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Close to the Truth

Thursday, 3 March 2011


Hi all,

On Feb 1st, Scent Of A Man, my second novel-length story with Red Sage Publishing was released.

When I started writing this story, I had a vague idea that I wanted to write a story with a Regency flavor, mainly because I love reading Regency novels and I wanted to challenge myself to write something completely different to my "norm". Then I spotted a photo of a woman in a magazine, cuddled up to a guy and blissed out on his scent. The article happened to be about men’s fragrances and its by-line was: “In a world of equal opportunities, men are smelling as good as women—well, nearly.” And that sparked the idea of a hero who exudes pheromones which make him irresistible to women.

Me, being me -- just the teensiest bit warped in the imagination department ;-) -- I created a fanatically religious society where wealthy titled men dress like Regency dandies, force their womenfolk to dress like Quakers, and forbid them from wearing fripperies such as ribbons, cosmetics and perfume. I also wanted to experiment with role-reversal. My hero, Joseph, became the inexperienced virgin, and my heroine, Liliana, the seasoned woman-of-the-world who leads him astray -- not to mention she’s a foreign agent trained in hand-to-hand combat, who believes women are just as capable as men, if not better! Poor Joseph has no idea how to handle her, LOL.

Back then, because I was writing solely for myself and not with any specific market in mind, I just wrote the damn book. I didn’t consider important things like how the story's genre might be categorized or the story marketed. And sure enough, I ended up with an action-oriented paranormal/fantasy romance with a historical flavor and a rather erotic-sounding premise that was never fully realized. *winces*

After Scent Of A Man won a prize for highest scoring first round manuscript and placed second overall in one contest, then placed 3rd in another, I figured, Goshdarnitall! This might be a pretty good story. Woot! I even harbored fond daydreams that it might be publishable.

Oh my. How naive was I? It soon became obvious that because Scent Of A Man really didn’t know what sort of story it wanted to be, consequently, neither did any of the agents or editors I queried. In the end, Joseph and Liliana’s story had to be shelved.

It wasn’t till last year, that Scent Of A Man got the chance to be redeemed. My Red Sage editor contracted the story pretty much based on the first few chapters and a synopsis. By this stage, she had worked with me on three other stories and she believed I had the courage to do what needed to be done to whip this story into shape. In other words, to fully realize the somewhat erotic sounding premise. I mean really. With this blurb who was I trying to kid?
SCENT OF A MAN: The one woman who can resist him is the only woman he’s ever wanted….

Joseph is a highborn Anglian noble living in a harshly religious society where the Council and their clerics enforce chastity, and women are oppressed and treated like chattels. Overnight, Joseph undergoes a rare transformation and becomes a Scentinel, a man who exudes powerful sexual pheromones that make him irresistible to females. His people believe he is evil and will execute him on sight. He’s on the run, starving and desperate. He has nothing more to lose–or so he believes.

Liliana is a “morally corrupt” Europan woman with an agenda. She’s a creature even rarer than Joseph, a Null who can neutralize Scentinel pheromones. Her mission is to do whatever it takes to bring Joseph safely to Europan shores. There, he’ll join Empress Vashti’s elite band of Scentinel spies — provided he survives his training with his sanity intact, and learns how to suppress his pheromones at will. And falling in love with the man she must ultimately betray was never part of Liliana’s plan.

Of course this story was destined to be an erotic romance! The only one who wasn’t prepared to admit that was me. Doh.

It was a painful process -- one I’m not eager to repeat. Rewriting and completely refocusing the genre of a story you wrote years ago, and having to lose some beloved characters and totally rethink others (including the hero!!!), while still retaining the basic plot and structure of the original story, is no picnic. But I’m proud that I stuck with it and didn’t give up. (Even though I wanted to, many many times.)

Now, I’ll always treasure Joseph and Liliana’s story because it challenged me every step of the way and gave me a huge confidence boost. And I hope readers will love the new and improved story as much as I do.

To celebrate the unleashing of Scent Of A Man on an unsuspecting public *mwah hah hah!* I’m giving away one of my Red Sage eBooks.

And because I’m insatiably curious, I’d love you to share with me the catalyst that inspired you to do something challenging. (That “something” doesn’t have to be something of a creative bent, BTW. We’re talking writing anything at all, enrolling in a dance class, asking that hot guy to the dance when you were in high school... whatever!)

Anyone who leaves a comment will go in the draw to win an electronic copy of either:

Even Demons Get The Blues, (Demons Book 1)
Let Sleeping Demons Lie, (Demons Book 2)
From The Ashes, or
Scent Of A Man.
(Click on the links to find out more about these stories.)

Can’t wait to read your comments!



  1. I'm a crafter and seeing pictures of projects others have made inspires me.

  2. I paint....purely for myself.
    Its relaxing and I get a kick out of watching random colours transform before me into a totally spontaneous creation.
    I've been doing it for stress relief (3 daughters) but before that I hadn't painted since high school art class!!!

  3. @greenduckie -- Yes! I often look at other people's craft projects and am inspired to pick up my crochet hook or knitting needles again. I have a project I'm dying to find time to start: a crochet Totoro toy for my Totoro-obsessed daughter. (Totoro is a Japanese anime bunny)

    @Cath's Chatter -- wow! I can imagine it would be an incredible feeling to watch something you're painting literally take shape before your eyes. My mum paints, but I fear the painting gene skipped a generation with me. And alas, I ended up writing instead. Mum insists that she ended up with the more fun & less frustrating creative outlet, LOL.

  4. Wonderful post, Maree!! I've gone through some pretty challenging edits before myself. I know how frustrating it can be (crying, pulling hair, banging head against desk, etc.) I'm so glad you made it through the challenge with flying colors! Yay! Congrats!

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Nicole -- you are alwasys such a sweetie, and so very kind and supportive of me. Muwah!

  6. Your Red Sage editor was obviously the right person to buy SOAM, the multi-genre book, Maree. She saw its potential and went on faith. How gratifying that must have been to see such an "unusual" book find a home, eh?

    And now it's in print!

    Hmm, something that's inspired me...hearing from ex-students who've told me they're now writing stories because they saw me pursuing the craft when they were in my class. I guess you could call that reciprocal inspiration? :-)

  7. I only wish it was in print, Kylie! Alas, it's only been released in electronic form at this stage. One day, perhaps....

    And how wonderful to be an inspiration for your student! They couldn't have picked a better source of inspiration, either *g*

  8. I keep a Christmas card on my desk. It has a picture of my kids on a day when we'd been baking Christmas cookies. Snowmen and angels and gingerbread men. They were so happy. And it inspires me.

  9. Oh, Carly, that's such a wonderful inspiration! I'm smiling just thinking about that picture....

  10. Hi Maree - sorry I'm late! I think my biggest challenge has been to accept I have CFS-that I would have to give up a 9-5 job and work with the energy levels I have - which this week hasn't been that much. Within that is the challenge of adding my writing during the weeks that are filled with appointments (like this one). Having the support around me keeps me grounded, and having wonderful writing buddies helps keep the creativity going.

    So glad your challenge worked out Maree!! And you know more and more the word 'print' is going to be a relative term. Just think you ARE published!! Go you!!!

  11. Eleni -- you are one heckuva inspiration to me... I hope you know that! For you, coping with CFS, every day is a challenge. It'd be far easier to stay in bed, I'm sure. Instead, you carry on and you write and you give your time and energy to this wonderful blog! If that's not challenging yourself every freaking day, then I don't know what is.

    Hugs! (Reeeally big ones...)

  12. You're very brave! I look back on some of my older work and think that it has potential, but the level of revisions keep me away for now and working on other things. :P

    As for catalyst... Well, this is going to sound cliche, but it's true. Believing that I was worth something after all inspired me to challenge myself, take the plunge and start life almost completely over in a new place. It's amazing what you can do when you realise you're not such a bad person after all...

  13. Congrats Maree on the release of Scent Of A Man!

    I’ve read, From the Ashes, and loved it with a passion! It’s great to hear one of your (dare I say it) favorite MS’s getting published! As a writer, we all have our babies, and reading this post, I think I’m not too brash to say this was one of yours. *wink*
    Looking forward to reading it!

  14. @Jaime -- not brave, just stubborn as all heck, LOL. And although I swear it one of the most difficult writing exercises I've undertaken, I'm really glad I did. I figure that after this, if I'm ever lucky enough to get picked up by a big-name publisher and I get one of those 12-page revision letters we all dread from my new editor, it won't faze me too much. Been there, done that... at least, that's the theory, LOL

    And I don't think you sound cliched at all. Self-belief and a sense of self-worth are difficult things to achieve. And it's a huge challenge to take stock of your life and realize that you deserve better!

    You go, girl!! And I wish you all the best because you've worked hard to realize you needed a change, so now your reward is to make it happen.


  15. @Danielle

    Really? You loved From The Ashes? OMG, that's so awesome to hear! The reviews so far have been rather polarized so I've been wondering if I didn't go a bit too far with the "dark" stuff in the story. Thank you so much for stopping by to tell me that -- it's made my day. SQUEEEEEE!

    And yeah, I've always had a soft spot for Scent Of A Man. It was something really different for me style-wise and I'm so thrilled that Judith (my editor at the time) was prepared to take it on and guide me into whipping it into shape. Ah. Joseph. I always knew from the moment he leapt out onto my page that he was gonna be a troublesome lad ;-)

  16. Well i'm glad it made your day Maree, because it is the truth! I couldn't put it down, so not sure what others were talking about! Can't wait to read you next one! :)

  17. @Danielle Awww... thank you so much. You're a sweetie! Muwah!!

  18. Hi, Maree! Well, I'm a bit of a chicken, but a couple years ago, I started taking dance lessons again at the same time that my daughter started them. I agreed to participate in the spring show that year so that she'd have company (so to speak)--I'm prone to stage fright, so this is right out of my comfort zone! Thankfully we all survived ;) I'm glad your challenges worked out so beautifully--hope to pick up Scent of a Man--the story sounds very intriguing!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  19. Hey, Fedora!
    I dance, too, but haven't been brave enough to participate in a show or contest -- how awesome are you for stepping out of your comfort zone!