No, this isn’t a recipe for a great cup of coffee or the story about the time I bought the espresso machine as a “family” Christmas gift. True, I wanted it for me, but my kids wanted it just as much. It was a legitimate gift and well appreciated to this day, but this, my very first blog ever (not just on my squeaky new website), is about the making of my December 2012 Superromance release, Espresso in the Morning.
Espresso in the Morning was originally born during my quest to expand my writing muscles by breaking into the women’s fiction market. I once had a friend with PTSD and was so moved by that friend’s struggle I wanted to write a character who battled this disorder. I developed the seed that sprouted this story while talking with my daughters one day. My girls are always fundamental in the growing of all my stories. Their eyes don’t glaze over when I drift into rants on character growth and goal, motivation and conflict. No, they actively participate in occasional brainstorming sessions with me. How lucky am I?
Once I had sprouted the seed of that story I invited some of my writing buddies to brainstorm with me. I was very fortunate to have Sandra Chastain, Nancy Night, Haywood Smith, Berta Platas and Michelle Roper step forward with all their wonderful insights and ideas for this story. I, in turn, got to hear about some of their projects and share my thoughts with them. Nothing can clarify a story better than a roomful of creative minds.
After the brainstorming, I wrote. When I finally had a proposal ready for what I’d hoped to be my first women’s fiction novel, I sent it to my agent, then waited with bated breath. I really liked my story of a single mother’s struggle with PTSD and her fight to keep her son, but my agent didn’t feel it was strong enough to break into the women’s fiction market. Still, I really wanted to write Claire’s story. I had already bonded with her and Grey.
I sent the proposal to my editor at Harlequin and asked if she thought we could turn it into a romance. She was very enthusiastic about the story and so began the revisions, first of the synopsis and then the chapters. Lucas, the coffee shop guy, stepped front and center and we morphed him into Claire’s sexy hero. I developed the romance and walked the delicate balance of staying true to my original vision of a mom and her son, while focusing on the relationship between Claire and Lucas. In my original concept of the story I felt Claire’s need to heal would overshadow any romance, that by the end of the book we’d know she was on the road to recovery and that a romance (possibly with Lucas) was on the horizon. Even though it was my idea to send the proposal to Harlequin as a prospective romance, I wasn’t sure until I was writing it that I could actually transfrom it, that I could make Claire’s recovery believable enough that she’d be ready for a romance during her healing process.
I found this actually created all kinds of great conflict and I think it was Lucas who finally convinced me. It was a daunting task, but Lucas was determined to tell his own story in those pages and in the end I had to leave him and Claire and Grey with their happily-ever-after. For me, it worked and I enjoyed writing their happy ending.
Do you have a preference for women’s fiction over romance or vice versa? What makes a good romance?