The Clever Writer, Volume 1, No. 1

Scene opens. A small house in small town U.S.A.

Three screaming active children, ages 4, 2 ½ and 1. Aggravated house mom, desperate to escape somewhere besides behind a locked bathroom door.

Housewife furtively sneaks to the bedroom and removes a box from under the bed. Romance novel stash. These delectable jewels are hiding because husband gets annoyed when she read too much. Must be a tad jealous.

Kids stuffed with Mac and cheese, bananas and chocolate milk. Eat the banana and skip the rest. She’s gotta watch the post-pregnancy sagging. Disney movie -- not the ‘Geezuss if I have to watch that movie one more time I will puck on someone’s glass slippers’ one – popped into the machine. Everyone settled with appropriate dolls, trucks, blankets.

The Romance Novel…..a that will remain nameless except for the hints of Wild and Heart. She holds it to her chest and gives a happy sigh, enjoying the fluttery tingle down her body. The anticipation, the enjoyment is like a drug, an aphrodisiac. Someone should do a study of the effect romance novel reading has on brain chemistry. It’s fifty-five billion dollars a year BIG.

Nose goes in book. First pages, sheer overwhelming thrill. A strong, spunky heroine. A tall, dark, brooding hero. Sigh.

Three chapters read.

Interruption. Baby powder snow, spilled chocolate milk and two sisters teasing baby brother.

Yelling and pleading seems to work.

Vacuum bag full. Baby powdered locked away. Bottle in baby’s mouth. More chocolate milk. New movie, catchy tunes, another princess….no glass slipper. Thank you, freaking Geezuss.

Salivate. Return to chair and read more, living vicariously in a haze of sexual anticipation and anxious for the ‘aw’ factor.

One more chapter.

What’s that smell? Dog laying at feet sharing his gas? No baby needs a new diaper.


Turn down the page and set it within an arm’s reach.

Someone should invent an automatic baby changer.

Baby changed. Daughters get a potty break. Too much damn chocolate milk. Brush my hair, mommy. Make me look like princess. Fine. Done. Go watch TV.

“Please take me away”, she pleads, picking up the book and casting some mother voodoo that lovable monsters will stay occupied.

Two more chapters.

What? What? What?

Mental screeching.

Enjoyment crashes, burning into fiery nothingness.

Pleasure turns to ashes. Tears rise.

Letdown is a vicious monster.

The heroine is..gasp…too stupid to live? Groaning, gnashing of teeth.

The hero is a grouchy male with an acid tongue? Where’s the bigger than life love that will sweep her off her feet? Wild and faithful and sexy hot with red, white, and blue underwear? Animal noises come from throat.

The hero’s motivation established in chapter three (and the whole reason the two have such deliciously tense exchanges)transforms in chapter six and now everything is the heroine’s fault? According to who? Oh. The hero and the heroine's father???? "That is just plain wrong. That’s a pile on in football and the referee throws a BIG yellow flag, dammit,” she gripes under her breath.

And our TSTL heroine simpers, “I’m sorry I’m such a slutty moron, please forgive me for damaging your manly pride.”


Book hits wall. Stirs up the baby powder. Dog howls. Wait, no. That’s betrayed romance addict.

Bitching ensues.

Children are loudly singing “Be Our Guest” so will be unable to repeat the swear words.

"Why doesn’t someone catch this stuff?" *$&%^

"Why do they publish such unsatisfying crap?" *$&#^^

"I am so glad I bought that book used!" % &$^%

"I can write better than that!”

“I can…”

“I CAN WRITE BETTER THAN THAT!” She yells it, stunned with her conviction.

Children stop singing and stare. Then laugh. “Look at silly, Mommy.”

Oldest daughter hands her back the Judus book.

Epiphany! She’s seen the light!

Book goes in trade pile.

Flash forward two weeks:

On her desk: How to Write a Romance Novel, a ream of paper, a dictionary, and a typewriter. *Dagger stare – No cracks about the woman’s age.*

"I’m ready." Peck.

"I can do better than that." Peck. Peck.

"I can do better than that. I can do better than…."

10 pages

20 pages

30 pages

32 pages

36 pages….hmmm, maybe this is a considerably harder than she thought.

Dead end. Idea dies. Typewriter put away.

A year later – one kid in school, two at home.

New project:

10 pages

20 pages

22 pages

Idea dies. Grrrrrr.

And so it goes for six more years.

Kids grow. Library increases. Hundreds of Harlequins. Dozens of writing books. Fits and starts. Does it occur to her to stop? No. Does she not know what she’s doing? With all those workshops, books, and attempts, how is that possible? No, no. Just need more time.

All kids in school. Days to herself. Time to commit and put to use every minuscule bit of writing knowledge just sitting in her brain.

New project.

10 pages

20 pages

40 pages

65 pages

72 pages

104 pages to …..53,444 words. FINISHED!

Now, that wasn’t hard. *Snort*. Much.

“I’m so proficient, it only took me two years to finish.”

Harlequin response – Great concept. Writing’s crap.

Meltdown. More bitching.

New project – Five years and two moves.

Got the word count.

Got a reluctant heroine with two adorable children who wouldn’t dare be too stupid to live.

Got the sexy, to-die for hero that’ll make her reader’s giddy and their toes tingle. And hero adores her children.

Got hot sex. Got conflict and fabulous secondary characters. Got the aw factor.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. And Check. YES!


Hmmm, maybe she can find a used copy of that crappy inspiration book on Amazon and read it again. Maybe now that she understands how these things work, it’ll be worse than she remembers. Heh.

Oh well, new book idea. How to Write A Romance Novel in Eighteen Years or Less.



Marie Tuhart said...

Wonderful post. Sounds like my life except substitute the day job for kids.

Patti Ann Colt said...

Thank you, Marie. True story minus the sarcasm. Well, maybe not. ;-) - The Clever Writer

Kelly McCrady said...

Excellent--especially since I was part of that journey toward the end, there. You forgot to put in that the finished one sat in a drawer untouched for too many years until I MADE you pull it out :-)

Sometimes we writers hear so many "no"s that we can't bear to push on to reach that "yes" even if it's around the corner. Great story of persistance, my friend!

Patti Ann Colt said...

Yes, I did forget that part. I forgot to mention that I entered that particular book in a bunch of contests and got some negative feedback and got frustrated and shoved it in the drawer until Kelly sat on me.

God Bless Her! She is a CLEVER WRITER/EDITOR!