The Writer’s Life

So I’m talking to an old friend today, Anne Zender, from Chicago. We are attending the Association Media & Publishing annual conference in Washington, D.C. We were AM&P board members together years ago, so we both know a lot about magazine publishing. She learned about my novel through AM&P’s Signature magazine and asked me what it was like to write a novel. After I explained it was a hell of a lot different from journalism, she suggested I write about the writer’s life.

Her first question was, “How do you do it?”

So here goes. I do it at 5 a.m. each day. Until 7 a.m., maybe 7:30 a.m. Then it’s off to work.

It comes easier and is more exciting when my plot is solid. Right now, working on book two in the series, the plot is not complete. It’s almost there, but I’m trying to figure out some new twists. Still trying move the plot from A to B and then C, of course. My plots are about intrigue. I’m not about crazy car chase scenes and I will never–ever–end a novel with the protagonist and antagonist fighting it out, mano a mano, in some dark (always dark) deserted warehouse or rusting crust of a vacant factory. How many novels and movies have ended that way? The cliche drives me nuts.

So for the next few weeks I’ll still be slaving away on the plot. Once I get that down, my first “draft” will be done. But it’s not really a draft at all. It’s simply the plot, which will change as the real writing begins. That is rewriting. That’s the fun part. I love writing second, third and fourth drafts. Each stage is a lot different from the previous one. More on that later.

An Editorial Genius

One of the secrets to the success of my new novel, NAKED AMBITION, is my book editor, Lorin Oberweger. Lorin did both the developmental edit and a year later the final line edit. I took her outstanding advice in both cases, but the line edit was more intense. It’s one thing to flip some chapters around or cut story lines that add nothing to the entire book,  but it’s quite something else to go line by line through the novel and make recommendations and ask questions. Why is this paragraph here? What is she thinking here? Why not take this out completely? She explained several things I had done wrong and yes, on occasion, things I had actually gotten right.

Since I’ve been a journalist all of my life and not a fiction writer (although sometimes accused of writing fiction when I upset a public official or two), it was a huge transition for me to attempt fiction. I read some 40 books on fiction writing and listened closely to Lorin. It was an intense few years, which I equate with getting an MFA in fiction writing (and cost only about half what an MFA degree would cost).

Thanks to Lorin and others who read my manuscript and offered constructive criticism, the next book shouldn’t take so long. I finally get it! My goal is to have the manuscript for NAKED TRUTH in her hands by winter.


Naked Ambition Hits Best Seller Lists!

Two weeks ago NAKED AMBITION was at or near the top of three Amazon thriller best seller lists. It hit No. 1 on two of the lists and No. 3 on a third. The book sold more than 1,000 copies over one weekend. That of course, results in a lot of questions, the most frequent being: “Where can I get another book in the series?” Oops. I’m not there yet. But I sure appreciate readers letting me know how much they enjoy the book (right now I have 40 positive reviews on Amazon).

So I’m currently hard at work on the second in the series, NAKED TRUTH, which I hope to complete in 2017. It is about the mysterious death of the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Of course, Beck Rikki is on the case. Some characters in NAKED AMBITION reappear as well in the next in the series.

Please encourage your friends who enjoy thrillers to pick up a copy. I’m surprised my biggest international fan base is Australia. I like their exquisite taste in books!