Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oh Yes, I Can! (And News of Another Sale!)

In case you missed it yesterday at Carina Press. Go leave a comment to be entered into a prize drawing.

“You can’t write a romance series that features the same couple in every book. You just can’t.” I love the word “can’t.” I really do. Telling me I can’t do something is like dangling a red blanket in front of a bull. It just makes me want to scream CAN SO at the top of my lungs. But rather than getting mad after everyone and her sister told me I couldn’t do it, I decided to get even. I wrote FATAL AFFAIR, intending for it to launch a series featuring Washington, D.C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland and her love interest, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano. I worked hard in FATAL AFFAIR to surround Sam and Nick with a rich cast of supporting characters, and I put them in a city that will provide endless sources of story and conflict for my fearless duo as well as their friends and family.

I wrote that book, I loved that book, and my agent loved it, too. Knowing the series idea would be a tough sell to romanceland, I decided to start book 2 just to make sure I could get this plan to work the way I thought it would. (Another no-no in the writing world: starting book 2 before you sell book 1. Did someone say, “can’t”? Hmmm, thought so.) We put FATAL AFFAIR out on submission and guess what we were told? You just can’t write a romance series featuring the same couple in every book. You can’t. Ouch. I mean, I knew it, but I still hoped someone might be willing to take a teeny tiny risk that maybe, just maybe, I COULD write a series featuring the same couple in every book. That maybe, just maybe, rabid romance readers would connect with this couple and want more, more, more! That maybe, just maybe, as a rabid romance reader myself, I knew what it took to make this work.

Meanwhile, back at book 2, I was finding it downright difficult to keep up the conflict in the relationship of my newly in love couple. You know that stage—the rose-color glasses phase when everything is hunky dory? Well, of course I couldn’t let them be TOO happy, now could I? I was 50,000 words into FATAL JUSTICE and being challenged like I’d never been challenged before when I got the official word that FATAL AFFAIR hadn’t sold. What’s a girl to do? Well, scream and yell and punch a few things (not people, don’t worry, although I did give my kids a heads up that it was a good day to steer clear of Mom :-) . After the hissy fit subsided, my mulish Irish pride kicked in, and I set out to finish that second book.

After a significant amount of bone marrow and brain matter was donated to the cause, I finished with a scene that is probably my all-time favorite in any of my books. It took me a full year to write FATAL JUSTICE—four times longer than it took to write FATAL AFFAIR—and I finished with tears on my face because before I even wrote the words “THE END,” this book I loved with my all my heart was dead on arrival. No one would ever see it. A year later, I sold FATAL AFFAIR to Carina, which opened its doors promising to blow the lid off the publishing world. And last week, on the fifth anniversary of the day I wrote “THE END” for the very first time in my life, Carina bought FATAL JUSTICE—eighteen months after the DOA day. Guess what? OH YES, I CAN!

I couldn’t be more delighted to have found a home for these two books, and hopefully more to come in this series. I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with editors who can see the potential and possibilities for Sam, Nick, and their cast of supporting characters (yes, I’m talking to you, Angela James and Jessica Schulte!). I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with the savvy, professional, incredibly author-centric group behind Carina as well as the Harlequin team supporting this effort. Every aspect of my association with Carina has been a delight. And how about that cover? Whoa! They gave me everything I asked for and then some!

So what’s FATAL AFFAIR all about? Come back later today to read a brief synopsis as well as a never-before-seen excerpt. And when someone tells you that you can’t do something? Do it anyway. You just never know where it will lead you.

And a never-before-seen excerpt:

“Do you want some help cleaning up?” Sam asked Nick when they were alone.

“That’s all right. I can do it.”

He stood and extended a hand to help her up.

Sam took his hand, but when she tried to let go, he tightened his grip.

Startled, she looked up at him.

“I’m sorry I dragged you over here for nothing.”

“It wasn’t nothing—” Her words got stuck in her throat when he ran a finger over her cheek. His touch was so light she would have missed it if she hadn’t been staring at him.

“You’re tired.”

She shrugged, her heart slamming around in her chest. “I haven’t been sleeping too well lately.”

“I read all the coverage of what happened. It wasn’t your fault, Sam.”

“Tell that to Quentin Johnson. It wasn’t his fault, either.”

“His father should’ve put his son’s safety ahead of saving his crack stash.”

“I was counting on the fact that he would. I should’ve known better. How someone could put their child in that kind of danger… I’ll just never understand it.”

“I’m sorry it happened to you. It broke my heart to read about it.”

Sam found it hard to look away. “I, um…I should go.”

“Before you do, there’s just one thing I really need to know.”

“What?” she whispered.

He released her hand, cupped her face and tilted it to receive his kiss.

As his lips moved softly over hers, Sam summoned every ounce of fortitude she possessed and broke the kiss. “I can’t, Nick. Not during the investigation.” But oh how she wanted to keep kissing him!

“I was dying to know if it would be like I remembered.”

Her eyes closed against the onslaught of emotions. “And was it?”

“Even better,” he said, going back for more.

“Wait. Nick. Wait.” She kept her hand on his chest to stop him from getting any closer. “We can’t do this. Not now. Not when I’m in the middle of a homicide investigation that involves you.”

“I didn’t do it.” He reached up to release the clip that held her hair and combed his fingers through the length as it tumbled free.

Unnerved by the intimate gesture, she stepped back from him. “I know you didn’t, but you’re still involved. I’ve got enough problems right now without adding an inappropriate fling with a witness to the list.”

“Is that what it would be?” His eyes were hot, intense and possibly furious as he stared at her. “An inappropriate fling?”

“No,” she said softly. “Which is another reason why it’s not a good idea to start something now.”

He moved closer to her. “It’s already started, Sam. It started six years ago, and we never got to finish it. This time, I intend to finish it. Maybe not right now, but eventually. I was a fool to let you slip through my fingers the first time. I won’t make that mistake again.”

Startled by his intensity, Sam took another step back. “I appreciate the warning, but it might be one of those things that’s better left unfinished. We both have a lot going on—”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, handing her the hair clip.

Sam felt his eyes on her back as she went to the door and let herself out. All the way home, her lips burned from the heat of his kiss.

Fatal Affair, June 21, from Carina Press!

4 comments:

Mary G said...

Woohoooo!!! Congrats Marie. I'm so happy for you. I'll have to get over to Carina & read your post.

Cheryl Brooks said...

Cool beans, Marie! WTG!

KatieO said...

I love this "never give up" story! Congrats on giving your true life saga a HEA ending!

Can't wait to read this series!

Marie Force said...

Thanks for coming by Mary, Cheryl and Katie. I am soooo excited about the sale of Fatal Justice. That was a very big MOMENT for me! :-)