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.
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.
Looks familiar? Yep, Courtney Milan’s UNCLAIMED.