Sunday, November 21, 2010

How a Simple Conversation Can Change Your Perspective

Back in August I submitted a chapter for Harlequin’s Medical Romance Fast-Track. It was a lovely little chapter brimming with a surprise pregnancy, a confirmed bachelor, a natural disaster and five kids fresh from the pediatric burn center.

Intrigued? One of the editors was, and asked me for a revision on the first chapter and a partial. Thrilled right down to my chipped toenail polish, I sat down to pen chapters 2 - 3 and STALLED. Big time. Several agonizing months later, I’ve only slugged through part of chapter 2. A conversation I had yesterday with my precocious 4 year old flipped on the little light switch in my head as to why I’m having problems moving forward.

We were sitting in a restaurant and it went something like this…

“I want chicken.” DD announces and returns her focus to the three toy dinosaurs she refused to leave in the car.

“Okay. Do you want french fries with them?”

“No.” DD doesn’t even look up.

“Okay… Oh look, they have bananas. Do you want a cut up banana?”

“Monkeys eat bananas and live in trees.”

“Yes, sweetie that’s right.”

“Where do monkeys live at?”

“In the jungle. So, do you want a banana or not. The lady is coming to take our order.”

“No.” Resumes playing with dinosaurs, at which point I sigh as the frustration mounts.

“Okay…They have mash potatoes, corn, what do you want?”

No response. Dinosaurs are now eating each other.

“Baby, tell me what you want with your chicken. Do you want cut up fruit?”

DD now gazes at me with her big baby blues. Her voice is laced with irritation, “I told you I just want chicken.”

Do you see? This is a realistic conversation with a child. I have 5 who are going to be in my book. I’m scared of them. Terrified in fact that my heroine and hero are going to give their own child up for adoption after dealing with the 5 in very close quarters for 10 whole chapters.

They can’t all be little angels, can they? At what point would I be beyond the suspension of belief? How can my heroine and hero connect if they are juggling medical conditions, feeding times, arguments, etc.? My entire manuscript could be filled with conversations like the one I demonstrated above. And, am I actually blaming my writer’s block on children?

Solution? I don’t have one yet. But the first step is admitting there’s a problem.

I’d love to hear what you guys think. Do kids and romance mix? Do you often buy romance novels if there are children pictured on the front?

Staring at a blank page,


  1. well for me I really don't mind and if you ever listen to Sheila say a word she always finds a way to put babies in the mix I think they love the bad boy doctor whose heart gets melted by kids. That said if you need to brainstorm, i'm here

  2. Absolutely! If I see a baby pictured on a Medical or Super/Presents/etc, I'll buy it. And you can find me sniffing and hiding my face by the end!

  3. This is JMHO (just my honest opinion) and I might be in the minority here, but I can find nothing romantic about children. I like both my heros and heroines single and child-free :)

  4. Hi ladies! Thanks for stopping by and giving me your opinions.

  5. Melinda,
    I don't think there's anything wrong wih children in a book as long as the focus stays squarely on the hero and heroine. If you start to sway more to the children, then the mss will wander. There are two kids, teenagers barely, in my current release and the editor had me take out scenes in their POV. So I would use them to enhance the conflict and not as a focus in the book. JMHO

  6. Welp, as a reader of your work Mel, I think you did a brilliant job with the kids. They were funny and cute and NOT little angels at all and there was a really good balance between reality and fantasy (which a good romance is). The editors read the first chapter well aware that the kids were in the story and they wanted to see more of it. So that should tell you that it's okay they were there. Make sure your h/H have enough alone time and keep the romance there, but TONS of people love books with kids and babies in them. I thought you had a great start, FWIW. Your voice is lively and notable, your characters were likeable and the kids were funny, there really wasn't much not to like...

  7. Hi Bobbye and Christine! Thanks for stopping in with your opinions :-)

    @Christine - you're just biased cuz you heart me big time!!

  8. Melinda, I agree with Chris. :-)

    But... I also have to agree with Meghan. When it comes to romance, that's what I want, just the h/h.

  9. Personally I like a kid now and then. But not right in the middle of the mix necessarily. You have a strong. You know how to write a strong story. Many writers wrote umpteen hundred mss before they discovered they weren't the genre they fit with. I know no matter what you write, you can do it- and do it well. <3

    Love the dinosaurs eating each other. :)