After promoting other people’s debuts here, it feels weird to be promoting my own, but here I am. Save My Soul: Book One in the Kemmons Brothers Baseball Series was released March 25. What I like most about this book is it’s not what normally passes as category-length, contemporary romance for me. When I wrote it years ago, I was heavily influenced by paranormal’s popularity, and honestly, I was in a confusing space in my life.

Rather than prolong this self-promotion, I’ll leave with this. Nicole said it best: “If you like vivid writing, sparkling sexual tension, and emotional reads check out Save My Soul.”

Save My Soul by Elley Arden

Buy it now at: Amazon and iTunes (BN.com to come)

For more about Elley and her books, visit her website.

The first manuscript I ever wrote is told from the POV of four different characters: Hero, Heroine, Heroine’s father and Heroine’s father’s love interest. I didn’t think much about whether this was a right or wrong approach to telling the story. I suspect my recreational reading (all multiple-character POV novels) had something to do with that.

Three more multiple-character POV manuscripts spilled out of me before I started studying the market for submission. I spent hours debating where I fit in and how I wanted my career to build. This internal dialogue led me to category romance novels.

With the category model in my head, I shortened my word counts and ignored any POV that didn’t come from the hero or heroine. I wrote two new manuscripts this way, feeling very confident in my abilities. I fully expected to continue on the limited word count, H&H-only POV path until the day I died (no exaggeration). Needless to say, it surprised me when around the fourth chapter of my WIP my heroine’s father popped in with something to say.

I told Barry to take a seat somewhere in the back of my mind—Good luck, Buddy. It’s crowded in there. I’m pretty sure all the good seats are taken.—and I wrote the scene from the heroine’s POV. The scene worked, and I didn’t think much about Barry again, until…

Last night, I started a new book—a category-length contemporary—on the heels of finishing two, nice, fat multiple-character POV contemporaries. I felt restless, a what-is-the-meaning-of-this, fingers-pressed-to-my-eye-sockets kind of restless. Wouldn’t you know, Barry showed up again, and he wasn’t asking for a more comfortable seat in the back of my head. No, Barry wants his say.

So twenty thousand words into a book I was writing specifically with Harlequin Desire in mind, I’m going to let Barry have his say. I’m going to go back to that point in Chapter Four and let him speak. And then I’m going to write past the fifty-five-thousand-word mark and hope I can do this story justice without panicking over market trends and career arcs.

It’s never easy, is it?

How about you? If you write category-length or novella-length works, do you sometimes struggle with the thought of writing longer? What about POV? Do you stick to the H&H, or do you let other characters have a say?

I finally finished Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP). At first glance, that’s not an amazing statement. I read—a lot. But when you consider that I’ve owned the book since it came out in January and SEP is one of my all-time favorite authors, it makes you wonder.  Why did it take me so long?

I was afraid to read the book.

Yes. Afraid.

Danielle Steel was the first writer to draw me in with lush scenery and bad characters that made my teenage eyes blink triple time. Sinful, passionate and so beyond my suburban high school reality, her books were like a box of Ho Hos® stashed under my bed. Then I found Judith McNaught, and my relationship with Danielle Steel was forever changed.

Judith’s characters touched my heart and then ripped it out. And when they gave it back, I was exhausted, stuck in her world, and craving more of the people she created. I read every Judith McNaught book with breathless glee, knowing exactly the reader’s rush that was in store for me. Not a hidden box of Ho Hos®—no, nothing so fleeting. Because when Judith’s characters fell in love, I did too.

And so my addiction to romance novels began, leading me to SEP.

I’m pretty sure I read once that this icon of romance novels takes a year to write a book. In other words, she’s not pumping out one novel after another. In other words, her fans spend a lot of time waiting. (Not that we mind, because the end result is worth the wait.)

Back before Call Me Irresistible was published, I’d done some research into when to expect from SEP’s new release, and I came across a brief description of the novel. A few words stuck out: calls off the wedding. That’s when my turmoil began.

See, I’d been concocting a story in my mind that involved a called off wedding, and I refuse to read a book with a similar plot to what I’m writing.  I had a couple choices. I could either write my story before Call Me Irresistible was released, thereby granting myself the freedom to read and enjoy another SEP novel, or I could hold off on writing my story until after I’d read her book, thereby throwing myself into the murky depths of possible published author influence.

I chose to write my story first.

When Call Me Irresistible came out, I purchased and downloaded the book to my iPad. But my story wasn’t finished, so I waited. Agony. The book called to me. When I was halfway through my story, I gave in to temptation and started reading Call Me Irresistible.

For some reason, it wasn’t easy. I wasn’t getting lost in the book. I spent too much time criticizing. How can I like this heroine? She broke up her best friend’s wedding. Ick!

I put the book aside. I read my usual Harlequin reads (Blaze and Desire). I read Jaci Burton’s Perfect Play. (Holy hot read, Bat Man! They don’t call that stuff erotic for nothing.) I cooled down and tried Call Me Irresistible again. When I put the book aside again, I wondered what the hell was wrong with me.

SEP is my rock star. Why can’t I get into this book?

I started thinking maybe it was because I’d been surviving on mini meals of 200- to 300-page category romances. Could that be it? Was I unable to digest a full meal? Was I out of sync with the single-title romances I once stayed up all night to finish?

I started analyzing my reading habits. I enjoy my Blazes and Desires, but funny thing…no reader’s rush. Oh I get the mushy feeling when a particularly yummy hero cups a heroines face and kisses her into oblivion, but the full-body, flushed-face, heart-racing reader’s rush of McNaught, SEP and Rachel Gibson (particularly Zach and Adele’s ladies’ room make out scene in Not Another Bad Date) was missing.

I had to know: was it me that changed or had the writing changed? If I finished Call Me Irresistible, would I find the reader’s rush again?

I spent this past weekend with that mission in mind. And you know what?

I felt the rush. I dreamt about the characters. I woke up wanting to tell Meg (heroine) something I’d thought about in my dream. I actually entertained the idea of pulling an all-nighter on Saturday to finish the book (something I haven’t ever done with a category). Once I did close the book for the last time (figuratively speaking, since I read on an iPad), I walked around Sunday with a feeling of sadness, wanting to spend more time with these people I’d come to know so well.

I analyzed my feelings and decided the puffed-up page count allows for more detail and a slow burn that builds into full-blown love, allowing the reader time to adjust and feel the same emotions.

:Sigh: Books like that keep me reading.

If books like Call Me Irresistible keep me reading, then what does that say about me as a writer? (Write what you read and all that jazz…)

I started out writing single title. Naturally, I wondered if I should I try my hand at it again.

And there it was. The truth, like a plug of chocolate fudge in the bottom point of a Nutty Buddy ice cream cone. I knew if I read Call Me Irresistible, if I felt the reader’s rush again, that I’d question why I was writing anything but single-title contemporary.

And so the questioning begins. I doubt and redoubt. I pout. I deny. I get angry at the time I may have been “wasting.” But then I calm down. I remind myself that there’s no waste as long as I’m writing, and there’s no reason I can’t write both.

So today, I’m taking a deep breath and finishing my current category ms and then moving on to another I’ve been eager to write (if only to get it out of my head). And then…then I’m going to face my fear. I’m going to read ludicrous amounts of single titles and I’m going to decide where my heart lies. If it’s with single title—like I suspect—I’m going to take a break from category and concentrate on creating the rush for both sides of me, writer and reader. I’m pretty sure that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and I just got sidetracked with this push for publication.

Thanks SEP for the reminder.