Marsha Canham's Blog

January 11, 2014

Updates, updates.

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 5:13 pm

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. I think because my mother was never a Ho Ho Ho person and Christmases each year, when I was young, amounted to a new pair of slippers under the tree wrapped in reused paper. I’ve sort of gone overboard with my son and his family, and with friends when we had Boxing Day dinners for 24 and the presents were stacked as high as the tree. There was a slight blip when Stupid ruined the first Christmas post-apocalypse, but we’ve pretty much recovered–what was his name again? *snort*– and I’ve done what I said I would do for years: get out of the winter snow and enjoy Florida sunshine for several months each year. Initially the plan was to spend Christmas every other year back in the Tundra, and this would have been that year, but thank goodness the plan changed and the family has no objections to coming down here for a week or two sans snow and ice and all that wretched cold. The weather wasn’t the greatest down here this year, but they had two good days of sun and heat and swimming, and the only complaints I heard had to do with going back to the snow and ice.

Before I left to migrate south, I finally got something I had been asking for for a couple of years: a family portrait. It almost happened last year, but no one could find the time to be together all at once, cheerful and smiling. This year, however, my photographer niece was available the same time the rest of them ran out of excuses and so we had a great afternoon of snapping pics. Most of them were so good it was difficult to pick out just a few to blow up and plaster around the room, but here’s a wee sampling:

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That was the best Christmas prezzie they could give me!

My second fav gift came from a totally unexpected source. After a flat-out refusal two years ago, Random House finally responded favorably to my latest request and reverted the rights to three of my most ambitious novels: The Pride of Lions, The Blood of Roses, and Midnight Honor. To say I was speechless when I saw the letter is an understatement. Well, a fib too because I actually hooted out loud and did a little dance that would look perfectly fine in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.

Looking back, I poured the most hours of research into those three books, the most sweat and blood, the longest periods of isolation locked away in my office and yelling at anyone who disturbed me. The Pride of Lions caused the most angst as well because the first version of it, when read by my harsh, eagle-eyed neighbor who critiqued all of my earlier books, won remarks that sent my heart sinking into my toes. She said: it’s…okay (complete with a long hesitation while she searched for the kindest word to use) but it’s just like any other romance book, sort of ordinary and predictable and there’s nothing special about it.

AUGH! The kiss of death: ordinary and predictable.

I had worked for a year on that book, drowned in research, and, because I knew there were physical limits on how thick a book could be, had to pick and choose what to include and what to leave out. What I left out was most of what I love doing best…making the backdrop of the story almost a character in itself. I left out the politics of the time, sacrificed a lot of the amazing true stories I had discovered in my research, cut out the entire Jacobite rebellion in all it’s tragic, epic drama in order to follow the *romance rules* and have a happy ever after ending for all the characters. And the worst part of it all?  I *KNEW* it was wrong. I *KNEW* I was shortchanging the characters and the story and the history. And I knew I couldn’t turn in a manuscript that was…

Ordinary and predictable.

With the publisher’s deadline already behind me, I called the editor and told her I couldn’t deliver the book as promised. I explained the situation and refused to even let her see the manuscript in it’s current form. The editor and I had worked together on three books already, including The Wind and the Sea, which had so many twists and turns she had called me late at night after finishing the manuscript to hoot and holler in my ear. So she knew how my brain worked when it was working properly and she asked me what I needed to do to make it work. My answer was: I needed to scrap the whole thing and start over. I needed to expand the story, put in more characters, take the reader through the months leading up to the rebellion and then, because I knew it would be too huge of an undertaking to do it all in one manuscript, I needed to write a second book that placed the reader right on the battlefields with the characters.

She thought about it for all of ten seconds and said: Do it. Take as much time as you need and write the books the way you want to write them.

And I did. I started over, right from word one and a year later had a new version of The Pride of Lions that my neighbor loved and I was confident enough to hand in to the editor. There was only one problem, and I didn’t warn the editor until she finished reading it and called me late at night again asking me if I had left off a few chapters. I said nope. That was how I wanted the book to end. It was realistic and logical and because I was already well into writing the sequel, the readers would know the second book would be scheduled to come out within six months. She was hesitant, but passed it through the publisher, who read it and invited us both to lunch to talk about the ending. It would work, he said, but only if the second book came out within a specified time period, and if an excerpt was included at the back of POL to let the reader know I hadn’t gone insane.

Perfect.

Nothing in the world of publishing is perfect or goes as planned, however, and within a few months the company, PaperJacks declared bankruptcy. Corners were cut near the end and one of the biggest was the decision to leave out the excerpt for The Blood of Roses because they would not be printing it. It took over two years, in fact, for another publishing house to release the sequel and another FOUR months for THAT publisher to go belly up.

Apart from the relatively small advance I was paid for The Pride of Lions, I never earned a penny from either of the two books. As a creditor, authors are WAYYYYYY down the list when it comes to paying off debts in bankruptcy.

Flash forward about five years. I was writing for Dell by then and had a terrific new editor who put up with my whining about my lost Scotland books for a few years until she actually read them. As it happened, we were at a Romantic Times conference and enjoying a few wobbly pops when I told her I had met a gorgeous young man trying to break into the business of modelling for book covers and he would be an absolutely perfect Alexander Cameron…should Dell choose to reissue both books. I sweetened the pot with a willingness to write a third book based in Scotland (Midnight Honor) and the deal was done. Frankly, I can still see her grabbing her hair and yelling “alright, alright, we’ll do it” just to stop my whining *g*, but hey…whatever works, right? Coincidentally, she was also the editor who insisted I hand in an outline for the book I was writing, despite my saying I didn’t work off outlines. She insisted, I slapped a book down on a piece of paper and traced around it, wrote the title inside the outline and mailed it to her.

I’m surprised she had any hair left after working with me. LOL

So now, flash forward two decades or so later and the books are mine again. Mine, mine, mine. While the kidlets were here visiting over Christmas, I was able to tiptoe around in the morning and work on editing and formatting The Pride of Lions, and now I’ve begun working on The Blood of Roses. I plan to release them both at the same time. If you are a diehard print book fan, I don’t know how much longer the books will be available in paperback through Amazon or Barnes and Noble, but they will be coming down soon so best to get them while you can. If you are an ebook convert, DON’T BUY THEM YET because I will be releasing them at a great price as soon as they are ready to go. You will know by the covers which version is which. The current paperbacks and ebooks have the swath of tartan across the covers. Mine will show up here and on Facebook and on my website when I’m ready to reissue them.

This means, of course, that work on The Far Horizon has been delayed again, but if you are a fan of the Highlands, or of great love stories, or of beauty, tragedy, romance, laughter, weeping, and heroic adventure all in one….then reading The Pride of Lions and The Blood of Roses  will make up for it.

I hope. *s*

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15 Comments »

  1. This makes me swoon. I recommend the PoL & Co. to everyone who wants a richly researched, passionate romance. Yay!

    Comment by Sandi — January 11, 2014 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  2. The family pics are wonderful – and congratulations on getting those books back! So excited for you, Marsha. 🙂

    Comment by Cynthia Wright — January 11, 2014 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

    • Cynthia…it’s like these books have always been cursed or held back or misplaced in time. Now they’re in my clutches and I hope I can treat them right.

      Comment by marshacanham — January 15, 2014 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

  3. Good news, great pictures, but my question is “Who is the third adorable dog?”

    Comment by Southern Belle — January 11, 2014 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

    • The third pup in Payton’s arms is Gizmo, Midget’s sister, and it was a minor miracle we got them all to look at the camera at the same time, let alone sit still long enough to take the pic *g*

      http://www.marshacanham.com visit my website Caesars Through the Fence, my pithy blog find me on Twitter @marshacanham

      Comment by marshacanham — January 11, 2014 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

  4. Congrats to you for getting your book rights back. Those are three of my favorite all time books. It’s so nice to see your family in pictures. Thank you for sharing them with us.

    Comment by Fern Martin — January 11, 2014 @ 10:42 pm | Reply

    • You’re very welcome Fern, and thank you for commenting *s*.

      Comment by marshacanham — January 15, 2014 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

  5. I love these photos, Marsha. What a great gift for you to have the whole, beautiful family, including the pups who were, obviously very cooperative that day. LOL And I am very happy you got the rights back to these amazing books. Classics! I still have the paperbacks but my Kindle is hungry. Good news, my friend. Very good news! Congrats.

    Comment by JILLMETCALFJ — January 13, 2014 @ 3:56 am | Reply

    • Thank you Perky. I think my niece took about 20 pics before all three dogs looked forward at the right time and all five people cooperated as well LOL

      Comment by marshacanham — January 15, 2014 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

  6. Dear Ms. Canham: Funny that you should mention this books now. They are the reason why I went to Inverness,Scotland years ago. They are the most wonderful stories (all three) about everything, romance, history, characters…
    that I have read and I have read plenty. Thank you for making so many of us readers happy.

    Comment by Mayra — January 15, 2014 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

    • Thank you Mayra! Oddly enough, I’ve never been to Scotland myself but it’s high high high on my bucket list *s*

      Comment by marshacanham — January 15, 2014 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  7. I can’t wait for Far Horizon. The Pirate Wolf trilogy is my absolute favorite. I stumbled upon your books by complete accident and I’m so glad I did. I’ve read them all and re-read them all and simply cannot wait for Far Horizon! I was hoping to see a concrete release date and am saddened that it’s been pushed back. C’est la vie! Congratulations overcoming your publishing nightmare. I’ll just have to keep looking forward to Far Horizon I guess!

    Comment by Sydney — March 13, 2014 @ 6:05 am | Reply

    • Thank you Sydney. I’ll do my best to get back on track. *s*

      Comment by marshacanham — March 13, 2014 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  8. I have to agree with Sydney. I too came across The Pirate Wolf Trilogy by accident but have read them many times since, both on paper and on my Kindle, and can not wait for The Far Horizon!

    Comment by Amanda — June 11, 2014 @ 7:23 pm | Reply


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