MFRW 52 Week Blog Challenge 2018

Me but not me #mfrwauthor

I’m having a great time writing Marina and Dylan’s story in Never a Bridesmaid but I’m taking a quick break to participate in the MFRW blog challenge.

 

Today’s prompt is how much of myself is in my writing.

I’ve been told that I write like I talk. I think I have a fairly strong contemporary voice and that my voice is basically true to my personality. Once I tried to participate in a historical romance round robin writing contest. Though I love to read historicals, my voice sounded way too modern for the characters.

But as for characters? It depends. I think different characters are like me. I think Erin from Forever a Bridesmaid is a more extreme version of me. I’m very introverted and quiet so I often struggle with writing more extroverted characters, like Dylan from Never a Bridesmaid. I’m less like other characters–like Lauren from Once a Bridesmaid–than others. But, interestingly, I didn’t have a hard time writing Lauren. When I’m actually writing the character, I’m not thinking how I’d react in any given situation but how they would react, say, act, etc.

Of the Lockharts, Patrick is the most like me, by far. I often defaulted to his POV and had to consciously choose to write in Zooey or Joe’s point of view sometimes. He was also the first character I developed for the Cupid’s Coffeeshop series.

I don’t think anyone in The Lost Art of Second Chances is particularly like me. People often assume I must be a good cook because Lucy loves it so much. Nothing could be further from the truth! I am a barely competent cook. As for gardening, I’m a total disaster with plants. My house is where plants go to die (which I recognize makes me sound like I’m running some sort of mad plant hospice. I actually gave up hope of raising plants long ago and, should anyone ever send me one, my mother takes immediate custody and scolds me because I’ve over/underwatered it/burnt it to a crisp by placing it in direct sunlight or kept it out of the sun and that’s why it’s a pale green Victorian heroine now. I am a disaster with plants, ya’all.). Belladonna isn’t particularly like me either. None of them are. When I set out to write that book, I wanted to write a second chance love story/childhood friends to lovers which is what Jack and Lucy are. Belladonna just showed up whole cloth and took over.

As I’m a lawyer in my day job, I have quite a few lawyer heroes and heroines. Jack from The Lost Art of Second Chances. Ruby from Cherry Blossom Cappuccino. Charlie from Coconut Iced Coffee. I’ve given other heroes and heroines hobbies of mine-like photographer Kyle from Once a Bridesmaid or jobs I’ve previously had like card shop worker for Val in Cupid’s Kiss.

But then others have had jobs that I couldn’t do if I tried, like cancer researcher Ben in Java Frost, accountants Grayson March and Claire O’Shaughnessy in Lucky Latte, football coach Natalie from Pumpkin Spice. Really, their job is usually directly related to the plot of the story. For example, Ruby is the lawyer handling the Lockhart’s grandmother’s estate. She just happened to get her own story too.

There’s some strange alchemy about ideas and muses that combine to give me the inspiration for any given story, including the characters. But, once I start writing, the story is up to them and so, while they may have started with me, the result is more or less independent of me. It’s similar to the way people peer at a new baby, trying to identify Aunt Mabel’s nose or Cousin Jeff’s chin. There are traces of me in each story, each character, similarities based on heritage, but also something entirely new.

MFRW 52 Week Blog Challenge 2018

What do Bridesmaids, Salem Cigarettes, and Tomato Plants have in common? –#MFRWAuthor

I’ve never been a particularly consistent blogger but 2018 is the year I’d like to change that. To that end, I’ll be participating in the Marketing For Romance Writers (MFRW) challenge. Look for new posts every Friday!

Because I’m joining late, this will be a double post just for this week (answering prompts 1 and 2). After this, it’ll be a single prompt each time.

So, prompt one: Favorite Thing I’ve Written (and why).

Wow. Way to start with the impossible question out of the gate. I’ve loved all my books (and hated all of them too) for different reasons. I think my answer is Forever a Bridesmaid because it was the first book I finished so I’m proudest of it for that reason.

There are a few other lines or scenes that I was really delighted with but I think Forever will always be especially beloved for me because it was the thing I didn’t think I could do, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt.

Prompt Two: My earliest memory

For years I thought this one was my earliest memory. I remember rounding the corner of our brick fireplace into the living room, trailing my fingers along the rough brick. My mother sat in our burnt orange armchair (you remember that popular color from the 70s–like squash caramelized over a nuclear reactor, right?) by the picture window in the living room.  The late afternoon sunlight streamed in, highlighting the ghostly smoke surrounding her dark hair. She was reading a novel and I walked over to her chair. On the arm, an emerald green pack of cigarettes sat next to a cut-crystal ashtray. I read out the letters to her S-A-L-E-M and she said “Salem.” I remember being so pleased that I could read the letters. My mom quit smoking before I was 3 so it had to have been no later than summer 1974.

As I said, this always seemed to be my earliest memory but, several years ago, I picked up a tomato plant at the local supermarket and caught the spicy scent. I suddenly remembered my dad, dressed in plaid Bermuda shorts and a white t-shirt, calling my name and waving at the end of a row of tall tomato plants, their ripe fruit heavy on the vines. When he called me, I tried to crawl to him. According to my dad’s gardening records, that was probably summer 1972 so I would have been not quite one year old. So I guess that’s my actual earliest memory now.

Come back next week for prompt #3. In the meantime, what’s your earliest memory? How old were you?

Don’t forget to check out my fellow #mfrwauthors answers to this week’s prompt!