Finding my posse – Emilie Richards

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By Emilie Richards

Every novel teaches me a lesson. But after writing seventy-something, I expect each new one to be the one that doesn’t. By now I should skate blithely through sentences, paragraphs and chapters, secure that every word is exactly where it ought to be.♥

Of course, writing doesn’t work that way. We change. Readers’ tastes change. These days the writing business changes daily, and what was simple yesterday is suddenly complex and occasionally disheartening.

When I set out to write my latest novel, The Swallow’s Nest, I was confronted with something I’d tried too long to ignore. Having written so many novels, I’ve already explored many of the plots that interested me, and worse, all the plots that wouldn’t require a mountain of research. There’s only so much I know and know about. At this point, my knowledge store was running a little thin.

It’s not that I don’t like research. I love it, but I would love it more if the clock in my head wasn’t ticking away seconds until my deadline. The months allotted might seem adequate, but from experience, I knew better. The moment a novelist thinks that way, all hell will break out on her pages. This time was no exception.

I quickly realized that this time, I wasn’t going to be able to ride hell-bent-for-leather to “The End” without help. And in time of trouble, a writer has to gather her own posse because there’s no sheriff in town to do it for her. (No, I don’t write westerns, but this metaphor was so much fun.)

My posse began to form with my brainstorming group. A treasured group of friends and I meet annually for most of a week, discussing and brainstorming each other’s books. We don’t critique. Each of us has two long sessions to ask for help wherever she needs it. When it was my turn I presented what I knew about my story, and they poked holes, filled holes, and at week’s end sent me off with lots to think about.

More armed horsemen galloped into town. After banging my head on the wall searching for the right name for a minor character, I turned over the task to my Facebook group. We bandied possibilities until the right one popped into sight. Whew. Now I know help is only one click away, and fun for everyone.

One of my most stalwart posse members, my long-time editor, rode off into the sunset (retirement) after the proposal was approved, but a new editor saddled up and proved herself to be both courageous and savvy.

The posse finally rode out of town with the many people I contacted by mail, through social media, in person and over the telephone, who helped one floundering Florida novelist understand the intricacies of California family law, and many other things beside.

Had I known I would need to reach out so exhaustively, would I have chosen a simpler story? No way. The ride was exhilarating, and I met so many insightful new people along the way. What did I add to my knowledge store for next time? One very important lesson. When in doubt, reach out. While my posse dismounted at book’s end, I know they’ll be ready and willing the next time I need them. They’ve got my back and my undying gratitude.

Emilie Richards is the author of seventy plus novels which have been published in more than twenty-one countries and sixteen languages. Her most recent novel is The Swallow’s Nest, a June 2017 trade paperback and hardcover release. Emilie has won the RITA from Romance Writers of America, and multiple awards from RT Book Reviews, including one for career achievement. She regularly appears on bestseller lists, and ten of her books have been made into television movies in Germany. Emilie lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband in the winter and Chautauqua, New York in summer.

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