Thursday, August 26, 2010

Old Stories I’m Fond Of

I’m one of those traditional novelists with a dozen unpublished manuscripts under the bed before the first one sold. I’d had some luck with mystery short stories first and thought I was on a roll... not!

I often tell the story about my first unpublished novel. I started it while I was working at my first law job as a junior associate in a law firm. I liked the people, but didn’t especially adore the experience. My first story? It was a mystery novel about a new associate in a law firm, who found the dead body of the senior partner at the end of the first chapter. Very cathartic! One interesting sidelight is that I’ve heard similar stories told by mystery-writing panelists... all of them lawyers!

The last full manuscript I finished before actually selling one was a time travel story containing other paranormal concepts as well as sci-fi elements--and, of course, romance and suspense. The hero, a physicist, he created a method of time travel that incorporated quantum physics. In those days, scientists proclaimed that, if time travel ever became possible, it would be via black holes in space. Today, they suggest it’ll use quantum physics--so I preceded the current theory! In any event, my story was also a contemporary one, as well as a historical one... well, you can see that it incorporated a lot of genres which, back then, was a no-no. When I got “nice” rejections, I looked around and found an accepted genre that included many of those elements: time travel romance. That’s when I wrote--and sold--my first novel: A GLIMPSE OF FOREVER. I didn’t try to explain the time travel. The heroine simply touched fossils and was transported from the past to the present and back again.

Another of my unsold manuscripts contains a theme I still love. I started it when I heard about how many dolphins were killed in the nets of tuna fishermen, just because they were there. I was upset, especially when I verified, during my research, that dolphins are possibly as intelligent as people in their respective environments. The story never sold, and laws changed so that fewer dolphins are now killed in tuna nets, so my theme would need to be modified--although plenty of dolphins are still killed during fishing and for other reasons I consider to be unjustifiable.

Then there’s the story loosely based on my family history. It takes place in the 1930s and revolves around a delicatessen in downtown Pittsburgh. That’s one I’d love to resurrect and try again to sell someday.

I know that doesn’t add up to the dozen unsold manuscripts I mentioned. There are some other mysteries and romances. Someday I’ll go refresh my recollection and see if there are others that might be salvageable.

On the other hand, I’m always dreaming up new ideas. Some of them don’t go anywhere--but fortunately I’ve also been lucky enough to have ideas that sell. I’ve been working on my second Pet Rescue mystery and will be turning back to my next paranormal shapeshifter story for Harlequin Nocturne soon.


Camille Minichino said...

You have SO many novels published, Linda, I can't imagine you have so many just waiting also. You must be one of the most prolific writers I know. And I admire your diversity of talent!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Camille. That's really sweet of you--especially from someone with at least three mystery series!

Betty Hechtman said...

I'm with Camille. I admire how diverse your talents are. All the manuscripts you mentioned sounded interesting.

Linda O. Johnston said...

You're kind, too, Betty. Thanks!

Janie Emaus said...

I always loved that dolphin story. To this day, I can still remember many of the scenes.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Janie. It's one of my favorites, too.