My latest novel has just returned from the editor, and she tells me she loved it. She says it’s one of my best stories to date, and she should know. She’s been my editor since my very first novel, The Reunion.
The Stalker was inspired by a real-life Facebook feud unfolding on my newsfeed. Of course, a Facebook feud would make for a dull narrative in a novel as the characters would be typing back and forth on a computer or tablet. Boring! To make the story work I would have to have my characters out in the real world, so the villain does a whole lot more than harass her on Facebook. He does drivebys past her house. He pops up when she’s out in public. His goal is to completely destroy her career and ruin her life, and he won’t allow anyone or anything to get in his way. In other words, he’s one of my most devious villains to date, and he makes The Stalker a real page turner.
The Stalker is now with the proofreader, and I’m hoping to release it in November. Stay turned.
The question I’m most often asked is…Are your books a series?
And the answer is…No.
Apparently a lot of authors like to write series books, and readers must like them, but the authors who I consider to be my mentors, such as Danielle Steele and Rosamunde Pilcher, do not series books. Their novels are all stand alone books, as are mine. One trick I have borrowed from Ms. Pilcher, however, is to take a minor character from one book and incorporate him or her into another novel, as she did when she took a minor character fromThe Shell Seekers, and used him to introduce a new cast of characters inSeptember.
The Reunionwas my first novel, and when I wrote my second novel,The Deception, I decided to have a chapter take place at Hanson Sisters Fine Art, the gallery owned by Gillian, the leading lady inThe Reunion. In an early draft ofThe Deception, Gillian’s sister and business partner, Cynthia Lindsey, made a cameo appearance. However, the scene was later cut and replaced Cynthia being discussed in a conversation between two Deception characters. Either way, it was a nice way to incorporate the two novels together.
The Journeycomes the closest to being a sequel as it uses the same cast of characters asThe Reunion, although it too is a stand alone book. Ian and Gillian, the leading characters fromThe Reunionappear inThe Journey. However, their story has already been told, so this time around they are supporting characters only. The lead characters inThe Journeyare Ian’s son, Jeremy, and his wife, Cassie. There are also references made inThe Journeyto events that took place inThe Reunion, but they’re only vaguely discussed, and I worded them in such a way that those readers who hadn’t readThe Reunionwould see it as a part of the backstory. In other words, you don’t have to have readTheReunionin order to read and enjoyThe Journey.Also look for George McCormick, a featured character inThe Deception, to make an appearance inThe Journey.
Kyle Madden, the leading man inThe Betrayal, was a minor character inThe Reunion. InTheReunion,Kyle was the police detective who warned Gillian about her ex husband, Jason. This time around the roles are reversed, and it’s Gillian who has a minor role when, once again, a scene takes place at Hanson Sisters Fine Art.
I’m currently working on my fifth novel,The Stalker,and Jonathan Fields, a featured character fromThe Deception, has already made an appearance. So far no one’s been to Hanson Sisters Fine Art, but then again, I’ve only just started writing.
I may not be a formula writer, but there are certain rules for basic plot structure fiction writers have to follow. A protagonist is trying to achieve a certain goal, but an antagonist gets in their way. This creates the conflict that drives the story. The conflict builds to a climax, followed by a conclusion. This is, for all intents and purposes, the tonal scale for a novel writer. And in romance, the expected conclusion is for the couple to end up married, or engaged, or to make some other commitment to one another.
My first three novels, The Reunion, The Deception, and The Journey, all ended with the leading characters getting married, or, in the case of The Journey, remarried, but with my upcoming novel, The Betrayal, I’ve deviated of course. In fact, I’ve kind of done it in reverse.
The Betrayal is the story of a married woman who discovers, in a rather bizarre way, that her husband is cheating on her. So, instead of a protagonist finding her true love and getting married, I’ve have a protagonist trying to get herself unmarried. Of course, she’ll still meet Mr. Right along the way, but this time the ending is different. Emily, the leading lady, is once again single, and while she and the leading man are most certainly in love with one another, neither are ready for a commitment, leaving the other characters, and the reader, speculating that they will probably marry–someday.
I took this path with this story because I think it’s more like real-life. Divorced people are often gunshy at the idea of remarriage. I also think readers like variety. I know I do as a writer, and having all my characters go up the aisle at the end of each novel gets redundant over time. It might make me a “formula” writer, and that’s something I don’t want to become.
Look for The Betrayal to be released later this summer.
I finally have The Betrayal back from the editor, and it was certainly worth the wait, as this time I had to do a revision.
The Betrayal is a story of lies, deceit and infidelity that climaxes when a potentially deadly conspiracy is launched against Emily, the leading lady. However, I was facing some real-life challenges of my own as I was writing the story, which resulted in my having to set the manuscript aside for weeks at a time. When I finally finished it there were a few continuity errors that I couldn’t see, but Cynthia, my editor, sure caught them. She told me the last few chapters would need to be revised, and by the time I was done both of us were delighted at how much those changes improved the storyline. Now, I can’t divulge too much, as I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I can, however, give you a sneak peek, so here you go. And enjoy.
* * *
Emily glanced at the dashboard clock as she waited for traffic light to change. It was nearly one o’clock. In the hour since she left Dr. Lerner’s office, her entire world had collapsed around her, and she wasn’t sure where to go next. Should she get a hotel room? Or would she be better off staying with her father? Granted, he’d never been fond of Jesse, but he wasn’t one to say I told you so either. The light turned green. She sighed and pointed her car toward her father’s house. Ten minutes later she pulled into the driveway.
The house looked quiet. Her father didn’t get off work until five o’clock, and Susan worked until seven, assuming today wasn’t her day off. With any luck, Emily would have the place to herself for a few hours. She still had the house key her parents had given her when she was a teenager. Hopefully, Susan hadn’t changed the locks. She put her key in the lock. It turned. As she stepped into the foyer, she got an enthusiastic greeting from Lurch. Lurch was part sheepdog, part collie, and part something else though no one knew exactly what, but whatever he lacked in pedigree, he more than made up for in love and affection. He put his big paws on Emily’s chest and she wrapped her arms around him.
“I know, buddy. It’s good to see you too.”
She gave the dog a pat on the head and stepped into the kitchen. To her relief, Susan was nowhere to be found. She fixed herself a glass of ice water and headed into the family room. A number of family photos stood on top of the mantle. She picked one up and gave it a closer look. It had been taken at the University of Arizona, shortly after the commencement ceremony had ended. Jesse stood in his cap and gown, his face beaming as he held up his diploma. Emily stood at his side, her face glowing as she showed off her engagement ring. She let out a sigh.
“I think we can safely throw this one away now.”
She took the photo from its frame and ripped it in half, taking its remains back to the kitchen and dropping them into the wastebasket underneath the sink. She refilled her water glass and took it down the hallway to her old room. Her posters had all been taken down and replaced with other artwork, but it still had the furniture she grew up with. A framed photo sat on the nightstand. It had been taken shortly after the family had moved into the house. A fourteen-year-old Emily sat next to her mother on a chaise lounge by the pool. She picked it up and caressed the glass over her mother’s face with her finger.
“I miss you, Mom. Everyday. And most especially today.”
She set the photo down and plopped down on top of the bed. Lurch came up and joined her. She wrapped her arms around him and burst into tears.
Sometimes readers may think plots, storylines and themes of a novel are one in the same, but they are not. The theme is the idea behind the story. It’s the point the author wants to make. For me, the theme is the inspiration that compels me to write the story. The plot is simply how the idea is expressed. The theme, or the idea behind The Reunion, is second chances. They say opportunity knocks but once, but sometimes, if we’re lucky, it may come again.
I’ve known people who’ve been lucky in life. They met the man, or woman, of their dreams at a young age. Things worked out. They got married, had a few kids, and, with hard work and determination, they lived happily ever after. Then there’s the rest of us. Either Prince Charming took a detour, or he turned out to be an impostor, or he got cold feet. Whatever the reason, we never got to have the “happily ever after” that we were promised.
Before writing The Reunion, I had a conversation with a man who told me about reconnecting with his long-lost high school sweetheart on Facebook. They hadn’t seen or heard from one another in years, but he found her, so he decided to take a chance. He contacted her. It turned out she was divorced, just like he was, so they reconnected. So far as I know, things worked out this time around, and it showed me that second chances really can happen. Sometimes people really do get a happy ending later in life. That conversation was part of my inspiration for The Reunion.
In The Reunion, Ian, Gillian’s Prince Charming gets scared and he gets cold feet. This happens when the two characters are young. After Ian ends it he moves to another another state. He soon realizes his mistake, but believing it’s too late, he marries the wrong woman for the wrong reasons. Gillian becomes a successful artist, but true love eludes her as well. Years later, fate intervenes. They meet again, and have a second chance.
The Reunion is a story of hope. The point I am making with my story is that true love not only never dies, it deserves a second chance.