The Story Behind the Story: His Heart’s Desire

June 16, 2019 05:15 PM Posted by juliannadouglas

His Heart's Desire Book Cover

Since His Heart’s Desire is my first published novel, the story behind this story is basically my journey to becoming a writer. I’ve always been an avid reader, and as a child, I used to make up stories to entertain myself, but I never really envisioned myself as a writer. I’d always had excellent reading comprehension and grammar skills, but the mechanics of writing are a far different beast than actual storytelling. I just didn’t know if I had a good grasp of the nuts and bolts that were involved in creating an entire novel. Then in 2008, I started my book review website, The Hope Chest Reviews, something I’d been wanting to do for a while. Writing reviews is something I’d tinkered around with before, but then I really got serious about it.

As I deeply analyzed other authors’ books and writing styles, I started to gain a better understanding of how they were put together, but I still wasn’t sure I could write one of my own. However, my passion for reading and reviewing took me to the Amazon discussion forums where I met a small group of fervent romance fans. We starting getting to know one another, but as time went on, some infighting cropped up on the boards that made them an unsavory place to be. That kerfuffle spurred someone in our little group to suggest that we migrate our discussion to GoodReads, which, at the time, was still a fledgling operation. So about a dozen or so of us made the move and I haven’t looked back since. Even though I’m not really in touch with most of those people anymore, this ended up being an integral part of my writing journey.

A while after we made the switch, a member of our group, who was dabbling in writing, started a writer’s group that she invited all of us to join. I did, just for the heck of it, not really thinking it was going to go anywhere. However, she gave us three writing prompts to work on. The first was a list of reasons why we should be in the group. I finished that one in pretty short order, thinking it was the only one I would complete. The second was to write an erotic love poem. I’ve never written poetry in my life, but lo and behold, the words started coming to me. I don’t think I ever shared it with the group, and it’ll probably never see the light of day, but task number two was complete. Yay! It gave me a sense of accomplishment, but still, I thought this was probably it for me. The final task was to write a steamy romantic story that took place in a penthouse suite in Las Vegas, and my first thought was, nope, I can’t do that. But once again, my muse surprised me by bringing forth the elements of a story from the depths of my brain. So I had an idea, but I didn’t really know how to get started. That’s when I privately messaged a published author who was a member of our original Amazon discussion group and asked for pointers. After she gave me some advice, I finally took the plunge and started, first outlining, and later writing the story that would become His Heart’s Desire.

For the longest time, I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing – not even my husband – thinking that I might somehow jinx it. I wanted to tinker around with it for a while first and see if I could actually do it before getting anyone’s hopes up, least of all my own. I can’t recall now how long I kept it a secret, but eventually I let the cat out of the bag to my husband, and thankfully he’s been very supportive ever since. I’d also known about Romance Writers of America (RWA), but wasn’t planning on joining until the book was close to completion. However, my reviewing work took me to the Glendale Chocolate Affaire, something you may have seen me mention in my newsletters every year around Valentine’s Day. It’s an annual local festival that celebrates romance and chocolate and hosts a large gathering of romance authors. I went merely intending to cover the event and interview the authors for my website, but I met Tami Vinson, a sweet, lovely author, who was signing her books. I happened to mention to her that I was writing a book myself, and not only was she incredibly supportive of that endeavor, she strongly encouraged me to join RWA sooner rather than later. She said they provided the support needed to actually get the writing done and was one of the few writer’s organizations that did. I’m so glad I took her advice, because this group has helped me in untold ways.

I discovered after joining RWA, through a contest and critique partners that my story wasn’t quite up to snuff, so His Heart’s Desire went through a number of different iterations before I finally set it loose into the wild. Before that happened, I rewrote the book four times, over the course of about five years. Despite my frustrations with continually working on the same book for such a long time, with each rewrite, I believe I made it into a stronger story that was much better in the end than what I’d started with, and of course, along the way, thanks to RWA and other writer’s conferences, I learned a lot more about writing in general. Before putting the first words of His Heart’s Desire on paper ten years ago, I never would have entertained the idea that I would be a published author someday, but now that I’ve reached that goal, it’s become such a deeply embedded part of my heart and soul, it hurts to even think of giving it up. I hope to be able to keep bringing a whole lot more stories out of my fertile imagination and onto the page in the future for readers to enjoy.

In part because it was my very first book and in part because Ethan and Becca lived in my head for so many years, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for His Heart’s Desire. And I hope that this sweet but steamy Cinderella story will find a place in yours too. Oh, and by the way, toward the end of the book, you’ll see that steamy Las Vegas penthouse suite scene that was the original writing prompt that started me on this crazy journey. ;-)

Categories: The Story Behind the Story, Writing

Tags: His Heart's Desire