Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions....

Had a tough day yesterday.  First an email from my new editor asking me to update Love On The Rocks from 1984 to present day.  My first reaction was to throw a colossal tantrum, dig in my heels, and say NO WAY!

After all, do you know how much 80's pop culture is in my books?  I wrote it at the time because it was the book I wanted to read.  I could not find any books which talked about college life, such as the Anne Emery books I'd loved with Tobey as the heroine.  That series followed her through high school and into her first year of college in the 1950's.  I wanted to show a college in the 80's, and also throw in some social issues so it would have more of a plot.

Book #1 takes us from 1984-1986.  Included is the space shuttle Challenger exploding; certain clothing styles; and songs.

Book #2:  !985-1986, and shows pay phones and the heartache of having to wait for letters to arrive.

Book #3:  1986-1988.  There's a discussion on AIDS, and how at the time there were only three ways to catch it.

Book #4:  1987-1988:  Mainly songs from 1988; discussions about computers being more popular and would soon be in every home; political discussions.

Book #5:  1988-1989:  Discussions about CD's vs tapes and the election of George Bush (senior).

Book #6:  1988-1989:  Songs; attitudes toward homosexuality/AIDS

Book #7:  1989-1990:  Songs, clothing, the arrival of the Lottery in Indiana

Book #8:  1989-1990:  Attitudes toward interracial relationships (wip)

Book #9:  1990-1991:  (not written yet)

Book #10:  1990-1991:  (not written yet)

Book #11:  1991-1992:  (not written yet)

Book #12:  1992-1993:  (not written yet)

Book #13:  1993-1994:  Computers had arrived, but no internet yet.

Book #14:  2003-1005.  A reunion of the girls in books #2-6.

I asked my daughter, who's read the first two books if the time period bothered her; she said she didn't even notice; she just enjoyed the characters and storyline.  The initial beta readers all enjoyed the 'trip down Memory Lane' or told me, 'I never went to college; this was fun to read!'

So what's your take?  When you read a book, does the time period bother you?  How much time to elapse before something is considered 'historical'?  Would you read something from the time period in which you grew up, or would you rather read something more modern, or from 100 years ago?  Some people are fascinated by the Regency period; others the Pioneer Days, Ancient times, or Civil War era.

And would I be shooting myself in the foot if I refuse to update it?  Or 'caving' if I did?  My heart and gut tell me to leave it as is...but then again, I DID make drastic cuts to several of the books to make them 'publishable'.   Should I just table it and wait another twenty years, until they meet the 'historical' qualifications?

Sad News....
And a half hour after that email, I received the heartbreaking news a former classmate of mine had died.  Alan and I had dated for four months in HS, and he used to play his guitar compositions for me.  He played Tuba in Marching Band; Oboe in concert band; Bass in Orchestra and Jazz Band, in addition to the guitar.  He also got me hooked on the classical songs The Planets; we'd listed to Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars the most.  He and I had just reconnected on Face Book two months ago, and he'd sent me three songs he'd composed.  I happened to think about him over the weekend; I realized I hadn't seen any updates on FB, and was going to shoot him an email.  And then my mother called with the news.

I'm going to try to make it to the funeral on Saturday.  The world has lost another musical genius; I'm sorry it took us twenty-five years to find each other again, however briefly.

In other Family News, daughter saw the orthopedic surgeon yesterday, and today we're taking her for an MRI, and back to the surgeon next week.  She doesn't have to wear the imobilizer, so that makes her happy!


Kate Richards said...

Isn't there an extremely popular series out there at the moment, the class of eighty something? Sounds like you'd have to rewrite the books completely and that would make it a new series. I cannot even imagine how much work that would be. If they prefer something modern, maybe you can write them another and take this one elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

For me, the world of written fiction and the fiction of the silver screen are one and the same - I enjoy both as a pleasant way of escaping. That said, That said, I have one movie title for you: Forrest Gump. Sure the time span is longer but the pop culture references all were in there, and at the time FG was produced, a large emphasis was placed on the 70s and 80s and it was only 1990. BUT, more to the point, it's a movie I still enjoy watching. In the 1980s, people enjoyed reading and watching things set in the 1950s, that's only 30 years - seems to me about the same time frame you're aiming at. Target audience? People who enjoy good reading and those historical pop culture references, whether it's Memory Land for them or not. I say stick with your vision. My bet is it will be the next best thing.

Harlie Reader said...

Kate...its from The Wild Rose and the series is called The Class of 1985.

Great series and I think Molly that you need to stick to your guns. These are your stories, your thoughts, feelings, characters, your babies. Don't change a thing.

Most people probably won't even think about the time period at all.

Liz said...

I think we are far enough removed from the 80s that it makes for interesting "historical" reading. (she says as class of 1985!).

It seems to me the setting of your series is part of the overall story arc and is crucial to it.

The target audience thing is a valid point however. As a marketing professional I can see that a publisher might question whether or not (y)our target audience might not get much out of it in the long run.

tough call dear and condolences on your friend.

Molly Daniels said...

I'd not heard of that series, Kate! I'll have to look it up at the library!

@Kayspringsteen: Thank you! My point exactly! And love your name; any relation to Bruce, lol? In the 70's, we were hooked on Happy Days, set in the 50's. And look how long That 70's Show ran...

@Harlie and Liz: Yeah, the more I think about it, the more sick I get at the thought of a rewrite. My Gambling Addiction story is being foreshadowed at the moment, with the heroine doing a story on the State's decision to add the Lottery, and she ends up getting addicted to it. The only way I could see her getting 'sucked in' if I changed it would be for her to go along with friends to a casino and show her growing addiction that way. So yeah, the books foreshadow each other, and it's not just 'change the hairstyle/clothing/ update the technology'....it's going to be a major headache. I'd rather pay an editor and upload the series to Kindle before rewriting it.

Amber Skyze said...

It seems like a lot of work to make it modern day. As someone who lived in the 80s I wouldn't mind reconnecting with that decade.

Allie Standifer said...

Since the series is based in the 80s I don't see a reason to change it. No one asks Nora Roberts or Kay Hooper to go back & change their early books to include cell phones and DVD players, right?
Readers enjoy variety & you're simply offering them a different flavor to try.

Cassie Exline said...

A lot of us like to read about different eras to forget about this one. From your timeline, updating your series would be overwhelming. It's one thing to change songs, but some of the topics you mentioned happened in the 80s. Makes my head hurt. If I were you, I'd stick. Good luck! Let us know your decision.

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

I wouldn't change anything without a signed contract.

Elizabeth Black said...

I say keep the book in the 80s. It's not like you can just change dates and remove all reference to hair bands and the book magically update to post 2000. You've created a time capsule that lots of people who were in college in the '80s will enjoy.

I have a personal stake in this as well since my upcoming Sept. release "Don't Call Me Baby" takes place in a college setting in 1983. Is there a new trend calling for fiction set in the 1980s?

Keep us updated.

jean hart stewart said...

That's a really dumb request, at least to me. You'd gut the books. I'd offer to write them another series and politely say what they want is damned near impossible.And that's an appealing time period to a lot of people..

Jim Hartley said...

I think you had better review your contract and see what it says. Then, if there is nothing there giving them the power to compel this rewrite, I would tell them to take a long walk off a short pier. There is nothing wrong with a book or series set in the 80's. One of my books is set, very clearly, around 1990, because it has to be 30 years after a certain song hit the charts in 1960. No choice.

Now if they want a new series with similar characters set in the present (except, of course, the characters will be forced to be different by the world around them), let them ask for that and leave the other series alone.

Or maybe you need to think about finding a different publisher.

Tess MacKall said...

As an editor I can identify with possibly wanting the book updated. But it's all very subjective. Which sells better?

However, after looking at your outline? I'd say you've put in a monumental amount of work to these stories and it would take just as much to gear them toward present day.

Plus? I'm not sure you'd be able to capture the same feel. Tone can truly mean everything where a book is concerned. I'm thinking you might want to pass on this and ask them if you can write something else for them. That's a pretty big undertaking in my opinion and one that might just not work.

Molly Daniels said...

@Amber, Allie, Cassie: Thank you! As I mentioned, several beta readers reportedly enjoyed a 'trip back in time'.

@Sue: I already have a signed contract, and we're in negotiations. I've emailed my thoughts and haven't heard back yet. I did NOT post this to my publisher loop, to keep this slightly more confidential.

@Lizzie: Yay! 'Let's Hear It For The Boy (uh, girl)'! Found out there's another popular series set in 1985. Think I need a trip to the library!

Molly Daniels said...

@Jean: Yes, that's exactly how I feel. The situations are timeless, but the setting is apparently appealing to more people than I thought:)

@Jim: I began writing this series when I was in college, and in one of my Kenzie pen name books, one of the characters revealed she'd grown up with one of my AU secondary characters...who's only THREE YEARS OLD in book #13! Wow....they've taken over my brain! You've intrigued me with the description of your book; going to check it out, since I like 60's music also:)

And yes, there IS another publisher interested in this series, but for reasons of my own, I'd prefer to use them as a last resort.

@Tess: You're right; the college is a character unto itself. It grows and changes as the series progresses. The town of Arbordale even changes from book #1 in 1984 to #14 in 2005. And that book was FUN to write, to see how everyone had 'evolved'. I forgot to mention, I even have some Indy 500 history in book #3, that I'd REALLY like to keep in there! I didn't interview Donald Davidson (IMS Historian) for nothing!

Marie Rose Dufour said...

A trip down memory lane wouldn't be a bad thing and probably a lot of fun. All of us who grew up in the '80 have the music on our ipods for a reason. It seems like it would be a monumental task to bring these books to "present day". I say stick to your guns.

C. Zampa said...

I know I, personally, wouldn't be put off by story lines that took place in the 80's.

I can't speak for younger audiences, but your daughter apparently had no problems with it, and she is an example of the reaction to younger targets.

My feelings, especially with the changes that would be necessary to revise, would be to leave it as it is.

barbara huffert said...

Sorry to hear about your classmate. Many hugs Mol.

Molly Daniels said...

Just got word: The series can stay AS IS!!!!! I just sent off the correct version of Love on the Rocks to my editor; she'd been given the wrong file. Starting clean as soon as she re-edits it:)

Thank you SO MUCH for your support everyone! It's been an emotional 24 hours.

Fiona McGier said...

Sorry to be coming in late to the discussion...my suggestion would be to begin a new series with the children of the original characters. After all, if they got out of college in the 80s, they could have kids in college already! So it would be a continuation, rather than a rewrite. And all of the older characters could be revisited in the course of the new books. Think about it.

Liz Flaherty said...

I am a big one for doing what the editor asks, but I think there are limits to that.

I read the Toby Hayden books, too, and loved them. I wouldn't mind reading them again, but not updated. Sometimes the time period is part of the story.

Regina Carlysle said...

It's my understanding that some historical time periods don't sell well and maybe that's what the editor is going on about. The 80's was an interesting time (at least to me and I'm sure others) so I would stick to my guns. Sell the series elsewhere and write something else for them.

Molly Daniels said...

@Fiona: I actually thought of that; an 'Arbor U: Next Generation', lol! When Kenzie's Teacher's Pet comes out later this year or early 2012, there's a reference to a secondary character in Book #13, who's 3 yrs old at the time. In TP, he's 28 and is married with twins!

@Liz: I haunt garage sales and flea markets when I can, looking for old books. I love Cherry Ames (I sort of destroyed the first chapter in Student Nurse and would love to have a non-damaged copy!); Bobsey Twins; Dana Girls; Vicki Barr; Anne Emery's books; Rosamund Du Jardin's books; and would LOVE to read Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky again; I have a copy of Blue Ridge Billy somewhere. Absolutely DEVOURED them in junior high! I'd love to know if the library at my old school still has them. Maybe it's time for a visit? LOL!

Molly Daniels said...

@Regina, they're letting me keep it as is:) Doing the happy dance over here, and no, I did NOT cause the earthquake; got the news AFTER it hit, LOL!

Linda Kage said...

An eighties book wouldn't bother me at all. I've read some reviewers that are bothered by what I guess can be called an "outdated stories" for a lack of better word, But if it's clear from the beginning that it's set in the eighties, and that it's not present day, present day, then I'd think it should be okay for those kind of people too! Don't know for certain though.

Celtic Chick said...

The 80s were so different from now--technology was different, so were politics. I don't see how you can change the time period without having to rewrite the books.

I grew up in the 80s and would love to read books set in that time period.

I think you should go with your gut and do what you think is right for your series.

Best of luck to you.

Molly Daniels said...

@Linda and Celtic Chick: Publisher decided the series could be published AS IS:) We are now back on track for that October release:)