Back in 2009, I wrote a novelette called “The Keeping of Greg Wilson” which I had intended to submit to Harlequin’s shorts line (called Undone, I think). These were 15,000 word stories and were historicals.
Quick background into submitting to Harlequin
I had almost submitted a couple other books (Eye of the Beholder and His Redeeming Bride) to the historical full-length novel line. I heard doing something short was a good way to get an “in” with Harlequin, which was why I wrote Patty Dixon’s original story. After I received “please rewrite and resubmit” letters from Harlequin telling me they wanted more conflict between the main characters in Eye of the Beholder and His Redeeming Bride, I decided to self-publish the books. The books would not have been better off if I had put a lot of conflict between Dave and Mary Larson or between Neil Craftsman and Sarah Donner. The stories didn’t work that way, and it wasn’t what the characters wanted.
Quick background into why I took “The Keeping of Greg Wilson” down
That being the case, I self-published “The Keeping of Greg Wilson” in May 2010. All I got was 1-star reviews on it because “the story was too short”. On Smashwords, people were more forgiving of the length but elsewhere, the short length was not popular. So I took it down and figured later on, I would make it a full-length novel at a later time.
Bringing Patty Dixon Back
Sometimes I have to sit for a couple years on an idea before I figure out the best way to write the story. And in this case, it took until 2012 before I figured out what I was going to do with Patty Dixon.
But before I could rewrite her story into a full-length book which is now titled Patty’s Gamble, I needed to back up and write a book that would lead up to it. Patty and Greg have a past. She has a good reason to believe Greg really does want to be with her. Though I couldn’t go completely into that past while in Mitch’s or Heather’s point of view, I could hint at in the books leading up to Patty’s Gamble.
I wrote Mitch’s Win because I wanted to introduce Patty and establish her desire to be with Greg. This was why I had that awkward dinner scene where Heather was playing matchmaker with Patty and Greg.
You see, I had mentioned Mitch Grady in “The Keeping of Greg Wilson” when Greg asked Patty why she didn’t marry Mitch instead because Mitch had some kids he needed a mother for. Well, in this case, I decided to make Mitch the uncle of the children in question because I wanted a virgin hero instead of the widower. I had wanted to give Mitch a wife and figured his book would be the best way to start the series.
It was my intention to write Patty’s book after I was done with Mitch’s Win, but then Boaz showed up in Mitch’s Win and was compelling enough where I wanted to learn about him. To truly understand him, I had to go into his point of view. I wasn’t sure if Boaz was worth redeeming or not when I started Mitch’s Win, so I went into a couple of scenes with him and realized this was a character who needed a second chance.
What I loved most about him was how imperfect he was. So I wrote Boaz’s Wager to give him that chance. I hadn’t done the hero who was reluctant to consummate his second marriage in fear he’d lose another wife to childbirth before (but I had enjoyed reading such books in the past and wanted to do one of my own).
Boaz’s Wager takes place at the exact same time that Patty’s Gamble does, but it was the best book to be #2 because I could elaborate more on Patty and Greg’s relationship and better set the stage for Patty’s Gamble. That’s why I devoted some time to focusing on Patty during Boaz’s Wager.
I am now writing Patty’s Gamble. It’s not the same book as the novelette “The Keeping of Greg Wilson”. Some things are the same but overall, it’s a whole new book. I am taking a couple of fun things from there.
I am going to insert two scenes from Boaz’s Wager where Patty talks to Boaz where she says men have everything to gain by being married and again where Patty tells Heather and Eva her “Greg doesn’t love me” woes to help establish that Boaz’s Wager and Patty’s Gamble take place along the same place in the timeline. Usually, I don’t do something like that, but I think it’ll help to get a feel for the time these events take place.
To sum it up
It took me two books to lead up to the one I’ve been wanting to write for the past couple years. Sometimes books are like that. In the same way, I did want to write Perry Ambrose’s book right after I finished The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife, but I knew I needed more time to build up to it, which is why I wrote the other two in the series first (A Most Unsuitable Earl and His Reluctant Lady). Some books (and characters) get better with time, and sometimes the build up to their books is worth putting their books on hold.