In The Beginning

My Harlequins are relatively easy for me to start. They start at the point where everything changes–usually when hero and heroine meet and realize (immediately) their goals are in opposition.

Starting the single title books for Warner have not been as easy. Trying to find the right way to open this coming summer’s Flirting with Forty took me weeks and many rewrites. I just couldn’t find the right place, moment, idea, tone. My agent, Karen Solem, sent me back to the drawing board. My editor, Karen K, sent me back to the drawing board. But then last December, I took the boys shopping for a Christmas tree and it was such a long, wet, miserable, lonely night that I had a ‘what if’ moment and I found my opening scene and a new chapter 1-3. I sold the book, wrote the rest, and am getting ready to finish my proposal for book 3 for Warner. Only problem? The Beginning.

I know who my two main protagnoists are–Taylor Young and her nemesis Marta Zinsser. I know I used to like–Marta Zinsser–and who I couldn’t find emotionally accessible. But within the past week several things happened that made me go, ‘oh. OH. Oh, really…’ And what if moments were born.

What if Taylor isn’t really as conservative as she seems on the outside? What if she has a little secret that’s relatively innocent but makes her far more interesting (at least to me, the author, because I’m going to spend a lot of time with her this coming year.)

What if Marta has unwittingly contributed to her daughter’s isolation by choosing to break rank and file with the other moms?

What if I’ve finally found the right moment where everything starts to change, that inciting incident in Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, and I just get Taylor and Marta in the same room from the beginning, and it’s like junior high all over again?

And after weeks of character sketches and brainstorming and outlining and wondering, I have a juicy place to start, because that’s what my agent says—don’t try to write as though this next book is Important. Write something Juicy.

You see, the idea for the beginning of this new book came out of Sunday’s night mayhem. I learned today in a flurry of emails, phone calls and police reports that Sunday night was a wild night for my whole neighborhood. Police departments from four towns were involved in sealing off the perimeter of our area(we live on a little point that juts into Lake Washington), and by tracking with dogs, they were able to corner the bad guys and eventually apprehend around 6:20 in the morning. And while the neighbors are relieved the immediate danger is gone, I’m just thrilled. I finally have my beginning.

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