I was so wrong.
WITH SEDUCTION IN MIND, the story of cynical, famous-but-burned-out novelist Sebastian Grant and naïve, fresh-faced wannbe writer Daisy Merrick should have been an easy story to write. I had plenty of conflict. (Did I mention Daisy’s first writing assignment was a review of Sebastian’s play, and did I mention she HATED it and slaughtered him in the newspaper?) I also had plenty of plot elements to work with, since I decided to throw in every writing cliché I could think of (tongue-in-cheek, of course!). And once I put these two people in a situation where they had to work together, I had the potential for some sizzling romance, especially when they begin a game of mutual seduction. So you see, this story seemed like a slam dunk to me. Until I actually went through the process of writing it, and that’s when I learned that writing about writers is very, very hard. The reason is because I had to make writers seem like normal people when the truth is that we’re nuts.
Seriously, we are. We have all these fears and insecurities, but we also have enormous egos. We whine a lot, and you just can’t have your romance hero and heroine whining all the time. In addition, writers are horrible procrastinators, going through a great deal of work to avoid working. None of these neurotic traits writers possess are very heroic, and that’s what made WITH SEDUCTION IN MIND a hard story to tell, especially for a fear-riddled, insecure, whiny procrastinator like me. Still, somehow, it all worked out in the end. WITH SEDUCTION IN MIND hits stores tomorrow, and when I’m not hyperventilating about bad reviews and low royalties, I’ll be trying to write the next book, which I thought sure was going to be a piece of cake, until I…umm…actually started writing it. Now, it seems impossible, but it’s too late to back out. I am so screwed.
How about you? Is there any project you’ve taken on that turned out to be a lot harder than you thought? Any situation where you realized you’d bitten off more than you could chew but it was too late to back out? Any promise you’ve made that later you just wanted to run away from? What did you do about it? What did you learn from it? And would you ever do it again?
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All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.
London, May, 1896
Daisy Merrick was unemployed. Such a circumstance wasn’t unusual—Daisy had been in that particular pickle many times before. Some people, including her sister, were inclined to see her ever-changing job situation as her own fault, but to Daisy’s mind that opinion was most unfair. Today was a perfect example.
Bristling with indignation, she marched out of the offices of Pettigrew & Finch, where she had just been informed by the matron in charge of typists that her services would no longer be required. And no, Matron had added upon her inquiry, they could not see clear to providing her with a letter of character. Given her shameless conduct, no favorable reference would be possible.
“My shameless conduct?” she muttered, pausing on the sidewalk to search for a passing omnibus amid the traffic that clogged Threadneedle Street. “Mr. Pettigrew is the one who should be ashamed!”
When that gentleman had cornered her in the supply closet, taken up her hand, and confessed to a deep and ardent passion for her, she had refused to succumb to his advances, as any respectable woman would have done. Yet, when informed by Matron Witherspoon a short time later that her employment had been terminated, Daisy’s indignant explanation had not saved her job. Mr. Pettigrew, Matron had reminded her with a superior little smile, was a founding partner of an important banking firm, and Daisy Merrick was a typist of no consequence whatsoever.
An omnibus turned the corner, and Daisy waved her arms in the air to hail the horse-drawn vehicle. When it stopped, she climbed aboard and handed over the three-pence fare that would take her home. As the omnibus jerked into motion, she secured an empty seat and considered how best to explain to Lucy that she’d lost yet another job.
Though she knew the blame could not be laid at her door, she also knew her elder sister might not see things quite that way. Lucy would list all the reprimands Daisy had received from Matron for her impertinence during the three months of her employment with Pettigrew and Finch. No doubt, Lucy would remind Daisy of how Mr. Pettigrew had witnessed Matron’s latest scolding a week earlier, of how he had patted her hand once the older woman had gone, of how he had called her honesty “refreshing” and assured her she had no reason to worry, of how he’d said he would “take care of her.”
Lucy might even be tiresome enough to bring up the warnings she had issued regarding Mr. Pettigrew’s assurances, and her own blithe disregard of these warnings.
Daisy bit her lip. In hindsight, she knew she should have followed Lucy’s suggestion and informed Mr. Pettigrew that she couldn’t impose upon him to intervene with Matron on her behalf. Had she done that, this mess might have been avoided. But having a sister who was always right could be so aggravating, and Daisy often felt an irresistible compulsion to fly in the face of Lucy’s well-meant advice. This had been one of those times.