Sunday, March 4, 2012

One Writer's Long, Arduous Journey Home

One Writer’s Long, Arduous Journey Home

I want to thank LASR for hosting this release party. I’m thrilled to be part of it.

My latest book, “A Catered Romance,” was released February 23 and is available exclusively at Amazon Kindle. It’s actually a revised, re-titled, sensuous version of my first published book from Avalon Books.

Here’s the blurb:

There's more than business brewing between two old high school flames...Stubbornly self-reliant Mary Beth Kendrick needs financial backing to keep her catering business cooking. A looming corporate buyout forces her to accept help from Tom Sackett, the man who broke her heart and left her distrustful of men. Unable to forget Mary Beth, Tom sets out to win her forgiveness. As he gets to know her again through their shared business interests, he realizes he wants more than forgiveness from her. He wants her in his life.Grateful for Tom's support but unwilling to trust him, Mary Beth vows to keep their relationship strictly business. But his attentiveness, culminating in a night of passion, starts to melt her icy resolve and shows her the caring, sensitive man Tom has become. Can Mary Beth learn to love and trust again? Will she and Tom open their hearts to a second chance at love?

You may be wondering what the title of this blog has to do with my book. I want to tell you about my long journey to publication and why I had to come home to find success.

I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always been a sucker for a good love story. Ever since I was a young teen I’d dreamed of being a published author but life got in the way. Some years back when a friend and I were sharing Harlequin romances, we looked at each other one day and said, “We could write these.” Hah! Were we in for a rude awakening. Writing a romance filled with emotion is a lot harder than it looks when you’re reading one of the wonderful, seamless romance novels out there.

It took me ten long, hard years to publish my first book. The very first book I wrote (never published) was a sensuous contemporary romance set on a ranch in Wyoming. You know the old adage to write what you know. I didn’t pay attention to those words of wisdom when I wrote that book. I’m an East Coast girl, born and bred. I love the West, and I’ve spent time in the Southwest, but I’d only gone through Wyoming once by train when I was thirteen. I did my research on Wyoming, but I’ve never been on a ranch. I didn’t have a clue what I was writing about. I loved my hero. Still do. His name was Alec and he was half Cherokee, tall, with long black hair tied in a ponytail. Yum. That book went nowhere. One editor liked my writing but hated Alec. Said he was self-serving and arrogant. Contest judges were even meaner. Seems everyone but me hated Alec.

So I took a deep breath and decided to write what I know. What I know is my home state of Delaware, a really boring place except for the beach (more about that later). I like to say I escaped twice (to Toronto, Canada and Pennsylvania) but they found me and brought me back. I wrote “A Catered Affair,” set in my home city of Wilmington. A little tidbit - the heroine and her friend are named after my two best friends growing up, Mary Beth and Gail. The hero, Tom, is named after a boy I liked in grade school and high school. That Tom once said something very hurtful about me, something that haunted me for years. I took that hurtful feeling and used it for Mary Beth. Writing “A Catered Affair” was cathartic. That book flowed. It was so much easier to write about a place I had intimate knowledge of. I wrote the book sensual and targeted Silhouette Desire. Imagine my joy when a Sil editor asked for the full after I’d sent her a partial. I was sure Sil would buy my book. Imagine my depression when I got the rejection from them.

Someone suggested I query Avalon Books. Avalon publishes hard covers and they’ve been in business over sixty years. Their romances are sweet - no sex, not much sensuality, no cursing, very little, if any, alcohol consumption. I didn’t think I could write “sweet,” but I was willing to give it a shot. I pitched Catered to the Avalon editor at a conference. By this time I’d felt as if I’d been through a war with all my rejections. I wasn’t about to change my book to sweet unless the editor asked to see a full of the book. She asked, and I changed it - took out the sex, the cursing and the alcohol. I was shocked at how many curse words I’d used. Changing this book from sensuous to sweet taught me two valuable lessons: one, you really should write what you know; and two, when I couldn’t rely on the sex to bring the couple together, I had to increase the emotion between them. I ended up with a stronger story.

I have the digital rights to my book and have published it on Amazon. I added back a few curse words, added some wine drinking and one love scene, but I kept the book close to the Avalon version. I like my new cover better though. If you want to see the original cover, go to my website,, then go to Bookshelf, then go to “read about my other books.” You’ll see the cover for “A Catered Affair.” That book was also written under my real name because I always wanted to write under my name. However, as most people couldn’t spell or pronounce my last name, I now use a pen name. Tell me what you think of the old cover compared to the new one.

Most of my books and all of my short stories (I’ve published a dozen short stories in women’s magazines) are set in places I know: Delaware, Philadelphia, the Delaware beaches, the New Jersey shore. My paranormal, “Cursed Mates,” from Noble Romance Publishing, is set in Maine. I visited Maine once and loved it. The Maine coast lends itself to scary stories. We all know Stephen King lives there. I didn’t have a problem writing a story set in Maine since I’d spent some time in that beautiful state. My romantic suspense, “Murder, Mi Amore,” from The Wild Rose Press, is set almost entirely in Italy. I’ve visited Italy twice and still have relatives there. Every location in “Murder, Mi Amore” is authentic. The story ends in Las Vegas, where my son lives. I’ve been to Vegas many times.

I’m not saying authors should write only about places they know. Most authors do an excellent job of adding veracity to places they’ve never been. When I wrote that first book, I didn’t have the skill to pull it off. The setting felt forced.

I don’t know if I’ll set another story in a place I’ve never visited. I’ve been writing long enough now that I believe I could make a Wyoming setting real. I want to rewrite that first book because I love Alec so much. I will be sure that he’s not so arrogant this time. Maybe I’ll set the story in the mean streets of Philadelphia where Alec can be a fish out of water, so to speak, rather than my heroine, a New York decorator, being a fish out of water in Wyoming.

Here’s a fun fact. We refer to the beach area of Delaware as “the beach.” If you’re in northern Delaware, where I live, eighty miles from “the beach,” you’ll say, “I’m going to the beach.” But if you’re going to the New Jersey shore, no matter where you are, you say, “I’m going down the shore.” In New Jersey you only use the word beach when you are actually walking on the sand at the beach looking at the ocean. A very clear distinction that we who live in the Philadelphia-Delaware region know.

I hope you enjoyed my little writing journey from Wyoming to Delaware. Please visit my website for information on my other books.

I’m on Facebook at:
On Twitter:!/CaraMarsi

“A Catered Romance” is sold exclusively at Amazon Kindle:


Debby said...

How true about the Jersey Shore but I never heard about the beach in Delaware. Interesting little things.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

I also lived in Philadelphia for a while and loved going down the shore.

Cara Marsi said...

Thank you, Debbie and Cindy. I still love going down the shore.

Shadow said...

Thanks for sharing! Your story sounds wonderful!

Cara Marsi said...

Shaoow, thank you for reading my blog and posting.