Hello, everybody. I’m Marie Sexton, and I’m here today to talk about my writing stages. To date, I’ve published approximately thirty works of various lengths. Now, when it comes to co-written projects like Roped In, the pattern changes. That’s one of the fun things about co-writing. But for my solo titles, the vast majority of them have followed this pattern.
Stage 1: Conceptualization
The germination of the seed. The spark of life. Lights flickering in my brain. This stage is marked by me staring blindly into space for hours at a time. The TV, my husband, my child, the cat yowling at the door – nothing can break through my daze as I ponder characters and key moments in the story. I’ll go the grocery store and find myself standing in front of the shelves of ketchup, just swaying in the breeze. People look at me sideways and ask if I’m okay. (I’m not.)
This stage generally lasts anywhere from one to four weeks.
Stage 2: Taking the Plunge
This is the hardest stage for me, because it means COMMITMENT. In Stage 1, I can still allow myself to be distracted. I can pretend that maybe I won’t write this story at all. But once I sit down at the computer and start typing, everything changes. To date, I only have one book I’ve started but not finished. (It was two, for a long time, because Trailer Trash was one of them. But now, I’m back down to only one.) I’m determined not to add to that number, and so I stall on actually starting for as long as I possibly can. Although this stage is huge hurdle for me, it’s short, and then it’s on to Stage 3.
Stage 3: Sex
Okay, it’s not really sex, but it is the FUN PART. If a book is like a baby (and in many ways, it is), then this stage is the lust-driven conception. Scenes come pouring out, frantic and sweaty and heart-poundingly exciting. They’re hot and fresh and sexy and just oozing with potential. They’re so great, I can’t wait to share them, and I find myself emailing bits and pieces to my long-suffering beta readers. This stage is like falling in love: the story is the last thing I think about when I go to sleep, and the first thing I think about the next morning. It’s perfect.
The duration of this stage varies. It generally lasts about as long as it takes me to write the first third of the story (however many words that may be).
Stage 4: The Grind
This is when reality sets in, and the writing becomes like any other job. I get up in the morning, get my kid off to school, and then I put my butt in my chair and work until I’ve met my goal for the day. Some days that happens in the first hour or two. Some days, it’s like pulling teeth. This is the stage when all the inconsistencies and plot holes rear their ugly heads, and I whine a lot. I mean, A LOT. (Ask any of my long-suffering writing friends.) It isn’t all bad though, because this is also when things solidify. Characters start to be strong and true. Underlying themes and subplots begin to emerge and coalesce. I can practically feel the story taking form in my hands. This is the bulk of my novel-writing time, and some days it’s tedious as hell, but eventually I emerge into…
Stage 5: OMG, I ROCK!!!
This is my second wind. It comes when the story is 90% complete. Everything’s in place. All that remains is some rounding of corners. Filling in the gaps. Smoothing the rough edges. This is when the book is SO CLOSE to being complete I can hardly stand to sit still. It’s going to be great! I can’t wait to send it to my betas. I’m already imagining gushing emails from fans telling me that it’s my best story yet.
Unfortunately, this stage lasts all of about five minutes before it devolves into…
Stage 6: The 3rd Trimester
I once wrote an entire blog post about the pure misery of this stage. This is the point where I realize that the last 10% of the novel is probably going to kill me. It’s pure hell. I write and write and write, and yet I never get any closer to the end. Every morning when I get up, I say, “I’m going to finish this book today,” and every night when I go to bed, I say, “I’m never going to finish this mother f&*#ing book!” At this point, I’m ready to trash the entire thing. I hate the story. I hate the characters. I hate the entire world. I spend hours asking the universe why I EVER wanted to write a stupid book to begin with. I bitch and moan and gripe and complain, and my friends smile and nod and pat me on the head and push me onward until suddenly…
Stage 7: Ta-da!!!
Sound the trumpets! Break out the champagne! The first draft is complete! I send it off to my first round of beta readers with a mixed sense of pride and dread. And then, just like that, I’m on to…
Stage 8: EON (End of Novel)
EON is a term I stole from Heidi Cullinan, and it’s a really twitchy, neurotic time. First of all, I emerge from my writing cave to discover that my house has been visited by a hurricane in my absence. It’s a bit unnerving to realize the extent to which my writing has impacted my family. Dirty laundry is everywhere. Toys too. Every glass and coffee cup we own is dirty (but not pots, pans or plates, because I haven’t been cooking). My child has possibly not bathed in a week and looks a bit like Newt when the Colonial Marines pulled her out of her rabbit-hole in Aliens. Unpaid bills are covering the countertop, and the only things left in the fridge are ketchup and styrofoam containers that hold leftovers I don’t remember bringing home.
But that’s not the worst part of EON. The worst part is the TWITCHES. Every few minutes I wander into my office. I sit down at my computer. I stare at it for a bit, waiting for something to happen. And I suddenly realize I have no idea what to do. The book is done. I have to wait for feedback before revising.
I check email. I check Twitter. I check Facebook. I check email again. I stare at the screen a bit more. I wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I check my email one last time, and then I force myself to get up and do SOMETHING. And yet, a few minutes later, I find myself again at my desk, staring blankly at my computer. Luckily, this stage usually lasts less than a week, and in that time, I do manage to get my house back under control.
Stage 9: Editing, Revising, Submitting
Exactly what it sounds like. I love this stage. It’s very low-key, and I find it strangely satisfying. I can revise forever. I do it while watching TV, or between loads of laundry. I often let it drag out longer than I should, simply because I don’t want the journey to be over. But eventually I decide it must be finished. I take a deep breath and hit “send”.
Stage 10: Reboot
Unlike a lot of other writers I know, I rarely (if ever) have another project lined up. I have to kick back and wait for one to come to me. This stage is a bit like EON, but without the mess. I’m sort of twitchy and restless and bored, but also sort of glad to be able to relax to. I watch a lot of TV. I catch up with friends. I spend time with my husband. Then one day, some random thought will snag in my brain, refusing to be swept downstream – a picture or a sentence or an idea. For Between Sinners and Saints, it was getting a massage and wondering if guys ever popped wood on the massage table. For Damned If You Do, it was hearing the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia on the radio. Whatever it is, it piques my imagination. A light bulb goes on…
And then I’m right back where I started.
About the Book
All they need is a bit of rope.
(Note: This is a re-edited second edition of a previously published title.)
Buy Link: Riptide Publishing
About Marie Sexton
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along.
Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
About L. A. Witt
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .
To celebrate the release of Roped In, Marie and L.A. are giving away $20 in Riptide Publishing credit plus one ebook from each of their backlists. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 25, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!