May 17 2011

Deadline by A. Y. Stratton


An exciting thing happened yesterday. At the bottom of the last chapter of my latest romantic suspense story I wrote the words “The End.”


I am going to repeat that really loudly:




Not really eons. A tad more than a year ago, this idea fluttered in the back of my bean. While I was struggling over some chapters my new editor had said needed help, I got to thinking what fun it would be to have a man and a woman fall in love over a dead body.


That’s the kind of concentration I have. The editor kept telling me to work a bit more on the first three chapters. I did that, but she was still dissatisfied. I gave her another effort. And another. The chapters were getting longer, but not better.


I began to wonder why a man and woman would be hiding in a closet. Suddenly I had an answer. Obviously, they each broke into the same house on the same night. Since my work on the “less than excellent chapters” continued to flounder, I focused on the next question. Were both of my intruders thieves?


Of course not. Romances about jewel thieves haven’t been hot for some time now. However, it’s possible that could change if vampires actually stayed dead for awhile.


Okay, so my characters weren’t thieves. And of course they weren’t murderers. And I was not going to make them crazy.


The next part was quite fun. In order to create characters sympathetic to my potential readers (and to my editor, of course), I had to cook up legitimate, as in legal, reasons for Nathan and Kate to sneak into the home of a wealthy criminal lawyer. Within moments of their unfriendly confrontation, Kate and Nathan hear someone else arrive at the house. The nearest hiding place is the master bedroom closet.


I pictured Nathan as a man on a mission of justice, while Kate was a loyal woman on a crazy errand for her aging grandmother. There they were, trembling in the closet, nose to nose, chest to chest, surrounded by plastic-covered ball gowns and fur coats. Correction: she trembled; he was stalwart.


And then I made sure a gun exploded in the next room. Bloody, deadly, and oh, so romantic. Talk about the ideal way to meet your mate!


Back to my deadline problem. How do all those OTHER authors do it? People actually complete two books, three books, even five per year. I’ve been to lots of workshop sessions on how it’s done--the daily word target, the story arc charts, the crack of dawn creative moments, the middle of the night schedules, the ability to block out all distractions. I should repeat that last one: the ability to block out all distractions.


(Was that a rose-breasted grosbeak that just flew by my window? The phone just rang. It’s my sister-in-law. I wonder how my baseball team is doing. I should check.)


My real life intrudes, but that’s where I get some great quotes. No, I did not get my “fall in love over a dead body” idea from real life. But now that I think of it, funerals are probably a great place to pick up a date, depending on how old you are, of course.


Hmm. Maybe my next story will begin with two people falling in love at a funeral. I could call it “Dying for a Date,” “Plotting for Love,” or how about “His or Hearse?”     


Or maybe I should just call it “Deadline.”