How long did it take from when you began writing your manuscript to the book launch?
Thanks, Lynne. This question has multiple answers. Must Love Fashion started out as another novel. It took about one year to get that version of the story written. This is where the story gets a little interesting and juicy. I’d been working with an agent for a women’s fiction novel and when that didn’t get picked up, she encouraged me to write a romance novel. I’d had very little experience with reading romances and the ones I had read were ‘historicals’. But I had the idea of a woman with health challenges who meets and falls for a man just getting over the loss of his wife. I took that idea, came up with a title (Not Must Love Fashion) and a setting. I thought so long as I had an HEA (Happy Ever After), I was set.
I was very wrong and didn’t realize it until I shot it off to the agent. She got back to me a few weeks later with a blistering harsh rejection. After I’d gotten over the initial shock and depression of that (three weeks), I realized I had wasted an entire year. I had been working full time as an in-house interior designer for a large senior living franchise, traveling a lot and was under an enormous amount of stress. So each night I would drown myself in a glass (or two) of wine, eat dinner and then try to write. What could go wrong there?
To make this long story short, I sent the rejected manuscript to a published author I know through one of my writing groups. She got back to me with several suggested changes and a lot of compliments. In short, she felt the story had merit and told me not to give up. I had a new manuscript written in four months. I’d also made the decision to leave my full time job. I’m getting started a little later in life and didn’t have years to make this happen. The time was now!
What are you currently reading?
After I had submitted Must Love Fashion to publishers, I had decided to pick up another novel I started writing a while back. A vampire romance. One would think when as a writer you have the license to create a world in which anything your heart desires can land on the page it’s easy…it’s not. With great power comes great responsibility. And stress. I hadn’t ever been a ‘huge’ vampire fan. My first bite (no pun) was the Twilight books. And then the Sookie Stackhouse novels, by Charlaine Harris. Those books however are not traditional ‘romance’ novels.
And when trying to swim in the ‘romance’ end of the pool, there are rules. I had to find a few other vampire ‘romances’ for inspiration and guidance. I stumbled upon a book called Vampires Are Forever by Lynsay Sands. It’s part of her Argeneau series. The book helped in that while I was going off in all different directions trying to make my vampires unique with a host (no pun) of various qualities, Sands’ Argeneau vampires (Immortals, as they prefer to be called) were very simple. And that made them elegant. By following her lead, it helped my story not get bogged down in scientific hog-wash and allowed me to really concentrate on the love story between the two main characters.
As it turns out that Argeneau book was the 8th in the series of now 26 books! And I’m hooked. Reading them all.
What is your latest project?.
In Must Love Fashion we meet Gwen’s siblings, Greg Mallory, a police officer and Skye Mallory, an attorney. I had actually intended to write Skye’s story next. Even had the first chapters written. But the more I worked on MLF, I grew excited to tell Greg’s story more. So poor Skye got bumped.
There are plenty of ‘runaway bride’ stories out there. But the stories usually follow an arc where the bride finds new love with someone else. And usually the jilted groom is portrayed as a jerk and the villain.
But I had the idea…what if he’s not a jerk? What if he really is the good guy and what if the runaway bride came back! In MLF, we get a glimpse of what Greg has gone through and how it’s affected him. And at the end of MLF, we meet Faith (the runaway bride) and find out she’s back in Darling Cove!
The heart of Must Have Faith is ‘why did Faith really leave?’ She told Greg why two days before the wedding, but Faith really left for another reason.
I so loved writing this book. Because of what I’d gone through to get Must Love Fashion complete, with all the changes (including even character name changes from ancient drafts), I knew Greg and Faith inside and out from the start. Greg was so much fun to write. A handsome brooding police officer. Alpha male personified. But the man has a heart of gold and he was wounded.
Can Faith repair his heart and redeem herself? Readers will have to wait to find out.
Was Must Love Fashion the first novel you’d written?
No. While Must Love Fashion is my debut published novel, the first novel I’d written and completed and submitted was a Women’s Fiction novel called Forty Times Platinum.
It was August of 2010 and I’d just finished another failed round of IVF treatments. My husband worked nights and I was probably lonely and depressed. I became quietly obsessed with a singer. Sitting on my laptop at night, I scoured the internet for news about him, concerts and listened to his music for comfort.
I came across a photo of him and an attractive older woman. Hey Now! Upon researching her, I learned she was a music executive who’d written a song for him. But in real life there wasn’t anything romantic between them. But what if there was? And so the idea for Forty Times Platinum was born.
That night, I wrote what became the fourth chapter in the book. And I kept going. A year and a half later, I hit 230,000 words and I thought to myself… this might be too long. Ha Ha. (The average manuscript is about 85-90K) I spent another six months breaking the story into two parts. But it didn’t split evenly. So I had to revise Book One and Book Two. I was writing them together.
When Book One was about 130,000 words, I decided to start showing it to people. And based on the feedback, I felt I’d had something I could do ‘something’ with. It took another year which included the reality check that it needed to cut even further, but I submitted it to agents and signed with one. Unfortunately, the book didn’t get picked up. And that agent was the same one who harshly criticized what became Must Love Fashion, which btw, I submitted to publishers myself and received a total of four offers.
I plan to take FTP and its sequel and try to get that published on my own next year. My dance card for 2017 is full!
Name and explain two books which inspired you to write in the romance genre?
This is an exciting question to answer. I hadn’t been a big romance fan until several years ago. I suffered from the typical snobbery of the perception of what these books were really about; unrealistic, bodice-rippers, sugary, all that. A friend of mine who primarily reads women’s fiction had mentioned a book series called The Bride Quartet, by Nora Roberts. I have to admit, those books completely dispelled my myths. Of course, I’ve read a few since then that completely enforce those myths. But there are a lot of people on this planet and no two people like the same thing.
But those Bridal books were a bridge I could cross with my women’s fiction ideas and transform them into realistic, relatable happy ever after tales.
Once I started reading romance, I couldn’t stop. For a while, I was sneaking off to Barnes and Noble and gobbling up several a week. The books I had been drawn to however were mostly historicals. Johanna Lindsey’s Malory books drew me in big time. (It’s just a coincidence that my Darling Cove family has the same- but I spelled it Mallory).
When I attend conventions and listen to Keynotes and other speakers, everyone has that one book that not only drew them in, but anchored them to romance. My book was Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day. That book has never seen my bookshelf. I haven’t put it away. While struggling to make edits to Forty Times Platinum based on a proofreader’s comments, I dug through Seven Years to understand what the editor was talking about. Seven Years taught me how to write romance. It opened me up to the elegant way to craft a scene, build it and show…SHOW emotions not just tell the reader about them. And if I can offer one more book to this list which is my current emotional bible, it’s Jennifer Gracen’s third Harrisons Series book, Tis the Season. The emotional punches in that book still have me catching my breath. I’m lucky enough to know Jennifer (she’s a member of my local RWA writing chapter) and I was so glad to be able to tell her how her writing made me feel.
I just hope one day, I can do the same for someone.
Lynne, thank you so much for the opportunity to tell you about myself and my debut novel MUST LOVE FASHION published and available to readers everywhere.
Here’s an Excerpt from Must Love Fashion:
“Sometimes you don’t realize what a hole you have in your life until someone fills it.”
Annoyed, Gwen roughly draped her scarf around her neck and put on her coat. But those frayed edges once again caught on one of her charm bracelets. “Son of a…” Her free hand reached up to loosen the scarf from her neck before it strangled her. But it snagged on the clasp of her necklace and twisted; trapping her as if she were in a straitjacket. “Are you kidding me?” she growled.
Furiously, she shrugged out of the coat, sending it flying across the office.
“Excuse me.” A deep gravelly voice drifted in from the doorway.
Gwen swung around and locked eyes with the most devastatingly handsome man she’d ever seen. Andrew! “Oh hi!” She held up her hand revealing the tangled mess she’d made of herself.
“Looks like you’ve gotten yourself tied up there.” Andrew put down his bag and moved toward her with powerful long legs covered in what she knew had to be a pair of Prada dress slacks. In an instant, he was touching her hand and…her neck. “What’s caught on what here?”
“I can do it.” She backed away. It was startling to be so close to him. That photo did not do this man justice. He was even more stunning in person. He was so tall and broad. Heat radiated from his body; removing the chill that clung to her all week from the drafty window.
“I think you’ve done enough.” Andrew snagged her wrist again. His commanding hold made her feel like Lois Lane when Superman rose up, caught her and said, I’ve got you.
Deborah Garland is a former computer and sports journalist, turned romance and women’s fiction author. She likes to write about love and the struggles of complicated relationships. Her heroines are strong, and the heroes fall hard for them. She lives on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband and when she’s not writing, she’s either in the gym, or reading, cuddled up with their two pugs, Zoe and Harley.