Don’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up.
By: Marie Force
On my website I have a quote from President Calvin Coolidge that I absolutely love: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Good old “Silent Cal” might not have said much worth remembering, but that quote is a winner, and the longer I’m associated with the publishing business, the more important perseverance becomes to me. I thought I’d share my latest example of how you shouldn’t ever give up on a book of your heart.
In the fall of 2007, I read about a U.S. congressman who was found dead in his house in Arlington, Virginia. For a brief time, the police investigated a number of possibilities, but it was soon determined that he fell down the stairs after having a heart attack. But what, I wondered, would the story have been like if he had been murdered? That question became the seed for my book, Fatal Affair, which will be out in June from Carina Press, Harlequin’s new all-digital arm.
I finished Fatal Affair in February 2008. I signed with my current agent shortly after that and sent the book off to her. She loved it and put it out on submission. We had lots of nibbles and many of the editors had high praise for the story, the writing, etc. One house was interested enough to request revisions, but there was a pervasive issue that we heard about over and over again. My vision was for a series about a U.S. Senator involved with a Washington, D.C. police detective. The publishers we spoke with, however, wanted a new couple front and center in each subsequent book. Apparently, that is the romance series “formula,” and no one was willing to deviate from it.
At one point, my agent asked me, “Are you sure you want to do it this way?” Yes, I replied, even though my heart was breaking at the thought of Fatal Affair not selling. I was very sure that my series, written the way I wanted to write it, featuring this one fabulous (in my humble opinion) couple, would resonate with romance readers. It was just how I saw it, and try as I might, I couldn’t change my vision. While we were still hoping to sell Fatal Affair, I decided I’d better write the second book to see if this vision I was fighting so hard for would even work as a series. The second book, Fatal Justice, took ten months to write, which is about three times my usual pace for a single title-length book. It was, indeed, a huge challenge to write an already-established couple, to keep the conflict alive in their relationship, and to make sure they continued to grow as individuals and as a couple. Fatal Justice made me work for it in a big, big way. In fact, I’ve never worked harder on a book. At a few points along the way, I thought about abandoning it and moving on to something else, because it was just too damned hard. But I made myself finish it, and in the end, I liked it even more than Fatal Affair. Finishing that book under these circumstances was a huge accomplishment in my journey as a writer.
When Fatal Affair didn’t sell as a romance, my agent and I talked about retooling it for the mystery market, but she said I’d have to scale back the romance. Well, I’m a romance writer, so that idea didn’t appeal to me one bit. Saddened, I put Fatal Affair and Fatal Justice on the shelf, hoping that somewhere down the road the market might change a bit and my series featuring an established couple would be welcome. Then Carina Press opened its doors late last year, vowing to shake things up in the romance business. Executive Editor Angela James was very well regarded thanks to her great work at Samhain, and I decided to submit Fatal Affair to them. They bought it on February 18. Right out of the gate, Angela and my editor, Jessica Schulte, told me they loved the idea of a series featuring my dynamic couple, Sam and Nick. Hallelujah!
Here’s a brief summary of Fatal Affair:
On the morning of the most important vote of United States Senator John O’Connor’s career, he is late—again. His best friend and chief of staff, Nick Cappuano sets off to O’Connor’s apartment expecting to roust him from bed and hoping he is alone. But what Nick finds is that O’Connor, the handsome, amiable senator from Virginia, has been brutally murdered, and Nick’s world comes crashing down around him. Complicating the disaster, the detective assigned to the case is none other than Sam Holland, Nick’s one-night stand from six years earlier, the woman who broke his heart and haunts his dreams. With six years worth of unfinished business hanging between them and more than a few scores to settle personally and professionally, Nick and Sam set out to find the senator’s killer while trying—and failing—to resist the overwhelming attraction between them that seems to have only grown over the years.
It soon becomes clear that the senator’s past holds secrets that not only led to his death but now endanger Nick and Sam as well. Working together to find a killer and to rediscover the love they thought they lost long ago, they must put the past behind them and build a future that offers a world of new opportunities for both of them—including an offer from the Virginia Democrats for Nick to finish the last year of John’s term.
I’m so glad I never gave up on Fatal Affair. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
Marie Force is the author of Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight from Sourcebooks Casablanca. Watch for Fatal Affair in June from Carina Press. Her next book from Sourcebooks, Everyone Loves a Hero, will be out in the Spring of 2011.
On a note, Marie had to take an unexpected flight to Phoenix, but will be commenting this morning, during layovers, and Friday. So if you don’t see her comment Thursday, you will Friday. Marie’s one dedicated lady!