07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Thursday, January 24, 2013


As the countdown to midnight began so we could farewell 2012 and welcome in 2013, I wondered what the New Year would bring. Wealth, a multi-book contract and mega sales came to mind. But isn’t the health and happiness of your loved ones and yourself more important? World peace, the cessation of world hunger, these are all important. Not that I am going to write about these things. Today, I want to talk of make-overs. Not the kind where you get a new hair style or update your wardrobe to something more modern and sophisticated.

My make-over is to do with manuscripts.

You know what I mean, those manuscripts hidden away in a drawer, stuffed under the couch, or packed away in a box in the shed or on a USB stick shoved in your jewellery box, never again to see the light of day. Those clumsy first novels that you poured your heart into, wept over, and then mourned their passing when you decided they couldn’t be resurrected from the dead.

Fortunately, you kept on writing, honing your skills, sending off query letters and sample chapters until finally it came: The acceptance. What a thrill that was. You contacted all your friends and family, did the happy dance, joined the loops and created your own website.

Edits came and went, then your book arrived. You held it in your hand, drooled over the fabulous cover, caressed the pristine pages, and like vintage wine you savoured the perfume of new paper. You had made it. Your perseverance had paid off. So, you wrote a couple of more books and they were accepted. You were a multi-published author now.

You attended the conferences, gave talks at the local library, revved up your internet presence, and all the while, those manuscripts, those first few stories rotted away in the shed or hid in the jewellery box, cruelly cast aside and forgotten in the excitement of being a published author. You didn’t need them, like one of the rakes in your novel, you dumped these poor souls and left them alone and unloved while you went on to the next conquest.

Fast forward a couple of years. Your publisher is screaming for another two manuscripts from you. There is a deadline, but your creativity has suddenly disappeared. You heard on the grapevine, that those authors who don’t produce the required number of books would be dumped. What can you do?    Desperately you rack your brains, stare at the unforgiving blank computer screen. Your muse has gone. Deserted you in your hour of need. BUT all is not lost. You can pull out the old manuscripts, breathe new life into them, and send them off to your publisher.

I did this with my manuscript Savage Possession. It had lain dormant on my computer for a several years. Under a different title it had made it into the semi-finals of the Amazon Break Through Novel Award and for reasons I don’t recall, I relegated it to the bowels of my computer and virtually forgot about it, until my publisher, anxious to fill in an unexpected gap in their publishing schedule, asked me if I had anything suitable.  I rescued my manuscript from the deepest, darkest depths of my computer, gave it a make-over and sent if off, all within a month.

Raw sexual emotion, revenge and redemption. If you want a sugar-coated romance, Savage Possession is not for you. In colonial Australia it took hard men like Martin Mulvaney to tame a harsh land.

A sweeping tale of love's triumph over tragedy and treachery in frontier Australia.

A mistaken identity opens the door for Martin Mulvaney to take his revenge on the granddaughter of his mortal enemy.

An old Scottish feud, a love that should never have happened, and a series of extraordinary coincidences traps two lovers in a family vendetta that threatens to destroy their love, if not their lives.


Judith Ashley said...

I agree that when we've honed our craft we can go back and 'make-over' those earlier manuscripts. There was something in those early stories that called to us. The characters, the setting, the plot?

A creative way to fill the gap when an original story didn't pop up. Must have been Savage Possession's time to shine!

Karen Duvall said...

I envy your ability to shape up your old manuscripts. I've tried that a couple of times, but my mouldering old stories are beyond repair. Sigh. I'm so happy for you and Savage Possession! :)

Sarah Raplee said...

You inspire me, Margaret! I've been debating whether or not to try to make over my first manuscript. I still love the characters and the plot. I want to write two more books in my Agency series before i try, but I'm going to do it!

Savage Possession sounds amazing!

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Anonymous said...

Interesting blog post. I do agree that there is often some raw emotion, great premise, or amazing characters in old manuscripts. It sounds like Savage Possession had all of those elements. The fact it made it so far in the contest is a great sign.

Unfortunately, for my four "practice" manuscripts (sitting in my drawer in printed form because the MS Word file structure no longer exists) reworking them would be an ultimately frustrating and dissatisfactory waste of time. Not to mention they were gothic romances, a la Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney, and I don't write those anymore.

However, that doesn't mean one can't take some of the plot ideas, character sketches and write a NEW manuscript from scratch. Personally, that would be a better use of my time than putting lipstick on my piggy manuscripts. :)