Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Naming books after my daughters

Blair with my iPad version of ebook
St. Blair: Children of the Night

Marquel with my first novel
Print Version of Marquel
   When I was 15, I started coming up with names for my future children. At the same time I was also reading romance novels. It seemed that most of what I read then were gothic or historical romances. I was also enchanted by the show Dark Shadows and it's Victorian vampire lead, Barnabas Collins. I don't know why, by I liked older men, then. You wouldn't believe it, but I had a major crush on Cesar Romero. Back then gray was distinguished, now it's just a reminder of the aging process and I'm no longer a fan of gray temples or gray. Sorry gray-haired people. 
   Anyway, I thought I would likely have nine children and I went from rhyming names to romantic names. The rhyming names were totally silly. Bunny, Kitty, Penny, Sunny and so on. Then I started taking names apart and combining them and also changing the first letter.
  I would take a name and go through the whole alphabet listening to how the new name would sound. So drop the R from Raquel and try it as Baquel, Caquel, Faquel... you get the idea.  Marquel is a variation of Raquel. When I hit Marquel I was totally amazed at the beauty of this French sounding name. I had never heard of it and I was sure I invented it.
  I figured at the very least I could accomplish having a daughter and naming her Marquel and writing a novel titled Marquel. I had no idea what her story would be, just that it would be a romance. Funny, I had no clue what I'd do if I had a boy?
   Now the books aren't about my daughters, but I was determined that now I would write and title my books with my kids' names.
   The intro to Marquel has more info about my working with my mentor Harry Whittington. However, it doesn't contain the moment at which I thought up the storyline for Marquel. I had been working with Harry Whittington and trying to get my writing mojo back years after having our daughter Marquel. She was just four at the time and we'd closed our children's store and I felt like a total failure. The business lost money and I, several years trying to build it. I was also in the thick of "trying" to help a very sick pulp legend complete a novel and  feeling totally inept.
   I was sad.
   I was more than sad, I was in a total funk. I remember walking into our bedroom, my husband was still up watching t.v. and Marquel was asleep. I was in the process of lying down, my back had not even touched the mattress when the basis of the novel flashed through my mind at lightning speed. It was like watching a movie in hyper-fast-forward. 
  As my head reached the pillow I was in a further state of sadness for the characters in the story, but also in absolute amazement by their story. I couldn't tell my husband Tom. He wouldn't understand. It's a relational thing I have with my characters. It's their secret to tell. I could not contain myself. I wanted to sleep but I had to jot some notes. I was afraid I would forget something, but I wouldn't.
   It was as though the character Marquel had been born that night and stayed close to me, awaiting a chance to be heard.
   The year before I was pregnant with Blair, I started working 2nd shift overtime as a proofreader. I had never been in a situation where I lived the opposite shift of my husband and child. A mental storyline began. I saw my co-workers more than my family. I spent long nights getting home at 3 a.m. and unwinding til 6 am and then going to bed. While I slept, my husband and Marquel were beginning their day. It's almost like being in a coma. You just sleep and wake up and everyone is gone. When we were in "rush" as it was called, there were weeks of overtime with no days off.
   Blair was my 2nd shift child. I was pregnant with her and working overtime the months I carried her and continued to work nights after I had a month maternity leave. It was my plan to become a stay-at-home Mom and write when Tom lost his job and became Mr. Mom.
   St. Blair: Children of the Night was cooking in my head for a long time. The overtime and demands of family squashed my writing drive. So I started a zine Bohemian Chronicle to publish other writers and get my hand back into the creative process.
  Bohemian Chronicle was soon receiving manuscripts from all over the world. We printed on a dot matrix printer and saddle-stapled the publication from our kitchen table. I wrote the publisher's letter each issue, but all the while, I was still working nights with plenty of overtime desperately trying to become a dayshift employee to be with the kids more.  I eventually moved into a sales job at the same company and found the dayshift a better fit with a set of new challenges. I had to learn how to sell and manage a book of business.
   The long departure from writing made me wonder if I was ever meant to be a full time or established writer. It wasn't until our daughters were grown and working in the film business that my novel Marquel was made into a booktrailer and their contacts interested in making a film. I finished the script for Marquel late 2013.
   As I wrote St. Blair, I was really obsessed with telling a story that would honor Blair. I couldn't produce something substandard with my kid's name on it.
  I prayed a lot while writing this novel and when I finally finished the final rewrite, a calm came over me that reassured me it was good enough. I published the ebook it on Nov 1, 2013 All Saint's Day. The print version and marketing materials are hopefully going to be ready early March 2014. The next books by the end of the year.