The first date my husband and I went on was to see the movie Rent. Neither of us knew it was a hit musical. But the song 525,600 minutes rolled around my head for weeks. If you don’t know, this is the number of minutes in a year.
And oh, what a year!
On September 30th, social media reminded me I was celebrating my one-year anniversary of selling Unlocking the Ex-Army Doc’s Heart to Mills and Boon. Since then Falling Again for the Single Dad has released too, and A Stolen Kiss with the Midwife comes out in February 2021. I actually turned in Book Four, as yet untitled, the week before this anniversary note.
I started reading romance because I needed a happily ever after. I began writing romance because it made me happy when my job, at the time, did not. Romance has been my escape for years.
And Book Four will always have a tender place in my heart – no matter how well it sells. I set this story in Dallas, Texas. I grew up in one of Dallas’ many suburbs. The movie theater the characters worked at in high school is where I spent hours behind the concession stand. The high school football rivalry is a single line reference, but for my friends still in the area, the payoff will be so sweet.
It was simply a fun retreat home when I first started it. But two weeks after I put the initial words to the page, we learned my mother-in-law had cancer. She left this world before I finished. In the haze of doctor visits and hospice talks, Dot and I talked romance books.
She had stacks of them!
And when I sat with Dot while she rested, I retreated “home” to work on my character happily ever after.
When I tell people that I am an author, I get all sorts of happy questions. But when I mention my genre, a light dims in some of those excited faces. A week after I sold my first book, a man sitting next to me on a plane told me he thought romance was the easy genre. Formulaic!
It is such a grating misconception about the bestselling genre. But it is one that over that last year, I have mostly learned to ignore. Romance offers what so many don’t. An escape with a guaranteed smile at the end. The promise of hope and love for everyone.
This is the first romance that I’ve written where Dot didn’t know the end. I wouldn’t put the final flourishes in until a few weeks after she’d left. But in so many ways, Dot knew when we talked about Tessa and Gabe, and all the struggles I was putting them through, how it would end. That Tessa and Gabe would ride off together.
And writing their forever love in the days after helped pull me forward too. Getting to focus on love healed part of me. I believe that love is so much more enduring than the other emotions.
Love’s feeling—even its memory—outlasts all the emotions.
So, a year later, a year that looks so much different, in so many ways, I am grateful to shout from the rooftops—I write happily ever afters!
Here’s to finding our way through the next 525,600 minutes. May they be filled with more love and laughter than tears.