Miranda Kenneally

Mexican Food Cures Writer's Block

Archive for October, 2013

In a Weird Spot…

Earlier this month, I turned in my 5th book in the Hundred Oaks series. It’s called FEELS LIKE FATE, and it’s about a girl training to run a marathon in honor of her boyfriend who died. I’d been working on the book for a year – since last October, so I was happy for the chance to breathe. I took a week off to binge-read a bunch of trashy books (like you do), and then I clapped my hands and thought, what’s next?

I’ve actually been writing continuously since early 2009. I got my agent in 2009 and I’ve been churning out books at a crazy rate since then. I don’t think there’s been a time when I haven’t been feverishly trying to figure out a story.

But now I’m on a break. Back in August, my editor told me she was leaving for a new job – a great job. I’m really excited for her. But we had a process worked out for my books. I would come up with a hook (i.e. a one-sentence, high concept description of the book), my editor would approve it, and then I’d be off to the races. Of course, sometimes it took a long time to figure out that one-sentence hook, so it wasn’t an easy process. But I had a process, which is important to me.

Now I’m in a holding pattern because I don’t have a new editor yet. My agent says I need a break and now is a good time to rest and wait for the creative juices to build back up. This is also a good thing because my eyes have been hurting from looking at screens too much. My agent is definitely right that I need to rest.

But I don’t really do well with downtime, to be honest. I feel most comfortable when I’m working toward something or have a challenge to face. I have a couple of ideas for new books in the Hundred Oaks series. I also have an idea for an adult romance novel. I wouldn’t mind trying to write in that genre, because I love it almost as much as I love YA. Regardless of what I write, I’m excited to get started on a new book.

But I am not sure what it will be like to work with a new editor. Will the editor want a full synopsis before approving the direction I want to go in? Or will the editor just tell me to write what I want to write? Or will the editor want to know what the back cover copy would eventually say? (The back cover copy is super important – the publisher needs to know how to market your book, and having a great hook on the back of a book is key.)

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit lost right now. I’m wondering if I should just start writing one of the plot ideas I have. Or if I should start making up a list of potential one-sentence hooks. Maybe I should take the time to write a bunch of bad poetry (aka my favorite pastime).

Do you guys have any tips for getting back on the writing wagon? Have you guys ever felt lost when it comes to your writing?

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Companion Novels: Guest Post from Steph Campbell and Liz Reinhardt

Today I’m excited to welcome Steph Campbell and Liz Reinhardt to my website. They are the authors of LENGTHS, a series of companion novellas… with very sexy covers (yay!) and while I haven’t read them yet, they have some amazing blurbs (the novellas that is, not the sexy covers. Can I give a blurb for those sexy covers.)

Anyhow, I love novellas because I can usually read them in an hour or less, and I love companion novels so I can keep up with characters over the course of many books. Therefore, the idea of companion novellas is pretty brilliant to me! I’d never heard of companion novellas before Steph and Liz. Anyhow, they are here today to talk about companions in general and to tell us a little about their series.

And now here’s Liz and Steph:

If we’re honest, we never set out to make LENGTHS a series of companion novels.

Lengths was intended to be a fun project that gave us both a chance to write outside of our comfort zones and learn a thing or two from each other because we loved and admired each other’s work and writing style.

But once we published it, and we saw the reaction that people had to these quirky characters and this gorgeous town we’d created, we weren’t quite ready to walk away from Silver Strand. So, we stepped back for a few months and each re-read Lengths in order to figure out whose story we should tell next and give that character’s voice a chance to percolate and tell us what his/her story actually was. Cohen had been such a goofy sidekick in LENGTHS, but, wow, he let his alpha side roar in DEPTHS! We just went along for the ride, and it was amazing how he could be such a silly goof around Deo, but such a strong, fierce protector around Maren as he fell for her.

One thing that we decided early on was that we wouldn’t write a book and already have decided who the following book would be about. We didn’t want to fall into a place where we spent time in our current book “setting up” the next book. We really wanted each story to be a stand alone, and to tell the character’s story from beginning to end without jipping the reader by spending time building up to the next book in the series. It was also a great way for us to let the characters have their voices and tell us where the story was going.

As an example, when we finished DEPTHS, we were sort of at a loss for who to tackle next. We’d done two males the readers were familiar with (Deo and then Cohen), and Genevieve had played this kind of bratty, annoying younger sister role in both books. One challenge we love is to take a character people don’t expect much from and show a really complex, intimate side of them.

We started to bounce ideas back and forth, and we were like, “Well Deo and Whit were both kind of lost. Maren and Cohen were both pretty grounded. What if we had a couple who was opposite? What if flighty Gen had to be someone’s rock?” That was the kernel that bloomed into this idea of an arranged marriage between a kind of scattered young woman and her very scientifically minded husband-to-be. And then Adam just popped up as the sexy/nerdy professor and the two of them completely gelled in this way that felt…well, like falling in love! We really loved that they were married early on. That was a new venture for us, and it was really fun to get up close and personal on that whole newlywed feeling.

The best part of writing a companion series? Seeing our characters through fresh eyes. In LENGTHS, we get a portrait of Ryan through Deo and Whit. Deo hates the guy’s guts, because they’re rivals. Whit sees him as someone fun and shallow to spend time with. It was Steph who came up with the idea of reintroducing Ryan…but who with?

We’d toyed with the idea of giving Deo a younger sister for a long time. Their father is pretty irresponsible, so the idea of a love child was not a stretch at all. When Hattie shows up in Silver Strand, she loves her brother, and wants nothing to do with Ryan, who kind of has all the cards stacked against him! So that was the ultimate fun. Taking this character who we thought was kind of shallow and not worth the time and saying, “Hey, wait. Who is this guy? What makes him tick? What does he think of all these flings he’s having?” The answers shocked up, but Ryan was such a deep, lovable guy…he even won over Hattie, and she gave him such a hard time!

Companion books are wonderful because you can draw all these characters you’ve snuggled with and are comfortable with, so you have this great base. But at the same time, you’re interpreting characters you thought you knew through a whole new lens. For example, take Deo. In LENGTHS, he’s our hero. In DEPTHS he’s the friendly sidekick. In LIMITS he’s the childhood crush of our MC. In TIES he’s the uber protective big brother. Of course, in every book he’s still totally DEO: hilarious, fun-loving, and full of heart. That has been a really fun, amazing challenge and adventure, and we hope to keep running with the characters from Silver Strand on and off for many years!

Thanks, Steph and Liz, for stopping by!

About RIPTIDES: Enzo Rodriguez doesn’t take much seriously–unless it involves waves, boards, or good beer.

When too-hot-to-handle Jessica Mills strolls into his life, Enzo is willing to forego all of those things for every second he can spend with her.

But Jessica has a huge secret–and when it’s revealed, it not only crushes Enzo, but has the last person he wants to ask a favor of–his brother-in-law Adam–bailing him out of jail.

Enzo is convinced that the only way to mend his bruised ego and heart, is to pack his bags and leave the turbulent waters of Silver Strand…for good.


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