Boy, Where Have I been–Otherwise Known as Long, Rambling Post

First up, a good cause.  If you love the romance genre and love the romance community and want to see it portrayed with depth and affection, take a look at documentary filmmaker Laurie Kahn’s showreel at Kickstarter.  I am a backer.

Now, about where I’ve been. Usually I will at least make a chirp here when I have a book coming out.  Notice there was no such announcement for RAVISHING THE HEIRESS, a book I love dearly, no less.

It has been a heck of a busy summer.  In the first six month of the year, I wrote TEMPTING THE BRIDE four times.  We moved during the last rewrite, because the last rewrite should have been completed months before.  Of course.  I then spent three weeks getting the old house ready to rent–the thought of those weeks still make my legs quake.

At the beginning of July, after a brief family vacation, during which I did galleys for TEMPTING, the kids left for Grandma’s.  His Hawtness and I, wasting no time, headed for San Diego, where he was needed for a project for three weeks.  We’d planned to work a lot and take a lot of walks on the beaches.  But barely twenty-four hours after we landed, His Hawtness fell and broke a couple of transverse lumbars, which necessitated  a trip to the emergency room followed by three days in the hospital.

Our first roommate in the trauma ward was a cheerful gentleman who just had knee replacement surgery.  He wore it out playing hockey and plans to get back on the ice as soon as he gets used to the new knee.  After he was discharged, however, our next roommate was a homeless gentleman who had been beat up for $24 and brought to the hospital as a John Doe.  That rather put everything in perspective.

But His Hawtness always did have the proper perspective.  Yes, it was a stroke of bad luck.  But he feels that it was also a stroke of terrific luck, as I am usually not there with him when he traveled.  Had he fallen down without me around, he reasoned, he’d have been in much more trouble, as he wouldn’t have been able to get to the phone and might not be found hurt until the hotel housekeeping came the next day.

As it was, we were together throughout and that is indeed something to be thankful about.

While he was hospitalized, I cancelled my RWA Nationals registration: It looked as if he would need round-the-clock attention for a very long time.  And it still looked that way his first couple of days out of the hospital.  Then came the rapid, fantastic improvements.  One day he needed the walker, the next day he didn’t.  One day he could only walk up stairs, but not come down; the next day he walked up and came down.  Ten days after he went to the emergency room, he went to work.

When he was first hurt, we lamented that instead of working as soon as we arrived in San Diego, we should have gone to the beach instead.  I was pretty sure the beach would be out of the question afterwards.  But in the end, we walked on not one but two beaches–including Black’s Beach, the access road to which is steep and winding–and enjoyed some gorgeous sunsets over the Pacific.  (Walking, by the way, was universally recommended as the best thing for his recovery.)

We came back home at the end of July.  Now he drives himself, brings home grocery–though he is careful about not lifting anything heavy–washes dishes and even cooks.    🙂  He is going to physical therapy twice a week to regain his full range of motion–and looks forward to doing yoga and running again.

While I wasn’t running around nursemaiding–and a great deal of the time I wasn’t, since His Hawtness is so independent–I finished my entry in the MIDNIGHT SCANDALS anthology, which also features contributions by Courtney Milan and Carolyn Jewel, and will be out August 27, 2012.

Here is the lovely cover Courtney designed.

I call this book the Fitzhugh Trilogy Book 2.3, as my novella features the story of Isabelle from Ravishing the Heiress.

After losing her childhood sweetheart to another woman, Isabelle Englewood is heartbroken.  But then something remarkable happens: She meets Ralston Fitzwilliam, who looks almost exactly like the man she cannot have.  Will this lead to an affair she regrets in the morning, or a wonderful new beginning to the rest of her life?

A pre-order link is not available yet, since we are self-pubbing this.  But we’ve been told by our agent (this is an all Nelson Agency collaboration) that we might get one after August 20.  That’s not much before the official release date but I guess that’s something.

I also did a round of edits on my young adult fantasy.

I haven’t talked much about the YA at all on this blog, not out of any particular sense of secrecy, but because 1) 4 rewrites for TEMPTING! 2) the pub date of the YA fantasy isn’t until fall 2013, and 3) not only does it not have a cover yet, for the longest time it didn’t even have an official title.

But now I’m pretty it will be called THE BURNING SKY.

So how did the book come about?

I never intended to write YA.  I knew the market was hot, but the last time I wanted to be a children’s writer was when I was in fifth grade.  Once I came of age, I didn’t regularly read children’s/YA books, except those that crossed over to the mainstream, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Twilight, etc.

From time to time, I did say to myself, it would be nice to write something Sr. Kidlet would like, something more action adventure-y.  But I never had any real ideas.

Then at the beginning of 2009, I received an email from Kristin Nelson, my agent.  She’d just had lunch with a children’s editor who enjoyed my romances and who wondered if I would be interested in writing YA.  I wrote back and said to please thank her for the interest and tell her that I am mulling over ideas.

I didn’t–there were no ideas to mull over.  My brain is either on or off and it was definitely off for YA.  Then a few months later, Kristin emailed again and said she’d received a follow up note from the editor, hoping to read a YA submission from me some day.

That very afternoon, as I was walking toward Costco, a line dropped into my head.  On the night I was born, stars fell.  

That was pretty crazy.  Stories usually come to me with a conflict attached, not an opening line.  Throughout the rest of 2009, between balls-to-the-wall rewrites for HIS AT NIGHT, I tried to figure out why stars fell–a meteor storm–and why it mattered.

The moment HIS AT NIGHT was done, I jumped into the YA.   This was the beginning of 2010, during most of which I was not under contract for historical romances.  I’d seen my friends getting YA contracts on proposal, so I thought I’d try the same thing.

I sent a bunch of chapters to Kristin, she said, um, no.  I rewrote the chapters, sent them back in, um, still no.  It was a pretty darn steep learning curve, trying to figure out how much of a big story to put in book 1, how to worldbuild without overtaking everything else and–this astonished me most of all–how to write a girl character with some depth.  I never thought I’d have a problem in that department, but oy, I struggled here, largely because even though she is the one born on the night the stars fell, the boy character is the one whose goals and circumstances drive this particular segment of the overall story.

And the opening.  Lawd.  I’ve had stories where I struggled with the opening–DELICIOUS  needed five.  But with this one I stopped counting after about a dozen or so.

It wasn’t until November of 2011 that Kristin finally said, yes, I will send this book out on submission.  At which point I said to His Hawtness, I hope she makes enough in commission on this sale to cover the six times she had to read and comment on this manuscript, two times as proposal and four times as fulls!

The book sold early in 2012 as book 1 of a trilogy, to Donna Bray at Balzer+Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins Children.  And she has had some tremendous insights.  So even for a book that has already undergone six drafts, there is still significant room for improvement.

(That original opening line also didn’t make it.  And the book is in third person, not first person.)

What is the book about, you ask?  Let me give  you the opening paragraphs.

Just before the start of Summer Half, 1883, a very minor event took place at Eton College, that venerable and illustrious English public school for boys.  A sixteen-year-old student named Archer Fairfax returned from a three-month absence, caused by a fractured femur, to resume his education. 

Amost every word in the preceding sentence is false.  Archer Fairfax had not suffered a broken limb.  He had never before set foot in Eton.  His name was not Archer Fairfax.  And he was, in fact, not even a he. 

This is the story of a girl who fooled a thousand boys, a boy who fooled an entire country, a partnership that would change the fate of realms, and a power to challenge the greatest tyrant the world had ever known.

Expect magic.

And cross-dressing too, obviously.  🙂

I call it a reverse Harry Potter, young wizards attending a muggle school, and plotting the overthrow of the dark lord from there.  Senior Kidlet started reading the story early in 2010 and fell for it right away, much to my delight and surprise, since the story was still kind of a blob then.  He has since read every draft several times and is waiting with baited breath to evangelize his schoolmates about the book.  I have to say, I enjoy having a fanboy.  🙂  And since I wanted to write something he would enjoy, well, that’s a life goal accomplished.

The rest of the summer will be spent editing A DANCE IN MOONLIGHT, my novella in MIDNIGHT SCANDALS, then work begins on book 2 of the YA fantasy trilogy, due March of next year.  I also intend to self-pub THE BRIDE OF LARKSPEAR, which folks who have read RAVISHING THE HEIRESS might recognize as the naughty story Hastings wrote for Helena, hopefully before TEMPTING THE BRIDE comes out.

Before I go, it has been a while since I blogged, so–you know it–here are some foreign covers.  🙂

Indonesian Not Quite a Husband


Portuguese His at Night


German His at Night

Looks familiar?  Yep, Courtney Milan’s UNCLAIMED.

Indonesian His at Night

23 thoughts on “Boy, Where Have I been–Otherwise Known as Long, Rambling Post

  1. Oh my heck–I knew there was a good reason you’ve been so quiet this summer! Your poor husband–ouch! I’m glad to hear he is doing so well–I feel that we have great hospitals down here in SD and it sounds like he got good care. Hard to be away from home when serious things like that happen, though.

    I was one of the few who didn’t read Harry Potter, but I can’t wait to read your YA books and pass them on to my kids. I can be a trend-starter! They need a new series to get interested in–the last thing that they and all their friends read was the Hunger Games and it’s been pretty quiet since then. (My oldest daughter is going to college in a couple weeks and has been reading ahead to get ready, so no pleasure reading for her for a bit. )

    I’m sure you were very missed at the RWA conference–I was very sad–as it was so amazing to have all those fantastic authors sitting just a table-width away and you were not at one of them. But I did get a little bookmark with Midnight Scandals on it from Courtney and that made me happy. I am looking forward to that anthology very much and hopefully I can forgive Isabella for causing Millie extra heartache–I wanted to smack her several times in RtH. 😉

    Anyway, welcome back and I’m glad things are at least not in emergency mode though it sounds like you are still very busy– but in good ways! 🙂

    • Our hotel was in Mira Mesa so he went to Scripps Memorial, which turned out to be a very good hospital–and in network. Phew.

      LOL, poor Isabelle. If anyone is to blame, it’s prolly me. I like my heartache strong and undiluted–in a book that is.

      I’d appreciate any pimping you can give THE BURNING SKY. I think it’s a good story well told, and I would love a wide audience for it.

      • Both my kids were born at Scripps La Jolla–good place 🙂 I was actually born there too, come to think of it! We live about 30 minutes away.

        Isabelle felt Fitz was hers for good reason and if I put myself in her shoes I understand. Especially when Fitz kept repeating he would love her until he died. 😉 But RtH was all about Millie and I loved her so much. The scene when she gets out of the carriage at the train station…etc. just kills me. That’s the height of my Isabelle hating in the book. I’m looking forward to liking her more soon.

  2. Hi, Sherry –

    I’m glad to hear your husband is on the mend. I assumed he had fallen on the streets of San Diego. Since it was in your hotel room there must be an interesting story behind that. Please don’t say he simply tripped answering the door.

    I just read an interview you did about RtH in which you discussed the influence of The Burning Sky in penning Millie and Fitz as minors. I really enjoyed that aspect of the story. It allowed the them to mature together yet remain incredibly young when they finally got their HEA.

    I just finished a re-read and enjoyed the story so much. I think Millie is one of your best heroines. You also managed to make Isabelle the atypical other woman. She didn’t scheme to get Fitz back or do anything underhanded to keep him. When Fitz broke it off with her, Isabelle wished him well. That must make it easier to create a story for her.

    Finally, you left something out of your blog post. Was the editor that was interested in reading your YA, the same person who signed you? It also sounds like your agent really pushes you to produce your best effort and grow as a writer. That makes you quite a team.

    • His poor Hawtness fell out of the bathtub and hit the toilet on the way down, almost no better than tripping on the way to answer the front door!

      I’ve always felt that Isabelle was probably the unluckiest of the three main protagonists in RAVISHING, so I’ve always had this sympathy for her and you are right, that does make it easier to create a story for her. (Though, alas, that story is no easier to execute than anything else I’ve written.) 🙂

      The original editor who wanted to see me in YA passed on the story and the book actually sold to a colleague of hers at the same house, but a different imprint. And yes, I can’t say enough good things about my agent, who has great taste, great business acumen, and a directness that is never unkind. The agency recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and she has a great post about it here.

      • Ouch. That sounds so painful. He must have been in good shape to bounce back so quickly.

        That was an interesting blog post by your agent. Thanks for the link.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s accident. But I am very glad to hear he’s on the mend.

    Ever since I read an interview where you’d mentioned you had sold a YA I’ve been looking to see what it was about. Sadly I found out nothing. So I’m thrilled you’ve written a blog post where some details of the YA are mentioned. It sounds fabulous. I’m completely sold.

    And I cannot wait to read TEMPTING THE BRIDE. (I know the pain of rewriting and starting a book over and over again until it feels just right, but I’m sure TTB will be awesome.)

    • Awesome is in the judgment of the reader, so we’ll have to see how TEMPTING connects.

      I’d mentioned THE BURNING SKY at a number of various venues, so I figured it was prolly time to mentioned at my own place. 🙂

  4. I am so sorry to hear that your husband was badly injured, but I am also very glad to hear of his quick recovery! I look forward to reading the next book in the Fitzhugh trilogy, your YA endeavors, and the self published books. 🙂

  5. As I said via email the other day, it is so good to hear that your other half is on the mend. Also, I love the title The Burning Sky. And that opening, which wasn’t in the drafts I read.

    • I’m glad you like the title. It was a huge endeavor. The length of the list compiled, you have no idea.

      You read full draft #2. It was full draft #4 that went on submission. So a good number of changes, including almost all your recommendations.

  6. Sherry, zomg. What a summer. I’m so glad His Hawtness is doing well and that you even got a celebrating-his-recovery walk on the beach. Hope he continues to recover well.

    As for your books: wheeee! Isabelle’s story sounds so intriguing. I look forward to her story–and a month(ish) later, to Helena’s. And the beginning of THE BURNING SKY? Love it. Congratulations, ma’am.

    • LOL, personally, I have wondered whether I’m off my meds. Amnesia and now identical looking men? I’ve gone Bollywood with the latter, to be sure.

      The beginning of THE BURNING SKY is probably one of those 13th time is the charm thing. 🙂 I kept wondering why I was having so much trouble w/ it. Then I realized it was because none of the other openings I attempted were omniscient, and an omniscient POV opening just suits my voice better.

  7. Young whippersnappers can get so much more done than old, gimpy folks. I’m in awe of your summer activities and am SO looking forward to the novella and the anticipated war between Helena and Hastings (it will be a bit of a war, won’t it? Oh please, oh please)!

  8. Oh Sherry, I knew about this from your last message, but my god woman, this recitation is far worse regarding your trials and tribulation! I just sent you a FB message to say how much I love the cover on Tempting. Again, I did not realize what a terrible time you had with it.

    I hope you were able to go to Coronado Beach and enjoy an adult beverage or three at the Hotel Del. My favorite beach. Interesting that my son is stationed there for home port and recently got an apartment at Imperial Beach.

    As regards “His Hawtness”, I am astonished at his recovery! It is almost miraculous. Seriously. Whatever JuJu he has, I want some! Although, something tells me it is “youth” and mine is long gone.

    I have your last two books to read this week. I’m behind on my reading schedule.

    HUGE hugs to you Sherry and your munchkins.

    If you go back to San Diego in the next year, let me know. I think my munchkin can arrange to take you on an interesting tour.

    • I took my mom to Coronado Beach two years ago, when she visited SD while we were there. Such a pretty place.

      And I might just take you up on your offer. His Hawtness is determined to give me another summer in SD, this time w/o injuries. 🙂

      And hope you are recovering well from surgery. His Hawtness did not take to any of the pain meds he was given. Hated all of them, frankly. Hope you like yours better.

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