Tag Archives: Saints & Agents

Saints & Suspects is here!

That’s right! The sequel to Saints & Spies is finally here! And this week only, Saints & Suspects is only 99¢â€”plus you get over a hundred pages of bonus content from Irish slang to recipes to story background to deleted scenes, only for the launch! The price goes up April 19! Buy now!

About the book

Saving her country from terrorists could cost Special Agent Molly Malone her heart.

If misfortune should ever follow you, may it never catch up.  — Old Irish Proverb

Molly Malone didn’t think things could get worse. Her first undercover assignment as a new FBI agent isn’t going well, and the Irish terrorists she’s trying to get close to won’t take the bait. To cement her cover, she’s forced to team up with her ex, Special Agent Zach Saint — and play an engaged couple in love. Swallowing her hurt and anger to salvage the mission is almost more than she can bear, but if she doesn’t, she’ll lose her chance to get close to the terrorists and confirm their plans. Her Irish luck alone won’t get her through this one, but can she put her life and heart in Zach’s keeping again?

Zach Saint doesn’t want Molly in the middle of danger, yet that’s exactly where he finds her. Determined to help, he agrees to a fake engagement where he can stay close and keep her safe. Events quickly spiral out of his control, however, when he realizes two things: his feelings for Molly never went away, and a lethal terrorist attack is imminent. Working together is difficult and learning to trust each other again nearly impossible. But, if they want to bring down the terrorists and have a chance at a future together, they’ll have to do both — and the clock is ticking.

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What you should never, ever, ever do

This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series All my novels

(Unless you want to)

After I finished my third novel, my next idea was to continue the adventures of the undercover agent/priest (now no longer undercover, of course) and the parish secretary (who quit).

Yep. I wrote a sequel to a book I hadn’t sold. Hadn’t even revised. I knew enough about the publishing industry by now to know that this was stupid. But I also knew enough about the publishing industry to know that I was in a very special phase of my career: one without contracted deadlines, publisher pressures, and reader expectations. I could really do what I wanted.

Pretty awesome time!

Writing

My co-author finished her parallel novel to Saints & Spies, and wrote a short story sequel, but from there she had no desire to write another parallel, so I was on my own again. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stretch my own words and ideas to novel length, but (woot!) I made it!

The book stats

Title: Finally settled on Saints & Agents
Genre: Romantic suspense
Inspiration: an entertaining idea for a scene that would be uncomfortable for my characters. The scene never made it in the book.
Writing dates: January – April 2009. Editing in January – March 2011.
Length: About 75,000?
Elevator pitch: Happily ever after didn’t last nearly long enough. Now both working for the FBI, the exes may need one another to track down a pair of Irish terrorists. But getting in with the criminals—and working side by side with the one that got away—is even harder than breaking up the first time.

What I learned from writing this book

The joy of a sequel! Yeah, okay, that’s said with some sarcasm—sequels aren’t always easy. There’s a lot of pressure to do it the same, but, uh, different: hit the same emotional notes, have the same or similar characters, develop similar-ish conflicts—all while writing something that’s new and different enough to satisfy readers.

This book is the first time I used an “alpha” reader. My co-author and I wrote scenes together and showed each other our progress along the way. (Yes, the book that was to be my first published novel was actually drafted in Google Docs in 2008. Crazy times, eh?) She became my alpha reader for this novel, but it was a different relationship. Rather than creating our world together, she became a sounding board and semi-audience (although I relied on her for input with her characters’ actions).

I re-learned the importance of subplots and secondary characters. I had to work hard to tie in all the characters I loved from the first novel (well, all the ones who weren’t in jail). But I also had a new cast of secondaries—and, of course, new antagonists. This book was the first time I used the villain’s POV—and it made a world of difference! In a book where the protagonists spend much of the time not knowing what the villains are up to, it’s very hard to keep the tension going (don’t get me started). If you can add the villain’s POV—as I did in revising this novel, since it was already in 3rd person multiple POV—you can help to inject all the scenes with more tension and every 10th grade English teacher’s favorite thing, dramatic irony.

Good IdeaPossibly the most important lesson I (re)learned with this novel is that I will always be able to find another idea. I was most of the way through Saints & Spies believing it was a stand-alone when this idea came to me. I dismissed it at first (no sequels before sales!), but I fell in love with the story, and I had to do it. Not only did I have an idea for a novel, but I also had enough ideas to finish a full-length one by myself. Hooray!

What do you think? Have you ever done something you should never, ever, ever do in your career?

Photo credits: notebook—Tony Hall; idea quotation—Celestine Chua

First page blogfest

Today (Apr 2) is my birthday! I may or may not be around, but I thought it would be fun (and, okay, easy) to participate in another blogfest today, sharing my first page.

Of course, I’ve shared the first page to Saints and Spies a bunch of times—and I used to have the first seven pages here on the site. (What the heck, I’ll post them again for a little while—like I said, it’s my birthday!)

This is a pretty rough draft—I’ve only shown it to one beta reader—but here’s the first page of the book I’m calling Saints and Agents.


Surveillance. Special Agent Zach Saint shifted against the hard gray upholstery. Two hours and thirty-seven minutes of sitting in the car, staring at nothing—and then the pair stepped out of the building down the block. The target. He reached for the keys in the ignition. “Eyes on.”

Next to him, Special Agent Xavier Cason peered through his camera’s viewfinder. “Isn’t that your . . . Molly?”

Zach grabbed binoculars and followed Xavier’s line of sight. Green coat, dark curls, tall. She stopped, dismayed, and turned back to the target couple. mock cover for Saints and AgentsThough she wasn’t “his” anymore, it was definitely Molly.

After she’d abruptly dumped him six months ago, Zach knew he’d probably run into Molly again. But he didn’t think the first time would be on the job—and especially not while she was talking to suspected terrorists.

“You drive.” Zach reached for the door handle.

Xavier caught Zach’s sleeve without taking his eyes from his camera. “Do not approach, Z.”

“She’s three months out of Quantico—I can’t just leave her out there.” He knocked X’s hand away and stepped out of the car into the sharp cold. He needed a cover.

He paused at the street vendor on the corner to buy two pretzels—and buy himself one more minute to come up with an identity, someone with a right to cut in on their conversation.

The target couple was too busy chatting to notice his approach. “So,” said Grace, “are ya seein’ anyone, Molly love?”

Zach slung an arm around Molly’s shoulders. He finally settled on a cover—deep South. “Here ya go, darlin,” he drawled.

Molly looked up at him with her deep blue eyes and only hesitated a moment before smiling and accepting one of his pretzels. Good recovery.

Zach offered the target couple his now-free hand. “Jason Tolliver. Molly’s fiancé.”


May it be

I’ve been thinking about verbs for a while now, and I’m thinking that’s where I want to start with my rants posts about writing topics. And what better time to discuss verbs than the merry, merry month of May, right?

Right?

C’mon, guys—it’s a modal? A modal verb?

Yeah, on that note, I think we’ll be starting with the basics—like what the heck a modal is, anyway—and then go on to talk about how we use verbs in writing, including the dreaded passive voice. (Guess what—if you’re getting dinged by your critique partners for writing in the passive voice a lot, you might not be doing anything wrong. Then again, you might—but still, there’s hope!)

And I’m lining up guest posts from some brilliant English minds (even doctors, folks!), so be sure to check back next week—or subscribe to the blog to get RSS updates (or email updates)—to join in the “verbal” discussion.

In other news, I’m renaming my current works. Yes, I know, I can’t help it—I just read the chapter on titling in Stein On Writing and I found one that really struck me:

Saints and Agents

To match the new title for Duty of the Priest, Evidence of Things Not Seen is now Saints and Spies. The Projects page and excerpt page have been updated to reflect this.

And I promise soon to talk titling and explain this move. But first—verbs!

The run up

I’ve been gearing up for the LDStorymakers Conference tomorrow. I registered after encouragement from Annette Lyon online and off, and I’m getting excited (even though I’m a fairly shy person and a little nervous about meeting new people).

So I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with this site. So far I’ve used it as mostly a writing journal, chronicling the biggest milestones in my manuscripts. (On that note, I got Duty back from my critique partner on the third and finished the latest round of revisions on Tuesday.)

I’d like to do more with the blog portion of the site. I’ve had a few ideas for posts on grammar mechanics and writing technique, as well as some fun activities. I’ve been holding off for a formal “launch” for the website. Subscribe to the blog to get RSS updates (or email updates) so you don’t miss anything!

Finito

One of these days I’m going to run out of ways to say it, but once again: I’m done! I was worried about the word count there for a while, and there are still some issues that are bugging me and some scenes that need to be fixed (and maybe added), but I just typed “the end.” (Okay, so first I said it over on Twitter.) And despite my concerns, I reached an acceptable 84,000 words.

I’ve got a page of notes of things I want to change, and I want to go through and work on physical descriptions of people and settings (especially the weather). Sometimes I get through first drafts and it’s like this whole story has taken place in a white room with blank-faced people—or at least it could have, from how much description I’ve given.

So the tentative title is Evidence of Things Not Seen. I’m kind of happy with it, even though it does seem a little long. It parallels nicely with Duty of the Priest:

  • They’re structurally parallel: both use prepositional phrases with an ‘of’ head.
  • Both come from scripture references (Duty is a rephrasing of Doctrine and Covenants 20:46 and Evidence is somewhat obviously from Hebrews 11:1.)
  • The first words of the titles, Duty and Evidence, aside from being handy handles to toss around, are also words with strong law enforcement connotations. Appropriate for FBI-themed novels, don’t you think?

Once again, I’m off to revisions!

Revisions, Round One

Well, three months after I started the manuscript, I think I’m finally done with round one revisions on Duty of the Priest. (I have to be careful about using that working title too much; I’ll get attached and I know they’re going to change it!) My friend is done with her parallel story and I’ve spent the last three days “correlating” them—making sure that they’re consistent wherever they overlap. I’m a one-woman correlation committee 😉 .

At this point, I’ve gotten it as good as I can get it while it’s all still this “close.” So now I’m sending it off to my wonderful critique partner for feedback—and to get some distance.

And, of course, now I can really focus on the sequel.