I know the pin-ups are usually Danielle's domain, but there's no way on Earth I can find anything to compete with Cheryl's eye candy yesterday...and anyway, I enjoy pretending I look like this while I'm dreaming up my next story. Gotta love the myth of the romance writer, with our feather boas and elaborately decorated boudoirs. Oh, and our libidinous cabana boys who all look something like Cheryl's hottie:-)
Anyway, the french maid is an appropriate symbol for my current state of mind at present. I've sent off my copyedits for Wild Highland Magic, which will be the third book in my Highland Werewolves series, I've pretty well wrapped up my promotional guest blogs for Dark Highland Fire, I've gotten some sleep, read and watched movies, bought unnecessary (and very fun) stuff, gotten settled in a new house in a new state, and am even making beds again. All of which can only mean one thing:
Yep, it's time to start writing again.
It has never ceased to amaze me, the strange combination of excitement and trepidation that accompany, even now, me into every new book. I haven't been finished with Wild Highland Magic for long at all, but somehow, it feels like years have passed. I know there are a few cobwebs that have accumulated up there in the machienery from my normal post-book pseudo-hiatus...nothing major, but they always make me nervous. After three books in two years, each clocking in at around some 98,000 words, you'd think I might have quit worrying that I'll sit down to write a new story and find that any and all writing ability has been sucked out of me, vampire style (and again, my depraved brain drifts back to yesterday's picture). But no, every time I worry. And fortunately, every time I start the writing factory back up, things seem to work a little more smoothly than the time before. I do, however, have a ritual for clearing out the dust and cobwebs in preparation for starting something new.
It's not much of a ritual, I suppose. But it's a little reminder that I'm about to start fresh once again. Oddly enough, I never plan the ritual, either. It just happens when it's getting to be about that time, when I've filled up on rest and recharged my batteries, creative and otherwise. I'll be out at the store, wandering (particularly if I've managed to escape without the children...I can zone in Target for hours), and some notebook or other will catch my eye. Last time it was bright pink and brown stripes that brought me to a halt in the aisle. This time it was a little notebook with an intricate silver and blue pattern on the cover. Something inside me exclaims, "That's it! That's the notebook for the new story!" I'll flip through the blank pages, wondering what I'll fill them with, inspired by the possibility. And inevitably, the notebook comes home with me.
For the last few weeks, that little notebook has begun to get as cluttered and messy as the ones that have gone before it. I've been doing research, and writing information and ideas out longhand helps me remember things more clearly. Always has. I'm not done with it, either, even though the last few days have produced most of my first chapter (insert fist pump here)...that little notebook will wind up full of character sketches and bits of scenes, ever-changing outlines and bits of dialogue I think up and then store to use for later. It will become, in short, the ugly-yet-essential companion piece to what will someday show up on a bookstore shelf. But I love it best when I pick it up for the first time, clean and fresh, just waiting for a story, my story, to fill up its pages. That's when I know that my inner french maid has finished tidying up the mental pizza boxes and empty beer cans left over from the ending of the last novel, and that everything is as ready as it's going to be for some new tenants to move in for a while.
And I know I'm ready, too...because I can't wait.
So now it's your turn: how do you prepare to start a new project? Is there a ritual for you, or do you just dive right in?