I was tagged in a writer publicity tour called “The Next Big Thing,” where writers from around the world tag each other to say who they have their eye on as the next big writer. (Whoo-hoo!)
I was thrilled, of course, to be tagged by my friend, literary writer Nancy Freund in Switzerland (more about her below), to answer the following questions about the manuscript I’m working on now.
Here are her answers about her next book, Effort of Will.
And now here go mine:
1. What is the working title of your book?
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had this character floating in my head, because I’d been writing her sister’s book for the previous two years. In that book, her slightly-jealous dear-ol-sis says “Giselle looks like Grace Kelly – everyone remembers her.” … But I had the sense that a lot more was going on in Giselle’s seemingly perfect life. … So when it came time to write Giselle’s story, I wondered who her hero would be. The most fun love stories are the ones where you can’t imagine how these two are ever going to get together, so I wanted someone who would seem like a huge leap of faith for this seemingly-perfect, recently divorced, Indiana mother of a 5-year-old — I thought the guy who could provide her a roller-coaster story would be a younger man. Then I thought a younger surfer. From California. … And that’s how Finnegan Hensen was born.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Classic romance. Two people who are struggling toward a goal, meet each other, and start to fall in love – but falling in love provides a supreme obstacle to their original goal. So they always have to choose. And they always learn a lot about each other – and themselves – along the way. It’s my favorite genre to write.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmmm. … Well I have an actual picture of Grace Kelly on my “inspiration board” for Giselle! Also January Jones, the way she looks in Mad Men. And, for Fin, I have a picture of David Beckham looking a little surfed out — no shirt, hair wet, and a leather necklace around his neck. J
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Oooh, these always kill me. I can rarely write one sentence when ten will suffice. …
How about, “A recently divorced mom from suburban Indiana – whose life is all about sippy cups and playdates — meets up with a younger California surfer dude who turns her world upside down and teaches her that sometimes it’s okay to make a few waves. …”
(Meh. I’ll have to work on that.)
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Not sure yet – still in the writing stages. I try not to think about publication (or, obviously, write my one-sentence synopsis) until the creative part is done.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Well, it’s still in progress. This one’s been on a strange schedule – not “typical” for me at all. All of my other manuscripts took me about 3 months to get the first draft down. This one was on track for that, but I stopped at about the 80% mark, got sidetracked with the first manuscript again, then came back to this one and started the second draft early, since I already knew a lot of changes. So I’ve never written the ending. I see the ending (sort of) on the horizon. There’s a lot of smog in the way, but I think I can just make it out. …
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Ooooh, comparisons are tricky. They always sound so arrogant. I’m not nearly the master these women are, but: My heat level is about Susan Elizabeth Phillips/Jenny Crusie levels; my humor level is about Nora Roberts (which is to say not hilarious, but some tongue-in-cheek); but my sentence style seems more like Laura Kinsdale.
9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I guess I probably answered this in the first question, but I can also add that I was inspired by San Clemente for my setting. San Clemente is a sleepy sort of beach town in Orange County. And, since Orange County isn’t exactly known for “sleepy” sort of towns, it stands out. San Clemente is now actually a small city with a recent housing boom in the late 90s, but the area near the ocean still retains its old-school Southern California charm – sort of like So Cal in the ‘60s. San Clemente is also home to much of So Cal’s surf culture – the International Surfrider Foundation started there, as did the two mega surf magazines Surfer and Surfing. Because of its proximity to the famous surfing spot Trestles (just south, in the “badlands” between Orange and San Diego counties), San Clemente is also home to numerous professional surfers, up-and-coming professional surfers, and recreational surfers alike – not to mention surf schools, board shapers, surf shops, etc. It was just the ideal spot for my pro-surfer hero. And the ideal place to make this suburban mom from Indiana feel like a fish out of water.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I like how Nancy listed the probable social media metatags and hashtags. Mine should say contemporary romance, San Clemente, Laguna Beach, beach culture, art, Pageant of the Masters, photography, surf, surf culture, professional surfing, World Tour, South Africa, divorced heroine, single mom, runaway husbands, surfing, and uh … “hot,” of course… J
Writers worth watching
Now it’s my turn to tag. …
I was tagged in this author publicity chain by the fun and funny Nancy Freund. Nancy and I met in college, and read for each other back when our manuscripts still had to be sent by U.S. mail in gargantuan manuscript boxes. I’d wait for my to-the-door delivery of her manuscript, then tote all 3 pounds of it around to my first professional job, right out of college, and read it any chance I got. After that, we each had real life get in the way – she married a Brit, moved to Switzerland, had two kids, and lived real life for many years as an ex-pat, while I did the same (… well, except for the Brit and Switzerland and ex-pat part). But she’s an amazing writer, and I’m so glad we both recommitted to fiction a few years ago. She’s staying with literary writing, and has her shorter work published in BloodLotus Journal, Feature Mag, The Istanbul Review, and Necessary Fiction while she works on her four novels. She’s definitely worth watching, and is here: http://www.nancyfreund.com/
I’m also tagging, as a group, my Firebirds sisters, who are all worth watching. Truly. This group all finalled in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart this year, and we’re planning launch parties galore as each of them is moving toward publication. It’s an exciting group of talented romance writers, and I’m SO PROUD to be among them.
More specifically, I’d like to call out and tag 4 of my Firebirds sisters who I’ve had the chance to read already and now have my eye on as the “next big thing”:
Susan M. Boyer, Golden Heart finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner, who just launched her first book, Lowcountry Boil, which is a fun mystery about a Southern belle who keeps a Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag. Terrifically fun book: http://www.susanmboyerbooks.com/
I also want to call out and tag Tamra Baumann. She won the Golden Heart for her series contemporary romance. She’s working on a longer one now, and she’s so fun and funny, I can’t wait until she’s published. She’s here: http://www.tamrabaumann.com/
I also have my eye on AJ Larrieu, another Golden Heart finalist, because we’ve been working on a serial blog together, and I always get a kick out of what she writes. She’s here: http://ajlarrieu.blogspot.com/
And I definitely have my eye on Firebird sister Nicki Salcedo, whose first chapter and some excerpts I read and just thought PLEASE PUBLISH NOW. She has a literary sensibility that she weaves into romance, and I’m so excited to read her.
Two other writers worth watching who don’t have their web sites up yet are my critique partner Tricia Lynne, who writes beautiful, sweeping historicals (mostly set in Scotland and England) with really hot heroes; and Firebird sister April Bennet, who was the Golden Heart winner for the Regency category and makes me laugh – I can’t wait to read her first book.
So keep all those names in mind! I’m sure my bookshelves will soon be overflowing with the novels of these talented women!