Thursday, January 04, 2007

Let's Chat.....RAIN SHADOW

If you haven't read it yet, GET ON IT!

This will be our first chat about one of my books, so it's trial and error. Why don't a couple of you make a list of questions (yea, lists!). They can be questions for each other, or for me, and we'll see how that goes.

I will find my original folders and come up with tidbits that you may find interesting about the creation of the story.

First off, I will tell you that though it was my first book published, it wasn't the first book I ever wrote. It was probably about the, oh, eighth maybe. And I wrote HEAVEN CAN WAIT before I wrote RAIN SHADOW, but HCW made the rounds of several agents and publishers and was rejected. While it was being rejected I wrote RS with spin-off characters because I loved Anton so much. I remember that time in my life vividly. I was giving the writing thing my very best most-devoted shot. I had been in an RWA chapter and a critique group for a couple of years and was learning the craft in a whole new way. I was working a full time job as a sign-maker and customer service rep at a grocery chain, had young children still at home, and got the call from my agent at work. I remember taking the call in the money room and hearing my agent say, "I can sell this book for you." She called me a couple months later to say we had indeed received an offer from Harlequin Historicals.

That was what everyone refers to as "The Call." That first sale. I had no idea what I was in for, but I was thrilled and so excited I could hardly contain myself. Everyone in that store heard my rejoicing! It's nothing like you see in the movies or on TV. The agent doesn't fly to your house to offer you $300,000. (That Rob Lowe TNT movie that was just on.) You don't hand deliver the manuscript to the editor. (Okay, I know of couple of Toronto authors who have done so, but that's not the norm.) Nor does everything happen in a whirlwind. I remember trying to figure out just what the heck was going on. What does this contract say? You mean you have to PAY for all that promotion?

And then the day I got the call from my wonderful editor whom I learned to appreciate and respect and enjoy working with -- and she said the senior editor thought Rain Shadow sounded too sixties, too hippyish and they wanted a new title. What? Come up with a list of ideas and call her back. What? It was 1992, but I remember bemoaning the fact that they wanted to change my precious title - I wrapped up in my comfy afghan, sat in front of the fire and whined.

My husband, God love him, went walking past and said four little words that changed my outlook for all time. Writers are infamous for saving slogans and mottoes and quotes and plastering them all over their work areas. Well, I'd found one a year or so before that and had taped it right to my monitor. "NOTHING IS SACRED." Meaning, everything is subject to change and changing or omitting might even make the work better. I had diligently applied that philosophy to my writing/critiquing/editing, so why was it that a title suddenly became the end all/be all of my publishing experience? It wasn't.

Jay said in passing that day, "Nothing is sacred, eh?" That did it. I didn't need my own philosophy flung back at me. I got busy and made a list of new titles. A day or so later I called my new editor to share them. She took the list and said she'd get back with me. A few days later, she called and said nothing I'd come up with nor anything they'd come up with fit the book better than my original title. Rain Shadow was staying. So there you have it.

In the years following I've kept most of my titles. Some are clearly not my own (did I ever mention THE LAWLESS MISS HOLLIS? LOL) but I don't sweat it any more. I have learned that my publisher spends the big bucks on studies and market research and they want to make money as much as I do, so I trust their judgement and roll with the flow. I've been fortunate with covers. I've never had the Pillsbury dough boy or a three-armed woman on my cover, though a skinny Anthony Perkins (of Psycho fame) made it to one of my covers. Yes, that skinny guy playing with the toddler on the front of The Truth About Toby is an iron-pumping body builder believe it or not -- and he never met the kid until the very end, but let's not get picky. He only had two arms!

When my covers showed up that first day I was enthralled. Stared and stared. Ogled, even. And a Linda Howard quote referencing LaVyrle Spencer on the front! Mind you we didn't have email back then, hard to believe in this day and age, isn't it? so I didn't get first glimpses of my covers via email or at amazon. LOL! amazon wasn't around yet.

Then I invented the wheel and had to figure out how to promote and get quotes and reviews and all that stuff that is at our fingrertips today. When I felt really bold I picked published author's brains and am to this day forever grateful for their generosity.

Well, that's my behind the scenes trip down memory lane.

Maybe next I can tell you how I came up with the setting....


  1. Cheryl, I loved this book! (Of course, I love them all, which explains the fact my CSJ shelf it overflowing!) And I loved the trip down memory lane with you!!


  2. Cheryl you make it look so easy.LOL
    It is a good thing that your writing went so well look where the store is that you made all those beautiful signs at. It seems strange that store is gone we all spent so much time there, You doing the signs and me trying to keep the greeting cards straight what a job that was.
    I am so gald that you write such wonderful books and I loved Rain Shadow I loved the way you made Florence come alive in it. I could not put it down all your books from the moment I pick them up they stay in my hands until I am done. I bet when my husband see one of your books he says well we will get nothing done today until she is done with it. LOL I think that is great.
    Hey do you ever see or hear from Sharon ( I think that is who it was) from the store?

  3. Thank you, Holly! I love it that your CSJ shelf is full! (My Holly shelf is pretty full, too.)

    Brenda, I used to see Sharon occasionally. She would come to my signings, but I haven't seen her for a long time. I have exchanged emails with her daughter Stacy, who is trying her hand at writing.

    I have a photo album of displays I made somewhere. I will have to dig that out and share a few.

  4. I love reading about how authors began writing their books and how they became published! It offers such great inspiration..not necessarily just in writing(b/c I would rather read books than write them :) ) but in other jobs and goals as well.

  5. Having a chat about "Rain Shadow" is a GREAT idea! I'll be sure to stay tuned!!

  6. How sad that I don't have this one. Wish I did so I could join in.

  7. Jennifer, check with your libray for inner library loan. I talked with someone who recently got seveal of my books through her library. Or check the used books at amazon or ABE books.

  8. I can't wait to hear more! When will we be able to discuss Rain Shadow? Will it be hard to do here?

  9. Fire away, Katrina. What would you like to say / discuss?

  10. According to their catalog, our library system doesn't have ANY of your books...that doesn't surprise me though because they rarely get romances (especially paperback)...and what paperback romances they get eventually end up for sale on the bargain book tables. We donated a lot to the library and that was where they ended up.

    I don't get to the library much though.

    Oh well.

  11. Jennifer. Maybe we can fix that. Why don't you send me the library's address and a name if you know a contact person. I'll get in touch with them and send promo. Maybe a couple books to get them pointed in the right direction.

  12. I never go to the library Cheryl so I don't know anyone there...sorry. I will send you info though.

  13. Oh, my goodness, did I ever love this book!