Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It's June 13th, and You Know What That Means...

My book officially launches today. I think. To be perfectly honest, I'm a little confused about the whole launch date thing with this book. But my Amazon.com page for FORBIDDEN TERRITORY lists today as the release date, so we'll go with it. :)

So...let's party!

The chips and dip are on the table in the corner, the sausage balls are in the oven, and there's a bottle of sparkling grape juice chilling in the fridge (sorry, I'm a non-drinker, and besides, you freaks, it's only 6 am!). I've got a big selection of CDs to slip into the player, and it ain't all country. And the horns and confetti are on the table...

Okay, the real truth is that I'm getting ready for work, there are corn muffins on the counter and I hope the milk hasn't soured, but it's my party and I can pretend if I want to.

Don't forget, I'll be drawing from a list of names in the comment section for a signed copy of FORBIDDEN TERRITORY. And to sweeten the pot, I'll add a $20 gift certificate to the online book store of you choice.

So, let the comments begin! Ask me questions about my book, about writing it, about writing in general—whatever you want to know. Just stop in to say hi, if you want.

Please don't make me look like that loser kid who invited the whole class to her party but nobody showed. :)


Thank you, everyone who dropped by my launch party thread, and as you can see by the number of comments, there were quite a few of you.

I've actually been fighting with a sinus headache all day, and I think it's finally won, so I'm going to try to get to bed early. However, that doesn't mean the party thread is closed! So if you're a late arrival, feel free to ask a question or make a comment, or heck, leave a post-modern haiku about the dystopic future. Whatever. You'll still be in the running for the signed book and $20 gift certificate to an online book store of your choice. I'll draw names in the morning and let y'all know who won, and I'll also answer any questions posted after I take my leave and take to my bed. :)

Night night! And please, kiddies, while I'm gone, don't get drunk and loud and make the neighbors call the cops!


MaryF said...

Well, ahem, I do already have the book, but that $20 gift certificate.... :)

Was this your GH finalist, Paula? Also, wasn't it originally aimed for Intimate Moments? What did you do to change it?


Marianne Arkins said...

Yahoo! How exciting for you....

I've been lurking on your blog for a while, having gotten here via Mary and Charity over at WNP, but didn't want you to look like that loser kid, so decided to post.

And, getting your book to add to my "autographed" shelf would just be an added bonus.

Here's to your first book and a wish for many more.

Paula said...

Hi, Mary! If I draw your name, I'll give you the GC and do another drawing for the book or something.

Yes, FORBIDDEN TERRITORY was my one and only Golden Heart finalist book. Originally titled WHAT THE HEART SEES, it was indeed conceived and written for Intimate Moments. It made it up to the senior editor at IM two different times over the span of about a decade and was rejected both times.

The consensus seemed to be that there was too much of the mystery plot for an IM; they prefer to focus primarily on the relationship. However, I knew the mystery elements were a bit weak; there was no compelling villain and not enough twists and turns in the mystery for it to work for Intrigue.

I started thinking about turning it into a Single Title and had come up with a couple of significant twists to the story and a new, more compelling villain. Right about that time, WHAT THE HEART SEES won first place in the Heart of the West contest, and my Intrigue editor was the finals judge. She asked to see a full.

Yikes! I'd only thought through the changes, not actually written them. So I gave myself a month to do the rewrite of the novel, thinking it was impossible that I'd be able to make it enough Intrigue-like to sell.

To be honest, I fell short, but apparently my editor saw enough potential in the book to buy it anyway and give me extensive revisions. The revision notes were fantastic and really helped me understand what an Intrigue should include and how to build a story to fit the editorial needs of that line, specifically upping the danger to the heroine, keeping the tension up all the time and providing multiple suspects (red herrings) and multiple twists to the plot. It was a much better book after the revisions, and I'm thrilled the editor saw its potential.

Paula said...

I'm reposting a couple of comments from another thread in here, since they're related:

:::Julie Cohen said...
I'm in a different time zone so it's tomorrow already here...can I have the guy on your cover, please???

Congrats, Paula.:::

Thank you, Julie. And regarding the guy on my cover--get in line. :)

:::KimW said...
Wake up! I'm here and ready to party. haha! I wish...I'm actually ready to head off to work. I'll stop back when I get home.

I love suspense stories. Your books sounds so good. The excerpt on the eHarlequin site makes you want to read more.

Two questions for you:

What is your favorite scene in Forbidden Territory?

What is a typical day like for you? :::

Hmm, my favorite scene in FORBIDDEN TERRITORY...it's hard to choose, and hard to relate the scenes without dropping spoilers for people who haven't read it.

I'll be general and say that the first kiss scene is a favorite. It's a different scene in the final book than it was when I first wrote it; it's actually a scene I radically rewrote as part of my revisions after the book was bought. It had come in the middle of a rather static, talky scene in the original manuscript. When I made my revisions after selling, I changed that scene into a much more danger-charged situation, which completely changed the tone and impact of the kiss--in a good way, I believe.

My typical days is pretty boring. I work full time, so Monday through Friday, I get up around 5:30 or 6:00, eat breakfast, go to work, have lunch, during which I try to write a page or two on whatever my current WIP may be. Come home, eat dinner, watch entirely too much television, try to finish my daily page goal on the WIP.

Wednesday nights are niece night--my two nieces and I usually hunker down to watch Ghosthunters on Sci Fi Channel (when it's on). (I tape Lost to watch later).

Saturday and Sunday I spend with my family, mostly, and try to write extra pages on my WIP.

I am possibly the most boring person in the world. :)

Paula said...

Thank you, Marianne! Nice to know that there are lurkers out there; I tend to be a bit of a lurker, myself, so I can identify.

Playground Monitor said...

Congratulations Paula! It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating this sale at the Heart of Dixie meeting. I know you're thrilled to see it on the shelf. Be sure to take a photo of yourself at the bookstore holding a copy of the book.

Keeping my fingers crossed that I win!


jennifer echols said...

CONGRATULATIONS on the release! I am so happy for you! And I do NOT have a copy of the book yet *hint hint.* I've been combing the stores for it, but I haven't found it.

Following your answer to KimW:

What's your page goal on the WIP? Just curious. I love to hear how other people write.

sue child said...

Hi Paula,

Congratulations! Do you know when Forbidden Territory might make it to the UK?

suefromdevon (eharlequin boards)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Paula! I love your revision story. Thanks for sharing. How long have you been writing? Was there ever a time when you were ready to chuck it all? And if not, what kept you going? Do I ask too many questions? :)

Congrats again and WTG, Paula!

All the best,
Gail from Canada

JZJenn said...

I almost didn't post, because I thought it would be rude to make you fall over dead from shock on your book's release date, but I decided to go for it anyway. And you don't even have to give me a free book!

Congratulations, Paula. I am SO proud of you and thrilled for you.

I think we're scouting local stores to see who's carrying the book later...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on release day, Paula. It's always great to see a familiar name as I check out the HQ selections each month.

Love your revision story. It shows that a willingness to adapt and perseverence can really pay off.

:provides plate of homemade brownies with white chocolate chips for party:


Karen Beeching said...

Paula, congratulations again. I'm so thrilled for you!

I do not have the book yet and a signed copy would be great. Either way, I will be picking one up by the end of the week! I can't wait to read it. A few of my questions have already been answered above so all I can say is ... enjoy the day.

All my best,

Karen Beeching

Tracy Montoya said...

Yay, Paula! As you know, I already have and have read FT, so I'm just here for the festive atmosphere....

Now, here's my burning question: Rose! Iris! Can you give any hints about how their stories will progress?

Gina Black said...

Happy Release Day!!! This is so exciting...I remember when you sold the book.

Letsee questions....I guess I'd love a bit of wisdom, like what you know now that you wish you'd known then (i.e. before selling and revisions) or maybe what you had to refigure--you know those "pearls" of wisdom that we get as unpubbed that turn out to be pure hooey.


Paula said...

Gail from Canada asks: "How long have you been writing? Was there ever a time when you were ready to chuck it all? And if not, what kept you going?

I've been writing "officially" since 1991, when I started writing short stories. I've been writing romance since about 1993. I'm an old timer. ;)

I did sort of "chuck it all" in the late nineties when I decided to try my hand at screenwriting, since the novel-writing wasn't working out so well at the time. But around 2003, I decided that short of moving to Los Angeles, I didn't have much chance of success in screenwriting, and I didn't want to move. So I returned to novel writing, got really serious about it, and two years later, I sold.

What kept me going was my inability to stop writing. I've thought about it plenty of times, but I just never could do it. And I figured that if I was going to spend all this time writing about fictional people, I should do whatever I could to get some compensation for it, if possible. :)

Paula said...

Thanks, Marilyn. And thanks a bunch for the opportunity to be interviewed on the Writing Playground (http://www.writingplayground.com/ for those of you who may not have visited it before--great site!)

Victoria Dahl said...

Congrats, Paula! What a great cover. Do you mind if I bring my own drinks? I need some liquid courage to get up the nerve to talk to that hot guy over there in the wet t-shirt.

Paula said...

Oops, missed Jennifer Echols's question: What's your page goal on the WIP? Just curious. I love to hear how other people write.

Since I'm writing Harlequin Intrigues, my overall page goal is 260 pages. I have never come UNDER 260 pages, and I won't freak out if I come in around 270 pages, but I'm trying to keep to that span of pages.

The way I have worked it out, if I write in the neighborhood of 3 pages on weekdays and 6 pages each on Saturday and Sunday, I can finish a book in about three months. Since my goal is to write three Intrigues per year, this is workable for me.

I create an Excel spreadsheet with the days of that three-month period listed, the number of projected pages per day, and a running total of pages done. I put all the dates and all the pages so that it ads up to 260 pages. Then I adjust the spreadsheet as I write---if I write more than 3 pages a day, my final total goes up, and I subtract pages from other days or delete a day. When I don't make the pages, the total goes down and I have to add pages or even days to the end of the spreadsheet.

It helps me to have a visual means of prodding myself and keeping up with my progress. It also is flexible enough that I can adjust for unexpected things that arise (like a work crisis yesterday that rendered me unable to write any pages last night).

Paula said...

Thanks, Sue! You asked: "Do you know when Forbidden Territory might make it to the UK?"

I don't know when it gets there officially as a British release (they don't tell us much about the business end at H/S) but it's available through Amazon.co.uk now, I think...


I wish I had a better answer for that, for my sake as well as yours! :)

Paula said...

BTW, the JZJenn who posted above in the comments? That's my best friend Jenn, who lives in New Jersey and has been reading and editing my stuff since, well, forever. Wave hello to Jenn! She's my critique partner, my biggest cheerleader, and if H/S see a huge sales spike in southern New Jersey, it's all her doing.

Paula said...

Mmm, brownies! Thanks, Corrina!

And thanks, too, to my Southern Magic chaptermate Karen Beeching for the kind words. Karen's been doing really well in contests recently with her books. We'll be seeing her name in print soon, too.

Kelley St. John said...


I'm heading out to pick up my very own copy of those abs, er, your book ;) I'll let you know if it's on the shelves here yet, and if not, I'll give you a heads up when it arrives!

SO happy for you, lady :)



Paula said...

Tracy! Thanks for dropping by!

Let's see...Rose's story is written. For those of you who have read the book, you may remember that she had a very happy paranormal gift in FORBIDDEN TERRITORY. Well, her gift takes a decided turn for the worse in her own story. She's like a pianist who's lost her hearing or an artist who's lost her sight, and a large part of her story is working her way through the alien landscape that her life has become.

Oh, and solving some brutal murders. She has a hand in that, too.

As for Iris, I'm working on her story now. Her paranormal gift is creating some problems for her as well, complicating a situation that's already fraught with danger.

But on the upside, you're gonna love her hero.

Tawny said...

Yay!! It's Paula's party time.
So excited your book is out --I'm hitting the bookstore today!

I love your revision story (especially since I just got my revision letter). Its so encouraging.

So... question... What's been the scariest thing about this journey from sold to book-in-hand?


Paula said...

Gina wants wisdom. Boy, did she come to the wrong place. But let's see....

I wish I'd known, fifteen years ago, that the only sure way to succeed in this business was to sit your behind down and write a great book. I was young and stupid and thought there had to be some trick to it. There's not. Just write a good book, send it out to people who might want to buy it, and then sit down and write an even better book. Repeat as necessary.

Another thing I learned is that some rules are...flexible. I had four different manuscripts at H/S with three different editors at the same time. That's supposedly a no-no, but it didn't stop me from selling a book they wanted to buy. Which takes us back to the whole "write a good book" thing.

Finally, find a happy compromise between being self-confident enough to believe in your abilities and self-aware enough to know that there's always room for improvement and that constructive criticism is a positive, not a negative.

Instigator said...

Congratulations, Paula! I'm so excited for you :-)

I agree with Marilyn, it seems like yesterday we were celebrating with cake at the meeting. But I know the time between then and now has been filled with interesting things - revisions, art fact sheets, etc. Can you give us a little insight into what happens after the sale and before the book actually hits the shelves?


Paula said...

Hi, Vicki! By all means, byob. Just don't spill it on the carpet or anything. :)

And I hate to break it to you, but the guy in the t-shirt? I think he just might already be madly in love with a psychic third-grade teacher. At least, that's what I hear.

Paula said...

Tawny! Congrats on your own sale.

The scariest part was the revision. I loved my editor's suggestions. I agreed with just about every one of them, and I knew it would make the book so much better, but there's that moment, after you've turned in the revisions, that you wonder if you completely screwed up and gave her something that wasn't at all what she wanted.

That point happened to come, for me, around the holidays, which meant my editor was busy preparing to be off for a couple of weeks around that time. She waited til the last minute to let me know the revisions had been accepted. That was a bit harrowing. :)

Paula said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kelley! (Kelley has a book coming out in September that has a great title--REAL WOMEN DON'T WEAR SIZE 2. Amen, sister).

Paula said...

Kira, I can't believe you asked me to go through the process, given how long-winded I was about it in the interview on The Writing Playground! I figured y'all were going to edit me for length on that one! Instigator is the perfect nickname for you! :)

I think I'll do us all a favor and direct everyone who wants the answer to that question to check out my interview on The Writing Playground (http://www.writingplayground.com/sandbox.html) Be sure to read the great interview with Stephanie Bond, too, while you're there!

mary beth said...

Congratulations Paula! I can't wait to read Forbidden Territory. Your personal writing journey is so inspirational to read. Thanks for sharing it with us. :-)

Kelley St. John said...


Um, I mean I got IT! The book, that is :) And Paula, unless they put your book out early at the Wal-Mart here, you sold 5 copies today, m'dear :) I got the last one, and it appeared they ordered 6 copies of each Intrigue!


Kelley, off to read a GREAT book!


sue child said...

Paula, thank you for answering all our questions. It's fascinating learning about the whole revisions process etc.

I'm so pleased I can get your book through Amazon.co.uk. Why didn't I think of that?

Congrats again,


Jen said...

Yayyyyy Paula!!!! I'm not up the contest to get your book because it's on it's way (Slllloooowwweeerrr ttthhhhaaannn molasses) from Amazon. I just want you to know that I'm am so excited for you! *Does a little dance*. Go Paula. Go Paula.

sue child said...

LOL at Slowerthanmolasses, Jen!

Trish Milburn said...

Congrats on your release day fun, Paula!

So, questions: Have you always been most attracted to writing romantic suspense or did you dabble in other subgenres of romance? Any type of book you've not written that you'd like to?

Stacy Dawn said...

Congratulations Paula!

How long did it take from the time they bought your story until today? I remember reading about your sale on eharl but I wondered about the time line. What was the worst part in the whole period...what was the best?

Paula said...


My first full-length novel was a romantic comedy. Got as far as a revision request, but it lacked sufficient conflict. The next book I wrote was a romantic suspense, and I was hooked.

I like reading romcoms, but I'm not sure I'd be any good at writing them, unless there were also a suspense element.

I might write a straight suspense, probably with romantic elements because I do like the mix of danger and passion. And I've toyed with the idea of a women's fic (in the Next! vein, probably--not sure I could do a full 100,000 word mainstream. Yikes!)

I've written one historical. It's an unfinished Pride and Prejudice AU (alternate universe) fanfic. ;) Beyond that, I don't see historicals in my future at all.

I'd love to write a really meaty political thriller if I had better sources.

Paula said...

Thanks, Stacy.

I sold on August 3, 2005. So, approximately 10 months from sale to shelf. (nine, really, since it's been available on eHarlequin since the first of May).

I got my revision letter a few days later, and I turned in my revisions to my editor in the middle of September. (We'd agreed on Sept. 30th, but I wanted to beat the deadline). They accepted the revisions in December, and I received copy edits/line edits in January. I turned in those within a week or so and since then, it's mostly been waiting for things--to see the cover, to get the back cover copy, to see how Romantic Times reviewed the book, etc.

The worst part was waiting for the acceptance of the revisions. That was excruciating! I was so afraid they'd call me back and say, "Sorry, we've changed our mind."

The best part was holding my book in my hand for the first time. Amazing, amazing moment.

Anonymous said...

How did you get your ideas about your book? I just found your blog and it looks great!


MaryF said...

Hey, Paula, I'm back! Love reading the comments!

How many mss did you write before you sold, and where are they?

Carol Hutchens said...

Congratulations, Paula! I'm so happy for you!
Did you have to change your 'voice' to write for Intrigue?
I love your revision story...
Can't wait to hold your book in my hands!


aBookworm said...

Just found your blog! Was it hard to balance romance, paranormal and suspense elements while writing this story?

KimW said...

Wow! Look at all the friends you have. Glad to see your party turn out so well. I'm back home from a long, long day at work. LOL

Funny about your spreadsheet. I can relate to that a little although I'm not a writer. I do log every book I read, with the title, author, date read and rating. I always know how many books I've read and how many are on my TBB list. I'm happiest when the TBB list count has gone down and I know I have a bunch of books in my house to read.

Michelle said...

Just wanted to drop by and wish you the very best of congratulations!! Way to go! I'm so envious. :)

Rebelle said...

Hi Paula,

Just dropping in from the eHar. web site. I got your book in May and have already read it. Have to say again, Great Book!!!

It's neat to have someone you chat with sell a first book.

BTW good party!

Paula said...

Hi, Kristie, thanks for stopping in!

How do I get my ideas? Oh, my, that would fill a book itself. Usually something I read or see on TV or in a movie will inspire a "what if?" question for me, and I'll explore it and see if there's enough conflict inherent in the situation and/or characters to sustain a story.

FORBIDDEN TERRITORY came together from two different directions. First, I'd read a friend's book that featured a secondary character, a detective who was a smoker trying to quit. I liked the character a lot and wondered if he could be turned into a hero whose quirk was that he was cranky because he was kicking the nicotine habit. I decided that might be hard to do, but I liked the idea of a character with a habit. In the case of McBride, it became a tendency to pop antacids, a symptom of his repressed emotions about a tragedy in his past.

The second inspiration was my love of all things paranormal. I'm pretty much a skeptic about most things paranormal, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise. I'm fascinated by the idea that there are things in this world that we just haven't figured out how to explain yet. I also wanted to explore the downside to having a paranormal gift. In Lily's case, her visions are dark and frightening, and she's learned to run away from them, until the events of FORBIDDEN TERRITORY leave her no option but to see where her gift will take her.

That theme--the downside of psychic abilities and the ways that the Browning sisters cope with it--is a common thread in all three stories.

Paula said...

Mary, thanks for reminding me just how many failed manuscripts I had before I sold. :) Thanks bunches.

Seriously, not so many. I took a three or four year hiatus from novel writing in the late nineties, writing other things including fanfic and screenplays. So, let me see...six plus FORBIDDEN TERRITORY. Of those five, three are still viable, though two need revisions, and one is semi-viable with serious and extensive rewrites. They're all in my manuscript drawer at the minute, although after I finish my current WIP, I may send one of them to my editor to consider as book 4.

Paula said...

Oops, of those six ms. not five (from my previous comment).

Paula said...

Carol, I didn't change my voice to write for Intrigue. I think, instead, I discovered I had a voice for Intrigue. It's probably why I never quite broke through with Intimate Moments--wrong voice for the line.

Paula said...

abookworm asked: "Was it hard to balance romance, paranormal and suspense elements while writing this story?"

Yes. Yes, it was. :)

This is probably a terrible confession for a romance writer to make, but I always have to go back, after my first draft is done, and layer in the romance more, especially in the early chapters. I get so involved with making the plot make sense that I forget that, hey, there's a man and a woman in there who really need to have a little quality smoochie time. So I have to really focus on that part of the story, much more than on the suspense or paranormal elements.

Paula said...

Thanks for coming by, Michelle and Rebelle. (Hey, y'all kinda rhyme!)

MaryF said...

Hey, you can pay me back someday. I've written SEVENTEEN mss, none have sold ;)

I have to layer romance in, too.

Angel said...

Paula, Sorry I'm so late checking in, but a big congratulations on your book launch!!!

Oddly enough, my copy of your book came in the mail today. I can't wait to start it. Good luck!