Behind the story—Landscape Love
This month we are going back to contemporary romance for our free download and behind the story podcast. The first Loose Leaf podcast talked about how I chose my romance pen name and the first book in the Eureka in Love series-Chocolate Kisses.
When I wrote that book, I knew I'd write two or three more. Kerri's friend Jen needed a story, and I had this random story idea from my blogging years that I felt would fit easily in Eureka Springs. That idea is what became Landscape Love.
In the beginning, all I knew was that a woman was going to inherit her grandmother's house in the small town. The only scene in my head was her answering the door when someone knocked on the door to ask permission to mow her field. He'd always done it for the grandma and was there to do it one last time to make sure the new owner. That was pretty much it. No names for characters, no idea how they would complete each other, or anything else.
I did what I always do. I started asking questions.
Why was the guy showing up to mow for free when the previous owner had died? He promised her he would do it for the granddaughter.
Why had these two people never met? The woman had never been to Eureka Springs before.
Why hadn't she ever visited this grandmother? She didn't know about her.
Why didn't she know about her? This is where things started to get interesting. That one question led me to Lilly's mother running away from home to marry Lilly's dad.
Why did they run away to get married? The grandmother didn't approve of the marriage.
Why didn't she approve of the marriage? The mom was marrying a Hispanic man at a time when the tiny town wasn't as accepting as it is now.
Can you see the process? I kept asking questions until my main character Lilly had a rich family background with several siblings (a couple who may get their own story some day), a mother who can hold a grudge like no other, and a forgiving father who encouraged his daughter to go learn about that secret side of the family.
Shorty after figuring out those things, I started working full time. It made writing a lot slower, but brought me an incredible gift. One of my coworkers embodied the spirit and spunk I wanted Lilly to have.
In fact, one day I sat down with her at lunch to start what I was afraid would be an awkward conversation. I mean, how do you say, “You're Hispanic, so tell me how to write a Hispanic woman”
Evidently, just like that. Veronica was so sweet about it, and after I explained the general idea of where the story started she stared at me wide-eyed.
“Oh my goodness! You're writing my story. I ran away to marry my husband on the last day of school my senior year.”
Color me dumbfounded. She told me the story and how her dad reacted to her marrying the wrong Hispanic boy and how if she'd married a white boy it would have been even worse. Feeling justified in my background story, I moved forward with the novel planning.
Now, I needed to get to know my male character to figure out how these two would compliment each other. I'd had Nate's name from the beginning—Nathaniel Pierce—although, originally I thought that name would belong to a doctor who had always lived in the small Ozark town. One of the other authors wanted to use the doctor though, so I let her have him, but I wanted to keep my name. It was easy enough to move it to the guy mowing fields.
However, I kept getting this vibe from him that not everything was as it seemed. Eventually, I discovered Nate had been a veterinarian in Colorado. And the questions started again.
Why did he leave Colorado? Why is he working for a landscape company instead of doing vet work? Why move to ES of all places? Why is he going by Nate when he's been called Nathaniel his whole life? Why didn't Kerri know him since it's such a small town?
As those filled in, I fell in love with the story. I had two emotionally scarred people converging in the same place. One was running away from his painful past, surviving but not living. Another had always feared she'd never be enough for her mother or anyone else. She's running to find a future.
Those things in itself made me excited, and then I started writing. Holy cow! These characters were completely different from my sweet Kerri and caring Eric. They were great characters with tons of love to share, but they were spunky and much more carnally aware of each other from the beginning. This added a lot of funny situations as they pushed each others buttons while fighting their own attraction.
While I would rate this story PG-13 if using movie ratings, when my husband finally decided to read it, which I really didn't want him to do because I knew he wouldn't like it, he called it porn.
It's not. I promise. No graphic anything, no sex, but there is innuendo and some really steamy kisses. Their first one is probably WAY over the top but it fits these characters.
In the end, this book was the first time I felt funny. My critique group laughed at all the right places, so it wasn't just in my head. There are also some heart tugging moments that I'm quite proud of.
So, Chocolate Kisses is my sweet romance and Landscape Love is my steamy romance. In two months we'll talk about the third book in the series and how it is something in between.
Next month we'll talk about Fade Into Me though, another one of my science fiction fantasy mixes. In a way, that story convinced me I could write a romance.
Until then, download your free copy of Landscape Love and consider writing a review on Amazon. For those who would prefer an audible copy, let me know. I still have some free ones to give out. The narrator for this book is one of my favorites. I LOVE her souther accent and she did great with the Spanish bits.
Also, share this Patreon account with your friends. I need to reach one of my goals so I can have a real giveaway. I have this lovely galaxy blanket and a few other things I've been collecting for giveaways.