So I dug an old manuscript out wondering how/if I should rehab it. I wrote it so long ago, head-hopping was still acceptable, although on its way out. It’s 84,000 words. And there are no f-bombs. (IKR?!) The thing about headhopping, at least for me, is that I could tell a story in so many fewer words with it.
This story has a story.
Before this story’s book began, I’d written a massive under-the-bed novel (whose only remaining copy is in the hands of Tina McClelland Fontana, where it needs to remain). You know, the training novel we all write and then stick it under the bed to hide forever. Then I wrote what is now (massively rehabbed) Paso Doble (it has a story too), for Harlequin. After that, I wrote the first iteration (of four) of what is now Bryce and Giselle’s story.
Then, in 1993, I saw The Fugitive with Tommy Lee Jones about 22 times in the theater (I have no idea how many times I saw it, but it was MANY!). I caught a serious crush (on the actor? the character? who knows?) and I was shipping his character with the nurse (Julianne Moore) with whom he traded all of three(?) lines. (Romance novelist to the core, people, with a slavish devotion to May-December ones.)
That book got me 1) an almost-contract and 2) a literary agent.
This is how a contract becomes an almost, and it was the second time something freaky had happened on the way to getting published (Paso Doble was the first).
I got a call one evening from an editor with Harlequin. This is heart-attack-inducing, folks. She said she loved the book. She loved my voice. And then she said, and I quote, “I bought a book similar to this last month. Yours is much better. But I can’t sell it to my editorial board.”
The ego strokes were nice. I guess.
The literary agent was an interesting experience I will not relate, but she didn’t sell it either.
With 23 years between it and now, I read it, wondering if I could rehab it. After all, Bryce & Giselle, Paso Doble, and Black Jack didn’t turn out too shabbily and I had had no intention of rehabbing those. I had no idea how I’d feel about it, but Jack was the one who started me on this self-pub journey because I’d re-read it after so many years and realized it was good. He broke my heart.
You know what? The TLJ/JM book was pretty good. For back in the day, for the line I wrote it, it was really good. It’s a throwback cliché today, but not too shabby, especially for an early-career book. I wouldn’t be embarrassed now if it had gotten published way back then. And now I’d be tempted to release it as a novelty, an extra on the website, as retro/vintage/early Moriah (hello, Morning in Bed), but the problem isn’t the headhopping or lack of f-bomb. The problem is I’ve cannibalized this book so much it’s got more Swiss than cheese. Anybody who’s read my books will know exactly where and how I used which theme, marker, motif, and zinger.1
It was a nice, comfortable, not-embarrassing trip down memory lane and now it’s time for it to go into the permanent archive.
Good night, Rook. Good night, Frankie.
- I dunno. Maybe I should throw it up on my website in all its Courier-New, double-spaced glory. ↩