The Evolution of a novel: Good Girl
I’ve said time and time again that I was releasing Widow by such and such a date, only to go back on my word. Subconsciously I was stalling because something felt off… and then I knew. I knew what I needed to change for the betterment.
When I announced my rewrite in the M&M of Restraint group on Facebook, I was asked why I’d change a novel that was currently published. My answer was that as I grow as a writer, I want my books to evolve with me, and it would be disrespectful to the story and the readers to leave it… as less than it could be. But the reality of it is, Good Girl is the foundation of a 7 book series. If a foundation is weak, the entire series could crumble. I don’t work as hard as I do; I don’t create these characters, their worlds, and breathe life into them only to fail.
A story starts with a single thought and is fostered over thousands upon thousands of hours… and that’s not when you’re writing. Willow and company have been in my mind since their conception, over sixteen months ago.
Every. Single. Day.
As a constant reminder of failure, I retain a few glaringly detrimental plot devices from the M&M of Restraint series. I’m currently writing book 12 in that series, and I’d love. LOVE. to fix some things that are set in stone. My only recourse was to slowly arc the story in the correct direction… lesson learned, I’m not doing that to the Blended series. I’m fixing it in the beginning before I make more work for myself in a later installment.
I will announce that the Playroom series is now the Blended series, because the premise revolves entirely around a blended family, not the roving environment of Augustus Kline’s creation. I also changed the genre from Erotica to Contemporary Romance and Erotic Romance, also because the focus is not on the lifestyle. M&M is hardcore, dark and twisted, mysterious and suspenseful, with a hefty dose of kink. That is not what I want from the Blended series.
My thoughts: if I wanted my two series to be identical, I’d just write more books in a particular series. In the beginning, before I knew better, I’d read reviews. A handful of reviews stated Good Girl wasn’t like the M&M series, and this was in a negative tone. No, Good Girl is not like the M&M series… because it’s NOT the M&M series. It’s the Blended series and they are nothing alike.
I needed completely opposite ends of the spectrum from my series. M&M is the scandalous tales of the rich and twisted. Blended is the real life issues of a blended family struggling to survive in mainstream America, while they endure the stresses of combining a two large families while one of their own battles drug and alcohol addiction. Blended is regular folks… and I’m okay with that. Sometimes you need to experience heartbreak and triumph from a source outside of your personal life so you can deal when real shit hits the fan- a story to draw strength from.
Each and every one of these characters is connected through blood or blended through marriage. The ties that bind have absolutely nothing to do with the roving playroom and everything to do with the blending of a family; hence my decision to change the series title. Their ages range from fourteen to forty and, with the exception of Good Girl, every book is an HEA book; hence the need to change the genre to Contemporary Romance.
The Blended series begins with Willow Prynne’s journey from a disillusioned teenager to a mature young woman. Good Girl has a brand-spanking new synopsis:
There aren’t many options for a girl who falls in the middle. I wasn’t an athlete or a geek. I wasn’t an artist or a musician. I didn’t shake my pom-poms along with my ass. I was just a good girl who got good grades and kept her mouth shut. I didn’t date my high school sweetheart and promptly get married the second I was handed my diploma. I’m not shiny enough to attract notice, nor dark enough to be a problem.
I don’t have a tragic sob story. My daddy didn’t leave us destitute and I’m not a victim of a bad neighborhood. I am a middle-America, middle of the road, middle class girl with both parents fussing over their youngest daughter, who has no aspirations or goals. I’ve had every opportunity to succeed- supportive parents, stability, and a strong upbringing. I’m wayward and everyone looks at me like I’m an alien.
My philosophy: how should I know what I want to do with the rest of my life the day I graduate? How am I supposed to know the second I turn eighteen what I am destined to become? One moment you are a disillusioned seventeen-year-old with the world at your fingertips, and the next, congratulations, you’re eighteen and you’re on your own.
With all the changes, I hope that the series appeals to the mainstream and deviants alike. The Blended series rides the edge of both categories and I believe it will be mind-opening for the former group and entertaining for the latter.
While writing Widow, I found many stumbling blocks. One was an event that was hard to swallow. The Widower sickened the Widow when she found out what transpired, creating a major point of contention within their budding marriage. From a parental standpoint: it was beyond disturbing. From a teenaged idiot standpoint: it was fun and exciting, thrilling, and equally fucking stupid… just like a real teenager would behave.
While I didn’t regret the scene, (it wasn’t one of those plot devices I wished out of existence), it was difficult to write and read. I didn’t want it to be sexy even though it’s perceived in that light. I wrote it in a impersonal, clinical manner with little to no description, and it barely took the length of one page. This scenes was the catalyst for every mistake thereafter… and responsible for the majority of Willow’s growth.
Willow’s future view on this moment in time vastly differs from how she felt in the moment. I added a caveat to appease my reservations. For the first time ever, I added a passage written in the future tense about the present tense, and I hope I accomplished my goal. For those of you who read Good Girl in any of its editions, you’ll know where this occurs in the timeline. .. and if you can’t place it, then that shows you just how much I’ve altered Good Girl.
There are moments in your life that you can never get back- the tipping point. These are the moments you simultaneously wish you could change yet keep forever the same. A time when your older self wants to transport back in time and scream STOP at your younger self, and perhaps slap the stupid out of you while you visit. You tell yourself pretty lies to cover the agony of betrayal. At some point, your future self accepts reality as it is and no longer believes the lie. But in present time, the only thing that saves you from life’s bitter truths is the lie you weave for yourself- the altered perception of reality that blinds you to the mistake you’re making. It’s a knife’s edge that can either be wielded to protect you or cut you, and either way it alters the core of who you are, who you were meant to be, and who you become.
This is the first of those moments for me- the first of many.
Days, weeks, years from now, I’ll wish I had analyzed what was happening and put an end to it. I won’t regret, because tonight’s actions, and those after, lead me on a path of enlightenment- a path I earned through mistakes. I’ll forever rue my teenage ignorance in trusting when I shouldn’t. As it is now, my mind is spinning, unable to light on one thought, let alone the dozens flitting around in a stew of confusion and unbridled lust.
The Blended series revolves around the following main characters, each of whom will get a voice within the series:
*titles listed in series order and subject to change, with all books after Good Girl sharing narration*
*shared narration does not equate romantic entanglements*
Good Girl:Willow Prynne.
Widow: Clover Webster & Malcolm Mason.
Wayward: Robin Prynne, Isis Mason, & Augustus Kline.
Waver: Willow Prynne, Devon Mason, & Kieren Mason.
Warped: Essie Prynne & TBA.
Wicked: Violet Webster & Raven Mason.
Wanted: Seth Webster & Weston Mason.
… and yes, I was tempted to either change Good Girl to Willow or Wanton to follow suit with the rest of the titles. But as the foundation of the Blended series, I wanted Good Girl to stick out, just as its single narration and lack of an HEA. Good Girl was merely an introduction to a vast cast of characters that longed to tell you their stories