Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ch-ch-ch-changes...good ones, I hope

Writing, like, everything else in this universe, changes. Once we become accustomed to the way things are... POOF! something changes, and the butterfly effect assures that everything else will change also.

Maybe creative endeavors charge more than anything else. I don't know, but I know my writing certainly has changed, as has my process.

Initially, ideas and their attendant words spilled out of me like a spring waterfall. That was back in late 1996, when I started to write my first novel. Walk Like A Man was rapidly followed by The Wilder Brother, Lord Devere's Ward and Fashion Victim.

Note the old pen name
Each of these books was different from the next. I wanted to write to the market, but didn't know much about it, as shown by my selection of a football quarterback as the hero of Walk. Though one author, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, wrote very popular sports heroes, they were generally frowned upon by publishers. Even so, Walk was a very mainstream romance--boy and girl meet; boy gets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl back and to top it off, they marry and have a baby--the normal Happily Ever After in romances novels these days.

The Wilder Brother went through a number of incarnations until it finally became erotic romance. It was first a traditional romance, no sex, centering around two sets of twins and a wedding. It became very different, with Colt and Dana banging in a glass-walled elevator in the first few pages. That comedic elevator scene remains a fan favorite.

Lord Devere's Ward was first Hopelessly Compromised, a romantic suspense set in the Regency. It 
still sells very well, evidence of the enduring popularity of the Regency romance. 

Fashion Victim is a contemporary romantic suspense. I like weaving in a suspense or mystery in with the romance--gives my hero and heroine something to do while falling in love.

Those books were followed by four Silhouette Romances--traditional, or sweet romance. Then Silhouette stopped buying my work. I don't know why--my critique partner and then-agent thought I was still writing great books. Then
This book is still selling,
 ten years after first publication
Harlequin closed the SilRom line and a few years later, shuttered down Silhouette entirely. In the meantime, death and divorce had ripped my life apart, and I encountered writers' block so severe that most days writing were like digging ditches with my teeth.

My career was somewhat revitalized by writing erotic romance, which I started perhaps ten years ago. Not only did I wrote original works, but  converted unsold sweet romances to erotic ones--the fate of The Wilder Brother and several other books.

Over time, my process changed as well. I started writing when I was also practicing law as a trial attorney. I was an insomniac, so most of my first four or five manuscripts were written mostly between 2 and 4 in the morning. That was tough. After I sold two manuscripts to Silhouette, I closed my law practice and started writing full-time.

Ah, the golden years. Sort of. Be careful of what you wish for should be my maxim. My productivity didn't exactly crash, but I definitely enjoyed being a housewife. My then-husband got perfect meals delivered on time. But I didn't see my output increase.

Remember when I mentioned death and divorce? Along with writers' block came
lifestyle changes. In 2006, traumatized beyond belief, I left the country on the first of my two long trips, journeys when I left the country for over six months. I finally settled down in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and started to write Queen's Quest, futuristic erotic romance set perhaps thirty thousand years into the future. It may be the most adventurous of my books,

As for process, I wrote by computer. I do occasionally write in longhand in a notebook, but wanted to get out of the habit of needing to compose with pen on paper. In Thailand, I wrote mostly in the afternoons--I'd go out in the cool morning to eat, shop, work out, then back to my little room during the heat of the day to shower, rest and write. Out again in the evening to get a bite to eat.

And now--I'm back in California, still suffering with writers' block but not as badly. I take care of my elderly mother, which means I write when she's out with her significant other (the word "boyfriend" seems odd when applied to a 90-year-old man). Or I write after she goes to sleep or when she's napping, like right now.

But I'm a lady of leisure. In fact, a nap sounds great!

Another aspect that's changes is my frantic desire to get published. I no longer care much about writing to the market. I've had enough lousy experiences that I don't care whether my work is every purchased by another publisher--I'm indie these days to a great extent. I've separated myself from any fixation on royalties. They're nice, but I've accepted that I am a marketing ignoramus and will never sell a gazillion books.

Soooo...when I nap sounds great, I go take that nap. Ciao!


  1. Hello, Suz,

    Wow, you've been writing a really long time. I admire your ability to take a book (e.g. a sweet romance) and recast it as erotic. I doubt I could do that.

    Traveling can be a great time to write, if you're not too rushed. Unfortunately, most of my recent trips have been much too short and hectic to support much creativity, but one can always hope!

  2. Sometimes I think the measure of a life is in how we adapt to change. We know it will change. Change is the only constant. But what happens after that change? Do we take steps to ensure our well-being?

    I tried writing in Italy once. Didn't work out. I'd rather be outside experiencing the unfamiliar countryside and towns. Christ, I can write without the expense of travel, not to mention checking out where I've put myself. Of course, traveling does make for expressions of creativity. Fr'instance, in Verona, I wished I could sing opera from the window. And I hate opera. :>) Can't friggin' sing either. The'd probably throw me out of the hotel.

  3. And your mention of a quarterback hero puts me in mind of Mikey Rakes' dynamic M/M novel "Fourth and Long".

    1. You know I love you, Daddy X! Hope to get back to your neck of the woods soon!

  4. It's really interesting to read about the evolution of your career over time, Suz. Silhouette romances! wow.


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