Jeanne: When the Going Gets Tough

Shell at KiawahMy elementary school gym teacher was fond of saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I have a variation on that maxim: “When the writing gets tough, writers go on retreat.”

So here I am, very near the end of what has been a really long and painful road to The Demon Wore Stilettos, Book 3 of my Touched by a Demon series. What better way to cap this thing off than to hang out on Kiawah Island, off the coast of South Carolina, with three other writers? So that’s where I spent last week.

(Sadly, they weren’t Eight Ladies, but other writing friends I’ve made along the way.)

I was seriously, truly hoping to type “The End” before we left on Sunday, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was:

  1. I added 7000 words to my manuscript, bringing the total over 50K, which means it’s now a novel and not just a novella.

    Gull on Kiawah

    Enter a caption

  2. I managed to write my way through a couple of scenes I’ve been struggling with for months.
  3. I added back some scenes from the original manuscript (before I decided to split it into two different stories). Happy to report that putting those scenes back, in slightly altered form, gave the story a much more rounded feel. (Before it felt like I was just doggedly trekking from one plot point to another.)
  4. I figured out what to do with my protagonist’s developmentally disabled nephew while she and her lawyer boyfriend make the jaunt to Hell. (Tip: Never isolate your heroine so completely that you don’t have a babysitter when you need one.)

And when it was time to take a break, I got to go out and walk on the beach and through a nature conservancy park and see lots of plants (not much blooming at this time of year, unfortunately) and animals. Including this heron:

Heron on Kiawah

And, in the lagoon below him, this guy!

What do you do to refill your creative well?

Jeanne: Excerpt from My Work-in-Progress

Beautiful Woman With Black Short Hair. Haircut. Hairstyle. FringLast week I talked a little about my work-in-progress. This week, I thought I’d share a scene that I find really entertaining. I hope you do, too!

The characters are:

  • Megan Swensen, author of the Dak Whipsnake books, a bestselling series featuring a tough-as-nails private eye who never gives away her secrets. Seven years before the story opens, Megan sold her soul to Satan in exchange for making the New York Times Bestseller list.
  • James Magnusson, Megan’s old boyfriend from college who unwittingly helped her negotiate terms. When he found out what he’d done, he dumped her. He has gone on to become a lawyer.
  • Lilith, a she-demon tasked with collecting Megan’s soul when her deal with the devil expires in a few weeks.
  • Karriel, Megan’s guardian angel.
  • Samael, Lilith’s ex-husband.
  • Satan, Lord of the Underworld.

Lilith stepped off the elevator into the heat of Hell blessing under her breath. What bug did Satan have up his butt now?

She’d arranged to get a color refresh and a trim at her favorite little salon in Mayfair this afternoon. Rex had just finished painting on her custom raven tint when her cell buzzed. She’d been forced to ask him to wash it all out before it had time to process. Outraged, he’d called in his assistant to rinse her, and stalked away. She wasn’t sure who was a worse choice to piss off—Satan or her colorist. Continue reading

Jeanne: Is That a Light I See at the End of This Tunnel?

Depositphotos_176350754_s-2019

Megan, my secret-guarding novelist

This morning I went looking for the date I started on my current work-in-progress. The oldest document I found was a Scrivener project dated September of 2015 (?!). It says:

So the idea is that this book would contain three couples:

Lilith and Samael

Gabriel and Angela

Human1 and Human2

Each couple would have history that leaves them reluctant to re-engage with one another.

Lilith and Samael are charged with keeping Human1 and 2 from getting back together.

Gabriel and Angela are charged with getting Human1 and 2 back together.

The three stories play out against each other.

This, clearly, is just the kernel of an idea. I was still working on The Demon Always Wins at this point, and hadn’t even started The Demon’s in the Details, but I wanted to get the idea down on (electronic) paper before it got away. Continue reading

Jeanne: Truffles Don’t Feed the Bulldog

Cute white English Bulldog puppy in a classic red velvet and gold crownOn Friday, Elizabeth posted a short story prompt where the main character had to deal with a difficult client, using the following words:

bulldog           undersea       grill                moonbeam

lonesome      chain               ambush           detox

facade            bluntness      miserable       injury

wealthy          audience       entertain        cynical

Everyone is welcome to join in. If you want to participate, you can leave your story in the comments, as Kay did. Here is my attempt:

The maitre d’ at the Undersea Moonbeam Grill looked down at Lady Perpetua Fortheringham-Wythe’s bulldog.

“You can’t bring that animal into the restaurant with you.”

“Of course Hermione will dine with me,” said Lady Perpetua. “She adores your truffles foie gras.” Continue reading

Jeanne: Putting the Meta in Metaphor

cartoon concepts and ideas setA few years ago, on my personal blog, I proposed a metaphor:

Happiness slid from her face like a fried egg from a Teflon skillet.

I went on to assert:

…the narrator has to be a housewife or a chef, because if, for example, a cop, or a dentist, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company says something like this, it just doesn’t work. (Unless he’s the CEO of Farberware.)

But Christo, another blogger, took issue with that statement, commenting:

…I have to disagree with you on the Teflon one – I think it works for no matter who you say it about – why does it specifically have to be a cook or a housewife or even more linear someone that works for Teflon?

To which I responded, via email: Continue reading

Jeanne: A Tale of Two Stories

Identical Twin Babies in Green BlanketsAbout a year and a half ago, I got an idea for what I planned to be the third book in my Touched by a Demon series. The thought was to write a Faust story–a tale of Megan Swensen, an author who sells her soul to the devil to make the New York Times Bestseller list. The romance would be a second-chance-at-love story. James, a third-year law student and her grad school boyfriend, helped negotiate the terms of the contract under the impression that he was helping her with a literary assignment for school. When he discovered the truth, they broke up. As the book opens, seven years have passed, the contract is coming due and Megan is panicking.

For its demon, the book would feature Lilith, the she-demon who was a player in the first two books, as Megan’s literary agent and Hellish customer service representative. I even had a title–The Demon Wore Stilettos. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Stacy McKitrick

Biting The Curse, FINAL front coverToday we’re talking with Stacy McKitrick, an author friend of mine who writes paranormal romance. I just finished reading her newest book, Biting the Curse and this is what I said in my review:

There are four things you can always count on finding inside the covers of her books:
1) Vampires or ghosts. In this case, it’s vampires.
2) A mystery–Why do heroine Janie’s significant others always seem to meet with unfortunate (and lethal) accidents?
3) A great romance between likable characters who earn their eventual happiness.
4) At least one or two laugh-out-loud funny moments. 

The thing I love best about the humor is that it’s not a clumsy add-on, but built deep into the way the characters behave–not just to make the joke, but because that’s who they are.

I actually stopped reading and texted her after I read one particularly hilarious scene. I’m eagerly awaiting her next book, which features Perry, who is probably her funniest character, at least among her vampires.

Let’s find out more! Continue reading