The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Meg

Here we are on the last day of November. For those tired souls who participated in National Novel Writing Month – congratulations! It’s over! I did not participate this year, but instead set the goal of revising my completed manuscript for publication. I am not sure what happened to my time this month, but I’m sorry to say that I barely even made a dent in the job. Besides the introductory section I posted recently, I have accomplished absolutely nothing!

Nevertheless, I am still going to attempt to finish so as to publish before the year is out. If it seems a little quiet around here, you’ll know why. I’ll be in the subterranean lair, feverishly editing away…

“They want me to NaNoWriMo… I say, no, no, no.”

Today, being the first day of November, is also day one of National Novel Writing Month. For the last several weeks, my email box has been filling with correspondence from the local Bucks County NaNo group, the national organization and other assorted promotional advertisers for the event. I’m not buying into the hype this year.

Last year, I participated in order to kick start the fifth book in my novel series. I’d written a few hundred words, had the basic plot outlined but hadn’t made any progress beyond that in months. I managed to come close to the 50,000 word goal by the end of November but the story was far from finished. In fact, here I am one year later, still working on it. It never took me this long to publish the previous four books. So much for NaNoWriMo.

Nevertheless, I am going to use the month as a deadline for the revising and editing of the book. I am giving myself 30 days to make the changes to the story, proof the grammar and dialogue, read aloud for awkward sentence structure and double check for timeline inconsistencies. Then it goes to my editor for final approval before loading to Amazon and CreatSpace for publishing, hopefully before the holiday season.

That clears my desk for 2017. Bring on the new year and a new start to another novel! Brace yourselves for more WWI history posts.

By the way, the first of November and it’s still green in Bucks County… Weird.

Bad Romance

Adventures in editing.

As I wait (still!) for answers from the second agent to whom I posed questions regarding the querying potential of my self published novel series, I have been keeping busy revising and editing the second book in the collection. Meanwhile, the fifth Bucks County Novel: Breaking Bread, has been in the hands of my beta readers for feedback. My backup plan is to pitch this book if the others in the series are untouchable, with the hope that if this one book catches an agent’s eye, then it might open the door for the other titles. 

My beta team is made up of 3 women and 2 men. Overall, reaction to the story was good. But like some of you who read it here on the blog, two of the beta readers thought the romance was lacking something. One of the women and one of the men agreed with some of the comments I received from you, my blog readers, that there wasn’t great chemistry between the couple. My male beta reader said it didn’t ‘sparkle’ the way the romances of the previous novels did. Obviously, I have some revising to do.

I admit to not feeling the romance between Maya and Brad myself, but I’m at a loss as to how to fix it. Does it need more tension? More heat? (FYI, I don’t write sex in my stories so it has to stay in the PG-13 realm. The four previous books were free of it and the romances worked without it.) Do they need more interpersonal communication? Or perhaps more internal dialogue to reveal what they are thinking about each other? Every romance needs an issue to resolve, something that prevents the couple from falling for each other immediately. After all, where’s the fun in that? 

I gave Maya and Brad two main issues work out. The first is that they’ve known each other as friends ever since they were kids. There is a history there that prevents Maya from seeing Brad as anything but her best friend’s brother. Although Brad has had feelings for Maya all those years, she never had any clue, nor were they reciprocated. Now as an adult, she has to begin to see Brad in new light: as an attractive man she could find love with in an entirely different way.

The second issue is that Brad has inherited a whole truckload of money and he wants to spend it on Maya. However, Maya is fiercely independent as a result of having no support either emotionally or materially from her family. She refuses his help even in little ways. It’s extremely frustrating for both of them. I thought… I thought… I addressed it pretty well about halfway in. 

Or maybe, just maybe…. the romance has to go.

Maybe I’m really not cut out to write romance. I may have exhausted my reserves with the other stories and I don’t have anything left to give these two. And I refuse to recycle the kind of thing I’ve already written. With some ruthless editing, I could still have an exciting mystery and the romance could just go away. Brad stays in Boston with his job and his friends and never even makes an appearance. Maya still has Olivia and Juan Paolo and Detective Jack Staley for company and finding love is not part of this novel. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it?

Any ideas, my friends?

Header image: Lady Gaga, video screen shot Bad Romance