Unless someone is planning to self-publish their novel,
they can expect to wait a long time before they see their book get published,
if that is their goal. It can take a long time – what with all the writing,
revising, editing, proofreading, submitting, rewriting, more editing and more
submitting before the book is finally, FINALLY published. It can take months or
years before that book will finally be released to the world.
For me, it took 21 years. And all I can say is, “At last!”
At last, my novel, Faded Reflection, has been published.
My publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, has just released the ebook of this
novel and the print will release in the near future.
But the book that it is now certainly was NOT the book I
started writing all those years ago. In fact, it even had a different title. My
characters had different names. And so much of the story was different, as
I first got the idea for this story while I was living
with my sister in Rancho Mirage, California. At that time, I was attending
college while she was in high school. A man kept calling our house demanding to
speak with a woman named “Betty.” There was no Betty living with us. My sister
is the main person who talked to him since the hearing aid I wore at that time
did not help me understand phone conversations very well. The first time he
called, he asked my sister if she was married. She lied and told him she was. Hey,
we were 2 young women living on our own and this man was a complete stranger
who we didn’t owe anything to, so we had to protect ourselves and I guess my
sister thought if she said there was a man living there, this guy might back
off. But her telling him she was married only infuriated him – maybe because he
thought she was the woman he was trying to reach? He’d call several times every
day, sometimes at odd hours of the night, yelling at my sister in a rage about
being married and also even still demanding he speak to Betty. He also left
angry, negative messages on our answering machine. This situation freaked me
out, but the writer in me also thought, This could be a story.
That, and the song, Gloria,
is what got me started writing my novel in 1994.
The novel was originally called “Dead Ringer.” But after
the release of Lisa Scottoline’s novel with the same title, I changed it
because I felt it would have a better chance of standing on its own. Yes, I
know there are books out there with identical titles, but I really wanted
something different. I chose “Faded Reflection” because, at one point in the
story, my character Laura (originally named “Madison”), was looking at her “faded
reflection” in a mirror. That really stood out for me. It struck me as like a
ghostly image and that seemed appropriate because the woman Laura looked
exactly like, and is mistaken for by Carl (originally named “Frank”), is dead
and most likely a ghost. So the whole “ghostly” aspect of that title just
grabbed me and seemed like a good fit.
And, yes, I did change those character names. The reason
why I changed Madison’s name is because the song “Gloria” by Laura Branigan
really influenced the story and had such an impact on me, so I felt it was
appropriate to name my main character after her. (And I just realized that it has been 30 years since that song came out!!) She just didn’t "feel" like a “Madison,”
anyway. And I changed Frank’s name because I know someone named Frank and he’s
like the most sweetest guy on the planet and I didn’t want my bad guy named
after him. (Sidenote: I met the real-life Frank many years after I started
writing this book.)
Also, my character, Sandy, was originally a cop in the
old drafts. I decided to make her Laura’s co-worker so she could see for
herself what a creep Carl was and also be a part of an organization that helps
victims of stalking relationships, which is an important part of the story I
felt should be put in there.
The story is about my character, Laura, being mistaken
for a woman my antagonist, Carl, tried to murder years ago. Carl came home from
work one day to find his wife, Shirley, in bed with another man. He flies into
a rage, chasing her through the woods and drowning her. When he meets Laura, he
is convinced she is Shirley because she looks exactly like her and now he
thinks he hadn’t left Shirley for dead after all. Now he plans to finish her
off for good this time.
It’s a story about mistaken identities, stalking,
interpersonal abuse and controlling relationships.
When I first submitted the novel, it was accepted by an
independent publisher. Unfortunately, there it languished for 5 years. Then I
decided I wasn’t going to just let it remain on the back-burner anymore and got
to work revising and editing it. I sent it out to beta readers and did more
work on it. All was not lost while that manuscript was at that publisher’s,
though: The Acquisitions Editor provided me with A LOT of feedback on the
story, particularly with my character Carl, as well as many one-on-one chat sessions
discussing how the story could be improved. My beta readers had also provided a
lot of helpful feedback, as well. With a lot of thorough research, writing,
editing and revising, and a final read-through from betas, I was finally ready
to send the manuscript on to another publisher. It was accepted and, hooray!
Now it has been published!
I am thrilled this novel is finally published but it took
a lot of hard work to whip it into shape. It’s not just the many years of
getting this story published that stands out for me; it’s all of the extensive
research I had to do for it. I had to research personality disorders to find
one that fit my character, Carl, then research THAT one to make sure he acted
the way he was supposed to. I also researched controlling relationships as well
as interpersonal abuse. I read everything I could get my hands on: Books,
magazine articles, newspaper articles, various website pages. Just, anything and
I must also confess to something here: I was once a
stalker. It’s not a part of my past that I am proud of and I really don’t like
to remember that time in my life. But when I was in my late teens (well, 18), I stalked an
older man I had a crush on. The things that Carl does in the story – showing up
unannounced at Laura’s apartment and calling several times a day – are the
things that I did, too. I am ashamed of this part of my past and I know that kind
of behavior was wrong. But I did have to take a good look at that person I once
was in order to show how real and scary a stalker can be. (And, for the record,
I never again stalked anyone like that and I have since grown a little more
wiser.) It wasn’t easy writing from the point-of-view of my bad guy in this
story, especially since he’s also a racist pig, but I didn’t want to write a
soft-core stalker story. No, I had to go the whole nine yards in order to make
my character a “real” bad guy and show the dark side of a controlling
This novel is definitely one I am very, very pleased to
finally see get published. It took a lot of time, hard work and patience for it
all to come together and be the story that it is today.
Thank you to Denise Bartlett and Charlotte Holley of Gypsy Shadow Publishing. Thanks also to the following people: Sara Dean, Elizabeth Burton, James D. Macdonald, Raymond K. Wong, Peter Bowerman, Cheryl Wright, Lori A. Basiewicz, Alison Lake Benadada, Michelle John, Jen, Laura, Darci, Elizabeth Howard, Jeanette Dodd, Darin Calhoun, and my husband and children.
Here is the blurb for the book:
Williams takes a chance on Carl Gunderson, and it’s the most fatal mistake of
her life. Carl is convinced Laura is the wife that he murdered—or thought he
murdered. Apparently, he hadn’t left her for dead after all. Now she’s back in
his life—and this time, he will make sure he finishes her off for good.
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