The Book that Wouldn’t Die

By Elizabeth Engstrom

Years ago I wrote a book called Guys Named Bob. I loved this book. My agent hated the ending, but at my insistence, he sent it out anyway. It got attention from two major publishers, but they all wanted me to change the ending. I, in my ridiculous “artiste” attitude, politely declined. So the book sat on the shelf for a decade.

This is the book that made me research how to write erotica. This is the book that spawned my (infamous) weekend workshops and conference talks on how to write sizzling sex scenes. I had two unconventional people falling for each other in an unconventional setting amidst much turmoil and emotional upheaval. I discovered that I like my sex scenes with a light, significant touch. And so they are, in this book.

GNB Cover image

Recently, I took a fresh look at Guys Named Bob again. I saw what the agent/editors objections were to the ending, and decided that I could “alter” the ending, and in fact, I needed to.  I saw what they saw, given the time that had passed and the accompanying difference in perspective. Not to mention the difference in my attitudes about my career.

The ending didn’t exactly change, but in its alteration, I see better results for every character. I am very happy with the new ending. I brought it up to date, edited it, and my publisher just released the paperback and Kindle versions of Guys Named Bob.

You can read the first chapter here. You can buy a copy here.

I hope you do, and if you like it, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads.

Resuscitating a Manuscript

By Elizabeth Engstrom

I have a new novel coming out this summer. Guys Named Bob.

This book was written long ago, had some serious interest by my agent, and several publishers in New York. I never inked a deal because they wanted me to change things I didn’t want to change.

Years later, I’ve evolved with regards to how I view my art and my career, and the message I want to send out to my family, my friends, my fans, into the universe. It was time to make big changes to the manuscript.

This was not an easy thing to do. Technology has changed radically since I wrote that book, and technology changes everything.


But I worked with it, and I altered the story to fit who I am today. I still rejected some of the changes those editors thought I ought to make in order for it to be more of the mainstream type of book they wanted to publish, so clearly, this is not a book for everyone. But it is a book that I wanted to write then, was heartbroken when it wasn’t picked up by a publisher, and now that it has been picked up, I’m delighted to put it out into the marketplace.

Bottom line: Some projects take more time than others.

My book Candyland was outlined during a dinner party on the back of an envelope. Seriously.  It practically wrote itself, and very quickly. My agent and I had a falling out over it, and I fired him as an agent. Since then, it has been published in an anthology, as a stand-alone novel, and was made into a movie (Candiland).

Other books take years to write.

Guys Named Bob took decades. I wrestled with committing to it, wondering if I had anything original left in the tank. Was I now just rewashing old story ideas? Did this mean I was finished as a writer? Am I even capable of writing anything new and fresh?

Well, yes. Life has interfered with my writing career for a while now, but I’m back at it. I have a list of projects to finish, and have a renewed passion and excitement for them.

Bottom line: Life has its seasons. We evolve as writers. No experience is wasted. Joy, heartbreak, disappointment, love, desperation, insecurity, determination… These are all things we must experience first-hand before we can put them on the page. And while the circumstances of a piece of fiction may need to be updated, those emotions remain eternally relatable.

And oh: I have a new website. Check it out.


To collaborate or not to collaborate?

By Elizabeth Engstrom

I’ve always eschewed the idea of collaboration.

To me, writing a novel is such an intimate process of soul searching that I could not imagine sharing that process with another person. I suspect I am not alone with that feeling.

But last March during the Wordcrafters conference, Nancy Holder and I talked about her collaborative endeavors with her writing partner, Debbie Viguie. Together they have written many bestselling novels and their partnership thrives, despite differences in… well, we’re all different.


I’m not going to tell you how they do it, because I only drilled deeply enough into that concept to allow me to give it some serious thought. I did find out this: They always write forward, they never go backward. In other words, when Nancy writes a chapter and then Debbie edits/rewrites it, Nancy uses that version to alter, never going back to a previous version. She may return to a previous concept or scene, but never a previous version. So they are always writing forward.

I found this to be very interesting.

I know many people who collaborate on many things. One friend has had great successes with multiple collaborations, but he has also had problems that have shelved, perhaps even killed, projects with great potential. Such is the lesson to have some type of agreement in writing with among collaborators. And it is also a lesson to be very careful with whom you entrust your fledgling projects.

So now, inspired by Nancy and Debbie’s intriguing arrangement, I’m collaborating.

I have a writing partner for whom I have tremendous respect. We have known each other only a few years, but I’ve kept an eye on him, his work ethic, the way he conducts himself in business and at home, and decided that he was the one for me, if he was interested.

He was.

But here’s the thing. I bring strengths and weaknesses to this partnership, and so does he. We discussed them in depth before embarking upon the first cooperative project. One of my strengths is that I am fortunate enough to have more time to write. He has less time. One of my weaknesses is that I am impatient. So when I finish something and pass it off to him, I need to relax and let his draft come back to me in the time that he has to devote to it. I gladly give up time for quality. And he brings quality.


We collaborated on an initial project of little consequence, mostly to see how we work together. A shakedown cruise, if you will. It went very well. Since then, we have completed two substantial projects, with two more—including a very ambitious one—in the works.

I am ecstatic. I am writing more now than I have in years, and am enthusiastic about my new work and all the possibilities now opening up to both of us. I eagerly anticipate his feedback and he knocks me out with the things he adds (and takes away), and is always willing to negotiate certain points that are important to one or the other of us, and find solutions to sticky issues.

This isn’t a mere collaboration. I view this as a long-term writing partnership, and I believe he does as well. In this particular instance, our work is way more than the sum of its parts; our synergy has lit us both on fire.

But this was no casual encounter, no off-the-cuff invitation to write something together. Before I approached him, I thought long and hard, and we talked about it in depth before we agreed to embark upon such a venture. It is much like any other business partnership that is heavy on the creative element. Trust is of paramount importance.

Even though I’m currently involved in what I consider a very successful collaboration, still, when I think of the word “collaboration,” I shudder. Collaboration is not for me.

Except when it is.