For a long time I was nothing more than an avid reader, particularly of romance. It began with historical and time-travel novels, and later branched out to paranormal and fantasy. I rarely read contemporary, mostly because I didn’t want my escape to be too much like reality.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that I stumbled on Urban Fantasy (UF) and really found the genre that gave me everything I wanted. It was the modern world transformed and I loved it! Plus it almost always featured a tough heroine trying to survive in situations that no normal woman (or man) should be subjected to. After reading through the first book I found, I continued to look for more. The best kind were the ones in first person that followed a particular heroine as she grew as a person over the course of the series. Of course, paranormal elements and romance were always involved.
One thing began to bug me, though. I kept seeing these kick-ass heroines who had little background in fighting or strategy (with a couple of exceptions). It wasn’t to say there was anything wrong with using waitresses, students, etc. I just couldn’t understand why none of them had a military background and I don’t care what anyone says, you can’t become a master at fighting in a few weeks or even months. Having served in the Army myself, I wanted a character I could relate to. Someone who represented (in a fun way) all the female heroines who have served in the Armed Forces.
This led me to a campaign of complaining to anyone who would listen (including authors) that military women had been forgotten. Finding male heroes in the Army, Navy, etc is very easy to do, but forget females in the Urban Fantasy or paranormal genre (you might get one in contemporary but that’s not my thing). The response I got from a lot of people was if I wanted a book like that so bad, then perhaps I should be the one to write it.
They had a point!
Up until then, I had written one novel (a modern fantasy romance), but it was more for fun and practice. That one will never see the light of day because I made a ton of rookie mistakes that would require an overhaul I’m not willing to do. The heroine wasn’t military, but she was a character in my head that was begging to come out. It was a 70k novel written in about a month. I did do some revising in the following months, but I still knew it wasn’t something that would be worth trying to publish. Sometimes, what you write really is just for you. I enjoyed the story and it did teach me some things about plotting and story development.
The difference with this idea of a military heroine is that I wanted it to be something others could read. I started two different UF novels, each getting to about the 30-40k range before giving them up. They weren’t working. So I stopped for awhile and decided to wait until true inspiration struck.
One day it did.
I finally thought of an idea that had a solid plot and main character that could be made into a full length novel. In July of 2011 I began writing it. There were still a lot of rookie mistakes in the beginning, but by this time I knew other writers who were willing to look at early chapters and point out things I needed to do to make my story better. Months of trial and error, further writing and revisions before even finishing it, and I finally had the full novel done by January (2012).
Of course, it wasn’t really “done”. Good writers will tell you a novel needs to be polished until it shines. That means finding good critique partners to catch the holes that are inevitably there and any other problems. I have one that has read the entire novel and been a big help. A couple others are running through it now. As I mentioned in my previous post, it will need further tweaking, but it’s already shaping up to be a great first novel in a series I will be proud to share.