Oh, Joy, oh Rapture!

I am having the best time of my life.  Every now and then there are books that are absolute gifts from god.  Wonderful, involving, easy books to write, they just flow from my computer (or my pen if I'm writing long hand)  and I can't wait to get to work.  The pages/words pile up, my energy is phenomenal, my mood is sunny, all's right with the world and everything  is glorious.

You can't count on a  book to be this seamless, to be so in love with your characters, with every word coming right and insights coming almost by accident.  We call these "gift" books, and some people who aren't professional writers think all books have to be like this, or else they won't write.  They wait for that glorious inspiration to hit, and if it doesn't they go shopping (or drinking, or whatever their drug of choice is).

For the rest of us, for every gift book there are wonderful books that are plain hard work and discipline and books we adore, but they aren't the glorious, mountain-top experiences.

Mind you, what I feel about a book has nothing to do with what readers might end up deciding, and I try to be careful not to disparage a book that was misery to write.  The Harlequin book of mine that made the most money, has been reprinted and put in audio and won a RITA (I think) is FALLING ANGEL, and I had my first real bout of writers' block when I was writing it.  So I dislike the book, because it was so damned hard to write, and it's often people's favorite of mine.

Conversely, I'd been losing my mojo a bit, with STILL LAKE a painful effort (though I like it in retrospect), and then I wrote INTO THE FIRE.  That book caught fire, I wrote it in a white heat, I love every single word of it, and it's one of the most controversial books I've ever written.  People either love it or hate it -- it got one of my favorite reviews from PW, which said it was "troubling."  People read the hero's convoluted, denial-plagued thoughts as his real feelings, and they thought he was a total, brutal asshat.

I adore that book.  I listen to the audio on a regular basis.  But it did nothing for my career -- maybe even sunk it further into the mire.

However, most gift books push me ahead.  I'll list just a few of them -- THE DEMON COUNT, LORD SATAN'S BRIDE, TANGLED LIES, NIGHT OF THE PHANTOM, NIGHTFALL, BLACK ICE, TO LOVE A DARK LORD, RUTHLESS, ON THIN ICE ... in fact, almost all of the ICE books.  And those have been books that have mostly made a difference in my career.

So this one is completely glorious.  It's the first of THE COMMITTEE GOES TO AMERICA.  Yup, it's an ICE book where the Committee opens a branch in the US (probably in New Orleans -- I'm making this up as I go along).  We've got a delicious operative, we've got a furious woman, we've got killers and devious, venal branch of the Catholic church (the fabulous new pope would kick their butts).  We've got Montana and New Orleans and a vintage airstream camper and man, we even have Venice.  Damn, I love this book!

One thing that's interesting -- I'm listening to my soundtrack, which keeps growing by leaps and bounds.  I haven't written to music with lyrics (while I write, that is) for a long, long time.  (Maybe listening to J-rock doesn't count, since I don't understand squat in Japanese except gomenasai, aishitteru and sumimasen - two of those are I'm sorry and one is I love you).  Oh, and itadakimasu and arigato gozaimasu and screw the spellings, which are "eat up" and "thankyouverymuch")

Anyway, when I wrote NIGHTFALL, which I consider a mountain-top experience, I listened to Richard Thompson non-stop.  RT is the soundtrack for most of my romantic suspense novels -- pounding, intricate guitar, gorgeous howling vocals, lashing pain and deep wit.  I'm his slave for life.

The more I listen to my soundtrack the more energy goes into the work.  This book is so damned good it's writing itself.  I write, and things just show up and mesh in beautifully.  Even though I'm flat out with a thousand things (packing/fixing the house to sell, a juicy little part in "Carousel" that'll take a huge mount of time in July, grandchildren I want to fawn over, and reissues to rewrite, etc.)

But when the writing is going well then everything is going well.  And when the writing is this good then the world's a grand and glorious place.

I'm playing around with heat titles to differentiate from ice.  I was thinking the cover name of the US Committee might be Flame, Inc.  With something like "The Committee to Protect Against Firestorms" or something along that line but a little better.  I'm going with titles like SCORCHED and SCALDED, but the one word title won't work because they've been used and they're too easy to confuse (one problem with the Rohan books).

SCORCHED EARTH sounds too bleak, SCORCHED HEART too romance-y.  I'll have to play around with it some more.  Suggestions gratefully accepted.

Back to work.  Happy happy happy.