt?” Ben’s face was vulnerable and frightened. A child who’d just learned that the rules he’d lived by no longer applied. He picked up his torn shirt, then let the fabric slide through his fingers.

“You won’t notice it after a while, it’s over so fast,” she said.

Diana stripped off her clothes and shifted. She shifted back, and tossed her unbound hair over her shoulder.

“See? It gets that easy,” she said with a smile.

Ben was frozen, barely even breathing.

“Ben?”

“Y-you’re naked, Diana.”

She glanced down. “Well, yes. I don’t have spare clothes here like you. I told you, you’re going to have to get over whatever Puritanical belief system you have about nudity.”

His pupils were dilated, and he kept looking at her body then looking away.

“How can you be calm about being naked in the middle of a lab?” Another peek and another quick look away.

“Because I don’t have the same human hang-ups about nudity? Here, I’ll get dressed.” Diana rolled her eyes and pulled on her clothes. By the time she’d pulled her top over her bra, Ben was studying a box of pipettes as if they held the winning lottery numbers.

**Ben, it will get easier. I promise.**

He looked at her, although his eyes dipped to her now-covered chest before moving back to her face. His eyes searched hers.

“I can’t be a monster.” His protest was soft, almost tearful.

Diana’s instincts scraped at her. Another Wolf was in pain. She needed to do something. There were no Alphas to step in and deal with the hurt. She was the only one who could help him. She closed the distance between them, and pulled him into her arms.

“Oh, Ben. We’re not monsters, we’re just a different kind of p—”

Diana’s voice cut out as her nose told her something terrible.

Ben wasn’t just a Wolf.

He was an Alpha.

And she was his mate.

I have free copies for any reader who promises to leave a review. I have pdf, mobi (kindle) and epub (nook/kobo/google play books) versions available. Leave a comment here to be contacted, or email me at delilahnight at gmail dot com.

Meet Ben, Diana, and Justin

One of the fun parts of writing a book is imagining your characters. On pinterest, I like to create boards where I effectively cast my books. Here are my takes on Diana, Ben, and Justin.

This is Diana. I looked for someone with their hair in a braid, as Diana does in the book, but I couldn’t find a picture I liked. So I shrugged it off, and found a picture of the character with hair down. I really liked this picture.

This scene is after Ben shifts for the first time. Neither Diana nor Ben had known he was a Wolf.

Diana’s instincts scraped at her. Another Wolf was in pain. She needed to do something. There were no Alphas to step in and deal with the hurt. She was the only one who could help him. She closed the distance between them, and pulled him into her arms. * “Oh, Ben. We’re not monsters, we’re just a different kind of p—”

Diana’s voice cut out as her nose told her something terrible.

Ben wasn’t just a Wolf

He was an Alpha. And she was his mate.

Ben was the hardest character to cast. I couldn’t find a scientist picture that I thought was hot enough, so I started looking at professors and found this picture. Ben doesn’t wear glasses, and he’s a bit young for Ben, but he’s the closest.

This scene is right after he’s shifted back to human, shortly after Diana’s excerpt.


He couldn’t have pulled his head away from her neck if he wanted to, which he did not. Her scent was the only thing tethering him to his body. Without her, who knows what sort of horrific outcomes would happen? He clung to her. He stroked up and down her back. He ran his hands through her silky hair. His tongue slid out of his mouth and licked her neck. Licked her neck?

“I hate you,”he muttered.

In some ways, Justin was the easiest character to cast. Hot actor with dark hair and light eyes? Little bit of smolder? Check.

This is from chapter 1, just before Justin shifts.

Despite everything. Despite Weres being involved in the project at every level. Despite all the care being taken to turn out strong performances, even if they couldn’t exactly portray Were society. Broken Dreams should have been his. He was fucking perfect for that goddamned role. But no, they had to cast a human. And Stephen had let them.

Have you ever cast the books you write or read?

Cover Reveal: Lab Rats

Lab Rats is coming February 11, 2020! Pre-order here.

Everything changes the moment heartthrob Justin Carson shifts from human to Were Wolf on live television and is subsequently captured.

Dr. Benjamin Wells is tapped by the government to create a test from Justin’s blood intended to identify anyone who might be a Were. Dr. Diana Lutz is the Were Wolf sent by the Were leaders to stop him, and to find and hopefully free Justin, her twin. The only thing stronger than Diana and Ben’s mutual dislike of each other is their sudden attraction. Soon that attraction explodes, and in the same moment Ben learns the truth about his heritage—he’s part Wolf, and Diana is his mate.

As they race to be the first to discover the blood test and prevent the other organizations from endangering all Weres, Ben must decide whose side he’s on. Will he betray his people? How far is Diana willing to go to save her brother, and what is she willing to sacrifice?

CW—violence is committed against the captive Wolf by the soldiers holding him captive

Cover by Spotondesigners on Fiverr

Worrying about wordcount

An editor friend once told me to let a story be as long as it needs to be. Which is good advice in theory, but not always realistic when worrying about submission guidelines.

Short story calls tend to be in the range of 2,500-5,000 words, with 7500 words as an upper limit. Totally Bound, which is the publisher behind Capturing the Moment says that novellas start at 25,000 words and novels at 50,000. Other publishers say a novel is 75,000 or 80,000 words. Other wisdom holds that a novel is around 100,000 words.

In general I find that it is easier to trim a story than to lengthen it. Taking a story and trimming off all the tangents, the many times I use “just” as a filler word, and other bits here and there streamline the story. If you look at a writer like Malin James, every single word serves a purpose–there isn’t so much as a spare syllable.

However, when I sat down to write Capturing the Moment, it was with the explicit goal of writing a novella. That felt like stretching my writing muscles, as the longest thing I’d had professionally published at that point was a 5,000 word story. Writing 25,000 words wasn’t easy, and I had to keep asking myself what I could have them do within the guidelines of a 24 hour story (at the time I was writing to a specific call, but ended up going with a different publisher for personal reasons).

It took me eight months (with a big health related break) to get from the first word to submitting to a publisher.

Plunder began life as a short story in October or November of 2015. The characters wouldn’t leave me alone, so I started a novel. Unlike when I wrote Capturing the Moment, I didn’t have a specific publisher or call I was responding to. There was no exterior framing device to use. This was all on me, with the goal of at least 50k words, even as I knew 50k is often considered a long novella or a super short novel, but that was still twice the length of Capturing the Moment.

In the roughly two and a half years since, I wrote a first draft that almost killed me to get to 50k words. I felt desperate by the end of it, watching my word count slowly trickle upwards to that goal. I had a beta read and respond to it, and I began to mess around with it again at the end of last year, taking it from 50-75k words because I was then responding to questions I hadn’t answered, making things more obvious, and stregthening the weak spots that had been called out to me. I then sent it to several more people and a good friend who is also a sometimes editor of mine (Jessica Augustsson, owner of Jayhenge Publishing).

Jess asked several key questions that, along with my conversation with Beverly Jenkins, made me realize I hadn’t done anywhere near as much research as I should have for a historical.

Now I am back at the drawing board, and my writing is both ticking upward as I fill in gaps, fix historical errors, and shifting down as I trim the fat. As you could see in the top picture, my word count as of this minute is 77,003. At the end of today it could be 78,000 or 76,000, although my final goal for the book is in the 80-85k range.

Then I’ll send it back to Jess (I asked her to let me go through and fix the historical issues to the best of my ability) and we’ll see what happens then. At that point, though, the focus won’t really be on wordcount.

So what advice do I have?

My solution was to keep messing with their happiness. I think that’s probably lame advice, but it’s one of the pieces of advice I’ve always gone back to when struggling with my work. Oh, are they happy? How can I create a situation–interior or exterior–that will fuck with that.

What do I mean?

So in Plunder, one of my two MC’s is Bree, who is a young woman who grew up on her father’s ship, but was sent away to what was in effect an early finishing school. She’s leaving school and thinks she’s going to return to living on a ship when she learns that her father has arranged a marriage for her. When her ship is attacked by pirates, she negotiates with the captain for the safety of her crew. A night turns into a week, and she falls for him. Everything seems to be going well, and that could have been the end of the story. But I have him send her back to her father’s ship–an act with repercussions for the rest of the book.

In Capturing the Moment, I kept bringing in Meg and RJ’s past, because the relationship they’d had in college and just after had repercussions on how they interacted six years after their broken engagement. Eventually, they also needed to have a massive fight to deal with their past. Each time the past came up, it affected the present. By figuring out their past, it not only helped me understand where the story had to go, it affected word count.

Ultimately I don’t think there’s a magic bullet to deal with word count goals. If there was, I’d be producing stories at a much faster pace than I do. I think it’s a muscle that gets stronger as you practice your craft. I could write a novella because I’d grown strong muscles writing short stories. I can write a novel because I wrote a novella.

 

 

Plunder Update

In my 2017 Year in Review post I noted that I was about halfway through the Plunder rewrite. It is not only finished but my betas are gleefully ripping the second draft (which ended at 76+k words) and I’m doing rewrites to prepare to send it to my final beta, a really talented editor/IRL friend, Jessica Augustsson after which I’ll send it to publishers. This year. I’m committing to it.

Since I’ve been hyping this book for what feels like damn near forever, here’s another sneak peek.

William took a long, slow inventory of her body. She had raven hair cut in a sassy short cap, and bright green eyes. What did her father think of that? The man hadn’t struck William as progressive. A sharp chin, raised in defiance. The shirt and breeches looked borrowed, and the dingy bit of rope holding up her pants taunted him, daring him to give it a tug and sink to his knees to worship her. Bree’s cheek’s flushed, and she bit her lip. Her arms came up and crossed over her breasts—delicate, gentle mounds he looked forward to tasting. His breeches suddenly felt suddenly tight.

“Your father owns the Maya.” He played dumb.

“Is he alive?” she asked.

He nodded. “There’s no need to shed his blood. But there was also no need to keep those in charge above decks. Makes the lads more afraid.” He glanced down at the gash in her shirt. “Seems to rile up lasses, though.”

The sound that came from her was almost a growl, and he grinned.

“You’re unmarried?”

“Yes. What of it?”

“I find it hard to believe no man has tried to marry you.” He really did. She was fire and passion, and he felt drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Were the men near her school complete milksops that they felt threated by her?

“I find proposals tedious.”

Surprised, William burst out laughing. He closed the distance between them and traced a path from her collarbone to the dirty rope holding up her breeches. “Virgin?”

She paled. Then she lifted her chin in arrogance. “Not after tonight.”

He laughed. “What am I to call you, minx?”

“Brianna. Bree. And you? What shall I call you? Blackguard? Criminal?”

Her brashness was an aphrodisiac. He answered her with a kiss. His mouth was gentle and her lips opened for him. Her arms trembled as she slid them around his neck, instinctively pulling him closer. His hands stroked down her back, cupping her bottom, pressing himself against her.

“William,” he murmured. He nuzzled her neck and he felt a shiver run down her back. “My name is William.”

She shoved him away. “What game is this? You proposition me, hold me hostage in your quarters and then kiss me like a love-struck cabin boy?”

It was a direct hit to his ego. He flinched, as love-struck cabin boy hit a little too close to home. He was sliding down a slope with no handholds.

His voice was rough with desire when he spoke. “Any wench can open her legs and ignore a man pumping above her. That’s a hollow victory. I want your complete surrender. When I take you, you’ll know who it is inside you.” He stepped close to her once more, bent to her ear and whispered, “You’ll want me there.”

My Plunder Playlist

**Disclaimer–Yes, I’m a total romantic version of pirates fan. It was probably inevitable that I’d write a pirate novel. I’m going to mention the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. If you haven’t seen them, see Curse of the Black Pearl and skip the rest unless you absolutely feel the need. I will say, though, that Mick Jagger as Jack Sparrow’s father was an inspired bit of casting.**

Music is as instrumental to me as breathing (pun intended). So when I’m writing, I usually have a playlist going in the background, and not just to block out Sofia the First or Teen Titans Go. When I wrote the short story version of Plunder, I didn’t have a song or a playlist in mind. However, when it came time to write the novel, I decided one was necessary.

I was wasting time on Youtube, as one does, when my recommendations came up with this…

 

I had no idea that my life was missing this, but it was. I then spent several hours watching Peter Hollens videos.He has an amazing catalog, including any number of gorgeous duets with his equally talented wife Evynne.

Not only was the Pirates medley awesome, but it made something click for me about Plunder.

My heart is pierced by Cupid

I disdain all glittering gold

There is nothing can console me

But my jolly sailor bold.

–My Jolly Sailor

The thing about Plunder is that both Bree and William are sailors, and they’re both crazy in love, despite their constant banter/fighting. So the lyric work both ways…Bree about William, William about Bree.

I immediately bought the song, and it is the cornerstone of my playlist. Because they did such a great job, I went over to the Pirate of the Caribbean soundtracks. I have the entire Curse of the Black Pearl soundtrack, and from the World’s End soundtrack I added “Drink Up Me Hearties Yo Ho” and “Hoist the Colours.”

Interestingly enough, My Jolly Sailor Bold isn’t on the soundtrack of Stranger Tides, despite it being the song the mermaids sing to enchant sailors so they can turn vampire, drag them into the water and eat them. However, you can find countless covers on YouTube.

 

Disney, however, didn’t write this song. It seems to be based off an 18th or 19th century shanty, depending on which version of My Jolly Sailor Bold you believe to be the origin song. To read more, go here.

So, my playlist (all of which can be bought on Amazon or iTunes, depending on your preference) is The Peter Hollens Pirates Medley, Hoist the Colours, Drink Up Me Hearties Yo Ho, and the full Curse of the Black Pearl soundtrack.

Happy Pirating! I should be finishing my edited version in the next few days and sending it off to betas. Once that happens, my playlist will look a lot more like this…

Sidenote–Check out Todrick Hall’s videos, too. He’s so incredibly talented.

First drafts suck and the process of writing a novel

first draft suck

Last week I finished the first draft of the novel version of my short story, Plunder. I wanted a minimum length of 50k and ended up at 42k. There’s so much that needs to be cut or repurposed, like the chapter of exposition. There are secondary characters whose names I lost track of, and ones who need to be fleshed out. There is a lull about two-thirds of the way through after I break up my couple  that needs a lot of work. Tertiary characters flip between being alive and dead because I lost track. It is a jumbled, disorganized mess. But that’s okay.

edit without mercy

The biggest challenge I’ve faced with the novel is the sheer scale of the story.

Where Capturing the Moment had two main characters and two secondary characters, Plunder has two main characters, and tons of secondary characters. The nature of life on a ship means that I had to flesh out some portion of the crew, and with something like seven named secondary characters on two ships, it’s easy to lose track of who is who and what their personalities are.

Plunder is told from Bree’s perspective, unlike Capturing the Moment which showed both Meg and RJ’s points of view. It is very challenging to not tip my hand or give things away before their time. William is an alphahole, but I need my readers to still root for he and Meg to figure things out.

I have realized that in order to effectively edit the novel I need to create

  • a master document wherein I list all the characters and details about each of them
  • a chronological timeline.
  • chapter by chapter summaries–some of the exposition in a later chapter was dealt with in casual conversation earlier.
  • a sexual summary–style, position, allegories I use for orgasm. I don’t want to get repetitive, or miss out on something.

editing

I’m not going to start editing yet. I’m still too close to the story. My plan is to take a few days off, write a short story or two, and start the edits in June. I’ve shared the document in all it’s disastrous glory with my husband, but I will spend a month (or more) polishing it to the best product I can create.

When I wrote Capturing the Moment, I knew that my setting was accurate because I based it on my own visit. As I said in my guest post with F dot Leonora, I’m a photographer like Meg. I had to look up some details about art and the proper name of an instrument, but I was on solid ground. With Plunder, I’m dealing with a foreign time period and selective historical accuracy. The closest I’ve come to being a sailor is working as a costumed guide on the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum in college. I know nothing about rigging or the other jobs on a ship in the 17th. Research is only going to get me so far. I’ll need to consult with someone who knows their stuff as Bree is supposed to be a skilled sailor and fix the details I’m bullshitting today.

Once I’m done with edits, my husband will give it one last look. When both of us have signed off on it, I’ll send Plunder to my betas. They’ll need time to read and provide their comments.

During that lull, I’ll work on other projects.

When I have beta feedback, I’ll digest their thoughts and then revise Plunder further. I may send it to one more round of beta support or editorial support. A story is never really “done”–it just reaches the point where you are going to send it in or futz with it forever. I also call this the I keep editing, but now I’m making it worse instead of better. That’s the point where I’ll submit it for publication, and cross my fingers.

pirate 1

What does first draft, unedited hot mess look like? Here’s an example…

She was just about to head back to William’s cabin when it happened. A wave rose up and slapped the Ghost, tippping it starboard. She thought she heard a scream, and looked up in time to see the man from the foretop falling. He hit the gunwhale and slipped off into the sea.

“Man overboard!” Bree screamed, but her words were drowned out by the shrieking wind.

The starboard side of the foresail was unmanned, and began to flap. Bree might not be a pirate, but she was a skilled sailor who knew her rigging. She took a deep breath and dashed over to the ratlines and began to climb. The ropes were slick with rain, and she fought to keep her footing. Once at the crossbar over the foresail, she grabbed a piece of rope and knotted it about her stomach as the missing sailor should have. That would hopefully keep her alive if she fell, and she retied the knots that had gone slack.

The storm was like a living predator, snarling as it attacked its prey. Lighting slashed across the sky. She was soaked to the skin by the drowning rain. Waves tossed the Ghost, water sometimes crashing over the deck. Bree clung to the mast, keeping a close eye on the sail, listening for orders.

Bree prayed that the Maya was safely moored somewhere far from this storm. The thought of losing Marcus and James was unbearable. She looked for William, worried that he, too, might have fallen victim to the storm, but he wasn’t near her, and she couldn’t see the aft of the ship. Her heart twisted, but she remained focused.

The storm quieted, but she knew it was just the eye, and that the eerie calm wouldn’t last.

“Lass!” The pirate above her at the fore topsail called down.

She looked up. “Yes?”

“Can’t decide if you’re brave or dumb as a rock, but good work.”

My thoughts

  • “just” is one the worst offenders when it comes to filler/unnecessary words in my writing
  • Living predator? As opposed to a dead one?
  • I really know nothing about rigging, although I looked up proper names for things online
  • “the man from the foretop falling” what?
  • Would tying a rope around her waist save her if she fell? Really?
  • The storm needs more description. Do more than those few sentences.
  • She cares about Archie, the ship’s boy she befriended as well as Marcus and James

It’s not a bad passage, but it’s a really important one in the story. It needs expansion, more details (including support from someone who knows something about ships and sailing), and other editing support.

Here’s the thing, though. You can’t edit what you haven’t written. I wrote this, so now I have something to edit. In a month or so.

Rogues is now available for pre-order

Rogues

Rogues, edited by Delilah Devlin, is now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle, and will be published on May 17, 2016.

I have to confess that my story in this anthology, Plunder, is one of my all-time favorites.

Sparks fly when the Caribbean’s most fearsome pirate falls under the spell of a sexy spitfire who’d rather send him to Davy Jones’s locker.

pirate 2

Here’s a snippet (which I shared in October 2014, but it’s worth sharing again)

Put it down, lad. Don’t think to try me,” he warned her.

Defiantly she stepped out of line and faced him. He raised an eyebrow when he saw she was no lad. His distraction presented the perfect opportunity; her sword sliced through the air. Bree grinned fiercely as she scored first blood, but her victory was short-lived. It was humiliating how quickly he disarmed her. She found herself face down on the deck with the pirate captain’s boot planted firmly on her back.

This would never have happened if Papa hadn’t sent me away. Fighting had been yet another useful skill she’d had to abandon in favor of nonsense like bossing around servants. Maids were bigger crybabies than seasick boys on their first sail.

“This girl has more courage than the rest of you scum put together. At least she tried to kill me,” he said derisively.

The boot was removed and he hauled her to her feet. She immediately cocked a fist. “Quite the spitfire, aren’t you?” He picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder.

Her blood boiled. “Go to hell!” She beat at his back ineffectively as he carried her to the quarterdeck. She was put down with her back to the railing.

The pirate imprisoned her hands in one of his own. “I have a proposition for you, minx. You’ve given me more amusement in the past five minutes than I’ve had in a long time. Amuse me tonight and I don’t kill your crewmates. Maybe you’ll even please me so well that I’ll let you keep your ship.”

The roar in her ears wasn’t the ocean. “What?”

“Don’t disappoint me now. Is the idea of my bed so repulsive that you’d rather lose your ship?”

Brianna swallowed. “How do I know you’ll honor the bargain?” My body is to be a bargaining chip no matter what.Better to use it for the Maya than submit to whomever Papa chose.

He gave her a feral smile. “You don’t.”

Writing Schedules, Pantsing vs Plotting, and a Sneak Peek

I recently spent a week fully immersed in what I hope will be my first full length-novel, Plunder (based on the short story soon to appear in Rogues). I had an absurdly productive week unlike any other writing experience, except the one I had when I wrote the first draft of the Plunder short story, am now roughly halfway done with the first draft.

pirate 5

However, I am a pantser, not a plotter. So what I have is an incredibly rough half of a book that will require extensive editing.

Does this mean I don’t know what’s going to happen next? For me, it means I have the complete arc of the story in my head, and am filling in all the empty spaces.

It’s easy to say that I’ll refine the first half and then write the second half, but if I learned anything from the ghost novel, which holds the record for most starts and zero finishes of any story I’ve ever written, ever, it’s that you suck it up and keep going.  My goal is to write the entire first draft and then fix it.

It’s only apt that I pepper this post with pirate memes not only because Plunder is a pirate story, but because even when I have plotted a story, my characters have committed mutiny and gone off to do whatever they want despite my outline. I have learned that I write more effectively by pantsing than plotting.

pirate 4

When will the first draft be done? Damned if I know. People talk about daily word counts and schedules, but as Jade A Waters said in her post called “The Process,” I kept fooling myself into believing I have a systemized process, and it’s become abundantly clear I’m full of shit. I laughed with delight when I read that line, because I find it to be so true for myself as well.

I’ll write in the mornings, when the kids are at school–Oh crap, I have to grocery shop. I don’t want to grocery shop with my four and seven year old, do I?

I’ll write in the afternoons, while the kids are absorbed in tv–Assuming I can block out Sofia the First or whatever other inane tv show is on/am not on Ms 7’s case about homework.

I’ll write in the evenings, after the kids are in bed–Well, sure, once I’ve done the other at home things, and if I’m still conscious enough to not fall asleep at the laptop/have enough energy to do anything other than watch tv listlessly. Or if I don’t have a freelance article due.

I’ll write on the weekends, when Mr. Night is around to run interference with the kids–Sometimes. Sometimes we actually want to do stuff as a family.

I don’t have a hard and fast policy because my life isn’t regimented enough to have one at this point (and probably never will be as I’m just not that organized). I have hopes that I’ll finish it before Capturing the Moment comes out on March 29 (pre-order will start March 14), but have accepted that it may not be.

pirate 2

I think that Plunder came along as well as it did during my intensive writing week was due to the fact that I love this story. This is a story I am happy to give up my free time to, and characters I absolutely adore. William is an alphahole (a term I only just learned thanks to Ilona Andrews post on that trope–btw, I loved her book, Clean Sweep). Brianna is an equally alpha heroine who has no desire to bow to the whim of any man. All she wants is to be a sailor, and eventually the captain of her father’s ship, the Maya. Both William and Bree are strong personalities with lots of opinions about everything, and throwing them together is often delightful.

If anything, I think the reason that things have slowed down is that they are currently apart because William was, well, an alphahole. Entirely his fault. I’m finding it hard to keep the story moving until they meet up again. Which is not to say that the middle bit is bad (although it’s a draft so it probably does suck–all first drafts suck), but rather than I have more fun and thus write faster when they’re butting heads.

pirate 3

Speaking of William and Bree, here’s another glimpse into their story

“What are you doing?”

“Darling, clearly it’s your nature to argue over everything, but it’s a blanket. It’s warm. You sleep under it.”

“I didn’t say I was ready to sleep.” Bree plucked the blanket from his hand and tossed it back to the floor. “I’ve yet to fully explore your territory with my tongue.”

“If you must. I suppose I can close my eyes and think of my duty to cartography.”

Bree’s hand had been trailing through his chest hair. At his comment she grabbed a fistful and yanked.

“Vicious little vixen.”

“Damned pirate. Turn over.”

“Aye aye, wench.”

All mine.

Her hands roamed his body. Freckles were scattered over his back, and Bree pressed a kiss to each. She had never considered a pirate would have such a banal thing as a freckle.

“Where did you get this?” An odd scar marred the perfection of his buttocks.

“Slight disagreement with a shark.”

She dug her nails into the cheek.

William sighed deeply. “Slight disagreement with a fishing hook. Rum was involved.”

Bree laughed with delight. “Turn over, and let me see what other wounds have been inflicted upon you. I wish to catalog them all.”

He turned onto his back. “What of the wound you gave me, minx?”

“A memory I shall always cherish.” Her tone was tart, but her eyes were soft as they made a study of his form