Title: The Lucky Charm (Portland Series #1)
Author: Beth Bolden
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publication Date: April 30, 2014
Event Organized By: Literati Author Services, Inc.
IT ’S THE BOTTOM OF T HE NINTH . . .
Izzy Dalton’s about to strike out. Her new job as the sideline reporter for the Portland Pioneers major league baseball team is problematic on several levels:
- Baseball is her least-favorite sport. Falling behind golf, tennis, and maybe even curling.
- What Izzy knows about baseball could fill about three minutes of airtime.
- Her last experience in front of a camera was in college. Six years ago.
- The Pioneers’ second baseman has a wicked sense of humor and even wickeder blue eyes.
AND A FULL COUNT. . .
Jack Bennett couldn’t be more uninterested in a little sideline action. He just wants to show up at the park and win baseball games. Izzy is the one woman he should steer clear of, but she’s also the key to his success–and his heart, too.
All Izzy has to do is convince her misogynistic boss she’s competent, learn what the heck an RBI is, and stay away from Jack Bennett. Izzy tells herself it’ll be a snap, but 162 games is longer than she ever imagined and Jack more irresistible than she counted on.
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Top 10 Things I Learned Writing The Lucky Charm
My first novel, The Lucky Charm, was published at the beginning of May. I’ve been working on it on and off for almost three years. After writing only one book, I’m not necessarily entitled to offer much in the way of advice, but I know what I’ve learned over the last three years. If it helps even one person, my job here is done.
- Write, write, write. I’m going to start out with some borrowed advice from La Nora. She famously said, “I can’t edit an empty page.” It’s so true. I’ve learned that the first time I write a scene, it’s not going to be perfect—in fact, it’s not going to be very good at all. But that doesn’t mean I can’t fix it later. I truly believe the key to being a great writer is the ability to absolutely divorce yourself from your pride in the editing process. I instruct my beta readers and others who read early drafts to please be as honest as possible. If it sucks, I really, really want you to tell me now. But until you actually have those words on the page, you can’t possibly edit them—and don’t be too critical of yourself when you’re writing your first draft. It doesn’t have to be fantastic. It just has to have enough of the rough bones in place that you can refine it later.
- Editing is crazy important. Especially after other people have read your novel and given you feedback. If you can afford to hire a professional developmental editor (I used Stacy at Apoidea Editorial and she is fantastic), then you should. If you can’t, ask around and see if anyone you know either online or in real life is willing to read your book. Honestly, the more people the better. And not just to give you general comments at the end like, “oh I loved it!” Be upfront about your need to get real, constructive, specific criticism. If they can take notes and share them with you afterwards, that is obviously the most helpful. And having a good cross-section of readers helps too—not everyone will agree on what they think you need to change or keep. Ultimately it’s your book and so it’s your decision, but sometimes you’re just too close to the work to be able to judge it objectively.
- Don’t be afraid of the delete button. Sometimes something just isn’t working. I deleted a chapter towards the end of the book as late as February. I deleted a whole character only a month or two before that. In one of the very early drafts, I ended up deleting over 50,000 words. But an addendum to this: make sure you keep it all. Don’t ever permanently get rid of anything. You never know when bits of old scenes might fit in a different way or a different section. Every time I made major changes, I started a whole new manuscript copy. And I saved all the old ones.
- Don’t take it too seriously. Writing isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s hard work—okay, most of the time it’s hard work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t deeply enjoy writing. If it’s beginning to feel like a chore and slog—give yourself a break. It’s important to be productive, especially if you’re not on any hard deadlines, but don’t let it become something you have to do. Sometimes even taking a day or two break for me would help. And during the last eight months or so, I was pretty much only editing on The Lucky Charm and since I find editing pretty much the worst kind of torture invented, I worked on a number of “fun” side projects. They may never see the light of day, but it was so much easier to return to editing if I’d been able to stretch my writing muscles a little.
- Write what you like. I know it can be so tempting to jump on the latest bandwagon that’s selling like crazy. After all, this is just as much a business as any other small business, and the whole point of a business is sales. But if you find yourself writing solely for money, you will get disillusioned fast. As I like to tell my husband when he gets these wild fantasies about retiring to an island paradise, this is not a millionaire’s business. So many authors are never able to quit their day jobs, or have rely on another income for some of their living expenses. When I started writing The Lucky Charm, the really antagonistic hero-heroine mold had just become really popular—you know the one where they hate each other so much until they get their clothes off and then they still hate each other, but have great sex—and I stated writing Jack and Izzy that way. At some point, I just stopped and took a step back and said, “this is just not working.” Jack isn’t that guy and if he attempted to grope Izzy up during a fight, she’d just punch him in the nuts. Once I changed the tone of their initial interactions, the whole book improved massively. This also goes along with the “enjoy yourself” point. If you’re writing what you like, then you’re going to have a lot more fun writing it. I hated all those sports romances where the sport was just a wallpaper background and the details that were included tended to be wrong more often than not. When I was writing The Lucky Charm, I was fanatical about getting the baseball right and honestly, those were some of the most fun parts of the book to write.
- Don’t feel pressured to put a lot of sex in your book—or feel pressured to put blank in. This is something I struggled with a lot. I think it’s kind of funny how so many reviews of The Lucky Charm mention how it’s a fairly mild book, especially considering how eroticized the romance industry has become. And honestly, I never set out to write it that way. I don’t think my other books will be as tame as The Lucky Charm is. Initially I had Jack and Izzy kiss a hell of a lot sooner and have sex sooner too, but then that undermined the seriousness of the conflict I was trying to establish—that they aren’t really allowed to be involved. By nixing the earlier sex (and the additional sex scenes), I emphasized the difficulty of the conflict and made it so much stronger. Towards the end of the editing process, I seriously considered putting another sex scene in, but I decided that putting sex in just to put it in wasn’t something I wanted to do. I liked it the way it was, and I had to trust that my readers would too.
- Conflict should develop naturally because of who the characters are. This is another point I struggled for years to understand and still don’t feel like I have a solid grasp of. Basically, the conflict between the characters (why they can’t be together) should arise out of who they are or what they do or some aspect of their history/present/future. In Jack and Izzy’s case, their most fundamental conflict is they’re attracted to each other, but they can’t date because she’s a reporter for his team and to respect her journalistic integrity, that kind of fraternization between players and media is highly discouraged. There are other aspects of who they are that emphasize the main conflict, but it all comes back to that one single point.
- Your main characters should grow throughout the story. I’m kind of fanatical about this. I believe each main character starts out at Point A when the story opens, and by the time Point B occurs at the end, they’re not quite the same person they were. They’ve changed and evolved, maybe not in big ways, but in some way that’s significant. In The Lucky Charm, Izzy changes a heck of a lot more than Jack does, and if you didn’t look closely, you might miss his changes at all—but I promise, they’re there. And I find sometimes that it helps to only have one character undergo massive change. Too much change and you’re probably courting way too much conflict, which can be just as deadly as not enough.
- If you’re self-publishing, the package should be professional. That means your novel should be copy-edited by a professional, or at least by someone who is very good at it. Hire a cover artist. Hire a formatter if you’re not experienced in the format necessary to upload to the different sales sites. The initial monetary outlay can seem excessive, but I promise, you will have more sales if you do these things. People like reading clean, well-edited, well-formatted books. You don’t ever want to have someone stop reading your book because it’s got a metric ton of grammar errors.
- As an author, don’t behave badly. This is another point I am still learning how to deal with. Bad reviews hurt. Criticism hurts. This is your freaking baby. You just gave birth. You want everyone to love it, even though logically you know that this can’t possibly happen. It’s the natural human reaction. But unless you are clearing up some actual factual error, for the love of God, don’t attack reviewers. Don’t sic your followers on them. Don’t whine publically on twitter or facebook about negative reviews. Rant all you want in private. And then resolve to write such a great book next time that the reviewer can’t help but love it.
About the Author
Beth Bolden lives in Portland, Oregon with one cat and one fiance. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. If only the Portland Pioneers weren’t only figments of her imagination.
After graduating from university with a degree in English, Beth unsurprisingly had no idea what to do with her life, and spent the next few years working for a medical equipment supplier, a technology company, and an accounting firm. Now Beth runs her own business as a Girl Friday for small business owners, assisting them with administration, bookkeeping and their general sanity.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. Her first novel, The Lucky Charm, will be available in the beginning of 2014.
In her nonexistent spare time, she enjoys preparing overambitious recipes, baking yummy treats, cuddling with the aforementioned cat and fiance, and of course, writing. She’s currently at work on the The Lucky Charm‘s sequel, featuring Noah Fox. She hopes he’s a lot easier to wrangle than Jack Bennett was.