Hi! Amy here with a special treat for you. I met Chasity Bowlin at Moonlight and Magnolias this year in Atlanta, GA. When she found out that I was part of Teatime Romance, well she had to join us in the tearoom. Welcome Chasity to the tearoom!
For years I said, “I want to be a writer.” I referred to myself as a struggling romance novelist for a decade. At that point, I was struggling to finish a novel. I had all of these amazing ideas just rolling around in my head and I would, religiously, write them down. I had notebooks, disks, thumb drives and binders full of ideas and partially completed manuscripts and outlines.
The reason I had never finished a manuscript had nothing to do with a lack of desire, a lack of ambition, a lack of drive, or even a shoddy work ethic. I will be the first to admit that sometimes on the last bit, that whole work ethic thing, I slip a bit. Still, I was capable. I completed a thesis for my undergraduate degree in Psychology. I designed, carried out, analyzed and reported in APA format all the results from said study. I had what it took to finish… Everything that is, but the guts.
Once you finish that book, once you type the last word of the last line that sends those characters riding off into the sunset together, then you are obligated to do something with it. Something horrifying, like send it out to the world and let them tell you how ugly your baby is. Most people will never tell you that your baby is ugly. But they will tell you that your book is BAD. They will tell you with a politely worded but still painful and gut wrenching “no”.
I wish I could tell you that I had this great epiphany about putting my life in order, setting goals, reaching for the stars while keeping my feet on the ground, yada yada yada. I didn’t. What I had was swine flu. For eleven days. ELEVEN. QUARANTINED. Stuck. Trapped. Imprisoned. Exiled to my own private island in crazy-cat-lady-land. I could have had long and meaningful conversations with a soccer ball at that point, if there had been one in my house. It would have been more entertaining than daytime television.
It was somewhere around day three that the truly horrific thing happened. The thing that I should not but will name thing! I ran out of things to read. I didn’t have a book left that I hadn’t previously read or that I was willing to read again. So, I started working on mine. I dug through a bunch of files on my computer until I came to one that struck me, one that pulled me in and sparked those creative embers. So, I started writing about Emme and Rhys and the many ghosts that roamed the halls of Briarwood Hall. And somewhere in the midst of that another character crept in. Michael, who had a story of his own, one that was well on its way to completion, entered and stole the show. Suddenly, not only did I have one book that was more than halfway through, I had laid down the backstory for the second.
As all good things do, my fever came to an end. The creativity didn’t dry up, but the amount of time I had to indulge it did. I had this thing called a job that I was required to go back to if I wanted to do things like eat, have a roof over my head, avoid creditors and ugly words like repossession. Still, the story nagged. I’d get up in the morning and write before work. I’d come home in the evenings and write after work. I’d be driving down the road, playing scenes in my head, working out bits of dialogue. I took weekends and went to stay in a cabin by myself, because that’s what writers do. It isn’t really. Most of us can’t afford it. But still, I told myself that it made me sound more like a real writer, so I did it.
Eventually, I did something that I had never before in my life managed to do. I typed the words, “The End”. It was like that scene in Romancing the Stone, where Kathleen Turner rips the last page out of the typewriter as she sobs copiously. I DID THAT. I hope I do it every time I finish a book! I don’t ever want to be so inured to something so wonderful that I don’t become a hot, emotional mess!
I cried when I wrote several scenes in that book. I cried when I wrote “the end”. I cried when I was offered a contract. I cried when I saw my cover for the first time. I cried when I signed my first copy. I cry every time I get a good review. I haven’t gotten a bad one yet, but I am steeling myself for the inevitable. I hope I don’t cry then. I hope I just cuss a lot and then go on about my day, but we’ll see.
It might take swine flu, a broken leg, pregnancy and bed rest, the loss of a job, or some other catastrophe to make us actually go from wanting to be a writer to being a writer. Whatever it takes, it’s well worth it.
Now it’s made her a killer’s target. Emme knows why the Dowager Duchess of Briarleigh invited her to a house party–to investigate whether the duke, Rhys Brammel, murdered his wife years ago. But Emme never imagined she would fall in love with the brooding duke. Branded by society as a possible killer, Rhys is suspicious of Emme and her alleged “gift.” Then a late night encounter creates awareness of her other, more attractive, aspects.
When Emme’s life is threatened, Rhys becomes her protector. Emme and Rhys find passion and peril as they join forces to solve the mysteries at Briarleigh. She made him believe in spirits, but can she make him believe in love?