If you haven’t read part 1, click here.
So, two summers ago, as I was sitting on my bed, afraid to tell Sandra I was a failure, afraid to confess to anyone in the writing community that I was sucking wind (as they say in the Army) because I was way too proud. For some reason, God took pity on me and gave me a huge gift. I broke down and called my CWG mentor, Eva Marie Everson and spilled it all. She listened and then, right there on the phone with me, she sent an email that changed everything. She put me in contact with Ramona Richards, who very, very graciously listened to my story and answered all of my questions… even ones I didn’t ask. It was like God put questions in her ears that I never voiced. And I realized… I can do this. I did. I finished. And to make a very long story about editor rewrite requests and a meeting with Emily from LIS and a bunch of other stuff short… Freefall releases in November.
But I’ll tell you… I shut that file on that book, sat down with Sandra at a conference, and said, “I never, ever want to write suspense again. Never. Ever. Ever. Period. Shoot me first.”
Six months later… I wrote a second suspense. I literally have no idea why. Again, I had one single vision, of a counselor getting attacked in her office because of one of her patients. And it grew from there. Crossfire is sitting in the wings, waiting for step two.
And I said to a friend, “I never, ever want to write suspense again. Never. Ever. Ever. Period. Shoot me first.”
So, this summer, I had a brilliant idea for a romance set on Hatteras Island. Something in the vein of my first two books. Something decidedly more… me. I sat down for two weeks and planned and plotted and had everything perfectly ready to go. But every time I sat down to write, something was wrong. It felt flat. This guy who started out perfectly innocuous, a foil to my hero, kept trying to do things. He tried to lie to the heroine. He tried to prevent her from doing something. He kept trying to be, well… menacing. So I set the story aside and started a totally different one that has also been rolling around in my head.
And the same thing happened.
Take three. Same thing. I’d get about 12,000 words in and the story would start to turn left. Even though I’d plotted. Even though I knew where I was going. None of them wanted to go straight romance. The all wanted to be… suspenseful.
So I gave up. I sat down without a plot and just started typing. And typing. And typing. The plot unfolded. I made notes about future scenes. And I typed and I typed and I typed. For the first time all summer, it flowed. Everything came together. My characters behaved. They did what I asked of them.
And I love it.
The plot? A military scientist is being stalked by someone as well versed in psychological warfare as she is… but is it by someone who wants her? Or by someone who wants the psychological weapon she’s created?
I read something in Writer’s Digest recently that got me thinking. The question was about finding out what excites you, and it said to look back to childhood and see what interested you then. Did I read romance when I was a kid? Nope. I read Nancy Drew. Trixie Belden. The Hardy Boys. All of them. Devoured. Repeatedly. Did grown up Jodie miss something that kid Jodie knew all along?
So, let me introduce myself to you. I am not who I thought I was. I am not Jodie Bailey, writer of women’s fiction and romance, Southern style. I am Jodie Bailey. Suspense author, military style.
Oh, I still have some women’s fiction on my mind. And when God says it’s time, I’m sure it will come out. (Camy Tang gets a shout out for juggling the women’s fiction/romance and suspense thing quite well.) But sometimes you have to give up trying to be who you think you want to be… and just be who you are.
Who knew? Not me. But God did. And he told my agent first. He’s kind of funny that way.
I’m glad she was listening, even though she was probably as surprised as I am.