Giving Thanks

So many things that I’m grateful for…

Always first, my husband and daughters. Without them, my world would be a colder and darker place, even on the brightest days of summer. I am thankful for the continued health and safety of those I love most in the world, as well as my own.

And I give thanks for the rest of my family — my parents and my stepmother, my sisters and stepsister, and my in-laws — and for the collective kinks in our brains, limps in our gaits and general dysfunctions that keep us arguing and laughing together. (Always remember, right in the middle of dysfunction you find FUN!)

I have been blessed with a multitude of friends, the people you find in life who feed your soul and love you even after they discover that you hate dusting and secretly love to listen to disco and Bananarama’s version of ‘Venus’.

Thinking of friends moves into my writer’s gratitude list: Sally, Johnnye & Kim are friends and fellow writers, and I have benefited immensely from their guidance and honesty. (Or in Johnnye’s case from her whining and nagging.)

Not only are these three terrific women friends, we all belong to a critique group that includes writers of fiction, screenplays and stage plays, and poetry. Genres from romance to horror movies are represented, as are both genders. (For a romance writer, getting the viewpoint of males, especially when writing your hero, is invaluable!!) My family loves me and is proud of me (mostly), but they don’t get my struggles and triumphs with the written word like other writers do.

I am profoundly thankful for everyone at Kensington Publishing who has put time and effort in the belief that I can write books that will sell. Yes, it is a business and I am a minnow in a pond with some very talented fish, but my emails and calls are returned promptly and they answer my newbie questions with great patience. Peter Senftleben, my editor, is wonderful! I was delighted when he told me he will be my editor for my second book.

And during these tough economic times, I am humbly thankful for material blessings. Not just the necessities of food, shelter and clothing, but for having enough to help our hard-working college student pay her expenses, and to cover our (mercifully small) medical expenses.

What do you give thanks for?

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This is new….

While I’m hardly a recluse, the concept of having my book title and name come up in various places on the internet is …. odd. ‘Behind the scenes’ is where I’ve always lived and I do well there. So when Maureen Cuddy in Kensington’s publicity department emailed and then called me last week to request answers to questions for the Debut Corner of Romantic Times’ February issue, I alternated between ‘OMG!!’ and ‘Oh, crap!’ (Um, actually I used a stronger word than ‘crap’.)

Maureen’s initial email went into my spam file and she called one of the few times I didn’t have my phone with me. Lucky for me she was very understanding about the spam issue. Besides, when I checked the time of her call, I realized I had been driving a very busy stretch of road with my daughter in the car. Better chalk one up to my Car Guardian Angel for leaving the phone behind that day.

After jumping up and down, emailing Maureen back (she had left the office by the time I returned her call), running out to the nearest bookstore to get a copy of RT to get an idea of the length of the answers I should provide, going to my weekly critique group and finally composing the answers to send back, I wondered where else I might be popping up. For the record I didn’t Google myself, since my favorite search engine is http://www.dogpile.com

I knew that Kensington listed To be Seduced on the major sites for pre-sale, but I also found it mentioned in an online forum at Romantic Times, the blog Babbling About Books and More, and at Fantastic Fiction, a site based in the United Kingdom that covers all genres of fiction.  The site that gave me the biggest chuckle was the one offering my book for pre-sale in India. I wonder if this makes me ‘internationally known’ now. (My guess would be not so much, lol.)

Sitting and Staring

Okay, I sit down before the computer, turn it on and pull up my WIP. With any luck, the words I wrote yesterday make sense. Maybe there’s an awkward phrase to fix or a common word to replace, but those are just delaying tactics. Any writer knows the real work starts when the words stop scrolling. So I sit and stare at a blank screen.

And stare. And think about going back and doing some ‘good solid editing’. But that’s not what I’m here for. Editing means working with something that exists on the page or hard drive. It’s important, but first there are characters who clamor to get to the end of their story, the one that’s still unfinished. The surroundings and scenes living in my head must be described, the emotions transferred from imagination to page.

Writing is like walking through fog. Even when you know where you want to end up, most of the time you can only see a few steps in front of you. The good thing is, if you just keep walking, you can at least see the next few steps, and then a few more. Eventually you will reach the end of the book and your characters get to their long-awaited destination.

Happy Ever After

HEA…one of the basic requirements of romance writing. If the characters don’t end up happily united, with the implication they will stay that way for the rest of their lives, it ain’t a romance novel. It may be an excellent book — I’ve read many moving stories that do not end up with the hero and heroine together, but it’s a different genre.

Why do we so desperately want the hero and heroine to find their Happy Ever After in our favorite romances? My theory is that this is part of the fantasy involved in the genre. Compared to staying together, the wonderful and improbably gallant adventures featured in romances are cake. You have to outwit a drug lord? No biggie. Your sweetie has just come down with the Black Plague and you have to nurse him back to health? Easy peasy. I’ve been married 24 years, so I think I can speak with experience here.

Try tactfully changing the conversation before your oblivious spouse tells your uptight boss that story of how he and his friends mooned their college library while spelling out ‘Merry Christmas’ on their butts. Or coming to terms with the fact that your disinterest in housekeeping drives your honey up the wall. And no fictional plague victim has ever decided to ‘help’ his nurse by reorganizing the kitchen while she was out for an evening.

On the other hand, romances end fairly early in the lives of their characters, while skin is unlined and libidos are strong. We don’t get to see them enjoy the little discoveries that keep a relationship fresh. And after 24 years, some things are better than ever. We both have more lines in our faces than we like, and we might fall asleep on the couch instead of making out on it. But once we’ve rested up, my husband and I get to slip between the sheets with someone who’s had years to find out just we like.

Let’s just say a good time is guaranteed 🙂