Of all the books I’ve written, I’d have to say that my latest release took the longest to write. By far.
A large part of that is the way I write. I have a tendency to start a lot of things, but not always finish them. I call it my “author ADD.” I’ll write the beginning of a story, or a couple of scenes, and then put it aside to work on something else. This is not always a bad thing, as it keeps me from getting bored with what I’m working on, but it also leads to what I call my “WIP graveyard.” The WIP graveyard is a huge file full of manuscripts in various stages of completion. I’ve got a finished vampire novel in there, one of the first things I ever wrote. It’s going to stay here, too, because it would need so much revision to be submission-worthy that I’m not even willing to mess with it.
If you looked around in the darkest recesses of my WIP graveyard folder, you’d find a finished tale of a Marine and a teacher (needs work), the story of a police officer and a college kid (not even close to finished), and at least a dozen other ideas, some bare skeletons and others halfway done.
From 2007 until 2009, that’s where my latest release, Healer, resided. I’m not sure when the idea of a doctor who had the ability to heal with his touch came to me exactly, but in May of 2007 I began the file that would eventually become Healer. As I often do, I got the beginning of the idea down so I wouldn’t forget about it. Then, I promptly put it aside in favor of other projects.
For two years, the file gathered dust (so to speak) in my hard drive. I kept wanting to come back to it, and I’d add a tiny bit here and there, but there were too many other projects taking up my time for me to really get into it.
Finally, a contest kick-started my creativity. The contest required a beginning that would hook readers. I knew the beginning of that old, nearly forgotten file had a great hook, so I dusted off what I had and jumped back into writing the story. I remembered how much I’d loved my main characters: a doctor who could heal with his hands, and a secretive shapeshifter who could become anyone he saw. With my focus engaged, I was able to power through the remainder of the story.
Months, and several rounds of the contest later, I had Healer. I was pretty excited about the story. It was the first novel-length work I’d created that I actually thought was submission worthy.
Then…I didn’t win the contest.
After all my hard work, the loss was a pretty crushing blow. Disappointed, I put Healer aside. I figured I’d let myself have some distance from the story and then so some revisions.
Months turned into more than a year. Finally, I said enough was enough. This past summer, I worked like crazy on revising Healer until I felt it was ready to be submitted again. After a couple of months of hard, non-stop work, I felt good enough about the book to submit it again. I sent it in to Amber Allure.
They accepted it, I went through another round of edits with my editor, and on October 30, it finally came out. Only four years after I began the file. Not too shabby for a story that once lived in my WIP graveyard, I’d say!
The Institute, Book 1: Healer by Cassandra Gold
For years, Dr. Tristan Matheson has hidden his unusual healing abilities, pretending to be an ordinary doctor instead. And he’s eluded detection—until now. When Tristan’s targeted, a mysterious shapeshifter named Cam becomes his only means of escape.
A member of the Delphic Institute, Cam is capable of taking the shape of anyone he’s ever seen. Retrieving Tristan was supposed to be an ordinary mission, but the feelings the doctor stirs in Cam are surprising and unwelcome.
Unfortunately, Tristan and Cam have a bigger problem then their mutual attraction. A war brewing between groups interested in “recruiting” people with special talents could tear them apart before they ever get together...
...Tristan turned the corner and smashed into something big and hard. The impact pushed him back. He nearly fell, only managing to recover when a hand gripped his arm. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled, so focused on his escape he barely noticed the person he’d run into.
He tried to keep walking but the hand tightened. Tristan halted, really looking at the man for the first time. The tall, handsome Latino didn’t smile. The navy slacks and white coat he wore labeled him a doctor, but Tristan had never seen him before. He had no name tag, but a pair of glasses and an ear thermometer stuck out of his chest pocket.
Dark eyes met his. The man tugged him toward the stairs at the end of the hall. “They’re just one floor below us now.”
A new thread of apprehension worked its way into Tristan’s already tangled web of thoughts and feelings. He didn’t know what was going on, but he knew enough to feign ignorance. “What? The neonatal unit is on the floor below us. Do you need some help finding it?”
The unfamiliar doctor shook his head. “We don’t have time for this. You know who I mean. You can’t escape them.”
How does he know? Could this man be one of them? If not, how could he possibly know about Tristan’s pursuers? Fear and uncertainty struck Tristan speechless.
The doctor gave him an impatient look. “I know about the guys who are after you. I can help you, but you have to come with me. Now.”
This had to be a trap. But why would they bother, when they could catch him without going to so much trouble? Tristan’s head throbbed, and he reached up to rub his temple. He was running out of time. He had to get away.
Paralyzed by indecision, Tristan stood there staring at the other man.
“Oh, for God’s sake. Nobody mentioned you being an idiot, so I’m going to assume you’re confused.”
Rolling his eyes, the man yanked Tristan’s arm hard enough that Tristan had no choice but to follow. He tugged Tristan down the hall to the stairwell and pushed the door open. He shoved Tristan through the door and met Tristan’s gaze with steady brown eyes. “All right, here’s the plan. I’ll go distract Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum while you go out this way. I’ll meet you outside in a few minutes.”
Before Tristan could ask the man how he intended to distract the men downstairs, the handsome Latino features blurred. Tristan blinked, and suddenly he was looking into a mirror. He gaped in astonishment at the sight of his own disheveled black hair, green eyes, pale skin, and slim build. Even the clothes the other man wore had changed to green scrubs identical to his.
Watching his own lips turn up in a very un-Tristan-like smirk was a decidedly odd experience. “Don’t trouble your pretty little head, Doc. I’ll meet you outside in a few.”
At least the man’s voice had stayed the same. If the voice had been his as well, he would have wondered if he was going insane. With a wave, Tristan’s doppelganger headed back the way Tristan had come a few minutes ago.
As soon as the man had turned the corner, Tristan moved. He flew down the seldom-used stairs at a dead run. His heart pounded, more from nerves than from exertion. Could he trust the bizarre man who claimed to want to help him? If not, he might be putting himself in danger. Still, what choice did he have?
A hysterical laugh bubbled up in his throat as he reached the door leading to the back parking lot. Above all, he knew he could never let them take him. He knew what they would do to him. And what they’d make him do. His skin crawled at the thought. The strange man he’d met upstairs might be his only chance for escape—or a clever trap. There wasn’t any way for him to know which one.
He shoved open the door and stood panting in the bright sunshine. Then the familiar weakness stole over him and he knew his choices were gone. He’d pushed too hard. Slumping against the brick wall, Tristan prayed the man would prove to be someone he could trust...
About me: By day, Cassandra is a (relatively) mild-mannered middle school teacher. At night, she lets the characters in her head out to play as she writes stories of men falling in love. Unfortunately for her husband, neither of Cassandra's personas enjoys doing housework. Find her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000682134145
Gay romance with a heart of gold