Today is the start of a series of blogs featuring authors from Astraea Press. Twice a week, Monday and Wednesday, I’ll be featuring an author on a topic of their choice. Today, to start the series I have my dear friend Meg Mims.
The Key to Love
Valentine’s Day will be upon us soon, with the message that love never fails… to stir us into buying chocolate, at least! And after skirting contemporary romance for years, I have to confess that I answered the “siren call” to write a novella with the theme of love for February.
The Key to Love is out this month by Astraea Press, my second book, and I had a blast writing it! While I’m a historical writer at heart, with a deep love of research, I discovered that writing a modern setting also takes research. What cars do the heroine and hero drive? Google that. What special dress will the heroine wear on a date? Google that. And what about where the hero’s office might be located, or his business? Thank goodness for Google!
Back up to Thanksgiving/pre-Christmas, when that call went out for Valentine’s Day novellas. Valentine’s Day? My head was firmly into wrapping, cards, the tree, etc. But being a collage artist, the inspiration for The Key to Love came when I was finishing a clock-themed piece. What if my heroine found a piece of metal and used it in her collage? And later realized someone had lost it? That spurred me on to name my heroine, hero and some minor characters. So right after Christmas, for the first time ever, I started writing. Cold.
Without a character sketch, without a plot arc, without any clue of the setting, I wrote down what popped in my head. I kept writing, on and on, until my ideas ran dry. Now, this is not my usual style of writing. I have never been a “pantser” – which is writing by the seat of your pants. I’m a total “plotter” – which means I spend several weeks (usually) lining up the “pieces” before the game even begins. The plot map/outline/setting plus the characters and everything relevant to their lives – birthdays, Chinese and Astrological signs, backgrounds from birth order to quirks and hobbies, their looks (celebrity photos are great for this), you name it.
Not this time. Granted, I knew I wasn’t writing a full novel. But there’s only so much “pantsing” you can do. So once the well ran dry, I had to think. What’s the best thing to do while thinking? Cleaning house, especially vacuuming. That soothing sound got the wheels in my brain rolling again, and I was back on the racetrack and running. I admit, the deadline helped. But I did have to backtrack and come up with a “hook” because the beginning fell flat. And I had holes to “plug” and scenes to re-order. Once I “finished” the novella, it still didn’t have that “polished” feel to it. I set it aside, took another art class, and let the cows chew their cuds in my brain’s pasture. I needed conflict – what was there didn’t seem strong enough.
And so, my heroine Jennette Jacobson had to deal with a family crisis as well as her personal dilemma – what should she do about the piece of metal she found? Will the hero, Steve Harmon, convince her that it really is important to him? And in researching the cars they drive, the clothes they wear and other items, I noticed a theme – the color red. Very fitting for Valentine’s Day!
While researching my story’s timeline, I ran across a major fact that totally sailed over my head like a snowball in a winter fight. The infamous Midwest’s Groundhog Day blizzard of 2011! Oh my. Some things you just have to use. And it fit perfectly. Enjoy reading The Key to Love!