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.
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....