SWEET TEMPEST, a historical romance set in the Regency era, was my first published book back in the ‘80s (!) written under the pen name Lauren Giddings. It was a learning experience. I wrote it (all 160,000 words!) by hand in a notebook while watching my 2-year old play in the sandbox, typed out the outline (I didn’t know it was called a synopsis. I’d never even spoken to another writer at that time) and the first three chapters on a Smith Corolla and mailed it randomly to names picked from the library copy of Fiction Writers Market. And got a letter back from New York asking to see the entire book. It wasn’t even typed! Out it went and in two weeks, I got THE CALL from Caryn Taylor Richman of Zebra Kingston. That was 68 or so releases ago.
Your first is always special. It’s the trial run that proves you’ve got the right stuff. After a second printing, SWEET TEMPEST disappeared off the shelves and I never thought readers would get the chance to read it again. Until I got the rights back and Tell-Tale Publishing asked to rerelease it in print and e-book. Now, here’s the time travel part.
How often do you wish you had a second chance to go back and revisit the past, to change things and make them better? Rereleases are like that. You remember those occasional stinging criticisms from readers/reviewers that urged you to improve your craft and now, you can address them. But should you? Should a rerelease return in pristine condition, warts and all? (SWEET TEMPEST was barely copy edited, going almost right from my typewriter into print!). I took the risk of altering the Time Space Continuum and got to work, using what I know now and applying it to what I was clueless about – and was readily acceptable – back then.
Somethings I left alone. I had no time to rewrite character motivation or plotlines, but I did do repair and cosmetic surgery in these areas (which I now apply to all final edits):
- Get the facts right. Back before Google or the internet or computers, for that matter, there was the library and locally, it was limited when it came to Regency-era details. Now, there are groups and chapters, endless blogs and search engines to find proper titles and currency rates for the time. Research is timeless. Facts is facts. Make sure yours are right!
- Reduce the flab. In this age of endless dieting, I now know how to trim the fat! Over 25,000 words worth. Unnecessary backstory later actively revealed in dialog, tedious descriptions of every rug and hallway, overweight sentences filled with cliched metaphors and similes and dialog tags, showing instead of telling – all of which add to unhealthy, lazy bulk in a book - deleted. Development of walk-through extras who serve no purpose to story movement - cut.
- Tone the sentences. I gave my text a rigorous workout, stripping away passive dead weight words like “was, is, are, were, and there was,” cut wimpy phrasing like “she felt, he realized, they tried to,” and pumped up the pace with active writing tense and power verbs that moved the reader along at a compelling tempo instead of letting them languish. Some proper wording was purposefully left to establish an age-appropriate feel.
- Gave Prose a facelift. The first page of my debut novel featured paragraphs containing three different points of view! Back then, who knew what a POV was, let alone DEEP POV. Writers (and editors and readers) have become educated in the last 30 years. Those head-hopping scenes where everyone from the butler in the hall to the cat in corner voiced an opinion are . . . things of the past. While I was at it, I updated formatting preferences. Hundreds of semi-colons were sacrificed. Spelling and wrong word usage errors were corrected for consistency.
SWEET TEMPEST is available for e-book preorder and will be (re)released February 28, 2018!
Happy travels fellow PNRers!
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A female of Tempest Swift's brains and beauty should be fending off suitors, not hiding in the shadows boldly robbing coaches. But lean times leave her with a family to provide for . . . until shot from her horse while making her escape. Waking as the pampered prisoner of a sinfully handsome gentleman has her pulse pounding for all the wrong reasons. His suggestion she be his mistress is shocking enough, but he has more on his clever mind . . .
A Desperate noble . . .