This is not your typical Behind the Book post. Last night, I sat down at my computer to write about the characters in WHAT A WEREWOLF WANTS or what inspired the story. But something was pulling at me—a topic that is honest and personal. Something I’ve never written about before, not in any blog post or any social media outlet.
Ready? (That question was more for me than for you.) :deep breath:
Starting a journey has always been difficult for me. Whether it’s the first stages of a weight loss program or writing the first pages of a new book, I tend to keep the process to myself. I seem to be a pro at starting workout programs like T-25 and 21 Day Fix, or eating clean by the rules of Whole 30, Paleo or the Weight Watchers Points system. However, I’m not such a pro at finishing any of those things. (I did Weight Watchers for three months and then quit. T-25 for one round, quit. Paleo one month, quit. Whole 30 one month, quit.) Most days, it feels as if everyone is sharing victories on Facebook and I’m over here eating cake and feeling like a failure. Again. When it comes to my writing, I’ve got book ideas for days. I can start a book today, tomorrow, and the next day. Whether those beginnings are going to lead to three-hundred-pages of something sparkly and wonderful is a whole different story. Some days it feels as if every author around me is writing harder, faster, and celebrating wild successes.
When I start anything, I keep it to myself…
I don’t tell people when I’m trying out a new diet or workout regime because, honestly, I’m afraid I’m never going to finish. That sounds horrible when written that way, but it’s true. I’ve started and stopped so many times, I can’t even count the attempts. I tell my husband that I have tons of motivation—I’m going to get up at five o’clock in the morning, go for a run, and lift all the weights!—but I lack the discipline needed to keep it going for the long haul. Over the years, my weight has fluctuated like a roller coaster, but the overall trend has been upward into Oh-Shit-My-Pants-Must-Have-Shrunken-Land. Although I’m trying to keep it light, I’m not proud of any of this, which is why I’ve never shared it before now.
As for writing, I have a unique (read: don’t try this at home) process. WHAT A WEREWOLF WANTS is my twenty-fourth release and yet, as I stared at that stark-white PAGE ONE, cursing that stupid blinking line, I realized I have just as much trouble starting a book as I do a diet and workout program. The process is always the same. I write the first fifty pages, reread them, and realize every word is dry and lackluster. I start again. This time I have it, I say. I can do this. (Remember, I’ve got tons of motivation.) I wait a few days, collect my thoughts, and start the first fifty pages a second time. But once I reread the pages on that attempt, I realize it’s still not good enough. (Enter defeated emotions here.) I’m either front loading the book with backstory, veering off the core trope of the story, or missing tension and conflict between the hero and heroine. After another week drowning in what I can only describe as a frustration-induced social media binge, I start again with fresh thoughts and pray the third time is the charm.
In WHAT A WEREWOLF WANTS, Josie Cole is a matchmaker who desperately wants marriage, children, and a home with a white-picket fence. She’s an expert at matching others, but horrible at finding her own Mr. Right. Until Ryder McManus comes along, that is. He is everything she shouldn’t want, but everything she needs. He’s a werewolf and private investigator, jaded by the infidelity he’s seen through his work. But the story as it stands now is not where it began. To be completely transparent (for the first time), Ryder wasn’t his original name, Josie wasn’t human, he wasn’t a private investigator, she wasn’t successful at her job, and the title that graces the gorgeous cover isn’t the first one I had in mind. In fact, it’s the third.
Everything changed from that first draft.
I realized last night, as I began to write this post, that the reason WHAT A WEREWOLF WANTS was finished at all was because I pushed through. My first attempts were weak and my thoughts cluttered. I could have stopped after the first fifty pages and trashed the story. I could have given up. Hell, I could’ve stopped after the second unreadable attempt.
But I pushed through the doldrums and ended with my favorite werewolf story to date. That only happened because I didn’t give up. I wasn’t afraid to start over, time and time again. I looked beyond the hiccups and screw-ups, and pushed the fear from my mind.
And you know what? I can say I’ve finally done that for my workout and diet, too. Although I didn’t tell a soul (not even my closest friends), I started the 21 Day Fix program in August. The diet is clear-cut (eat clean!) and the workouts are strength-based thirty-minute shots. Because I haven’t stopped, because I haven’t let a few pieces of cake sabotage the whole thing, because I told myself to keep pushing forward despite the fear that crept up, I’ve lost twenty-seven pounds and twenty-three inches overall. My resting heart rate has decreased by eighteen beats per minute. Let that sink in for a second. Eighteen beats per minute. I’m not good at math y’all, but that was a ton of strain on my heart that didn’t need to happen in the first place.
I’ve heard the saying “Nothing worth having comes easy,” but never realized how true it really is. If you want something bad enough, chances are it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work to make it happen. This may sound stupid, but I guess I always thought writing would get easier with each book. I thought once I lost five, ten, or twenty pounds, the temptations would go away and I would finally be there without the struggle. I can tell you, leading up to the release of WHAT A WEREWOLF WANTS, standing at my goal weight, that every part of the journey is always a struggle. The temptation to dive headfirst into a heaping plate of buttery fettuccine Alfredo never goes away. (Just me?) Writing and publishing never gets easier. But the gleaming end result is always worth it. I am worth it. And you are too.
Now decide what you want and go get it. Expect it to be hard and give no excuses.