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April 2019: What Comes First
~ Rebecca Heflin ~

CTR asked:

Which comes first when you start a new story? The title? The characters’ names? The plot? Explain your starting process and what you need before you can write the first words.

Rebecca Heflin said:

Any of the above. Some books start with just a glimmer of a premise. Others start with a particular scene. Still others start with the characters. The inspiration for The Promise of Change, my debut novel, came from a trip I took to Oxford University in Oxford, England in 2010. My heroine, Sarah, took the same trip, and although she was divorced and I’m happily married, the trip changed both our lives for the better. For her, she found her one true love; and for both of us, well, we discovered the courage to pursue our dreams.

For my second book, Rescuing Lacey, I had a particular scene in mind, then I had to figure out why the characters were in that scene. Who were they, where did they come from? That scene is actually in the middle of the book, but it was the first scene I wrote. The rest of the book fanned out from there.

By the way, that scene was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to Costa Rica over fifteen years ago. More specifically, it sprang from an incident involving a small plane and an unplanned landing in a remote rainforest. The incident is easily recognizable in the story (although the names have been changed to protect the innocent).

With Dreams of Perfection, I started with a premise: What would happen if a romance writer’s hero actually came to life, a la Pygmalion. This quickly turned into the Dreams Come True Series, when I realized two other characters in the book deserved their own stories.

My latest book, A Season to Dance, started with a character. I knew the heroine was a professional ballet dance whose career had come to an abrupt end, but other than that I had nothing. So, I had to ask myself, where did she come from? Who was her hero? What was her journey? A beautiful song from the group Styx, “”Ballerina,”” provided the inspiration for the rest of the story.

I’m a pantster (meaning I fly by the seat of my pants), so I don’t need much of anything more to sit down and write my first words.


A Season to Dance by Rebecca Heflin cover

A Season to Dance (Book #1, Season of Northridge)

[Contemporary Romance]

They let each other go once . . . will history repeat itself?

Olivia James and Zach Ryder were high school sweethearts, but at age eighteen, she left small-town Georgia for the bright lights and satin pointe shoes of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. Seventeen years later, Olivia’s come home for her mother’s funeral, nursing an injury that could likely end her meteoric dance career. Being back home stirs up old heartache, and seeing Zach again is not on her to-do list. Her best bet is get in, get out—a week at most. Then she’ll return to Chicago to rehabilitate her injury and salvage her career. But best laid plans often go astray…

Zach has never really recovered from Olivia’s departure, even though he always knew she was destined for fame, while he was destined for small-town life. Now Olivia’s back and he’s determined to protect his heart. But when he learns she’s staying in town longer than originally planned, Zach knows they are going to have to face the past to move on. He’s just not prepared for the beautiful woman she’s become or the effect she still has on his heart.

Small towns being what they are, Zach and Olivia are constantly thrown into one another’s paths, and it soon becomes apparent they still love each other. Will they give in to their rekindled desire and seize a second chance at happiness?

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