October 27, 2004: Working with the Publisher

May, 2004
When last we saw this journal, I’d just been told to cut 15,000 words and remove all the sex from my 90,000+ manuscript to get it down to Traditional Regency Length. And I was on my way to a conference in Yorkshire.

Before I left for my trip to England, I started work by putting together a simple spreadsheet listing the scenes in each chapter, the number of pages, the point of view and a brief description of the action in the scene. This helped me target some immediate candidates for shrinkage.

I actually packed the manuscript, having the foolish idea that I could start editing on the plane. And… I did manage to edit about forty pages, before succumbing to the lure of Connie Brockway’s My Seduction, calling to me from my carry-on, and to the idea of getting some sleep before my overnight flight arrived in London at 6:00 AM.

When I got back from my trip (which was excellent, by the way, and, now that I am a Real Writer, tax deductible!), the first thing I tackled was a rewrite of the love scenes. I had three fairly explicit love scenes, which I hated to remove. They were important to the story and I liked them (quite a lot). So… I didn’t remove them, but made them a lot less explicit and consequently quite a bit shorter. Rewriting the love scenes cut about 3,000 words (12 pages) from the manuscript. Not a bad start, but not enough.

June 2004
More cutting and honing and combining chapters. At last, I had 73,500 words. I sent it to my critique partners and my first reader. Then I took a deep breath and sent it to my editor. (My editor – My, how well that sounds!)

I have a book and a contract to publish it. It seemed the right moment to put up a web site. I’ve had my domain name parked for quite a while – even before I started writing – because you can never tell when you’re going to want a site of your own. In a day or two, I had http://www.myrettarobens.com up and running. Then I had to figure out what to put on it. Something about the book seemed like a good idea. Then, of course, the obligatory bio and a picture that was blurry enough to be flattering. Some recommended web sites and books. Close enough. I had a domain.

It was time to send a proposal for a second book. This one was scheduled to be a Christmas Regency. I sent a synopsis for a story in which the heroine was the sister of the hero of my first book. I got a quick note back from my editor saying that she didn’t think that a story involving a deranged wet nurse was very Christmas-y. I could see her point. I submitted a second synopsis which was approved – for about a week. The next e-mail was to tell me that my book would NOT be a Christmas book after all, and to ask me what else I had. I did have another idea simmering, but had not gone past the first couple of chapters. I sent a synopsis, and she liked the romantic comedy aspects of it. So… off to dig out the chapters and see what might be done with it.

Book #1, Something Like a Heart, had been retitled Once Upon a Sofa. I’m terrible with titles (I think I’ve mentioned that), and am pretty pleased with this one. Although it sounds a little more like a romp than I think my story warrants. But if it will get people to pick it up off the shelf, then I’m happy.

July & August, 2004
Writing in the void. My editor has approved my three paragraph synopsis of book #2 and I’m writing away in the fervent hope that she’ll like the finished product. Although this book isn’t due until February, I’d like to have a rough draft done by October.

Around August, I began to wonder if I would need to do any further revisions to Once Upon a Sofa. Zebra had had it for a couple of months, and I’d heard nothing except that my editor received it. I sent off an e-mail inquiring and learned that I probably wouldn’t need to do anything more before the manuscript went to copy-editing. I put it out of my mind and got back Geoffrey and Cassie, the hero and heroine of book #2.

September, 2004
I received the cover art for my first book! Here it is. It’s not your traditional Traditional Regency cover. It’s cartoon-y and very appealing. It’s a tremendous kick to see my name on it. I immediately went out and had some t-shirts made with the cover image on the front. Interestingly enough, the cover colors are almost an exact match to my web site colors. Purely coincidental, but it looked so nice when I put it on the books page.

Coming Up: Finishing book #2 and looking for a title, copy edits, cover quotes, and more.


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