Tag-Archive for » Not Quite a Husband «

Happy New Year!

2011, phew.  Where did 2010 go?  I need to better chronicle my life.  I can never remember anything.

Anyway, here’s a lovely foreign cover of NOT QUITE A HUSBAND  to start the year.

I think the French like their romances set in exotic locales.  Bryony is never in native attire, if memory serves, but the Indian aspect, instead of being downplayed on the U.S. cover, is unambiguously emphasized here.

My favorite part of the cover, no doubt, is the band on the bottom that declares this book to have won the “Prize of the best historical romance of 2010.”  Hee.   The book came out in the beginning of November 2010, so I won the RITA just in time for it to be emblazoned across the cover.

In other exciting news, NQAH came in #18 in the All About Romance Top 100 Romances poll.  I am completely thrilled.  NQAH is my favorite, my own, my precioussss.  Debut books usually get all the attention so I’m really happy that NQAH, not a debut book, went so high.

As for the new books–the Fitzmaurice Trilogy–I am chugging along on pace for them.  Did a big push for book 1 in December.  So at beginning of 2011 the book is at the halfway point.  And now the story for book 2 has finally fallen into place in my head, i.e., I’ve got a grip on the hero now–no puns intended at all.  :-)

This morning, as I was reflecting on at last getting inside the hero’s head, I realized that with the exception of DELICIOUS, which was about the hero’s honor, the epiphanies PA, NQAH, and HAN have all revolve around how much the hero loves the heroine.  Also book 1 of the Fitzmaurice Trilogy, which is tentatively called An Affair with the Duke (formerly known as Fornicating with the Duke).

The crux of Book 2, however, is going to be quite a different kettle of fish.  It will be an interesting book.  Or at least it won’t be like any of my other books.  Might be dicey for readers, but it is very exciting for me as a writer so I will quit blogging and work on it some more.  :-)

A belated Happy New Year to all, and may your 2011 be a year filled with good books, good friends, comfort, love, and security.

Summer Omnibus Update

What?  Summer was over a while ago?  Well, then you know how long I’ve been meaning to write this post–as in seriously, I must write it today, come hell or high water.   Guess I can now compliment myself on being immune to both hell and high water.  :-)

So let’s see, what all happened since I last posted.

RWA Orlando

It’s always fun to attend a RWA conference. But the highlight of my conference, without a doubt, was this:

more »

German PA & Thai NQAH

And a brief coming-up-for-air update.

It was an overhaul again–HIS AT NIGHT, that is. One of those days I’d love to have only revisions but so far it’s been overhaul after overhaul. It’s still not finished yet, but it’s getting there and of course it was worth it.

Heard briefly from my fellow blogger Meredith at the end of October. She is superbusy in India but will hopefully be able to breathe easier soon. We miss you, Meredith.

And now onto the covers. :-)

more »

NQAH: A Visual Companion

UPDATED: Now with map!

Because every unfamiliar setting deserves one.  :-)  Passages in blockquote are from the book.

NOT QUITE A HUSBAND starts in Rumbur Valley, on the North-West Frontier of British India (today’s North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan) Rumbur Valley is one of the three valleys known as the Kalash Valleys, so called because of their unique Kalasha population. The Kalasha are a tribe of pagans who worship a pantheon of gods. They believe themselves to have descended from the soldiers of Alexander the Greek–and it is not unusual to find among the Kalasha fair hair and blue/green eyes. Unlike the Kafirs of Afghanistan who were forcibly converted to Islam in mid-1890s by the Amir of Kabul, the Kalash Valleys happened to fall on the British side of the Durand Line, and the Kalasha were allowed to continue in their ancient beliefs first under the British, then later under the constitution of Pakistan.

Across the stream, fields glinted a thick, bright gold in the narrow alluvial plain—winter wheat ready for harvest. Small, rectangular houses of wood and stacked stone piled one on top of another along the rising slope, like a collection of weathered playing blocks. Beyond the village, the ground elevated more rapidly, a brief stratum of walnut and apricot trees before the bones of the hills revealed themselves, austere crags that supported only dots of shrubs and an intrepid deodar or two.

Image by Yodod

Image by Yodod

more »

Red Dress-Off

red-dress-off

While I was putting together the sidebar for the new blog, I noticed that my May release and Meredith’s August release bear more than a little resemblance to each other.  They are both red dress clinches!  So of course we must have a red dress-off.

First, a little background on the books themselves.

more »

Uncritical

Toward the end of December, I took a break from emergency revisions for NOT QUITE A HUSBAND and went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I shed my first tears within moments of the beginning, when the clockmaker’s backward-turning clock was revealed, and he spoke of how he wished that time could flow back and bring back all the young men (his own son included) who had perished in the Great War.

The tone of the movie was set. From then on, I was completely and rapturously enveloped in the gentle yet unsentimental journey of a man who ages backward. I’d read other aging backward stories, most notably in Dan Simmons’ Hyperion, so I already know it is a peculiar genre that moves me. But still, I cried and cried at the end of the movie and then went home–it was like 2:30 am when I got back–and cried for another half hour. Because it touched me so. Because for me it spoke so eloquently of the fragility of life, the inexorability of death, and the gallantry of love, knowing in the end that it might not even be remembered or recognized.

But I seem to be in the minority in my uncritical love of this movie. When I’ve talked to people about it, they feel the movie was too long and rather boring at parts. My mom in particular, from whom I inherited my shallowness, complained at length that there wasn’t enough young Brad Pitt for eye candy. :-)

Now, what else do I love uncritically?

Some of you might know that I had a lot of trouble with DELICIOUS, that I had to throw out the equivalent of two entire drafts before my editor accepted the third version. (I am, without a doubt, the best edited writer in all of romance–bar none.) When I received the first final copies of DELICIOUS hot off the press, I sat down and read it through–for probably the very first time, since before that I always had to make changes. My verdict? “Powerful but imperfect,” as I wrote in an email to my editor, vowing to keep the powerful but get rid of the imperfect with my next book.

Some of you might also know that I had some major trouble with NOT QUITE A HUSBAND in the home stretch–namely, I sent it in and my editor sent it back with a few choice words that had me wander around my house shellshocked for half a day or so before I pulled myself together to redo the book in the three weeks. (Otherwise my pub date would have to be moved back to 2010.)

Having gone through three drafts with DELICIOUS, getting a sucky draft sent back shouldn’t be anything new for me, right?

Well, it was a new experience. Each time I handed in a not-okay draft of DELICIOUS, I sort of knew that it wasn’t okay. The first time I actually prayed that my editor wouldn’t hate it too much–she did, and I wasn’t too surprised.

This time I was really, really shocked. Even after I’d rewritten and resubmitted and had my new version accepted, I couldn’t stop wondering about it. Why was my assessment of the original version of NOT QUITE A HUSBAND so diametrical from that of my editor’s? The ability to judge one’s own work is an important quality to have for a writer, especially a professional writer. And I’d thought that I’d finally acquired that ability.

Then I read the new version of NOT QUITE A HUSBAND in anticipation of the line edit and the copy edits. I cried–and cried and cried. It dawned on me finally that NOT QUITE A HUSBAND, even the much-flawed original version, was just like Benjamin Button for me.

Have you ever read a book that hurts so good that you lose all critical faculties? A book of deep lovely pain that make you feel with such intensity and rawness that you cannot grade it on any objective measure, because you don’t care, because it just knocks you out in all the right ways?

That is NOT QUITE A HUSBAND for me. Me, not my editor, fortunately. The book as it originally stood had a couple of significant structural weaknesses which I completely ignored because I was an emotion junkie getting her fix with the rest of the story. My clear-eyed editor pointed them out and made me fix them.

And the new version gets to me even more.

It feels unsettling, almost, to speak of a book of my own that way. And I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I could very well end up in the minority here, as NOT QUITE A HUSBAND is not an easy story, nor does it have a secondary romance to lighten things up from time to time. But it is, in a way, a marvelous experience, to write something that jives with me so much that I’m utterly blind to its faults, that upon reading it I am incapable of anything but teary-eyed happiness.

The rest of you, prepare to be sorely disappointed. :-)

Updated NOT QUITE A HUSBAND Cover

And here it is. Bigger, bolder, with a better tan on him and a fuller head of hair on her. (I specifically requested more hair on her, since her hair actually begins and ends the story, in a way. In fact, I requested a great deal more of hair on her–I wanted the old fashioned, will-engulf-small-villages-and-smother-unsuspecting-farm-animal kind of ginormous hair. But I was shot down, because the art department said that much hair might make the cover look muddy. :-P)

Not Quite a Husband Update

The good news is I have a rough first draft. The bad news is that I still have to write the bulk of the secondary romance and that the 2nd half of the rough draft is truly skeletal. So much work still remains, but oh boy, does this book have a fantastic epilogue. :-)

And here is the preliminary cover design for NQAH.

The cover isn’t final. The border might go, since it juxtaposes rather weirdly with the rest of the image. The background color might change to make the red pop more. The art department thinks the cover will feel bolder and sexier if the couple take the whole cover. And I’m all for it. I write pretty darn sexy stuff. And my previous covers, although gorgeous, didn’t reflect The Hawt.

So just a little news before I hunker down and go back to work. Until then, everybody vote! (And yes, I did already.)

The September Offensive

The official due date for NOT QUITE A HUSBAND is end of the year. But because DELICIOUS required such enormous and pervasive rewrites, I told my editor that I would have the first draft of NQaH on her desk by the end of September, to give us three months to fix it, should it too be catastrophically off-track the way the first draft for DELICIOUS had been.

I have about 25-26k right now–need to delete most of what I wrote yesterday, therefore the uncertainty. So I’m looking at minimun 2000 words per day to finish the darn thing. Feel free to bet that my editor wouldn’t see anything until the first week of October is over–that’s just how I roll. But I do honor my deadlines in an approximate fashion so I will be going after it.

To make sure I’m honest, I’m going to post daily (probably) updates here.

In the meanwhile, here’s a recipe addendum to DELICIOUS, in case you are hungry. :-)

September 1: The word count stands at 27k exact at the end of day. I spent most of it writing in the master bathroom (where most of Delicious was written, and you’d have thought it would have been the kitchen, wouldn’t you?), while His Hawtness spent a lot of quality time with the kidlets.

September 2: 27,500 words. Spent most of the time kidlets were in school getting together a mailing list for the published author network of my local RWA chapter. Need to do better tomorrow.

September 3: 28,800 words. Did do better, but not by that much. My favorite way to write is to have a 14 hour day and spend the first five or six hours doing nothing, and then get alarmed as the end of the day approaches and start typing. Alas, can only do that when the kids are away at Grandma’s. 2nd graders have to be picked up five minutes after they’ve walked to school, it seems.

September 4: 1,200 words progress; total, 30,000. Not impressive, but okay considering that most of my day was spent following politics, which I haven’t looked at since 2006, and most of my evening spent having fun at The PHADE.

September 5: 2000 words progress; 32,000 total. His Hawtness came home early in the pm and picked up junior kidlet from school. Then Mom had the kids for the evening. So I got my 14 hour day.

September 6: Eked out 1000 words; 33,000 total. Usually after a good writing day I’d be totally chillin’. But I guess this public reporting is making me stick to my goal better than I otherwise would. Not sure how much of everything I’d be keeping in the end. But this story in the middle sections has an actual external plot–H/H have to get from place A to place B in time for big trouble at place B–so it is the external plot that is moving.

Interestingly enough, I had several days of awful time moving the story forward–see the bit at the top of the post about having to delete most of what I wrote on 8/31. And that was because I was stuck trying to sketch something of a big picture of the political situation of the Northwest Frontier of India (today North West Frontier Province in Pakistan) in the summer of 1897, right before the lid blew off. You’d think that with all the information already at my fingertips, I’d have no trouble doing a bit of a summary. But no matter how I summarized it, it was boring, boring, boring.

Long time ago, when I listened to the commentary on Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the editor talked the big battle at Helm’s Deep, a few hundred men and Elves against ten thousand Urukhai. Their first cut of the battle was 28 minutes. And they thought it was awesome. So they expanded it a few minutes and expanded it a few more minutes. But with each expansion the fight became flabbier and less interesting. Their revelation? Just a battle, no matter how well shot, does not interest people. They had to keep the focus tightly on the protagonists and never leave them for more than a few seconds.

That’s a similar lesson I’m learning here. By itself, the danger that my H/H face isn’t interesting, even as we move toward the big fecal-matter-hitting-oscillating-mechanical-device moment in terms of the external plot, it still must be the conflict in their relationship that dominate the narrative.

September 7: 700 words today; 33,700 total. Writing barebones scenes can only take me so far. At some point, I lose my grip on my characters. I miss the little details that actually make a scene, and I cannot dig as deep into their hearts when I have not been dealing with their emotions, only their actions. So I took off much of the day to potter around the house, cleaning up stuff and cooking. Tomorrow I will be revisiting the half-scene I wrote today to put in paint on the wall and a rug on the floor, so to speak, cuz right now it’s just all bare plaster and concrete.

September 9: Aha, I took Sep 8 off totally. Read Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed instead. It’s my favorite kind of nonfiction, informative AND entertaining, with a strong narrative. (And besides, disaster stories have a certain fascination of their own.) Will have to read Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies next.

Yesterday sort of got back into the groove. Progress: 700. Total: 34,400. I can truly say even when I’m working, I’m not blowing anyone away. :-)

September 10: Progress, 1,200; total, 35,600. It is the kind of day where I actually ran out of hours in the day, what with running errands and kids homework and what not. I stopped at a very easy point. So should resume tomorrow without much problem.

September 11: Very decent day of writing. Progress, 1,600; total, 37,200. And I got to chat with Janine. And I surf around a bit. And I did homework with the junior kidlet. And I went to sleep at 10:30. Tomorrow might be less productive with Ike breathing down our Texas. Would be cooking most of the perishables we have in the freezer in case electricity went out. Was in Baton Rouge when Andrew landed in Louisiana and we were without electricity for three days.

September 12: 600 words; 37,800 total. Spent a lot of time looking at Ike stuff–like I need to feed my already chronic case of blog-titis. Then cooked a few things to last us the weekend should power go out. Chances are nothing much would come to Austin, Hurricanes tend to turn east when they hit land, and Austin is way west of the Galveston-Houston area.

Had a thought today. The kind of historical romance I like to read and write is sort of analogous to old-fashioned painting, sometimes even like miniature portraits that require a lot of precision and very fine brush strokes. But when I try to go really fast, as I do right now, it feels like I’m pouring buckets of paint on canvas. Or rather, to borrow another analogy, the story as it currently stands is like an impressionist painting: okay when you look at it from a distance, a mess up close!

September 13-14: Progress, 2,200; total, 40,000. Yay, finally moved into a new 10k band. And I did something I rarely do. I jumped forward a couple of scenes to write a crucial turning point scene–again, thanks to that scaffolding of external plot.

As for Ike, it didn’t even touch Austin. A bit of breeze and no rain at all–we put out our wash in the backyard as we usually do. But it looks like the situation on some part of the TX gulf coast might be dire. Best hopes to minimal damages and the swift return to normalcy.

September 15: Progress, 900; total, 40,900. Good review day. Bad review day. The Chicago Tribune liked DELICIOUS. Mrs. Giggles did not like PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. I am relieved she didn’t review PA when it first came out. I used to get much more affected by a negative review than I do now–if I came across a bad review then I’d spend the rest of the day googling anxiously. Yesterday I said “Oh well, maybe next time,”–cuz you gotta give Mrs. Giggles credit, she does give authors second and third chances, unlike moi–cooked dinner, and then went back to writing.

September 24: I had a blast on tour. Account coming soon. Now must stop most other kinds of voluntary online activities. Not Quite a Husband has just been given a June 2009 pub date. And it’s only half-done. So I’m freaking out and will be going underground any minute now. (Don’t worry, freaking out does good things for me.) :-)