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The end…and the beginning!

This past Saturday, I typed the words “The End” at the bottom of a manuscript before clicking save, and sending it off to my editor. I don’t usually type “The End” at the end of my manuscripts. But this time, it really was an ending. The very end of the final draft of my final book for Harlequin Enterprises.

When I first sold to Harlequin, I was barely out of my twenties. Now I have ten grandchildren. Reckless Angel was picked up for Silhouette Intimate Moments by editor Melissa Senate, an author herself now. She said it was the perfect Intimate Moments book. (That’s the line that’s now called Harlequin Romantic Suspense.) She had, only days earlier, turned down my first vampire novel. She’d wanted to buy it, but because I was an untried author, I needed to do the required revisions first, to prove I could, I guess. So while I was revising Twilight Phantasies, she bought my sexy little romantic suspense. And my career was born.

I left Harlequin twice. Once to publish fantasy romances for Avon Books, (Fairytale, Forever Enchanted, Annie’s Hero) and later to publish my Immortal Witch Series and a single romantic suspense, Gingerbread Man, for Berkley. In both cases it was because the other houses outbid Harlequin. And in both cases, Harlequin later offered me an even better deal to get me back. I kind of expected that pattern to last forever.

Other than those two breaks, I’ve been with Harlequin for twenty two years. I’ve written for Shadows, Intimate Moments/Romantic Suspense, American, Nocturne, MIRA, and HQN as well as several continuity series.

Writing “The End” on that book (Deadly Obsession, Brown & De Luca #4) was like stamping “The End” on a very big, very important part of my life. I shed a few tears while typing those words, followed by the date: April 19th, 2014.

I took the next day off. It was Easter, we had family stuff, and it was all really nice. I wrote a blog about the meaning of the holiday, the themes of rebirth and renewal, and how life always returns. How every ending is a new beginning. It was deep. You should read it. (Link: Bliss Blog)

And then today, Monday, April 21st, I went upstairs to my office. I’ve been working downstairs lately. My office has been getting sorely neglected. I straightened up a bit, and then I sat down and I began writing exactly what I felt like writing. I didn’t have to write a synopsis first, or wait for approval on said synopsis or, worse, revise it to someone else's preferences. I had a flash of inspiration a week or two ago and scribbled dozens of scenes on index cards. It was way more fun than writing a synopsis. And today, I wrote the first three pages, a sort of first-person introduction by a beloved narrator that I don’t now if I’ll keep or not. I wouldn’t have written it at all, before. It would have been cut for sure.

Note: Not my cards. Just where I learned the method

Not my cards. Just where I learned the method

Then I sorted the index cards and stuck them on my walls as I figured out what went where. I can change my mind mid-stream, take cards off, put new ones up. I don’t have to write the book’s back cover blurb until I’ve written the actual book. I don’t need to know before page 1, what’s going to happen on all 400! I had no idea how freeing that was going to feel.

Next I wrote the opening scene of the book from the perspective of its hero, a vampire who’s far younger than I had expected him to be. He’s telling me his story and I’m writing it down. It doesn’t start out in a way I could have got away with before, but now I can. Now, it’s up to me.

Saturday, April 19th I typed “The End.” Monday, April 21st was my brand new beginning.

You get one of those after every ending. Seriously. You do. It's kind of a good thing to keep in mind, don't you think?


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