Books, Characters, Climax (contemporary), Climax Montana, General, Musings, Tanner's Ford, Writing craft

Back on the road to Climax

sign shows exit to Climax

On the road again…finally

It’s been over a year since I sent my last book, Loving the Enemy: Highland Ménage 10 to my publisher.

I’d finished ten books, almost 1,500 pages, in ten months. Half-way through Torquil and Ewan’s first book (the eleventh of sixteen in the series) I realized I was burned out.

While I loved the characters and the story (and will finish their full story) there was no zing to my words.

So I got back on the road to Climax and some hot contemporary cowboys. Newly divorced and penniless, Ashley Elliott had just returned to the Bitterroot Ranch. She had no idea that the two men she’d fantasized about for years, ex-NFL linebackers Dax Smith and Hunter Jones, were living there.

I was on the road, but hit a detour.

I started writing romance in 2003. Eager to learn, excited though unpublished, working full time with a family yet wanting to write well. I was first published in 2009. Since then my knowledge of the craft of writing, and my standards, has one up. I want to write wonderful characters with depth, people who come alive in my mind and that of my readers. I want dialogue that sparkles, plot conflicts and challenges, realistic D/s relationships, and hot stuff between the heroine and her heroes.

Creating these types of characters requires a huge amount of thinking as to why they think a certain way react in such a manner. To know what conflicts they have with themselves, and with each other. And then there’s all sorts of technical research, most of which involved tired eyes staring at a screen rather than hands-on fun (though there was some of that :).)

For most of the last 12 months I researched and wrote and revised, and researched more and revised even more. I’m one of those authors who has to start a story the beginning and write it in chronological order. So every time the beginning changed, I had to revise everything. And then I had an operation and my brain went wonky for a few weeks (all good now).

By February 2016 I had 169 pages written and edited. Almost 49,000 wonderful words between the three characters, showing their personalities with goals, motivations, conflicts, and the consequences of all that. Unfortunately they were just starting to get frisky. Unless I ripped out all sorts of things I’d end up with a 450 page book. Price is based on length and, no matter how well written, few readers will pay $9.99 for a e-book.

After requesting feedback from experienced readers of erotic menage romance I started over. And then another royalty statement arrived and, once more, the numbers were down. Discouraged, I wondered if I’d passed my peak and my writing was no longer good enough.

Though I didn’t know it until today, I’d hit the dreaded mid-career slump.

When you start out you have little to lose but time and effort. Thirteen years later I have lots to lose. I have more knowledge of the craft of writing and my author voice so my standards are higher.

When you’re starting out you likely don’t have many readers counting on you.

Facebook has allowed me to connect with many readers and authors, and I’ve been delighted to meet some of you in person. You tell me you enjoy my work, and want more. A few mave said how one of my books changed the way you thought, or even the course of your life.

While I apologize for taking so much time with this book, I won’t disappoint you by producing a substandard reading experience.

So, even though I wrote, ripped apart, and rewrote about the same characters for a year (instead of producing two or three books), I haven’t given up on Ashley, Dax, and Hunter. Their story is coming along well, as is the outline for the next Climax book.

Thank you for your understanding. This blog post has (believe it or not) taken me six hours to write and I haven’t left my chair since I started.

Taking all that time to write, delete, revise and rewrite has allowed me to realize that a mid-career slump and feelings of inadequacy — even fear — are not unusual.

And that it’s time to get back on the road.

I think I’ll hop in with Hunter Jones, a six foot six Texan bad boy, as he cruises in his cherry red heavy duty F350 V8 turbo-diesel complete with chrome fender trim and rocker panels. He tells me the stainless steel bull bar and crossover tool box are useful on a cattle ranch though he’ll have a hard time keeping dust off all that gleaming chrome.

I don’t tell him he’ll soon have to choose between spending time with a polishing cloth or filling his hands with Ashley Elliott. Though Dax Smith, an inch taller and far more dominant, may keep her all to himself. Unless she convinces them to share…

Reece Butler writes erotic ménage romance featuring kickass heroines and the dominant men they love to challenge.

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