Friday, November 04, 2011

In a galaxy far, far away...

by Jennie Bentley

If you have to die, February is the best month for it.

Some of you, who have been around for a while, might recall that sentence. It was the opening of the stories in the famous February Smackdown of 2010. I said I couldn’t write anything short, and Wilfred Bereswill’s answer was to challenge me to write a 200 word piece of flash fiction. A complete story in 200 words. He told me he was doing me a favor by making it 200; it really ought to be just half that. 

My story was 200 words. Exactly. You can go HERE and count them if you want. Mine's entry #2. And yes, I had a bit of a time cutting until I got down that low. And the story wasn't complete. Nowhere even close.

At any rate, what happened is Will’s fault. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

See, six months after I wrote that story, I decided to take an online class on writing suspense with the fabulous Heather Graham. Our first assignment was to write a scene starting with the words The blood dripped on the floor 

Now, that particular sentence isn’t one I’d normally choose. I’m actually more likely to pick Will’s opening line. And that may be the reason why, when I started to work on the assignment, Quinn Conlan popped back into my head. He was the only character I’d ever come up with who fit into a story that started with the words The blood dripped on the floor.

During the course of the class, we also came up with a detailed character sketch and an outline for a book. A book I really liked, in a genre no one seemed interested in, variously called science fiction romance or futuristic romance or perhaps romantic space opera.

I didn’t do much with the manuscript for the next year. My agent didn’t care for the outline and my editor at Penguin wasn’t interested. But between other books, I managed to write 50 pages of the story. And then, over the summer, a little outfit called Entangled Publishing came to my attention, mainly because my friend and yours, Misa Ramirez, is the marketing director there.

They were looking for science fiction romance. They were publishing science fiction romance. I asked how science fiction romance was selling and was told it was selling well. “Why do you ask?” Misa said.

So I told her about my story. The one Heather Graham liked, but everyone else thought would be a hard sell.

“Send it to me,” Misa said.

So I did. And she read it. And asked if she could show it to one of the editors. Who liked it, and asked if I could put together a formal proposal for the series.

(Yes, it had turned into a series. I told you I can’t write anything short.)

The rest, as they say, is history. Entangled Publishing offered to publish Quinn’s story. And the three stories following it. Here's the official announcement from Publisher's Marketplace:

Sci-fi/Fantasy: NYT bestselling author Jennie Bentley writing as Jenna Bennett's FORTUNE'S HERO, in which a galactic smuggler will stop at nothing to get his crew out of prison, his ship out of impound, and everyone out of orbit, to Liz Pelletier at Entangled, in a four-book deal, for publication in Summer 2012 (World).

You can check out a short excerpt – which no longer starts with the words The blood dripped on the floor – on my brand new website. There’s also a short – very short – synopsis or teaser. The concept has changed just a little from February of 2010, but for all intents and purposes, Quinn's still the same.

So there you have it. The story of my futuristic science fiction space opera romance thingy, that started life in the Smackdown of 2010.

And the moral of the story? I guess it is that you should never give up, since good things come to those who wait!


Joyce said...

Congratulations! You're going to be one busy girl. Didn't you just sell another Avery book too?

I had a lot of fun with that flash fiction contest. We should do it again.

Karen in Ohio said...

You are a writing machine, my friend.

Can't wait to see what you've come up with!

Jenna said...

I did sort of sell another Avery book, yes. I haven't received the contract yet, so it isn't official, but supposedly the details are ironed out. I'll have to wait for the contract to announce officially, though. And yes, I will be a busy girl. The first SFR is due February 1. And then I have to write at least one more plus the DIY in what's left of the year. Which is definitely doable, except I think there's another book I have to write too, if I can just remember what it is... because I'm pretty sure 2012 is gonna be another 4-book year.

Ramona said...

Good things come to those who work hard for it. You prove that, Jennie.