I was asked a couple of months ago to start sharing writing tips here on my blog. I thought about not fulfilling the request because there are so many great blogs out there about writing, and I want to be sure I’m bringing something new or fresh. The thought wouldn’t go away though, so here I am, making the first blog on my newly designed site a writing related one.
As I was reading, note taking and absorbing the brilliance found in PLATFORMS by Michael Hyatt, a book on building social media platforms, today I began thinking about all the things on my website that needed to be updated, including the look. Updating the look and tweaking the layout of some things got me to thinking about how I do book edits. Thinking about that led to thinking about the request for a writing blog, and how many times I’ve been asked the same, or very similar, questions since I received that request. So here we go with the first look into the writing side of my life.
If you get to know me for more than 5 minutes, online or in person, you won’t be surprised to hear that I like to approach things in an orderly almost systematic way. I’m no different in how I write my stories, though the approach does change a little for each project.
Regardless of the story I am writing, I cannot just jump in an write it. I have to have an idea of where I’m going with it, a road map of sorts. For my shorter stories, the contemporary novellas, I can get away with simply writing a synopsis. More often than not these are only a couple of pages long, hitting the major points I know I want to cover in my stories. I don’t want or need to know all the details for these stories. The discovery of how things play out from scene to scene is part of the fun for me.
My suspense stories tend to be a little more detailed. For those I actually do quite a bit of plotting, especially when the plot is a twisty and complicated one. I don’t want drop any threads. I’ll share a detailed approach of one of these another time. For now, I thought I would share the synopsis for this November’s release with you. Well, parts of it because I can’t have you knowing all the really big secrets. This is the first book I contracted on the proposal of this synopsis.
As I was writing, the plans I’d made on how they get from one story point to the next changed. A lot of what is in the synopsis stayed, but just as much of it was altered. And I cut the end of the synopsis off to keep the mystery alive. I’ll just say that this story was planned as a fun little romp, and while there was a lot of fun to be had it ended up being much more meaningful than I’d anticipated.
QUESTION FOR WRITERS: What is your approach? Or what has it been so far?
QUESTION FOR READERS: Is there anything you want to know about the process of birthing a book?
THE EARLY SYNOPSIS FOR HER MIRACLE MAN
Ryland Davids, a children’s hospital administrator, had been attracted to Jennalyn James from the first moment he saw her. He’d told himself there was plenty of time to get to know her, but then her young sister died from complications of her traumatic brain injury (TBI), an injury sustained when she’d been in a car accident with their parents, and Jennalyn stopped coming to the hospital. Her absence, though understandable, still saddens him and many of the young patients she and her sister had befriended almost a year later.
Event planner Jennalyn has avoided all contact from the hospital specializing in special needs kids where she spent so much time with her much younger sister Sabrina, where she held Sabrina in her last hours, until now. Something she can’t define, a feeling that this envelope is somehow more personal, has her opening an envelope from the administrator’s office. It’s a DVD of a message Sabrina made before dying and note explaining that it had only recently been found in some furniture they were clearing out of storage.
Watching the DVD breaks Jennalyn’s heart, as her sweet Sabrina is telling her goodbye and begging that she always remember the friends they’d made at the hospital and to never stop loving and supporting them. She hadn’t forgotten their friends. She just hadn’t been able to face the memories they awakened with Sabrina gone. She still wasn’t sure she could handle the memories, but as a favor to Sabrina she feels she has to try.
Jennalyn shows up at the hospital one afternoon in time to catch the tail end of a clown’s show for the children. Rylie the Rowdy Clown had been a favorite of her sister’s, and seeing his performance again shatters a piece of her healing heart and has her turning to run. As she does, Rylie calls out, stopping her. Jennalyn forces herself to turn back and paste on a smile for the kids – many of whom she remembers well.
Ryland, aka Rylie the Rowdy Clown, can’t believe Jennalyn is back. Unwilling to lose the chance Fate has provided, he pulls her into the show and then asks her to join him in the administration offices. When they’re alone in the office, he unmasks. Jennalyn is only surprised for a moment that Sabrina’s favorite clown runs the hospital. They’d never known each other well, but he’d always seemed to have a great heart. He’d even sent a bouquet to the funeral along with a personal note of condolences.
Ryland recognizes the grief gripping Jennalyn and knows she is struggling with being in the hospital, but he’s also done his homework. She’s an event planner with a terrific reputation. He was going to reach out to her within the week to offer her the job of helping to organize A Month of Miracles, a holiday campaign he’s wanted to do since he accepted his job three years earlier. She’s here. He approaches her.
Jennalyn is hesitant to take the job offer, partly because of the place and partly because of the attraction she feels toward Ryland. Her grief is still too raw and overpowering for there to be room for anyone else in her life, but a job’s a job and she needs the money. Promising herself she can ignore the pull to Ryland and avoid the patients in the hospital, she accepts his proposal.
Ryland vows to help Jennalyn find some happiness during her first Christmas without Sabrina, and with luck it will last beyond the holiday. As they work together, he finds ways to take her on fun and low key outings. At first they’re small things like trips to a candy store or party store with a claim that they’re looking for party supplies. Later, when they’ve kicked off A Month of Miracles, they become a little more meaningful as he invites her to join him and a few special kids for things like a carriage ride to see the holiday lights or a picnic in the hospital’s garden or a visit to a nearby bookstore that’s hosting a popular children’s author. During each “date” he introduces her at some point to at least one child and date by date, child by child, she opens up and talks more about Sabrina and their good times.
Jennalyn is surprised at how easy it is to be involved in A Month of Miracles. She feels herself lightening inside. With the lightening, she begins accepting Ryland on a different level. She accepts his touches as more than gestures from a friend.
The time with Jennalyn has given Ryland glimpses of the kind of relationship he wants, a marriage like his parents have. A little afraid of scaring Jennalyn off, Ryland takes the long time advice of his parents and keeps his touches light. He holds her hand or kisses her on the cheek or brushes her hair off her shoulder. Each is an excuse to feel her, to connect to her. Each makes restraint increasingly difficult.
To Jennalyn, he’s chivalrous and every restrained touch heats the arousal in her veins a little more. Finally, when he takes her home one evening after long day of meetings, he kisses her. Really kisses her. She kisses him back and then can’t stop until long after they’ve tangled her sheets.
Ryland stops holding back his attraction after their first kiss and more actively works to get her alone. He thinks he’s broken through her grief and is about ready to propose. In fact, he has it all planned for the big party they’ll have the night they wrap up A Month of Miracles. As the big party grows closer and the details of pulling it off become more intricate, Jennalyn pulls back. Then she refuses to come to the hospital, choosing instead to delegate tasks to volunteers. When Ryland tries to see her, she makes excuses saying she’s just not ready to be back at the hospital. It’s more than she thought it would be, and she can’t handle it.
Concerned that she’s retreating too deeply into her sadness again, or that she’s simply running from the happiness she’d shown signs of, he goes to her home late enough that he knows she’ll be home. When she answers, he pulls the truth from her, refusing to let her hide any longer. Her confession that she’s feeling guilty for not being sad enough about Sabrina rips his heart. He wants to tell her it’s okay to move one, but knows she won’t believe him. Instead, he slides the DVD she’d told him about into the player and leaves her alone to watch it with a parting kiss and a whispered “I hope to see you tomorrow night.”
Jennalyn talks herself into and out of attending the big party all through the day. She knows Sabrina would want her to move on, just as she knows Ryland will be waiting for her and her past friends will be there. She also knows seeing everyone is going to be painful. In the end, determined to see the smiles on the faces of the kids she’s recently met, Jennalyn goes to the party.