Here is the shortcut: identical twin heroes and a case of mistaken identity. The longer version goes like this: Jeremy Hill is a Border Patrol agent on leave and staying at his brother's house. When someone tries to blow the place up and take out Jeremy and the upstairs neighbor, Meredith Samms, Jeremy and Meredith have to figure out who was the target and why, all while running from bad guys and falling for each other. Both Jeremy and his twin, Garrett, get a romance here. So, you get two romances, a twisty suspense and happy endings all around.
I have to admit it's an ongoing process. I used to work full-time as a lawyer and write in whatever time I could find. Now that I write for a living, if I'm not careful I can spend my entire day, every single day, writing or doing career-related things. Last year I made a vow to get outside (I live in San Diego, after all) and spend more time with family and friends. The first step was to refrain from canceling events just so I could stay home attached to the laptop. The goal for 2012 has been to not write on Saturdays. I've failed this a few times, but I'm getting better, so long as a deadline isn't happening the next week.
It's a total mess. This is one of those "don't try this at home" things. I've sold a combination of 38 single titles, category romances, shorts and novellas. I tried to write from an intricate outline exactly one time. It was the hardest book I've ever written. Every word was painful. For me, writing the outline first means, in my head, I've written the book. It's over. Gone. The only way that works for me is to know the first scene or chapter, write that down then step back and try to figure out what the books is about. I don't use complex computer programs or writing craft books. I think about the plot and characters and get it in my head until the dialogue starts running through my mind and, yes, I know that sounds weird. Every day I revise from the very beginning of the book up to the point where I stopped writing the day before. Somewhere around the halfway point I force myself not to start at the beginning of the book and, instead, start each day from the middle of the book. I end every writing day with writing out dialogue - no dialogue tags or narration, just pure dialogue lines for the start of the next scene. That way I always have somewhere to start once the revising is done. And by revising this much, the book is pretty much done when I type the last words in that last chapter. I don't have multiple drafts because I do the layering and fine-tuning as I go along.
The best advice I ever got was from my first editor, Kate Duffy. She said, "Your career is a marathon, not a sprint." It's excellent advice and I forget it at least 10 times per day as I get caught up in what other authors are doing and getting. But taking the long-term approach, treating writing like a career and not a hobby, and understanding it might be better if things happen next year instead of right now are the keys to success. And read as much as you can!
Coming up with the ideas is never the problem. The issue is putting my butt in the chair and writing. It's amazing how many ways a grown woman can find to procrastinate. While writing, I have to push back on ideas for other books that seep into my head. They come from things people say, things I see in the newspaper, true crime cases and generally playing the "what if" game when something happens that I find interesting. I have notebooks full of ideas.
I am a huge fan of thrillers. My two favorite authors right now are Rosamund Lupton and Gillian Flynn. Everyone is talking about Flynn's newest release, GONE GIRL, but my favorite is still DARK PLACES. I think it's a master class in tone and characterization. Needless to say, I adore romantic suspense . Tara Janzen, Alison Kent, Maya Banks' KGI series, old-school Linda Howard, Debra Webb and others. Also, the first three romances I ever read were by Jayne Ann Krentz, Linda Lael Miller and Julie Garwood, so I will always buy everything they write as a way of thanking them for introducing me to the genre.
Thank you. Really, thank you. I am profoundly grateful to anyone who has ever bought one of my books. There are so many choices out there and I only get to do what I love for a living when readers buy my books. So, again, thank you.