Friday, October 1, 2010

Do not disturb! I'm being paid to write a romance novel!

Despite the daunting letter I received from my Silhouette editor (see "Guidelines for writing a Silhouette Desire," 9/29/10 blog), it was such a wonderful feeling to be writing a book to contract. Soon I'd receive a check for half my advance ($5,000), then when I actually turned in the finished manuscript, I'd get the second half. After I'd sold enough books to cover the advance I'd be eligible to receive royalties. YAY!

Now all I had to do was to write the actual book. I cleared my desk, made sure my computer was behaving itself (I'd started working on a computer in 1980 and took to it like a fish takes to water. But to state that those earlier computers were extremely temperamental, would be an understatement of gigantic proportions!) and set to work -- following the lengthy guidelines I'd been sent, of course, yet at all costs keeping the novel original. YIKES! Not an easy order.

Once I was ready to rock and roll, I taped the editor's letter on the wall beside my desk, with the more pertinent instructions marked in bright yellow highlighter. I decided that before I started chapter four of the book, I should go back and make some changes to the first three chapters which had been sent to the publisher. Fortunately, this turned out to be no big deal, but I figured the sooner I set the stage for what was to follow, the better.

Okay, now I was ready to tackle chapter four and new material -- and face my first major stumbling block. During my years working as a flight attendant for Pan American World Airline, I'd toured a New Zealand wine vineyard on one of my layovers there. However, the notes I'd taken didn't come even close to explaining the more minute aspects of the business. (I think I mostly wrote about the beautiful scenery, and how impressed I was with hundreds of rows of vines stretching out as far as the eye could see). Now I had to show everything through my heroine's eyes. And it had to be correct!

So, it was off to the library to pour through books on vineyards, including when and how various grapes were harvested, how they were processed, how they were bottled and finally marketed. To my relief, it turned out that there was enough research material on the subject to fill several novels. I made photo copies, took copious notes, and settled myself back behind my desk to begin writing the "all American romance novel!"

(Next: Good background, now how to deal with the actual romance elements!)


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