Saturday, March 23, 2013

(The) Writing Life--That First Romance Novel

This is my very first romance novel. It was written for the Berkley SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE line. It's been available as an ebook, but I've just had it spiffed up with a new cover. I had a pen name then--"Cinda Richards." The Berkley editor asked me to pick something that had the same initials as my real name, hopefully to cut down on any interoffice confusion. I chose "Richards" because both the DH and the #1 And Only son  are named "Richard." Clever, huh?  And "Cinda"--well that was because I needed a name that began with a C and because I had read enough baby naming books to know that one's name is supposedly more melodious if hard-sounding consonants--like Rs--aren't in both the first and the last name. "Cinda Richards" would--according to the naming guidelines--sound MUCH better than...say...Cheryl Reavis.  So "Cinda Richards" it was, and I stayed "Cinda Richards" for four subsequent category books and a single title.

Then came the Name War.

The SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE line was suddenly discontinued, and I was hoping to be "Cinda Richards" when I moved over to my new publisher, Harlequin and take my SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE readers with me. But there was quite a squabble between the two publishing houses--Berkley and Harlequin--because I had a single-title about to come out for Berkley. Harlequin wanted the already established "Cinda Richards" name, but Berkley said absolutely, positively not.

So, my first Harlequin, actually for their imprint, Silhouette Special Edition, and titled A CRIME OF THE HEART, came out under my real name. Shortly thereafter, that book was condensed in Good Housekeeping magazine. I was supposed to be "Cinda Richards" for the Berkley single-title book, but then I learned I wouldn't be "Cinda Richards" for the single title book--because Berkley had done an about face and decided to use "Cheryl Reavis" in light of the Good Housekeeping thing. (If you're confused, imagine how I felt. It seemed as if every other day, somebody was calling me and telling me who my writer persona would or wouldn't be. Ultimately I became the real me and I've stayed the real me ever since.)

But I digress.

I've been thinking about how I felt back then--when my very first romance novel came out. Excited. Still not quite believing it had actually happened. I was a paperback writer--a romance paperback writer of all things (never saw THAT coming)--and something I had written was about to be available EVERYWHERE.


I wasn't happy about every aspect of it, though. There was the title, for one thing. I had zero-nothing to do with the title, and WHY the Powers That Be wanted to saddle my lovely romance novel with the same title as an F. Scott Fitzgerald literary masterpiece, I do not know. I came from the "literary crowd," and I could easily imagine the thunderous click of elitist eyebrows flying upward all over creation. And then, was there some kind of cosmic synchronicity to the fact that FSF and I have the same birthday? Unsettling, is what it was.

My THIS SIDE OF PARADISE was released the same week the DH went to Texas on a business trip.  While he was there, at some point, he managed to get to a B. Dalton's (remember those?), specifically to see if he could find it. He did. And when he was checking out, the clerk told him she'd read it and liked it a lot--so he made her "autograph" the book, writing down what she'd just told him. I still have it, and it still makes me smile.

Now. Just in case you're interested in the THIS SIDE OF PARADISE that wasn't written by F. Scott Fitsgerald:

Here is the link.

 Maybe you could check it out.


Liz Flaherty said...

I loved the story about when your husband bought the book. That's a forever-joy kind of thing.

Cheryl said...

It was, Liz. One of several occasions when he made a friend for life.