Sunday, July 4, 2010

The end of the line

Gabi very sweetly said the following: I'm awed by your ability to deliver two books in two different series each year.

How do you get your brain to switch from the DIY series to the Real Estate series? Do you work on them simultaneously? Do you sleep?

Thanks for the awe, but I don’t deserve it, as I don’t actually deliver two books in two series each year. I deliver two books in one series and one in the other. I’m on six month contracts from Berkley for the DIY-series, and in-between those, I’ve got to churn out something else. Right now I’m ahead of the game on the Southern real estate series—the first book was released this month and the next two are already written—so I’ve got some time right now to do something different. I’m working on a new idea that I plan to write after September, when I’ve delivered DIY-5. Hopefully by January 2011, when DIY-4, Mortar and Murder, hits stores, I’ll have finished something totally new and exciting for my agent to pitch. Then, maybe I’ll have to juggle three series!

In order to write three books a year, I subscribe to the most basic of time management rules: AIC or ass in chair. If I write 1,000 words every day, I’ll have a 90,000 word first draft in three months. It usually takes me more like three and a half, since there are days I don’t get my 1,000 words in. Still, if I move right onto the next book while I wait to hear back from beta readers, I can complete three first drafts in ten and a half months, leaving two weeks to tweak each.

My brain has no problem switching from book to book most of the time. The protagonists are both young women narrating their stories in the first person, but they’re very different. Avery’s a New York City born and educated textile designer who feels like a fish out of water when she moves to a tiny town on the coast of Maine to renovate houses with her new boyfriend. Savannah is a gentle-born Southern Belle who’s on her own in Nashville for the first time, after going from her parents’ house to finishing school to university to her ex-husband’s house. She’s figuring out how to be her own woman, at the late age of 27, and she’s learning to live with the freedom of knowing that for the first time ever, there’s no one looking over her shoulder or judging anything she says or does. With such different backgrounds and geographic locations, they’re not gonna sound anything like each other; at least they’re not supposed to.

That said, no, I can’t work on them simultaneously. That’s when the voices start to blur. If I just stay in one character’s head and get into one character’s story at a time, I seem to do all right, but I can’t do both simultaneously. I can’t read and write at the same time, either. I know some people can, but I’m not one of them. I can’t even read in other genres as I write in my own, because I get influenced even by that. Sure, I write light and fluffy mysteries, but there’s a middle grade fantasy novel in my head somewhere, and if I get too deeply into Harry Potter, then my MG fantasy hero takes over my brain and demands attention. Or my science fiction spaceship captain, or my romantic suspense hero or my historic mystery heroine. So no reading for me unless I’m between books. Which doesn’t happen often. And yes, I do sleep, but not always as much as I’d like.

Gosh, folks, it's been a great week! Thanks so much for having me on 7 Criminal Minds this week, and thanks for being the wonderful supportive people, and writers, and friends that you are!

xoxo

5 comments:

Gabi said...

I take it back. I'm not in awe. I'm speechless. A speechless writer. You really are fab and thanks for joining us. Have a wonderful 4th!

Jennie Bentley said...

You have a wonderful 4th, too! And thanks so much for having me! It's been a total pleasure all the way and I'd love to come back. xoxo

Dru said...

Nice interview. It is truly amazing that you can write two different characters and keep them straight. I'm looking forward to reading Cutthroat.

Jennie Bentley said...

Thanks, Dru, but like I said, the characters are so different it's really not that big a deal. Be sure to let me know how you like A Cutthroat Business once you've had a chance to read it, and let me know if you think the voice is different from the DIYs. Maybe I'm kidding myself...

Shane Gericke said...

Thanks for hanging out with us this week. It was a delight.

And three books a year instead of four? You slacker :-) (But I'm in awe.)