Sunday, January 31, 2010

Secret Formula?

by Susan Sey

I hit a writing milestone just before Christmas. I turned in Book 2 on my first contract. Now you'd think Book 1 would be the milestone, wouldn't you? The first one, the big kahuna. The one that merited The Call we writers love to talk about for years and years to come. But I'll tell you the truth--it's Book 2 that I'm really proud of.


And why am I prouder of Book 2 than Book 1? Because I wrote Book 1 (Money, Honey, coming July 6 from Berkley Sensation--have I mentioned that?) under absolutely no pressure. Nobody cared if I wrote it, nobody cared if I finished it, nobody cared what I did between "once upon a time" and "happily ever after." It was my book, my baby, & somebody--goodness only knows why--liked it enough to buy it. That was lucky. Not that I'm knocking luck--I'm darn grateful for it--but with Book 1, I presented the publishing world with a done deal.

Book 2, though? That's a different story. That one you write with somebody looking over your shoulder from start to finish. It's the one you have to outline before you write, & get the outline approved. Then you have to write something approximating the outline, and pray you've managed to turn the outline into a story that has even a little bit of the verve & charm that sold people on the first book.

It wasn't easy, I'll tell you that much. I wrote Book 2 two separate times--not two drafts so much as in two completely separate books. I wrote it the first time in about eight months. I wrote it the second time in two months. I don't recall anything between Halloween & Christmas, I truly do not. But I finally got it right. I did the work & I'm proud of it.

I thought I was in for a well-deserved vacation but my agent has recently informed me that we should now be thinking about what we want to propose to my editor for a follow up to Book 2 (now sitting on her desk awaiting jugment.) So for the past two weeks, I've been racking my addled brains for fresh story ideas. For some gorgeous, high-concept pitch that's going to convince the powers that be to take another flier on me in an economy that (to put it politely) blows.

I'll tell you this--for all the flack romance gets for being formulaic, this was not as easy as it should have been. If there's a secret formula out there for writing a best-selling romance, will somebody please send it my way?

In fact, hey, why don't you? If you had to write a recipe for your perfect romance novel, what would it look like? Do you like your heros dark & broody? Funny & smart? Dangerous & suave? What about your heroines? Shy & sheltered? Kick butt & unapologetic? When a dog takes center stage, do you cringe or melt? Give us the skinny!

64 comments:

mariska said...

Happy Weekend everyone !

Anna Campbell said...

Mariska, I see you beat Lime today!

Susan, we've missed you while you've been toiling away in the vineyard of art! I can't wait to read Money Honey! And I'm sure book two is fabulous too. It's so different producing on demand like this, isn't it? I took four years to do Courtesan and four years (both were over a five year period as I was working on them sort of piggyback) to write Untouched. I can't take four years to write a book now although I sometimes wish I could. But then I also know that a deadline gets me sitting at the keyboard and writing whereas I'm inclined to procrastinate otherwise.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm inclined to procrastinate anyway!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats AGAIN, Mariska!

Hey Susan,
Thanx for talking about this delicate topic and BIG KUDOS for finishing book 2!

For me it was my book 3, the one that is (like Money Honey) scheduled to release on July 6th. My first two books I wrote mainly for myself (and my CPs) and with the HOPE that an editor would love them too. But my third book I wrote for my readers. It was a real challenge, and I hope I succeeded. Guess I'll know in a few months!

AC
who would also LOVE a recipe for writing a best selling romance

PinkPeony said...

Hi Susan!
Congrats on finishing book #2. I can't wait to read Money, Honey.

The recipe for a romance? The hero can be dashing, handsome and funny as long as his heart's in the right place. My only requirement of the heroine is that she's smart. She can be meek and mild in the beginning of the story but she has to develop a spine as the story progresses but I prefer heroines to be capable and self-sufficient.

Congrats on the big pollo Mariska!

p.s. Susan, thanks for the giftcard! I couldn't find your email addy.

Helen said...

Congrats Mariska have fun with him

Susan

I am soo looking forward to reading Money Honey and July is winter here in Australia my favourite season I am really over the hot weather we have been having.

I love my Hero tall dark and handsome loyal and with a sense of humour but a bit dangerous as well and as for my Heroine I do like a strong heroine even if she seems shy in the begining she knows what she wants and goes all out to get it and of course the hero always knows better and I love the twists and turns the suspense and loving and laughter along the way to the HEA.

Congrats on turning in the 2nd book Susan

Have Fun
Helen

Jane said...

Hi Susan,
Congrats on turning in Book 2. I can't wait for your debut to be released. I like the heroes to be dark and dangerous, but also have a sense of humor. The heroine should be likable, intelligent and knows how to handle things. I do enjoy animals in romances especially when they're involved in the humorous scenes.

Deb Marlowe said...

Congrats Susan! I can't wait to read them both!

No formula required for me. If I love an author's voice/style, I'll follow them anywhere!

Barbara Monajem said...

LOL. I so totally relate, Susan. Book three is terrifying me. I've already written it twice (years and years ago), and it got better each time, but then it was just for me. Now it has become a far different story, with a more tortured hero (and a very vague concept of a heroine), and it's for readers, and I'm scared to even begin.

And yeah, I've got to come up with an outline, or at least a synopsis, or I'll never get it done in time. The problem is, all the best ideas show up DURING the writing process, not before.

Like Deb M, it's the author's voice/style that grabs me, and usually an author who grabs me doesn't write heroes and heroines I hate. Dogs, cats, ferrets, crows, spiders...all fine with me.

Marnee said...

A formula for my ideal romance? I love a good brooding hero, a tortured hero. And I love a feisty heroine, one that doesn't put up with a lot. Someone who pushes the hero to think about the world around him with new eyes.

Also, congrats on finishing book 2! I think it's tough enough to finish books. I can't imagine doing it with voyeurs.

Joan said...

First off Ms. Susan..I can't wait for Money Honey and have no doubts Book 2 (what a unique title btw
:-) will be just as fabulous.

How do I know this?

Because you are one talented lady.

End of story.

As to my recipe. I love a grouchy, alpha male who portrays the big bad to the world and when that dog happens into the scene...makes sure nobody sees him scratching him behind the ear and calling him "Fella".

If he thinks somebody has..he'll immediately pound his chest and glare.

gigi said...

I love my hero's dark, dashing and maybe a bit brooding . I like the heroines to start out as the underdog. Not much confidence, but then through her journey in the story the real heroine comes out strong and finds her strength and courage.

I hope that made sense.

p.s.
I do like smart pets in a story.

Also, if writing romance was easy everyone could do it. I admire authors that have the discipline to take the time to write a great story. I understand it in not as easy as it looks.

Kirsten said...

Hey Suz,

I think the cool thing about romance is there is a formula -- of a sorts. I mean, we all know the hero and heroine will be attracted to each other, have some terrible conflict that pulls them apart, and then they'll find HEA at the end of the book, right? We even know there will be a wonderful BIG BLACK MOMENT somewhere close to the end and a RESOLUTION where they finally express their love.

But here's the cool thing -- other than that, every author will do it differently. So you get a structure to work in, but absolute freedom beyond it. And it's incredibly challenging to figure out how to be unique and different within that structure.

That's what people don't realize about romance. It's an incredible challenge because it requires you to pair absolute creativity with structure.

I realize that doesn't tell you how to write a bestseller. If anyone else tells you that, can you email me? ;-) I'd love to know.

love and kisses,
Kirsten

jo robertson said...

Hi, Mariska, I see you beat out Lime this time!

I love the issue you pose, Susan. Why is it so hard to do the second whatever -- book, painting, quilt, scrapbook?

You see I think when we create our first book (or anything even remotely creative) we just wanna see if we can do it. Oh, we may say we want to be writers, but how can we be sure until we actually try it and finish something reasonably good, right?

We have all the time in the world. No one's pushing us (except maybe our Bandita sisters LOL), no one's screaming deadlines (except the voice in our heads), and no one's terribly disappointed if we fail to deliver.

But the second one?? That's the real trial by fire. Suddenly we have to be -- ugh -- responsible. We actually have to please someone else besides ourselves.

And the coup de tat? The thing has to be as good as or -- gasp -- even better than the first one, or we're sure we've tanked!

jo robertson said...

Oh, crap, I didn't even answer the real question.

1. Don't want kids or animals in my reading.

2. Dark and mysterious hero with a wry wit, maybe a little jaded.

3. Kick-ass heroine who doesn't put up with much nonsense, but is vulnerable when the hero comes along.

jo robertson said...

Hey, AC, I'm here to say, as one in the know, that Book 3 is great! Your readers will love it. And you wrote it pretty fast, with some considerable butt-kicking!

Forgot to say, Susan, that I can't wait for Money Honey (I ADORE that title) to hit the stores. Your writing is so clever and witty and charming, I know I'll love MH!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Susan,

Congrats again on the upcoming debut book, (July is up and coming, isn't it?) and finishing Book 2 (I agree with Joanie, very interesting book title).

My recipe

One very alpha male, used to being in charge.

One shy or backward heroine who will do what's right no matter how much it drives the above male crazy.

Combine in situation where they must work together to stop evil henchmen/evil coworker/crazed killer/selfish exgirlfriend-boyfriend.

Sprinkle in some laughter, a few dead bodies and a healthy portion of hot sex.

Stir in lots of internal and external conflict.

Bake.

What-la...HEA

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Gigi, have you read Love is a Four-Legged Word by Kandy Shepherd? It features a really smart little bitser called Brutus who will just steal your heart!

MsHellion said...

YEAH for getting book two done!

I like my heroes sexy. I mean, yeah, they're all sexy, but I mean like flirty sexy. They are always saying something outrageous, even the stiff-rumped ones. You get them alone with the heroine, and they'll say something completely Byronesque. So basically all my men have to be witty, because all my heroines love men who are witty. Even if they hate their guts they find the witty remarks sexy as hell.

And no dogs and no children. Well, maybe an occasional child--but eh, I prefer not. Call me unmaternal, but they're attention hogs and I don't want to deal with them. A cat, okay. Maybe a goldfish, but no kids. They're too convinced of their own cuteness.

However, I did really enjoy how Eloisa James employed a child in her first Desperate Duchesses novel. The heroine didn't know how to deal with a child; and you could tell she didn't really like children. I thought it was hilarious and a change from the fairy tale norm where all heroines need to be dancing in the woods, communing with the animals, and a fairy godmother to all children. Please. (I did notice people who actually had kids did not care for this heroine. Oh, well. I loved her.)

Susan Sey said...

Oooh, Mariska, you did it again! Enjoy the GR!

Susan Sey said...

Anna wrote: I took four years to do Courtesan and four years (both were over a five year period as I was working on them sort of piggyback) to write Untouched. I can't take four years to write a book now although I sometimes wish I could.

I *know*, right? There are a lot of things I was unprepared for in terms of making the leap from unpubbed to pubbed, & this was by far the hardest. Writing under pressure. Even when I get to set the deadline myself, and make sure to give myself a reasonable amount of time, it's still do or die there at the end. Does it get easier?? (Please say yes.)

Susan Sey said...

AC wrote: It was a real challenge, and I hope I succeeded. Guess I'll know in a few months!


OOooh, AC, that's right! I'd forgotten we share a release date! Maybe we can sit next to each other & hold hands July 6. :-) I'm sure your fans will be thrilled--it's your voice, your work and your story, and that's what they're after, right?

Susan Sey said...

Pink Peony wrote: The hero can be dashing, handsome and funny as long as his heart's in the right place. My only requirement of the heroine is that she's smart.

I think that's a great formula for romance, Pink! A hero who knows what love's all about & a heroine sharp enough to snap him up! Love it! And you're more than welcome for the gift card. I hope you treated yourself to a wonderful read.

Susan Sey said...

Helen wrote: I love my Hero tall dark and handsome loyal and with a sense of humour but a bit dangerous as well and as for my Heroine I do like a strong heroine even if she seems shy in the begining she knows what she wants and goes all out to get it and of course the hero always knows better and I love the twists and turns the suspense and loving and laughter along the way to the HEA.


I couldn't have said it better myself, Helen! I especially like the bit about the hero understanding loyalty. That's such an underrated quality anymore. I love it in my heroes.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL! Yes, Jo-Mama, you've told me on more than one occasion that The Wild Irish Sea is my best yet. And I have the bruises from your arse-kicking boots to prove it!

AC
P.S. Susan, I have heard rumors that it does get easier, but so far I've been unable to substantiate said rumors! ;-)

Susan Sey said...

Jane wrote: I like the heroes to be dark and dangerous, but also have a sense of humor. The heroine should be likable, intelligent and knows how to handle things. I do enjoy animals in romances especially when they're involved in the humorous scenes.

Ditto on the sense of humor, Jane! I like my heroes as alpha as the next girl but a guy who knows how to blow things up AND laugh when appropriate? Delicious!

I'm not a huge fan of animals as characters but I do think Jenny Crusie is a master at giving a character a pet & making it more than just a pet. It's tricky there, though. Takes some serious skill. I'm afraid to write them myself because it is such a tough balance.

Donna MacMeans said...

Susan - I can't wait till I can read Money Honey! I've been looking forward to this book ever since I met you as a Bandit. Why? Your voice! I love your witty voice. So I have no doubts that your book 2 will be great.

Congratulations on turning in book 2. That is a major accomplishment. Book 3 was my bugaboo. Even though my second book was only a couple of chapters when I sold the first, the idea sort of swept me away. The third book was difficult because of the deadline and certain restrictions. Now take a deep breath and get to work on Book 3.

Good Luck!!

Susan Sey said...

Deb Marlowe wrote: No formula required for me. If I love an author's voice/style, I'll follow them anywhere!

Yeah, I'm with you on that one. There are a few authors who could write their grocery list on a cocktail napkin & I'd pay good money to read it. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Barbara Monajem wrote: The problem is, all the best ideas show up DURING the writing process, not before.

Geez, tell me about it. My agent finally informed me that editors EXPECT the story to change somewhat between outline & draft form. But I'm a control freak & if they bought THIS from me, surely I can't deliver THAT.

And yet, as you said, some of the very best stuff just sort of volunteers itself midstream. So I say go with it! I'm cheering you and your muse on! Write, Barbara! It'll be great, I know it will! Let us know how it progresses!

Susan Sey said...

Marnee wrote: A formula for my ideal romance? I love a good brooding hero, a tortured hero. And I love a feisty heroine, one that doesn't put up with a lot. Someone who pushes the hero to think about the world around him with new eyes.

Oh, yes. I love this one. It's such a great set up that allows me to live out (vicariously, of course, because I know better than to marry broody) the fantasy of being the One Magical Woman who Changes Everything for one Tortured But Worthwhile Man.

*sigh*

Yeah, that's a good one.

Susan Sey said...

Joanie wrote: As to my recipe. I love a grouchy, alpha male who portrays the big bad to the world and when that dog happens into the scene...makes sure nobody sees him scratching him behind the ear and calling him "Fella".

First of all, thanks for the vote of confidence, Joanie. You're the best. Mmmmmmwah!

Now, as for your recipe, can I just say YUM? Seriously that's my favorite way to see animals in romance novels--as a vehicle to seeing more deeply into a complicated character who's hard to know.

Susan Sey said...

Gigi wrote: I love my hero's dark, dashing and maybe a bit brooding . I like the heroines to start out as the underdog. Not much confidence, but then through her journey in the story the real heroine comes out strong and finds her strength and courage.

Makes sense to me! I love the heroine who transforms herself throughout the course of the story. Ugly Duckling stories totally do it for me. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten wrote: So you get a structure to work in, but absolute freedom beyond it. And it's incredibly challenging to figure out how to be unique and different within that structure.

That's the beauty of romance, yes. It's also the problem. :-) There's a story structure (which I love and would never do without) and yet the challenge, as you said, is to find a way to make your take on it fresh & creative & engaging. It can't be the same old thing, & yet to some extent it HAS to be the same old thing. Because that's what we buy when we buy romance--the same old thing in a gorgeous new dress.

Of course, you're talking to a girl who has about six black dresses in her closet, all sleeveless & knee-length. I know what I love & what looks good on me. So now I guess I just have to figure out how to write a little black dress of a book. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Jo wrote: And the coup de tat? The thing has to be as good as or -- gasp -- even better than the first one, or we're sure we've tanked!

You know, Jo, I think you've totally hit on something here. You've put your finger on exactly what's been bothering me but I haven't been able to articulate. It's that I'm afraid people expect a linear progression from my writing--that each book is going to get better. And yet, I think we all know that creativity doesn't happen that way. We're not doing the same thing time after time & getting better at it, like practicing a piece for the piano. If we're going to get better as writers, we have to go bigger--bigger scope, bigger characters, bigger motivations, challenges, problems.

And that means waaaaay more room to fail. If you go big, you have to be prepared to fail big.

That's I think what's so scary about book 2. You don't just keep doing the same old thing (except that you do--you want people to recognize your voice & your work). You have to keep upping the stakes, challenging yourself as a writer, expending your skills. And that means you may very well fall on your butt before you get any better.

And doing that all by yourself as you learn your craft is one thing. But continuing to do it? In front of an audience?

Gulp.

Susan Sey said...

Jo wrote: 1. Don't want kids or animals in my reading.

2. Dark and mysterious hero with a wry wit, maybe a little jaded.

3. Kick-ass heroine who doesn't put up with much nonsense, but is vulnerable when the hero comes along.


I'm with you, Jo. I will read stuff with kids in it, but it's never my first choice. Too many kids in my actual life.

And I do love a wry, witty hero. So much to love there...

Susan Sey said...

Jo wrote: Hey, AC, I'm here to say, as one in the know, that Book 3 is great! Your readers will love it. And you wrote it pretty fast, with some considerable butt-kicking!

Forgot to say, Susan, that I can't wait for Money Honey (I ADORE that title) to hit the stores. Your writing is so clever and witty and charming, I know I'll love MH!


MMmmmmmwah! Thanks, Jo! I would be unconscious with panic by now if not for the love & support I've gotten in the lair. I can't wait to return the favor. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Suz wrote: My recipe

One very alpha male, used to being in charge.

One shy or backward heroine who will do what's right no matter how much it drives the above male crazy.

Combine in situation where they must work together to stop evil henchmen/evil coworker/crazed killer/selfish exgirlfriend-boyfriend.

Sprinkle in some laughter, a few dead bodies and a healthy portion of hot sex.

Stir in lots of internal and external conflict.

Bake.

What-la...HEA


You know what I love best about your recipe? The fact that you reference evil henchmen. I LOVE evil henchmen in a story.

There was one book--I think it was Jenny Crusie--where there was this great bit of dialogue in which a minor character's threat to the HEA was dismissed because he was only a henchman, not an actual villain. Everybody knows he's just a hechman. He doesn't have the brains for actual evil.

I laughed out loud.

Susan Sey said...

MsHellion wrote: However, I did really enjoy how Eloisa James employed a child in her first Desperate Duchesses novel. The heroine didn't know how to deal with a child; and you could tell she didn't really like children. I thought it was hilarious and a change from the fairy tale norm where all heroines need to be dancing in the woods, communing with the animals, and a fairy godmother to all children. Please. (I did notice people who actually had kids did not care for this heroine. Oh, well. I loved her.)

I absolutely LOVED that heroine! And I do have kids so I know exactly how offputting the little beasts can be. I just wished mine to Antarctica not ten minutes ago. (I didn't actually mean it--I'd have settled for the basement.)

Anyway, yes. Eloisa James' masterful use of children. I agree, & think this is a fabulous example of taking a well-used romanlandia convention & making it fresh. No wonder she's a NYT best seller. :-)

Susan Sey said...

AC wrote: P.S. Susan, I have heard rumors that it does get easier, but so far I've been unable to substantiate said rumors! ;-)

Well, hope springs eternal. :-)

Nancy said...

Mariska, you and the GR seem to be developing quite a rapport! Watch out for him, though. He'll try to get you to trust him, and the next thing you know, your kitchen's empty.

Susan Sey said...

Donna wrote: Book 3 was my bugaboo. Even though my second book was only a couple of chapters when I sold the first, the idea sort of swept me away. The third book was difficult because of the deadline and certain restrictions. Now take a deep breath and get to work on Book 3.

Oh, how I long to be swept away by a book. I keep hearing this can happen but it never happens to me. Kind of like a runners' high, I think. I've been a jogger more than half my life & have run up to nine miles at a stretch & have NEVER IN MY LIFE experienced a runners' high.

Sigh.

But, never say never, right? Maybe one day it'll happen. Maybe one day I'll get a runners high, write an entire book, and enjoy a full night's sleep uninterrupted by anybody crying, barfing, peeing or just generally being disruptive.

A girl can dream, right? :-)

Nancy said...

Susan, I cannot wait for Money, Honey! I am certain it will be fabulous. And yay on turning in #2!

Hearing someone say romance is formulaic (like other genres are not?) produces an instant spike in my blood pressure. The comment is never, ever made by people who actually read romance, and it's often uttered in a somewhat snooty, superior tone.

Yes, there is a structure in romance, which happens to be roughly the SAME as the structure in all other genre fiction. Duh! But what a person hangs on that structure can vary wildly, which is part of the fun--having choices!

As for my own favored recipe ... hm, let's see:

Tall, brave, commanding hero adept with weaponry of some sort;

Tallish (because I am), assertive heroine who doesn't take anything off the hero and can handle herself in pretty much any situation;

(Both of them better be smart)

A situation that forces them each to confront their deepest fears or prejudices;

An ample scattering of serious boom, possibly paranormal;

And a happy ending. Doesn't have to be HEA but has to point that way.

Within those parameters, I'll take or use varying degrees of darkness and light.

How's that?

Oh, and I cannot wait for Money, Honey. Yeah, I know I said that already. It bears repeating!

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: A situation that forces them each to confront their deepest fears or prejudices;

An ample scattering of serious boom, possibly paranormal;



I think I'm in love with that last phrase, Nancy. An Ample Scattering of Serious Boom. It's got TITLE written all over it. You're going to use it when the times comes, I hope? :-)

Nancy said...

Susan wrote: I think I'm in love with that last phrase, Nancy. An Ample Scattering of Serious Boom. It's got TITLE written all over it. You're going to use it when the times comes, I hope? :-)

I would love to. Almost as much as I would love to have that time come. :-) We're workin' on it, as the saying goes.

You know, I had not thought of that as a catch phrase. Thanks, Susan.

Anna Campbell said...

Susan, so far the 'it gets easier' is like the end of the rainbow. It always seems to be moving ahead of me like a brightly coloured promise but those pesky leprechauns keep shifting the pot of gold! AKA no, so far, it hasn't got any easier. In fact, I think it might even get harder.

Yes, I know, I'm sorry. Shoot me now. That's justifiable homicide!

Nancy said...

Anna C. wrote: Susan, so far the 'it gets easier' is like the end of the rainbow. It always seems to be moving ahead

In American, we might also say this as "moving the goalposts."

But I think, just my .02, that those of you who are published are actually moving the goalposts or pushing back the rainbow yourselves, as you push yourselves to do better, go deeper, make every book more. Which you've all done so well.

IMHO.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Nancy, aren't you a sweetie? Thank you! And that might stop Susan from wanting to shoot me!

Nancy said...

I think you're safe, Anna. Susan isn't heavily into boom. *g*

gigi said...

Hi Anna,
Thanks for the heads up on Love Is a Four Legged Word. I checked it out out on Barnes and Noble and have added it my next shopping list.

Cassondra said...

Barbara Monajem said:

The problem is, all the best ideas show up DURING the writing process, not before.


AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! YES!!!

And even worse, my CHARACTERS show up during the writing process, not before. I really need them before, ya know?

Susan, excellent subject. I have no advice for you. I'm trying to come up with my own bestseller. I admire you, though, for pulling it off with book two. Figuring out our process is the worst thing, isn't it? I'm envious of the writers who have figured theirs out and can consistently poke the muse and get it to spit out good stuff. Fast.

AAAAAHHHHHHH!

Anna Campbell said...

Gigi, I really enjoyed it - it had a touch of 1940s screwball comedy about it and the dogs are great! Hope you have fun with it too.

Virginia said...

Congrats mariska!

Great post! I guess with me I would go with funny and smart! I already have a broody quite one so I don't need another one.

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: You know, I had not thought of that as a catch phrase. Thanks, Susan.

Oh, my pleasure! I hope you can use it!

Susan Sey said...

Anna wrote: AKA no, so far, it hasn't got any easier. In fact, I think it might even get harder.

Yes, I know, I'm sorry. Shoot me now. That's justifiable homicide!


Awww. Not what I wanted to hear but I think I'll hold off on the shooting for a little while. I like you too much, plus I'd miss your books. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Anna wrote: And that might stop Susan from wanting to shoot me!

And Nancy wrote: I think you're safe, Anna. Susan isn't heavily into boom. *g*

This is true. Since having children, there's enough boom in my life without inventing extra. :-) Plus, as I mentioned, I'd hate to deprive the world of any new Anna Campbell titles.

However, if you keep puncturing my dreams this way, I may very well cry. And I'm not a pretty crier, either.

You've been warned. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Cassondra wrote: Figuring out our process is the worst thing, isn't it? I'm envious of the writers who have figured theirs out and can consistently poke the muse and get it to spit out good stuff. Fast.

Okay, I'm putting that on my list of Mythical Things People Swear Happen Just Not To Me. Already there:

Books that write themselves
Runners' Highs
Babies who Sleep
And now?
A reliable process.

Sigh.

If you figure one out, please do give a shout. I'd love to know what one looks like.

Susan Sey said...

Virginia wrote: I guess with me I would go with funny and smart! I already have a broody quite one so I don't need another one.

Oh, I hear you on the broody thing, Virginia! I think it's fabulously attractive but I have just enough tendency to brood myself to know that I needed somebody sunny. But honestly, you put enough smart with just about any other personality trait & I'd probably take a shot. I'm that much of a sucker for a smart guy.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Susan! I totally agree that the second book is the hardest to write! Not that it takes away the achievement of selling the first (I mean that wasn't ALL luck, you know!LOL) But I see where you're coming from with this blog.

I'm in the mood for something hot and funny with a bit of grit and snark thrown in. So now you have my order, hop to it, girlie! SO looking forward to Money, Honey!!

Louisa Cornell said...

Been looking forward to Money, Honey since we all jumped up and down at the Golden Hearts in San Francisco !! And HUGE congrats on handing in book 2 !!

Me I'd just like to sell Book 1, but I am no dummy. I know the real work begins once that contract is signed. Even having an agent has changed my writing process. I am working on revising my second book (the one that got my agent) for the THIRD time!! The thing that scares me is when a contract is involved they don't give you a lot of time to revise. They want it written NOW!!

And I have to agree that the best ideas show up as I'm writing the book NO while I'm writing the _)&(&$^$#$%# synopsis !!

The most important thing about heroes and heroines in the romances I love to read is that they be REAL !! Which means, no matter how odd, screwball or dark their behavior if you can show me the reasons for that behavior I am with you all the way. And the harder it is for them to get together the better I like it. I like two people who learn to compromise without diminishing themselves or each other.


And I have to agree that Kandy Shepherd's Love is Four-Legged Word is a wonderful book, so romantic an so much fun !!

Nancy said...

Susan wrote:This is true. Since having children, there's enough boom in my life without inventing extra. :-)

LOL! Isn't that the truth?!

But I still like a good book or movie explosion. . . .

Anna Campbell said...

Snort, Susan, you're such a softy. You SHOULD want to shoot me, more AC books or not ;-) LOL!

Susan Sey said...

Christine wrote: I'm in the mood for something hot and funny with a bit of grit and snark thrown in. So now you have my order, hop to it, girlie!

On it! One hot, funny, gritty, snarky masterpiece, coming right up!

Um, wait, you want me to WRITE it? I was just going to go to my bookshelf. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Louisa wrote: And the harder it is for them to get together the better I like it. I like two people who learn to compromise without diminishing themselves or each other.

Oh, Louisa, you're my kind of girl! I love those stories, where the characters are bigger than life, but so are the forces keeping them apart. And when they manage to overcome those forces without--as you said--diminsihing themselves or each other?

big, happy sigh.

It's an autobuy for at least three of the author's next books for me. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Anna wrote: Snort, Susan, you're such a softy. You SHOULD want to shoot me, more AC books or not ;-) LOL!

What, just for destroying my silly little dreams of one day writing a book that didn't cause me to pull my hair out? I wouldn't think of it.

Well, okay, I might think of it. But even if I didn't come to my senses by myself, you have a fairly rabid fan base that I'd be in serious danger from. I'm no dummy. Even if I'm not the boom expert Nancy is, I know what it looks like & how to avoid it. :-)

Caren Crane said...

Susan, sorry I'm so late to the party, but here's my magic formula: wounded hero (he really must be suffering and probably a bit arrogant to boot), a saucy heroine (who is a sweetie underneath, but doesn't come off that way), a crazy family, super secondary characters and - for the love of all that's holy! - some humor.

Throw in big emotional stakes (I don't require tons of plot, but LOTS of emotion) and I am IN!