A big welcome to Cindy Procter-King. Cindy and I share a love of beagles as well as books and writing. (Maybe more beagle love than writing love.) She has a new book out, PICTURE IMPERFECT, and I’m so glad to have her as our guest today to talk about it.
It Was a Dark and Stormy Sentence…
And not a very long one, at that.
I’m often asked where I get the ideas for my novels. Sometimes it’s as simple as a solitary sentence. One sentence that sticks in my mind and makes me wonder, “What if?”
Picture Imperfect began with one sentence that popped into my head while I was working on a different novel. The sentence? If Ursula Scott had to look at one more naked man, she’d scream.
I quickly jotted the sentence and a working title into my Ideas file and returned to my work in progress. But once the sentence was in my Ideas file, I couldn’t help but wonder…who was this Ursula, why was she looking at naked (or, as it turned out, nearly naked) men, and why did looking at them want to make her scream? From fright? Desire? Frustration?
Frustration, as it turned out.
I knew this character was fed up. I knew she worked in photography or at a magazine. I pictured this stream of half-dressed men, some only wearing underwear, parading in front of her camera. And I’d shake my head. Muse, what the heck is going on?
At the time, little did I realize that one short sentence would lead to my longest book, a romantic comedy mystery or romantic suspense “lite,” a genre I like to call “sassy suspense.” Picture Imperfect is a bit of a genre bender. Before Indie publishing, I would take out the book and work on it from time to time, but I hit a wall when submitting it to New York publishers and agents. Apparently, I hadn’t written a contemporary romance, but I hadn’t quite written a traditional mystery (which, as I discovered, are usually first-person) or a traditional romantic suspense (which usually has a grittier tone), either. One kind editor let me know that the book simply straddled two different worlds. It wasn’t enough of one or the other. Then a friend read the book and we brainstormed how to pump up the romance elements. So another rewrite of the book was in order. By the time I was finished, I was making the transition from traditional publishing to Indie, so decided to publish the book under my own imprint, Blue Orchard Books. Then readers could decide—had I written a compelling story? Because in the end, that’s what counts.
How I approach new stories isn’t different from most other writers. Sometimes it’s a character, sometimes a title, sometimes a sentence. For me, it’s usually a combination. All I know is that once that character, nearly always the heroine, pops into my brain, it’s difficult for me to let her go. But those first-sentence ideas? Those are my sticky ideas. The ones I can’t leave alone. Everything else in the novel, the characters, the plot, and, yes, the genre, evolves from that first sentence.
What are some of your favorite first sentences?
Photographer Ursula Scott discovers her sexy apprentice is an ex-cop investigating threats at his uncle’s studio…but is she a target or a suspect?
Just when she thought she had her life on autofocus…
Photographer Ursula Scott is six short months from buying her boss’s studio and helping her family knock down a massive debt. She can put up with his hairball antics for that long, right?
But, oh, he makes life difficult. She can barely restrain herself when he hogs credit for her assignments, and now half-naked weirdos are responding to his ad for her first magazine photo spread. On top of that, someone is sabotaging the studio. Worse, she discovers her sexy apprentice is a former cop practicing his newbie PI skills on the case—and she’s a suspect!
Suddenly, Ursula’s dreams and hard work seem about to go up in smoke. In more ways than one.
Well, not on her watch.
When Gabe McKenzie moves home following the shooting that kyboshed his career, he doesn’t expect to get sucked into finding the culprit wreaking havoc at his uncle’s photography studio. He certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Ursula Scott, a long-legged brunette with a definite motive and a desire to play Nancy Drew. Even as he clears her, the sabotage escalates into a bizarre stalking, placing Ursula…and Gabe’s hopes for their future…in danger.
If only he can convince her to stop snooping around and let him do his job as a PI, before an unknown menace threatens not only her dreams—but her life.
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