Ideas never die...they just get reincarnated

It took me nearly six years to sell my first book to Harlequin Superromance, which meant I had a lot of unsold manuscripts, beginnings of manuscripts, and scraps of story ideas lying around. I always thought that after I sold my first book, those unsold stories would be snapped up by my editor.
They weren’t.

Not because she read them and didn’t like them, but because I realized they were all deficient in some way—eighteen months later, I still haven’t fixed them up or submitted them. I did sell one of my previous stories, of which another editor at Superromance had already requested a full manuscript, but the rest are still languishing in the bottom drawer.

But I haven’t given up on those stories. They all had some good in them, and I want to use that. I’ve just reworked the synopsis of one of those stories to give it a more “Superromance” feel. If the editor likes it, it’ll mean a substantial rewrite of the book, but at least I’ll get to use all that fun dialogue and those emotional scenes that meant so much to me when I wrote them. Ultimately, I could do the same with all those stories—if I want to.

There’s another alternative, and that’s to take elements of those stories, and reuse them. Karina Bliss’ upcoming Mr. Irresistible (Superromance, Feb. 08), uses the hero from one of her earlier manuscripts. Like Karina, I have characters or starting hooks or individual scenes that I’d like to transplant from my older stories into new ones.

Then there are those scraps of ideas... I was talking to my Superromance editor about a story that would involve a cynical philanthropist who finds an abandoned baby and uses it as a media stunt. The heroine would be the vet who treated the hero’s dog, and didn’t think he was caring enough to look after either a dog or a baby.

My editor didn’t think a vet was the right character, and she’d just bought “a dog story”. So the dog disappeared, the vet became a pediatrician, and the resulting book, The Diaper Diaries, will be out from Superromance in March. Right after I abandoned the vet idea, my editor at Harlequin NASCAR invited me to write a novella for a Christmas anthology. My nimble mind (that’s a joke, my brain usually moves at the pace of semi-dry concrete), immediately thought about using the vet with a NASCAR driver. When my critique partner Tessa Radley (The Desert Bride of Al-Zayed, Silhouette Desire, out now), suggested the driver should run over the dog, thus involving the vet, and I knew the setup was perfect. The resulting novella, The Natural, is out now in the A NASCAR Holiday 2 anthology. Visit http://www.abbygaines.com/ to read an excerpt of The Natural, and see how an idea can transfer seamlessly from one story to another.

So my advice is to hang on to those ideas! You never know when they’ll come to your rescue....