Thursday, February 21, 2008
Monkey Wrenches and Stuff Like That
by guest blogger Colby Hodge
Futuristic action romance author and PRISM award winner Colby Hodge joins us in the lair today with insights about where unexpected revisions can lead. Her new book, Twist, has generated quite a buzz. Best-selling author Susan Squires calls it "a whip-smart rollercoaster ride with a tortured hero and a kick-ass heroine." RITA winner Linnea Sinclair describes it as a "[f]ast-paced, gripping, haunting and sexy . . . story of the redemptive power of love," and USA today best-seller Alyssa Day says "Twist rockets its way through enough twists and turns to satisfy any fan of action-adventure romance." However, it isn't the book she set out to write. Colby also writes historical romance as Cindy Holby and YA romance as Kassy Taylor. Welcome, Colby!
At around page 200 of my manuscript for Twist, my current release from Dorchester's exciting new Shomi line I had a monkey wrench thrown at me from out of the blue. Yes there are specific guidelines for this line. And apparently when I pitched it to the acquiring editor he got so excited about my concept that he forgot one part of the guidelines.
No vampires or werewolves.
So I'm halfway through the book I get a really sweet and apologetic email from my editor.
"Colby, I forgot...we're not using vampires or werewolves in this line."
"uh,” me immediately on the phone because I had to call him to yell at him and I knew he was hiding behind the email. “(insert editors name here). Did you forget that the vampires are my bad guys?"
"Nope.” Nervous laugh because I’m pretty sure he thought I was on my way to NYC to kill him. “But still, we got to do something. Make them nonvampire vampires or something like that." (That’s a generalization of what he said.)
I’d like to take time to mention that this email came while I was really cruising with the book. The words just trickled from my brain to my fingers to the keyboard to the screen without any effort on my part. I was in tra-la-la mode. I was thinking the book will be done six weeks before deadline. I can take some time to put together some proposals. I can go to the spa. I can actually take and enjoy my vacation.
So after I had a morning meltdown we put our heads together. And what did we come up with?
Aliens. Aliens who are the reason there is a vampire legend. Actually it was pretty cool to come up with a new concept on an old tale. Plus we made up lots of slang and my heroine only lost a few of her really snarky lines. It was also pretty cool to find out the things he saw in the manuscript. For instance, I called the bad guys ticks, as in ticks suck your blood. When I changed the blood sucking vampires to time sucking aliens I thought I’d loose the tick slang. He said leave it in. As in tick-tock you’re running out of time. And it totally worked. It was great to have someone to bounce things off of it and he applied himself to it just as much as I did. Of course he sort of had too since it was all his fault.
Then I had to go back and rewrite the first half of the book and make sure that it all made sense. When I got that done and was ready to start the down hill slide of finishing up the story my dad was diagnosed with Lymphoma and I spent a lot of time writing in quiet corners of hospital waiting rooms. I guess my time sucking aliens were pretty serious about coming after me. The book was two weeks late getting turned in then I got my edits during a really bad time with my dad. More time sucked away. But eventually the book got done and my dad is in remission. That was quite a few monkey wrenches for one book. But I think everything turned out okay in the end. For me, my dad, and my editor.
Meanwhile how do you handle revisions, in writing or in life? Have you ever had to adapt quickly to a surprise?
Colby is giving away a copy of Twist to one lucky commenter. To learn more about Colby and her alter-egos, visit the website they share, http://www.cindyholby.com/.