Friday, May 21, 2010

My Love of Romance

Since the day my mother gave me my first book, The Lady and the Cowboy by Diana Palmer, I’ve been reading romance. I fell in love with romance and happy endings. I’ve been told that I have my head in the clouds. So be it. It’s a nice place to be. Not realistic, but nice.
One book turned into three turned into too many to count, and I was hooked. Now, I buy anywhere from eight to ten romance books a month. Barnes and Nobel loves me.

When I decided to write my first romance novel, I wrote to Isabel Swift at Harlequin/Silhouette for advice. She recommended I join RWA and the New England Chapter for help. I met a great group of published authors and authors on the way. I served as their treasurer for four years, and handed out roses to those whose books just got published. A heady feeling.
I needed help critiquing my finished manuscript and discovered the From The Heart Critique Group. I learned from trial and error. I had trouble with POV. Some editors only allow one POV per chapter others no more than three. Mona Risk told me to put my hero in blue and my heroine in pink. It worked like a charm.

It isn’t easy to write a great romance. It’s a lot of sweat, tears and frustration. Rejection comes hard, but as a famous author once told me, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
I’ve learned how to critique other manuscripts, to learn the difference between telling and showing, to limit adverbs, avoid passive sentences, to delete words that don’t move the work ahead, and watch the POV. In return, it has helped me to see where I needed help.

I’ve judged contests for many RWA chapters and just finished my third year judging the Golden Heart. As a judge, I highlight the author’s errors and give phrases where it is due. I never slash in red, as it’s their baby and I know how it feels.
In one contest, the contestant liked my critique and asked if I’d do her whole manuscript. I agreed, and Jenn and I have become fast friends. I’m working on her second. I’m happy to say that a lot of books I’ve had the pleasure to help critique have been published.

I’ve written three books and have five chapters done on my fourth. I’ve entered many contests with all three of my books. One is now on an editor’s desk. No promises, but I live in hope. I have eight trophies hanging on my wall here in my computer room. It’s a great feeling.

I was green as grass while attending my first convention. I talked with an author for about an hour. Neither of us gave our names. After lunch, the guest speaker was introduced, the same woman I’d spoken to earlier. I stared as she smiled at me, and I clapped as Nora Roberts took the podium. We laughed as she autographed one of my favorite books from her MacGregor series. When I said my spelling was atrocious, she remarked, tongue in cheek, “That’s what spell check is for.” She’s a marvelous woman and a phenomenal author with a great sense of humor.

You meet a lot of interesting people when you do research. Some are impressed and some are skeptical. I needed museum quality security for one of my books and called a certain company. When I asked for information, the man said I wouldn’t be able to understand their intricate workings. Needless to say, I had to bite my tongue not to snap, chauvinist.
I politely asked if he thought an M.I.T engineer could understand his intricate workings. He apologized and sent the information out the next day. After I read the article, I called back and asked if I could put two sections together and make it work. He said my engineer background showed. I asked his boss if I could use their company’s name in my book. He answered, if I had written it in good taste. I read him the page and a half that concerned his company, and he not only gave me permission, but asked for a signed autograph copy when the book came out.
My husband berated me for lying to the man. What lie? I didn’t say I was the M.I.T engineer. The engineer is living with me. See how you can twist words to suit you. Semantics, my darling husband grumbled.

Another time, I visited my hometown and went to the police station to acquire information on drugs in and around the harbor. The lieutenant kept avoiding most of my questions. When he asked how I was smuggling the cocaine in my book, I told him, and his brows arched. He responded with a simple. “Oh-h?” I could see his brain whirling and expected to be detained.
I figured I wasn’t going to learn much more, so I left and headed for my parents home. As I drove into my parent’s driveway, a police cruiser passed me and turned around. My father opened the front door and waved to the policeman, who waved back. Dad asked what I did to have a police escort home. When I told him, he laughed so hard he had to sit. When he stopped laughing, he said, “I’d love to be there when Charlie goes back and tells them whose daughter you are.” This started his laughing all over again.

So you see, writing has its serious side and its laughable side. You just have to learn to roll with the punches.
So, we keep writing and hoping for that lucky day when an editor says: “We’ll sign a contract.”
Posted by Jaclyn DiBona


Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Jaclyn, I enjoyed reading your post. Good luck with that book on the editor's desk!

Mona Risk said...

Jaclyn, I laughed at your adventures in the name of Research. I wouldn't have had the gut to make theses calls. Fingers crossed for your wonderful book. I can't wait to have you sign it and hold it in my hands.

JACLYN said...

Dear Dawn Marie,
Glad you enjoyed my article. I had fun writing it. Thanks for the good luck on my book on the edotors desk. Luck is one thing we all can use.

Oh, Dawn Marie is also my cousin's name. :-)

JACLYN said...

My dear friend, Mona,

Glad you enjoyed my ventures in research. Having the guts to call is inherited from my mother. She used to say, 'Ask. You'll either get a yes or a no. But at least you tried.'

Looking forward to your next book. Shelf space is open and waiting.


Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

What a fun post. I love our interviewing technique. I don't think I have your expertise at doing that but since my stories are historicals I don't have to worry too much. I can read tombstones and history books instead.

I agree on waiting for that call, but writing is so much fun and the friends you make are so wonderful that if it doesn't happen I will survive with a smile on my face anyway.

Jill James said...

Jaclyn, you are so brave to make those calls. When I was first married my husband had to teach me how to make calls, I was so shy I couldn't even talk on the phone. LOL

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Jaclyn, sounds as though you've had fun doing research. I'm fine on the telephone, but i don't know I could go and ask questions in person as you have!

Donna Goode said...

I had a fabulous laugh from your post, Jaclyn. I'm at work today so, needless to say, it caught the attention of all my colleagues in the room and they demanded (and received!) an explanation--and enjoyed it, too. The only badgering I've ever done is with the Historical Society in a well-known city. At least I finally got part of the advice I needed (since I, too, write historicals). Thanks for a great post!

JACLYN said...

Jill James said...
Jaclyn, you are so brave to make those calls.

Not really, Jill, I found that most people love to impart their knowledge. All you have to do is ask.
Thanks for lvisiting.


JACLYN said...

Hi Helen,

Yes, I do have fun in doing research. Not only for myself but also for others.

I don't know I could go and ask questions in person as you have!

Of couse you could. Like mother pounded into me, 'ask, you'll get a yes or a no and take it from there.'

Thanks for the visit


JACLYN said...

Hi Donna,

You made me laugh when you said,"it caught the attention of all my colleagues in the room and they demanded (and received!) an explanation--and enjoyed it, too.

I was in having my hair cut and reading Annette's Blair's The Naked Dragon. I laugh so much everyone in the shop wanted to hear what I was laughing at. I read certain parts and have everyone, even the older gals laughing and saying they were buying her book.

As my mother used to say, laughter is good for the soul.


Joanne said...

Your post is fun and amusing. Wow--to be talking with Nora Roberts for a full hour.
BTW, I love FTH crit group, also.

JACLYN said...