Remember the trouble I was having getting Kenny and Kristi to do the deed?

Well, I finally managed to get them into bed — yes, I was writing @ Starbucks at the time — and now I can’t seem to write them OUT.

A NaNoWriMo write-in begins in less than 20 minutes at Barnes & Noble, so I’ll do it … but it might not be pretty.

I added only a couple hundred words to my total on Friday. (Took the day off to run errands and do my usual payday shopping. Hit the new Super Walmart after work last night … at 1 a.m. it was super silent and empty. I got to browse to my heart’s content!)

Isn’t that a song title?

More importantly, it’s where my NaNo novel is as of tonight. Yes, I crossed the 25,000-word mark … important because 25,000 is half of 50,000. See, Ma? Even though I’m a writer, I can do math! 😉 That’s important because it means I’m halfway finished.

My stats, so far:

  • Words Written Today — 2233
  • Suggested Daily Word Count — 1667
  • Cumulative Word Count — 25164
  • Current Day — 11
  • Suggested Cumulative Word Count — 18334
  • Average Words per Day — 2288
  • At This Rate You Will Finish On — Nov 22 (Oh, if only I could keep up this pace and finish before Thanksgiving!)
  • Days Remaining — 19
  • Total Words Remaining — 24836 (less than I’ve already written …) 😉
  • Words per Day to Finish on Time — 1308

Pretty nice, eh?

I keep comparing this year’s experience to last year’s, though. In 2009, I signed up for the NaNo for the first time with the intention of writing 40,000 words to finish my 90,000-word manuscript. By the end of November, I’d only written about 25,000 words.

While that was 25,000 words I didn’t already have — and I finished that MS a couple of weeks later, before Christmas — I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped.

Tonight, I sit here having already written as much as I did all month long last year. It’s a heady feeling, but a little worrisome all the same.

Is what I’m writing now any good? Or am I writing too quickly, meaning I’ll have to go back and throw three-quarters of it out when I start editing?

Maybe my speed has something to do with starting with a blank slate. Sure, Kenny and Kristi have been bouncing around in my head for years, but I only wrote one scene in which they made an appearance — and that was told from someone else’s POV (Kenny’s brother Brad, the hero in my first book).

Or maybe I’m just in better (writing) shape this year. I have been putting in a lot of practice since January. (More than 120,000 words written since Jan. 19 — and that’s without my NaNo count.)

On the plus side, Kenny & Kristi finally did the deed today. (And yes, I wrote the scene @ Starbucks. Oh, if anyone peeked over my shoulder at the screen, they would have been embarrassed … Or maybe I would have been embarrassed. Someone’s cheeks would have been cherry red, for sure.) 😉

Sometimes, the timing’s just not right.

After trying again — unsuccessfully — to get Kenny and Kristi to cooperate with my plan, I decided they just weren’t ready yet.

I moved past it, getting them off the couch. Now the story’s flowing right along. I already have 1,000+ words for the day. Hope to get another couple hundred before bed tonight.

I’ve come to that point in my story: You know, the one where my characters stop doing what they’re told.

That’s right. Although I  want them to, my hero and heroine stubbornly refuse to do the deed.

I had them right where I wanted them — alone on the couch at Kristi’s house. I even managed to initiate some hand-to-knee contact (his hand, her knee). But they refused to cooperate by going any further.

Sighing, Iput my computer to sleep for the night. When I woke up with a renewed desire to finish my scene, Kenny and Kristi still wouldn’t play ball.

I’ve already mentioned that I tend to write better sex scenes in a public place. I packed up my computer and headed off to the Barnes & Noble Cafe in hopes that they’d be more in the mood.

Even there, they refused to oblige my whim. Finally, I gave up and scrolled back a few pages to work on other scenes.

My theory is that they’re just not ready yet — even if I am. Perhaps if I add another few scenes between there (the moment they started getting hot for each other) and here (where they’re on the couch, being stubborn), they’ll actually start to behave the way I want them to.

A writer can dream, right? 😉

I'm ready — are you?

So far, work on the NaNo novel is going swimmingly. Not only did I cross the 10,000-word mark today (11,087), my hero and heroine had their first heavy makeout scene (followed closely by their first fight).

The handy NaNo stats page assures me I’m making great progress, averaging 2,772 words per day:

Current Day  — 4

Total Words Remaining — 38,913

Days Remaining — 26
This is my favorite stat so far: Words per Day to Finish on Time — 1,497

That’s right. Less than 1,500. I no longer need to log that magical 1,667 words per day to hit my 50,000-word target. If I keep producing a few hundred extra words a day for the next week or so, I’ll be sitting pretty when those Thanksgiving holidays roll around.
On a somewhat related note, I find myself disturbed on two counts:
  1. I seem to end up writing some of my most sizzling sex scenes in a public place.
  2. My characters tend to get it on — at least for the first time — in a vehicle of some sort. (Today it was Kenny’s Ford Explorer.)

I guess that’s fodder for another post, though. 😉

A couple of weeks ago, the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog (one of my faves) was host to a sometimes heated discussion on safe sex in romance novels.

The author of the post, Kelly Fitzpatrick (who you might recognize from yesterday’s post), started the discussion by asking a few questions: “I ask myself, do I write to empower women or am I writing to entertain? Are we obligated to write responsibly? Or does the law of what happens in romanceland, stays in romanceland rule?”

There seems to be no consensus on the subject, at least among the Rubies and their readers.

Since reading that blog post — and the informative and entertaining comments that followed, I’ve been kicking this post around in my mind. It’s one of those things on my “I’ll do it when I get around to it” list.

Of course I believe in safe sex. In this day and age, when sex with the wrong person can end up killing you, is there anyone who doesn’t?

But do my characters practice safe sex? Umm … as they say in “The Wizard of Oz,” that’s a horse of a different color.

I have one set of characters (Brad and Erin) who just use a condom without any fuss or fanfare. I haven’t read through Cassie and Dustin’s story lately, but I believe they, too, just do it (condom use).

Then there’s Bree and Mike, the virgin and the pseudo-playboy. They’re both drunk when they make love for the first time, and their lack of protection doesn’t occur to either of them until weeks later. (First she realizes it, then he overhears her talking with her friends and thinks she’s pregnant.) It’s a huge part of the plot, because when he thinks she’s pregnant, he starts trying to get back in her good graces … after refusing to marry her just because she was a virgin.

When Kari and Damien, from “Blind Date Bride,” have sex for the first time, they’re already married, so no safe sex for them (even though they haven’t yet decided to stay married).

It hasn’t been an issue for Bethany and Cody either, since they’re already in a committed relationship when the story begins. I do know that Bethany has always been Ms. Safety in the past (and she does have quite the past), and Cody also believes in safe sex … but they’ve been dating for nine months and he’s thinking about marriage. Maybe I can handle the issue with a flashback to their first night together.

Meg’s already pregnant (by another guy) when she has sex with Matt, so condoms aren’t an issue for them, either.

She does question her judgment the morning after, when she wakes up alone because Matt had to leave her to go to practice. She wonders if she’s made a “monumental” mistake by sleeping with an almost-stranger. But she decides, “Nothing could be a bigger mistake than ending up pregnant and alone at her advanced age. And since she’d already done that, anything that came after had to be a step in the right direction.”

Drew and Lainy haven’t had sex yet, but they are teachers, so when the time comes, they should set a good example. (They’ve already set a bad example in other ways, though, so who knows?)

My stories are romantic comedies. And while the Rubies have some ideas about treating safe sex humorously, I don’t want to draw too much attention to the unfunny, unsexy side of my characters’ lives. Nothing ruins the mood faster than a red, flashing stoplight: “No glove, no love, buster!”

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: My characters “romance responsibly” when the plot calls for it … and when it doesn’t, they don’t. If that makes them irresponsible in the eyes of some, so be it. (I’ll just have to hope those some aren’t editors and agents who refuse to publish the story because of it.)

I was all set to complain about how doing rewrites is much slower work — until I realized I wrote 900+ words today.

That’s right. All I had to do was launch into a new sex scene — one of those “more almost-sex, less food” scenes Kelly suggested — and bingo! Those 900 words practically wrote themselves.

I do, however, find myself wondering why I seem to do my best sex-scene writing in the Barnes & Noble cafe. You wouldn’t think the crowds and noise would be conducive, but I have no trouble shutting everything out so my characters can get busy.

Today’s racy scene, the first time Kari and Damien finally get to finish what they’d started, even Meg & Matt’s first big moment were written at the cafe.

I’m not sure what, if anything, that says about me. Perhaps I’m an exhibitionist at heart? 😉

Anyway, my second draft of “Blind Date Bride” is coming along quite nicely. As I’ve added things and taken others away, it has grown to nearly 95,000 words and 354 typed, double-spaced pages.

Just think: A few short months ago, I was struggling to hit 90K. I’m glad those days are behind me — at least for this manuscript.