Happy Valentine's Day! Hope everyone has a romantic dinner out with a loved one. Or, if dining alone, orders dessert for two.
When Barrett carries Annie over the threshold in To Win a Wallflower, they're not married, or betrothed or even having a romantic encounter. But they are about to share a brief conversation that is a bonding moment.
True friendship is a bond between two people that goes deeper than a casual encounter that you can walk away from without thinking about.
True friendship remains inside you, and years later you can return to it and the friendship picks resumes where you left off.
I'm wondered if the bond is generated by shared life experience and trust. Since trust should never be given lightly, perhaps it is no surprise that it can be hard to build deep friendships.
I heard that in a lifetime, you may only have a handful of true friends. Instead of feeling sadness that we only have a few soulmates that we will connect with, it's pretty amazing that we can make connections that remain in our hearts long after the footsteps of the other person have faded away.
One of the fun parts of writing is the research. But the research isn't just about the specifics of birds and flowers, but about the specifics of humans. Charles Dickens supposedly kept a mirror in his office so he could make faces and improve his descriptions.
At a stoplight, I remember seeing a watch slide down the wrist of a man on a motorcycle and I was fascinated by the movement.
So how did that translate into my novel?
Falling in love with a shadow, a whisper of husky voice or laughter softer than silk, was impossible.
But when he saw the flash of a wrist move in the hallway beyond the door, saw the bracelet slide and heard the innocence, he didn't care that he hadn't believed in love until that moment. —To Win a Wallflower
I discovered a book by Zane Grey when I was in high school. Oh, I couldn't read enough of her. Her? That's what I thought. Then I discovered Zane was a man's name. A male. I had been certain those westerns I'd been reading had been written by a woman.
A few other surprises were in store. I thought they were written by a contemporary author. Like Louis L'Amour. But then I discovered Zane had died in 1939. And he was a dentist. He even looked a little like Harrison Ford to me, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
I could get over the fact that he'd died long before I was born. I could get over the fact that he was a dentist, and probably didn't wear a cowboy hat to work.
But a man?
I wanted those westerns to have been written by a woman. A woman who liked the old west and enjoyed writing.
But then I read his biography and discovered that his wife had a great deal to do with his stories. In fact, once when she was out of the country, he'd sent in a manuscript, and they'd sent it back, dissatisfied.
I was vindicated.
And the icing on the cake for me was that his first name was Pearl.
When writing the To Win A Wallflower scene in which Annie has to step over the threshold, I felt I knew where the tradition of a groom carrying a bride through the doorway of the house originated..
Imagine you’re an innocent new bride, sheltered, and you hardly know your husband. The doorway would loom in front of you like a cavernous opening leading you to a world of marriage you’d never before experienced.
That first step would be a hard one.
How much easier for the groom to sweep you into his arms, hold you close to his heart, and take that first step with you.
I didn’t research to see if I was correct, because if I’m not, I don’t want to know.
At a historical site, I once saw a man's boots in a glass case. That stuck in my memory, and I realized part of the reason I like historical romance novels is that sneakers were not yet on the scene.
The photo of the left is of a women with modern riding footwear. They meet with my approval, of course, even though I'm not sure they're actually boots.
The buckled shoes of yesterday don't interest me as much as the boots, and I tend to feel sorry for the heroes of the past who had to buckle their shoes.
But I never feel sorry for a hero or heroine who has a nice pair of boots to slip on.
My most commonly broken resolution has been to exercise. I would say it's just a resolution I recycle more than I adhere to.
The second resolution that I have broken most recently is to list three things each day to be happy for. But, I do try to keep the spirit of that one.
The resolution, or goal, or personal commitment, which seems easiest for me to keep is the one in which I decide to write a novel.
For many years before I was a published author, I always planned to start a new project in January and have it finished by July when the annual Romance Writer's of America Conference rolled around.
I'd begin writing in January. In February I'd send in my conference fee. Sometime around March it would be time to sign up for an appointment with an editor or agent. Then in April, I'd need to make airline reservations. In May I'd start feeling the need to write faster, and in June I'd keep reminding myself what it would feel like to sit down in front of an editor without having a project to discuss.
I need a plan like that for an exercise program....
Reading can be difficult for a child, but not being able to read can even be more problematic for an adult. Imagine a woman, widowed, who couldn't read. My grandmother faced it with apparent ease.
Family lore has it that as a child, my grandmother had had a health problem that had seriously affected her. Her parents took in an orphan to help with basic chores, and one of the chores was to assist grandmother.
My great grandmother was a schoolteacher, and she wouldn't have thought that reading was beyond her daughter's capabilities unless something had happened.
I remember writing a poem, and reading it to Grandmother and she insisted I read it to my mother. It was rather a depressing, fatalistic poem.
Now I know why Grandmother seemed so excited about the poem. Her granddaughter could read and write.
When Annie leaves home in search of her sister, Barrett goes after her to bring her safely home to her parents. After he finds her, he suggests that they pretend to be married so they can stay in an inn. But, because he values her sensibilities, he plans to fake an argument so they can request separate rooms. A gentleman to the core. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.
Mrs. Claus liked the bedroom scene and it didn't make her blush, although it wasn't apparent because she naturally has beautiful rosy cheeks.
Mrs. Claus also appreciated the underlying theme about women's self-defense. She's all about strong women in fiction. Now, she's wanting to take some martial arts classes and I agreed until I realized how jumpy she can be. I'm imagining some pain and not looking forward to it.
Also, I didn't appreciate the unkind joke Barrett's brother plays on him in the beginning of the story. My brother would have been pushed against the wall as well.
I'll give this a 5 of 5 stockings review.
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