Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My friend, Mary, is making me blog again. It's, mm, shall we say, been a while. June was mostly a blur of ambulances and ERs. When you're able to tell the hospital security staff thanks, but you know a better route than the one they just recommended for getting out and back in after hours, you know you're dealing with something. In this case, Rheuben's asthma. For June, we were its chew toy, but that's passed and he, and the family, are doing much better.

Part of the deal is, this is supposed to be a blog about writing historical romance, and none of the above felt very on topic. There was some writing done during that time, and some reading. Those of you who have ongoing reasons to have contact with medical professionals probably know all about the hospital bag; that lovely, handy dandy thing one keeps ready by the door in case it's hospital time again. Special bag only for hospital visits, with important stuff in it, like lists of medications, phone numbers of friends who will gladly come get you at the ER at three AM for the second time in a week and spring for mini burgers at Denny's on the way home. Clean socks (trust me, these are needed,) toothbrush, lotion, books for each family member to read.

For me, the choice is easy; historical romance. While for most of the summer, I've been reading the VC Andrews (ghostwriter only) backlist for study purposes, when I want something to read for me, historical romance is the ticket. Ever since I was eleven years old and devoured the copy of Bertrice Small's The Kadin that I'd purloined from my mother's bedside table, I knew I'd found what I wanted to read and write for the rest of my life. What's more universal than a love story? In many ways, this rough summer has been a recharge; yes, this is what I love and want to do for the rest of my life.

One might call it research in the rough side of being a romance heroine; the life or death concern for the one man in this whole world that means everything, and the joy in bringing him home. The sharing of odd moments, like both noticing that you/he's stayed in this hospital room before. The "we've been through rough stuff before and we'll get through this" squeeze of the hand when one of you isn't able to speak. How can anyone call such things unrealistic when I've lived them? This seals it; romance is real life. The grit and the angst that naturally find their way into my stories, those are real parts of romance as well. Hopefully we won't have to have a summer like that again, but neither of us would trade it; we've grown, become more us (and more him and more me) and I can honestly say it's made me a better writer as well.

This past weekend, my friend Linda (who has been to many many late night ER trips and subsequent mini burgers) and I reconnected with Mary after family responsibilities had taken time usually given to socializing, and it was like a whole retreat in an afternoon. Cold beverages, kitchen table, talking of life, loss, faith, furbabies (Mary has a new puppy, our family has Skye kitty) and of course, romance novels. Who's reading what, what wouldn't each of us touch with a ten foot pole, what's good that we've missed? What stunk up the place like week old flounder? What's coming out new? Normal and healthy talk, if you ask me. As part of which, came my promise to Mary to blog again.

I'm writing this entry at the end of another day of prepping the final manuscript of Orphans in the Storm, my English Civil War historical romance to Awe-Struck. I wrote this a couple of years ago, and now as I'm putting the final polish on Simon and Jonnet's adventure, revisiting the fabled Isle of Man and Charles II's Dutch court in exile, again, like that afternoon at Mary's, it's like a homecoming. Historical romance is my home, and I ain't moving.