Right now many of my writer friends are getting ready to attend the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta. In case you haven’t heard, romance novels are still selling well, generating nearly 1.5 billion dollars in 2012. My old friends will greet other old friends and make new ones. They’ll meet the professionals in charge of their careers and listen to workshops on how to enhance their publishing savvy and their writing skills.
Instead of attending RWA this year I’ll be spending that time editing romance novels. MY romance novels. And what a joy it’s been.
My career began with romance novels. I wrote many of them before I branched out into what we now call “women’s fiction.” But when I began, that term really hadn’t yet been coined. There was no “special” category for novelists, like me, who wanted to write about women’s lives, women’s issues, social issues in general, and relationships of all kinds. We slipped easily into the romance genre instead, which was open to bigger stories as long as the central plot revolved around a romance.
I loved writing romance novels. At the time there was very little I wanted to say that I couldn’t say between those covers. I was (am) happily married, believed in happily-ever-afters (although not always, of course) and was delighted to try the many roads available to me in the genre. Paranormal. Suspense. Melodrama. History. While I eventually moved away from romance a bit, anyone who reads my books knows there are still romances on my pages. There probably always will be. Even Aggie, my minister’s wife sleuth, has a wonderful romance with her minister husband and a flirtation (innocent) with the local police detective.
This year I discovered that the first twenty-four romances I’d written were now mine to put online as ebooks. I can’t tell you what a welcome discovery that was. While some of my first books will likely never see the light again, most of them are books I’m very proud of. Fast-paced plots, in-depth characters, problems galore and in the center of it all, a man and a woman falling in love.
When I was asked by fellow authors to participate in a promotion they were developing, I enthusiastically said yes. (More details about the promo later,when I’m allowed to tell.) But my job was to get my novel then follow it as quickly as I could with the other three books in the Tales of the Pacific series.
I’ll confess I wasn’t sure what to expect. Many years had passed since I’d read these books. What would I find? I already blogged about much of that here. First I had to rethink what bothered me and what didn’t, then consider what might bother my readers. What could I live with and what must be changed? The changes are subtle. The story and characters are exactly the same, although I shortened anything that dragged. I’ll confess that the love scenes are not as detailed, but they still exist because without them, the story loses much of its meaning and color. These are love stories, after all, and frankly I was delighted to see these people overcome enormous hardships and come together at last.
By the time I delved into the second book, Smoke Screen, I knew what to watch for. Only this time, I didn’t find it. In fact in the same way I found the story of From Glowing Embers a pleasure to read, I found Smoke Screen a pleasure, too, one that carried me along without much thought of editing.
Next came Rainbow Fire, which I finished yesterday. Again I was delighted. Again I tweaked to bring out the characterization and highlight the plot. What a joy.
Today I start in on Out of the Ashes, the final book of the series. How much editing will I do? Very little, if the other books are any indication.
I am so relieved I still love my Tales of the Pacific babies, particularly with their lovely updated covers, designed and executed by Tina McGee, graphic designer and fabulous daughter-in-law. Like any parent I had to nudge these novels into shape, but I think they grew up beautifully. I’m delighted and proud that they are every bit as entertaining as they once were. All four of the books will be up very soon, but for now you can find From Glowing Embers and Smoke Screen at your favorite online bookstore.