Good morning from the year 2018.
Does that seem possible to you? 2018 already, and these days I’m feeling just the way I did back, well, back quite awhile ago. That’s not arbitrary, though, I’m feeling that way because I’m busily delving back into books I wrote. . . awhile ago. A little background and then a story.
If you read along here, you will remember that I recently blogged about a book titled Lady of the Night, a romantic suspense novel I wrote for Silhouette Intimate Moments when I lived in New Orleans. I told you about getting the publication rights to it, the problems with the story that I saw immediately, and how revising a little and editing had turned it back into a book I was proud of. I also pointed out that next up was the sequel, Bayou Midnight. I wanted to put both books out this year (with gorgeous new covers) for you to enjoy
I began work on Bayou Midnight in December.
I fully expected to again need the services of editor Marsha Zinberg. I expected to need a second pair of eyes for revisions, as I had for Lady. However, well into the novel, I realized there was very little I needed to change. I liked this book just the way it was. The things I did want to smooth out or lightly revise were clear to me. I promised Marsha that I’d send her something else soon, and finished Bayou Midnight on my own. I am delighted with it, and look forward to your comments once it’s back “in print.”
Now the fun part.
Lady of the Night introduced two other men, Sam Long and Skeeter Harwood, in addition to Joshua Martane, the hero of Lady. The three grew up together on the streets of the Irish Channel in New Orleans. All three got off to a rocky start, but Joshua and Sam found mentors who helped them grow into productive, heroic men. Then there was Skeeter. Skeeter didn‘t have a helping hand, so not surprisingly he got into serious trouble. Of course by the time Lady of the Night took place, Skeeter, an artist, was on the road to a fulfilling, productive life. But it took time to get there, and on the way he served time in prison.
For dealing drugs.
My readers loved Skeeter, the most colorful character in the two novels. They knew about his background, but the fact he had changed seemed more important to them–and to me. He was a testament to starting over. This was well before social media took off, so my readers tackled me at book signings and wrote letters to my publisher and to me.
Remember letters? Hand over heart and a moment of silence, please.
Clearly my readers wanted Skeeter’s book. With that in mind I wrote a proposal for another romantic suspense novel featuring Skeeter that I titled Night Magic–well before the Karen Robards novel of the same title appeared in bookstores. I was sure my publisher would be thrilled. Like the other two books, the proposal was “larger than life”, this time with a little voodoo thrown in. But it was a solid story with Skeeter, along with another flamboyant character who is introduced in Bayou Midnight, and lots of action–along with some serious psychology.
With me so far?
Imagine my dismay when the idea was rejected out of hand. Skeeter had been busted for drugs. That fact couldn’t be changed since it was already in the first two books. It didn’t matter why, or how, or the back story. That was a no-no for my publisher. So I rewrote the synopsis, explaining what had happened in that long ago past, and even included the first three chapters to show them how vibrant and exciting this book would be.
It didn’t matter. And to be honest? I think this was the only proposal I ever wrote that was not accepted. I’d had a charmed career–and not charmed as in voodoo.
Eventually I moved on, because even I realize some things are futile.
I filed away Night Magic to molder in a manila folder. Until now.
Reading and loving Bayou Midnight, I found myself wondering if I could resurrect Skeeter’s book. After all, I will put out the other two as ebooks–and probably in print, too–this summer. As in the past, anyone who likes them will want Skeeter’s book. I even flashed on a title for the trilogy, New Orleans Nights, since each book had night in the title.
I pushed the idea away. I didn’t have time. I no longer write romance or romantic suspense. It’s a crazy idea.
And yet, one day I found myself digging in my files for Night Magic. Just to see, of course, if, pack rat that I am, I’d kept it. At first it appeared not, but then as I was closing my file drawer, I thought of one other possible place it might be. And yes, there it was. Two different synopses, three chapters, and notes. Plus I’d kept the research books I’d bought to go with it.
Can you guess how this story ends?
I didn’t plan to write Night Magic. Right now I’m supposed to be writing a novella for a Shenandoah Album collection. (That, too, will hopefully be out this year.) But Skeeter–who also has a regular, given-at-birth name no one else knows–sat quietly and waited for far too long. He really did need his own book. I’d already done a lot of the work. And the other two books in the series will arrive at online bookstores this summer.
So what would you do?
Here’s the best part. I’m having so much fun. The characters in this trilogy never died in my imagination. And the romance writer inside me still thrives. An added bonus? My next Mira novel also has a strong suspense element. I’ll be primed to write that as soon as Night Magic is finished.
For my part? I’ve thrown away qualms about taking this detour, and I’m thrilled I never threw away my proposal.