Posts tagged ‘contemporary romance’
This is the scene after Summer Leigh Johnson is notified her ex-husband Dwight Sullivan has her listed as next of kin. He’s been injured in Iraq and is in hospital in Germany. Summer Leigh is talking with her friends:
“You’re going to Germany?”
“Yeah.” I stepped into the bathroom and grabbed some Tylenol before taking my original seat. The pills stuck in my throat and I washed them down with lukewarm coffee.
“Why the hell would you go see your ex-husband?” Her red face clearly indicated her anger.
“His parents were always good to me,” I tried to explain. “Generous and kind. Always made me feel like a part of the family.”
“Screw that!” Janice interjected herself into the conversation in her usual gentle manner. “Any debt to them was paid when their ass-of-a-son left you.”
“We didn’t even know you’d been married.” Bernice sounded tentative and worried. “How much can this man mean to you if your best friends don’t even know about him?” She took my hands, rubbed them softly and asked, “Why would you go to him? Especially after all these years?”
“For God’s sake. I’d never go see my ex!” Janice exclaimed.
“We all know you wouldn’t piss on your ex if he were on fire…” Stephanie said.
“I would if I peed gasoline!”
“Not everyone abhors their ex,” I said.
“You might not detest your ex, but God knows you don’t like the guy,” Janice said. “Never. Once. In the eight years I’ve known you have you even mentioned him. Never! How can you go to him now?”
“Because if I refuse to go and something happened to him, I’d never be able to forgive myself.”
Stephanie and Candy nodded in understanding, but I could tell, Janice and Bernice needed more convincing.
“Look at it this way, how can I be a martyr if I don’t go?” I joked.
I decided to clean out the teeny-tiny closet in my hunting cabin in the woods. It’s a hunting cabin. Hunters don’t need tons of storage space for shoes and cocktail dresses. Well, they might, but I’ve never seen a guy traipsing through the woods in camo pants and red pumps. My closet cleaning isn’t that big of a deal or at least it shouldn’t be. But, it’s me. I never manage to do anything in a simple way.
I started with three piles: summer clothes, donate, and keep it regardless of the fact that I’ll never where it again. I added some hanging shelves and purchased some really cool hangers that keep silky, gauzy shirts from sliding off the hanger onto the closet floor.
Sounds rather organized doesn’t it? Only problem? I emptied my closet on Saturday. It’s now Monday and I still have piles of clothes and shoes all over the house. Why? Because I have a short attention span. Right smackdab in the middle of organizing my closet, I decided that a bookcase that was in the bedroom had to go.
What did I do? I shoved the piles of clothes out of the way (donate clothes are now mixed with summer clothes,) and after emptying out the bookcase dragged it into the living room.
No biggie. The bookcase wasn’t that heavy, but… In order to put the bookcase where I wanted it. I had to move furniture, which required unplugging everything and adding a power strip to that area. Since I had the couch moved, I decided it was time to change the quilt displayed along its back to a bright purple one to combat the upcoming gray days of autumn. That required a trip to the barn where I discovered that all the quilts smelled mildewy. Fortunately, none of them actually have mildew on them, but I have to move the quilts out of the barn.
So, now in addition to the piles of shoes and clothes, there are piles of books everywhere and totes filled with quilts line the walls of the living room.
I clean the way I write. I start with a project in mind–a nice 3K short story about falling in love in Santorini. Then, I go off into a tangent, which leads to another tangent and the next thing I know I have 100K and a snark-filled contemporary romance. Unfortunately, my cleaning career will never lead to fame and fortune, but no need to worry since my writing career will! (fingers crossed!)
If you don’t hear from me in 3 days send in that super hot rescue team from Japton, okay? Shoot, I might bury myself under clothes and quilts just to get a visit from them…
I blame it on Mr. Write, a gentleman in my writers’ group. I like blaming things on him. He takes it in stride and usually laughs it off. I really hate to admit it when he’s right and dog gone it, just between you and me, he’s right a lot. He’s constantly adding little red squiggles on my pages–adding commas and such. It annoys me because I personally think commas are overrated. Unfortunately, the editor at The Wild Rose Press agreed and all those pesky, little commas are in the edited manuscript.
This particular incident of him possibly being right isn’t as simple as blood-red marks on my pages. He’s completely, I mean COMPLETELY, changed my current WIP, Ex-Ray. You see, since my other two NY Times Bestselling novels are contemporary romance, I assumed Ex-Ray was as well. It was going along just fine–60K words worth of angst, heartbreak, love, great sex and snark.
The only character to appear in two of my books is Owen. He’s the cop that notifies Summer Leigh about Dwight’s injuries in Redneck Ex. Since Anne, the main character in Ex-Ray, works as a 9-1-1 operator in Barrow, it made sense to have Owen show up in this book as well. Good grief. Barrow isn’t that big. There should be some character overlap.
The only problem is that Owen is a super nice guy and dreamy to boot.
Anne has fallen in bed with Joe Carducci–the new cop in town. A couple of weeks ago, I read the scene where Anne finds out that Owen likes her in that way as well. When I finished reading the scene, Mr. Write said, “Anne gets together with Owen, right?”
I said, “No. She’s with Joe.”
He said, “Owen’s too nice. You can’t leave him hanging.” Okay, I paraphrased ever so slightly.
Several other folks nodded in agreement. I didn’t think anything of it. What can the experienced, multi-published writers of my little writing group possibly know? Owen’s fate was sealed when I gave my mother the excerpt to read and she said, “Honey bunch, you need to write another story set in Barrow so Owen can find someone. He’s a nice boy and needs to good girl.”
So, yesterday when I was preparing the reading for last night, I looked at the Ex-Ray manuscript. I had skipped ahead 3 months in the story. Figured I’d go back and fill in the details of that missing time later. I scrolled down the page and ran across this: in big bold, red no less, letters Deal with Anne’s emotions about Owen.
Well I did and discovered Anne has been in love with Owen for years. I was just too dense to see it. Now, I have her in a very physical relationship with Joe and an extremely close, emotional relationship with Owen. Sounds like real life to me, right? Love triangles happen all the time. How many times have you been dateless and as soon as one guy asks you out another one does too?
I like the fact that Anne loves Owen. He’s very lovable. Only problem? In contemporary romance you can NOT have a main character who has feelings for more than one person. If the MC has slept with someone on the pages (past relationships don’t count) then she cannot sleep with anyone else. Good grief. In YA novels girls can screw the entire football team and no one blinks, but in an adult, contemporary romance, there can be no question who the MC ends up with. Did I mention, Adult? Contemporary? As in 21 century? A time when monogamy isn’t expected until the “exclusivity” discussion.
As I read the excerpt last night, I knew I’d made the right decision. Owen has been there for Anne from the very beginning, but when I finished the reading, I was totally depressed. I’ll have to rewrite the entire freaking novel. It’s no longer contemporary romance.
You know what Mr. Write said? “Change the genre.”
Well, duh. Claire Croxton is now a writer of contemporary romance AND women’s fiction.
Thanks, Mr. Write and Mama. 🙂