Sunday, January 20, 2008

The First Test

The other day I posted about submitting my newest proposal. It is officially called THE THREE GRACES, a Regency historical romantic adventure(good heavens. How many labels can a person put on one book? Be happy I didn't include time-traveling or vampires. You could have been here all day). The heroines of this series are Mrs. Olivia Grace, a widowed companion, Miss Grace Fairchild, the daughter of a Guards colonel, and Her Grace, Catherine, Dowager Duchess of Murther. All three meet on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, and end up ensnared in a plot to overthrow the British throne. This is the first time except for my proposal that I've actually put that into words. It is something I've never done before, and I have to admit, I'm having the time of my life(nothing like beating up a hero to relieve your stress).

I wrote about the stage of proposing when the project was still pristine. The perfect moment in a book when it is still perfect and the next #1 on the New York Times . The next stage, inevitably, is to show it to a professional. If you have one, your agent. Well, I did that. And I have to admit, I did it with trepidation. I don't think I have to tell you that these are uncertain times for publishing. Everybody sees the numbers changing and nobody is quite sure how to stop the slide. What is selling? What is the next thing? What does the audience want? So giving your brand new, beautiful baby to an agent is akin to handing it over to Andy Rooney and hoping he's in a good mood.

I handed it over. I went to New York last week to talk to my agent. I think I held my breath through the entire plane flight and three acts of Cyrano de Bergerac(Kevin Kline. Be still my heart). I faced my agent over mineral water and prayed she would at least like the heroines' names. And I'm not sure what this means, but she didn't think we needed to change anything in the book. She liked it as it was.

I should be delighted, right? Please. Don't you know authors better? I'm looking over my shoulder, wondering what I missed. After all, she's sent the thing in to publishers, and I'm sure there's something both of us have forgotten to include. Another hero. An alien who exchanges Napoleon for Stephen Colbert. More sex(in romance that's never a mistake). And I'm ignoring it all while I write on the first book, because if I really thought of the fact that this brand new twist in my career is in the hands of editors who might like me but haven't ever seen me write historical romance and don't know whether or not they can really support such a thing(or more importantly, pay for it), I'd end up immobilized in a bathtub with a quart of Haagen Daz and wrinkled toes.

Now, I wait And write. And hope that what I'm working so hard on now doesn't get thrown away late. Cause I have to tell you, I think it's great. At least I'm having a great time with it. I'll let you know if anybody else does.

eileen/kathleen, the evil twins

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It is finished. It has begun

Actually I should have written this post about three weeks ago. But I've been having problems with my blog server, and if anybody hasn't told you already, I'm the last Luddite.

Be that as it may, the important thing is that I've put together a proposal for a brand new genre for me. Suspense fans, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you. It's going to be a bit before I can get my suspense in and see if it can be published. Which means that I'm focusing for a bit on romance. To that end, I did what I've been dying to do for years. I've begun a historical romantic adventure trilogy. The long and short of it is that I'm having a blast.

But the point today is that the proposal is put together. It has been sent in to my agent. And this is the most perfect point in a book's life. It reminds me of a garden in spring, when the detritus of winter has been removed, and the beds are pristine, the new mulch laid, and tiny green shoots forcing their way through the soil to prove that creation does repeat itself. At that moment, all is possibility. There have been no weeds or grubs or beetles to destroy the beauty you can still only imagine in those green shoots. Everything is tidy. The plants thrive. The flowers you wait for are still in the anticipation stage, and are still as bold and sweet-smelling and hardy as promised by the garden who supplied them to you. All is wonderful.

That is where I am(was three weeks ago. Bear with me here) right now with my next project. The idea that has been tugging at me for a good five years has found a voice. A face. A focus. I've defined my characters to the point of giving them family trees. I've scoured the internet and the British Heritage sites to come up with the perfect places for all my characters to live(I am not ready to launch a character until I know where he or she lives. It's stage setting for me, like Annie's house in Bull Durham. The minute you see that, she doesn't have to say a word to tell you who she is). I've put together a package of three books that involve sex, violence, pathos, suspense(okay, I couldn't get away from it completely), and humor. Not necessarily in that order. I madly love all my characters, eve the bad guys. I can't wait to see what happens. I can't wait to get to the desk to write(rare enough in an of itself) I've spent literal weeks trying to organize it into a comprehensive outline that will attract only the most enthusiastic editor.

And, like green shoots in the soil, it is still all possible. It has not been touched by editor or agent who think that if I'd just change a few things it would sell better. It hasn't been criticized or cast aside. It hasn't had a marketing department question its viability (are you sure the heroine has to be a duchess? Duchesses just aren't selling this week. Could we make her a prairie teacher instead?) It is still perfect in my mind, its future limitless, it's form perfect. It is a garden in spring. It is a young girl who sees her whole life spreading limitlessly before her. It is possibility.

Next comes the visit to the agent, who has the first chance to put a pin in my pretty balloon(okay, I'm mixing metaphors here). Meanwhile, I have to get back to see what happens to my heroine, who has just found her husband on the field of Waterloo in an enemy uniform.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins