Friday, July 13, 2012

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand ARC

With all of the electronic communication abounding these days, a visit to my mailbox isn't typically exciting (junk mail doesn't bring me joy). But, the other day I had a HUGE smile on my face because I GOT A BOOK IN THE MAIL! It was an advanced readers copy (ARC) of Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly. It is scheduled to be re-released on September 11, 2012, by Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort (it was originally published by Signet in 1994).

Although Carla Kelly has had many books published, I just learned about her earlier this year when I read her Whitney Award winning novel Borrowed Light (Best Romance). Since then I have had the opportunity to read another ARC of her's called My Loving Vigil Keeping (I'll be posting as part of her blog tour on July 19th). Both of these novels are LDS fiction.

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand is not LDS fiction, but LDS standards will be kept in mind with the final published version. I'm excited to compare the finished product with the ARC.

After her husband’s death, Roxanna Drew is faced with the daunting task of providing for her two small girls on her own. Pursued by her lecherous brother-in-law, Roxanna knows her only hope is to escape his grasp by moving into a derelict cottage, owned by Lord Winn—a man known to his tenants only by his checkered reputation.

But when fate brings Lord Winn to her door in the middle of a snowstorm, Roxanna’s not sure which to fear more: letting him into her home or into her heart.

This was a very entertaining story with likable characters who don't quite fit their societal molds. Kelly does a great job of getting the reader emotionally involved with her characters. I was cringing several times when true feelings were hidden. People could eliminate so much hardship if they just talked! Eliminating conflict wouldn't make for much of a story though. :)

I was interested in how re-printing a novel with a new publisher works, and Mrs. Kelly gave me the scoop:

"When I left Signet for Harlequin, my agent told me to get my Signet copyrights to my regencies. I did, and it happened to be right before the ebook revolution began.

A year ago, I got an email from Signet, requesting a reversion of rights to my regencies, so Signet could release them as ebooks. I gave them four, and gave five to Cedar Fort. I've also given three to Camel Press in Seattle, because I like what they did with Daughter of Fortune, my first novel, written in 1984. I still retain the rights to three more of those Signet Regencies.

Since Signet had returned those rights to me in 2004, I was at liberty to do whatever I wanted with them. I thought it might be a good idea to spread them out over several publishers. It's proving to be a good move. Cedar Fort was originally going to just do a few as both paperback and ebook. Now they're planning to do all of the five I gave them as paperback and ebook, because they seem to have found a new home with LDS readers. I couldn't be happier."

Carla also indulged me on writing for various markets:

"While I have enjoyed – and still enjoy – writing for larger markets, I’m so delighted to write for the “LDS home crowd,” as well. Keeping a quill pen in both worlds suits me now. The big New York and London publishing houses have the numbers, so I’ve recently signed on for two more Regency-set novels. I’m also writing for a smaller firm in Seattle, which has contracted four historical mysteries set in the 1780s royal colony of New Mexico, starring Paloma Vega and Marco Mondrag√≥n, a charming couple. I’ve always wanted to write a historical mystery series; my downtime escape reading is crime fiction. The large presses are not flexible enough to let me even try that, since I’ve been stereotyped as a Regency romance writer. CamelPress in Seattle is happy to oblige, which is the cool thing about smaller publishing companies.

For the “home crowd,” I’m having a chance to delve into that late nineteenth-early twenty century era, when the LDS Church was flexing its muscles a bit and moving into a wider world. My novels for different publishing companies may have different levels of saltiness, but my prime interest is, and always will be, literary merit. If things go as planned, I probably won’t write any more Regencies for the large presses, once I finish this current contract. I’d rather focus on the mysteries and LDS-themed fiction, because at this stage of what I laughingly refer to as my career, that’s where my interests lie. And after all, how many Regencies can one writer write, and not get bored? I’m just pleased to write. Hard to say if it’s a passion of mine, but I have always enjoyed telling stories of my own creation."

Thanks so much to Carla Kelly for her input!