This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, we’re talking about what's special about our books and are being encouraged to share a snippet or two.
If someone were to ask you “What makes you as a person special” what would you say? It might take a bit of introspection before you could answer. As much as we like people to tell us nice things, it can be hard to say nice things about ourselves.
That’s what I felt like when I read the topic this week. As proud as I am of each one of my books, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes them different and unique.
One of the things I try to do as a romance author is make my characters authentic to my own experiences. I enjoy reading about rockstars and billionaires, but I don’t write them. I also believe we all deserve a happy-ever-after and don’t have to be shaped like a supermodel to get it.
Romance is often promoted as fantasies or fairy tales for modern day women, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. In my books, however, you’ll find people you might meet at the grocery store, people making a living but not mega-rich, people with sullen teenagers and aging parents.
Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming release Turn the Next Page. I think it is a good example of what I’m talking about. And don’t forget, you can pre-order it in both print and ebook right now!
As Phillip had predicted, it hadn’t taken Marjorie long to become deeply involved in the life of the Riverbend residents, so it wasn’t a surprise when, a couple weeks after she moved in, she invited him to the communal birthday celebration that was held on the first of every month.
“But your birthday isn’t until December,” he’d said.
“It’s not for me,” Marjorie had replied in the patient tone that made him feel twelve. “I want you to meet my new friends, and this seems like as good a time as any. Besides, at my age, you have to party when you can.”
Which was why he’d left work at two o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon. In years gone by, skipping out early would have made him nervous and anxious, and sent him back to the office in the evening to catch up on what he’d missed. Today, it had been a relief, and he had no intention of returning until tomorrow.
He’d tried to drum up his old enthusiasm by negotiating to takeover a smaller landscaping company. It hadn’t helped. Even completing that deal today had left him feeling flat and lacklustre. His enthusiasm had been waning for a while, but since accepting his son's decision to have no role in Twin Rivers it was even more challenging to generate any level of excitement.
His attitude was in danger of affecting his business, and it was time he made some difficult decisions. But right now, he was in the Riverbend dining hall, seated at a table with Marjorie and two other elderly ladies, and he pushed aside his gloomy thoughts to focus on the party.
Phillip let the conversation between his aunt and her friends wash over him as he ate his cake. Even his usual sweet tooth was dulled, though, and he had little appetite for the treat. He really had to break out of this funk. He was starting to drive himself crazy.
His chair faced out of the dining room, giving him a view past the administration desk and lounge with its huge fireplace, straight to the main entrance. The glass doors opened and in walked Clarence Windt, closely followed by Aubrey.
He lowered his gaze before she could make eye contact. He still wasn’t sure how he felt about her accidental reappearance in his life. He knew one thing, though. She still had the power to make him feel. The ennui blurring the edges of his everyday life vanished whenever he thought of her. Which was more often than he should, given everything else he had going on.
His attempt to ignore her was foiled by Marjorie, sitting at his side, which gave her the same view.
“Clarence!” she called. “And Aubrey!” She rose to her feet, the heavy chair screeching on the vinyl floor. “Come join us! Phillip, pull over a couple more chairs.” Her lack of surprise at seeing the father and daughter made it apparent she’d met Clarence at some point during the last two weeks. He wondered why she hadn’t mentioned it and felt a tug of unease. She had said she wanted Phillip to meet her new friends. Did she include Clarence in that group?
He rose, intending to follow Marjorie’s direction to procure more chairs.
“Oh, don’t bother,” said Imelda, the tiny, dark-haired lady seated across from him. “Mary and I will join Stan and Laura.”
Clarence’s face retained its calm, judicious expression—one that had made a teenage Phillip queasy with nerves—as he strode to the table, limping slightly, cane in hand. Despite Aubrey’s casual dark denim jeans and teal T-shirt, she still had that perfectly put together, shellacked appearance he’d noticed the day they’d first met. But her eyes revealed an inner turmoil—wide and anxious yet somehow pinched around the edges. She looked like she was searching for a reason to refuse. Then she met his gaze and her shoulders lifted, as if preparing for battle.
His initial instinct to ignore her dissolved.
A slow-motion flurry of activity followed as Marjorie’s friends rose to their feet and rolled their walkers to another table, allowing Aubrey and Clarence to take their vacated seats.
“Well, now.” Marjorie nodded with approval. “Isn’t this nice?”
Phillip regarded her with exasperated affection. She did the fluttery old lady act well, though she was anything but. His suspicion that she’d insisted he come to the birthday party specifically for this contrived meeting strengthened. He sipped his coffee and waited for her to make the next move.
“It’s so good to see you again, Aubrey. How long has it been?”
He repressed a snort. There was nothing wrong with Marjorie’s memory. He’d be willing to bet she knew exactly how long it had been.
“About thirty years.” Aubrey quirked a small smile, a pale imitation of the blazing brilliance he remembered. Was the incandescent woman that had left a burn mark on his soul nothing but grey ash?
“My, how time flies.” Marjorie reached out and patted Aubrey’s hand where it lay on the table. “You look just as lovely now as you did then.” She turned to Clarence. “You must be so proud of her. A lawyer, a Member of the Legislative Assembly. So successful.”
“She’s not an MLA anymore,” Clarence said gruffly. The slight frown on Aubrey’s forehead smoothed out and her eyes went blank.
The bastard hasn’t changed one bit. His old instinct to protect her clawed its way out of the cave where he had entombed it long ago. “The last election was a blood bath for her party. I am sure her loss had more to do with the leadership being rejected than Aubrey herself.”
Clarence’s pale eyes met his dismissively. “Doesn’t change the result.”
He opened his mouth to defend Aubrey again, but stopped at the tiny jerk of her head. Right. Not my place. Not anymore. Switching gears abruptly, he turned to Marjorie. “So, when did you discover Clarence was living here, too?” And why didn’t you tell me?
“Oh, a week or so after I moved in.” She fiddled with her teaspoon, her face averted. “It was lovely to find an old friend here.”
“Old friend?” Aubrey’s dark eyes flicked questioningly from Marjorie to Clarence.
“Acquaintance,” he muttered. “Old acquaintance.”
Phillip watched Marjorie as Clarence spoke, and her eyelids twitched, an odd expression flashing on her face, gone an instant later. “Yes, of course. Acquaintance,” she said brightly. “Now, who would like cake?”
I'd love to hear what you thought of that little scene! Leave me a comment below, and then hop over to PG Forte to read what's special about her books.