Monday, November 02, 2009

SINGING A DUET…

Or rather writing one, since even the people who love me beg me not to sing. :)

It was nearly two years ago – another November – when I had a breakfast meeting with my editors at the plush Churchill Hotel in the west end of London to discuss what I’d write in the year ahead.

I had all kind of ideas floating around in my head but the eds had only one. A duet. They wanted a duet for November/December and please, please, please could one of them be a Christmas book.


I resisted. My worst experience with a book was a Christmas title. It had a gorgeous cover, one of my prettiest, but the truth of the matter is that you can’t sell a Christmas title when the hero and heroine are standing under a palm tree wearing nothing but swimsuits – even if the palm tree is strung with tiny Christmas lights. And, let’s face it, when it comes to scheduling, not just for its first outing, but for those important foreign sales, there are only two months of the year when a Christmas title will fit the bill.

But the last time I did a Christmas duet – unintentionally, I wrote consecutive books about friends – it was, apparently, a big hit and RomanceHQ wanted a repeat.

The really big problem about writing a duet is that it’s really hard work. They have to be delivered promptly, close enough together to be scheduled in consecutive months. And Christmas won’t wait. But what can a starving writer, caught in a pincer movement between her editor and the series editor, say? With her crispy bacon and scrambled eggs rapidly cooling in front of her there is only one answer. "If I say “yes”, can I eat?"

At which point we come to the second problem with writing a duet. They have to be linked in some way. One story twisted around the other. You have to think of two books at the same time and they have to overlap in some way. Which leads to other problems. Set up a scene in one book and you have to deliver it in the next. Easier said than done!

But the books were written, the duet was given a name “Trading Places” and the strap line written –

Annie wanted anonymity -
Lydia wanted the spotlight -
They both found love.

So here we are. It’s November and first up is Annie’s story, Christmas Angel for the Billionaire. Having been in the media spotlight all her life, she’s desperate for the chance to just walk down a street, stop at Starbucks for a coffee, check out the latest High St fashions without being pursued by the paparazzi. What she needs is a place holder, someone for the media – and her over-protective grandfather’s bodyguards -- to watch while she disappears for a while. And then she comes face to face with her “look alike”, Lydia Young. The open road beckons and things are going swimmingly until she misses her turning and ends up in the Saxon’s kitchen being played off in a battle of wills by George Saxon and his teenage daughter.

As for Lydia, she’s having a ball until she discovers that she, too, is caught in the middle of a struggle between a divided family. More about that next month. For now I have a 2-in-1 UK edition of CHRISTMAS ANGEL FOR THE BILLIONAIRE, twinned with Jessica Hart’s sparkling, funny and emotional Under the Boss’s Mistletoe to give away.

For a chance to win, tell me who you’d like to trade places with and why. I’ll pick the winner on Friday.

In the meantime, here's the first chapter...



And there is another excerpt on my website

(I'm also running this competition on the Harlequin Romance Authors blog at eHarlequin here if you want to have two goes -- with two different "Trading Places" stories!)

23 comments:

Kate Walker said...

I loved Christmas Angel - and I loved George. The perfect antidote to dreadline stress. And now part 2 - Her Desert Dream has arrived in time to be the antidote to 'tweaking the Greek' revisions stress - can't wait! Thank you so much. I am so looking forward to finding out what happened to Lydia and 'that man'

Hope the eds let you enjoy the rest of your breakfast

Kate

Caroline Storer said...

Annie’s and George's story, Christmas Angel for the Billionaire was a delight to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can honestly say that anyone who buys it will not be disappointed. Take care. Caroline x

robynl said...

I'd love to trade places with another couple so dh could be involved here. The couple should have a cabin in the woods where we could spend Christmas and have our family come up. They of course would have ski-doos and Quads to drive, Clydesdale horses to give hay rides, access to ice to make homemade ice cream and a small church down the lane, a mile away, where we could go Christmas eve to listen to carollers.

yourstrulee(at)sasktel(dot)net

Lois said...

Well, at the Harlequin Romance blog I had said that I wanted to trade places with someone on the other side of the world where it was 2 something AM instead of my 2 something PM so I could take a nap. Well, I'm approaching really PM that I can hopefully go to sleep, but it's not happening just yet, so I'll still trade places with anyone who is sleeping right now! :)

Lois, who apparently has a one track mind. . .

Michele L. said...

OOoo...congratulations Liz on your book duet deal! I can't wait to read it! I love Christmas books! I have a stack of them on my keeper shelf that I like to reread around Christmas time.

The person who I would like to trade places with would be, Beckett, in the tv show, CASTLE. I would love to be her and work alongside Nathan Fillian. I just love his personality and his looks!

Ok, seriously, I would like to trade places with you Liz! I would love to be a famous writer like you! That is a dream of mine to write a book someday. I don't know what I would write about but that is my dream to write a book.

Lacey Devlin said...

Fascinating post Liz! I love reading about the behind the scenes stuff. They held your bacon and eggs hostage! Sneaky editors :D

"If I say “yes”, can I eat?" - hillarious :D

ninaharrington said...

I have Christmas Angel sitting on my desk right now - as my reward for completing the first draft of my own WIP - brilliant motivational tool! LOL, Nina

Liz Fielding said...

Thanks so much, Kate. I'm totally vegging out today, haven't even picked up a book. No time for a rest though, my next book is due in January, along with another important event.

Liz Fielding said...

Aw, Caroline!

Liz Fielding said...

Well that's just lovely, Robyn. Can I come by and visit?

Liz Fielding said...

LOL, Lois. You need a mug of cocoa or Horlicks and a sprinkle of lavender oil on the pillow. (Not that it worked for Annie in CAftB!)

Liz Fielding said...

Well now, Michele. I've worked ten hour days for the last week and my life seems reduced to my laptop. You'd better wait until later in the month when I'll be in London for the launch of Loves Me, Loves Me Not at the Cavalry & Guards Club in London. I'm staying in Covent Garden so that I can do my Christmas shopping and going to the British Museum for the Montezuma exhibition. After that it'll be back to the laptop chasing a tight deadline!

It's my world and welcome to it!

Liz Fielding said...

Lacey, they always take to somewhere luscious to eat when they want to twist your arm. Tantalise you with food and then fire in the demands when your guard is down!

Liz Fielding said...

Nina, I've been working so hard that I've hardly had time to read a thing in the last couple of months. I've got this pile of books as a motivational tool -- including yours -- but by the time I've done a ten hour day at the coalface I just fall asleep in front of the television. I need a holiday just to catch up on my reading. :)

Michele L. said...

Hi Liz,

I so would love to trade places with you anyway! 10 hour days on you laptop? Wow! Sounds like you need a breather to cool those fingers off. The places you go to sound so fascinating and fun!

You just take care and have a lovely week!

Kaye Manro said...

Great post, Liz! Trading places? Wonderful story idea! That's a hard thing to think about for me. Maybe one of my characters? I think I'd like to be the futuristic Gwen on a time travel mission. Well, it's not Christmas, but it is trading!

Chelsea B. said...

I've been watching allot of Gilmore Girls, so I would have to say I would want to trade places with Rory. I would definitely make sure she ended up with Dean!! LOL:)

Liz Fielding said...

Kaye, I have to admit there are a few of my heroine's I wouldn't mind changing places with :)

Liz Fielding said...

Chelsea, I'm trying to think if there's any TV character I'd change places with. Maybe someone on Coronation Street so that I could tell them all to run as fast they can, move to another part of town because they're never going to be happy, fulfilled, make anything of their lives if they stay there!

susanwilson44 said...

Absolutely love Christmas books, so delighted that your breakfast motivated you to say yes!
As for trading places its got to be with my favourite character of all time Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, to stay in the big house, wear the beautiful dresses and kiss Rhett Butler..........

Jill said...

I loved your last Christmas duet. Those were the books that hooked me on Liz Fielding!
I would love to trade places with a woman with loads of style, no kids and an unlimited bank account, who lived in New York, or London, or Paris (!) but only temporarily.
I'd want enough time for a leisurely breakfast at a glamorous cafe. Then on for a morning of power shopping (with assistants helping me b/c I'm terrible at picking out clothes) and an elegant lunch with white wine. Maybe salad and salmon with flourless chocolate cake for dessert with more coffee.
That's probably about as long as I could hold out before missing my husband and 9 month old son.
But I hope the housework would be done and dinner was ready when I got home!

Liz Fielding said...

Thanks, Jill. Those would be the ones with the Trojan Hamster and duck chasing hounds. :) Completely mad, both of them.

I love your "trade" -- such a treat -- and I have no doubt your dh would have missed you so much that he'd have the place looking wonderful for you on your return (just to keep you from bolting back to Paris) and even have a cup of tea and bacon sarnie waiting.

Liz Fielding said...

Winner time:

Jill, you're it. I just loved the fact that when for a fantasy that I think any woman could relate to. Or is it just me? :)

Email me at liz @ liz fielding .com (no gaps) with your snail mail addy, and I'll get the book in the post to you. Added bonus of Jessica Hart's great, Under the Boss's Mistletoe, too!