I made a promise to myself that I would make a sincere effort to blog more in 2018, although I think there’s a very good chance I don’t have all that much fascinating to say. So I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of my sister romance authors here in Indiana. January is Indiana Author month here at nanreinhardt.com, and our first author is not only one of my very favorite romance authors, she’s also one of my very best friends. Friends, I give you Indiana Romance Novelist, Liz Flaherty.
Hi, everybody, and thanks, Nan, for inviting me to be your first-out-of-the-gate Indiana author on your blog. It’s such a cool idea, and I can’t wait to see who else shows up.
Just when I was about to ask her what she wanted me to write about, Nan said, “Why don’t you tell them what it’s like to write sweet in a not-so-sweet world?” (Do you have friends like that who know what you’re thinking pretty much before you do? Handy, isn’t it?)
After my first book, Always Annie, came out I got a letter from a woman that was so vitriolic about the fact that I not only cursed, I included sex scenes in my trash heap of a book. I sent her money back. So did Kensington. She came out pretty well on that deal. At least one reader stopped reading The Girls of Tonsil Lake on the first page and has steadfastly refused to pick up another Liz Flaherty book because I used the Lord’s name in vain. A few others have declined to read any of my later books, including A Soft Place to Fall, an inspirational, because the earlier ones had the aforementioned love scenes in them.
On the other side of that coin, there are those who feel compelled to make fun of sweet romance. The word “cheesy” floats around a lot, the old accusation of “formulaic.” (It’s genre fiction—of course it’s formulaic. Thank goodness.) I hear “It’s so unrealistic” a lot, yet no one denies that life issues are addressed and dealt with in sweet romance. Or, if you want to get away from life issues, sweet is a great place to find romantic comedy.
I get resentful. Yeah, I do. But no more resentful of ones who disparage sweet romance than I did of the ones who denigrated the hotter stories I used to write. (I know they weren’t really hot, but they did have good, fun sex, and they did have cusswords.)
I love writing for Harlequin Heartwarming. I don’t miss writing love scenes because they’re not something I need in a book, whether I’m reading or writing it—it’s the story and relationship that draw me and keep me in the pages. I admit, I miss swearing a little—sometimes “daggone it!” just doesn’t cut it—but it’s fun coming up with non-offensive oaths. My latest is “going south in a brown paper sack.”
What it boils down to is that no matter what I write, I’m going to tell the best story I can, about people the reader cares about. If one of my books makes a better day for someone whose world is definitely not-so-sweet, it’s done its job. And so have I.
My latest Heartwarming is The Happiness Pact, a return visit to Lake Miniagua. I’m including an excerpt from Chapter One. I hope it makes you want to come back for more! The water’s cold at the lake now, but it’s still an inviting place . . .
He put an arm around her shoulders and spoke patiently, just as though she were a small and not-too-bright child. “I do believe two-career families flourish all over the world, even on the shores of Lake Miniagua, Indiana.”
“What if she doesn’t want kids?” What if this woman he cared about was like Libby? She wasn’t going to think about that. Not on her birthday. Or his. For this day, her secret would just stay in the dark place she kept it.
He hesitated, and she sensed his withdrawal. It was as if a cold breeze shot between them, leaving gooseflesh on her arm.
When he spoke, his voice was stiff, as chilly as the air outside the windows that looked out over the six hundred frozen acres of Lake Miniagua. “I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. You asked me what my wish was, and that was it.”
He had been her friend her whole life. When no one asked her to dance in the seventh grade, he had—and he’d seen to it his friends followed suit. When she’d had her appendix removed during freshman year, he’d brought her homework and helped her do it. Her mother died when she was fifteen, and he’d supported her through all the stages of grief—over and over again—until she could bear it. Her father’s suicide a few years later had thrown her right back into the maelstrom of mourning, and Tucker had been there for her again even though life had dealt him some hurts of his own.
He’d bought her the telescope that time. “See the stars?” he’d said. “They’re still there. Wish on them if you want, but they’re their own reward. No matter what happens, the stars will guide you to a safe place. You’ll be able to see Venus up close and talk to her whenever you like.” He’d never laughed at her assertion that Venus was indeed her guardian planet—and feminine in the bargain.
Seventeen years later, most of which he’d lived in Tennessee, she still wished on stars, talked to Venus, and counted on Tucker to be there if she needed him. The least she could do was try to make this one wish come true for him.
“I’ll help.” She nodded and smiled thanks at Mollie when the bartender topped off their cups. “I’ll introduce you to women. I know you better than most anyone, and I see people every day. What are your specs?”
“My what?” The coolness was gone, but now he looked befuddled.
“You know, specifications. Blonde? Brunette? How old?”
He shrugged, and she knew the I-don’t-care gesture was legitimate. While Tucker had dated a lot of beautiful women, he’d dated even more who weren’t.
“You know me as well as I know myself,” he said. “If you want to play matchmaker, I’ll go along for…oh, say six months. Provided.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Provided?”
“Provided we use the same six months for me to grant your wish. You introduce me to prospective wives and mothers to my children and I’ll introduce you to adventure. What do you say?”
She arrowed a look at him. “I say you had one too many of those hot chocolates.”
Liz Flaherty thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant chances you have to reinvent yourself. No better way than writing a book! Her next release will be Nice to Come Home To, the third visit to Lake Miniagua, in August of 2018.