Break Ins & Break Downs

I just finished a book last night at 1:30 am and emailed it out to my editor in U.K. It was a very tough write. It was beyond a tough write. I felt like I’d never written a Harlequin Presents before. The book had been due October 31st, and then November 27th and then at the absolute latest–Dec 9th. My editor got it December 12th. And to make sure she got it then, I wrote 7 chapters between Friday 9 am and Sunday night 1:30 pm. Sunday was grueling. Nineteen hours writing, with only two 30 minutes breaks. What’s my secret? Hysteria. The kind that suddenly glues your butt to your chair and only allows you to get up to get more liquids and then pee the same liquids forty minutes later.

I don’t know why I couldn’t get this book to come together sooner. I don’t know why it had to become some Herculean task. But it did. And that Herculean struggle became part of the book, with my hero, Spanish-Irish Wolf Kerrick, feeling as though he had these tests.

I wish my editor at Harlequin knew how grateful I am to be a Harlequin author with a wonderful line, and fantastic editorial support. I don’t take any of it for granted. I love finishing books. I love seeing them in print. I love the reader emails and those Amazon reviews. But I don’t always love the writing where I’m flailing in a mud-like quicksand, trying to find the theme. Plots are easy. But the theme, the ‘material’, that’s what slays me. I can’t just write a book that’s sexy or clever, for some wretched masochistic reason, my books must resonate (for me) with something larger, something symbolic. And lest you think, ‘Jane, what a pretentious ass you are,’ can I just say….I don’t want to be this way. I don’t like writing this way. I don’t like bleeding and sweating and crying over the keyboard. Unfortunately, I don’t have another process. I’ve got the one where I think about the book for a month or so, start writing scenes and getting to know characters for another week or two, and then when I’m two to three weeks from the book’s deadline, I knuckle down. And then when I’ve only a week left and 9 chapters to write, I do the cold panic hysteria thing and write 40-70 pages a day. And to do that I pretty much throw crackers at my kids, forgo all but the most necessary hygienic practice (teeth must be brushed minimum once a day and one bath or shower daily, too. Hair *might* be combed but I doubt it).

But book did get done and I sent it in, and went to bed at 1:45 am exhausted but relieved I’d finally done what I needed to do.

And then came the big crash as someone kicked my door in at 2:14 and while I stood shivering, and dazed, at the top of the stairs, the phone rang. It was the Bellevue police dispatch calling to say someone was in my house and the police were about to enter and I needed to find a secure room, lock the door and stay there.

Okay, maybe my Harlequins have a little purple prose when it comes to the love scenes, but let me say–fear can make one’s heart pound, stomach fall, and legs turn to cement. Terror slows time and not knowing is far worse than knowing. But that’s another story.

The point is, my book got turned in before the break in and the break down. And that, in the case of a very late book, is really the only thing my editor wants to know.

Quick note�did you know we should have a safe room in our homes? Someplace to go and lock the door when the bad guys come? I didn�t know. But I do now.

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