His Robot Wife
By the end of 2010, I had five books for sale, none of which were lighting up the best-sellers list. Meanwhile His Robot Girlfriend continued to be downloaded thousands of times per week. I decided I would write a sequel. However, unlike just about every other book I’ve written, I didn’t have a strong story before I started. I crafted an outline, but I was never as invested in the plot as I was with other books. I did like writing the characters again though, and it became His Robot Wife. By its third month, it had sold more than all my other books had ever sold all put together. Each month saw more and more sales, and for a moment, I thought it would just keep going. However, after about six months the sales began to quickly drop.
Women of Power
I had published my free books on Feedbooks.com, and one of the features of that site is that many people write fan fiction of superheroes, publishing them in serial form. I love comics, so I thought this was a way cool idea. I wanted to be in control of my stories though and not have them belong to someone else because I used their characters. So, I created my own superheroes and setting, writing the first two chapters and publishing them in serial form.
I stopped writing after two chapters because I was busy with His Robot Wife. When I was done, I decided to stop messing around and turn this story into a novel, which I did. I had a lot of fun with Women of Power and am pretty pleased with the story. The title comes from a play on the phrase “women of color.”
While I was writing, I had joined a writers’ group called Shared Words. We met biweekly at Borders Bookstore, usually at a table in a back corner. One week we were seated in a different location, right between two entire counters of vampire romance novels. One of my fellow writers suggested I write my own vampire book. I replied that my book wouldn’t be at all popular, because my vampires would be horrible and not at all sexy.
That exchange became an idea that blossomed into a plot in my head. I did renege on my idea that my vampires wouldn’t be sexy, though my vampire, Novelyne, never actually romances anyone in the book. I wrote half the book, the chapters getting darker and darker as I went. I finally realized that I liked where it was going, and went back to the beginning, rewriting the whole thing to be really dark. Blood Trade seemed like a great title because the plot involved the exploitation of runaway children and also fits with vampires. I also did a Google search and found no other books with that title. Since then, about a dozen have been published.
Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike
I was talking to a friend about the sources of my inspiration for writing. I pointed out that my first book was an homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs and the books I loved as a teen. I then remembered that I had an earlier love—Tom Swift Jr. I pulled a few of my old Tom Swift Jr. books out of the bookcase and expounded on how much I had loved them. “I should write my own books like these,” I said aloud.
I sat down and planned out what I would write to create books like those I remembered from my youth. I had loved the stories of the boy inventor and his best friend, the 1950’s innocence and enthusiasm for the future, the naïve belief that science and technology would fix everything, so I wanted those things too. I was always bothered by the fact that Tom Swift never aged and no matter how many cool inventions he created, the world wasn’t changed much. I would fix those things in my book. Finally, my story would be multi-ethnic, because the Tom Swift books were really, really white.
I created my characters—the intrepid girl inventor, her best friends (one Hispanic and the other the child of a gay couple), her heroic boyfriend, his best friend (an African American genius who didn’t play basketball), and their bumbling buddy. I created her home base, a kind of cross between Tom Swift’s Swift Enterprises and Disney World, and her hometown. Finally, I gave her a name—Astrid Maxxim—Astrid meaning star, and Maxxim meaning utmost, literally a super star. I don’t even remember how I came up with a hoverbike as the main invention, but I had more fun writing Astrid than I had writing in a long time.