Tag Archive | happily-ever-after

Ten Years

Ten years ago, I listened to a still, small voice telling me to write a novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for more info go to http://www.nanowrimo.org).

So I did.

The first novel I ever wrote, finally released in November of 2017.

I wrote 117,000 words in 21 days. The goal was 50,000 words in 30 days. I had a blast. I was hooked.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. By the time I published my first novel in 2015, I had written my complete 5-book Gothic Regency series as well as four other novels. I had published a flash fiction and a short story. I was working as an editor for a small publishing house, Prism Book Group, which was eventually bought out by Pelican Book Group.

As of today…those totals have increased to 20 completed titles. 15 of those are published, three more are contracted and in the process of getting to publication. Two are awaiting a home. Five are available in audiobook and I’m working on recording some of my novels. I now teach workshops at writer’s conferences and at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh through their continuing education department.

I have four more stories started.

My first published novel, with a new cover!

Life has changed significantly since God first called me to write.

Writing was initially an escape. A place to go to hide from the pain of my daily life. I wrote the happily-ever-after stories I wanted to read. I wrote about the love that I hadn’t experienced but believed was possible. I poured my own personal pain into the pages of my novels.

Then it happened.

Just as God revealed Himself in amazing ways as I wrote, he finally gave me my own happily-ever-after. After a long time of loneliness, struggling to obey God in my difficult circumstances, and finding freedom from that in 2017, God brought love into my life in 2018.

It wasn’t without obstacles. What good romance goes smoothly? Matter of fact, some of those obstacles remain, but I’ve found a new life to be LIVED, not just on the pages of my novels, but to experience and enjoy. And I found someone to do it with.

I won’t go into details of my struggle here. Those who have walked with me on that path have prayed, listened, encouraged, and even challenged me. I am grateful for their love and support.

Last year I didn’t do NaNoWriMo for the first time (after winning 8 years in a row!) because I was recovering from shoulder surgery, planning a wedding, helping remodel a house, and preparing to move my family. Oh, and all at Christmas-time!

God is good, even in the darkest days when I wondered if He would be good to me, I never doubted that it was His character. I am blessed beyond measure. I look forward to how my new life will impact my writing.

My poor hubby doesn’t understand all I do but is a champion of my work anyway. He’s loved the stories he’s read/listened to. This will be his first NaNoWriMo…so here’s hoping he can cope with this crazy writer. He’s done fairly well so far…

Happy November!

God’s Sense of Humor

I haven’t posted here for a long time. Life got crazy last year between writing, editing, teaching high school until June, speaking at conferences, and then shoulder surgery. To top it off I met a man through online dating.

First I tried Zoosk and I hate to say it, but I got romanced by a guy I never met face-to-face. I had to learn the hard way about things like “bread-crumbing” and it was amazing the kind of research I needed to do to navigate this new world. I finally decided the guy was a fraud and ended that communication, but boy, could he write the sweetest emails! Ah, the course of true love never runs smooth, right? I’m a romance author. I should know that better than anyone.

After a few months of keeping my standards high, I had some communications via text, email, and a few phone calls, but dismissing anyone who didn’t quite make the cut. You have cats? Um, not happening as they make my eyes swell shut! Oh, your dog won’t like my dog? Sounds like it’s a pass for both of us. Seriously, these were some of the things that came up. I had no face-to-face dates although a few men were interested. They didn’t make the cut. I finally tried E-Harmony as Zoosk wasn’t finding me the quality of man I wanted. I signed up and then thought maybe I needed to wait until after my shoulder surgery was done, but it was too late. I couldn’t back out. E-Harmony wouldn’t let me. That whole idea of “three-day right to rescind” doesn’t apply to online dating sites.

So I was stuck. I started looking. I smiled at some potential guys that “matched” well. One of them smiled back. Then we texted and finally talked on the phone on my birthday. For two hours. I asked him three times: “So, do you want to meet?” He finally agreed and we set the date for the next day.

He showed up early (huge points in my book!) and brought me flowers (sweet!) in my favorite color and even wore a shirt that had the same color in it. We met at Qdoba. I had already had lunch, it was mid-afternoon on a Sunday, so I ordered nachos and a soda. My points on my card allowed me to have the nachos free – so all my date had to pay for was his quesadilla, his soda, and mine. My part: $1.50. Yup – cheap first date. For a man who values frugality that was a good thing!

We sat and talked for three hours. He lived 42 miles south of my town. He wasn’t going to move. I wasn’t going to move because I had three teenagers who were in school in our town and I wasn’t going to move them away from that – or leave my church. Does that sound selfish? We ended the date and stood in the parking lot.

“So, what do we do now?” he asked.

“I guess we can be friends?”

Friends who kept calling each other almost every day. We went to a musical the next week. We had dinner and closed out the restaurant. After that date, I gave him a hug because I do hug my friends and that’s all we were going to be. We had a few other dates. I really liked talking to his guy. He ticked off all the right boxes other than location. There were no deal-breakers. He was a godly man and he seemed to like me and accept that I was a tad on the crazy side. My two youngest teens were thrilled for me and liked him when they met him.

All the time I was texting my bestie with reasons why I should just stop seeing him and cease talking to him. She encouraged me to keep giving him a chance. He never did anything to raise any alarm bells.

Our fifth date – before we even kissed. Love the photo-bomber!

I was afraid to trust a man again after what I’d been through.

We didn’t kiss until the fifth date. He respected my boundaries and I told him when the time came I wanted it to be special. When I was ready, I had to make it clear:  I WANT A KISS. Like NOW! He got the message and oh, it was worth the wait!

The next day he surprised me by delivering a dozen long-stemmed red roses with baby’s breath. (swoon!)-in person.

I traveled to Philadelphia for a writer’s conference and had trouble getting home. He was willing to drive to downtown Chicago at 2 am if need be to pick me if that’s where I could fly into. As it was, I made it into Milwaukee, but he still had to wait in the parking lot till almost 3 am as I waited to file a claim on my lost luggage. What a guy!

I texted: “I’m still waiting.”

He responded: “Funny thing, so am I.”

A few days later I had shoulder surgery – torn rotator cuff and bicep was reattached. Awful pain. Long recovery. He came every day to take my dog out, wash dishes, make sure I had ice packs and watched many Marvel movies as well as all of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with me. The poor man hadn’t seen any of those! Sometimes I would fall asleep on his shoulder and then the movie would end and he’d sit there, the screen blank, because he didn’t want to wake me up. He even helped me proof audiobooks, which was about as much I could cope with as far as writing went due to the challenges of recovery. He’s a fan of Hallmark movies so proofing romance novels was not something he had a problem with and it was fun gauging his reactions to the stories. (hint: he really liked them!)

He decided he had nothing keeping him where he was. He was willing to move. He wanted to get married. To me.

No way! I wasn’t going to get married that fast. Ridiculous!

He said, “How about December?”

Absolutely not!

God had other plans. The joke was on me. He proposed, I accepted. He bought a home for us all, and together we worked on remodeling and I underwent physical therapy while trying to plan a wedding and a move to our new home. We underwent vigorous pre-marital counseling. He’d been married almost 40 years. I’d made it to 27 in my previous marriage. God had some healing to do in both of us and my new husband has been a huge part of that process.

December wasn’t a bad month to get married, the church was decorated so beautifully! The pastor asked why the rush. I told him that I refused to have sex until we were married and I really wanted to have sex. A friend who reads my books asked me if I was going to do like I write in my books.

“You mean not have sex until I’m married?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s why we’re getting married in December-it’s hard to wait!”

There are so many more stories I could share. Our relationship has been rich in laughter and love, but not everything is for public consumption. and not everyone has been supportive, although the majority of people have been overwhelmingly cheering us on. We’ve settled into our new home and I’m trying to adjust to a new life and how to fit in my writing and editing in the midst of that as I have so much more to live for and enjoy than the escape that my work used to provide. It’s not all love and roses all the time, but it is good – so much better than I could have dreamed for myself. I awake every morning with a smile grateful for the man next to me. That I get to do this life with him.

Someone told me a few years ago “Susan, you just haven’t had your happily-ever-after yet.”

On our wedding day, another friend said: “Now you get to live the happily-ever-after like you always write about.”

God has a sense of humor and He blessed me with a man who not only gets my goofiness but has a great sense of humor as well. One of the things I wrote on my E-Harmony post was that I wanted someone who was willing to dance with me in the kitchen. We have a favorite song for that which was supposed to be the song we walked down the aisle to as husband and wife. Well, the joke was on us as it didn’t happen as planned due to a technical glitch, but I’ll share the song with you anyway because it’s a favorite for us to slow dance to.

And in this crazy life
And through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you
You make me sing
You’re every line
You’re every word
You’re everything

 

Spatzle Speaks: Her One and Only (Book Review)

My mom’s been incredibly busy so imagine my surprise when she actually sat down to read a book that wasn’t part of work. She said she’d been wanting to read Becky Wade’s novel Her One and Only for months but hadn’t had a chance to get to it. She fell in love with Becky’s writing style when she read My Stubborn Heart which she dared to review without me. Anyway, she did it. Once she picked up the book and settled into her favorite chair I had to bark to remind her that I needed some of her attention as well.

Gray Fowler is an NFL superstar but death threats have led to his team putting him under protection. The only problem is that Dru Porter, a former marine, is too beautiful a woman for Gray to not be interested in…and she is assigned to him for several shifts every week. He tweaks her and she slowly starts to understand the secrets he’s hidden even from himself. As attraction grows between the two, the threat escalates and Gray finds that he can’t stand the thought this woman whom he’s come to admire, could possibly die to save him.

When Dru realizes she’s too close emotionally to her client she takes the high road and tells her boss, knowing that she’ll be removed from protective duty. She’s determined to find the person threatening him even as their relationship steams up. Her family is not on board with a Mustang tight-end dating the youngest child in the family (since they are Cowboy fans), and Dru becomes afraid her heart is going to get hurt if Gray can’t settle his issues with God and admit to his real feelings. I won’t say anything more lest I spoil the journey these characters take to their happily-ever-after.

Mom loved how these two strong characters bantered and grew in their relationship. Doesn’t hurt that Dru also has a dog, Fi (as in Semper Fi, she was a Marine, remember?). That alone makes the book five bones from my perspective. But you should read it yourself to see if you agree or not. 

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 2 of 4)

This is the second installment of answering questions from Facebook.

How is your writing different from others? What is it similar to?

I’m not trying to write like anyone else no matter how much I admire other writer’s style.

I’m a bit more honest in my writing about sexual tension while keeping my stories clean. I think in our culture the reality of sexual promiscuity and the fall-out of that is very real so trying to encourage purity in the midst of a culture that doesn’t value that, is a core part of my character’s struggle. I love romance, but I don’t want to downplay the very real physical attraction and desire that can be part of a relationship. I push the envelope while keeping it clean. My characters struggle with the temptation of desire but not always acting on it because of a higher principle of seeking to honor God.

When you have spare time (just kidding) who do you enjoy reading? Who’s your favorite author? What type of books do you like to read other than your own?

Sometimes I go back to previous books I’ve loved and enjoyed. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade, Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel, The O’Malley Series & Uncommon Heroes series by Dee Henderson. The Discarded Heroes Series by Ronie Kendig. And then there are always new books coming out by authors I contract that I have the privilege to read first.

I have so many authors I enjoy for a variety of reasons, so it rather depends on my mood at the time, the reason I need to escape.

Where do you get your ideas for characters? 

Tough question. They are not usually based on specific people although sometimes a composite although not intentionally. I’m not really sure I know where they come from except for my God-given imagination.

Do you already know what the ending of your book will be when you start it or does it develop as you write?

I write “happily-ever-after” endings so that’s all I know when I begin. My guy and gal will be together, married, and happy by the end of the book. Some books they marry earlier on but that doesn’t mean they’ve hit the “happy” part until the end. It’s all about the journey to that destination, that happy moment in time.

What is a typical day like for you?

I have no “typical day” except that it starts early with a cup of chai, and often time with God, then at my computer, checking social media, writing or editing. When the Hobbits are in school, I have to stop to get them out the door and pick them up later. Right now it’s summer so they get up when they want to and harass me for food when they are hungry even though they are old enough to get their own food.

If you could spend a day with a character from your favorite novel, who would it be, and what would you do?

I spend weeks at a time with my characters. A writer friend told me that my relationship with my characters is unusual because to me there are so real. They are! I enjoy being with them.

Now if you were asking about another author’s work? Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders), possibly Darcy Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice) or Fanny (Mansfield Park). They would be fascinating to spend time with. I’m sure if I thought long enough I could come up with soooo many more!

Any other questions you have for me? Or do you have your own answer to any of the questions above? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!