Before they were the Libby and Jo of my paranormal romances that make up The Warrior Series, they were just plain humans Becky and Jo. And they were extremely different. Becky was insecure and whinny, leaving all of her hang ups out to air dry or something. Very annoying. Jo hasn’t changed too terribly much, though the vampire Jo is much more controlling and, well, is a vampire. The original Jo fell for Becky, but her issues were starting to piss Jo off.
Not a good recipe for romance.
Fast track to several years later. I joyfully quit my teaching job (a post that’s coming, I promise). My wife and I had sold off everything and bought an RV in an effort to carpe diem before we were too old or infirm to chase that particular dream. (Yet another post in the works.)
We were camped by a swamp in Florida, whiling away winter in the temperate climate. Freed from the stresses of life as I had been living it, Jo and Libby started talking before I even knew I was going to write a book. They talked in my dreams, scenes came to life on my walks around the campground, their likes and dislikes poked at me until I finally started jotting it all down, despite not really understanding why at the time.
One morning, I took my MacBook Air outside and opened a Word document. And in a month, the first draft of The Warrior Within poured out of me. I wrote from the time I woke up until bedtime, some days not even stopping to eat or walk around. No kidding. All 148,000 words of it. I couldn’t. I was too afraid of forgetting something.
My muses were a family of cavorting river otters, squawking wading birds of all shapes, colors, and sizes, and a flock of twenty-some wild turkeys making their daily way through the morning mist coating the field next to us. All of them gave me something to stare at while scenes formed themselves in my mind and characters told me about themselves and what motivates them. I didn’t know from one paragraph to the next what would happen, but I cared deeply about them and couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.
It was the most amazing writing experience I’ve had before or since.
Unsurprisingly, the proofreading, editing, and revisions took far longer. Not understanding how much word count mattered, or what industry standards were for different genres, I sent it off over the course of a year. Once I understood what was expected for paranormal romance, the hardest work was before me. I had to cull 48,000 words. In addition to the nit picky deletion of unnecessary words throughout the entire thing, I combined two characters into one, and even cut several scenes I really liked. Painful.
I must admit, she’s much better now that she weighs in around 101,000 words. Leaner, cleaner, and smoother. All that pain was worth it. Now, if I can just get a publisher to agree.