Everything under the sun pushes somebody’s button; that is an inescapable fact of life. So I feel it is my moral duty to be up front with readers about elements of my book, Private Arrangements (Bantam, 25 Mar 08), that might cause consternation. Here we go:
1. OMGWTFBBQ, she be not chaste during their long separation! Back in 2001, a kindly NYC agent, after she read the first incarnation of Private Arrangements, called me and told me that while she thought the book had potential, she couldn’t sell it the way it was. One, she said, the story should not be told from the very beginning, but from the point when the hero and the heroine meet again. Two, she said, the majority of romance readers live below the Mason-Dixon Line and would not tolerate a heroine who takes other lovers. I tend to take 50% of the advice people give me, so guess which 50% I did not take? Seriously, I live below the Mason-Dixon Line and I would have a problem with a woman who does not take a lover in ten years, when her husband has vowed never to return to her.
2. There be flashbacks. That’s what I get for taking the advice about starting the book in the middle. And here’s a funny story. I once e-mailed Susan Elizabeth Phillips in the hope that she’d read my book and give me a blurb. The classy lady that SEP is, she turned me down in a way that made me feel wonderful about myself. Some weeks later at RWA Nationals in Dallas, I sat in on one of her workshops. She expounded on things that would take a reader out of a book. And she stressed, “Do not, do not write a wonderful first chapter and then start your second chapter with ‘Ten years earlier.’
Guess what my second chapter starts with? Wrong. It’s “Eleven years earlier.” Ha!
3. Omgwtfbbq, he be not chaste during their long separation! You saw that one coming, didn’t you?
4. There be a virgin hero. His first time is with her and it is on-screen. So this book qualifies as a book with a virgin hero. (But it’s so totally hot! Come on, Sybil, testify!)
5. There be a secondary romance. I understand some readers want only the primary relationship. Believe me, I was in that camp, because I felt that the secondary h/h often usurped the primary h/h. But then I figured out that the secondary h/h cannot have a problem half as bad as the primary h/h, they should have a problem only about 1/6 the severity of the primary h/h’s. That way, it makes for a pleasant change of pace and a good way to insert a bit of humor and levity.
6. There be bodice ripping! Months ago, I googled Private Arrangements and came across it on a Swedish college student’s nightstand. She called it a “bodice rippern”(sic). I laughed uproariously. Then my husband said, “But she’s not wrong. There is some sort of ripping in your book.” I stared at him, dumbfounded, until I recalled this one scene where the hero was, um, impatient with the heroine’s nightgown. My jaw dropped and a wail was heard throughout these lands, “Omigod, I write bodice rippers!”
I wanted seven reasons. Seven is the most fabulous number — there are seven days in a week, seven colors to the rainbow, and seven books in the Harry Potter series — where as six is kind of stand-offish and weird… But my h/h do not sleep with other peeps on screen, there is no skanky villain sex — not even a real villain anywhere in sight — and no overabundance of prior-book characters visiting. So I guess I’ll have to settle for six.
Now don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Comment on any of today’s four Sherry Thomas guest posts with whatever crazy thing you’ve done for love, or the wildest reason imaginable for not reading at all, and you could win an ARC of Sherry’s 29 July 08 Bantam release, Delicious, and a Private Arrangements t-shirt! (Two prizes, one winner.)
Remember, only one entry per IP address is eligible for the prize, but you can comment as often as you wish. Winners will be chosen from comments entered between now and midnight tonight, 24 March, according to the blog’s timestamp (U.S. Central).