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Behind the Scenes

This Behind The Scenes explores the mad process of writing Claiming Her.

CLAIMING HER was a labor of love.  It was years in the making.  I started writing it late autumn, 2012. It released Spring, 2016. 

During that time, I wrote several other books, but kept coming back to this one, wrestling with it.   It was supposed to be a short, almost-erotic historical romance novella.

It kept telling me it was more than a novella.

I knew I had to surrender when I was at page 100, and we were still at the first day, at their first conversation.  Okay, their second.  But I don’t know if you should count pulling weapons on each other as a ‘conversation,’ even if you do exchange words.

Anyhow, I finally acknowledged the truth: this was going to be a big story.  That didn’t help much. I was still stalled.  I’d write other stories and come slinking back to it, hoping desperately I could find a way through.  Nope. I was at a wall.

For those of you who’ve read the story, guess where I was stalled?  I’ll wait….

Waits.

Waits some more.

Yes!  You’re so smart.  I was stalled at their meeting down in the great hall, after Aodh makes his outrageous proposition, and Katarina walks down to tell him… What?? 

I was stuck.  I mean, I knew what she was going to tell him [in case you haven’t read it, this will remain a no-spoiler zone] but it all felt so pedestrian, so predictable. I was bored just thinking about it, so how could my readers not be bored reading it??

Then, in January, 2016, I had an annual writing retreat with some buddies. I tossed my funky, boring story at their feet and said, “Here’s what I want to do. Here’s who my characters are. I need your brains. Help me fix this.”

And they did.  (Also, they loved Aodh & Katarina even in verbal descriptions, which, I discovered, was vital to rediscover the story. I’d got away from the characters, and was too deep in the plot weeds.)

Ideas flew that weekend, and I started writing.  The last 2 days of the retreat, I filled an entire legal pad with red pen scribbles of plotting sequences. Over the course of the weekend, I wrote about 40,000 words.  That’s a lot of words!

I came home & told the family I wanted to put the book up for pre-order, which would lock me into a release date. Which would mean I’d be really busy for the next three months, and were they up for that?  They said yes.

What a family.

On Feb 6, I put the book up for pre-order. It would release May 6.  I put my head down and started writing.

An anthology I was part of, CAPTURED BY A CELTIC WARRIOR released a few days later.  It hit the USA Today bestseller list.  But I was already distracted, in crazy-writer cave.

(Note: The story I had in that antho is KING’S WARRIOR.)

I wrote and wrote and wrote. I pulled my hair out, because it still wasn’t coming easy, as my beta readers and editor can attest. I pulled 6 or 7 all-nighters in the last month alone, writing until it was time to wake kids up for school in the morning, getting them off, taking a 2 hr nap & getting up to write some more.  Most other days, I was up until 2 or 3 a.m.

I was writing 12-20 hours a day. 

I wrote until I was locked out.

I was writing new scenes, and rewriting others, until the last possible moment.  I wrote/rewrote 150 pages in the last ten days alone. Some of those late additions/revisions? The opening chapter, the card-playing scene, the first consummation scene, the black moment, and the epilogue.

When it was done, I was exhilarated.  Exhausted.  On top of the world. Wiped out.  And really, really scared.  What would my readers think?? I  didn’t want to let you guys down with this one. Some of you had been waiting years.

I hope you feel I came through!

So, why am I telling you all this? 

Maybe because I’m a bit of an occupational voyeur myself, and I like to see inside other people’s work, see the day to day details, get a taste for what it must be like for them.  Especially the bad days. :)

And maybe it can inspire other writers, who are tangled up in a ball over a story of THEIR heart, thinking it’ll never get done.

My tips: be persistent; be relentless; and know yourself, so you can shamelessly use other people’s brains for the stuff you’re not so good at.

Years ago, I’d told myself I was going to write a story comprised of two people in a room, alone, together, for the whole story.  

This isn’t quite the whole story, but it sure tried. 

I hope you love it!  Drop me a line and let me know.

Postscript: Here is where I have to thank my ‘other’ brains who, on a cold January weekend, saved Claiming Her: Elisabeth Naughton, Darcy Burke, Joan Swan/Skye Jordan, and Rachel Grant (Rachel saved me twice on this story, as a beta reader too, so if you like smart, sexy romantic thrillers without serial killers but with kick-ass archeologists, be sure to buy her books as a way to say thank-you for Claiming Her. :))

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