Welcome to my little corner of the gay erotic romance universe . . . well, half of it, anyway. (You can find the other half at RachelHaimowitz.com.) This is the place to come for sneak previews of new projects, release information, and the occasional M/M book review. I'll also share thoughts on the industry on occasion, and I hope you'll come share yours in return.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Guest Blog: The Evolution of Dead Reality, by Jess Anastasi

Greetings, folks! Let's all give a warm, warm welcome to the very first guest blogger ever at Fantasy Unbound, Jess Anastasi!

Jess has a new novel with Noble Romance, and before I turn the floor over to her to talk about its evolution, let's start off with a blurb:

FBI Special Agent Ella Waverly is wrapping up one last assignment before heading off on her first holiday in five years. But thoughts of flip-flops and cocktails are the last thing on her mind when she meets the new team leader, Special Agent Bryce Lain, and finds out her long-planned-for holiday is being scuttled for an undercover assignment.

Agent Lain is gorgeous, the kind of gorgeous that guarantees he's an arrogant jerk. The news that he'll be her partner in the dangerous mission is almost enough to make her head explode. Before the day is out, Ella finds herself at Little Palm Island Resort in Florida, masquerading as a contestant on the latest reality TV show—Lord Bachelor. The bachelor in question, a disgraced British peer, is suspected of raping and murdering several women back in London.

Though Ella knows it safer where her heart's concerned to deny it, the longer she's stuck with Bryce, the more she sees there could be a man worth loving beneath the impossibly good-looking exterior.

As humidity frizzes her hair beyond the help of any type of de-frizzing, smoothing, glossing product, Ella tries to wrangle working against nineteen husband-hungry bimbos, one suspected serial killer, and one seriously hot agent who's trying everything he can to get under her skin.

And now Jess, below the jump.

Like many of my manuscripts, the idea for Dead Reality started out as a dream. In it, an FBI agent went undercover on Bachelor and fell in love with the Bachelor in question (which was weird enough in itself, since I don't like Bachelor and have never watched it).

As soon as I woke up the next morning, I knew I had a great idea for a novel, though I didn't have a clear idea of plot or characters, so I put the concept aside to work on other things.

Months went by and this idea of a romance based around a reality TV show just wouldn't go away. But I didn't like some aspects of the notion and didn't know where it fit with the type of writing I was doing. Eventually I got frustrated with the romantic suspense manuscript I was working on, and decided it was time for a new project. The reality TV show idea just wouldn't go away, so I decided to give it a go.

I didn't want the heroine to fall in love with the Bachelor, and decided to send two agents undercover who would fall in love with each other instead. That was as far as the planning went.

I'm not a planner. I just sit down and write, the story unfolding as I go. This time proved no exception and I soon had bits of story pulling together to create a whole. The only problem? I couldn't come up with a title I liked.

It took me close to a year to write it, as I was stopping and starting on it, and working on other things in between. I'd decided on category length of approximately 55,000 words, thinking I might submit it to Silhouette's romantic suspense line.

When it was finished, I edited it and sent it to my critique partner, and then did some more editing. I tacked on an okay title and sent it to a couple of competitions, getting some good feedback, and even making the top ten in one of the Romance Writers Australia contests.

When I eventually felt ready, I sent the first three chapters off to Silhouette . . . and never heard from them again. For all I know, it might never have survived the journey from Australia to New York.

Another year went by and I worked on other things. Eventually I got my first publishing contract with Noble Romance Publishing for a paranormal sci-fi romance, Sanctuary.
And still, this manuscript about a reality TV show resurfaced in my mind every now and then. Once Sanctuary was all edited and about to be released, I knew what I had to do next.
Though by now I realized the Bachelor manuscript wasn't in anywhere near as good condition structure-wise as the work I was turning out now, I went back and pulled it out, edited my little heart out, came up with the title Dead Reality, and then submitted it to Noble Romance Publishing. I worried that it'd get rejected. I felt the story was good, but my voice not as strong or structured.
But, a few weeks later, I got the good news; they were going to take it!
When I got the edits, I wasn't surprised. There was a lot to do, many structural points that needed addressing, holes in the plot, and a few character inconsistencies. I even got advice from someone experienced in police/agent procedure and regulations.

After several rounds of edits (which I swear put me into some sort of editing-coma-daze) I had a much stronger story. The characters were clearer and the storyline solid.

Unlike other projects, which I often write and discard when they're not working for me, Dead Reality always stayed with me, taking me on a journey spanning years from writing to publication.

I guess this is what some writers mean when they say a particular manuscript is "special." Though I love my characters and enjoyed bringing the story to where it is now, this isn’t by far my "favorite" as such, but I can't deny there was always something about it which pushed me to send it out into the world.

And now, I can only hope that you, the readers, enjoys it as well!

* * * * *

Interested in Dead Reality? Purchase or read an excerpt here!

Jess Anastasi has been making up stories since she can remember. Though her messy handwriting made it hard for anyone else to read them, she wasn't deterred and now she gets to make up stories for a living. She loves loud music, dumb movies, and a good book on a rainy day. Jess lives in regional Victoria, Australia with her very supportive husband, two kids and one spoiled border collie. Learn more about Jess at http://www.jessanastasi.com/ and follow her blog at http://www.jessanastasi.blogspot.com/.


  1. Hey everyone,
    I'm just about to head off to bed, since its after 10:30pm here in Australia, but thought I'd say 'hi' and 'thanks for having me!'
    And while I don't like to have to credit the TV show, The Bachelor, with anything (because, seriously, what sort of TV is that...? yes, ducking now from The Bachelor fans) but I do have to admit, without it and a crazy dream, I wouldn't have this book!
    Alright, need to get some shut-eye now. Will stop by in the morning to answer any questions if anyone has any

  2. Hi Jess, Hey Rachel
    The books sound great. I'll have to jump on over, read the excerpt and check it out.
    Great idea this guest blog thing Rachel. Awesome possum.
    Have a good day you two :)

  3. I hope for a great many guest bloggers in the future. Less work for me! ;-p Also, I think it's fun for the readers to see some new things; you must all get tired of me just talking about myself all the time. (Shhhh, don't agree with me!)


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