Thanks so much for inviting me to participate on your blog. Anytime I have the chance to run my mouth, I take it!
Kat, feel free, this day is all about you!
What made you decide to write Try Just Once More?
This book is truly the book of my heart. It first went on paper, in long hand, in 1983 and was my first attempt at writing fiction. In succeeding years it underwent multiple changes in title, amount and identities of secondary characters, the setting, and the tone. It started out straight romance and ended up romantic suspense. The hero and heroine's ages, past history and occupations also changed drastically.
I continued to tinker with it but never felt at peace with it. I left it alone for years at a time even though on a regularly irregular basis, it shouted for rescue from the bottom drawer of a dust-filled file cabinet. A few things remained constant however: the H&H's personality and goals, and that each was a survivor of a profoundly bad marriage.
It wasn't until I made the decision to change heroine Maggie's history to include alcoholism that the book almost wrote itself. It was originally published in 2007. After I obtained the rights to it, I lengthened it by adding a crucial secondary character [see below for The Wild Things] and expanded several minor plot lines for the heroine's three children.
I love this book. Not only because it has won two major awards [within my limited sphere of reference]: the Golden Wings Award from Wings ePress for best in characterization and plotting and the Barclay Gold for best in romantic suspense but because I'm truly, madly, deeply in love with the hero Mike Brandt.
Isn't it amazing how one change, so little in retrospect, can transform the story? AND you're take on it?! I love it...and Maggie.
What else are you working on?
I just finished my contribution to an anthology for The Wild Rose Press, Out of the Dark scheduled for release in September, 2010. The book contains three short stories about how spending time in jail will change the lives of three different women.
I have two novellas in the works for a reunion series with TWRP titled the Class of '85. This has been a lot of fun for me to create mainly because I was involved from the beginning, particularly in creating the town where the reunion is set. Mad Dog and the Archangel features a con man who returns to the town that loathed him to attend a funeral of a friend from high school, a man who in their adult years, saved the hero's life. He stays to accept an inheritance and in the process falls for a former nun who advocates for marginalized populations. Guess which one goes by Mad Dog.
The second story, Embraceable You [I am a devoted fan of George and Ira Gershwin's music as well as lyrics]. The heroine, another of the town's rejects, returns to accept a prestigious award at the reunion. The hero a cop is assigned to her protection detail.
Both stories were written with the theme of triumph over adversity—as well as the opportunity to say Up Yours to school administrators and teachers who tell students they are 'less than' because of things beyond their control: family dynamics, ethnicity, or racial make-up. And, we got to take a few verbal pokes at the school yard bullies. Revenge is always such fun.
Busy, busy woman! I feel you, though. Besides the revenge thing, which I'm a big advocate of. :) I love being able to write, despite the time I spend on it (after my day job, family, and sleep...I'm cranky without enough sleep). I wouldn't change anything, and it sounds as if you wouldn't either!
What’s your dream story? The one that becomes a New York Times runaway bestseller, the one you hope to one day write?
It is a series called The Wild Things and features a retired Federal court judge who starts up his own law firm and staffs it with burned out social workers, disabled cops and ADA's. None are able to work in the system any longer but still have the passion to fight for the little guy—the ones whose income is too high to qualify for a public defender or legal aide but not enough to have the Dream Team on their side. Each member of the firm has a physical challenge which prevents him/her from returning to their chosen career in the criminal justice system [the prosecutor who lost his voice after he was attacked by the same victim he worked to protect; the police officer who suffered disfiguring facial injuries in the line of duty, therefore can no longer work undercover].
The judge, himself a Native American from the St. Regis reservation in Northern New York State, is wheel chair bound after botched hip replacement surgery. He and the Wild Things are mentioned briefly in Try Just Once More.
I love the sound of it! Here's hoping for that NYT Bestseller list!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I wasted a lot of years feeling sorry for myself over what I considered less than glowing contest results or nasty comments from fellow chapter members. After all, the first time out of the box I wrote the next Rita winner, didn't you?
At the same time I failed to focus on the positive remarks in some contests, instead concentrating on those people who shot down my writing. That first RWA affiliate chapter I belonged to was toxic to say the least. I allowed their ridicule and derisive comments to stall my drive and motivation for too long. While it's human nature to forget the good and obsess over the bad, it gets us nowhere.
My point: Don't Give Up.
If you suffer from the compulsion to write, sit down and write. Set realistic goals for yourself, then do your best to meet them. Work your tail off to improve the quality of your writing. Listen to comments from contest judges [even the nasty ones!]. If more than one judge makes the same suggestion, pay attention! If you have to force yourself to attend meetings of your writers' group, perhaps it is time to find another support system—even if it means traveling significant distances to attend meetings or going the anonymous route by joining on line chapters. Many offer critique opportunities.
Speaking of healthy, working critique groups, when I say 'working' I mean people who actually write pages, people who put their money where their mouths are and don't waste their time bitching and moaning about others' successes.
Consider switching genres or story length. Maybe you haven't found your niche yet. Take as many courses or workshops as you can find [and afford] either face to face or on line. Save your pennies so that you are able to attend one major conference every year or every two. I don't necessarily mean RWA or RT. While you're at the conference, avoid the bars and party hounds, and attend as many workshops as you can.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Kat! And you're absolutely right, I didn't write the next RITA winner my first try. I didn't even know what the RITA was back then! Any time you want to stop on by, feel free to do so.