Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Behind the Book -- In Her Dreams

In Her Dreams was my first paranormal romance and in some ways set me in that direction. It came about from a variety of things going on.
The Monterey locale was after a trip to Monterey. We spent a lot of time exploring the area and an area I loved was Cannery Row with the variety of shops and friendly people. My husband and I both love aquariums, so we spent a lot of time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
What crept into my imagination was a funky shop featuring plush animals dressed to reflect their personalities. That came about from my own plush animal collection. I had an owl dressed in spectacles, a tweed vest and looking very much like a stuffy professor. I also had a wolf wearing knickers and suspenders that could have made an interesting young thief in old London. So I gave Maggie a shop with custom made plus animals. But what also rounds her out is her psychic ability. One she didn’t like to think about.
The only problem is it’s returned with dreams where she dreams of a murder victim. But instead of seeing the murder happening, her dreams take her backwards from after death to seeing bits and pieces of the murder scene and her fear that the night will come when she ‘see’s the killer even though she has no idea just where the event took place. No wonder she’s frustrated having an ability that doesn’t do what she wants it to do.
Naturally Maggie needs the right man. Don’t we all! Dr. Ethan Baxter is renting Maggie’s guest house, meeting the wacky senior citizens that make up Maggie’s life and he just might have a connection to the murder.
Monterey seemed like the perfect setting for the book. Characters who make a story special and even bits of our trip interwoven into the story. The cypress tree pendant Maggie wears is identical to the one my husband bought me up there and I still wear it.
In Her Dreams is also a very nice way to remember that trip. It was originally published by Harlequin American Romance as A Man for Maggie, but I felt the book needed a more appropriate title. This is another one of my favorite books and I hope you’ll see it that way too.
Right now it’s available through Amazon and Smashwords and for the Nook later on. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Behind The Book -- A Man With Doubts

“I got one!” “Great kid, don’t get cocky.”

Who can forget those words from Star Wars when Luke announced he brought down a fighter and Han reminded him it’s not always good to think you’re great.

Words I learned to live by.

I was one of the lucky ones. I sold my first and second books right away. There weren’t mountains of manuscripts gathering dust in a closet and I felt pretty damn good. Then several months later, I sold my third book.

Wow! I was on a roll. The girl felt invincible. She saw her words as pure gold and writing was proving to be a lot easier than she expected. She had sold three books in about six months. Where else to go but further up.

All she had to do was type up a 200 plus page manuscript, send it off, and she got a contract in return.

Piece of cake, right?

On to book four. The idea was fun and what could be considered typical category romance fare at the time. A soap opera actress who played the evil cunning woman now killed off from her show, lost her money, and she’s in need of work. Trouble is, men think she’s an easy mark and women are convinced she’s the character she played on TV.

It was a fun book to write, words flowed, and I sent the manuscript off.

Then the call from my editor. “I liked the book, but I really feel the last part needs work.” Her idea of work meant rewriting the second half of the book. We discussed what she wanted to see and I sat down at my typewriter – yes, typewriter. An IBM Correcting Selectric that I purchased with part of my first advance.

After I rewrote the 100 odd pages, I sent the revised manuscript off and then worked on another book while waiting. Any writer worth his/her salt will tell you not to wait around waiting word. You get to work on something else.

Then my editor called me. “You know, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think the book worked better the original way. You need to put the other version back in.”

One good thing I did was keep those pages. Otherwise, I would have slit my wrists. She did ask for some minor revisions. I did them and sent the book off once again.

Now, each time meant a trip to a copy shop to have copies of the manuscript made. And each time I had nightmares of the copy shop burning down with my manuscript still there!

After a few months, I learned my editor had had surgery and was recovering at home, but she was working there. I talked to her, mentioned the book, and she said “I never got it.”

Insert scream here.

I sent her another copy – that copy shop was making good money off me! :} I also said if there were any more problems with the book to not say a word. By then, it would have been easy to kill off the main characters.

A couple months later, I got another call. “Linda, I love the book! In fact, no more revisions if we release it as a traditional romance, but we’d love to bring it out in our new line starting up next year. It’s called Special Edition.”

Naturally, I said yes. And my editor said “Great! All we need is 10,000 more words” and she hung up.

I screamed.

Since we’re still talking a typing job there were page numbers such as 59ZZ and so on. Luckily, no revisions and the book would be released the following June.

Christmas, 1981. My editor called, irritated with the Production Dept. That they were wrong. What were they thinking of. It went like this.

“We’ve got a problem with A Man With Doubts.”

“What problem?”

“We need ten more pages. I can’t believe they didn’t see this before!”

“Leslie, it’s Christmas. Parties, my anniversary.”

“And I need it early next week.”

Remember what I said? Typewriter and Internet hadn’t been invented.

“What am I supposed to do with them unless I send them out of town?” By now, I was wailing.

And that’s what I did. I actually ended up writing a full chapter, about 25 pages, and getting it to NYC in time.

When I saw the cover for A Man With Doubts, I knew I wanted the original and I have that hanging in my office.

It took over a year and a half to sell the book and it turned out to be my best seller in all the Special Editions I wrote and an excellent reminder to not get cocky.

Below is the new cover for A Man with Doubts and underneath is the original artwork. It keeps me honest. Well sort of.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Behind the Book -- Love Has Many Voices

Witch, princess, monster, or minstrel – Holly Sutton could speak in a million voices. A whirlwind of casual creativity, a magnet for every kid within calling range, she made a handsome living doing TV cartoon voice-overs. Her life in Thousand Oaks was ideal – except for Jonathan Lockwood, her stuffy neighbor. A banker, he might have been the model for Scrooge – if Scrooge had hazel eyes and a body designed to die for. So why had Holly agreed to accompany him to San Francisco’s most elegant hotel? And why was she suddenly trying to make herself over in his image? They were worlds apart and ne’er the twain would meet … unless they could learn to speak in the voice that understood the intimate need that bound them beyond every difference – the very special voice of love. 

I’m a big fan of the classic cartoons. Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies are my favorites and I still see the animated films that come out. And who can ever forget Mel Blanc, the man of a million voices who made Bugs Bunny and so many others life?

I knew I wanted the heroine of Love Has Many Voices to be a voiceover actress. This petite woman could go from a chirpy woodland animal to a stiff-voiced computer voice to a sultry female that gave every red-blooded man ideas. That she looked more like a pixie says a lot for her talent. Even if said red-blooded man is a by-the-banker. Did I happen to mention that not only was Holly cute as a bug but she wore braces when Jonathan first met her? Oh no, she isn’t your typical romance book heroine.
But that’s what made her fun to write. That and her more than lovable dog, Ralph who was known to moan and softly howl when a neighbor’s toy poodle was in heat. It didn’t matter to him that he was probably ten times her size. After all, it’s what the heart wants that matters. Ralph was also based on our dog, Mac, who was in love with a neighbor’s toy poodle, Gigi, who rejected him at every turn.
Holly and Jonathan were opposites in every way.  That didn’t stop them from falling in love even if Jonathon feared his deep secret could tear them apart.