The book that eventually became my debut romantic suspense novel, Hold Me, went through a few major revisions on its road to publication. In its first incarnation I only gave a passing nod to the romance part. The characters were developed, but they never established a…personal contact with each other. I had a vague notion of a grand, sweeping story arc, heartbreaking in its intensity, requiring several books (maybe 6) to do it justice. I sent it out to publishers and agents and waited.
It was rejected.
After a while, I rewrote the book. This time the romance was a little more defined. You could tell the hero and heroine would end up together, but the end was kind of like the end of the movie “Heaven Can Wait” where Warren Beatty says, “How about we go get a cup of coffee or something?” In fact, I think I used that very line. I sent it out to publishers and agents and waited.
It was rejected.
My writing had improved, thank God, so that time I got a fair number of personalized rejections. Everybody—and I do mean everybody—said they liked the basic characters, but not what they did. I thought, “Hmmm…I wonder if they’re trying to tell me something?”
I’m quick like that.
I read my book again and I saw what they saw. I wasn’t being honest. I had created honest characters, but I hadn’t let them be honest in their situation. I was writing a romance novel, but I still hadn’t admitted to myself that it was a romance novel.
It wasn’t because I don’t like romance novels—I do. I love them. They’re basically all I read. They’re pretty much all I own. I am a romance junkie. It’s really not surprising that any book I wrote would be a romance.
No, I hadn’t wanted to acknowledge the romance in my book because I was afraid. And I was afraid because romance—in novels and in real life—is a very intimate thing. Not just the sex scenes, but the whole emotional dance between characters. Romance demands honesty, and I was afraid of putting myself out there. I was afraid of being vulnerable.
But I loved my book. So I rewrote it again. And this time around, I just let the story flow, baby. I focused on telling the truth to the best of my ability. I let the characters dance. And I finally let the romance out.
It wasn’t perfect. It still had some structural problems. But this time, after a few changes, my book was accepted for publication by Carina Press.
The moral? You need to be honest. Don’t be afraid to do what you know to be the truth. If you’re a writer, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to stop the true story from coming out.
What about you? Have you ever been afraid to tell the truth? Have you ever almost given up on something important simply because you didn’t want to change it? I can’t be alone here! 😀
Betsy Horvath was raised on MGM musicals, old-skool Harlequins, and Nancy Drew, so it should not have come as a shock that one day she’d be writing romance. The biggest surprise was that it took her so long to actually buckle down and do it. Hold Me, her debut romantic suspense novel, is available from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books On Board, and anywhere fine ebooks are sold.