Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Winter's Journey


The Story of
Winter’s Journey
A backstory and other morsels from an old writer’s life
*****
Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-460-4 * Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-461-1

***
It was February 1994 (I jotted that date down in pencil on the outside of the manila folders where I kept a running fact history of the manuscripts) when I began two novels called Winter’s Journey and Egyptian Heart.
At that time I still had my agent, Lori Perkins, who’d sold four earlier novels for me to Zebra Books (Vampire Blood, 1991; The Last Vampire, 1992; Witches, 1993 and The Calling, 1994…after I’d sold my first three novels on my own to Leisure Books: Evil Stalks the Night, 1984: The Heart of the Rose, 1985; Blood Forge) but in 1994 I’d lost my admiring editor at Zebra and a new one had taken her place...but over the next year he didn’t like anything I wrote for him. Later that year Zebra unceremoniously dropped me and my latest book (Predator, a story about a dinosaur in Crater Lake…which never came out but still lingers like some weird ghost book in every computer on the global Internet) only six weeks away from going to the bookstore shelves. I’d begged the new editor not to call it Predator, bad title since there was a popular movie out by that name and the film had nothing to do with a dinosaur, and the cover was boring, an empty boat on a lake…what!!! Having that book, my first ever, dumped like that was a crushing experience, let me tell you. I had a stack of finished, printed covers and had already done my final edits! I got to keep my advance but the book was officially dead. The new editor-that-didn’t-like-my-writing explained: “No one wants to read a book about a dinosaur.” And six months later Jurassic Park came out! The book is still sitting in a drawer somewhere and perhaps one day I’ll resurrect and finish it as well).
To get my mind off the loss, Lori told me about a new romantic horror line that Silhouette was starting called the Shadows Line. They wanted to tap into the darker romantic paranormal market. They wanted the kind of dark atmospheric story I wrote but with more romance. It was Silhouette after all.  I’d been labeled as a horror writer from the get go, though all my novels blended genres; usually I wrote a romantic horror mixture with dashes of adventure, suspense and sometimes threw in a little history or mystery as well…but in those days the big publishers felt the need (and I think they still do) to squeeze a writer into one narrow slot. So I’d been branded a horror writer.
Well, anyway, originally I’d called the first novel Shadow Road and the second The Cursed Scarab. Later, I retitled them Winter’s Journey and Egyptian Heart because I wanted them to more reflect the romance tales they’d become and less the horror stories I’d been writing before then.
Egyptian Heart, an ancient Egyptian time travel romance, was written because I’d always loved ancient Egyptian stories; probably because I’d been influenced in my early childhood by movies like The Ten Commandments (I’d been raised a Catholic), horror mummy films of the 1960’s and TV shows on Nefertiti and Cleopatra. I’d always had this affinity for that long ago world. So when asked to write romances, I just naturally set one in that period.
For Winter’s Journey’s theme I choose to write about something that was making a mess of my once happy life at the time…out of stark necessity my husband had taken an awful over-the-road truck driving job and I ended up using some of his knowledge and experiences along the way as the basis for the other romance. His job took him away from me more than we’d ever been separated before and with so much lonely time on my hands I simply…wrote. Venting all my frustration out in my words.  I even tried riding with him (I had a part time graphic artist job at the time where I only worked three days a week)  a few times but the deadlines and the bad weather scared the bejesus out of me so that didn’t last long.
To make me feel better and give me something to take my mind off all of that, my agent suggested I branch out and told me about a new romantic horror line that Silhouette was starting called the Shadows Line. They wanted to tap into the darker romantic paranormal market. Lori said they wanted the kind of story I wrote but with more romance. It was Silhouette after all.  I’d been labeled as a horror writer from the get go, though all my novels blended genres; usually I wrote a romantic horror mixture with dashes of adventure, suspense and sometimes threw in a little history or mystery as well…but in those days the big publishers felt the need (and I think they still do) to squeeze a writer into one narrow slot. I was a horror writer.
So to disprove that I wrote two manuscripts for the Silhouette Shadows Line or tried to.  Winter’s Journey (a romantic suspense about a woman truck driver driving a dangerous wintry route with a murderer on her tail, and a hitchhiker in her cab that she feels she’s falling in love with…and fears, at times, he’s the killer) and the other ancient Egyptian one. To make a long story short, Silhouette Shadows turned both down. Seems I had too much horror in them; not enough sex. They were too long. I didn’t follow the formula. Sheesh. I’ve never liked depending too much on sex in any of my books or writing a book too predictable. The originality of the novel and the characters make the story for me.
After that my agent dropped me. Ah, the life of a writer.
So, then life (as it has many times in my 39 year writing career), family and job problems, and my other novels (I was into murder mysteries for years and sold two to Avalon Books), got in the way and Winter’s Journey and the other novel went into drawer hibernation until, oh, about 2004, when I rediscovered them, dug them out, rewrote them and began trying to sell them again. Sometimes, I’ve found, a book left alone in a dark cubbyhole ages like good wine. (Or sometimes it just turns to vinegar.)
Fast forward three years to 2007 and a new e-book (e-books still being considered a risky new-fangled craze at that time!) publisher called The Wild Rose Press contracted both and eventually a third called The Ice Bridge, a ghostly romantic murder mystery set on Mackinac Island, and published them. Good publisher. They treated me well. But in 2010 when I contracted my two newest novels, Before the End: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson (both romantic horror) my new publisher, Kim Richards Gilchrist at Damnation Books wanted to bring out all my old out-of-print novels again (going back to those early Leisure Books from the 1980’s) in print – and e-books for the first time ever.  Seven old paperbacks. I’d rewrite them all, get new covers and they’d all live again. I was thrilled. And grateful. It would take a lot of work on both our parts but when we were done ALL my old novels would be in print again and in electronic form out in the world. I jumped right in.
Then when my two year contract (I was lucky, e-books still being new, it was only for two years; now most e-book publishers contract for five years or longer) ran out with The Wild Rose Press. I happily switched Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge and a novella Don’t Look Back, Agnes to Eternal Press (Damnation Books sister company). Kim Richards, and her husband William, had just brought Realms of Fantasy Magazine into the fold, as well.
So. Winter’s Journey has had a very long journey.
The new cover for Winter’s Journey is by Dawne Dominique and, I think, is hauntingly beautiful and Kim Richards was my editor. Thank you both.
I hope you’ll give Winter’s Journey a look and a read. The best way to describe it is through its blurb and an excerpt and so here they are:  
Winter’s Journey blurb: To keep the bank from repossessing her eighteen-wheeler and putting her and her daughter on the street, trucker Loretta Brennan takes a dangerous route to Wyoming with a winter storm approaching. She worries if she can make the deadline and navigate the icy roads since her driving partner husband died in an accident the year before.
At a truck stop, Loretta meets handsome hitchhiker Sam Emerson, who helps her out of a bind. She feels compelled to return the favor and offers him a ride to Cheyenne. Blizzards, a series of trucker murders, and a sinister truck haunt them along their route. They grow close despite Loretta's fear that Sam may be aligned with the killer. Is Sam a good man down on his luck or is she falling in love with a murderer?
Winter’s Journey excerpt: “Yeah, yeah. I wish you were on this case instead of me, Hayden. It’s getting too weird. That trucker at the I­-55 and now this. No apparent motives. Nothing stolen. No evidence left behind whatsoever. This is the work of a serial sicko if you ask me. I’ll talk to you later.”
Loretta gripped the edge of the table, trying to catch her breath.
Two more murders! A serial killer. Oh, no.
The rest stop on eighty-six was the same one Sam and she had been at earlier. Loretta remembered the red Volvo Semi with the open door. She frantically tried to make excuses, but she knew the odds of being at the scene of two related crimes in two days had to be infinitesimally small. What did it mean?
That Sam could he a killer.
You should run away now, Loretta. Get up, go out the door and drive off before Sam gets back. Leave him behind along with your fears that he’s the murderer.
Yet doubts filled her. They’d only been apart as long as she’d been in the bathroom and that hadn’t been more than fifteen minutes. Was that enough time to kill two people? She didn’t know. She didn’t want to know.
But why would Sam kill anyone? It made no sense. Only a deranged maniac would kill complete strangers like that. Only a deranged maniac.
The state trooper left and, stealing a peek, Loretta saw him push through the crowd toward the front of the diner.
She looked at the door. Sam would return any second. What was she going to do? She desperately wanted to talk to the trooper about the murders and try to get some information that would help her to decide. The officer would know more about the crimes than she did.
She was frozen like a bug in an ice cube. Her head warred with her heart. Was it worth it to be so wrong about Sam when being wrong could risk her life? What if Sam were a killer? Then why hadn’t he killed her, too? Unless he needed her and her truck to get away. What would happen when he no longer needed her? She didn’t dwell on that possibility.
Her eyes followed the state trooper as he halted at the cash register and spoke to a man in a stained apron who probably ran or owned the diner. The man’s face clouded up and his friendly grin faded as the trooper grabbed a wet rain slicker off a wall of other coats and fled. The diner’s owner knew about the new murders now, too.
The man in the apron hurried over to a waitress serving coffee to a bearded guy in a plaid shirt. The three of them huddled together, whispering.
At a nearby table, a thin woman with dull brown hair and too much make-up asked for more coffee and the waitress with the coffeepot bustled over. The two gossiped as the coffee poured, and after the waitress had gone on to another customer, the thin woman leaned over and yakked excitedly to another woman. There was murder in her eyes.
The bad news was spreading.
Loretta was poised to jump up and run to the other cop’s table when she caught sight of Sam working his way to her through the crowd. It was too late. There was no way she could get to the officer and ask for help before Sam got to her. She could run for it, but Sam was only a few feet away. She could see the fake empathy on his face, see his lying eyes above a killers smile that shed been so foolish to mistake as being sexy. She knew that if she tried to run he’d come after her. Maybe he’d even kill her to keep his secrets. ***

So now Winter’s Journey is out alive again in the world…I hope it has a long and happy adventure out there. After all, it’s one of my children and I want it to do well.
And thank you for having me on your blog! Kathryn Meyer Griffith
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A word about Kathryn Meyer Griffith, August 2011...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance and two mysteries) previous novels published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, Sasha and Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.
       
Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, July 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition out Nov.7, 2010)
Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2010)
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out April 2011)
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
  Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2011)
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in August 2011)
Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in September 2011)
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in November 2011)
Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella and bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out again from Eternal Press in January 2012)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Out from Damnation Books June 2010)
The Woman in Crimson (Out from Damnation Books September 2010)

Her Websites:
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
http://www.jacketflap.com/K.Griffith
http://www.shoutlife.com/kathrynmeyergriffith
http://www.goodreads.com/profile/kathrynmeyergriffith

E-mail me at rdgriff@htc.net  I love to hear from my readers.








1 comment:

sashagirl said...

Thank you Ginger for having me today on your blog! Warmly, Kathryn Meyer Griffith rdgriff@htc.net

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