Last Monday – January 18th was, apparently, Officially ‘Blue Monday’. That was the day
Christmas over, New Year parties done, resolutions kicking in (no wine, no chocolate, no . . . whatever) Bad weather, rain/sleet/snow/more rain – dark evenings, dull days . . .
It’s a recipe for disaster if your resolutions have been of the penitence and restriction – oh and hard work – variety. New year, new me, that sort of thing. It’s about now that those resolutions start to collapse around you, with all the attendant guilt and regretful feelings.
So it was on Monday that I really started to be glad that I hadn’t made any of those sorts of resolutions – but decided on a ‘more of’ approach to New Year, rather than ‘less of’ or even ‘no . . .’
OK, no I don’t mean more alcohol, more chocolate . . . but more of the things that make me feel good and that enhance my life. I wrote a post about it for Tote Bags and that included my 10 ‘Happiness Steps’ for the year. They were positives – things I wanted to include more of through the coming year. (If you want to see them, you’ll find them here)
I don’t want to come across as a real Pollyanna - finding the good in everything and being unbearably bouncy and cheery about it. That’s not me – but I do think that there’s been a lot of focus on the bad, the gloomy and the downright terrible for some time now. Some of it can’t be helped. We can’t do very much about the horrors of wars, the problems faced by refugees, the disasters like floods and avalanches. But we can focus on the things that ‘fill up the well’ inside us. The well of life, of enjoyment, of imagination, of sharing. Of Hope. Because isn’t that what romances are all about. We write stories where in spite of all the crises and conflicts, the shocks and the disbelief, the danger and the darkness, there is still, at the end of the book, that wonderful Happy Ever After that our readers look for. The one they come to our books to find.
I don’t know if it’s just me but lately I’ve found that some books – some romances and other types of novels too – that I’ve read have been top heavy where the angst and the difficulties are concerned. They’ve started to read more like those ‘Misery Memoirs’ that were so popular (And I could never see why!) some years back. I’ve read about heroes and heroines who have been through such hell, been so badly scarred that I really couldn’t believe their love story would resolve all their problems, provide an antidote to the wounds they’d endured and leave them setting out into a hopeful future. I want to read books that have realistic problems that my characters might have to face. And yes, I like to give them tough problems – but both as a writer and a reader, I want those to be emotional problems - ones that come from the characters they are the personalities they have – those are quite strong enough ‘conflicts’ to come between them without an overload of the miseries. It seems to me that so many would be writers equate drama on the page with emotion in the characters.
Ith title for Harlequin Presents and when somebody asked me that question – you know the one – how do you come up with new ideas/new plots – the answer is always that I come up with new characters. And they have the problems that their personalities create – but they also have the answers that their personalities create and the ways of finding their Happy Ever Afters that I know our readers come to the books for.Advanced Writing Romance Course I’m teaching in Fishguard in February – and for another workshop I’ve been asked to do on Emotional Punch later in the year. I’m sure it will come up on the other weekend courses I’ll be running for Relax and Write and Writers’ Holidays as we go through 2016. It’s also something that I think is important in my own writing. I’ve just completed my 65
So, even when my hero and heroine are going through their own Blue Monday’, I know that inside them are the seeds of their revival, the sensitivity and the courage they need to find the true joy of a real love.
Because that’s what our readers are looking for. That’s part of the promise we make to them when we write what the late great Charlotte Lamb called These complicated little books.
They’re complicated because they deal with so many emotions and feelings. All the problems, difficulties, glitches that the human heart and mind are capable of creating. They’re detailed and fascinating enough, aren’t they? After all novelists and poets have been writing about them for centuries now and it seems to me that there are still plenty of complexities to be explored.
So Blue Monday? No, not for me. I spent the day with my current hero and heroine starting off at each others’ throats and coming slowly to the realisation that maybe what they were so sure they hated about each other wasn’t actually the case. And when I switched off the computer I picked up one of new novels I’d been given for Christmas and lost myself in the world of self-discovery and realisation of someone else’s characters. I got to the end - to the clever emotional resolution and the Happy Ending and realised that Blue Monday hadn’t really registered at all. Which is how I want someone to feel at the end of one of my books.
It’s why I write romance after all.
My most recent book is Destined For The Desert King - out in Harlequin Presents in December.
where my brooding Spanish hero meets up again with Rose the girl who knocked his life off balance ten years ago,
And I'm thrilled to be able to say that my other 2015 title, Olivero's Outrageous Proposal has been re released in the Mills & Boon collection The Best of 2015. That's a way to start my new year off just right!
If you're one of my lovely Australian readers, then you;ll find that Olivero's Outrageous Proposal has only just been published this month - so I'm posting the Australian Sexy line's cover for you to see.
If you want to read all my latest news then visit my web site here and there's my blog too (when I get caught up and organised!) That's here
From next month, the Pink Hearts' timetable will change slightly. We'll all have a specific date on which to post - so from February, I'll be here on the 3rd of the month, Hope to see you then.