The Next Big Thing (Week 27)


*insert British narrator voice here* Hallo, and welcome to this installment of The Next Big Thing blog hop, wherein authors share info about their books, then send you on to visit other blogs to read about even more nifty things to read. You likely arrived here from Gina Salamon’s blog. Welcome! If you haven’t visited Gina’s blog, go there and give her some love and find out more about her book, Sleepless.

Here are my answers to the blog hop questions, about my upcoming contemporary romance, By Design, which will be e-published in May:

1. What is the working title of your book?

By Design

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve been a writer all my life, and have made my living as one for the better part of the past couple of decades, but I’d never attempted to write a novel (not for publication, anyway) since a misguided attempt at a YA paranormal back in the mid-’90s that I never finished. After I quit my last full-time job about five years ago to stay home and raise my son, my husband said I should “knock out a few dozen romance novels over a couple of weekends” to get filthy rich. Hah! He’s a funny guy. In a misguided kind of way. Still, the idea of getting back to writing fiction after many years in the nonfiction biz was intriguing.

This book actually started out as a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, but since I decided to join at the last minute, I didn’t have time to research unfamiliar backgrounds, professions, and settings. So I followed the old adage “write what you know” and made the main character an interior decorator, because I have a lot of first-hand experience renovating houses (and the scars—and empty bank accounts—to prove it). I made it a comedy because I love nothing more than making people laugh. Plus I am full of snark, and it’s gotta go somewhere or I’ll blow up like Violet in Willy Wonka.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It’s classified as a contemporary romance. I’ve always referred to it as a contemporary romantic comedy, because I am all about the specificity thing. If we were still allowed to use the term “chick lit,” I think it would apply, although I don’t give a toss about designer shoes or handbags.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I tussle with this a lot. (Hey, I’m optimistic and like to plan ahead.) I’m not sure who I’d like to play Emmie, my main character, although in my mind’s eye she looks a lot like Georgina Reilly, who plays the caustic standup comedian Sabrina on The L.A. Complex. I also like her husky voice—it’s a nice change from squeaky heroines. Graham, the hero, is easier: I brazenly stole (okay, appropriated) British TV presenter James May’s amazingly unusual deep blue eyes. Graham’s core stillness and poise—his presence, I guess you could call it—was inspired by Jack Davenport. (But not as dickish as his character in Smash, of course.)

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One sentence? Oh no no no—not for a rambler like me! How about several? It’d still be shorter than anything else I’ve come up with yet:

Emmie Brewster, “Doormat,” has a nice ring to it. Well, okay, it’s not very nice, but it is truthful. Surrounded by less-than-admirable individuals of the male persuasion, including a freeloading boyfriend, a tantrum-throwing interior designer boss, and a rather selfish dad, Emmie’s about ready to snap. Until she meets Graham, a charming architect who believes in her more than she believes in herself. Of course, he’s not without his own problems, but Emmie learns that if she digs deep enough, she’ll discover enough strength to save herself and her “hero in distress” as well.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m represented by The Most Amazing and Excellent Agent in the World, Jordy Albert, of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. I have a three-book deal with Kensington Publishers. The first, By Design, will be published  as an e-book in May 2013.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About a year and a half, off and on. I wrote the first half for NaNoWriMo ’09, wrote a little more a few months later, then finished it during NaNoWriMo ’10. That left me with a stupid-long MS, so I edited the hell out of it between December 2010 and July 2011, when I started querying agents. And then of course I edited it again…and again…and again after that!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh, a little of this, a little of that. I think any romance writer who has a rather hapless main character who tends to embarrass herself and make a few bad decisions, like my Emmie, can hearken back to Bridget Jones. I discovered Kristan Higgins’ books after I’d finished my first or second draft and realized that there really is a market for gentle humor and sweet romance. She doesn’t know it, but her books really reassured me. You could say I enjoyed her company! (That doesn’t sound stalkerish at all, does it?)

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Aside from the stuff in my answer to question 2? I guess I didn’t know it at the time, but I was following more standard sage fiction-writing advice: write what you want to read. I  was desperately searching for satisfying, fun novels that I’d enjoy the way I enjoy well-crafted chick flicks. I didn’t find many, so I decided to see if I could write one.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

My book is one hundred percent vampire-, werewolf-, shapeshifter-, zombie-, angsty teen-, apocalypse/dystopia-, and erotica/ménage/BDSM-free. Wait, I think I just alienated most readers. Darn it! But if there’s anyone else out there who’s looking for a straightforward contemporary romance that will put a smile on your face and maybe elicit a few laughs (I hope), try By Design.

Tagged for next week (Week 28) are some of my very talented writer friends. Check out their blogs next Wednesday, December 12, when it’s their turn to post answers to these same questions about their own works-in-progress!

Robert K. Lewis:

Matt Sinclair:


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