Yes I Write More Than One Draft

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I was watching a DVD of Stephen King’s Misery the other night.  Good flick, but not totally believable.  I mean I bought the bit about the romance author being held captive by the deranged fan.  Go on any news source website and, sorry to say, you’ll read similar accounts of real-life events.  No, I’m talking about the male lead, Paul Sheldon, producing a polished first draft of his manuscript on a manual typewriter no less.  Yeah, right.  Like that would really happen in real life. The other unbelievable scene is when he and his agent are discussing the fact that his novels put his daughter through college.  Really????  Hey, it’s only a movie, and that scene made me laugh, which was a good thing.

Okay, so the book was written in 1987, and back then the traditional publishers, (or the Big 6 as we authors like to call them), ruled the industry. Back in the day they did give big advances, at least for some authors. Back then some authors probably did make a good living off their books, and no doubt Stephan King was one of them. However, that’s not the case today, but I digress.

Anyway, it was a real hoot watching the polished first drafts coming out of Sheldon’s typewriter.  Fun scenes, but pure fantasy.  In reality, we authors write many, many drafts and revisions.  A funny thing happens when we write, particularly when we write novels.  Our characters come to life, and they change and evolve right before our eyes as the plot unfolds. This means we often have to go back and rewrite earlier chapters. (Which I actually enjoy doing, by the way.)  What you all are reading with my books is the result of many rewrites and revisions, and that’s before I send the manuscript to my editor.

That said, I still enjoyed the movie.  We authors love our fans, and Misery is a nightmare fantasy of a worst-case author-fan relationship.  If you like suspense, without a lot of blood and gore, I recommend it.

Have fun.

MM

Ryan Knight, the Despicable Villain in THE REUNION

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You know, creating devious, diabolical, despicable villains really is too much fun. Take Ryan Knight from The Reunion. He’s certainly raised a few eyebrows and he sure got both my editor’s and my proofreader’s dander up. That’s when I knew I’d created a great villain.

Ryan appears in the flashback chapters. He’s a college student getting ready to graduate and embark on a career as an architect. He and Gillian, the leading lady, have been dating for a couple of years, but lately their relationship has been strained. Ryan’s been putting in a lot of overtime at the architecture building. He says he’s having to work late on class projects, but Gillian is having her doubts. A few days after his graduation he calls and asks her to stop by his apartment. He has news he wants to share. Gillian believes he’s going to propose to her, but Ryan’s idea of a proposal is the last thing she expects to hear.

Ryan was inspired by several real life men; a moody ex-boyfriend, my ex-husband, and a good friend’s ex-husband. With a cocktail like that you know you’ve got a real monster on your hands.

Cynthia, my editor, commented that Ryan was, “a bit mental.” But Dolores, my proofreader, had me rolling on the floor. She’d printed out some of the pages and was working on them in her apartment complex laundry room. She said Ryan made her so mad that she started yelling at him and calling him an S.O.B. (Only she didn’t say the abbreviated version.) She then told me that she looked up and noticed other people in the laundry room were giving her some very strange looks. She was so mad that I worried she would quit on me. I had to reassure her that Ryan only appeared in the flashback chapters, early in the novel, and that his contribution to the story ended at chapter six, with only rare mentions of him throughout the rest of the novel. Now that’s a real villain.

MM

The Two Kinds of Other Women

My inspiration for The Deceptionlips3 began a few years ago when, while blog surfing one night, I happened upon a blog by a psychic reader talking about the questions most often asked by clients.  One of the questions jumped out at me.  It was, “When will he leave his wife for me?”  Needless to say that post had a lot of comments, and I noticed a trend. It seemed that everyone believed the “other woman” knew he was married, and she’s lying if she says she didn’t know.

I may not have the credentials to be a relationship expert, but as a romance writer, and as someone who’s been single for most of my adult life, I can attest to the fact that if experience is the best teacher, then I must be a relationship expect many times over.  That said, it’s been my life observation that there are actually two kinds of other women out there.  One is the aforementioned mistress, like Rielle Hunter, who knew from the get-go he was married, but chose to get involved with him anyway.  The other is a good woman who’s been deceived.  I’m here to talk about the latter.

Typically these are single women, looking for a meaningful long-term relationship, or marriage, and they meet a seemingly nice man who, for all intents and purposes, appears to be single.  He’s not wearing a wedding ring, he’s not mentioning a wife or girlfriend, and, in some cases, a mutual friend also thought he was single.  Then later on, after she’s become seriously involved, she’ll find out he’s married.  She will feel just as shocked and betrayed as the wife who’s been cheated on, only she gets a double whammy.  People will side with the wife, as she is an injured party, but, just like in that psychic’s blog, they’ll condemn her and say she’s lying when she says she thought he was single.

This can be very devastating.  At best she’s been made to feel like a fool. She’s accused of setting out to intentionally hurt the wife when she didn’t know that there was a wife.  The experience can do untold damage her self-esteem. At worst she’s been so manipulated that she’ll believe he really will leave his wife for her–someday.  Sometimes they do. However, it’s been my observation that most of these guys are, in fact, players.  They want to have their fun, but they have no intention of ever leaving their wives.  After all, the wife is their safety net in case the other woman wants to get serious.

 The Deception is the story of a good woman who meets up with such a player.  He comes into her life at a time when she’s emotionally vulnerable, and he intentionally leads her to believe that he’s single. It doesn’t take long, however, for her to realize something’s just not adding up. Unfortunately for her, by the time she ends the relationship the damage has been done and she’s left to deal with the unintended consequences.  While my story may be fiction, I’m sorry to say that real-life versions of it happen everyday. The point I’m making with this book is to not to judge others too harshly.  Sometimes people simply aren’t who they appear to be.

MM

Meet Gillian Matthews THE REUNION Leading Lady

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And now for another true confession…like Ian Palmer, the leading man in The Reunion, Gillian, the leading lady, is also based on a real person–me. Granted, we’re not clones, but we do have a few things in common.

Gillian has had a successful career as an artist, and she’s even had a little bit of fame to go along with it. And while she’s done well professionally, her personal life has been a disappointment. Gillian has a knack for getting involved with the wrong men, but that all changes when she travels to Denver for an opening at a gallery and a man from her past suddenly reappears. Ian Palmer is the one man she never got over. Gillian and Ian resume their friendship, and, once again, become lovers. Unfortunately, her world will shatter once again when something unexpected occurs behind the scenes, and an accident nearly takes her life. Later on, she’ll become the object of affection with a new, and much younger man, while Ian attempts to win her back for a third time.

Okay, maybe my life hasn’t been quite so dramatic as Gillians. Or has it? I survived a car crash that, had it happened a split second sooner, may have killed me. And yes, there really once was an Ian in my life, but, thankfully, he’s never reappeared. And doggone it, I haven’t found myself enamored by a younger man–at least not yet. However, like Gillian, I started out my career as graphic designer and artist. I also lived in Denver for a time, and while I was there, a few of my paintings were accepted in some juried art shows.

So there you have it. Gillian is my alter ego, of sorts, even though I’ve never experienced most of the things that happen to her in The Reunion. That’s where imagination takes over, and it’s what made writing The Reunion so much fun.

MM

Meet Ian Palmer, THE REUNION Leading Man

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret that until now, only my closest friends knew. Ian Palmer, the leading man in my novel, The Reunion, was inspired by a real person.

Ian is an architect who appears in most of the story as a middle-aged man. He’s had a successful career, working his way to a prestigious position with a large architecture firm. His personal life, however, has been less than stellar. He married the wrong woman for the wrong reasons, and the marriage ended after he discovered his wife had cheated on him. Now Ian’s life is about to change. He has a second chance with Gillian, his long-lost love, but his new-found happiness will soon be put to the test. As new challenges come his way, Ian struggles to balance Gillian, parenthood, and his career, which is about to come to an unexpected and untimely end.

Ian also appears in this story as a young man. During the flashback chapters readers will see him as an outgoing but ambitious college student who, just by chance, happens to meet Gillian, the girlfriend of one of his classmates. The two quickly become friends, and, after Gillian’s relationship with Ryan ends, they become more than friends. Unfortunately, Ian’s ambition and desire to succeed will be their undoing, at least the first time around. It’s this younger Ian who was inspired by someone I once knew.

Now I can’t divulge his real name. That would violate his privacy. I’ve also gave him a different physical description and hometown than his real-life counterpart. What I can tell you is that just like the Gillian, I attended Arizona State University, and while I was there I met a young architecture student who turned out to be the love of my life. In fact, how I met him was pretty much the same way as I’ve described Gillian meeting Ian. So, for those of you wondering about his real identity, that ought to narrow down to a few thousand people.

Does the real Ian know about The Reunion? Somehow I doubt it. We lost touch with one another years ago, and I’ve long since moved on. But if he ever should hear about The Reunion, I hope he’ll like it, and I hope he’ll take the Ian character as the complement he is meant to be.

MM

Blame It On Too Many Soap Operas and My Misspent Youth

TV SetSometimes people ask me what motivated me to become an author, or why I write contemporary romance. Well, blame it on my misspent youth, because for many, many years, I was a soap opera junkie. It started when I was in about the sixth grade, and it lasted through high school and college, and into adulthood. I can even blame it on my mother too. Instead of telling me to go do something more productive with my time, she got me started on her soaps.

I used to schedule my college classes around my soaps. (Yes, there actually was a time when we didn’t have the Internet, the Soap Opera Network, or iTunes.) Having my first VCR was a truly liberating experience. I could have a life since I could now tape my soaps and watch them at my convenience, and I taped my favorite soap everyday for a good twenty years.

So, what was it about soap operas that was so compelling?  According to Mrs. Fields, my high school drama teacher, soap operas were real life, exaggerated. Back in the day when soap operas relied on classic plot lines, such as extra-marital affairs, illegitimate children, and long-lost family members, viewers could make a connection because they were believable stories.

The other thing that made the soaps so compelling was, I believe, the characters. I never watched All My Children, but I certainly know who Erica Kane was. Another unforgettable soap character, and one of my all-time favorites, was Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of our Lives. Having two great actresses, Susan Lucci and Deidre Hall, play those parts certainly helped, but behind those two talented actresses were talented writers who helped transform these fictitious characters into believable, three-dimensional people.

So, looking back, that was my inspiration. I too strive to create believable, three-dimensional characters–Ian Palmer, Gillian Matthews, Carrie Daniels and Alex Montoya. I also work hard to create believable stories, with plot lines similar to soap operas. My stories are about characters who get involved with the wrong people, long-lost lovers who are reunited, and people who are betrayed by the ones they trust the most. In other words, real life, somewhat exaggerated.

MM