For years, when someone asked me what I wrote, I fidgeted, cleared my throat, and forced out the words, “I write romance and women’s fiction.” You can imagine the comments, the raised eyebrows, the little smirks that made me want to say, “No, wait! I write stories like Joyce Carol Oates…and Margaret Atwood.” That certainly would have squelched the look. Problem was, that’s not what I wrote. More importantly, that’s not what I wanted to write. If you are going to write a book, you had better darn well want to hang around with those people and their problems for three or four hundred pages…and in simple terms that can be anywhere from several months to years.
So, why did I fidget and want to hide my true passion? That silly need for acceptance, I’m sure. Everyone wants to be thought of as brilliant and cutting edge. While I do enjoy reading Joyce and Margaret, I don’t want to actually have to write what they do. That’s quite a lot of pretending to be someone I’m not. You see where this is going, don’t you? I would love heartfelt praise and page after page of great reviews, but I’ve got to write what’s in my heart—what I’m most passionate about. For too long, I worried about what the outside world said—editors, agents, the writing world—and I didn’t listen to myself. Then after one particularly stressful day of aimless wandering, I said, “Enough!” It came shortly after taking Barbara Samuel’s writing class where she told me I might be doing myself a disservice by looking too much at the outside world for both validation and direction. By tapping into my passions, (gardens, food, dogs), I would find the most success. Such a wise woman! I began to explore self-publishing opportunities and oddly or maybe not, months later, the book that has garnered the most attention and success in the self-pub arena, is the contemporary romance/women’s fiction one I once told a major publisher no to….A FAMILY AFFAIR.
I write romance and women’s fiction about second chances and that one true, seeped in near insurmountable circumstances. There is almost always a morally ambiguous situation. I’ll clarify that:
In A Family Affair, the mistress is more likeable than the real mother. (Real families aren’t always the ones you know about…)
In The Way They Were, the heroine married one man but never stopped loving another as evidenced in the once a year letter she writes him, (which she’ll never send.) (Tragedy tore them apart, now destiny may bring them back together.)
In Pieces of You, a mother’s disappearance isn’t really a disappearance at all but a planned abandonment that leaves a son scarred for future relationships. (Sometimes hiding in the shadows is the only way to protect your heart.)
And my soon to be released, Pulling Home—The heroine loves one brother but marries another. (She’ll risk anything to save her child…even the truth.)
And lest you think these are fly-by-night ideas, most of them live in my head for years before they spill onto the page. A Family Affair (5 years), The Way They Were (3 years), Pieces of You (3 years) Pulling Home (10 years). Sometimes, the story isn’t ready or I’m not ready to tell it the way it needs to be told. Pulling Home morphed and changed several times until finally, finally, I got it the way I wanted it!!
That’s my story and I am sticking to it!
Write true, my friends!