Have romance conventions and reader expectations changed since the 1800s? Consider the following:
There is an amalgam of optimism and insanity in signing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). Both are month-long self-challenges that could, possibly, cause a writer to form a Good Habit: writing every day.
I slipped into my first NaNoWriMo challenge a few days ago, after a great, overdue discussion with a friend. She’s doing it. “Why not you?” she queried. And, as if in a dream, I found myself on the NaNoWriMo website entering my information. Fifty-thousand words by the end of November 30th is the goal of NaNoWriMo. Just before November began, I tweeted (and doesn’t that make me sound like a social media savant), my first real tweet: Like waking up in Vegas and finding oneself married to a stranger, I find that I have signed up for my first NaNoWriMo. (No, no! Not that I have done that! It’s just that I have a vivid imagination.)
In the spirit of in for a penny, in for a pound, I signed up for blogging everyday this month as well. This seems like a natural pairing: enter the mysterious productivity zone, and then report about it to the world. Of course, no one need see a writer’s wretched 50,000 words – the idea is to produce a draft without criticism or self-criticism. A blog post, however, by its very nature, yearns to be seen.
As for insanity, there’s making a commitment to writing amidst the growing demands of the holiday season, as well as the usual (and sometimes unusual) family (and sometimes work) stuff. There’s the sword of Damocles – the threat of feeling “cut down” if one does not achieve the glory of 50,000 words.
Fifty thousand words is at the low end of most novels’ word counts. That’s 1,667 words to write per day in November if you are including all weekends and Thanksgiving. Would it comfort you to know that Animal Farm comes in at a mere 29,966 words? Or that Harlequin seeks only 30,000 words for it’s erotic romance line? Or that Indie author Hugh Howey successfully markets both his longer works (such as Sand at 252 pages/87,832 words) and his shorter works (such as Glitch, at 15 pages/4,884 words). Jasinda Wilder’s Big Girls Do It Better (Book 1), is an appetizer sized 32 pages, but her break-out hit, Falling Into You is 369 pages. Does size matter? Really?
For my four-part series, I wasn’t aiming as high as a cumulative 50K. Sixteen thousand would have been fine for me. And so, on this Day 1, my own tiny struggle is: Am I aiming for the NaNoWriMo completion badge of 50,000 words – and can I make it, or will I feel grateful to have steadily produced whatever it takes to finish this work?
Set the technicalities aside for now. This beginning is a cautiously happy one. I shall push forward with a story I believe in and in the company of virtual and actual thousands. For this little while, writing need not seem lonely – – and I just might end up with a completed four-part work.
[cross-posted at http://www.blogher.com/romance-nanowrimo-and-nablopomo]
Dang, that Jasinda Wilder can write! (Yes, I know that Jack and Jasinda write together, but the cover gives credit to Jasinda, so I’m going with that.)
I did a deep dive into Jasinda’s early works – as per the publication schedule on Amazon.com. She writes about women who inhabit the world of what is plausible. A woman flees from an unfaithful husband and oppressive marriage to a small town (The Preacher’s Son: Unbound). A woman who is confident that she can take care of herself feels vulnerable when she doubts that a man can love her plus-sized self (Big Girls Do it Better). A faithful, naïve young wife finds her husband in bed with a woman she knows (Delilah’s Diary: A Sexy Journey).
Then, Jasinda has her leading ladies embark on a journey of joyous sexual self-expression (you knew that from the cover art, right?), explicitly written, while finding True Love. Don’t overlook the explicit part – Jasinda gets it right. There’s steam, there’s spice, and it adds up to a compelling, don’t-want-to-put-it-down read. They are enormously fun to devour (adults only).
The author spins her tales over several books in each series. In fact, between August 29, and November 20, 2012, Jasinda (and Jack?) birthed ELEVEN hot romance novellas, all in either a Preachers, Big Girls, or Diary series.
With this modus operandi and their impressive publication release schedule, Jasinda and Jack were able to make their mortgage payments and save their home.
How do they do it? They have five little ones. End of August is back-to-school. There’s everyday meals and homework. There’s Halloween (must be huge when multiplied by five) and then there’s the mother of all female-work holidays: Thanksgiving. Yet, Jasinda and Jack said that they stayed holed-up in their clean, toyless, finished basement – the size of a mansion by New York City standards – taking few breaks, unswerving in their devotion to create and publish – dare I call it? – product.
Who’s covering the kids, making sure everyone is wearing clean clothes, and bringing in the groceries? And can they come visit me?
We graduated from law school with high hopes. PJ moved to the left coast, both of us went on to clerk for judges, wrote some very fine law – if I must say so myself (and I must) – and then [cue screeching needle sound] each of us underwent much treatment to have kids (what a coincidence!), she in California, and me in New York, New Jersey and Chicago. This endeavor slowed down each of our legal careers in a way that was not reflected in our husbands’ career paths – those went along just fine. Around that time, during our many phone conversations, PJ and I compared notes about our lives and the cases that had come before our judges. “You can’t make this stuff up!” we would always conclude.
During some chat about the legal predicament of someone PJ knew, we concluded that, if we just twisted the facts this way and that, and threw in some pop-culture elements, why, we’d have a mighty fine screenplay. To us, a mighty fine screenplay that we would sell to someone meant instant “coolness” and universal acceptance. Writers love acceptance. We opined about the color of dresses we would wear to the Oscars™ (I believe navy taffeta was mentioned) and if we could top Sally Field’s “You really, really like me!” for our acceptance speeches.
Of course, never being gals to remain satisfied with the easy way out, we endeavored to write two screenplays concurrently – a thriller and a romance. Our goal, as I remember it, was to write something we would want to see on a date night – if we ever had a date night with our husbands again.
PJ’s baby arrived eleven months before my two made their appearances, and no baby took a nap at the same time – across four time zones. You can see where this is headed, right? We spun lots of bits of great stories, but didn’t, well, have not yet, finished a work (but they’re really great, believe me!). PJ wrote regularly for her newspaper, joined a writers’ group and won awards for short fiction, and I did quite a bit of ghostwriting.
Life happens, which is to say, while our “babies” were growing gloriously into full-fledged children, they incurred, by golly, expenses! In the ensuing years, if you throw in a couple of illnesses the treatment for which insurance does not pay (this predates The Affordable Healthcare Act), some other catastrophes, and the economic collapse of 2008, our catch-as-catch-can phone calls took on a wistful “how do we get back in the game because the proverbial wolf is at the door,” feel.
Until June 18, 2013.
On June 18, PJ called me.
“Hailey!” PJ said, barely suppressing a happy squeal, “Did you see the report on CBS about the writers?”
I had not.
PJ recounted for me the now-famous tale of a midwest couple, parents of five little children, the youngest of whom became ill right before they lost their jobs, who generated enough income from their steamy romance writings that, the very first month, they were able to pay their mortgage. Subsequently, they have continued to publish, and their income has topped $100,000 per month.
This is a video of the couple, Jack and Jasinda Wilder’s, experience in self-publishing:
(If clicking the video doesn’t work, try clicking here.)
“Hailey,” my BFF PJ exclaimed, “This is for you! Your circumstances are dire! Why don’t you write your way out?”
So I’m writing and researching (can’t stop that lawyer training).
I hope you’ll visit often and linger, leave comments, and take the journey with me here to see what comes of this. Readers are why writers write – I appreciate your stopping by.