Most readers have a keeper shelf for those books that so touched them, they’re kept to be read and re-read over and over through the years. At left is one of my keepers, though without the original cover. The romance so integral to the story remains unchanged, but as decades pass it’s unavoidable that some of the details become dated.
Recently I got the rights back on five of my earliest novels for Silhouette. Two have received new life in digital format so far, with the other three following (hopefully this summer). As I wait for my son to design new covers for them, I take the opportunity to re-edit the books and update the characters’ world to make them more relatable in today’s context. This includes checking to be sure the story people aren’t driving models of vehicles that have been discontinued; that there aren’t descriptions of hairstyles or clothing that are out of style; they use GPS rather than scrambling for a map; there are no references to popular culture that is no longer, well, popular; and that no one searches endlessly for a pay phone rather than taking a cell out of their pocket.
Being the ruthless self-editor that I am I also take the opportunity to change word choices and phrases that probably only bother me. And–take my word on this–none of my new covers will show heroes sporting what can only kindly be described as mullets <g>.
MCLAIN’S LAW, the first of the novels to be released digitally was the second book I ever wrote, the first to be published by Silhouette. I e-pubbed it in March and it’s been a fun experiment to take total control of the book in all areas. I still remember the thrill of my ‘first sale’ call with that book, and how excited I was when it was first released. I made my husband take me on a search of stores and he thought it was hilarious as I got progressively more irritated to find the copies sold out at each place we stopped. I wanted to see the book on a store shelf, darn it!! Oh, for the print run and distribution of those days!
The sequel to that book, AN IRRESISTIBLE MAN was uploaded this month. I just love it when authors give favorite secondary characters their own story and Cruz Martinez remains one of my favorite heroes. As I recall I sent the book in untitled (80% of my books ended up with different titles anyway) but I was vehemently opposed to the *one* title suggested by the senior editor: Maddy’s Lawman (gag). After no fewer than thirty suggestions of my own, we came up with AN IRRESISTIBLE MAN. Cruz earned himself a hero’s W.I.S.H. award from Romantic Times magazine.
Next up will be RANCHER’S CHOICE, the very first book I ever wrote. It was published second, but it does give me the distinction of having published the first book I wrote, albeit after doing a couple major surgeries on it! I can’t look at it objectively, as when I read I see every rookie writer’s mistake in it, but it started me on my writing career, so it’ll always be a little special to me for that. Later this summer we’ll release GUARDING RAINE and BRINGING BENJY HOME.
It’s gratifying to see the books earn new readers and even more so to hear from readers who have much loved dog-eared copies of the original on their keeper shelves. Some buy the digital to have it on their e-readers, as well.
Do you have favorite books you’d like to see get new life? When you re-read one of your keepers, are you ever yanked out of the story by dated details?