The first book I ever wrote was a romance novel based on a dream I had where my husband looked the same, but I knew he was a different man. When I woke up I couldn’t get the dream out of my head and so my novel Return to Me was born about widowed Lana who dies and is transported to a parallel universe to be reunited with her husband, only to find him a different man.
I spent three years working on this novel. My dream was that it would be a stand-alone contemporary for Avon. While I was very passionate about the project, very soon the writing process became like work and writing was a struggle. Finally after three years, and numerous drafts based on critiques from my writing group, I realised I was finished.
Now that I had decided that my novel was complete and that it was the best I could make it, the next step was to submit it, however I was suffering a crisis of faith. I wasn’t sure whether my book was any good. I decided that this was my practice book, the one that allowed me to learn the craft of writing, and now it was time to work on something else, but I still always loved the romance genre and had ideas that I wanted to explore.
After watching the way that the genre was transformed and embraced digital publishing I kept thinking about my languishing manuscript. I thought about self publishing it, but wasn’t sure whether it was any good. I re-read it after 10 years and I decided that it had to be kept hidden from the world.
Another year passed and I was doing Nano and after five years of attempting to finish it and reach 50,000 words in a month, I finally did it. On the forum threads I read about publishers seeking Nano novelists to submit their romance novels. I read my manuscript again and while I noticed its flaws, I also noticed its heart. I prevaricated, but finally decided to bite the bullet and submit Return to Me. All the years that I had spent on it had devoid me of any objectivity about its merit.
I sent my manuscript to my agent who submitted it to publishers and soon two offers followed. I decided on Momentum and within a few months my book was out in the world. Now I needed to write my next romance novel and within six months I had a completed manuscript and in July 2014 my second romance novel Hollywood Dreams was published.
It seemed miraculous that I had established a career as a romance author. I think about the 11 years that my manuscript languished in my metaphorical bottom drawer until I finally decided to give it a shot. While I think waiting so long was the right thing for me, I also learnt the most important lesson of all: ‘to submit and get rejected is better than not to have submitted at all.
This post was previously published on AusRomToday.
Many years ago when I was working on my manuscript I would find photos that inspired me and faithfully save them on my computer. Accessing them later was always a hassle, the photos would all be strange sizes and could be hard to see, and sometimes I’d forget why I saved a particular photo. Then of course there was the space that this ate on my hard drive.
Fast forward some ten years later and I now use Pinterest where I create a secret board while I’m working on my novel. I usually always start with a photo for my hero and heroine.
My current novel Hollywood Dreams is about a woman who falls for a lovely, regular guy. They date, fall in love, and but he is hiding a deep, dark secret. Turns out he’s not a lovely, regular guy. He is instead a movie star who is in character as a method actor. Now he has to get the woman he loves to fall in love with the real him, and so the fun begins.
The inspiration for my hero Tom Calvert is Chris Pine.
This is the photo that inspired Beau Tennant, Tom’s character part.
And Jacqueline Bissett was the inspiration for my heroine Maree Reynard.
I’ve found that when I’m working on my manuscript the best way to write truly descriptive passages is to be able to visualise what I’m writing about and capture the unique detail to bring that to light.
While the setting is in a sense another secondary character of my novel, descriptions should never be about stopping the action for a sight-seeing tour, instead the setting should be used to get across a sense of emotion and move the story forward.
Maree is the daughter of two soap actors and has spent most of her life on a studio lot, first as a child when her father took her in to work with him and later as an adult when she works as a costume designer. So the studio lot is her home away from her home.
“With its mix of tin sheds and large buildings, the studio lot might look intimidating to most people, but to Maree it was almost as familiar as the palm of her hand.”
Sometimes I search for a particular image to set my scene. For example this photo inspired the setting for Maree and Tom’s first date. Tom is waiting for Maree to arrive and feeling self conscious and the setting acts to soothe his anxiety.
“The restaurant was an outdoor patio with a huge ancient tree in the centre, its gnarled branches curving into the sky and over the heads of the diners. Lit by candles, there was an intimate ambience and Tom felt his discomfort fading.”
Then there is this scene when Tom and Maree have to go to a cabin that acts as a sanctuary for them and their relationship.
“As Carter parked, Maree leaned forward to look out the window. The log cabin was on a slope, nestled among pine trees, their scent bringing to mind Christmas. As they walked up the porch stairs she turned and surveyed the view. They were halfway up a hill, and Lake Arrowhead stretched before her with white-capped mountains behind it.”
So as a writer don’t forget to use the setting to the best of your ability to create a sense of mood and atmosphere. Use visuals to develop evocative descriptions and practice weaving them into your manuscript.
And if you’re a reader don’t forget to check out my Pinterest board for Hollywood Dreams to see some more visuals to compliment the book.
This post was previously published by Penny Dreadful Book Reviews.
Here is the cover for my upcoming novel Hollywood Dreams. Very excited about getting this one out into the world. It's a love triangle with a difference.
She’s fallen for his greatest role. But can she fall for him?
Former soap star Tom Calvert dreams of making movies that matter. To get the part of a lifetime he becomes a method actor, living as Beau Tennant, a war hero with a disabling injury. While in character he meets Maree Reynard, a costume designer, and takes her on a date. But when this practice date becomes all too real he realizes that he’s made the mistake of a lifetime. Will he be able to get Maree to fall in love with Tom Calvert?
Maree Reynard’s father is an actor and she has grown up on a studio lot. She has no illusions about the artifice of the movie-making business and has vowed she would never date an actor. When she meets and falls in love with Beau Tennant she knows that she’s found her dream man who is genuine and real. But when Beau disappears from her life she is heartbroken. She meets Tom Calvert on the rebound and sees their flirtation as a way of recovering her shattered confidence. Will Tom Calvert be able to convince her he is the real deal?
I'm very excited to announce that my second romance novel Hollywood Dreams has been accepted for publication by Momentum. At this point the publication date is set for July. I'm waiting on the contract at the moment so more details to come soon.
I'm really excited about this novel coming out. It is an idea that I've carried around for years and when I finally began to write it, it just flowed out and almost wrote itself. I'm not going to give away too much here yet, but all I will say is that it is a love triangle with a difference.
In the meantime I've started a Pinterest board for Hollywood Dreams and have just uploaded my inspiration for the hero and heroine.
My hero is Beau Tennant and the inspiration is Chris Pine, and my heroine is Maree Reynard and the inspiration for her is Jacqueline Bissett.
Mae Archer's books on Goodreads
Return to Me
ratings: 13 (avg rating 3.46)
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)
Little Raven Two: An Erotic Collection
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.00)