Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Bliss of a Breakthrough! with Roxanne St. Claire

Please join me in welcoming bestselling author, Roxanne St. Claire! Not only is she a bestselling, incredibly prolific, RITA winning author of dozens of hot books, she’s also a super nice. (Which is a good thing ‘cause otherwise I’d have to hate her a little. She’s that good.) Her Bullet Catcher series is Romantic Suspense at it’s best – great plots, great suspense, HAWT heroes. (Swoon!) So, take it away Roxanne…

What an honor and pleasure to be at one of my very favorite blogs. Thank you, Gemma, for the invitation to stop by – especially during this special week. It’s “Release Week” for me – NOW YOU DIE, the latest in my Bullet Catcher series, hit stores on Tuesday and that means I wallow in a sea of emotions. Anticipation, excitement, worry, terror, angst (sooooo much), pride (even more), and whatever the emotion is that drives us to check amazon numbers on an hourly (okay, minutely) basis.

The best distractions during this mood maelstrom are blogging, vacationing, or writing. Being an overachiever, I am happily doing all three! I’m at the beach for a few days, hard at work on my next book, and popping around the blogosphere to chat about writing. The beach is gorgeous (but I live in Florida, so there’s a hurricane in the distance that scares me). Guest blogging and commenting is one of my favorite pastimes, so expect me to pop in often today. But the activity that takes me away like a Calgon bath is writing. Best of all, writing after a “breakthrough.” These are the happiest writing days, and I’m thrilled to tell you, I’ve recently had one. All the writers out there know the joy of that instant when some knotted up plot twist or unclear character trait or sticky story element is suddenly, inexplicably, perfectly resolved. Even the tiniest breakthrough can be a source of major joy but when we have one that solves the supersized story problems, it’s just a bunch of bliss.

It’s fun to watch a writer the moment she has the breakthrough. She brightens, blinks, looks around at no one (or perhaps her husband who is earnestly discussing how the Yankees suck this year) and she will say, “Oh! That’s it! If the cell phone is programmed with a certain song in the opening scene, then when she hears it playing she’ll know that he’s the villain! Thank you, honey, for helping me figure that out.” And he just looks at her, and smiles, long resigned to the fact that to be a sounding board of great value, all you have to do is be in the same room with a writer, or talk about the Yankees.

I had a breakthrough this week. Oddly enough, it came from a source designed to provide that very service, but often offers more information than inspiration – the RWR, the magazine published by the Romance Writers of America. I admit, with some embarrassment and guilt, that I haven’t been reading the RWR regularly of late. A shortage of time, a lack of interest, a sense that I’ve “read all that.” But shame on me because there it was, in the glossy pages of our corporate mag – the answer to my manuscript’s problems.

I had taken the RWR to bed because, well, I wanted something to put me to sleep. (Sorry RWR editor. My bad! Read on.) I enjoyed the first article on writer’s depression because it provided a different spin on the subject, and one that made sense. More awake than asleep (defeating the very purpose of my reading material), I started an article on theme. Theme? This will be a yawner, right? Apparently not because this well written essay by Liz Lounsbury, titled “Utilizing Your Theme to Add Depth to Your Stories,” was not the Ambien on the Page I’d hoped to take. One sentence in particular made me think, and think hard. Ms. Lounsbury suggests that the best way to show a book’s theme is to tie it to the character’s arc. Do I do that in every book? I considered the last few. Yes, I do. I really do. Am I doing that in the current book?

A few pangs of gut-level discomfort jabbed at me, the same ones that had been making unwanted appearances for the last month or so. The article forced me to think through some character issues, keeping me awake late into the night until finally, after much soul-searching and idea-generating, the answer came to me. And, Lordy, it was a Capital B Breakthrough. I actually threw off the covers, tiptoed back into my office, and wrote notes for half an hour, fueled by that lovely urgency of finally knowing exactly what I wanted to do with the book. And since that night, the book’s been flying.

My blog point, and I do have one, is not about my particular lightbulb moment, but how critical they are to the process of writing. If we listen to the inner voice, the muse, the gut – who or whatever gives a writer the sense that all is right (or not) with the book – the breakthrough will happen. And it may come from an obvious source (a well written article on craft) or a surprise (an unsuspecting Yankee fan).

So tell me about your breakthroughs! Even if you’re not a writer – you have that moment of “clarity” when the solution to a problem presents itself. How did they happen – by chance or by force? Here’s a new twist on an age-old question: where do you get your breakthroughs?

One commenter will win a copy of FIRST YOU RUN, the opening book in this year’s Bullet Catcher trilogy. And I’ll pop in to answer any questions or talk about my new release, NOW YOU DIE – a hot romantic suspense featuring a smart-ass bodyguard by the name of Jack Culver and Bullet Catcher boss, Lucy Sharpe. There were multiple breakthroughs involved in that one, I promise!



Suzan Harden said...

Oooo, the irony! The very first book of Roxanne's that I read involved the hero & heroine caught in a hurricane. Now, as Gustav approaches, Now You Die is on my list to pick up tomorrow at the bookstore in case we lose power.

Congrats, Roxanne! I've been looking forward to Lucy's story.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I must have psychic luck... Every time I mosey on over to this blog lately I'm winning prizes, revealing my secret 'boob fan' identity or enjoying a fantistic author blogging!
Hi Rocki!
Don't you just LOVE those wonderful epiphany moments? I ended up getting so many of them during workshops at RWA Nationals. And you're so right when you say it can be the insignificant phrase or sentence that can spark something. I also manage to get some lightbulb moments reading other stories, seeing the 'ah-ha' moment in that setting can sometimes spark my own.
Congrats on the new release - I can't WAIT to read Jack & Lucy's story.
Enjoy your vacation & avoid the hurricane!
P.S. Tell your husband it'll be okay - the Yanks simply can NOT suck for their remaining games @ Yankee Stadium. It would be a travesty!

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Suzan, I hope you don't lose power in the storm - or anything else. I do like to write about hurricanes because I've lived through so many. I lost my home in Andrew (Miami, 1992) and just last week we were deluged with Fay. Good luck and enjoy the book!

Miss Mia Rose, my darling! I love the word epiphany - you must be a writer. And a living doll!

Estella said...

I have read all of your Bulletcatcher books and am looking forward to Jack and Lucy's story.

Lucy said...

It's funny because a friend of mine has been singing your praises over on her blog . :)

I'm looking forward to reading it.

Playground Monitor said...

Oh gosh, I'm still waiting for my big epiphany. I just hope I live long enough to have it. ;-)

I'm keeping an eye Gustav too. I'm about 6 hours north of Mobile. If it hits there or New Orleans, it'll most likely travel up to us afterwards. Katrina did and still packed 60 mph winds when she moved over us. Additionally, we're far enough inland that lots of people come here when they evacuate, so we'll have a town full of people seeking shelter from the storm.

And come to think of it, the first book of Rocki's that I read was also the hurricane book.


Anonymous said...

HaHaHa, a living doll - I just love you Rocki.
I'm heading out of town - all of you be safe, avoid hurricanes and enjoy your labor day weekend!!!
I think mine will include a new Roxanne St. Claire book.

Gemma Halliday said...

Thanks so much for coming to play with us, Rocki! I have to say, I'm excited about Jack already. ;)

Marilyn! *giant smushy hug* So glad to see you here!


Christie Craig said...


Thank you so much for coming to guest blog with us. Oh, I love those break through moments. I need one right now. Crossing my fingers!

Ohh, I like the sound of a smart ass body guard. Gonna have to pick this one up.


Jenyfer Matthews said...

Funny you should mention it, because the of my most recent project really helped me to structure the storyline. It isn't usually quite so obvious to me as it was this time around.

Most of my breakthrough moments come when I'm hashing out a plot / motivation problem with my hubby out loud. Even if he doesn't have the solution, just talking it out with him will often show me what I've been missing.

Congratulations on your new release!

Darke said...

Sometimes all it takes is cleaning out your veggie drawer for an brilliant idea to pop into your head...and, though I have not read your books before, I would love to win one to try! grin

Anonymous said...

I loved reading your post. Most of my breakthru moments occur as I'm in bed just about to doze off. Everything becomes clear and I know what's going to happen. My problem is that I don't get up and write it down. :( I'm always sure that I'll remember it in the morning. Which of course I don't. Hmmm...think I need to put a pad of paper next to my bed. :-)

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Kaycee - you and me both!

(going to get that pad of paper now...)

tetewa said...

I've heard alot about this series and seen you on many various sites. Now I have to check them out. Good luck on your latest release!

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Hey guys - I had a great time visiting here! Hope that anyone who is in Gustav's path is safe this week. We're watching Hanna and praying hurricane season ends soon.

Thanks for all the comments on breakthroughs. I'm posting this at 1:00 AM and YES, I just had another *epiphany* on my book. Had to come down to the office and jot notes again. I'm beginning to think my brain turns ON at midnight instead of off.

Here's hoping you all have many creative breakthroughs to solve life's plot problems!

Stay tuned for a book winner to be posted!


Elisabeth Naughton said...

I'm late in responding because I was out of town this weekend, but I had to stop in and say hi to the super-sweet, Rocki. :)

Love you blog, Rocki, and can't wait to read Jack & Lucy's book (picked it up last week when I was at the grocery store!). Surprisingly, I had one of those ah-ha! moments this weekend in the car. Now that I'm home from our weekend away (and school starts this week...yippie!!!!) I can't wait to get back and finish the wip.

Unknown said...

Hi Rocki, sorry I am very late on posting, but my computer has been down due to dear hubby messing with it. He always uses my computer when he wants to try something. I just wanted to say I love your books and keep up the good work!

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