What I Couldnâ€™t Say Before
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Curves.
Since the Big Announcement Â yesterday, the publishing industry has been a-twitter about the decision to halt Silhouetteâ€™sÂ Â action-adventureÂ Â single-title-crammed-into- Â category line, Bombshell, as of the release of the January
2007 books. Iâ€™m very sad to see this happenâ€”because Â I loved Â the Â conceptsÂ Â and Â both Â NatashyaÂ Â Wilson Â and Charles Griemsman were great to work withâ€”but I honestly canâ€™t say I didnâ€™t see Bombshellâ€™s demise coming.
In fact, Iâ€™m reminded that Iâ€™d said I would tell what happened 375 days ago today. After all, thatâ€™s why I made some business decisions last year that a lot of people didnâ€™t understand.
Harlequin/Silhouette is known for taking huge experimental chances, something I highly applaud them for, but in my opinion, Marketing botched this one. (Iâ€™d state that privately, so Iâ€™m willing to state that publicly. My opinion doesnâ€™t change, regardless of whoâ€™s listening or reading.) ShelvingÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â action-adventure-single-title-stories-with-a- romantic-element in the Romance Section was a mistake, in my opinion, Â because Â non-romance Â readers Â wonâ€™t Â go near the Romance Section of a Â bookstore Â and avid romance readers who find action-adventure stories Â in the romance section expect a Happily-Ever-After and often didnâ€™t get that with Bombshell, or at least not as definitivelyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â asÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â boy-and-girl-meet-and-bad-stuff-happens-but-they-overcome-and-end-up-getting-married.
I could have pointed out the lineâ€™s product placement issues and the Â entire downturn of the market as reason enough to Â suspect Â the Â series Â wouldnâ€™t Â be Â around Â long term, but it was the unseen that convinced me not to put a second Bombshell Â in the runningâ€”in spite of an easy proposal revision sitting on my desk last year (Eye of the Serpent, about Â the Â Defense Â Department Â employee Â who
wakes up with a chip-encoded tattoo between her shoulder blades) and Â a half-written proposal for a trilogy featuring Aubrey and Matthewâ€™s daughter, Lilah, from Dark Revelations (I own all 3 characters Â from their inception in 2002 so they go where I go) as a protector of a top secret library. The books Bombshell published were right up my (dark and dangerous) alley!
In early August Â 2006, Â I was a basket Â case over my manuscript, #3 Â in the Madonna Key series I co-created with Evelyn Vaughn and Vicki Â Hinze. Iâ€™d turned in the proposal and had been given a specific number of days to submit the complete manuscript, but another editor I was working Â with (not Tashya or Charles) wanted revisions, gave me conflicting verbal revisions every time we talked, and told me to finish the whole book and sheâ€™d ask for revisions later when she could figure out which way she wanted me to take the story. Well…no.
I didnâ€™t have time to write the whole book one way when I knew it was likely to go in an entirely different direction Â and Â then Â Iâ€™d Â have Â to Â rewrite Â it. Â But Â the Â days passed Â and Â still Â no Â revision Â letter Â and Â I Â wasÂ contract- bound to a particular deadline I couldnâ€™t Â keep unless I wrote Â hundreds of pages that would just be tossed out when the revision letter finally came.
So I did what every semi-psychic author does at least once: I did a divination to get a clearer picture. And boy, did I! The only thing was, I couldnâ€™t talk about it. Cassandra syndrome. I did, however, tell it to several friends and family, and theyâ€™ve been ticking off the events as theyâ€™ve happened.
- I asked if I was going to be all right. Yes. (And I am.)
- I asked if Tashya was going to be all right. Yes. (To my knowledge, she is, and Iâ€™m glad.)
- I asked if my book was going to be accepted. Yes. (It was, even if we were making little changes for continuity in the 7-book Â series as it was going to press.)
- I asked if I was going to continue to have trouble getting a Â response from the editor I was waiting for. No. Â Then Â I was Â told Â thatÂ the editor would leave shortly, that Tashya would take over editing the Madonna Key series, and all would be saved. (All happened exactly as I was told, and because I didnâ€™t write what I Â knew would be tossed out, I had time to write a separate 300+ page novel while waiting for the revision letter.)
- I asked if I was going to be held to my deadline of early Â September. Â No. Iâ€™d have a new deadline, I was told, and it Â would be November. (Tashya issued a revision letter and gave several of us an extra 3 months or so, and that meant that mine was finished around Â Thanksgiving, Â with Â some Â minor polishing before I put it in the mail.)
- How long would my manuscript be when I turned it in? 304. That was a surprise, because these were originally Â 90,000-word Â books. I was told specifically, emphatically, Â in the divination Â to write short, whichÂ Â is Â somethingÂ Â I Â haveÂ Â a Â terrible Â time doing…obviously. Â (The last 3 chapters Â were written on Â my Â digital Â recorder Â and transcribed. Â When Â I typed the last word and printed the manuscript to drop in the mail, I looked up the last page to see how Â Â Â many Â pages Â to Â Â Â Â Â Â Â annotate on theÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â cover page…304. That was significantly shorter than the other Â manuscriptsÂ for the series, by 100 pages in some cases but I didnâ€™t panic because….)
- I asked if Iâ€™d have to do significant Â rewrites, as it seemed that so many authors were at the time. No. (I didnâ€™t. Because I waited for the revision letter, I didnâ€™t have to toss more than 2 pages of workâ€” though I did end up adding some great scenes that Tashya gave me free reign to write!)
- I asked if the other authors would have significant rewrites. Â Yes. Â (Some Â did, Â yes, Â because Â the Â page count decreased around the Â time the manuscripts were turned in. At least 2 of the other authors cut a ton of good stuffâ€”like 60 to 100 pages. To me, thatâ€™s significant, and painful.)
- I asked if the Bombshells Â would be a long-term success. The heroines, yes. Â The Â Â Â Â line…no. (Bombshell has Â definitely Â had Â an impact Â onÂ the type of heroines we see.)
- â€¢Â Â Â Â I asked if the Madonna Key series would see publication of all 7 books, including mine. Yes. (This is still the plan, as Book #7 Â will be published in January 2007, one of the last 4 to see daylight.)
- â€¢Â Â Â Â I asked if the Madonna Key books would sell well.
- I hesitate to say what I was told. (Certainly Â they wonâ€™t do as well as expected, and bookstores tend to drop lines when itâ€™s Â been announced that the line is dead. My definition of â€œwellâ€ is pretty high.)
- I asked if the Madonna Key books would see release in some other way than just the initial publication. Yes. (And thatâ€™s where my hopes lie. As a release of the group set. Movies. Trade paperback. Whatever. This publisher has been more than willing to try new things, and the Madonna Key series is certainly a good candidate for those ideas.)
With some divinations, you get a chance to change the future. With Â others, you have no way of changing anything. This time, all I could do was make my own business Â decisions Â about Â which Â books Â to Â tie Â up Â my Â time with…and hope I was wrong.
There was one last question I asked, particularly be- cause Â of Â the Â scientific Â explanation Â of Â paranormal Â elements that I so wanted to get Â out there to my readers. Was it a mistake to publish this book in this forum? No. My usual readers will like it and Iâ€™ll gain new readers, too, who wouldnâ€™t have found me otherwise.
And most Â importantly, Â it will get knowledge to people who seek it.
Yeah. And hopefully, theyâ€™ll have fun reading it, too.