My Writing Journey. My Future Plans.

cmh-jom-notebooks

Two of my book notebooks (CARRY ME HOME and JUST ONCE MORE.)

So here I am, one week after release of NO KIND OF HERO, my twenty-third book, at loose ends. A little surreal, considering that I started this journey on a whim five years ago, and almost accidentally found a passion and a vocation.

As always after finishing a book, I’m wondering what to do next. Unusually, I actually have the start of a book written (in a new series), and ideas for three more (one, yep, new series, one in the Portland Devils series, and one–which I’m dying to write–Karen’s story, the follow-on to Hope and Hemi’s story). All of those books are completely different in location and tone, which has made me realize one unusual thing about my writing career thus far—that I’ve written so many different types of books, with different tones and in different subgenres. The usual advice is to stick with the thing that brings you success, but then—I started this journey to learn and grow, and the thing I like best (afterwards!) is challenging myself to do something new and succeeding. Not always as well as I could hope, but with every challenge I meet, I get a little better. Who knows—maybe someday I will be the writer I hope to be!

As I way of working through what I want to do next, I thought about the “turning points” on my writing journey thus far. And because I think best when I write things out, I did that. Here they are, in order of publication, little goalposts along the way.

Just This Once

JUST THIS ONCE (Hannah & Drew). You never forget your first. The idea that I could take this cool daydream of an American woman and the captain of the All Blacks and actually write a BOOK about them—it still amazes me. I felt like I was on drugs while I wrote this book. It was euphoria. I’d go to bed with the printed manuscript and read it over until I fell asleep. I dreamt and slept and lived the book. Writing it was the most fun I’d ever had in my life. Is it my best book? Nope. But it was still amazing.

Just for Now

JUST FOR NOW (Jenna & Finn–and Sophie and Harry). Something clicked when I wrote this book. I got better. I felt like I knew how to do it. I wrote it when I was very sick, when my priorities in life became very clear. It’s my warmest, sweetest, most “family” book, and it was a pure joy to write. I got through difficult physical times by taking myself away to my “happy place” and imagining Finn and Jenna, thinking up the next part of the book. And that was the book when I discovered how much I loved writing kids and loved writing funny.

Welcome webWELCOME TO PARADISE (Mira & Gabe). The New Zealand books had just started to sell big, my career was taking off, and I was panicking. I feared putting myself in a box—the very thing I’d started writing to get out of. I didn’t know if anybody would read me for anything but the NZ angle. I thought of the coolest book I could possibly create, and then I researched and wrote it, and it was a blast. Huge cast of characters. Blend of contemporary fiction and romance. The historical aspect. So much fun to write.

 

Asking Trouble webASKING FOR TROUBLE (Alyssa & Joe). I’d always written fairly articulate and emotionally available guys. Writing somebody like Joe, somebody who felt so deeply but buried his emotions all the way down, was a huge challenge. How could I let the reader see Joe when he didn’t talk, and when his emotions were often invisible even to himself? I took the journey along with Joe.

 

 

Just Not MineJUST NOT MINE (Josie & Hugh). My funniest book in my opinion. Certain scenes from it still make me laugh to think about. Also the book where I had the biggest crisis. I had horrible insomnia and incredible anxiety during the last few weeks of writing it. I was alone in New Zealand and not sleeping. I woke up at two AM on what turned out to be Finish Date -1 for the book, realizing that the reason for the anxiety was that I had the ending all wrong. That day, I started writing Josie’s scene with her mother. Well, I started “jotting down some ideas.” Standing at the kitchen bench with my anorak on. I ended up writing the whole chapter that way in a heated rush. Then I packed my notebook, went to the pub, and wrote the entire rest of the book in longhand. The whole last three or four chapters got written that day, and it was awesome. I learned to trust my gut and my process, that the anxiety is just my brain niggling at me that something’s wrong, but that my brain will eventually get it right.

Hold Me CloseHOLD ME CLOSE (Kayla & Luke–and Eli). Along those same lines—my most emotionally gripping book (at least to me), and my best book ever, in my opinion. Going down into some darker places. I’ve always loved writing kids, and writing Eli’s feelings, his point of view, was immensely satisfying. The one thing I wasn’t so satisfied by was also a lesson. It was my second time working with a developmental editor. She’d been incredibly helpful on CARRY ME HOME with pace and suspense plot points, but on this book, I felt much more confident. I still let her convince me to change some things, and afterwards, I was sorry I had. I realized that she was very good on pace, but I was better on character development. In the original book, Luke had a few more rough edges. She objected and I smoothed them out, and then wished I’d left them. The one big criticism I get on this book is that Luke is too perfect, and I agree. After that, I became much more confident in “standing up for” my people.

FierceFIERCE (Hope & Hemi–and Karen). Writing in first person was an absolute revelation. It was so immediate and so engrossing, and let me absolutely inhabit the voices of my characters. It was HARD to go back to third person afterwards. I’ve stayed with third because it’s much more common for my contemporary romance/romantic suspense genres, but I think I’ve kept some of that immediacy of voice, that sense of being right inside the character’s head, and that’s good. I do want to write more in first person, though.

Just Stop MeJUST STOP ME (Nina & Iain). I had the idea for the three generations and three stages of love, and how they’d be woven together over the book. I wrote it half in New Zealand and half in Australia, in various locations in Sydney, and wow. It was a PUSH. It’s my second-longest book, and I was on a deadline. I finished it on Christmas Eve at 9 PM, and the final version had to be uploaded by New Year’s Eve! I loved it because it was sexy, it was funny, it was heartfelt—and I just loved Iain. The whole book was a huge challenge and a treat to write.

silver-tongued-devil-smlSILVER-TONGUED DEVIL (Dakota & Blake). Nothing but fun. I had the idea for Blake and Dakota while standing outside the Coeur d’Alene Resort, and I just loved it and couldn’t wait to write it. I had to finish another book first, but then I got to do that one. I love, love writing funny, and having that interspersed with some harrowing stuff and Dakota’s vulnerability made it better. I realized I had grown better at writing a complex character. Dakota is tough, but she’s vulnerable, too, and when she thinks Blake has betrayed her—it was harrowing to write. That book was a reminder that I CAN get good ideas for books. Those good ideas, those strong characters can carry me through.


The thing I realize, looking back over this? I’ve learned something from writing every book, and I’ve liked every book. There’s really no “fail,” even if some books are bigger reader favorites than others. That’s a heartening thought in the middle of the book, when I’ve wondered if it’s any good at all and have feared that it stinks. (Along those lines–which books have I been most scared about? You might be surprised. JUST FOR FUN (Emma, Nic, & Zack). CARRY ME HOME (Zoe & Cal). JUST SAY YES (Chloe & Kevin. MAJOR angst there. I was sure it stunk. I almost threw it away four times. Literally. Turns out it has my highest review average. Before that, the honor belonged to JUST FOR FUN. Shows what I know. My writing career has been all about being scared and doing it anyway.)

So with all that—what am I going to do next? When I ask readers, I always hear, “Escape to New Zealand”! But you know–I think readers only still like those books because I only write them when I have a really good idea. I don’t want to bore myself, and I don’t want to bore my readers. I want to do this right. I want to learn and grow, or it’s just another job.

So what WILL I write? Something with all the above. The suspense I’ve learned to do after a lot of practice. The humor that I always enjoy. Something with kids, because I love writing them. Something with sexy times, because life’s short and sexy feels are good. And something that’s FUN and challenging and new. Something that comes to me like Blake and Dakota did, I hope.

Something I’ll enjoy and despair over, something I’ll be sure stinks at about eleven points along the way, something I’ll do my very best on. And something I’ll learn from.

 

 

About rosalindiiams
  1. So great to get an understanding of your writing. I can’t seen to get into your nz books. I enjoyed the Paradise, and loved the Silver Tongued Devil. I have listened to it numerous times (one of the best narrations and I have bought audible, since dialup!). I can not waste time on weak women and yours always seem strong.
    Keep it up!

  2. Marolyn says:

    I write this with a big smile on my face… I love that you have such an analytical mind! It’s not enough that you’ve written books, GOOD books, you NEED to figure out all the why’s. Not because there was anything wrong with the process or outcome but because you want learn from your previous experiences to make the most of your future. The cool thing for me, is that this personality trait carries over to your characters, which in my opinion is a big part of their appeal. :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. Mary Guidry says:

    Wow. Thank you so much for taking us on your journey! Working with you, I had an inkling of some of it, but it’s such a pleasure to know your backstory and how these amazing books came to be. I smiled a lot reading this.

    For anyone else reading this … she’s also the very best of bosses and i feel so privileged to work along side her. It’s been the adventure of a lifetime!!

    Thank you, Rosalind! ♥️

  4. Brigitte says:

    I adored your Note Quite a Billionaire trilogy and would LOVE to see Karen’s story! After visiting NZ last year, I’d be thrilled to read more Escape to NZ books too. Continued success – you’re one of my few must buy authors. :)

  5. Thanks for sharing, Rosalind – I LOVED reading that!!

  6. Patricia Christiansen says:

    One of the things I love about your books is that no two are alike. When I was a young woman (many moons ago) I read every Victoria Holt book I could find. They were all the same storyline with a few tweaks: Large looming house, dark, brooding hero, someone crazy–a sister, an aunt, and a jealous ex-girlfriend who lives to make trouble. Your books are so diverse and each one unique. I have to admit after reading most of them, “Just Good Friends” remains my favorite. I loved the give and take between Kate and Koti. When he asks if she wants to get a coffee and they can sit and she can criticize his personality some more–I had to laugh out loud and still smile when I think of it and many of those moments between them. It is an honor to be in your ARC group and I look forward to every new book.

    • Rosalind James says:

      Thank you! I read a whole lot of Victoria Holt also. I liked her Jean Plaidy books much more–based on actual historical characters, so they had more diversity and interest, I thought.
      I loved writing JUST GOOD FRIENDS too. Kate and Koti were so funny to write. Not everybody liked Kate, which kinda shocked me at the time, but now I see what they meant. But I, like Koti, thought she was funny. :)
      Thank you very much for reading the books!

  7. Mary Ann Hennon says:

    I’m one of those who keeps sending you back to NZ. I have loved them all, but your re-visiting Drew and Hannah’s marriage at a point of crisis was very satisfying. No marriage is without crises , and I found it refreshing to read about how a “perfect couple” dealt with this and came out stronger. Your choice when facing a rough patch is to pull apart or to pull together to survive it. Maybe your next visit to NZ could visit another couple’s crisis and the sub-story could update us on the characters we love. Incidentally, it’s your fault we love them! :)

    I have stated before that I will read anything you write, so go for it, but you may be surprised to know that I did not enjoy the first-person narrative. Those books are my least favorite, but I still read them!

    We love you, Rosalind. Keep writing whatever your heart and mind create. Someday I hope you will write your autobiography. I have enjoyed what you have chosen to share with us of your life and family and would be delighted to know more. You have let us in and made us friends. We will always be here for you.

    • Rosalind James says:

      Well, I know FIERCE and the others were pretty different. I wrote them, as always, to see if I could, and I ended up really liking them. That’s the thing when you try new stuff, I guess–of course not everybody will like it. But it does all help you grow as a writer.
      There’s actually a story I very much want to write about the existing NZ couples. Somebody asked me once about having one of my NZ guys cheat. I guarantee it won’t be that. :)
      And I’m afraid my autobiography would be like the description of war–endless stretches of tedium interspersed with moments of terror. I don’t think it’d be a bestseller. But thank you. I appreciate that.

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