February 9, 2011 by Renee
My very first ever novel was titled Happiness Hills. I completed that bad boy in 6 months and promptly submittted to publishers. You can imagine the results. I edited, edited, then edited some more. That’s me editing this manuscript. I just did not understand what was wrong with it. One con-artist agent and two less than legitimate publishers later, I still hold the unpublished and completely unpublishable Happiness Hills in a little file on my hard drive. Well, it’s hand written in about five notebooks too, because I didn’t have a laptop then so I wrote it by hand first, and then typed it.
Happiness Hills is the story of a demon who holds a small town hostage. No one can get in or out each winter as he picks them off one by one. He always leaves a few alive by spring because he doesn’t want to cut off his power supply. He lives off their souls. Anyway, Audrina comes along and he’s found that she is the key to him breaking free and entering the world beyond Happiness Hills. Chaos ensues. At the end, all but four are dead and Audrina and Caleb fall in love. Oh, and she’s pregnant. Too bad the child isn’t Caleb’s. Hint: Its eyes glow in the ultrasound.
Yeah, it’s not only a very stretched plot (as in unbelievable to the extreme) but the writing is…oh my, it’s just not very good. The thing is, this manuscript is like one of my children. I’m attached to everything I’ve written, but Happiness Hills was the first I’d sat down and seriously written. The first novel I completed. The characters were the first I’d developed carefully and the plot I’d researched and even made a family tree for the town. Insane. It breaks my heart that these characters are just collecting dust in their improbable little story.
So…I had an epiphany the other day. The characters are good. I’m not being arrogant. They really are. The basic concept of the town and how it operates is good. Small town, no outside contact because of the location, the way inbreeding can…slow things down, it’s all good. All elements that could turn into something great. I overhauled the plot, just about finished the new Happiness Hills outline, and I’ve tackled rewriting the first 50 pages. Know what? I’m excited about the rebirth of my baby.
The new plot? A small town way out in the sticks. Suicide rate is sky high. Town is convinced they’re cursed. Audrina comes in to investigate, she’s a paranormal writer and investigative journalist. Caleb is a hot carpenter/lawyer, his father Tom is on the local police force. Cliff is a 40-something attractive man who wouldn’t mind catching Audrina’s eye. Caleb is not impressed. Christophe is the entity they know is causing the deaths. But is he man or myth? The police chief has given up on investigating any of the deaths seriously. One of them is a murderer. But who?
Okay, sucks as a summary. I’m working on it.
What’s my point? I know, it’s always so hard to see. I’m so rambly and round-about with everything. I’m saying don’t ‘write off’ your old writing. The ideas are probably worth looking at again. You never know where a diamond might be hiding in the rough.