Storyteller, Part 6
In this continuing blog series “Storyteller”, we’re going to take a deep dive into book 4 of The Moran Family series, “Revealing Bella”.
In the course of my writing journey, I’ve learned that certain subjects are considered ‘taboo’ when it comes to writing fiction. Certain things like alcoholism, child abuse and rape are big no-nos in the industry. However, there are some who will say ‘write whatever you want’, and that directly conflicts with what the supposed experts are saying. What is and is not acceptable may differ day to day, which can be extremely confusing to those of us who just want to WRITE.
Anyway, when I began to draft Bella’s story, I knew I might ruffle some feathers. At the time (and now too, actually), it was important to me to write about some of the ugly stuff that goes on in the world; not to glorify it, but to show that you can rise above it.
Bella’s story begins with a prologue (just as Cruz’s did), showing the pain and horror of date rape, and setting Bella up for a life-long struggle to come to terms with what happened to her. Of all the books I’d written prior to this one, I found it to be the most challenging. I also had a really, really tough time connecting with the characters and their story. Not because of the subject matter, and not because Bella and Jace (her eventual love interest) weren’t characters I liked writing, but…it’s honestly my least favorite book. And that’s a very, very difficult thing to admit to myself, much less anyone else.
Poor Bella….her book was plagued with issues from the start. I couldn’t seem to get the story to flow easily as all the others had, and I wrote and re-wrote certain scenes again and again…and STILL completely rewrote/edited/ removed certain scenes after my editor, Max, gave it her first read-through. And when it was time for the cover, everything REALLY started to fall apart. I sent email after email to Kari (the designer who had done the previous three covers). After weeks of not hearing from her, I finally received a response that basically told me she was no longer in business.
I was devastated (and angry too, if I'm being honest). It was so very important to me that all five book covers in this series flowed well together. I was starting to panic because I didn’t want too much time to pass between Roman’s book and this one. I (thankfully) had secured an image, so I reached out to my brother (and graphic designer) and begged him to help. He added the title and author fonts, did a little design magic, and presto…I had my cover. I might have even encouraged him to try his hand at book design as an extra income. ;-)
The editing process for this book took longer and required many more changes than the rest of the books I’d written. Max and I went back and forth about Bella’s emotions with regard to sex. She had me completely rewrite scenes to give the story a better, and more layered flow. But it wasn’t easy for me and I believe it’s because, as I said before, I never really connected with the story. Truth is, I should have waited. I should have taken some time off and let the story idea just be. But I was (and still am) impatient and I was really worried I’d lose the small audience I’d gained if I waited too long to publish.
Bella is tough, a nurse by trade, protective like Cruz and fiercely independent. The attack she experienced her first year in college set her up for a lifelong distrust of men and an almost cold way of approaching sex. I never did have a muse for Bella, which may be why I never really connected with her. I always thought of her as the female version of Cruz; long, dark hair and the blue-green eyes that three of the siblings have (Roman and Sophia have their father’s coloring).
Bella meets Jace (the twin brother of Jack, a character featured in book 3, “Breaking Roman”) at a family bar-b-que. With his long blond hair and surfer-boy looks, Bella is intrigued, even though she doesn’t want to be. Thankfully, I had a clear vision of Jace in my head, courtesy of model, Christopher Mason:
Like many of the characters I write, he is a teacher. Jace has a tentative relationship with his parents, who turned their back on his brother, Jack, when Jack came out. Jack and Jace are very close, although completely different in looks and mannerisms. I liked writing Jace and I particularly enjoyed seeing him and Jack together.
I feel guilty that I don’t see this book as one of my favorites. I’ve written many books and I don’t think I’ve ever said anything like that about any of them. I wish I knew why I felt that way, and maybe it’s simply because the story veered off course so much during the editing process that I lost any connection I might have (however small).
“Revealing Bella” only sold a few copies and I honestly wasn’t that surprised. I was nearing the point of exhaustion by the time it was published on November 7, 2017. I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise that I was worn out, after all I had published 4 books in a little over a year, while working full-time, raising a teenage daughter, AND marketing the hell out of my work. I didn’t give Bella or her story the attention it was owed, and for that I apologize….to her, Jace, and myself.
As an author, you are in constant doubt about the product you're putting out, and quite frankly nothing will ever be 100% exactly how I want it to be. Admitting 'defeat' for this book was a humbling experience for me and reminded me that this is never an easy job. In fact, it's not a 'job' at all, but rather a calling, and as such a constant work in progress.
The final “Storyteller” blog post is coming up next, featuring baby sister Sophia’s walk on the wild side with, “Educating Sophia”.
Love & hugs!