Printed out Fast Lane today, which is kind of weird because it may be the only time it ever sees paper. Love the promise of e-publishing: Printing is such a pain in the butt.

I printed the manuscript so I can read it at a writing retreat. A retreat that will, if I want it to, offer plenty of time to write in an environment unpolluted with distractions. Not such a good idea, maybe, since I thrive when the writing environment is absolutely lousy with distractions—the byproduct of having worked as a reporter in newsrooms rich in opportunities for goofing off and shooting the shit with other reporters.

Other writers, in other words. Just the kind of people who will be at the retreat.

Of course, there were always distractions as I pounded away at the first draft of Fast Lane. Not the least of which were the pop-up ads for lady’s underthings that started showing up after I did my most-read ManWAR post, “No panties, my ass.” The computer is a veritable distraction machine.

At any rate, as much as I love writing on a computer instead of a typewriter—and yes, I had to clack away on dull, grainy newsprint in college—I have to say that seeing my words on paper puts everything into a whole new light. All kinds of things I needed to change jumped off the printed pages of my screenplay The Sky Below, making it that much easier to kill them all with a trusty, and very sharp, No. 2 pencil.

I’ve forwarded a PDF of Sky to someone who promised to look at it, and so now I cross my fingers on that one and turn my attention back to Fast Lane.

I already know lots of stuff I’m going to change, especially at the beginning, before the characters were wholly formed and weren’t talking to me as loudly as I need them to. Or, should I say, before I was listening to them as closely as I need me to.

I’m not ashamed to admit that over time I fell in love with my heroine, Lara Dixon. Don’t worry, that’s happened to me before. Dani Stahl. Anna Petrovic. Leti Washington-Gonsalves. Mary Jo knows about them all—and doesn’t seem to mind. Too much.

What’s weirder, though, is that I’ll probably be surprised at some of the things I wrote. I’ll no doubt wonder from time to time what the hell I was thinking. And I’ll most certainly roll my eyes when I happen upon vestiges of Fast Lane’s initial incarnation as an “erotic” book. I still may try to write one of those again some day, but for now, I’m very pleased about what my romance novel has evolved into.

And very eager to see what it will become. In whatever medium.

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