cover art for Byte Me
Book two of my Lonesome Lawmen series.

This looking back Perilous Pauline thing has been interesting. And good for me. I’m remembering some things about the writing process that I thought I would never forget.

When you write your first novel—and even your second or third—you are pushing your boundaries because it’s all new and the boundaries are mostly about your own expectations for yourself. It’s about believing you can write another book and another. And figuring your process and voice.

I wouldn’t say that writing has much of a comfort zone. Even if you stick with the “safe” in your writing, just putting your work out there results in reviews and other whacks upside the head (though I have been very fortunate in the majority of my reviews). And “back in the day,” when I first started publishing, putting my work out there meant rejections from agents and editors, long before I got to the reviews part.

I did two things that were both right and painful, when I embarked on the book that would become Byte Me.

The first right/painful choice was to commit to write a book based on a single character. The Last Enemy was so well received by my two publishers at the time, and the main character in The Last Enemy had a couple of brothers, so I went out on a personal limb and asked my editors if they would be interested in stories about the other two brothers. I got an enthusiastic YES from both of them.

Followed by panic from me. What was I thinking? I’d written three books and all of them had been finished before being submitted to editors for vetting. Now I was proposing to write two whole books that weren’t even ideas yet! All I had were a couple of guys. Okay, I had settings. And they had a mom. And jobs. But I need stories. I needed plots. I needed heroines and villains and opposition.

The good news was, I only had to write one book at a time. So I focused on a brother. Jake was, like Matt in The Last Enemy, a US Deputy Marshal. What would his perfect match look like? What would she do?

And that’s when I made my next right/sort of wrong/painful choice. I’d heard a quote somewhere, said by someone famous that went something like, “If your hero is a fireman, then your heroine should be a suspected arsonist.” My memory is not great, so I managed to edit out suspected.


So I made Phoebe an actual—not suspected—thief. Worse, I made her way smarter than me.

I wrote myself into several corners while working on this book, but I learned something very important, too. That if I put in real work on creating my characters, they will become my ally in telling their story. Phoebe helped us find our way out of those corners. She worked with me all the way to The End. And she helped me face the next book with more confidence.

Remembering Phoebe and my other “first characters” is helping me with my latest project. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to do it “right,” that I’d lost sight of my own process. I can feel my insides relaxing (my characters are telling me, “Finally!”), and I’m excited again.

Because in the end, I do this because I like writing. I like telling stories.

For more about the story behind Byte Me, check out my interview on my website. I interviewed myself about all my novels. I even interviewed me about what it was like to interview me. Hey, you have to be a little crazy to write novels. (Grin)

So, do you ever look back on what you’ve learned? Use it to help you in the here and now? Ever gotten advice from fictional people? (Yes, that is a trick question. LOL) All comments are entered into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket ($50 this month in honor of NaBloPoMo). Winner will be announced in the first blog post in December. 🙂

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Perilous Pauline's signature



Pauline has been lucky. Her characters have helped her out of dead ends and corners multiple times. In fact, I think they have formed a support group for themselves because they are sick of it. To meet my characters and to find out that yes, they are way smarter than me, check out my books on my website or in the tab of this blog. 🙂

Buy Byte Me in audio and digital.

Used print editions also available (in a variety of past covers!).

This book is also included in various Lonesome Lawmen bundles.


Pushing My Limits – Why I Wrote BYTE ME
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4 thoughts on “Pushing My Limits – Why I Wrote BYTE ME

  • November 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I know what you mean. I lost my thrill for writing recently and realized I was so focused on writing the perfect book, I lost sight of why I was writing in the first place. A writer has to push the boundaries but also write what they enjoy or I think the reader will be able to feel it. Good luck in your writing.
    Susan Jaymes recently posted…Sacrificing Our DreamsMy Profile

    • November 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      It is so very easy to get caught up in perfect, you forget to have fun! I think pushing boundaries, at least for me, is about playing with the plots and characters. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to mix science fiction romance and steampunk, for instance. It was a risky book, but I had a wonderful time writing it (Steamrolled). So have fun! It will show in the writing, too, IMHO. 😀

  • November 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I often feel like I’m being too safe with my writing these days, especially when it comes to my blog. I have minimal traffic and I sometimes wonder if I’m doing something wrong or not taking enough risks. I like my simple, light-hearted posts but there are a few that I sit back and ask, “What the hell were you thinking?!”

    I think NaBloPoMo may have rotted my brain a bit. On occasion settled on mediocre just so I could get some kind of post written and published. *sigh* This does get better doesn’t it?
    Kim recently posted…Stop and Smell the CheeseburgerMy Profile

    • November 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      It takes a long time to build blog traffic, Kim. I’ve struggled with the same thing. You feel like you’re a tree falling in the forest that no one is seeing. I think the key is to be true to who you are, lighthearted and intense and just keep writing. I do agree that blogging every day is resulting, for me, in thinner blog posts, so I don’t think I’ll do a daily challenge again. O.O But I’m going to be sure and cross post my blog on BlogHer going forward.

      And yes! It does get better! Thank you so much for popping over!

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