Don’t Do What I Did

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(originally posted at WriteMinded)

I’d always thought about writing for Blaze – in fact, I believe every book I’d ever started was supposed to be a Blaze. And then things would happen – either they would become too what I or others didn’t consider a Blaze at the time (turns out, I was pretty wrong about all that, but more on that later) or I’d get scared and sub the story to SIM or Flipside or Desire. Because I’ve got to say, it’s scary as anything writing a book for someplace that is the ONLY place that could publish it. At the time, ebooks weren’t as big as they are now, and the books I was writing didn’t have enough to expand on and I just didn’t want to see the rejection from the line I aimed it toward. I could handle rejections on it from other lines, though.

I never said I was normal.

Anyway, I sold the very first story I ever subbed to Blaze. Which goes to show you (and me) that we need to trust our instincts. I have to admit, I didn’t read every single book in the line – but the ones I had read convinced me that I was right for it. And then I stopped reading them because I didn’t want to be influenced by what was going on in them, if that makes sense.

After my first agent and I parted ways – actually, for months before that – I didn’t write anything. Couldn’t. She hadn’t liked anything I subbed to her but that one book and that didn’t seem to be wowing the publishing world. And so in March – March 13th, 2005, I have a document that’s titled – Need To Write Something.

And that’s where Coming Undone was born. I even pulled some of my blog entries from that time to show you my progress:

So, of course, instead of diving in, I turn diligently back to the possible Blaze, as though Brenda Chin herself rang me up and said, “Hey Steph, why don’t you throw together a proposal and we’ll chat.”

Anyway, I tried my hardest not to, but of course the newest book has a SEAL for a hero. (No, it’s not Jake’s book. Sshhh, he’s been quiet lately.) A psychic has not, or will not show up in this one though, but a Hells Angel will make an appearance. (That’s another character who seems to show up in all my books.) The setting is Florida during Bike Week, and I’d started to do research until I discovered that my cousin, who owns a Harley and I think might actually be a Hells Angel, was down in Florida last week for Bike Week. So really, you don’t get much better firsthand research than that. I take it as a sign.

Dear Brenda:
The proposal’s almost ready and I’ve gotten a cosmic sign. The synopsis isn’t that clear, but things like GMC’s will happen. I promise the book will rock. Call me. Peace out.

Originally, I called it Paper and Fire, and then it became Over The Falls. In my notes, I have things written like, a surfer, a SEAL and a stalker. And then I canned the stalker angle, because I found another note written that just said – mis-sent fax, which is the ignition for the whole story. I wrote the 3 chapters pretty quickly, showed them to a few people who said it was the best work I’d ever done. And of course, being me, I put it aside until May, because when I’d gotten thru another few chapters, people told me I was veering away from what Blaze wanted. Of course, I thought so too. Turns out we were all wrong except for the published authors who said to me on my blog, this might be just what they’re looking for. (I believe those authors were Alison, Jill and Suzanne – some very smart and talented ladies)

In May, I must’ve just said, whatever, and I queried with 3 chapters and a synopsis to Brenda Chin. I did not use the phrase, peace out, in my query, but fwiw, I think she might’ve liked it if I had. On June 1st, I got a letter from Kelly Brenton saying that Kathryn Lye wanted to see the full. Of course, at this point Larissa was howling because I didn’t have the full.

(If my editor is reading this, that is not the truth, because I would never query something that wasn’t complete. Ever.)

(Shut up, Larissa)

Various other things happened during the next two months, and I finally got it together and stopped whining / worrying that, if Blaze rejects it, it has no home and I finished the story in August. I sent it back to Kathryn a few days before I signed with Roberta, and by mid-October, Kathryn had already read it and was planning to send me a revision letter. Not a sale, but a chance for one.

I got the letter, revised the ms within 3 weeks and sent. And then I wrote another full Blaze, because Roberta wanted me to have another full to give them just in case. A wonderful idea, as it kept my mind off the fact that I was waiting again. And then, on Feb whatever, almost a full year from when I first started the book, I got my call.

I’d sold to Blaze. I guess it was where I was supposed to be all along, especially since I got offered another 2 book contract in Atlanta at the RWA Conference in 2006, which included my just-in-case book. YAY!!! More SEALs!!!!

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