Ever since the release of my latest romance novel, Match Point, people have asked me if that's me and my husband James on the cover. So, in answer to that question, "yes" —with a little help from Photoshop! (Right about now, you may be thinking: shameless self-promotion!)
Match Point is the second book in the Charlie Valdez series, the first being 30-Love which featured our sweet cat Cabbit on the cover.
Match Point, is the fourth book I've published (the third romance novel). Trust me, I'm not sharing this with you to be boastful. I'm saying it because I talk with a lot of folks who tell me they've always wanted to write a book but don't know how to get started. They ask me for advice and I always encourage them to just do it! It's now easier than ever to get a book published. If you're not opposed to hard work and determination, here are some suggestions:
I always start with an outline. An outline is the "skeleton" for the storyline. It's where you get to lay the groundwork for your book with character development, story setting, tone, etc. As the timeline of your outline progresses, the characters evolve, and (hopefully), their story becomes more intriguing and keeps the reader interested through the end of the book. (How many books have you started to read then stopped because you just didn't care about the characters?)
I've found it takes a lot of discipline to write and it's kind of a lonely pursuit. I've spent countless hours "holed up" away from my family working. I've also found that if I'm not in the "writing zone", whatever I've written gets scrapped the following day. It's hard to say how many hours of work I've sent to the trashcan. So, I suppose another tip would be: if you don't feel like writing—don't! It should be something you enjoy.
(For the record, I didn't publish my first book until I was in my mid-fifties). I actually have an outline for a book I'd started writing nearly twenty years ago. (Can you say "procrastination?") For some reason, the timing just didn't feel right and every time I sat down to work on it nothing came together. I know at some point I'll pull this project out again and tackle it with gusto! (That's the hope, anyway!)
My outlines are pretty fluid. This means that sometimes as I'm writing, I'll come up with a new twist or turn as the story evolves. The one thing I always strive to do is stay true to my characters' personalities/traits. (I've always hated it when I'm reading a book or watching a movie and one of the characters does something that's completely in contrast to how the writer portrayed them. I'm fortunate to have a team of friends/proofers who love me enough to say, "Monica, I don't think Charlie would do something like that!"
And, since we're back to Charlie (Charlotte Valdez is the main character in 30-Love and Match Point), the next little gem of advice I'll throw at you is something aspiring writers hear all the time: write about what you know. In my case, the Charlie Valdez books are very loosely based on me and my relationship with James.
Like Charlie, I fell in love with a tennis stud. Charlie and I are both tall, outspoken, family-oriented women. Frank Valdez (Charlie's papá), is a combination of James' grandfather Jessie Valdez and my "Uncle" Frank Gonzalez. Jessie raised James' mom and her brother when their father abandoned them. He was simply the best! My uncle Frank has been a long-time family friend and a man I know we can always count on. He was my Burt-Dad's running buddy in their youth in south Texas. It may sound cheesy to love your own characters but I really feel an affinity towards Frank Valdez. He's the glue that holds the Valdez family together.
Of course, I'm not a super-model like Charlie and James is not a trust-fund heir, but it's fun delving into the many twists and turns of their love affair. I totally dig how one of my besties, Kathy Gibbs, thinks she's Charlie's free-spirited little sister Ceil in the books and how up-in-arms people get about Regina Vaughn and Tempest (Drake's ex-girlfriend).
For the record, Charlie and I also hate cottage cheese, and we both have Cabbit Cats. She and I are blonde, have fish-belly-white skin, love Mexican food, and have struggled with body image (likely due to our love of Mexican food!) Wait! And, we both live in Dallas, Texas! I think the similarities end there . . . lol!
So, that's my two-cents' worth on how I write books. Oh, and if you think you're gonna get rich writing "The Great American Novel", it's time someone slaps you upside your head with a paperback. Writing, like most creative pursuits, is a labor of love. There are tons of authors who barely eek out a living and most have day jobs to pay the bills. You do it because you enjoy it and you find it fulfilling. I firmly believe if you find writing more frustrating than fulfilling, there's a better use of your time. (Maybe take up tennis?)
Journaling and/or blogging are great ways to chronicle your thoughts while allowing for shorter bursts of creativity. In a world with an extremely limited attention span, these are great options! I used to journal religiously. I don't do as much now, primarily because for the past year, writing a weekly blog filled this space. (This month I've cut blogging down to every other week so I can make more progress on my romance novels—after all, there are only so many hours in a day!)
I hope this has helped you in some regard.
Signing off for now as I'm plugging through the-sequel-to -the-sequel for 30-Love which is entitled Forever Deuce. (I suppose I'll promote this as a trilogy....)
It's doubtful you'll see me and James on any more covers but it was fun to do the Match Point thing.
After seeing the cover shot, a guy emailed me and commented, "Great legs!"
Thoroughly amused by this, I emailed back. "James has got it goin' on!" (Because he does!)
If you're looking for copies of my books, you can find them on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com
Thanks for your support! Please be sure and write a review as this helps authors like me sell more books:
The Great Outdoors—Photo Taken From The Great Indoors!
A couple of weeks ago, we were snowed in here in Texas. I'm not gonna lie, it was brutal! I took this photo with my phone through the window in my home office. I love how the trees are "kissed" with snow, although James and I are worried about the toll the winter weather has taken on our plants.
I guess like everything else, time will tell. Right now, the birds are singing and the sun is shining.
God is so good and hope is on the move!