Anna Murray: Romance Writing isn't Rocket Science!
You know you’re married to a scientist when you complain about books falling off shelves and he dives into his workshop, surfacing with a pair of Bessey tradesman bar clamps (great as emergency bookends — you heard it here first!).
When it comes to writing I wish I had patents or trade secrets. Some days I peer into my toolbox and come up gripping a sledge hammer. We all know you can’t brute-force a novel. It demands color and texture and nuance. True inspiration comes softly, and at odd times — during the twilight just before sleep, or in the morning, upon waking. Elegant plot solutions often hit me in the shower, and sometimes — if I’m lucky — I get a rinse-and-repeat.
The story arc for my first novel hit while riding my stationary bike (on my way to losing 60 pounds — thanks Weight Watchers!) and balancing a Wyoming historical society journal on the handlebars. As I read a description of an old west boom-and-bust town I suddenly found myself imagining the characters in that way-back-when place, and the premise for the book popped into my head. Each day I rode and worked out several more chapters. I scrawled my ideas onto paper, continued my research, and soon I had a book outline. I never planned to write a romance novel (even though I’d read hundreds of them and loved the genre). The story simply unfolded as I pedaled. Completing the first book gave me the momentum (and the backstory and characters) to continue on to write the sequel. After 2,000 miles (and husband replacing the pedals on the bike with blocks of wood covered with sandpaper), I’m working on the third book in the series.Here’s a sample from my “ride-and-write program” romance, Unbroken Hearts (available on Kindle):
Roy eased the wagon slowly down the hill; he’d catch hell from Cal if he made “a damn thundering entrance” into town. Through the dust of Main Street
the men caught sight of a young woman on a white pony. Ned Kingman, Lola’s hired man, was standing with his head bowed alongside her. A small group of men was crushing in on the pair. “Must be a new gal at Lola’s,” Roy drawled. “She’s on the white — means she’s had, ah, no more than five men.” He rolled his eyes and chuckled. Cal didn’t reply. He tipped his hat back, and leaned forward in the seat. Lola always introduced the new gals by strolling them down the street on a pony, always led by war veteran Ned. “Saints be praised,” muttered Roy, “we didn’t smell this one two miles out. “Hell Roy, they got to advertise somehow—” Cal didn’t finish his thought.
The physical world had suddenly faded. They’d drawn near, and now his dark eyes were filled with a pretty young woman in pink, a study in grace on a pony, seemingly oblivious to the bustle around her. He noted that sadness touched at the corners of her mouth, in that place where her lips curved into the soft skin of her cheeks. Cal wagged his head back and forth trying to clear the hot ringing in his ears. The surprise attack of schoolboy shyness and tunnel vision defied logic. The cruel mid-afternoon heat had pasted loose hairs to her forehead and cheeks, but the bulk of her silky chestnut tresses hung in thick plaits that lingered about slim shoulders. Full breasts and a narrow waist held a promise of heaven on earth. His heart beating wildly in his ears, Cal stared. When she coyly looked up and acknowledged his presence, it felt like springtime rumbling over a long, lonely winter. Why was such beauty destined for Lola’s? “Maybe she can cook, too,” muttered Roy. He smirked and watched Cal‘s usual hard expression softening like butter left on a sunny windowsill. Tilting his hat back he tried to remember the last time his brother had responded to a woman. Just then Ned saw them and raised his hand in greeting. “Howdy boys!” He stepped through the ring of men and guided the woman on the pony closer to their wagon. Cal‘s eyes briefly met with Sarah’s. His chest tightened, and he thought he saw her cheeks color prettily as her gaze tumbled down to the saddle horn. Ned knew the Easton brothers wouldn’t join in the bidding.
Cal Easton never spent time at Lola’s, and Ned knew it wasn’t for lack of money. A man like Cal didn’t like to take advantage of a woman’s misfortune; he was a right gentleman, the sort who liked the pleasure of a woman’s favor – but not if he’d bought it. As for Roy, he could shamelessly rustle women anywhere; with his boyish good looks and smooth tongue he simply charmed petticoats off them.
******************************************Anna Murray’s Easton Hearts Series books are available on Amazon (for Kindle, iPhone, and iPod Touch) at:Unbroken HeartsUntamed Hearts