Planning for Success

I’m a touch anal retentive. I like rules. In fact, it’s how I make my living. I like knowing what’s going to happen so I plan things out, even for contingencies that won’t likely happen. I’m very well prepared for the zombie apocalypse, btw. But by planning, I take away some of the fear and uncertainty that surrounds a new adventure and I’m able to focus on what’s important. Whether that new adventure is moving to Korea (which I did in June 2015) or publishing my first book (also June 2015), you can bet there’s a schedule and a list of things to do.

As my first book’s publication loomed on the horizon, what’s important became promotion. Publishers these days do very little for new authors, so it’s up to us to get our name out there, build a brand, get readers to first notice us in a sea of new names and new books, then to get them to click on the buy links. It doesn’t do me any good to publish a book if no one is buy it. I quickly learned that if writing is a full time job, promotion is another full time job.

Part of the danger with surfing the web for reviewers or playing on Twitter to generate interest, is getting off track. We all know that the internet is a pit of quick sand of time. And that can eat into the precious hours we have to write. I still work full-time, so my writing time is doubly precious. So time is a major component in determining your schedule. Determine how much you have – whether by the day or by the week. The next thing you have to do is set your goal or goals and the time frame for them. I had two goals with my schedule. One, maximize my daily writing time. Second, promote.

The first goal is pretty self-explanatory. With my second goal, I had two sub-goals. I wanted people to buy my book, obviously, but I also wanted to generate a following. That not only could lead to sales, but it would make my blog a destination for writers. I write under multiple names so getting people to the website was a way to make the most of every promotion opportunity. Once I could show a steady stream of visitors, I could connect to more and bigger authors for spotlight interview, thus connecting with a broader audience. I was trying to snowball everything because again, time was not plentiful.

Now you build you schedule with these goals in mind. I knew social media was the way to go but there’s so much out there. I started spending 3-4 hours a night just trying to keep up with email, Twitter, the blog, Goodreads, Facebook, review requests, yahoo groups…it became endless. Plus I wasn’t writing as much as I wanted, if at all. I picked three areas of focus: contact (email), promotion (Facebook, Twitter and my web blog) and writing. It was all I could handle. In June, my second month on my schedule, my website data tells me I had 2500 visitors. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it feels good to see that number get bigger each month. I’ve also done a Twitter campaign and a Facebook push through a social media company.

Once you’ve established your time parameter and set your goal, the rest is just fill in the blanks. Building the schedule involves picking a tool – a spreadsheet or a calendar – to help you manage your time and your plan. You can see mine on my website at www.awritershouse.com/craft. I picked a calendar template from Excel. It’s easy to update. I can make notes on it to keep me on track or when things change. I even schedule nights off from the whole job of writing. I printed six months’ worth and keep it by my computer.

Voila. You have a schedule. Making the schedule, however, is the easy part. Sticking to it is another matter. Like with any big challenges – exercise, diet, changing the course of history – start small and slow.

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Characters+Conflict = Plot

When I think of writing, I think of a recipe. I know some writers are loathe to think of a formula for a book, but for me – scientist, plotter, chart maker extraordinaire – I hope that by following even a basic recipe I will produce a good product. The recipe is pretty simple: Characters + Conflict + Romance = Sparkle. But there’s enough pantser in me, and enough of my paternal grandmother who never met a recipe she couldn’t improve with a little improvisation, that I also know a recipe is just a place to begin.

To overcome the anal side of my character and bring her to terms with the creative side, I write in layers. It’s like mixing my wet ingredients and my dry ingredients in separate bowls then combining judiciously until smooth.

The Dry Ingredients

The dry ingredients are things that are not going to change significantly in the story, or at least not according to my well-laid-out-but-always-up-for-negotiation inner voice. “This is a romantic suspense about a skeptical cop and a disgraced psychic investigating a murder.” The dry ingredients are your high level plot points and for me, are things I know in advance of writing the first word.

I know my characters first, and their basic GMC. Something new I’m working on is called Lessons Learned (coming soon to a blog near you). It’s not just the details of their GMC, but what they need to learn in order to move from their beginning GMC to the ending GMC where they each find a HEA ending. This helps me guide later layers in building the arc of the story and the characters.

From there I start with the rough draft, typing furiously as long as the muse allows and carve out the basic actions needed to get my story going. I’m not worried about eye color or what kind of car they drive, whose POV I’m in or even if something is logical in their world. I can figure out that stuff later. This is bare bones, Point A to Point B. Of course, there are sprinkles of the other layers in here. It can’t be helped and when inspiration hits, I won’t push it aside but what I want to avoid is being lost in the detail.

I tend to be a narrative heavy writer, so I then go in and covert narrative to dialogue where possible. This is especially good for those long passages of backstory, where I can make them active rather than passive.

The Wet Ingredients

Now that I have the dry ingredients measured and sifted, I move on to the wet. I call these the wet ingredients because to me they are more fluid. As much as I want to tell you that I know everything that happens in a book before I put the words on the paper, I think you know me well enough to know that’s a joke. Because even a well-planned book can change, I use these wet ingredients to fine tune the story and characters as needed. If my character started off the book wanting to redeem her reputation but figures out she’d rather be useful even if the world doesn’t know it, I can tweak the story where needed so it’s a logical progression.

One of the toughest things for me to do as a writer is delete words. ACK! These are my babies! I’ve poked my fingers with daggers to bleed each word! But alas, the dreaded backstory purge is a necessary evil. Even though one of my earlier layers involves converting narrative to dialogue, I still find I have long passages of backstory hiding throughout the book. So off it goes until I’m left with little golden nuggets of backstory. If I’ve done my job then my character’s backstory is explained through dialogue and action rather than narrative.

And now that I’ve deleted all sorts of words, I get to add again using the narrative to make sure the actions are supported by the internalization of my characters’ voices. This is the inner dialogue of my character but it can’t be long drawn out paragraphs. These are brief glimpses into the mind meant to drive home a point shown through dialogue and action.

Finally, all those little details I avoided in the rough draft? Here they come. I track body movements (especially important during sex scenes), character descriptions, secondary characters, sensory input, subtext, setting, POV, attitudes, mannerisms, etc. Anything that adds texture to the story.

My last layer, the final edit, is the smoothing out process. Everything should be mixed at this point but to check I will write down the highlights from each scene to include setting , GMC of the character and scene, conflict introduced or resolved and a what’s next summary. This let’s me know if the story tracks on paper as I think it does in my head.

I wish I were the advanced kind of writer that could do all of this simultaneously but I’m not (yet). Maybe I never will be and that’s ok. It’s the destination (completed story) not the journey.

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Spotlight on…Sara Dobie Bauer!

SaraDobieBauer (1)A Writer’s House is pleased to welcome Sara Dobie Bauer, a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is a member of RWA and author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody, among other ridiculously entertaining things.

Welcome Sara! Tell us about your current release, Bite Somebody Else.

Bite Somebody Else is Book 2 in the Bite Somebody series.

Imogene helped her newbie vampire friend Celia hook up with an adorable human, but now Celia has dropped an atomic bomb of surprise: she has a possibly blood-sucking baby on the way. Imogene is not pleased, especially when a mysterious, ancient, and annoyingly gorgeous vampire historian shows up to monitor Celia’s unprecedented pregnancy.

Lord Nicholas Christopher Cuthbert III is everything Imogene hates: posh, mannerly, and totally uninterested in her. Plus, she thinks he’s hiding something. So what if he smells like a fresh garden and looks like a rich boarding school kid just begging to be debauched? Imogene has self-control. Or something.

As Celia’s pregnancy progresses at a freakishly fast pace, Imogene and Nicholas play an ever-escalating game of will they or won’t they, until his sexy maker shows up on Admiral Key, forcing Nicholas to reveal his true intentions toward Celia’s soon-to-arrive infant.

I love how you take the basis for your story and twist it. Was there a particular inspiration for your story?

Longboat Key, Florida. Every year, I make a pilgrimage to the weird, wacky area that is the Gulf Coast. A couple years back, I remember drinking a rum punch and thinking, “This would be a very silly place for vampires to live.” Obviously, I had to write a book about it. I’ve always loved vampires, ever since I discovered Anne Rice when I was a kid. My series is a bit different, though, because these vampires don’t take themselves seriously. They’re not mysterious, and they don’t glitter in the sun. They cuss a lot, swim in the ocean, and get into some ridiculous shenanigans … while falling in love, of course.

But of course! I have to say, you have one of the most interesting author photos I’ve ever seen! Have you always been…ah….different? What would your 12 year-old self think about where you are now?

Since I was a black-haired, Rocky Horror Picture Show-loving, goth kid, my 12-year-old self would probably be disappointed in how I haven’t changed at all. That said, she would be excited to be An Author Person, since I always dreamt of being a writer. She’d also be super excited about the hotness level of my husband.

Woo hoo!! Hot husbands are definitely a plus with being a grown up. I guess there are many perks of being a grown up. Your favorite quote seems to embrace that as well. Tell me about it. 

Robert Downey, Jr. once said, “Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the f*** you were gonna do anyway.” It’s so true for writing and for life. Sometimes, all the advice in the world doesn’t mean anything if it sends you down the wrong path. Take advice, but be conscious of who’s giving said advice. Sometimes, you just gotta go by your gut.

Trusting yourself. That’s good advice for any writer. Are there authors that help you remember that? What books sit on your keeper shelf?

Pretty much anything by Christopher Buehlman, Rainbow Rowell, CS Pacat, or Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’m a sucker for vampire books. (Did I just make a joke?) Seriously, I love vampire books, and I’ve been on a huge M/M romance kick lately. Currently, author KJ Charles is my spirit animal.

Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us today, Sara. Your book is getting some great reviews. Look what others are saying.

“Raunchy and irreverent, BITE SOMEBODY ELSE is a vampire romp oozing with sexual tension and laugh-out-loud surprises.” – Beth Cato, author of the Clockwork Dagger series

“Funny, sexy, and whip-smart, BITE SOMEBODY ELSE is a hilarious ride through the trials of vampire romance and what it means to be your own hero … and still fall for the swoony British guy.” – The Novel Novice

“In BITE SOMEBODY ELSE, Bauer concocts a devilish brew that’s one part What We Do In the Shadows and one part She’s Having a Baby. If you loved the charm and wit of Bite Somebody, its sequel is sure to intoxicate!” – E. Catherine Tobler, author of the Folley & Mallory series

“Chock full of unparalleled wit, the most unexpected and stupidly adorable love connection ever, and Imogene’s signature miniskirts, BITE SOMEBODY ELSE will have you laughing from cover to cover!” – Tiffany Michelle Brown, author of Give It Back

Now let’s get on to the real reason our readers are joining us. Read on for an exciting excerpt from Sara’s newest release. Available now. Links below the excerpt.

BiteSomebodyElse_final (1)

 

Excerpt

Then, behind her, the scuff of a shoe on tile caught her attention. Imogene turned in time to see a shadow disappear down another hall. Jesus, was the place a maze? She raced around the corner and ran smack into Nicholas’s chest.

She took a big breath of shocked air and her eyes vibrated in her head, because with that breath, she took a deep breath of him. For a guy who had no scent a couple days before, he now vibrated with mouth-watering echoes of fresh-picked basil, black pepper, and maybe a touch of peppermint. She latched onto the lapels of his suit and shoved her nose against his neck, which made him tense and try to step away. She held on and took steps with him.

“What is that?”

He shoved at her hands. “Miss… Imogene. I must ask you to desist.”

She opened her mouth and slopped an oval of saliva onto his neck. “Why do you smell like this?” she muttered against his skin.

He wrestled her hands off his suit and held her at arm’s length. “It’s the way I smell after I’ve fed.”

She kept trying to claw for more, but his hands around her wrists were like stone. “But you didn’t smell like anything at Celia’s house.” She stopped talking when she noticed her fangs were out. She was much too old to suffer premature efangulation.

“I hadn’t eaten in a few weeks.”

“A few weeks?”

“Age adds endurance.” He pushed her away with more force than was really necessary, but Imogene was well practiced in heels and didn’t falter. She did, however, casually cover her mouth. “Kindly never get that close to me again,” Nicholas said. He adjusted his suit.

His attitude made her fangs pop back into her head. She pointed her finger. “Don’t blame me. I didn’t know what I was walking into.” She spun around and strutted back into the main foyer. She flipped off the naked painting of Dr. Savage as she passed, the taste of Nicholas’s skin still haunting her mouth.

Thank you so much for being with us today at A Writer’s House, Sara. We’re really excited to have you share your latest release here and wish you all the best.

Be sure and visit Sara through her website or one of these links.

Facebook             Twitter             Instagram

Or see her book on World Weaver Press or  Amazon

 

 

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Initial attraction

In most romance stories, the first meeting sets the tone for the relationship. But many authors rely on looks to bring the hero and heroine together. The sexy way she looks in a dress or bikini. The way his tux fits his shoulders or jeans hug his butt. What are some other ways to pique the interest of another?

  1. At the stuffy cotillion or fundraiser with the upper crust of society, he’s the one wearing a big red rubber nose entertaining a toddler who is bored to tears.
  2. She knows the Klingon words for “bite me.”
  3. They meet at a tattoo parlor that specializes in covering up tattoos gone wrong.
  4. He can say the alphabet backwards.
  5. She can multiply any combination of numbers in her head.
  6. He meets her in the women’s department where she’s buying 7 of the same shirt in different colors.
  7. They meet on a honeymoon cruise as the only two singles mistakenly booked on the wrong ship.

 

What’s a unique way you bring your two characters together?

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Tag! You’re it!

I have been tagged by Gerri Bowen  to play along with this Q&A, so here goes!!

Rules: Thank the blogger who tagged you.
Thank you, Gerri. It’s been great seeing you again!

Answer the ten questions you were given by that blogger. Nominate ten people, give them ten new questions, and let them know they were tagged.

The questions I received were:

1. Is there a particular theme or themes to your books?

I love reunion stories. The only thing better, to me, than new love is a love that is rekindled.

2. Anything about you that people would be surprised to learn?

I set a state record for the 100m backstroke when I was 11.

3. Where in the world do you live? What do you like best about that place? Least?

I currently reside in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The colors of autumn have been my favorite so far and make up for the long periods of gray skies.

4. You can have dinner with anyone from the past or the present. Who is that person? Why that person? Which one of you asks the most questions?

Helen Keller. She has experienced a discovery of the world that most of us could never understand. I hope we’d be equally curious about each other.

5. Do you believe there is something you were born to do? Have you achieved this goal?

Definitely win the Powerball lottery.

6. Social media. Love it or hate it? Any links you’d like to share? Where can people find you?

I love the connection it gives us to every corner of the world. I hate that people would rather interact that way than in person. I’m on Facebook and Twitter (@maggie_preston), of course.

7. Do you have a favorite book you go back to re-read? The name? Or has this changed with time?

I have two books that I’ve read many, many times over the years. A Place to Call Home by Deborah Smith and Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. I’m also a HUGE fan of Darynda Jones and her Charley Davidson series. Reyes…need I say more?

8. Is there a book you want to write but you can’t get it right?

I struggle with my YA story the most. I think it’ll be a love it or hate it kind of book.

9. Any rituals you follow before you begin writing? Or do you just sit and write wherever and whenever you want?

I’m OCD enough that I have to have a ritual. I light some candles, put on a certain track on my “writing sounds” playlist and get comfy at the keyboard.

10. Has your writing subject changed through the years? If so, in what way? Why do you think that is so?

I started writing historicals, then moved to contemporary and romantic suspense, have added in erotica and YA…and I’m back to historicals. Guess I’ve come full circle.

 

Thank you for joining in!

Now my potential nominees have been notified. You may post your answers here in the comments or create your own blog post, as I have done.

If I’ve misspelled a name or messed up your author information site, please let me know! I’ll fix it.

There is no time limit on this Q&A Blog Tag. Please do not feel rushed or even obligated to take part, I know we all have a lot of projects to complete and life stuff to do!

Your questions are:

  1. What’s your favorite quote? Why?
  2.  What’s your strangest writing habit?
  3. What would your 12-year-old self think of you now?
  4. What song best captures your life?
  5. What’s the first book you remember falling in love with? Wanting to read over and over again? Why?
  6. Do you use fictional or real settings for your novel? Why?
  7. If you had to move to a foreign country, which one and why?
  8. On a scale of one to ten, how organized are you? Does it help or hurt with your writing?
  9. What’s your most memorable date?
  10. Coffee or tea? Coke or Pepsi? Vanilla or Chocolate?

 

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Spotlight on…Amanda Uhl

I’m excited to welcome Amanda Uhl, fellow author and member of Northeast Ohio RWA, mug shotto the spotlight today. Amanda has always had a fascination with the mystical. Having drawn her first breath in a century home rumored to be haunted, you might say she was “born” into it. After a brief stint in college as a paid psychic, Amanda graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre and a master’s degree in marketing. Over the past twenty years, she has worked as an admissions representative and graphic designer, owned her own freelance writing company, and managed communications for several Fortune 500 companies, most recently specializing in cyber security. Amanda is an avid reader and writes fast-paced, paranormal romantic suspense and humorous contemporary romance from her home in Cleveland, Ohio. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find Amanda with her husband and three children, gathering beach glass on the Lake Erie shoreline or biking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Today she’s celebrating the upcoming release of her romantic comedy, Charmed By Charlie, from Boroughs Publishing Group.

Welcome Amanda! You have quite an amazing birth story for your newest project. Tell us more!

Charmed By Charlie was born out of frustration. I had been shopping my first novel, Mind Waves, to editors and agents, and receiving rejection after rejection. My 13-year-old daughter and I were watching Gilmore Girls reruns, but I was having trouble concentrating as I stewed over what I could do to stand out in the pack. Then it hit me: Why not write a book in the style of Gilmore Girls – you know that witty bantering back and forth between characters? I started writing and before I knew it, I had ten chapters written. Then I was offered a contract for Mind Waves from The Wild Rose Press. Shortly after, another great publisher, Boroughs Publishing Group, came calling. They wanted Mind Waves, and I had to tell them it was already under contract. “What else do you have?” they asked. I showed them the first couple of chapters of Charmed By Charlie, and they offered a contract on the spot. This is why I tell new writers to never give up. A rejection one day could result in a contract on another.

You are so right about the rejection angle. It’s a tough pill to swallow but as you prove, today’s rejection is tomorrow’s contract. What else inspired you to write Charmed By Charlie?

In addition to Gilmore Girls, Charmed By Charlie was inspired by a roof coating and caulking company I used to work for years ago. It was one of those places where everyone knew everyone else and was involved in everyone else’s business, too. I imagined the characters first and analyzed their goals, motivations and conflict. Then I just put them together in various scenes and the rest of the story wrote itself.

A little art imitating life. I like it! Did anything in particular present a challenge for you with writing this book? It’s very different than your first.

In general, this books was so much easier to write than my first book, Mind Waves. However, when I turned in the manuscript, my editor pointed out that she didn’t like the hero, Charlie, as much in the second half of the book because he seemed so secretive. One touch that I added in in the final editing stage was to have Val keep a Rubik’s Cube on her desk. I thought this illustrated her affinity for math and wanting everything to add up. It also foreshadowed the hero’s future impact on her – in the first chapter he picks up the cube and messes with it, just like he messes with her equilibrium throughout the story.

I remember the Rubik’s cubes so well. I think I was about 12 when they first hit the market. I still can’t solve that puzzle! What would your 12-year-old self think about where you are today?

She would not believe it. My younger self wanted nothing to do with writing. She was going to be an actress. I went to Kent State on a scholarship to study acting and directing. I never made it to Hollywood, but I did star in many productions while there. But the time I graduated, I made an important discovery: while I enjoyed the creativity of telling a story, I didn’t want to be the one acting out the story. It was about that time I seriously began considering my marketable skills. I had always been a good writer in school. Why not look for a job that involves writing? I landed a position as a communications writer for a Fortune 500 company and have been doing that kind of work ever since.

You were definitely lucky to be able to transition your interests into a skill set that gave you a career. College, I hear, gave you another great story. Care to share?

Meeting my husband. We met in college in a theatre class. It was auditorium seating and I had to ask him to move his umbrella so I could slip by. He said he memorized my name from the attendance list but was too shy to ask me out then. We met again two years later on campus, and he finally dug up the courage to ask for my phone number. Sometimes even now, we talk about our first meeting. We call them “Fundy 1 Flashbacks” (the class was called Fundamentals of Theatre). This is usually followed by pondering: “If someone would have told you that’s the girl you would marry, would you have believed them?” I wrote about this incident on my blog — http://amandauhl.com/2015/11/how-a-whispered-prayer-wrought-an-umbrella-and-my-future-husband/
And now you show us life imitating art! I love first meetings that are memorable, but also ones that lead to the happily ever after we romance writers and readers adore. Now speaking of stories we adore, can you share with us more about Charmed By Charlie? What’s the story about?

Creative gcoverenius Charlie Solanger has it all: good looks, money, intelligence, charm. And when he swoops in to save Reynolds Paint Company with a brilliant marketing campaign, he has all the ladies in the office vying for his attention. Everyone except math whiz Valerie Wilson.

Val’s not happy Charlie stole her promotion. Worse, his brand of flirtatious charm is reminiscent of her cheating ex-fiancé. So, how come she can’t get him out of her head? The more she challenges him, the more interested—and interesting—he becomes. What secrets is Charlie hiding, and who or what is behind the sudden mysterious drain on their company’s funds? The only way to find out is to join forces. Then it will be a battle of wills…and a triumph of hearts.

Excellent! When can we read more about Charlies and Val?

Charmed By Charlie can be purchased as an ebook and in paperback at any of these retailers on April 18, 2017.

Thanks for being at A Writer’s House today, Amanda!

Amanda will be out and about in the Cleveland area. Come and learn about her writing journey and what inspired Charmed By Charlie. Get your book signed, too!

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The Power of the Unempowered?

I’m a people watcher. I get this from my MawMaw. She used to take the bus from Mississippi to visit us in Louisiana and always had such tales of the people she would see on the ride. If we’d go shopping, she’d like to sit somewhere central and observe those around her. I do the same thing, using the people I see in my books.

As a writer, I’m cognizant of how fiction imitates real life at times. When I first started reading romance, heroines were virginal twenty-somethings falling for the experienced and often uber-wealthy thirty-somethings. To some degree, this reflected our society. Women were expected to be chaste and always young, waiting for their groom and a Calgon moment. Men could be whatever they wanted.

Fast forward past the ERA, Billie Jean King and Mary Tyler Moore. Burning bras and the push for women to go to college only to get an MRS degree. The women of romance became empowered. No longer content to wait for their man to bring home the bacon, women brought it home, fried it up and fought their way to be CEO of Yahoo and IBM or Prime Minister of England or Germany.

Now it’s a double edged sword. Women have the same choices men have enjoyed for… well, forever. Career. Family. Both. Neither. So I find it almost comical that the most popular show on HBO right now is about women who spend more time cat-fighting like the Kardashians than they do focused on career, family or anything else.

I know. I know. It’s HBO. TV is not (necessarily) reality. But does the interest of the viewers reflect either what society is, or what society thinks reflects what women are?

And if either of those is true, I’m not sure how I feel about that or what it means for romance.

There are nuances to the show that give it depth. Celeste’s troubled marriage. Jane’s troubled past. Madeline…oy…Madeline. The sword of Damocles with the dead body interspersed throughout the cat-fighting. There are serious topics introduced. Teens and sex, bullying and blended families. But rather than see the women working together, we seem them putting each other down in almost every conceivable way.

It’s just handled in such a soap opera manner. I fully expect Marlena to levitate while channeling Satan. So I have to ask myself: is that what society wants? Or is that how they see romance and marriage? Or worse, how they see women? Maybe like romance, this is just a slice of life.

Romance handles the nitty gritty of relationships in too-sanitized a way. We rarely see our hero farting in front of his love interest or get the mid-period granny-panties day of our heroine. That’s real life too. But would our readers want to experience that in print as much as the too-good-to-be-true sex?

Fiction is about the highlights, not the lowlights. Romance is also about the beginning of a relationship and they don’t call it the honeymoon period for nothing. These relationships in this show are more middle-aged. To me, that means comfort as much as challenge. Or maybe it’s because TV focuses more on the lowlights. Like the evening news. We’re looking for the different side of life, even if it’s not pleasant, as a form of entertainment.

The series ended this weekend and I’ll admit, it ended mostly how I expected though it did throw one surprise into the mix for me. I liked that. I don’t want to be able to follow a formula to an ending. That’s what I’m taking away from the whole thing. Surprise your readers and they’ll not only keep turning the pages, they’ll come back for more.

 

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