No longer the red-headed stepchild

Up until about two years ago, I didn’t read a lot of romance. If I wanted a fluffy book that didn’t require a ton of concentration, I’d reach for a mystery of some kind. As a result, I don’t know a lot of the rules about romance novels, especially one that falls outside of the catch-all category of contemporary.

That didn’t stop me from writing a romantic suspense.

I thought all I really needed to do was take two parts standard romance trope (in this case, older man/younger woman who really aren’t all that good for each other) and add in the stuff I love from mysteries, and voila, instant romantic suspense!

Or…not so much.

What came out was a mess in places, in dire need of editing to get rid of the severe info dump in the first couple of chapters, and a hell of a lot more tension as events progressed. Oh, and it’s in first person. Present tense. Plus it took me four months after I’d written the bulk of it to finish writing the last two climactic chapters. Add in Rhia, the main character, not putting up much of a fuss when I finally finished and said “meh”, and I was perfectly content with letting the finished, sloppy, shitty draft languish in a metaphorical drawer, never to be seen or heard from again.

Except…except…

I kept going in and re-reading some of the chapters. Yes, they were crude, in a way I’d be embarrassed by now, but buried in the scrap heap was some of (in my opinion) the best writing I’d done in a first draft. Rhia needed some polish, but the bones for a quiet, sarcastic, and not quite sure of herself heroine were there. Akira! I love the name

I would KILL for those cheekbones
I would KILL for those cheekbones

Akira, and somehow I decided it would be fun to make my hero Japanese. I had this picture in my head of Hong Kong actor Andy Lau when I was constructing Akira, and the end result was a charming, often cool and ruthless businessman who’s as uncertain as Rhia when it comes to emotional entanglements.

Then there was the FBI, the creepy guys stalking Rhia, the random drive-by shootings, the kidnapping, and Rhia’s determination to kill the man she held responsible for the death of her parents.

Fine. I admit it. I love this story as much as all my others. More so today than when I finally finished it. I can see the potential finished product, and yes, I can even see the possibility that someone might like it enough to want to acquire it. And because of Rhia’s age and occasional emotional immaturity, it could fall under a different category all together: New Adult.

I never thought I’d actually consider classifying one of my stories as new adult, but it certainly fits-Rhia’s only 23, and while she’s been on her own for two years since graduating college, she’s yet to experience a lot of firsts that her peers would have considered old news at that age.

What got me started on re-thinking my decision to simply write off Best Served Cold and not refine it was the revision of Entangled Suspense’s submissions guidelines. I had a great experience interacting with editorial director Nina Bruhns regarding another submission she ultimately declined and was a little disappointed I didn’t ever see myself writing something she might be able to use, since her line was originally category romantic suspense (trope heavy, generally told from both hero and heroine POV, smaller word count). With the implementation of their new submissions system and a few new imprints, it looks like all mention of “category” has been removed, and I started thinking Well, maybe this could work…

So I’m diving back into the editing cave for the foreseeable future, after I swore I was going to stay out of it for an extended period of time and just create. But it’s hard to pass up the enthusiasm for editing when it hits, so I might as well take advantage and ride it out.

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