History of the Book

I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'm some sort of slut, but the truth is--I am. At least when it comes to my books. Before I even finished with the one I just finished (Good-bye To All That, Touchstone July '10), I was already thinking about what I was going to dive into next. It's true! I haven't even had to plow through copy edits, a galley of the book is weeks if not months off, hell, my editor hasn't even asked me for my wish list of author names for blurbs, but I'm already moving on.

As far as books go, my relationship with Good-bye To All That lasted pretty long. I first mentioned the nut of the idea to my editor soon after I turned in More Than This, around September of 2007. I, who work alone and at home, am slightly obsessed with office work because I think a person's office family is a lot like their family-family. For Good-bye To All That I wanted to explore how a young woman tries to balance her work life, family life and finds it comes at the expense of her private life.

Between the fall of '07 and November 30th of this year, Good-bye To All that went through three (Four? Yes, four!) distinct incarnations. Which basically means I wrote three (four) different books to come up with the fourth one that stuck...for better or worse.

First there was Bait (a very working title) and the core concept was this: Raquel Ortiz, 30, finds herself assuming different identities as she goes on series of fake dates to help a website generate buzz and business. This is still a good idea and someday I might give it another go, but for whatever reason, I wasn't ready to write Bait at the time. So Bait morphed into...

How Can I Tell You. It was also the story of Raquel Ortiz but this time she was a little older, 32, working at a Disneyesque company where insider trading had caught the eye of the feds. This was a lot of fun to work on, mostly because I enjoyed writing the back-and-forth between Raquel and the lead agent. I took a break from HCITY during the fall of '08 and when I came back to it (after starting another book) I knew I needed to tweak the concept a bit and change the title to reflect the new tone.

Goodbye To All That was still the story of Raquel Ortiz, 30, but now she's gotten fired from her job and tries to maintain the appearance of still working at the Disneyesque company even though she's gone back to temping.

Loooooong story short (too late!) was that this version had some issues and I got five weeks to fix 'em or else. (I never let myself ask or think what the 'or else' might be since I'm Catholic.) I started by going back to boiling down my core concept which was....an ambitious woman working for a hierarchical company tries to play the Hollywood game while her family, professional and private life suffer the consequences. In short I thought of it as Working Girl meets Mad Men with a dash of Entourage thrown in to help me keep my focus. (Funny how things crystallize when you're on the verge of panic.)

It took almost two years (maybe more...it hurts my head just to think of it) of draft after draft and near disaster to get to the final version of Good-bye To All That. Things changed, Raquel is now 25 going on 26, her last name is Azorian, not Ortiz, characters were cut (a small village of 'em), but the core concept stayed the same. Raquel loves her job and everything else in her life is a mess.

Reading this makes me realize it's no wonder I'm so eager to move on. Like I said, I'm a slut and for me it's always about the next book. I just hope my relationship with my new book isn't as bumpy. I like my drama between the pages, not in real life.

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