Today I'm ridiculously excited to welcome author Chloe Neill to the blog to help us wrap up the read-along for Some Girls Bite. She's here to give us a little insight into her writing journey and the eventual development of Merit and Ethan, so welcome Chloe and thank you for being a part of the read-along!
Is it surprising to learn that I used to get panicky about writing assignments? That my only English class in college was "African Novel"? that I promised myself I would never, ever get a job that required me to write?
And yet, here we are. :)
In high school and my first year of college, I thought I was headed for a career in the visual arts. A "starving artist" of the New York variety, or maybe an illustrator. (I didn't know much about commercial graphic design back then, or surely it would have topped the list, too.) I did not like to write; hated it, in fact. I wasn't good at constructing sentences, and the act of doing it made me nervous and fretful to the point of distraction.
It was probably a fateful decision, then, that I attended a liberal arts college that prized writing over multiple choice exams . . . and that led me away from studio art in my second year. I wrote a paper as a sophomore, a short essay intended to examine the women's rights movement. Instead of jumping into a discussion of the history, I started by writing the story of a fictitious woman named Hillary.
In other words, instead of simply writing a summary, I wrote a story. It got a good review from my professor, I recall, but that didn't change my mind one iota. Writing was not for me.
The song didn't change after grad school, or in a summer job as I watched my employers lock themselves in their offices to finish drafts. The proposition of having to write for a living, on a deadline, horrified me.
But then, after a string of random occurrences, I got a job as a kind of pseudo-reporter. I watched things happen; I wrote about them. I wrote about them every day for months on end. And in that process, I got more comfortable constructing sentences, putting clauses together and shaping paragraphs.
I learned, in the most basic sense, how to write.
Still, that was it. I read--had always loved to read--but I was quite content to leave the fiction writing to others. It didn't even occur to me to write fiction. After all, I only barely liked writing at my job. Why do it for fun?
Unfortunately, one sad day around that time, an important relationship ended. I healed by reading. And then reading more. And more and more and more. I devoured 8 or 10 paperbacks a week, usually romance, usually in a series of some type because I loved recurring characters and inside jokes.
Eventually, I ran out of things to read. I couldn't find a series I enjoyed or a romance with enough sparkle to hook me.
I thought, at first, I'd try my hand at fan fiction. I loved Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series. Since I read faster than she published, I decided to imagine myself into the books to fill time until the next episode was released.
After about 2,000 words of Dark Hunter fan fiction, I felt silly. These weren't my characters; they were hers. It felt weird to play the game using someone else's cards.
So, on Labor Day in 2005, I opened a Word file and I started to write.
When I wasn't in class (grad school, at the time), I was writing. Weekends, I was writing. I wrote the same way I'd read--voraciously. I created a family of characters and a bevy of sarcastic inside jokes. I plotted seven books in a paranormal romance series, one romance per book, and I plastered a wall in my apartment with sticky notes--ideas and quips for later books.
I finished the manuscript on New Year's Day. It wasn't very good--and I have a rejection letter to prove it. But I'd done it, and it hadn't been nearly as bad as I'd imagined.
A few months later, I started my second manuscript, which I called THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER. (Seriously. Isn't that terrible?) It took six months to write and six months to edit. When I was reasonably confident I was done, I sent it to one publisher--Penguin.
A few months later, we mutually decided that SOME GIRLS BITE was a much better title. :)
Today, I have a day job (in which I write) and a writing career (in which I write). I write a LOT, and there are still times when the words don't come and the fear rises up. But I'venow written ten novels, and each seems to reinforce one central idea: A book is crafted one sentence at a time. Don't worry about the last sentence in the manuscript--worry about the next sentence in the manuscript. You can deal with everything else later.
Thanks for listening. And reading.
Thank you for stopping by Chloe! And a huge thank you again to Missie, Tina, and Rummanah for being such fabulous co-hosts and to everyone who participated each week and made this read-along such a blast.
For more information on Chloe and all her wonderful books, you can find her here:
Below are the three Tempting Tuesdays winners, congratulations ladies, you've all been emailed!
Christy @ Love of Books
Heidi @ Rainy Day Ramblings
Chantaal @ The Wandering Fangirl