The last week has been totally off kilter for me. I'm still trying to process everything and put it into an ordered state in my mind. And that's a hard thing to do when you're as scattered as I am.
So what's this post about? A lot of things actually. I'd worried that I didn't have anything to blog about. As usual, I have too much. I'll try and break it down into small pieces.
Ok, first I managed to finish my novella for the Trio Anthology and sent it off to NY Nov 1. Yes, No Strings Attached actually got written. This was one of those stories that came out kicking and screaming. I struggled for months to get the darn thing going--and just couldn't. I'm still debating on whether I like it or not. And though I proofed it, it's still full of a million typos, which seems to be a trademark of mine. I simply can not seem to get them all out of my manuscripts. Though I can spot them in an instant when I read other people's work. Seems to be some bizarre blindness block I have when reading my writing. Anyway, the darn thing is gone.
So...once the elation of actually finishing another novella wore off I found myself wondering what I should do next. Nevermind that I had one more novella and two single titles to work on for 09. Well, when Devyn gets to drinking and thinking, dangerous things happen. That's right. I got an idea, so I popped off a few lines to my editor and asked what she'd think of a proposal I had for a Sexy Beast Anthology. I'll admit I've been sitting here gnawing myself to pieces wanting into those anthos, but never expected to be considered. Well, much to my surprise, a day after I proposed the idea Hilary made an offer for a novella--and a single title on the same theme. Imagine my jaw dropping to my knees in shock. You see, I hadn't expected to make the sale and so hadn't sat down and really thinked (yeah, "thinked" out here in the badlands. Remember I'm a hick from the sticks) the idea through because I didn't believe it'd have a snowball's chance heck of selling.
So, what did Devyn sell her editor? Well, here's the synopsis for Heart of the Wildcat, the SB novella. This is rough, so bear with me:
Cultural anthropologist Kathryn Conrad is on her way to North Carolina in the hopes of finding and studying a small tribe of Cherokee mountain men for her master's thesis. The stories of the Tlvdatsi (actual Cherokee word for cougar) told to her by her grandmother have lit Kathryn's imagination—not to mention her desire to track down and verify her Native American roots.
Attacked and almost raped by her hired guide, Kathryn is close to losing her life when rescue arrives in the form of Joseph Clawfoot. (stalking Kathryn and her rapist in cougar form) Red skinned, black haired and handsome as sin, he's just the kind of specimen Kathryn wants to study--up close and personal. Kathryn persuades Joseph to become her contact with his people. She gets more than she bargained for when she learns the truth behind Joseph's strange and solitary existence.
Joseph Clawfoot is a Cherokee, member of a vanishing tribe whose people have learned to survive, they had to adapt to the arrival of the white settlers. A pact with the gods granted them the ability to shape-shift into the form of the cougar. Determined to live away from civilization, Joseph has settled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. He follows no man's rules, only those of nature.
Joe's hope that he will find a mate to join him fades daily. His life is one of constant danger. The natural habitat in which he survives is shrinking, and hunters threaten to drive his kind into extinction. Though he fights the attraction, Joseph can't help but desire the petite beauty with the pale skin and lake-blue eyes. Her touch is forbidden, yet to possess her body and soul is all he can think about. Having Kathryn in his life is dangerous. However her strong and independent spirit arms her with the weapons to capture and tame his wild heart.
When poachers threaten Joseph's freedom, Kathryn is forced to kill one of the hunters to save her lover's life. Realizing she has to take responsibility, Kathryn chooses to turn herself in to keep investigators away. So that she will not accidentally expose the tribe to outsiders, Kathryn asks Joe to erase her memory of their time together, using the ancient spells of the shamans. She’ll remember nothing of him. In giving Joseph up Kathryn knows she's preserving his freedom and the heritage of her ancestors. ___________________
So there it is. This novella is the lead in for the single title, Soul of the Wildcat. Some of you may have already noticed that the heroine is being given the heave-ho at the end. Well, she is. And, yes, I've already heard the cries from the pals I've ran this by before sending it off to my editor: EEK! NO HAPPY ENDING FOR JOE AND KATHRYN?
Let me stop and grab something to cover myself with before you HEA people start pelting me with rocks. I'm going to take a deep breath and announce it now: Joe and Kathryn won't end up together. I've got to break them up so Joe can go on to his next adventure in Soul of the Wildcat. I know this is a first (I think) for the Sexy Beast stories and, frankly, I'd wondered if my editor's suggestion to send Joe off with another woman in his next book was the correct idea. Giving it thought, it is. The theme of the novella is not only discovery of dangerous secrets, but to truly love something, you must set it free. (cue appropriate love songs here) So, yes, readers and peers--Kathryn will set Joe free to preserve his freedom, even if it means she must sacrifice her memories of his kind.
Which leads me to a question for discusssion: As a reader do you expect the HEA in erotic romance? And to writers: Do you feel compelled to write an HEA into your stories because you are writing erotic romance? And if so, why?