Here we go again. In just about four weeks, my fourth book will be released. It’s called Picture This, and it’s the second in my small-town rom com series, following Down on Love, which came out last November. When I wrote Down on Love, I didn’t think of it as anything more than a standalone. After I turned in the final draft, my editor at Kensington asked if I would make it a series, with one of the minor characters— Celia Marshall, the hero’s ex-girlfriend—as the main character.
I was more than happy to write another book set in the Catskills village of Marsden, of course. I love the fictional place and all the eccentric characters who live there. But now I had to revisit it all and make sure every little detail I made up on the fly for Down on Love would still work in another book…and I had to make sure whatever I wrote in Picture This was consistent with whatever I wrote in Down on Love.
Then there was the pesky little problem with Celia. Namely, I had just spent three hundred pages talking about how she was pretty and sweet but boring. Egad, now what? Why would anyone want to read a story about a sweet but boring character? Plus I write comedies, and Celia is many things, but she’s definitely not funny. I couldn’t make her funny overnight. (I strongly dislike when a character in a series changes drastically from one book to the next, and I wasn’t about to do it to any of mine.)
Well, I reasoned, that just meant the hero was going to have to be the funny one. I wasn’t sure that would work, either. I mean, can a majorly goofy-funny actor also be sexy? It just so happened that while I was pondering this very conundrum, I discovered the Twitter feed of a majorly goofy-funny actor…and no matter what he tweeted, scores of women came out of the woodwork professing their love and begging him to marry them. Well, there ya go. And Niall Crenshaw, comedic actor with a very risqué reputation, was born.
The story came easily, Celia’s personality wasn’t as flat as I’d feared, her grandmother also took up some slack in the comedy department, and (as usual) I developed a magnificent crush on my hero. By the time my deadline rolled around, I was feeling pretty darn good about Picture This.
And yet the closer I get to its publication date, the more I worry. Like all authors, I run the gamut of emotions while writing all my books, from “hey, I’ve got a great idea” to “OMG this sucks so bad it might as well be a black hole” to “this just might work.” And that’s nothing compared to when the reviews start rolling in. Then we authors are prime candidates for massive doses of Quaaludes, because every positive review sends us soaring, and every, um, less than positive review throws us into a pit of despair. Rinse, repeat.
And all that nonsense about not reading reviews? Yeah. Never gonna happen. I respect the authors who ignore online chatter about their books, but I’m sure I’m not alone when I confess I really want to know how my babies are being received out in the world. Some authors, including me, can’t not look. We know we’re going to pay the price, but that doesn’t stop us from peeking.
Honestly, this whole publishing business is maddening, and yet we dive in over and over again, solely because we adore spinning stories. So the only surefire cure for New Book Delirium isn’t to walk away and pretend nothing’s going on (we do have to do tons of self-promotion, after all), but to distract ourselves.
And there’s only one distraction that works in this case: write another book.
Guess what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. 😉