One of the very cool things about releasing out of print backlist novels is the chance to read through them again, deleting overwrought writing (in my case) and basically cleaning up what eighteen years in the biz have shown to be a mess. I have never read a printed copy of any of my books. At that point, there’s nothing I can do about mistakes or cringe-worthy sentences that no one else pays attention to but that have me, well, cringing. It happens to all authors. This isn’t unique to me.
I put off digitizing PLAYING LOVE’S ODDS longer than I did LOVE ME TENDER and LOVE IN BLOOM. Those two were written and released approximately eight years after Meteor Publishing closed its doors the same month PLAYING LOVE’S ODDS was released. It was #167 out of 168* books published as Kismet Romances. I was orphaned after only one book, and it took two years to find a home at Harlequin Temptation with CALL ME** where I wrote five books before moving to Harlequin Blaze. At the same time, Kensington started the Bouquet line of category romances where I sold LOVE ME TENDER and LOVE IN BLOOM.
Anyhow, LOVE ME TENDER and LOVE IN BLOOM are of a similar tone as both were manuscripts I started writing before selling to Temptation*** in 1995. I was a big fan of home and hearth stories which both LMT and LIB are. But PLAYING LOVE’S ODDS is a romantic suspense. My very first woman in jeopardy story. And this particular scene won every RWA contest I entered. (For the digital edition, I’ve put up a new excerpt.) So even those my style has changed and my voice been refined, my work tightened, I’m still a big fan of this story. And I can see the roots of who I am now in the prose.
Now, about the updating – yet not. Seeing as the story is a romantic suspense written in 1992 for a 1993 publication date, it reflects the technology of the time. Meaning . . . cell phones were not the handy dandy conveniences they are now. At several points in the story, one of the characters needs to find a pay phone. And this is why I put off updating this book longer than the others. To make the plot current, or not? Tami Hoag and her 1985 set suspense novels (reviewed here and here) decided that for me. I left the book set in 1993 and added an author’s note explaining this is not a 21st century set book. It’s true to its time period, from fashion to technology to culture.
The other difference is how sex scenes were viewed in 1993 vs today. My editor on this book was Kate Duffy, who also edited me at Kensington Brava. There’s a shower scene in the book where the heroine is realizing the danger she’s in and admitting to her love for the hero. In the manuscript, he joined her, but that didn’t make it into print. Kate thought it was too edgy ;) It’s now included in the digital edition.
Sex scenes weren’t the only changes. I made an allusion to sex slavery, which was also edited, but which I didn’t remember until reading through the manuscript and checking the print book to see how the copyeditor had punctuated a sentence.
This is in the manuscript:
“Before we take off I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a joy it was working with you. You are a most capable technician. It’s a shame you had to stumble across my true agenda because unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll be able to use your skills once we get where we’re going. However, your … shall we say … more feminine talents will no doubt be of great interest to Mr. Torres. He is a very physical man.”
And this is how it came out in the book:
“Before we take off I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a joy it was working with you. You are a most capable technician. It’s a shame you had to stumble across my true agenda because unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll be able to use your skills once we get where we’re going. Perhaps you can get a job harvesting coffee beans. Or cocaine.”
Fun stuff, huh! The digital edition is now live on Amazon for the Kindle, and at Smashwords with the ePub file that can be loaded onto the Nook. It will be available at Barnes & Noble in a day or so. Smashwords also has the Sony Reader compatible file, though it will be in the Sony store (as well as Kobo and iBooks) soon.
*168 was written by Suzanne Brockmann.
**Here’s the video of that 1995 sale:
***It’s all thanks to Jennifer Crusie’s GETTING RID OF BRADLEY that I even considered writing for Temptation.