My first novel, ILLICIT IMPULSE, comes out this week from Ellora’s Cave. It’s the story of a neuroscientist, his best friend, her friend with benefits, and some no-strings-attached fun. I had the devil’s own time getting the book finished, but I finally got The Call (in my case, actually, it was The Email) just before Thanksgiving. The journey from The Call to release has been surprisingly brief.
It’s amazing how quickly things move once you finish the book.
My trip to publication really began when I won the Passionate Reads Pitch Contest in February 2011. When I got my first chapters ready to enter in late 2010, I was coming off a tough breakup and really just needed to occupy my time between boyfriends. I didn’t have the whole manuscript ready, but that didn’t worry me very much. The contest didn’t require entrants to have the entire manuscript, and honestly, I was in it mostly for the experience.
I received lots of advice to have the manuscript complete anyway. None of those people would explain to me *why* the manuscript had to be finished, though, especially when the contest didn’t require it. I can be a stubborn person. I am open to advice, as long as it comes with an explanation. Otherwise it looks a lot like direction. I resist direction.
Now I understand why the manuscript has to be finished first, so I can offer you the same advice, along with an explanation.
After I won the contest, the judge, who is now my editor, requested the full manuscript. I explained that I didn’t have much more than she’d already seen. She said she understood – the contest had not required a complete manuscript anyway – and she said she’d wait to see the whole thing. She also specifically told me to take as long as I needed to get the rest of the book ready to submit.
That took just short of two years. I thank my editor for her endless patience in the acknowledgments. She waited for a long time and had to tell me more than once to take as much time as I needed.
But it didn’t have to end this way. Sure, there’s the obvious possibility that your editor might not be as patient as mine is, but there are at least three other excellent reasons not to wait to get your book submitted.
First, there’s that sick feeling of not being finished. Even knowing that someone was willing to wait as long as I needed, I had to face the reality that I wasn’t finished every single day for a pretty long time. That’s just not a pleasant feeling. The oppressive weight of the unfinished project lifts, well, as soon as you finish.
Then, there’s the reality that change is the only constant in the universe. I knew that my publishing house probably wasn’t going anywhere, but there was nothing to stop my editor from leaving. (Not that she would. But she *could.*) If the only person waiting for my manuscript changed jobs or retired or for whatever reason became unavailable, I’d have big problems! There wasn’t any guarantee that any of her successors would be enthusiastic about my book or that my editor would be able to take it with her to her next job. I’d have ended up in limbo, and worse, it would have been my fault.
Finally, let’s say that the publishing house is stable and my editor stays put … but someone with a completed manuscript similar to mine gets her submission in first. There’s no sound business reason for a publisher to hang on to the promise of a book when a real book is available, all other things being equal. The safest alternative was to secure my place with a finished product.
Having said all this, I won that contest with just the three chapters and now I’m an author with my first choice of publishing houses despite the fact that my editor had to wait for years to see my completed manuscript. So I imagine you can take my substantiated advice with a grain of salt.
I just wouldn’t use the whole shaker.
Years of research have led neuroscientist John March to the creation of Impulse, an experimental drug that suppresses the bonding hormone, oxytocin, and would allow women to enjoy sex without commitment. Now he just needs a test subject who’s willing to put Impulse through its paces, a woman who’s not afraid to indulge all her sexual desires and then go on record with her experiences. He needs a woman like his best friend, Grace. She and her boy toy could solve all John’s problems. If only he didn’t want her for himself …
Grace Foley’s dreams have just come true. Her sex-without-strings arrangement with Tal Crusoe has started to feel a bit complicated. Thanks to Impulse, Grace can keep things friendly while making the most of Tal’s abundant benefits. Too bad she can’t have John, too. She’s aching for a little experimentation of her own with the sexy scientist. But once it’s over, could they ever go back to being friends?
How far will two best friends go under the influence of Impulse?