Day 21, In Which I Learn to Turn on a Dime

First off, here's the Daily Deal.  My first historical romance (as opposed to regencies and gothics) is a Desert Isle Keeper from AAR, might have been a RITA finalist (there was that year I was up for 4) and possibly the first very very dark hero I ever wrote.  It's 99 cents at Kindle, Kobo, and Nook, just for the day.  

Pretty classy, eh?  That was the only cover where I had to find my image among stock photos, and very few stock photos show tension between the hero and the heroine.  Since the book opens with Ghislaine, my French heroine, trying to kill the hero, there was definitely all sorts of tension.

Here it is Old Skool:

It's interesting the twists and turns life makes when you think you see the way ahead of you.  I wrote romantic suspense.  I wrote it in series romances, I wrote it in rom/suspense series, I wrote it in Gothics, I wrote it in Regencies.  But most of all contemporary.  And I was lucky enough and flattered enough to be sought after for a "big book" -- other publishers wanted a single title romantic suspense and solicited proposals from me.

So I tried.  Proposals have never been my strong suit - I think most writers would rather save the good stuff for actually writing the books - so maybe I sold myself short, but I had at least two proposals sent around to the editors who had evinced an interest at various houses, and each time they were turned down.  In fact, my favorite rejection said something like, "this isn't for us, but my respect and admiration for Anne Stuart are undimmed."  In other words, "despite this piece of crap you sent me, I'm still interested."  

Mind you, despite my delight in my own books, I never count on anyone else sharing that enthusiasm.  I had no sense of entitlement.  And actually I took those two proposals, sold them directly to Silhouette Intimate Moments, and both were RITA finalists.  So there!

But I kept laboring.  That's what they wanted, that's what I do.  Except I came up with the story of A ROSE AT MIDNIGHT (stupid damned title).  It wasn't the smart thing to do, it wasn't what I was supposed to do, and if no one was going to take my brilliant romantic suspense proposals what the hell was I doing sending out a historical one?

But this one hit.  Editors loved it.   When the heroine (who was a cook) poisoned the hero my editor just thought "how French!."  And speaking of French, it's an on-the-run book, it mostly takes place in France and is centered around the French Revolution.  All big no-nos in historical romance at the time and I knew it was doomed.  But I loved it, the editors loved it, and it sold.  Go figure.

Suddenly I was a historical writer.  I wrote A ROSE AT MIDNIGHT, SHADOW DANCE and TO LOVE A DARK LORD in short order, all three very strong, then had a stupid tantrum because they weren't making me the star fast enough (we've talked about stupid mistakes already).

Fortunately at the same time Jennifer Enderlin (who was then at Penguin) had read my best novella, MONSTER IN THE CLOSET, and something else, and she talked her publisher into offering me a blind contract for substantial money, out of the blue. My identity was back -- I was a romantic suspense writer!  I wrote NIGHTFALL and MOONRISE on that contract, and I was very happy.  Or would have been, if people hadn't keep dying on me and turning my mood extremely dark.  And I did my best to alternate between rom/suspense and historical romance, much to everyone's frustration but mine.  One genre fed the other.  For me it worked out just fine.

At this point I think people might very well see me as a historical author rather than rom/suspense.  And yet, if I ever achieve true beatitude, it will come from a dark, dirty romantic suspense.  Maybe I already have.

I'll post the winners of THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES later today or tomorrow, and maybe I'll even spend a little time with this software figuring out a way to removed the need to approve comments.  It stifles interesting discussion and it makes me cranky.

In the meantime,  A ROSE AT MIDNIGHT, despite the totally random title my editor came up with, is well worth your time and attention and 99 cents, in my not so humble opinion.