October 11, 2013
I blinked and September passed by. I attended the Writers Police Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina, (which by the way if you write any kind of mystery/suspense/romantic suspense) is a no-brainer to attend. But awaiting me at home like a mass of gray funnel clouds were my revisions for BETRAYED. I had work to do, and I wasn’t quite sure how I would correct what I believed was an insurmountable problem.
I’d been gone eight days, visiting Atlanta friend, Jean Willett, and my Carolina friends, Linda Lovely, Polly Iyer, Ellis Vidler, and many new friends at Sisters in Crime and The Writers Police Academy. I expected my house to resemble something out of Hoarders. I tugged my luggage into the house with one eye open. What was this? The kitchen was immaculate. The master bed was made. The bathrooms were . . .tolerable.
Welcome home, my husband said. I missed you. More than pleased, I spent the next day unpacking and doing laundry and decompressing. I don’t know about you, but I find travel exhausting.
Then, dum de dum (insert scary music here), I sat in my office and approached my revisions. I created a document and called it, TAKING MS APART. You see, my editor wanted the heroine’s kidnapping at the end of the book. I wanted that terrible event to deeply affect my cop hero who was working the case of his career. Seemed anticlimactic to make that switch. So, I worked and I worked, and nada–the plot fell apart.
Through it all my husband surprised me. He’d return from work, go to the grocery store, clean the kitchen, and never seemed to mind that the woman he married resembled an alien life form in a robe and slippers much of the time.
On a Sunday night he had no choice but to go out of town for an early meeting the next day. Talk about spoiled, I had to get up and make my own coffee that morning. I worked until 4:24 the following morning, and finally threw my hands up in despair. I could NOT make this book what my editor wanted, and by now I could see that she was right. The kidnapping had to come at the end. The real black moment in a romantic suspense novel comes when you get over your anger that an expert has said your baby is not only ugly, it’s malformed, and you haven’t a clue how to FIX IT!
After that all-nighter, I lay in bed and tried to sleep. Still, my mind refused to turn off. And at 5:30 a.m., I sat up and had a voila moment. All I needed to do was to move one scene to point x, and delete scenes with a character that really wasn’t needed! A simple fix that had taken days to gel and register. Adrenaline shot through my body, and I barely needed caffeine. I created a new document called, PUTTING MS BACK TOGETHER. The next few days I ended up deleting 6,000 words and had a tight, cohesive, workable manuscript — or so I hoped. Writers are always too close to their work in my opinion.
When I typed Revised BETRAYED into the document’s header and sent it back to Bell Bridge Books, I was happy, scared, and hoping that this time I got it right. And I was really relieved because I had time for more than a two-minute shower.
My editor left me the nicest voice mail (which I saved for future books when she’s not so nice;)) saying, “You, my dear, are a rock star. You did it.”
The DH came home, and that night I fixed dinner and tried my best to look human. Those revisions took twelve days. I now agree they were necessary and well worth my temporary angst and insanity.
The revisions are only part of the happily ever after of this story. My husband is trying to prove what a good team we’ll make when he retires. Just for the record, his plan is working.