Friday, September 03, 2010

Free at Last

by Bente Gallagher AKA Jennie Bentley

Swear to God, I had a post titled Free at Last about a year and a half ago too. Didn’t I?

I’m in the same situation now that I was in then. I’ve handed in the manuscript for the last DIY-book, tentatively titled Flipping Out!, and I’m flipping out a little myself too, being out of contract. Until my editor approaches me with an offer to continue the series, I’m unemployed.

Sure, there’s the Cutthroat Business series which isn’t finished, but I write those on my own time and submit them to my publisher when they’re ready. We’re on a book-by-book basis, not a contract. And I’m a book ahead of the game: #2—Hot Property—is in the pipeline and ready for release next summer, while #3—Under Contract, or maybe Contract Pending—is written and under consideration; that would be slotted for the summer of 2012. So I have some time I can waste until I have to get started on #4, which has a working title of Close to Home. Don’t know yet whether that’ll be the last, or whether I’ll need another to tie up the action. It’s a relationship-focused series, so it just depends on when I can get my people together and keep’em that way.

For the next four months, until DIY-4, Mortar and Murder, is released in January and I have to start promoting, I plan to write something new. Something different. Something exciting.

The question, of course, is what.

I thought I had it all figured out. I’m eighty pages into a romantic suspense/thriller/FBI-procedural sort of thing that’s—gasp!—all plotted and outlined. (I know. The world is surely coming to an end.) And I still like my story. I do. I just managed to get caught up in something else, that’s sort of taken over my brain for the time being.

Remember that flash fiction Will had me do earlier this year, during Short Month? 200 words starting with “If you have to die, February is the best month for it?” Remember Quinn Conlan? The poor galactic smuggler I left to rot in a prison colony on the moon Marica-3? I even said at the time I could have kept going and spun the idea into a book.

Well, during the month of August I’ve been taking this online workshop through RWA on how to write suspense. I thought it was a workshop on writing romantic suspense, and that I’d get a grounding in the genre I’m considering slipping sideways into, but instead it’s been more about making sure your writing is suspenseful. Which I already know how to do, at least to a degree.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m having tons of fun. First we had to write a scene or prologue—500-1,000 words; take that, Freddy!—beginning with the words, “The blood dripped on the floor” and submit it to the group. Then we had to do a character sketch for our protagonist. Then we had to write a 1,500 word synopsis for the book, and submit that and the first ten pages.

When you’re writing for publication, you can’t really throw your WIP out there for the world to see. Neither of my publishers would be happy about that. I had to start from scratch and come up with something brand new that I could share with the class. So what I did, was resurrect Quinn. And I ended up with a first scene, a character bio, a detailed synopsis, and eventually, the first chapter of a book I never intended to write.

But as I submitted it to the class, other people—including our New York Times bestselling instructor—told me how much they liked it, and that I really should consider writing the book. And the thing is, it’s got me by the throat now. I love when characters do that, when they grab you and hold on and yell in your ear until you write their stories. But I had other plans for the next four months. Other plans for the direction I wanted to go from cozies. And let me tell you, I never intended to branch off into futuristic romance.

You can read the synopsis HERE if you’d like, and tell me whether it’s something you’d read. And then you can tell me whether, if you were me, you’d abandon your carefully laid plan of writing a romantic suspense/thriller/FBI-procedural thing in favor of it.

Till next time!


Joyce said...

I can't read it because I'm not on Facebook, but I say go for it. You can write the other one later.

I'm mulling writing a WWII historical thriller when I finish my WIP.

PatRemick said...

It also says I do not have permission to read it -- does Facebook think I'll steal it?

Love trying new writing things. I'm working on a story in first-person -- a new wrinkle for me. Although one of my short story critique partners called the internal dialogue "tiresome," I've found the process fascinating.

Jennie Bentley said...

Oopsie. Guess my facebook is set to only friends. I'll fix that, at least for today.

Wilfred Bereswill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wilfred Bereswill said...

First, I want a cut of the royalties for Quinn. If I remember correctly most people guessed that I wrote that one.

Geez, for me, I think you go with what's hot in your brain at the moment. If not, you may not have the same passion for it when you return. Of course, I could NOT claim a cut of the royalties for the romanspenseillerdural thingie.

Hang out with me and I'll have you writing romantic-erotic/horror before you know it.

Sorry, made a critical grammatical mistake the first time I posted the comment.

Jennie Bentley said...

You're right, Freddy. Most people did guess that you'd written that one. If it ever becomes a book, I'll dedicate it to you, how's that? "To Wilfred Bereswill, the inspiration for Quinn..." and we'll see how people interpret that.

There's a lot to be said for writing what's hot in your brain. But it won't be romantic-erotic horror. Don't think I have that in me.

Jennie Bentley said...

Sorry, guys, I got so preoccupied with making sure the synopsis was readable that I didn't respond to any of your other comments.

Joyce, I think a WWII thriller sounds exciting. I actually contemplated one of those once too. More of a mystery, really, but with a WWII setting. I say go for it.

PatR - internal dialogue in first person is hard to do, because it's so easy to go overboard when you're in someone's head and privy to all their thoughts. I always end up cutting a lot of the ones I write. I tend to overelaborate and reiterate a lot, and your friend's right, it can definitely become tiresome.

Nancy said...

Hey, Jennie! Love the blog, and I believe it's a great idea to stretch yourself. Do something new and different, eat something new and different, write something new and out there.

Ack1 I have to wait another 4 months for the next DIY? And a year for HOT PROPERTY? Gritting teeth. Okay, I'm calmer now. Have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend!


Jennie Bentley said...

Sorry, Nancy. Yeah, January for DIY-4 and June for Hot Property, I think. I can only crank them out so fast, yanno. And you're making me wait until May for the next Cesca, aren't you? You, my sweet, have no room to talk! xoxo

Gina said...

The synopsis looked good to me, Jennie! But do we find out why Quint's former lover betrayed him? Inquiring minds want to know.

[I am signed up with Facebook but I never go there because it seems that everyone I know wants to post about what kind of sandwiches they are making, etc. etc. and I really do not care.]

Jennie Bentley said...

I'm saving that for the sequel, Gina. ;-) Yes, the book I'll probably never write has a sequel. It has Josie and a brothel in it. Nuff said.

Patg said...

Hope you don't think I'm the bad guy here, but too much kissy face can't be helpful. First let me say, I have no doubt that if you run with this you will get it published and it will sell. To romance lovers who want a little change of scenery, but crossovers from SF (who tend to believe in 'be a grownup and take the knife slashes') will give you a lot of flack over the 'underground river on a moon' without a lot of geology and physics, and then calling that wonderful place unhospitable. I guarantee you, not to SF types--we all pray to find such a place. There's a thousand comments to be made there.
And 'dominance of the galaxy', well there's about ten million comments for that one. You'd be better off claiming it was a huge solar system with two or three planets and ten or fifteen moons settled by people. I assume you are writing about humans. And you might want to read up on space (low or no gravity) sex. It's more fun than fiction.
Very good luck with it.

Jennie Bentley said...

Good thing I'm not actually proposing writing SF, isn't it? This would fall under the umbrella of paranormal romance, more specifically futuristic. I don't read much SF - my one exception is Lois McMaster Bujold - and I very much doubt any serious SF readers would be interested in it. It can be a solar system, sure, instead of the galaxy, but I need that freaking underground river, so if I can't have one on a moon, then the prison can just move to a dwarf planet. And it has an atmosphere, albeit a thin one, so no no/low-grav sex necessary. Maybe later. Thanks, Pat.

Joyce said...

We have an underground river in Pittsburgh, you know. (Well, kind of.) And it IS like another planet here sometimes, lol.