Happy Thursday readers, a frequent question writers are asked when they’re first published: Is this the first book you ever wrote? Often on television talk shows we hear about so-and-so’s first book hitting one of the coveted bestseller lists. Although there are exceptions to the rule (J.K. Rowling comes to mind….) in most cases, the book in question is the first published work. The writer might have penned any number of novels before creating a story that resonated with an editor or agent, and then finally with readers. For me personally, I was first published in romantic suspense set in the South. Then I happily changed genres to Amish romances since I’d been fascinated with their simple lives for years. After twelve novels set in the Amish world I was ready for another change, but didn’t wish to venture too far from romance. Everyone falls in love, right? Including people in bygone eras whose lives were simpler than how we live now.
So I decided to dig out two historical romances I’d written first, a dozen years ago. “Should you do that?” asked my practical husband. “Can you go back to something you wrote before you learned all the ‘rules’ and developed your voice?” He was giving me the same look like the time I announced, “I think we should retire in Costa Rica where the cost of living is less.” I assured him that I could do this. After all, I loved those stories when I created them, even though my agent said no one was interested in Civil War fiction at the time. The Quaker and the Rebel, first in the Civil War Heroines series, was my first baby. I dusted her off and breathed in new life with better plotting, sentence structure, and inner conflicts, and reduced redundancies and unnecessary verbiage. Bottom line? The rewrite took twice as long then if I burned the manuscript and started from scratch, and required more high-test coffee than I drank in four years of college.
I know what you’re thinking: Hubby was right. But I ended up preserving every sweet nuance and historical detail that had originally intrigued me, in an easy-to-read structure and format. The best of both worlds! Would I do it again if I discovered two more novels waiting to be revived in my sock drawer? Only if I’m sitting on the beach in Costa Rica, sipping a cool drink, with plenty of time on my hands.