The Best Writing Advice I Wasn’t Ready to Hear by Jamie Brenner (aka Logan Belle)
Two years ago, in the middle of writing my fourth novel, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I had an erotic series published under my pen name, Logan Belle. I was writing The Gin Lovers for St. Martin’s under my own name, and I had another Logan Belle book on deck. I felt like I was rushing. I had no idea how to manage the demands of promotion. And on top of it, I saw my fellow romance novelist self-publishing in addition to all of their contracted novels. This was when Sylvia Day had just put out Bared to You –before it was picked up by Berkley, before she was SYLVIA DAY. At the time, she was simply a romance writer I admired and whom I knew to be cranking out lots of books. So I emailed her, told her I felt a little lost, and asked her for advice. She emailed back right away, and told me that she regretted rushing to publish certain books just because of contractual obligations, and that she wrote her best project when it came from the heart – when she wrote it just because it was what she wanted to write, had to write, in that moment.
It was great advice, but at the time, it fell on the proverbial deaf ears. Writing was already my passion – it was what I wanted to do. How much more ‘from the heart’ could it be?
This summer, I found out. In the middle of writing a novel about an NYU college girl—my sixth heroine in her 20s—I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. It was a reminder that while it’s fun to write about 20-something women discovering love for the first time, I am a 40-something woman who experiences love and sex from a very different perspective. And I knew I had to write about that.
For the first time, I didn’t show my idea to a publisher. I didn’t even bother writing up a proposal. One week after I had surgery, I sat down at my computer and began writing the story that was bursting in my mind. I’d never worked on two novels at the exact same time, so I have to admit there were moments of panic. But I pushed through, breaking up each project into daily word count, sticking to my outlines – and vowing I would never do this again (just kidding!). After four weeks, I had written Now or Never, the story of a 40-year-old woman who, in the midst of a health crisis, finds a second chance at love with the most unlikely partner. Writing something that has such personal meaning to me felt different from anything I’d done before. And I intend to keep it going with a series I’m calling Last Chance Romances. Now that I know what it feels like to write something deeply personal—something that I have no choice but to write—there is no turning back.
I think one can become a fantastic writer by creating interesting worlds and vivid characters and crafting well-told stories. But what I learned this summer is that having something urgent to say is a gift from the universe. In my case, it was definitely a gift in disguise. I’m thankful I was able to look at it closely, and to revisit the advice from another writer who learned that writing from the heart is the best writing of all.
Jamie Brenner, also writing as Logan Belle, grew up in Main Line Philadelphia on a steady diet of Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins, and Aaron Spelling. Her debut novel, Blue Angel, was the first in an erotic trilogy published by Kensington, followed by the 1920s romance The Gin Lovers (St. Martin’s Press), and the erotic romances The Librarian and Miss Chatterley (Simon & Schuster/PocketStar). Her novels have been translated into a dozen languages and The Gin Lovers was chosen by Fresh Fiction as one of their Top 13 Books to Read in 2013. Her latest ebook Now or Never (A Last Chance Romance) publishes in October. Her first New Adult novel, Sweet Descent, will publish in spring 2014 with St. Martin’s Press. She lives in Manhattan, blogs for Heroes and Heartbreakers, and is busy raising two daughters who aren’t allowed to read her books. To read more or contact her, visit www.jamiebrenner.com or follow her @jamieLbrenner.
Read is the spot to share your book recommendations, reviews, lists of absolute favorites, and thoughts on anything reading or writing related in general. Share yours here.
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..
Although Debbie De Louise has been a librarian and avid ..