Long and Short Reviews welcomes Melissa Blue, whose latest book See Lynne Chased was released in May. This is the second book in the See Her Fall series, with See Megan Run being the first book. Melissa is giving away a bundle of both books to one lucky commenter on today's interview.
Melissa is currently working on a follow-up story to one of her other titles, Everything You Need. Melissa told me a bit about it.
"There's another side of writing that has nothing to do with putting words on the page. It's taken me seven years, closer to eight, to learn this. So, right now what I'm 'writing' Everything He Dreamed. The hero is a charmer. I love writing them. That archetype is my Achilles' heel. Charmers are smooth and can weather anything with a smile. And, yet they usually have very deep waters. I love finding out that secret. I also love creating a heroine that will wipe that smile off their face and leave them sputtering. Anyway, Everything He Dreamed will be a true test. I want it to be a novella, but the story that's rolling around in my head feels longer. The heroine was a victim of domestic violence, and I really want to give that subject matter the proper care it deserves without losing focus that the book is a romance. I tend to go for the funny so it'll be interesting to see how the book turns out in the end. That book will likely come out sometime early next year."
Melissa always thought it would be cool to write a book and, in the second grade, she wrote an 18-page ghost story, complete with illustrations. In the fifth grade, she wrote a story about going to a party and getting kissed by the guy she had a crush on (with names being changed, of course). Also, she wrote self-described "epically, angsty" poetry in junior high.
"But, to me that wasn't real. Real writers did more than writing. I honestly don't know what I thought they did, but it wasn't sitting down and writing," she said, "What changed it all...This is going to be sappy, but Oprah. Yeah, I know. My son was a month old to be exact. I was watching the premiere of her Dream season. Partly due to hormones and partly because it was Oprah, I spent an hour crying. Yeah, the car giveaway was nice, but there was this girl who only wanted to go to college. She was determined against all odds and here comes Oprah to make her life easier and her dreams come true. I realized then I didn't need that. I had a typewriter, some lined paper and my imagination. I could make my dream come true just by sitting down to write. I did. I haven't regretted it since."
Melissa has written a little over twenty books, including shorts and novellas. She admitted it's hard to pick a favorite, however.
"I love How Much You Want to Bet? It was the first contemporary romance I wrote and the first published. Then there's See Lynne Chased, which is the reason why I decided to self-publish in the first place. I loved that story. I kept going back to it and every time I read it I felt it should have its chance," she explained
Melissa develops her books using the Three Act Structure to loosely plot out the story.
"When I say story, I mean character," she told me. "It's a circular argument, at least to me. My story's about the character on page one and who they become on the last page. I start with the one thing they will never do and work my way out. Why won't they do it? What made them that way? When you strip them down who are they at the core? Since I write romances, I try to figure out how that core is different and similar to the h/h. Lynne, from See Lynne Chased, was a secondary character in See Megan Run. She had wit. She was sarcastic. She did her best to tell the truth and feel no shame about it. At the core she wanted family. I partnered her up with someone who wasn't a liar but had trouble seeing the truth. He saw the world through one viewpoint. At the core he did everything for his family. With that in mind, there was no better plot than to pit them against each other and see who would win. Mainly, because there really wouldn't be a loser. They'd both end up with the family they truly needed."
Melissa thinks it's important for a writer to be able to imagine. This ability, she said, would be what would turn a cliché on its head and would bring their characters to life and make a story read seamlessly.
"It's sort of like how a songwriter can see the words within the music. Good writing is about finding the story in everyday situations and that takes imagination," she explained. "Another important element is a grasp of the technical side of writing. I say this being wanted dead or alive for what I've done to the English language over the years and still do to this day."
Authors also need to have the courage to let a book go and walk away from it, she told me.
"You can honestly make every book you've ever written better. You can spend all eternity making it better. At some point you've got to look at it and accept it's time to move on. What makes good writing good is the magic. You can polish that out of the story. You can re-word it out. You can cut out the elements because you went and listened to all 56 of your beta readers. You not only have to trust yourself and your writing, but have the cojones to say this is the best I can do." She added with a smile, "I’m still working on this last one."
Melissa told me that she has to choose her title before she starts writing the book.
"If I don't, the process of picking a title is useless and it defeats the purpose of what a title is supposed to do-- to make people want to read the book. See Megan Run was previously released by The Wild Rose Press. Now the original title, which I still love to this day, was Overworked and Underlaid. That was too racy for the line. I needed to come up with something else. I came up with See Megan Run. The other option was Left Practically At the Altar. I'm not joking. Long story short, I pick a title from the ether that sounds like what my book will be. I think of a title as the shortest synopsis I'll ever have to write. I do it first or things just get ugly."
"What is the hardest part about writing for you?" I asked.
"When the fun ends and the real writing begins. For me that's Chapter 4. By then I've completely run out of set up and introducing the character and the world. At that point I have to dig deeper and find out what all my research, plotting and daydreaming couldn't tell me. I suck at details and Chapter 4 is all about the details. If I can make it out of Chapter 4 alive, there's Chapter 5 which is out to kill me too. So on and so forth until I'm at the last three chapters and suddenly writing becomes easy again. Every single time there's Chapter 4 and I'm on Google searching How To Write A Romance Novel."
Melissa writes every day. She told me that she likes to write early in the morning, because her Internal Editor sleeps in. Then she revises late at night.
"I get a better feel for the story at night for some reason. Plus, I can tell whether or not I have a stinker on my hands. If I don't want to stay up just to see what happens next then no one else will likely do the same," she told me—then paused. "Ok. The truth. I choose those times because the kids are asleep."
About the Author:
Find Melissa online at:
My twitter handle: @mel_thegreat
Nathan Craine eats small businesses for breakfast. There's one store he is dying to buy, but this time it is for very personal reasons. He's certain the owner will hand over the store; it's only the matter of naming a price. To his surprise, Lynne Kelley refuses to sell, now or ever... In this battle, someone has to lose. And the cost of winning might be far more than either is willing to pay.