Behind the Scenes Story – 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake by Jade Lee

Monday, July 13, 2015

A long while ago, I was stuck in a creative black hole. Writing sucked, I had no new ideas, my career was over, I was fat and pimply and blah blah blah. In a fit of despair, I decided that I would go back to physical exercise to help myself out. Guess what I did.

A. Bought a treaddesk (desk perched over a walking treadmill) and walked the equivalent of three times around the earth.
B. Bought an elliptical machine (halfway between a treadmill and a stair stepper. You step in an ellipse.) Then I ate a cheesecake because I couldn’t handle walking in an ellipse.
C. Started jogging and set myself on fire from my thighs rubbing together.
D. Went back to racquetball and signed up for the US Open.

Answer: D. Yes, I play a lot of racquetball and I’m pretty good at it. In fact, a long time ago I was a pro racquetball player. I thought I’d reclaim my old glory by competing again in my age division. But for those who guessed one of the others, I do have a treaddesk. In fact, I’m walking and writing on it now. And I’m only a little bloody from falling off it. My husband bought the elliptical which he uses while watching the news. I eat cheesecake while watching him. And jogging? That’s just crazy talk!

How did it go?

A. I won, got onto the US Racquetball team, and am now buried in gold medals!
B. I was laughed off the court and had to hide in shame.
C. I watched a man have a heart attack on the court and decided some things aren’t worth the risk. Even racquetball glory.
D. I was doing fine until my knees blew in my second-to-last match.

Answer: D. I won a few matches (yeah), but each day was harder and harder as my knees started locking up. Good thing there were two Ace cold packs given to every player in the welcome bag. Sadly, no amount of ibuprofen or ice could have saved me by day 4. My knees had swollen up too much. I did not watch a man have a heart attack. Gah! Hopefully this has never, ever happened on the court.

The end result? I dropped out of the tournament. Hard to play when you can’t even walk. Sobbed the night through, and then grabbed my iPad in the morning because I couldn’t walk to do anything else. Even go to the bathroom. In my email was a challenge from my brilliant editor Deb Werksman to write anything that came into my head. Six different first chapters of absolutely anything so long as the hero and heroine met on the first page. And the result?

A. Ghost, gypsies, and Firefly. It’s a wild, wonderful universe.
B. Absolutely nothing. I played Plants vs. Zombies all morning long.
C. I wrote the first chapter of 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake
D. I wrote a long memoir about an ageing athlete who goes to bed sobbing and then is magically healed by a hot alien from another planet. Except in this version, the heroine (who might have been named Jade) is not married.

Answer: C   Actually what I wrote was a darker, more depressed version of the opening chapter, but with revision and the ability to walk came a new sense of humor. As I continued to write this book, the laughter just kept coming. I was joyous in this book–not at all what I could have expected at the time–and I truly love, love, love the result. 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake is the funniest thing I’ve ever written. And it’s sexy. (Gotta say that it’s sexy because, you know, it’s me. I write hot!)

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