Then . . .

Wallpaper & Mike Wallace

 I majored in journalism at California State University, Long Beach, and worked as a reporter on a number of small weekly papers. I have a portfolio filled with yellowing pages of news stories I wrote. I cringe when I read them today. One publisher insisted only that reporters turned in ten pages of copy every day. It didn't matter what you wrote about, you just had to churn out the pages. I wrote lengthy pieces about whatever came into my head. Processing olives, hanging wallpaper, the secret life of mosquitos.
Surprise, surprise, none of the papers lasted long and, after the last one folded, I decided there had to be more reliable and lucrative ways to make a living. I switched to public relations in the early 1980's and eventually became director of media relations for a large west coast HMO. It was there that I had the memorable experience of saying no to Mike Wallace when the 60 Minutes news crew showed up one day.
I left the corporate world in 1990 and free-lanced for a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times.

Writing What You Know . . . Sort Of

   I’ve written nine books for Harlequin SuperRomance. It was a worthwhile experience--I learned to tell a story--but the journey to writing romance was an accidental one. The idea for what became “The Doctor Delivers”  was about this young widow who came from England to St. Louis, Missouri with her two teenage daughters, one an asthmatic. Although she’d never had any nursing experience, she ends up working as a nurse’s aide, struggling to make enough to pay the rent. The girls are homesick and always begging to go back to England, but she’s determined to make a new start. Essentially it was a version of my own life story. My mother was the young widow, I was the asthmatic daughter making her life miserable by constantly whining to go home. I figured it had plenty of dramatic potential, but I couldn’t seem to move beyond the part where the three of them are standing on the deck of the Queen Elizabeth watching the Statue of Liberty hove into view. And, since that was my opening scene, I knew I was kind of stuck.


Then I saw a Saturday class on how to write a romance novel. I hadn’t thought of my book as a romance, mostly because my mum had been too preoccupied with whiney teenager daughters to think about love affairs, but I decided it was worth checking out. The instructor was a guy who wrote under a female pseudonym. Romance writing was easy he assured us. Nothing to it. He churned out three or four books a year and got to write off exotic vacations and expensive meals. You just put a guy and a gal --he used those words-- in some sort of situation where they start out hating each other and end up in bed together. Well, actually not a bed. Make the love scenes steamy, he advised, and anywhere but a bed. 


So I took the young widow off the Queen Elizabeth and put her in a hospital working as a nurse. All the patients tell her what a lovely English accent she has. I make the hero a doctor and, since I needed them to hate each other, I have him come from Northern Ireland.Sparks soon fly. As soon as he hears her accent, he makes some snide comment about the English; she shoots back with something snotty about the Irish and they’re off. Later on, the asthmatic daughter becomes another source of conflict but they work that out and pretty soon they’re making passionate love on a hospital bed. Then I remembered that beds were out, so I moved the scene to an empty office and the top of a desk. Pretty soon they’re making love all over the place -- never the bed though-- and then he asks her to marry him so they can all start a new life together, free of Anglo-Irish conflict. The end.

Actually,  It wasn’t quite that easy, but I eventually got the hang of it. Although the I think the instructor exaggerated about writing off expensive meals and exotic vacations.

. . .and now

I came to France to eat, drink, learn French and finish the novel I'd started. I've done well on the first two, slowly improving on the second and will eventually get back to the novel.  Meanwhile, I'm enjoying more than enough adventures to fill a dozen books.   You can read about some of the earlier ones in my blog on this site and I also post on Facebook @threesuitcases.

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