Sunday, 09 May 2021

G Guest Editorials

When Goof-ups Become the Best Lesson in the Book

There’s some saying about “the best laid plans.” Yeah. I know about those.

The book had everything going for it—part of a multi-author series, contemporary romance, romantic, beachy setting, and one of the best romance tropes out there: “on the rocks.” It should be about perfect.

I wanted to tweak that trope, though—“on the rocks.” Who wants to read the same “we fell out of love” or “we drifted apart” nonsense? What if a couple with a solid marriage—say twenty-five years of one—were “on the rocks” and didn’t know it?

Enter Ross and Tessa Booker. Living atop a rocky cliff at the tip of Elnora Island, my latest romantic couple became the perfect example of an “on the rocks” couple—both literally and literarily. There was just one problem. Tessa Booker is allergic to romance.

No one is having an affair, they don’t fight, and neither one of them has a clue that anything is wrong, but oh, yeah. Something is definitely wrong, hence the title of the book, Bookers on the Rocks.

Full confession: I love plays on words for book titles. So, considering my main island businesswoman is a bookseller, and I discovered there’schautona a bourbon brand out there called “Booker’s,” I chose their surname for what should now be obvious reasons. Their rocks are more dangerous than “ice,” but things get a bit chilly after Tessa goes on a quest to fix the dearth of non-romantic fiction in the world.

What’s that goof-up I mentioned? Glad you asked. This is supposed to be “contemporary Christian romance.” Well, romance has a formula, and um… my novel didn’t follow it. Basically, despite one woman’s quest to kill the romance in the world and her husband’s quest to discover why she needs it, this book ended up being romantic women’s fiction.

Am I surprised? If I’m honest with myself… no. I’m not. I mean, come on. They’re already married!

But what did surprise me was the lesson I learned as I wrote it. Another character, the main businesswoman in my books of the series, watches what’s going on with the Bookers, and she learns something about herself in the process. This wasn’t my plan, but Mallory Barrows does that to me—often. She has something she needs to learn, so she pokes and prods me until I get what it is out there.

That lesson? Sometimes it’s important to examine your heart in light of other peoples’ reactions to the stressors in their lives. It could just save you a lot of heartache. At the end of the book, she’s talking with a guy about what they’d observed, and she tells him that women don’t just tell a guy what they think or need for many reasons. She might be embarrassed or doesn’t want to hurt a guy’s ego. She says,

“Think of it as a gift,” she said after a few yards. “No one wants a gift they have to ask for. It loses its meaning and…” Something she’d seen in Tessa prompted her to add, “The worst of it is that if it’s been a while or never since we’ve had that kind of attention…” Admitting it took more effort than it should have. “Well, we might be uncomfortable with it—even as we’re almost begging for more.”

I hope Bookers on the Rocks blesses you as much as it encouraged me as I wrote it.

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