What Happens in Dallas?

Apparently vampires. Or upyrs, rather, (derived from old Eastern European folklore) because why keep things simple?

This is the story of how I wrote 30,000 words in one day, caught the world’s worst cold that somehow wasn’t even Covid, fought to save my cherry tomatoes, and saved a baby goat (in that order).

Did I mention my baby dinosaurs are teenagers now?

It all began with a character, as most of my novels do. Some writers work from plot; my novels generally begin as very vivid daydreams during which I should be doing something more productive, like laundry or my actual day job (which is…also writing). Darby Trunnell came to me in line to fill my prescription, when I realized that I hadn’t read enough romance novels featuring leads with ADHD.

The Colesons and their messy family have been with me for a while, and so I mixed them together. I knew straitlaced Bennett was the one for Darby before I ever put fingers to keyboard, as it were, and I knew the rest of the story would flow from the conflict between their families and their naturally spiky personalities.

And it did, but there was something missing. I finished an entire 45k word story, and it just wasn’t clicking. It wasn’t that the stakes weren’t dire enough (if you write it well, any stakes can be high stakes depending on the character’s attachments). I loved the characters (perhaps too much — Roan, Simon, and Remi were nearly stealing the show).

I sent it out to a few alpha readers and got to work on the next installment in the series, with the annoying sense something wasn’t quite right. But it was my husband’s birthday soon, work deadlines loomed, and young children to entertain during winter break.

Cute baby goat pick for hanging on during this story!

It wasn’t until a week before my story was due to be edited that I realized, in the middle of the night, that this was a supernatural story. Everything clicked. The conflict remained mostly the same (should Darby fall for the man whose family destroyed hers) while adding a level of conflict on Bennett’s side that lacked before. It even built upon the ADHD symptoms in her character (sensitivity to lights and sound and impulsivity).

The only problem? It was due in a week, and I’d already polished my second draft. So I did what any normal human would do in my situation: I got out of bed at 12am and rewrote the entire novel, finishing in the early morning hours the next day (hyperfocus, much?).

The story was done. I loved it, my beta readers loved it, and after some more editing it’s the story available for you to read today. Of course, staying up for two days straight isn’t the best idea for one’s immune system, and so I spent the next two weeks coughing up my lungs, eating chicken soup, getting poked up my nose (thanks, Covid tests), and glad that my next deadline is very far away.

I spent two weeks coughing while wearing wrist braces for this book.

While I was sick, my MIL found a baby goat wandering the street. Seeing as how we are the only people she knew with a barn, she brought the kid to us, and I had fun bottle-feeding the baby until we located her folks. (Is there anything cuter than a baby goat? I contend that there is not).

And then one of my hens became sick. With the bird flu scare lighting up the east coast of the US, we were a little nervous, but she looks to be on the mend now after some vitamins, antibiotics, and TLC.

And that’s about it for my January. I hope that you’ve all been staying healthy and happy in these crazy times! Sometimes it feels like the world is a roller coaster and I’m just along for the ride, lol.

All the best,

Juliet

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