01 Behind the Story—Chocolate Kisses
Welcome to leaf the podcast of a woman with multiple author personalities, where anything goes. My name is charity Bradford, lover of all things. Star Trek, Doctor Who, NASA and space X. Sometimes I'm river Ford, more focused on that romantic first love sensation. No matter my mood, my goal is to write about normal everyday people who find the strength to overcome and thrive in extraordinary situations.
Thanks for joining me for my first behind the story podcast since it's February and Valentine's day is just around the corner. I thought we could talk about my debut romance, novel chocolate kisses. It takes place during January and February. So it's fitting. First of all, let's start by talking about why I chose the pen name river Ford.
Because I started writing as myself, charity Bradford, and that was science fiction and fantasy. When I decided to write a romance. I thought about it really long and hard. And you know, not everybody who likes science fiction wants to read romance and vice versa, and that everyone who reads romance wants to read science fiction.
So I figured the safest way to make sure my readers get what they want without any surprises would be to have a separate name for my contemporary romance. So what I did is I picked a couple of names that I liked, um, The biggest one being my middle name and, and forward I wanted to be in Ford or I took part of my maiden name and thought Ann Meyer would be cool.
That sounded like a good romance name. And I started Googling and that name was taken. So couldn't be in Meyer. Didn't want to be in Ford. And I just kept thinking, you know, what, what can I do? That's going to be a name that feels like me and that I can really enjoy, and that might even have a little secret background.
So I thought about. Some of my very favorite science fiction characters, um, Riverstone from doctor who and river Tam from Firefly. And I thought, okay, river's a pretty awesome name. And river kind of sounds like a romance novelists name. So river Ford was born because when I Googled it, there was nothing that came up and that was, you know, it's great to have a clean slate when you start a new pen name and it just felt right.
It felt like me because. It was my name for romance, and yet it still pointed to my personal love of science fiction. Okay. I had no idea how difficult I was making my life by choosing a pin name. But even though it's created double the amount of work, and sometimes I just want to throw my hands in the air and scream.
I'm I still stand by that decision that. Readers need to know what they're going to get when they pick up a book with that name on it. And so everything by river Ford is strictly contemporary romance. There's no magic. There's no fairy dust. There's no spaceships. And then if you pick up a, a novel by charity Bradford, there's going to be, who knows what anything goes.
Um, dragons, we've got time portals, we've got dimensions to other worlds. You know, we have magic. So. So that's, uh, kind of the differentiation there. Anyway. So a couple of years ago I found this series. Um, it was Christmas and snow Valley and a group of women that I really respected. It got together and they created this fictional town in Montana and they had some main characters that lived in that town.
And. Everybody who wrote a story in snow Valley could use those characters. And then they had specific, you know, like weather situations that were going on. And so when you read this anthology of six different Christmas stories, you could get a glimpse of someone else's characters doing their thing in the background.
So I loved the way that felt, and I love small town romances. So I thought I really want to do that. And I, I had another friend who was all in. She was like, let's do this. So we decided that we would pick a real town. We had both been to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We both loved it. It's small town. It looks like it came straight out of a hallmark movie.
And. I was like, great. And so I sat down to try to, to think of a different story ideas. It didn't take long before this particular friend backed out. She got very frustrated with writing. She actually had an agent and a publisher at the time, and there was a big mess. And, and she just said there was just no way she just was done.
And, uh, and she quit. So I shelved the idea for about a year and finally decided, you know what? I still want to give this a try. So once again, I started playing around with ideas and trying to figure out what my characters would look like that lived in Eureka Springs, excuse me. And at the same time, a good friend of mine had a daughter in high school.
I think she was a junior at the time. I can't remember for sure. Beautiful, beautiful young woman who played the harp. And anytime I saw her on stage playing her heart was just amazing. I mean, she was just this angel up there with this long golden curly hair, like a halo around her and she just. It was amazing.
She plays beautifully well about the same time I was looking for my story idea. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Okay. She's a junior in high school, so she's not thinking about romance and any of that stuff. And I wasn't at the moment either, but. Talking with her mom and talking about some of the struggles that, that her daughter was going through, kind of really got to me.
And I, I, the imagination side of me started asking questions and. One day, we were sitting at another concert and I was sitting by the mom and just knowing all the sisters and all the things they went through to get the diagnosis and all the different medicines they were trying. And, you know, her biggest fear was she had always wanted to be a concert harpist.
That's what she wanted to go to school, to study and do with her life. And she was really worried that the rheumatoid arthritis would. Still her capability of doing that and what she learned through the processes that actually playing the harp had probably saved a lot of her mobility in her fingers.
But anyway, long story short. Um, I just kept thinking about this and I, I kept thinking, you know, what, what would that mean if let's say you were getting out of college and you know, what, if you were at that age where you were starting to think about serious relationships with other people and you have all these medications and you have.
All this pain that you're having to deal with. And there are days when you just want to stay curled up in bed, wrapped in blankets, you know, because the warmth feels good and it's just too hard to do anything because you're so exhausted. And I thought, you know, what would that mean for a relationship?
And that was where the idea started. And. It's been so long that now I don't remember how I came up with Carrie. She's not blonde. She's probably looks the complete opposite of this young girl that I knew who is now in college and doing extremely well with her diagnosis and managing her RA and living her life to the fullest.
It's, it's exciting to see all the things that she's doing, but anyway, so. That's why I decided to write about a character with rheumatoid arthritis and it just kind of went from there and kind of the cool thing is I never actually interviewed the daughter because the family is, um, They're great. And, you know, but they, they like their privacy and I didn't want to embarrass her by letting her know that her situation had my imagination going crazy.
Um, but I did talk to her mom a lot and I did a lot of research. And so I sat down and I wrote this book. And, um, the interesting thing is, is when I finished, I found out that my half-brother. Has rheumatoid arthritis then I didn't know about before. And another good friend of mine from high school was diagnosed with RA shortly after I published chocolate kisses.
And probably one of the best compliments that I've received, uh, about this book was from her. She said she was reading it and she had to keep putting it down because all of the emotions that Carrie was going through. We're spot on. It was exactly what she was going through at the right time. And she said it was just so hard to read because it was bringing back all those emotions that she was going through.
But in the end she finished it and just totally loved it and appreciated that someone was willing to write about. This character who isn't perfect, isn't, you know, not even perfect in a way that they do everything right, but they have this physical element that causes problems and makes them worry about things.
And, um, and she really appreciated that. So that's kind of the story behind. The idea for chocolate kisses. And I don't know why I decided to put it in February. It just kinda fell there. And it's not technically a Valentine's day book. Valentines is mentioned slightly, but it's not the main focus. So technically it could be a holiday romance for Valentine's day, but it doesn't have to be.
So if you haven't read chocolate kisses, Maybe this is the time it's going to be our book for February, that I'm going to offer here on Patrion. All you have to do is download it straight to your Kindle and give it a read. And if you read it and like it, even if you're just thinking, it's sort of, okay, I would love some new reviews for this book.
Um, and if you have any questions or anything you would like to talk about, You know, on this is for you. This is for you to talk to me and share your thoughts and ask your questions. And, um, I'm ready to answer them. Ready to have some great discussions. Oh, I guess I should let you know that I did find two more author friends who are willing to come in on the Eureka in love series with me.
And so Hillary Speary has already written one book and Tamar Hart Heiner has written two books in the series. I know Hillary has more planned and I have at least one more planned as well as two Christmas stories that will use these characters. And it's been a lot of fun working with these ladies and creating.
Some good friends that are main characters and seeing the crossover, it really makes the series feel like you're living in this small town with these people. And, um, I guess I should also mention that chocolate kisses has a happily for now kind of ending. And then you see a lot of Kerry and Eric popping up in the other two books that I've written landscape love and teachers crushed, and they'll get their final installment so that they finally get their happily ever after in, um, a Christmas story that I'm writing for this Christmas.
Um, once again, it's just been so much fun, trying something new and different because it, it really works a different part of my brain than writing the science fiction. Um, I used to say that it was easier because the plot lines are a lot less complex. Um, you know, you, you really just have one, maybe one side plot, but for the most part.
You know, romance is pretty straight forward, but it's, it's not that easy. I mean, romance readers expect a certain thing and I don't like to follow rules. So for me, writing romance has been a great, um, exercise in. Trying to follow the rules while still finding my unique twist on making it feel like real life.
Because I hate when romance is, is so off the wall that you just roll your eyes. Uh, and hopefully I've accomplished that. With the series. But anyway, once again, thank you for joining me today. And I'm looking forward to hearing your questions. If you have anything you'd like me to talk about on a future podcast, please write it down in the notes here, or send me a message because I would love to hear from you and give you exactly what you want.