When I think of “True Confessions” I remember the one-time tell-all magazine that depicted stories that weren’t all that sensational, come to think about it. And then there was the show on television called True Confessions. It didn’t last long, so don’t worry if you didn’t know of it. You’re not out of the loop!
But today I’m giving you my very own True Confessions, and unlike my romance novels, which tend to get very steamy, very quickly, these confessions aren’t glamorous. They have to do with my very own quirks, cheat sheets and foux pas, in the writing world.
When I was writing Chase Wheeler’s Woman, I had a scene where my hero gets poisoned. Well, I did my research, read through a book called Deadly Doses- a writer’s guide to poisons. And I found the perfect way to poison Chase. Only the plant I found was so accessible to the public and the method so easy, I COULDN’T use it in the book. My conscience wouldn’t allow me. I thought, if someone gets mad at their spouse, all they had to do was put a few of these leaves in their tea, and they’re a goner. So I sacrificed the authenticity of my story and used vague words and terms to poison my hero. I smile when I think about that now, but you know, today, I’d do the same thing.
To date, I’ve written 25 books and I swear that at times, I’m at a loss to come up with names of my characters. I’m picky. The name has to fit the character to a T. I CAN’T even start writing the outline, synopsis, much less the story, until I get the right names. Because of this, I use some very unorthodox methods to find names because I am very eager to start writing. I do resort to a baby name book, called The Best Name for Your Baby. Sometimes, I just flip open one page and say, “Charlene, find a name on this page.” Does it work? Heck no. If the name’s not right, it’s just not right. For my westerns, I’ve resorted to going to the PRCA website for rodeo riders. I check out the rodeo names and I have come up with quite a few good ones that way. When I’m desperate, I’ll pause the credits at the end of a movie or TV show to see if something hits me. Lastly, there’s always the Santa Anita Race Track! Don and I are members of the Thoroughbred’s Club and we love going to the races. The Racebook we get at the door is chock-full of interesting names of jockeys and owners AND sometimes I get a title idea from the horses’ names. Here’s just a few that’ll put a smile on your face.
One Hot Storm
Sweet Spot (Susan Mallery has a book with this title)
Hot and Dusty
I’m fully ashamed of myself that I no longer have a library card! I can’t believe it. I let my card expire. Until a few days ago, I hadn’t stepped foot in a library in years. Why? The Internet, for one. I do a ton of research on the Net. It seems I can pull up data and find the answers to my questions in mere seconds. We’ve all really gotten spoiled, I’m afraid. We need and expect everything in a quick hurry and with my super duper new 21-inch Vista-infused computer, I get my research done in no time flat. It’s a miracle invention that can be your best friend and your worst enemy (you know what I mean)
Back to my red-faced library confession. The other day, when out with friends I visited a brand-new gorgeous Civic Center in a neighboring town. The library called to me and we walked inside. Well, I was like a kid walking into a candy store. As I wandered quite excitedly thru the corridors, my friends tagging behind me, I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing. This library was amazing, with its wonderful catalogue of books, up-to-date computer center, separate children’s library, lecture rooms, a reading/sitting area complete with a floor to ceiling fireplace and an outdoor amphitheatre. I think my jaw dropped. I didn’t want to leave. My non-writing friends weren’t as enthused so I didn’t have time to get my library card. But I promised myself I would. And I will. There’s nothing like seeing all that knowledge – and yes, even a romance section-at your fingertips, literally. Oh to pick up a book, leaf thru and smell the pages and the binding. What childhood memories just being there evoked!
There aren’t many things about being an author I dislike. I’m a pretty positive, optimistic person and I always give the benefit of the doubt. I was taught to turn the other cheek, whenever possible, so I haven’t complained, or even been snarky about this. But the one thing I really hate, is when readers, friends, acquaintances, come up to me and say, “Oh, I read your book.” Period. That’s all they say.
Okay, so does that mean they read my book and enjoyed it? If so, why not say that? Does that mean that they read my book and hated it? And they don’t want to say so. Or is it more about them than me. Are they PROUD, they actually finished a book and want a pat on the back? Often, I believe this is the case. I’m tempted to reply, “Congratulations.” The irony floors me.
For heaven’s sake, why don’t they say something more?
I wouldn’t visit a friend who just gave birth to her precious baby and say, “Oh, I just saw your baby.” Some gushing is required, I would think.
I guess some people don’t understand that our writing is personal to us. We put ourselves out there – much of our writing comes straight from the heart and our guts are involved too. None of our Petticoats’ readers would do this. I know you’re all in sync with our sensibilities. Your comments have proven it time and again. And don’t get me wrong, I do get praise for my stories. I’m at a place in my career when winning a contest, sweet words from my editor and good sales, tell me, I’m doing A-Okay.
But is it too much to ask to avoid those awkward moments in life?
And lastly, Confession #5
I don’t read!
Oh dear, did I just say that? I did. Unfortunately, its more a true statement than I’d like to admit. I LOVE to read. I have auto-buy authors like Rachel Gibson, Linda Lael Miller, Janet Evanovich and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I love to read new authors, and I love to read our wonderful Petticoat authors. But I don’t have time. Does that sound like a cop out? It does to me, too.
But it’s true and I’m so regretful about the fact that I’m too busy these days. With deadlines, research, proposals, blogs and promotion, there’s always something to do at the computer. And at night, I promised myself to spend more time with my hubby. He likes to watch television and we have our favorite shows. And quite frankly, my eyes burn like wildfire by the end of the day. In the summer, when I take my beach days, maybe I’ll get a hour or two of reading in, but I’ll admit to you that I’ve started a few books that I really wanted to read, and haven’t finished them. I miss reading so much! I used to read 3 books a week. I would go thru them like my favorite candy. Not anymore.
I’d love to know if any of you experience this too? Any hints as to how to sneak in some reading time? Do you have any confessions to share today? What do you think about mine, agree or disagree?
Suite Reading Everyone!
Click on small cover to purchase.