Archive for January 22nd, 2009

New Look!

What do you think of the new banner? I love it…this was the image I used when I made the bookmarks advertising the Book Club I started a few months ago and I decided I wanted to use it here too. My good friend, Valerie, helped me by making the banner for me. Isn’t it pretty? And she doesn’t charge an arm and a leg! She works for books or giftcards…can’t beat that! ROFL

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She never ever thought Jake Barnes would know the truth. When he left town without any warning, Savannah couldn’t tell him she was pregnant. He didn’t give her the chance. So now—years later—because he’s back and finds out he has a child, suddenly she’s the villain.… How is that fair?

Savannah Salinger raised her daughter and knows what’s best for her own kid. But she can’t seem to push Jake away, and having the infuriating man so close…so close to her…stirs up all those feelings she thought were buried as deep as the secret she swore she’d never tell.

Raise your hand if you dislike romances with children in them.

Yep, my hand’s up there because, generally speaking, I don’t look for romances with kids on the cover or in the blurb. (That said, I’ve enjoyed several I’ve picked up in spite of the kid factor.)

Oops, you noticed. My current release from Superromance, The Secret She Kept, has kids in the blurb. In fact, if you check out all four of the books I’ve written, you’ll see I’m batting .500. Two of them have kids as a fairly prominent element of the story. The Boy Next Door even has a kid on the cover. *groan*

So if I don’t love romances with kids, what the heck am I doing writing them?

What I do enjoy is romances with conflict and high emotional stakes. (It just so happens my editor is a stickler for both of these but that’s a different blog post.)

What do kids have to do with conflict, high emotional stakes and romance?

Imagine a character who has kids. Hero or heroine, doesn’t matter which. Chances are, his or her kids are going to be a big touchy “button,” an Achilles heel.

Savannah Salinger from The Secret She Kept, for instance, is a single mom of two. Her eleven-year-old daughter is still reeling from her divorce and takes out her anger on Savannah. Savannah wants nothing more than to help her daughter hurt less, to adjust to their new life and try to find happiness.

If you’re a mom, you know that when your kid hurts, you hurt. You ache physically. You want more than anything to make it all okay. Savannah’s like that. And she’s also scared of alienating her daughter just as she hits adolescence.

So what could possibly hurt Savannah more than any other thing in her life? Easy. Something – or someone – who threatens to pull her child even further from her. Obviously Savannah’s going to fight that with all her might.

But what if she falls in love with the man who endangers her relationship with her daughter? Better yet, what if she’s loved this man for years?

That’s the kind of conflict and high emotional stakes that a child can bring to a romance.

But I still need to clarify…because just adding conflict and raising the stakes doesn’t mean that a kid in a romance will make it a good story.

To me, a kid in a romance must be several things:

1. Not annoyingly cute. You know what I’m talking about…some authors make the kid say the most nauseatingly precious things at opportune moments. *gag*

2. Not wise beyond their years. I cringe when I’m reading about a 7-year-old child who gives dating advice to his mom. Might be convenient for a plot, but please…let’s be real.

3. Not spoiled rotten. My blood pressure creeps up when I read a kid who gets whatever he or she wants or has parent manipulation down to an art form. I don’t respect this in real life and I have no desire to read about it for pleasure.

In short, all I ask of a kid, if you’re going to throw one in your romance novel, is that he or she is realistic. I don’t want them to be too perfect, too cute, too wise, too manipulative. I do want them to have real problems, real reactions, real fears, real likes and dislikes.

I strive to make my kid characters real and un-annoying. If I add them to a story, you can bet there’s a reason besides, oh, just sprinkling in some kids for the heck of it. I try to keep them off the page as much as possible yet I also want it to be believable.

What I’m trying to say with this drawn-out discussion of kids in books is that yes, some of my books have them. I write for one of Harlequin’s Home and Hearth (aka family) lines, so you’re going to run into kids from time to time. And I hope, even if you were one who raised your hand at the beginning of this blog, that you’ll consider giving my latest book a try in spite of the K word.

To celebrate the release of The Secret She Kept, I’m giving away a copy of the book to one reader here. To be entered, just leave me a comment. Let me know your opinion of kids in romances (yep, even if you hate them. I’m game.) Or tell me what plot devices you don’t like reading. Or are you one of those readers who LOVES kids in romances? (They’re definitely out there…if they weren’t, you wouldn’t see kids on the covers of so many Harlequins. I know some people buy books BECAUSE they have kids in them.) Fatin can draw a winner and I’ll send a book out to you.

And to Fatin, thank you so much for having me as a guest here! 🙂

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