From such tiny seeds . . .
It seems like ages ago, but in reality, it was only a few years back, that I got a germ of a story idea. A woman on the run from a troubled past back in Chicago seeks refuge in the Minnesota wilderness. One night during a violent storm, she happens across a man who has suffered a car accident on her remote property. The accident has left him without his memory. He has no idea who he is or why he's there, but something is amiss. His driver's license shows he's from Chicago. Why would a tough guy from Chicago be on the loose in the Minnesota woods in early spring, near the remote property of a woman who also hails from Chicago? Coincidence? Unlikely. But if it's not a coincidence, why is he there? And is he a Good Guy or a Bad Guy? What kind of guy does the heroine think he is? And more importantly, what kind of guy does he think he is, and what does he want to be? If he's a villain, which at times he seems to be, is it too late for him to change?
That was the genesis of the story that eventually became Forget-Me-Not. Answering those questions about my characters gave me the basis for my story. That woman on the run turned out to be Lara Crosby, a woman who fled a high-powered life in Chicago after her career as a top-notch political fundraiser for a perennially popular Senator took an ugly turn. That man with a head injury turned out to be Jake Sumner, another Chicago refugee who quickly discovers he has his own past problems that haunt him. Together, the two set out to discover who Jacob is, but it isn't long before they're running for their lives and fighting their mutual attraction, which has a habit of rearing its head at very inconvenient times!
It took me several months to finish the manuscript, and then I sent it off. While I was waiting to hear back from various publishers (I sold it to the third publisher I submitted it to), I started another piece. Wanting to switch gears to historical mode, I tried a western. I found writing in another time period intimidating, so I only had the gumption to write a novella, not a full length novel! It was a great confidence-builder, though, and left me convinced that I can take on another historical setting in the future.
This period (1882 Montana) was so much fun to research. I really found myself living (in my head, at least) in Augusta Springer's body. She's a prototypical Spunky Heroine from a Montana cattle ranch who has been sent back East for an education, mostly to get her out of her father's way after her mother's death. But she takes to her new life gladly and is upset when her father calls her home after years in Boston.
I sent off Montana Belle too, just about the time I sold Forget-Me-Not. Montana Belle took a very winding road to publication, with many rewrites requested by the editor, but at last it made it! I was about to tear my hair out thinking I would never get it revised to my editor's satisfaction, when my husband (also a writer and editor) read it and offered invaluable feedback. After I made his suggested changes, my editor bought it! (He's now required to read all of my stories before I submit them! He's a good husband, though. He doesn't complain about having to read all my romances.) And in a strange quirk of timing, it was released three months before Forget-Me-Not, which I actually wrote and sold quite a bit earlier.
For those of you who are published, share your ride to publication. For those of you who read all the delightful romances we write, what do you imagine a writer's life to be like?