Friday, September 27, 2013

Rescued by a Stranger -- The Journey to Publication

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)
Meet Jill
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.
     Patients. Clients.
     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.

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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!

Contact me via  E-mail: liz-beth at prodigy dot net
or  my Website
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  1. What a great excerpt! :)

    Great photos too. Can't wait to read the book!

    maybe31 at

    1. Thanks so much, May! It's such a treat to "see" you when you come by--I really appreciate you being here! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt!

  2. What a great story! Just goes to show, persistence pays off!

    1. Thanks, Lynn! You know exactly how persistence works--you worked super hard to get your book a publisher! Thanks for coming by--I know you have a big retreat weekend up there in Alaska! Give everyone a hug and have a great time!

  3. As always, the writing is superb !
    Congrats on the release...pssst... got a kick out of the turtle.

    1. Aw, thanks, Angi. I like the turtle too -- it looked like he could be sleepwalking.

  4. Very nice excerpt

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  5. Loved the excerpt, Lizbeth. I can't wait to read this book.

    Marcy Shuler

    1. Oh, thank you, Marcy! That makes my day! It's so nice of you to stop by and check out the excerpt and the book!

  6. Elvis as Chase! I love it, Not that I ever imagined him that way.

    1. LOL - I never told too many people that, Naomi. Way back in the beginning I was embarrassed--now that I think it's cool, he's not the actual model. So--it just makes a fun story!

  7. There is something about riding behind a hot guy on a motorcycle... the leather, the movement, the power between the legs, it's all about riding out the sensual experience. Whew! This is on my must-buy list by now. Give a treat to your turtle for me. Cheers.

    1. Hey Celia! Sounds like you might know a bit (or a lot) about motorcycles! I'm not much of a biker, but there is something quite romantic in so many ways about a guy, a girl and power like a bike has! Thanks for coming by! And my turtle definitely thanks you too :-)

  8. Just for the record, I do like the name Chad myself but Chase is an awesome name. Thanks for sharing that story with us!! I love hearing how things have come about and good for you for persisting!

    ahui89 at hotmail dot com

    1. Hi Ada!
      Thanks so much! And just for the record, I love the name Chad, too! But, I ended up not minding changing it for this book because it worked out so well. Glad you stopped by!

  9. It's funny how things can come around full circle. I liked hearing how your feelings about the characters change just through the passage of time and I'm very happy to hear that they didn't just fall by the way side. Makes me more eager to want to read their story!!


    1. Hi Anita,
      Thank you for that sweet thought! It' a good way to look at it--that I didn't let it fall by the wayside. I loved this story even in its original "whiney" form :-) But now I think it's better and stronger and I'm glad I get to share it. Keep in touch and let me know if you like the story!