The Naughty List: A Holiday Writing Tag from Jenna Moreci

Find it for yourself here.

THE RULES:

1) Provide a brief description of your novel before beginning. NO MORE THAN 5 SENTENCES.

2) If your cast is fewer than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than twice. If your cast is larger than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than once.

MY NOVEL:

16-year-old Nerissa Dey is the daughter of an A-list actor. When her dad dies unexpectedly, Nerissa hurries home from boarding school to discover her mom has married her dad’s brother. Now she’s living out a Shakespeare drama and trying to avoid the tragic ending.

THE QUESTIONS:

#1 Which character is SO into the holidays, they nearly cause a street-wide power outage from all their Christmas lights?

Mrs. Polley. Hey, she bakes cookies practically every day.

#2 Which character attends the office new years party with ONE date… and goes home with someone else?

Liam. He’s not a player or anything, he’s just easily distracted by a pretty face.

#3 Which character is more than happy to steal Hanukkah gelt from poor, unsuspecting children? [Note: Hanukkah gelt = chocolate coins]

Uncle Eoin, of course.

#4 Fill in the blanks: I saw ____[character]____ doing a whole lot more than ____[verb]____-ing Santa Claus. They were full on ____[action]____.

Rosalind; kissing; snogging.

#5 One of your characters decides to pregame before church and passes out in the middle of the Christmas service. Which character is it?

Ophelia Chase (Nerissa’s mom).

#6 Which character hasn’t been seen since winter began because they refuse to deal with the snow?

Nerissa!

#7 Which character completely forgot about the holidays and ends up regifting to everyone?

Also Nerissa.

#8 Which character has such crappy luck, they only discover their potato allergy after pigging out on latkes?

Gwendolyn. Poor girl.

#9 The Krampus has arrived to punish your very bad characters. Which character is kinda into it?

Rosalind.

#10 One of your characters should be on the naughty list, but has convinced Santa to clear their name. Which character is it, and what was their means of persuasion?

Nerissa’s mom Ophelia. She paid Santa off.

IWSG: Regrets?

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I recently posted a retrospective of 2017 in terms of my writing, and overall it’s been a really good year. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do some things a little differently! For one, instead of releasing one book in February and another in May, I’d have spread them out more. I had strong sales over the summer, but due to a lack of anything new (except my Moriarty story), things began slumping come October. Well, I attribute at least some of that slump to having no other big release. I know part of it is probably holidays, too. I really should write something seasonal . . .

Writing Where the Heart Is

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I recently had a conversation with a publisher who was interested in an older property of mine, something I wrote some seven or eight years ago. However, the book would need considerable revisions and reworking to suit them. That’s fine; I know the book isn’t publishable in its current format. (Long story, but the details aren’t important.) Still, the more I think about it, the more the piece of work in question feels like something I once had a passion for but no longer do. In short, while I could rework it, my heart’s not in it.

Whenever someone tells me I should write more Sherlock Holmes or, well, more anything really, I nod. Yes, I should. Readers might like that. Might. That’s key. And yet, if my heart isn’t in it, if my love for that character or subject has migrated, even temporarily, I won’t like it. And I’m pretty sure that will show in the work. Then readers won’t like it either, and what will I have written it for?

Part of this is my own damned easily distracted mind. I get bored and wander off from things. So while conventional wisdom is that an author should sit and write a series so that readers get hooked and keep buying . . . I struggle with that. I’ve written four Sherlock Holmes stories (if you count the Moriarty one, which I do), and while the first flowed, I had a much harder time with the others. I’m fighting my way through Changers 2. I have a strong idea for another K-Pro novel, though I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to it. Maybe, if I find that enthusiasm for it again. I had it once, but I don’t know where it went.

It’s weird because I used to have an obsessive nature. TV shows, movies, books—I would fall in love and fixate. But it seems I’ve outgrown that, or else haven’t found anything recently that calls to me that way. And while my own characters do sometimes bewitch me—I was in love with Peter Stoller for a very long time—they seem to be easily supplanted. A shiny new somebody knocks on my brain and tally-hoo, I’m off in another direction.

I’m probably not disciplined enough to be a writer.

Actually, though, I seem to have found a happy medium. Something that feels fresh enough to keep me excited while still hangs together in a loose way. 1. Regency romances. Because readers of the genre will happily read more, and yet the characters and situations I write can be all new. Which is why I’m having such fun writing Faebourne. 2. My Shakespeare adaptations. Hamlette was a hoot to write, and I’ve outlined two more in the “series.” Yet, again, the stories are all new each time, so I don’t lose interest with the work.

Still, I do promise to finish Changers 2. And I won’t rule out more Sherlock Holmes some day if and when the mood strikes. Or even more Peter Stoller, though I think it will be Simon and/or Jules that I focus on in the next go-round.

All I’m really saying (in very long form) is that I must write where my heart is. Follow my passion—for whichever character(s) have set fire to my blood.

When I look back at this old piece of writing the publisher and I discussed, I’m very proud of it. In fact, I think it’s some of my best work, and maybe that’s why I don’t feel compelled to rework it. But I think it’s more that I’m a different person now. That story was a part of me back when, is now an artifact of something past. I could drag it into the present. But do I want to? Or would I rather walk forward unencumbered?

I stop and look behind me, and the view is lovely. I can take a photo. But I can’t take it with me, and I have no desire to walk up the hill and rebuild a replica of what I’ve left behind. I learned a lot building those previous structures. Now I will use those skills to create something new.