Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Never Saw Her Before In My Life!

I had a rather unusual entry into writing series romance. It started with a discussion over lunch with an editor I'd met when she was my agent's assistant. I wasn't really familiar with these novels, aside from the fact that, back then, they'd been the butt of a lot of jokes. I was already under contract to Berkley for my first three mainstream novels. I remarked to Carrie that anyone could write "those books." That's when she issued that "put up or shut up" challenge.

I smugly accepted the challenge and quickly wrote a synopsis and sample chapters for my first romance and told my agent I wanted to give it a shot. She thought I was nuts.

I had too much time on my hands, I suppose. I was way ahead of my deadlines for books two and three, having already delivered the completed manuscripts. Maria patiently explained that a series romance would not earn me nearly as much as I was getting from Berkley. And I was not familiar with the formula. How could I write one? 

I persisted. When she read my proposal for Ms. Maxwell and Son, she was not enthusiastic.  It didn't follow the formula. It was a story about a very pregnant cartoonist whose husband, not wanting to be a father, had filed for divorce. The hero (and I use the term loosely here) was a rather slovenly musician who slept all day and played all night. The only one who could stand him was his smart-mouthed cockatoo, who had a penchant for flushing the toilet. They meet at the start of the book when she goes into labor and he's the only one she can find to drive her to the hospital.

Maria maintained there was no way this story would sell. She only submitted it to Silhouette to shut me up.When it did sell, I don't know which of us was more surprised!

Even more surprising was the fact that my editor there wanted more books from me!

Jump ahead four years and four romances. I delivered the manuscript for My Fair Vampire, a comedy about a vampire living in Manhattan and running a tabloid newspaper, the International Intruder. His star reporter is the descendant of vampire hunters who's there to break his heart--literally. The twist? Vampire and vampire hunter fall in love. Cute, huh? The title was changed to Something Old when the book was chosen to be part of a June wedding promo. You know...something old, something new...the only old theme they had was my centuries-old vampire!

By this time, I had several friends who also wrote series romances. One of them was Tiffany White, who also lives here in St. Louis and at that time wrote for Harlequin, Silhouette's parent company. She was working on a story about an actor who was even better tabloid fodder than Lindsay Lohan. The tab that was most actively pursuing him was, yes...the International Intruder!

When her book came out, we both got letters from readers that said essentially the same thing: 

"You guys know each other,right?"

Us? Nah! Where'd they get an idea like that?


  1. A slovenly musician can be the hero for one of these books?

    I love the notion of cross pollination of book material with you and Tiffany!

    Greag blog!

  2. What can I say? I like flawed guys!

  3. Only you can get away with breaking every rule and coming up smelling like roses! You have mad skills, girl.

  4. Great blog, Norma...! You've done it all, and you've done it well!! Good for you!!!

  5. I loved your story, Norma, especially since I had a similar odd entry into the romance field -- I started out by writing a humor column making fun of it, which caused my now-ex wife to challenge me on my assumptions.

  6. This is the real test for a romance writer--getting good feedback from GUYS!


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