From Inception to Publication: The Pleasure Trip

Diary of a Novel

Ever wondered how a book turns from an idea into a novel you can purchase at your local bookstore? For my first release from Signature Select Spotlight, I decided to keep track of the milestones to share with you. This diary is a work in progress, and will be updated until the book is in stores in February.

  • March 2004 – Write a proposal (first three chapters and synopsis) for a new, longer length novel, THE PLEASURE TRIP.
  • April 6 – My agent reads THE PLEASURE TRIP and likes it. Makes plans to ship it out to my editor for consideration as a single title release.
  • May – Discuss the story with my editor, who likes it, but wants to see some changes to the proposal. No problem, since her suggestions are stellar and inspire lots of great ideas for deepening the story and the characters. I get ready to write!
  • June 25 – Editor loves new round of changes and agrees to pass it along to the senior editor of Signature.
  • August 24 – My editor and I discuss a few concerns about the story and plot our way around them in the hope the Signature senior editor will like the new direction of the story.
  • September 14 – The sale call comes!! It’s been a longer wait than usual for me-I wrote a Blaze and a half, two novellas and revised a historical while I was waiting — but I’m thrilled that we’ve gotten two thumbs up on this story. Now the real work begins!
  • September 21 – Contracts are drawn up and mailed to me. The deadlines are in print and it’s official. THE PLEASURE TRIP is due April 1, 2005, right after I finish writing a half a Blaze, a half a historical and take a break for the holidays.
  • October – Decide I can’t possibly create an authentic reading experience with this book unless I schedule a cruise to explore my heroine’s world. I owe it to my readers! My husband races to the computer to check out possible itineraries before I change my mind.
  • October 29 – Submit ideas for alternative titles and cover art. Learn the book is tentatively scheduled for a January 2006 release date. This is stating to feel real!
  • January 2, 2005 – The blank page beneath the heading “Chapter 4” awaits. There is no more dreaded writer moment than staring at a blank page! I vow to think all day, plot all night, and write tomorrow. Besides, who can think about writing with a cruise coming up?
  • January 3 – I find out my writing month will be shortened by a bit of foot surgery I need. Thank goodness I built in plenty of time to write the story. I begin to wonder if pain medicine will make me more creative. Didn’t Samuel Taylor Coleridge write “Kubla Khan” while under the influence? Maybe the drugs will help me produce something completely brilliant!
  • January 13 – Cozumel, here we come! My husband and I take a five-day excursion to explore the Caribbean and get a feel for Rita Frazer’s world. Pure bliss. (See photo on the photos page.) I come home brimming with ideas and fill pages at an alarming rate. Right up until my surgery date…ugh.
  • February 5 – A week and a half after foot surgery I realize that pain medicine only makes me sleep. Coleridge’s brilliance must have been in spite of the drugs and not because of them. I throw all meds in the trash and wish I could take another cruise, but would settle for learning how to get a cup of coffee to my office desk while on crutches. Caffeine-now that’s a good drug.
  • February 11 – Discover my release date has been moved to February 2006. Just in time for Valentine’s Day promotions! Perfect.
  • March 31 – Pen epilogue-sniff!-I’ll miss these characters. Wipe tears while sprinting to the FedEx box to hit my deadline.
  • April 1 – Thank lucky stars that my manuscript made it to Toronto. Here’s hoping my editor loves it! Now I lose myself in other projects, all the while preparing for the inevitable revisions.
  • May 15 – Neurotic Writer Syndrome begins even though I have other projects I should be developing. Surely editor hates the manuscript for THE PLEASURE TRIP and is wondering how to tell me. Investigate other career options, just in case. Working on a cruise ship sounds fun and less fraught with creative insecurities. Maybe I should take a page from my heroine’s book?
  • June 15 – Well, there’s good news and bad news. My editor read the book and loves it. Too bad I wrote 30 pages too many. Now I must cut apart my story to trim, hone and refine until only the most dazzling pieces are left. And no… that’s not the good news, since that’s hard work!! I’ll surely tear my hair out, but I’ll be grateful in the end. The good news is that the Signature program wants bonus features in all the books and one of my bonus features for THE PLEASURE TRIP will be “deleted scenes.” Oh, happy day! Those extra 30 pages aren’t wasted effort at all. I’ll be able to post some of the text and explain why I chose to cut those portions of the story. Now, all I’ve got to do is get busy. Revisions are due next month.
  • July 6 – I did it. Revisions are always the scariest part of the book for me (ie– will I ruin the story if I move this, take out that, or shift these story elements around?), but I feel good about the changes to this story overall. I squeezed the text down to a lean and mean 403 pages. (Think my editor notices I only cut 27 pages instead of 30?) I still laughed in a few places over dialogue snippets, even though I’ve read the book umpteen times by now. Surely that’s a promising sign. I dropped it all in the mail yesterday along with two of the bonus features– my cruise diary and the deleted scene along with an introduction to what I deleted. I still need to work on my author interview, but I’m closing in on the project. Here’s hoping I see the cover art soon, but first there are line edits and final proofreads. Believe me, I haven’t seen the last of this book.
  • August 5 – Surprise of all surprises, I came home from an outing at the Saratoga track today (I love August in upstate New York!) and found an envelope full of coverflats for my September Harlequin Historicals title. I pulled out the first batch and couldn’t believe there was a second stack in the envelope. A really big stack. They normally don’t send all *that* many. But lo and behold, the second stack of coverflats were for the THE PLEASURE TRIP. I had sent in art fact sheets sometime during my surgery-induced stupor of February and I know I sent samples of cute covers I loved, but my cover looks very original and just perfect for the tone of the book. It’s fun and sexy and not too-romance-y, which seems just right for my story. Now the daunting task begins of where and how to promote the story.
  • August 9 – Conversation with my editor about something else leads to a quick mention of THE PLEASURE TRIP and the revisions. She thinks they look great and is, in fact, moving on to a line edit. That means a second revision won’t be necessary (one never knows, especially when cutting 30 pages from a book!). Indeed, my editor has very nice things to say about the quality of the revisions and the story over all, which gives me that gold-star feeling all day. (Remember those days in school where the teacher gave you a gold star for a job well done? I lived for those.) Next up is creating advance reading copies and sending out promo material. But first I have to finish up a book with a September 1st deadline…
  • August 22 – Line edited copy of PLEASURE TRIP arrives via Fed Ex. I’ve got one week to read this latest version, make changes, and ship them back to my editor so my changes can be incorporated into the next stage of the book production. A scary proposition while I’m writing hard and fast to finish another book.
  • August 27 – I set aside the weekend to mostly read my line edits. The book looks very good. I read and edit 200 pages on Saturday, and save 200 pages to read and edit on Sunday.
  • August 29 – Whew! I email off my changes to my editor and get back to my work in progress. I should see a semi-final version of my manuscript in another month or so for proofreading and final edits. I’ve already started laying out bookmarks so now I get to run wild picking out promotional items for giveaways. This is the fun stuff!
  • September 20 – When the delivery man arrived with a package from my editor yesterday I assumed it would be my final proofs on THE PLEASURE TRIP, but it turned out to be line edits for my March book. Some of my promotional items arrived and I’ve been having fun playing with the flipflop shaped notepads and the bottles of bubbles in the shape of a hibiscus flower. Maybe the next time my doorbell rings it will be those final proofs.
  • October 4 – I’ve got the final proofs, known as the author alteration copy or AAs, in my hot little hands today! I’ve got a week to read through at my leisure and scour for any last minute fixes. By now the content should be just the way I want it, so this is the easiest read because I’m only looking for typos or mistakes that might have been introduced in the last round of changes. I usually only find a handful of things to tweak at this stage, and I’m comforted by the fact that it will still receive a couple more reads from copy editors. But even though the book is still making it’s way through production, I’m already showing off the cover when I go out to bookstores or conferneces. I gave away some PLEASURE TRIP promo items this past weekend at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta, and had lots of nice responses to my PLEASURE TRIP purse which my critique partner Catherine Mann had made for me as a birthday gift. The purse is a plastic tote that shows off my cover on both sides and it’s utterly adorable.
  • January 1, 2006 – Mailed tons of bookmarks to booksellers and readers groups to let them know about the February book. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves, and as it just so happens I will be cruising again in 2006 when the book is released. My husband and I enjoyed our Caribbean getaway so much the first time around we decided to take the kids this year and make a holiday of it! This will be a fun way to celebrate the new release.