I have never been one to toot my own horn. The few times I’ve tried, I’ve come away feeling dirty. That may be a strange thing to say with me being an author and a some time artist, but it’s true. My talent is not a result of anything I’ve done. It’s a gift from God that I’ve put to use. Even the skills I’ve honed are the result of editors beating the bad habits out of me. If all that is true how can I in good conscience toot anything?
Simply put, I usually don’t. That said, I’m going to do some tooting about something other than me. My books. You might be asking how can he toot and not toot? Simple, books are like my children. How could I not brag where they’re concerned? Like I said above I might write them, but it takes a village to make them great. Friends to inspire me along through the process. A backward looking highway of people who have gotten me to this point in my craft. They range from teachers to crit partners. Now, I have added beta readers to the creative process. Lastly and largely underappreciated by both readers and authors, editors. All these people and some I’ve missed go into the creation of a book. So my proud is not just mine to share, but theirs too.
December marks the release of my twenty-first book. Out of those, only three are out of print. That doesn’t include two anthologies with stories of mine in them. All this has been since 2005. Whew! When do I have time to breath? Wait, I knew I’ve been forgetting to do something.
What makes Bite the Neck that Loves You toot worthy? Well, as with each new book, it is the culmination of every thing I’ve learned as a writer. All my successes and all my failures have led to this book. Just like the next one will be the result of the same process. My philosophy is simple. Any book you finish is a cause for celebration. Writing is hard work, but worth it. Not only do you give yourself the satisfaction of seeing something to the finish, but you share that satisfaction with everyone who reads it.
I’m not saying every book is a winner. Because they’re not. I will say this. Before they get to my publisher’s hands, I make damned certain I’m satisfied. That might not mean much to anyone but me. Still, it is the one thing I am proud of. I would never send something out into the world that I didn’t feel was the best I could do. Sometimes, I succeed. Sometimes I fail. The thing is I would rather fail with a book I thought was my best effort than succeed with a story I knew in my heart just wasn’t where it needed to be.
Every story has an objective, or it should. I, as the author in question, defines that objective. It can be anything from a light romp meant simply to entertain, to a beefy comedy with underlying messages to give the reader something to think about, or it could be a deep insight into an issue or issues I find important. I don’t do many of those. That isn’t to say I have issues I find important. I do. I just don’t always have the right vehicle to convey the story. When I do, I write it. Immortally Damned was such a book.
Since I’m here talking about Bite Marks 2, what is its objective? BtNtLY, to shorten the title, is a continuance of the Love Bites and Bite Marks series. That is its main objective, keep the story flowing. It also is a story of two broken individuals, who need love in their lives but are afraid to search it out. That’s the objective of this one story in the chain of events of my Vampire series. The subplots that run through the book are the veins carrying much needed oxygen and blood to the major organs of the lives of Franki and Alexandre, my heroine and hero. I’m not going into a whole lot about the story, because there is some major secrets and spoilers throughout the book. I try not to drop teasers. To me, they ruin the reading experience. Stuff happens. Let’s leave it at that. I leave it up to you to wonder what stuff I’m talking about.
A few more reasons why I’m proud of this book. It tells the story I wanted to tell. Any author will tell you, books don’t always work out the way you want them to. This one did. What else? Bite the Neck never ceased to surprise me. When as an author, I can honestly say that I didn’t see that coming, I’ve experienced the same excitement I hope a reader will feel reading it. If you become so predictable as a writer, there are no surprises left, you don’t need to be a writer, or you need to try another genre. Lastly, it furthered the overall story of my world and gave me insight into where that world is going. Again, we’re back to surprises. I’m relatively sure when I hit book four, new things will still be jumping out at me.
I will let you in on one secret. Come in a little closer, so nobody can hear. Good. I already know some insane twists that will happen in Book five that will have people beating their heads against their reading devices. Okay, officially that was a tease, but I didn’t spoil anything. So there!
When you’re writing a series, the key is to keep it original and not episodic. Nobody wants a rehash of last week’s episode with different characters acting out the same script. I try to step away from that systematic way of writing. Each character is different. Their stories should be different too. Lightning does not strike twice, and neither should weirdness.
Let me wrap this up, before this ramble gets out of hand. After eight years as an author and over twenty-one books with some part of me in them, what is the one thing I’ve learned that bears sharing? Trust in yourself to know when you’re good and when you’re bad. All those people I listed above as the village helping to write a book aren’t its parent. You are. As such, it is ultimately up to you as the writer to keep the book on track. Fight for the integrity of your vision and never back down from fighting for the heart of your story. Take advice when it feels right, but never cave because you’re not sure. Be sure! Okay, that might be more than one thing, but it felt right. So following my own advice, I’m sticking to it, and saying good night.
Thanks for listening and have a great week!