It’s odd for me to think at times in just a few weeks I’ll mark the fourth anniversary of that first “yes” coming to my inbox. While four years is in no way a lifelong career by most standards, it seems quite an accomplishment in my book because they’ve been four years filled with learning, and anyone who knows me knows I’m a lifelong learner.
And sometimes, that learning has to come in the form of knowing when to reboot.
My first “yes” came from a small publisher out of Tennessee whose doors sadly closed earlier this year as is the way I’ve watched many small publishers go the past few months. It is sad. Those doors not only close on a business, they close on someone’s dreams—often times they close on the dreams of many. While the press could in no way control the events (which I am not privy to in any way, shape, or form) leading to the decision to stop operations, it left several authors adrift and their dreams scattered on the winds of change. My works had found other homes before the closing by my choice not by chance as I’d pulled them in an effort to improve their quality.
My third “yes” came from a reputable press from the western US and it was with great pride I sent them a creation which met its match with an editor who I credit a least in part my knowing when to reboot to. That was the point I cemented my belief in quality over quantity any day. I worked really hard at fixing the problems littering the manuscript, but alas, perfection is an elusive creature and while I had improved greatly, I still had a long, long, long way to go.
In the interim, my career started a wide left turn from my original path of career choice. You see, in the beginning I was a straight up contemporary romance girl—no kink, no frills, no fuss. I liked it that way, my readers seemed happy, but the draw of the shiny thing known as the latest fad drew my attention and I soon found myself trapped within its lure. That’s when the BDSM novels started to fly off my keyboard and my life plan as a writer spun off somewhere into the darkness. But it wasn’t irretrievable. Thank goodness!
After a fairly successful run with my Identity series, I started to long for the calmer waters I’d left and sat down to take a serious assessment of what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong. I completely enjoyed and still enjoy writing the kinky characters I grew to know and love as did my readers, but that wasn’t what I originally set out to do. Then the unthinkable happened. My niece who recently reached the “age” asked me if she could read my books. Horror of horrors! Absolutely not, my beautiful niece of all of thirteen, not now not ever!
It’s a sobering experience when you realize what you’re doing isn’t something you’re so proud of you’d let your niece read it even in her adulthood which is years away.
It was while I was in this period of self-analysis when the words stopped and I wondered if they’d ever return, I started looking at my backlist and realizing the growth as a writer I’d always striven for was happening and some of my earlier works could definitely use some brushing up if not complete overhauling. That seemed like a place to jump start. Fix what was broken then maybe something new would come across my screen.
My third “yes” caught my eye. I went to my Kindle and opened it, and I began to read. Tears, laughter, embarrassment…They all collided for an emotional reunion with Madi and Rafe as I realized just how far from perfect their story was and just how hard my editor had tried to teach me things that only later made sense. Things I could now easily fix and make a good story something closer to great.
Point of view? What was that? She’d tried to tell me, but in my inexperience I’d failed to completely absorb the concept. Commas? Oh dear… Chapter breaks, descriptive dialogue tags, character development, plot holes… The list went on and on. After a series of emails with my editor and the owner of the press, I was able to attain the rights to the work back and after weeks which had turned to months of idleness at the keyboard, my muse came home. Not the naughty muse who’d taken over in her high heel boots and corset, but the girl-next-door muse with her hair in a ponytail and her reading glasses sliding down her nose.
For weeks I ripped at, restructured, rebuilt, and sanded away at what is now titled One Tear. There is not a single incidence of head-hopping, the commas seem to be under control, the chapters are restructured, the plot is clean, the characters are more fully developed, and there are over 15,000 words of brand new content. And…there is a completely different ending.
In short, it’s a much better work. One I am proud of. One my initial readers have said they don’t even recognize as the same story aside from names (and they mean it in a completely good way). One I will let my niece read someday.
There is no shame in knowing when to back up and assess then act on that assessment. Redirection and refocus is a beautiful thing, a humbling thing. Knowing when to reboot truly shows growth.
One Tear will release January 3, 2014, I hope you’ll all join me in celebrating this triumphant moment with me…and don’t be afraid to reboot. You’ll know when it’s time. It’s hard to relent, but once you do, it’s a very freeing experience.
Have a realmantic day, y’all!
Living just outside an Army base in the Midwest meant Madison Melbourne grew up around soldiers by the thousands. While they were a constant in her life, she never envisioned herself filling the role of Army wife. Until Gage came along. Over the course of a few months, Madi knew two things. She might be head over heels and she was definitely pregnant. Against the advice of friends and family, she jumps over the state line and into a marriage that would later be defined by the secrets it held rather than the truths she thought it was based on. Upon his death in combat, Gage leaves Madi with more questions than answers and more debt than money forcing her from her Kentucky home and right back where she started. She may be at square one, but Madi’s determined to move forward and never to be left destitute and heartbroken again.
Seeing how difficult the Marine Corps is on marriages and families, Rafe McCarthy has sentenced himself to a life of hard time as a bachelor, living for the moment and never staying with any woman long enough for the grass to grow beneath his feet. In fact, Rafe has a reputation as the unit player that follows him everywhere he goes with a vengeance. But it seems biological time clocks aren’t just a female thing. In fact, Rafe’s biological alarm goes off one afternoon and like a man possessed, he falls into a wife seeking mode akin to the heat seeking missiles he’s watched zipping over the Middle East for the last several years. It’s only a matter of hours before he has Madi in his crosshairs and a matter of days until he realizes he’s sighted in on one tragically broken woman. But instead of listening to every single male instinct he possesses and running, Rafe digs in his heels, determined they can work and hell-bent on making her happy.
And then the tears come…