This is Guest Author week at the blog, and I’m pleased to introduce you to an author I’ve known for several years. Diana Stout is a fellow member of my local Romance Writers of America chapter, and is our go-to person when it comes to all things technical. Her portfolio, found on her website, contains a wide variety of works ranging from romance, fantasy, and literary works, as well as screenplays. She’s also in demand as an editor and speaker.
Recently, we both attended a weekend writing retreat and she talked about a novella that was originally planned as part of a multi-author anthology. When the anthology fell through, she published her story individually, and then decided to finish writing the rest of the anthology herself! I asked her to tell us about this ambitious project, and she kindly agreed. So without further ado, here’s Diana!
Back in the 1990s, I was living in SW Georgia and belonged to the Georgia Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. Seven of us—Lillian, Millie, Darlene, Ellen. Susan, Kathleen, and me–decided go to Lillian’s mountain cabin north of Atlanta.
It was a dark and stormy night as we traveled on that winding and windy mountain road. It was only supposed to be a weekend retreat. As we talked about the new popularity of anthologies, we decided we wanted to write one.
We called ourselves the magnificent seven, though we weren’t that magnificent. We were sleeping, shivering, and starving all the time.
Some were fueled by obscene amounts of chocolate and/or caffeine, one was fueled by sauerkraut, and I ate lots of cereal. Kathleen was always happy, with her twittering sing-song voice, red-heart happy outfit, standing at the window first thing in the morning, throwing open the curtains, her arms outstretched worshipping the sun as the rest of us moaned and curled up in our sleeping bags against the 30° mountain weather. Our hostess Lillian, the only smoker in the group, would cozy up to a window she’d crack open just enough so she could suck up nicotine like a thirsty mosquito who had just found a virgin vein, blowing the smoke into the great outdoors.
In between our refuels of food, caffeine, and nicotine, we plotted. Mostly we talked about the men. How could we connect these boys together?
We listed attributes as gotta have, which included money, hair, tight buns, great physic, an IQ bigger than their shoe size, sense of humor, be over six-foot tall, broad shoulders, great eyes, deep voice, and like to wear a tux.
Finally, we had a plan. The same old classic car would show up in every book. They would live in the same community. We called our book Bad Boys and Their Toys. The men’s professions would be as a hotrod, angler, gunslinger, woodsman, flyboy, biker, and stud. Their toys in the same order: antique car, bass, big guns for big game, power saw, balloonist, motor cycle, and horses. That’s all the details we had per my notes from that time. No names, no women, no plots, no conflicts.
We would write our stories and meet up again in the spring.
When we met at the cabin in the spring to read each other’s stories, the anthology went nowhere fast. Ellen told us she had talked with an agent, who said no one would publish the book because none of us were big-name authors. We had no other recourse because this period was well before self-publishing and indie authors.
I filed away my story about a judge who had returned to town a decade later and was trying to reconnect with his high school sweetheart. As a hobby he created carvings with a power saw.
Move ahead to early 2016.
I formed a production company, and published Grendel’s Mother, which had been a ten-year project. While I’d been traditionally published with three romances in the 90s under my at-the-time married name, this time I was going all indie.
I began noticing that not all of Amazon’s romance books were books. Some were short stories, some were novellas.
Rereading my novella, I thought, Why couldn’t I create my own anthology?
That’s exactly what I’m doing. I created the community of Laurel Ridge, made the judge my first novella, made the angler a sportsman, make one woman a balloonist, and another a photo journalist who travels by motor cycle. I changed the classic car to a more modern Volkswagen Beetle.
Shattered Dreams #1, my story about the judge and his former high school sweetheart was published July 2016. They had broken up abruptly after graduation and are shocked to learn the truth of their breakup and who was responsible. Is it too late to rekindle the love once shared or will their dreams be shattered forever?
Additionally, I’ve just finished the first draft of Burning Desire #2 and am plotting out Arrested Pleasures #3. I’m hoping #2 will be out by the first of next year and #3 soon after.
My website contains all seven covers in the series.