Monkey See, Monkey Do

Less than two months between blog posts?  Boy, I am on a roll. 😛

I’ve been busy.

The last blog post was written while I was waiting for edits to come back for “A Dance in Moonlight,” my entry in Midnight Scandals.  Then they came back and my story needed lots of work.  Of course.  At this point, if I turn in a first draft and the response is, This is awesome and we can go directly to line edits, I will probably demand smelling salts.

So I revised.  Then I revised again.  Then, after we’d already locked the manuscript, I begged Courtney Milan to please let me have a go at the last three chapters yet again because, well, I’m like that.  Thankfully Courtney is like that too and she let me.

After having at last revised the story to my satisfaction, I experienced twenty-four hours of sublime happiness.  Then God decided to make me even happier.  How?  Have you ever heard of that old Turkish/Arabic saying, How does God make a poor man happy?  He makes him lose his donkey and finds it again.

So after my twenty-four hours of sublime happiness, I learned that because we’d done pre-order links for Amazon and Apple, we might not be able to swap out the files until the links become live, i.e., until after the folks who’d pre-ordered receive the older version of the book, with those pre-final-revision last three chapters.  I sank into a deep funk.  What was I going to do?  I’d probably have to take out ads everywhere and tell every person who pre-ordered to send me an email so I can send them the correct files.  But what about those readers who’d have finished my story before I can give them the correct files?  I’d have wasted their time with something that’s less than my best.  I’d have let them down. I’d have…

The self-torment went on and on.

And then, as it turned out, Lori, the digital liaison at the Nelson Agency, was able to get her contact at Amazon to swap out the files.  And then she repeated the miracle and got it changed at Apple, also before the link went live.  Everybody got the right files.  And I held on hard to my dear old donkey, lost but now found, and all but floated away in grateful joy.

After that, it was immediately onto The Bride of Larkspear, which I found easy to write. But that didn’t translate into a good first draft either.  My editor, Tiffany Yates Martin, rightfully pointed it out that it was concentrated too much on the physical side of things.  Where were the emotions?  Where was the character building?  Where was the background so that a reader who hasn’t read Tempting the Bride, or indeed any book of the Fitzhugh Trilogy, could still understand the dynamic?

Ack!  What?  You mean it has to be like a real story?  I’ve probably said this before, though I’m not sure anyone believes me since my books tend to be so angst-ridden: I actually find emotions the most difficult thing to write, almost impossible on some days.  I have to feel it before I can write it and sometimes I just can’t get my head in the right place, so I end up playing time management games like mad instead.

Luckily for me, Tiffany provided a detailed road map on how to get there.  I clung to her directions like a mountain climber to her main line.  As I revised, I could feel my enthusiasm for the story skyrocket.  Not that I didn’t like it before, but now I really relished it.  That is always, always a good sign.

But coming up with a draft I’m happy with isn’t the end of my work, as it had been on Midnight Scandals.  On the anthology Courtney had done all the post-production work, formatting, converting, whatnot.  Had I budgeted my time better, or simply informed Lori, Nelson Agency’s digital liaison, of my plans earlier, Lori would have taken care of all this for me.

As it was, I was facing a huge time crunch, so I decided to do the formatting myself.

When I say myself, I mean, with at my disposal a ton of tools Courtney had developed .  She had pointed me to a terrific tutorial, handed me a bunch of scripts she’d written that would do a lot of the heavy-lifting in converting Word to html, and given her permission for me to lift wholesale the css and html she’d used for Midnight Scandals. (Not to mention her template for CreateSpace POD books.)

Seriously, all I did was climbing onto her shoulders.  Yet I am absurdly proud of myself.  I made a pretty ebook!  Squee!

See, absurdly proud.

(I’d taught myself some rudimentary css & html years ago, when I coded my first website.  It didn’t take me long to decide such things ought to be left to the professionals.  But boy, am I glad I still remember bits and pieces of what I’d learned.)

You might wonder why the heck was I in such a hurry to do everything.  Well, various reasons. But the main reason was that I believed I was leaving historical romance for the foreseeable future, and wanted everything wrapped up nice and neat before I dive into the second and third book of the YA fantasy trilogy.

Now, however, I’m not quite as sure.  I would like to write at least one more historical romance, a story that feels kind of like Private Arrangements, not in the sense of reunited lovers, but in the sense of an alpha-alpha pairing.  I’ve never been able to quite write another one like it and I want to.  I’d like her to always have a rifle in her hand, and maybe put them somewhere remote and dangerous.

We will see.  In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy both Tempting the Bride and The Bride of Larkspear.


10 thoughts on “Monkey See, Monkey Do

  1. woohoo! although these three books have been published with shorter times between them than usual, i still couldn’t wait for each one to come out! and when you announced that the Erotica novella that Hastings wrote for Helena was a real full-length novella… omg, omg, omg! so excited! hahaha

    Please don’t ever stop writing historicals forever! lots of hearts will break … 🙁 for now, however, i have Tempting the Bride to look forward to… yay! and then i’ll just have to go back and re-read all your books while i wait for your next one…. ;-p

    Your Devoted Reader,

    • Stopping altogether, unlikely. But having 5 releases a year? Hope you enjoyed it cuz that might not happen again for a long, long time, if at all. 🙂

      And thank you for all your kind words.

  2. That’s a really interesting how-it-got-there story!

    Also, like Brisa, I implore you not to leave grown-up romance forever! Pleeeeeeeeease don’t! Although I do understand you need inspiration to write them…

  3. I’ve been wallowing in TWO releases within a week of each other–this will probably never happen again. I was not sure what to expect of Larkspear but wow–it was amazing. What was so exciting about it was that the whole time you are reading it you realize that Hastings is working out in his mind how he would bring Helena around to loving him and you know that he’s given her this manuscript which opens up all his heart to her and it’s sitting in her drawer and she’s not reading all of it (at least she’s not in the 25% of Tempting I’ve read so far.)

    How was it writing erotica? It’s so different than the love scenes you write in your other books. But it was still easy to tell you were writing it because the characters were still thinking and reacting in a truthful way, and the scenes all led up to a satisfying conclusion.

    I haven’t even finished Tempting (kids are at school, free schedule this morning–yippie!) but I can tell Hastings is going to be one of my very favorites. I can’t remember seeing so much of the hero’s POV in your stories like I do with him. He kills me. He’s so real–how often do we get in a groove of treating people in a certain way and just don’t know how to break out and show how we really feel? It’s so sad, and I’m rooting for him to get his HEA so much.

    Also, I’m so torn–I’m so happy to have Tempting, and I’m SO sad that this is the end of the series and that we won’t have anything new in romance from you in a while. Please don’t leave us–we need you! There’s nothing out there like what you do, and I can’t believe you’ve exhausted your creativity in this category, especially with all the new thing you have been trying this year. Hopefully I don’t sound too whiny–but whaaaaaa!!

    Thank you for everything you’ve put out this year–I’ve loved it all. 🙂

    • It was GREAT to write Larkspear. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was lining it up with all the snippets that I’d written earlier, as, unmodified, they did not fit properly into the narrative. And I really didn’t want to modify them at first, because well, I can’t change text in Tempting–or Ravishing–anymore. But in the end, I decided what the heck, if Hastings is a self-respecting writer he revises. And we will just have to consider this version of Larkspear a later draft than what he gave to Helena. 🙂

  4. Hi, Sherry –

    I can’t wait to read the new book. I plan to read Tempting first, then I’ll get your two novellas.

    I laughed when you said you had to feel it before you can write it. Next time you have an argument with your husband, just tell him it’s research for a possible new book. (BTW, I hope your husband is fully recovered by now.)

    Finally, I was wondering if you can clarify your blog post. Are you saying that you are enjoying YA so much that you’re moving away from historicals or do you mean you just don’t have a contract for a new historical series yet? Since you stated you may only have one more historical in you, it sounds more like the former.

  5. I would love to read about a heroine with a rifle in her hand. I adored Annie Oakley (ancient, obscure b/w tv show; Annie and her little brother Tagg lived in the town of Diablo and kept varmints from putting down roots) when I was a wee kidlet. Here’s hoping you write another historical. If not, here’s hoping you include a rifle-toting heroine in your YA series.

    This weekend is as soon as I can get to either Midnight Scandals or Tempting the Bride – Real Life has been quite demanding and pushy lately, and I want to be able to concentrate and savor 🙂

    • The YA heroine doesn’t need guns as she can command the elements. But I am totally up for including guns in the book. As much as I love Harry Potter, in book 7, when they were stuck hiding in the woods and had nothing more than a wizard radio w/ bad reception, I kept thinking, just get a smart phone, Harry, just get a smart phone. 🙂 So I am all for taking advantage of muggle technology in my fantasies.

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