Yes! That “a-ha” moment arrives

This past February, I wrote a blog post about romance novels and questioned whether the books I write really are romances.
Because for a book to be a romance novel, “…the core story is the developing relationship between a man and a woman. The other events in the story line, though important, are secondary to that relationship…”*
I think my books, A Year with Geno and A Beautiful Day in Alaska do meet that requirement: the romance between the two characters is the focus of the story, though both of my heroines have other priorities.
But what about my debut novel: Celebration House? The main character has much greater priorities than falling in love. There are things she’s dying to get done…
If you glanced at the Goodreads page for Celebration House, you would see reviewers agree: “There is a nice romance element in the book,” and “It mostly concerns the renovation of a house, with a hint of romance.”
And then, it happened. Yesterday, the Romance Writers of America announced a new category of books (that’s me doing a drum roll): “Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance.” That’s it! That’s me! More importantly, that’s all three books in my Celebration House Trilogy. No, my female protagonists are not solely focused on finding and maintaining romance. They have other things to do. But, yes, the men who find a place in their lives are important. They are essential to the story.
I’ve thought up an analogy: The romance in my books is like the mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon and onion, and peach cobbler that are served alongside the roasted chicken. No. It’s not the entree, but damn, who wants to eat roasted chicken without those side dishes? Not me!
And maybe I’m still on a sugar high from all the birthday cheesecake I ate yesterday – thank you for the many birthday wishes, by the way – but I am so excited about this. Truly! This news has lit a fire under my fanny to buckle down and finish the first drafts of my Celebration House Trilogy. I’m not yet ready to announce publication dates for the three books, but I’m feeling like 2016 will be an amazing year.
Let’s get ’em done! Because now, I have a place I belong. I have a strike zone to aim for. I have “a category.”
Hands and arms inside the cart: Re-releasing Bone Trombone Girl.

*Quote from Leigh Michael’s book, On Writing Romance

How would you describe that? I don’t know

In less than a week, I hope to send Bone Girl to my editor, Maudeen Wachsmith. Now comes the hard part. It’s time to fix the widgets. Or more aptly, to describe them.

I’ve got about six scenes I need to fill out in the manuscript and because I’m awful at writing description, I’ve procrastinated this task.

I blame my journalism background. When you work for newspapers, you learn to keep descriptions brief. Only the facts, ma’am. So, when my journalism professor critiqued my manuscript and wrote, “Describe Missouri during winter here,” he touched upon my biggest weakness: writing description.

The problem is, I can see it. I know exactly what Missouri looks like in the winter. Patches of dirty snow cover dead grass. The trees are bare, their branches encased in ice. Sleeping crop fields lay covered in snow, like great vats of chocolate chip ice cream. See. I’ve been there.

Or when he asks what Josey’s house looks like, I want to tell him: like my Grandmother Obermeier’s house outside of Lucas, Iowa. You know, you’ve been there lots of time.

But he hasn’t. I’m willing to bet that for all the millions (Hey, I can dream!) of people who read my book, maybe three will have been in that house: Aunt Mary Rose, Uncle Jack and my brother, Kevin.

Meanwhile, I see my author friends post on Facebook, “I wrote 5,000 words today! Woo-hoo.” And here I sit, searching for the words to describe a beginning band Christmas concert.

This reminds me of the annual inventory of my father’s lumberyard when I was a kid. Talk about the devil being in the details. Everything, I mean everything, had to be tallied once a year.

Like writing this novel, it started great. I was paid the grand sum of $1 an hour, and we had doughnuts on the first day. But it quickly tumbled downhill from there. Because you would be amazed at how much stuff is in a lumberyard. Screws, tools, nuts and bolts, light fixtures, paint, paintbrushes, wooden dowel rods, nails…you get the idea. Lots and lots of stuff. All of it to be counted. By day 2, I looked for a place to hide. $1 an hour just wasn’t worth it. Alas, I was found and encouraged to return to task.

My father’s business is no more. The last time I visited my hometown, Drake Lumberyard was a payday loan office. But this need to focus, to stay on task, remains. And this time, there are no doughnuts or lucrative wages. Just a fierce determination to make this book the best it can be and send it out into the world.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: I go undercover at Mirror Lake Middle School.