Last year (maybe -- I lost all track of time), I did a reread/commentary on the first Enchanted, Inc. book, and this morning when I spotted the Infamous Red Stilettos lying on my bedroom floor (where I really need to put them away after having worn them to a convention a month ago) I thought I ought to pick that up again and do the second book.
So, now for a reread/commentary of Once Upon Stilettos. There may be spoilers for the entire series, as I'll likely address things that come up later. I'm not on any particular schedule. This may be something I do when I can't think of anything else to talk about.
Now, for the beginning ...
It all started with the red shoes, except it actually didn't. While I was writing the first book, I started getting ideas for what would happen in the rest of the series, based on random bits of conversation when someone brought up the possibility of something happening, and I made a note that it should probably happen. As an aside, I guess I was pretty obvious about that because a few years ago there was a team attempting to turn this series into a TV series, and I had a conference call with the lead writer in which she was giving me the pitch she'd give to network executives. She outlined the pilot and first season, then possible plot lines for subsequent seasons. I had to stop her and ask if she'd read the whole series, and she said she'd just read the first book. But her outline for the way each season would go followed the books pretty closely, with season 2 being a lot like book 2, and so forth. It was kind of eerie (but, alas, no network picked it up, and I thought these people would have done a great job with it).
When I got an agent and she was getting ready to try to sell the book to publishers, she had me put together blurbs for possible sequels, to demonstrate that it wouldn't just be one book. Then she made me combine what I had for books two and three into one book. My planned book two was about the mole in the company, with book three about Katie losing her immunity. Combining those plots made the story a lot stronger.
Around this time, when I had an agent but hadn't yet sold the book, I went shopping with a friend. Really, it was just window shopping. We went to one of the upscale malls and treated it almost like a museum. At the time, I had very little income. I'd been laid off from my job a couple of years earlier and was freelancing some, but that money didn't quite cover my living expenses, so I was living off my savings while writing books. And then I saw the shoes, those candy apple red stilettos. They called to me. I wanted them. They were totally impractical. I wouldn't have too many places to wear them or things to wear them with, and for that price I could have bought at least six pairs of shoes in my usual price range. I told my friend that if I sold the book, I'd buy those shoes. The shoes were not in the original plan for the book, nor were they in the plot line that was submitted to the publisher. I wasn't even thinking about them being incorporated into the book at that point.
Several months later, I did sell the book, and it was a two-book contract, with the book I'd already written and a sequel I'd planned but hadn't written a word of. I called my friend to tell her the news, and she asked what time I'd be over to pick her up to go shoe shopping. That day, we went to Nordstrom, and I bought the Infamous Red Stilettos. I must say, I was still wavering on whether I should do it because for me that was a lot of money and I'd never bought an item of clothing that expensive. When we got back to my friend's place, I was still talking myself into buying the shoes I'd already bought, justifying it to myself. I mentioned that the shoes had called out to me. They were magical.
And then, click, I had the opening line and the opening scene for the book I needed to write. Since the book was going to involve Katie losing her immunity, the shoes were the perfect way to show that effect on her, as sometimes she was immune to the spell on them, and then there were moments when she absolutely had to have them. That opening scene was very much my experience when I first saw them and then later when I went to buy them. I just moved the scene to Bloomingdale's in New York (because that was the store in New York where I saw the same shoes and knew for sure they were there) instead of Nordstrom in Dallas.
Incidentally, the original planned title for this book was Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, which I thought fit it perfectly. Except we found out that a much more famous author was going to be releasing a book with that exact title a few months before mine, so there was a last-second scramble to retitle it. Someone in the marketing department came up with the new title.