Thanks to everyone who joined me here yesterday at the start of my launch party for RESCUED BY A STRANGER. Angi asked some great questions, and I heard some amazing travel mishap stories. I hope the trip I’m about to lead you on—through the creation of RBAS—is far from perilous. I love this book for so many reasons, not the least of which is, it’s my first one. Not many authors are lucky enough to see their first manuscript in print, and I couldn’t be happier.
Not that the finished product is exactly the same book I started with. The original, begun in the late 80s and finished at a pace slower than a sleepwalking tortoise, was called ANGELWINGS, and while the basic storyline is still the same, the characters’ road to a HEA couldn’t be more different.
Many years ago, I wanted to be a short story writer. I will never recall exactly what convinced me to start an actual novel. I’m pretty sure LaVyrle Spencer had something to do with it. Her books just brought romance alive to me—and, as a writer, I wanted to write something that evoked those same emotions for someone else.
|Meet Elvis -- as Chad Preston|
I also watched, for the umpteenth time (did anyone else’s mom count to umpteen?) Elvis Presley’s A Change of Habit. I was captivated by the idea of falling in love with a ghetto-based doctor—especially one who looked like Elvis. A man with a job that difficult just seemed so heroic to me. The seeds of a story grew once I named my doctor: Chad Preston.
I gave him a tragedy—a young patient whose death he blamed on himself—and gave him my heroine, Jill Carpenter, with her own set of highly angsty problems.
I finished my masterpiece and let it sit a while (translation: several years). When I finally picked it up to go through edits and send it off into the world, a funny thing happened. A very good friend found out I’d written a book and asked if she’d ever mentioned she was personal friends with LaVyrle Spencer! Long story short (no pun intended) my friend sent the book to LaVyrle, who sent it to her agent—with some decent comments on the first couple of pages. And … it sold immediately.
Nothing came of that except an awesome story. My friend got a huge hug for her amazing support, and I readied the book for submitting.
To my astonishment, in 2006 I managed to snag an agent in a small agency. She shopped the book for a year with no luck and we divorced amicably. Meanwhile, I’d written another book, won a couple of contests with it, including the RWA Golden Heart. ANGELWINGS went back to the shelf.
Fast forward to 2012. The Golden Heart garnered me an agent and a first published book—THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR. I needed a story #2 for the series. I thought immediately that ANGELWINGS would take “nothing” to spruce up.
In reality, the actual process included much less sprucing than resuscitating. Somewhere between me creating a masterpiece and the moment I read it fresh after six years, Chad and Jill had turned whiney and annoying. The plot barely held together. The characters’ motivations seemed infantile. I very nearly slapped the pair of sad-sack lovers and put them away for good. But, my agent pulled me (perhaps unknowingly) out of the pit. She apologetically told me she didn’t like the name Chad—in fact, she hated it. I didn’t have to change it, but she thought I should know.
|Meet Chase (not Chad)|
I didn’t want my agent to hate my hero. So, Chad became Chase, and the new name was a game changer. It allowed me to look at him differently and change his character by giving him some backbone. To my delight, as Chase became stronger, so did Jill. She no longer whined about her first world problems at vet school. She got an offer to ride for the U.S. Equestrian Team coach. She made plans. She didn’t need a messed up doctor to zoom into her life.
And then came love. Nine months after RANCHER was published, RESCUED BY A STRANGER was born. Lots of edits and revisions later, I knew the book had turned out more beautifully than I’d dared dream.
It took me a very long time to get RBAS out. Too long in today’s publishing world. But the struggle with this book has a silver lining. I’ve become a much faster writer and a much more focused author. I really hope readers won’t be able to tell where I struggled with this manuscript, but even if they can see warts, the blemishes now belong to the story. And, happily, the next book will NOT take 25 years to finish. Promise!
Exclusive GLIAS excerpt:
Three miles passed before Chase’s beautiful rescuee stopped fighting the motion of the bike. Once he’d adjusted her hold around his waist she hadn’t let go, her arms tightening with every curve of the road, relaxing when the Triumph straightened. Now, her torso curved against his back, finally following his movements and holding him like she trusted his ability.
He didn’t want to admit it, but the girl had power over him. It flowed from her touch and through his body from toes to wind-whipped hair. Every dark memory he ran from, all his demons, had fled the instant her metallic-tan Chevy had slipped down the ditch. Every good instinct he’d honed over the years had kicked in. She might be scared of the ride she was on, but her arms clamped around his hips and her fingers clasped over his belly felt like they held his entire world together.
Dangerous thinking. He hadn’t come here to meet anyone—especially not a girl likely a decade or more younger than he. All this minor hero stuff would only be okay if he remembered this was a rescue of her.
But, dang, she was great. Pretty as a daisy in the breeze. Tough and snappy even in trouble. And funny. Once upon a time he’d been funny, and she’d brought it out again. Along with a few other feelings that had been dormant for a very long time.
He couldn’t afford such schoolboy hormonal surges and, yet, what red-blooded American boy with hormones could have stopped a reaction to a beautiful girl falling on top of him out of the blue?
A guy simply didn’t get that lucky every day.
And her arms wrapped around him now felt good. As good as the wind tearing through his helmetless hair. It was hard to deny the breeze in his face was heavenly. He wore the helmet because he believed in it, and he’d given it to Jill because preaching such safety practices to patients and clients came automatically.
Black thoughts reared their ugly heads slowly, like insidious little termites eating away at his temporary peace. Clara. Brody. Tiana. His breath hitched slightly. Aw, shit. Tiana.
Unexpectedly, the motorcycle hiccupped and jerked beneath them, banishing the specters before they could fully form. Jill’s arms constricted and every bit of her newfound fluidity stiffened into ramrod alertness. When the bike coughed and popped a second time and then a third, she turned into a human vise grip.
I AM GIVING AWAY an electronic copy of “Rescued by a Stranger” – each of the four book launch celebration days here on GLIAS. At the end of the four days, one commenter will receive a paperback copy of RBAS and a mini-goodie bag of fun swag. You’re invited to come back each day for new excerpts from the story! Please leave your e-mail address to enter the giveaway (see below).
Note: COMMENTERS are encouraged to leave a contact email address to speed the prize notification process. Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.
Join me next Monday for a super-fun blog post about how one human secondary character turned into a dog! I’ll introduce you to Angel—a little black and white wonder of a canine who might just have the most appropriate of names!
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