“Dearly beloved…”

The radiant bride and nervous groom stand before the altar. The minister intones the marriage service. A congregation of family and friends witness the solemn, lifelong vows.

“If anyone shall have any reason why this man and this woman should not join in holy wedlock, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”

The expected silence to the mere formality reverberates to the rafters of the old church.

A small hesitant voice rises from the hushed congregation.

“Dada?”

I wonder if the baby in the third row will be a comedian when he grows up. Because he sure brought the house down at the wedding my son attended.

Do you have a funny wedding story to share? I’d love to hear it.

© Joan Leacott 2011

The D in my DH

Three dear friends are coming to stay next weekend. They’re bringing along their writerly muses for an extended brainstorming session. It’s going to be so much fun. Naturally, good food is also on the agenda. I have a recipe for a fancy fruit pie that I wanted to refine and bake up my for gal pals.

Test-kitchen day arrives and I go looking for the recipe. There is only one hardcopy version, much revised and speckled with rejected ingredients. Now, my usual place for recipes under construction is tucked inside the front cover of my well-loved Baking with Julia.

My recipe wasn’t there.

Unflustered, I checked my desk where I might have laid it to be typed up, backed up, and stored forever. No such luck. I checked my briefcase where I might have tucked it to give to a friend. Still no luck. Panic nudged the corners of my mind. Unusual places were searched; my nightstand, my piano books, my sewing box. Nothing.

Desperate and panicky, I asked my dear husband (DH). He saw nothing, knew nothing. Of course.

Now, I began looking in absurd places; the recycling bin, the ashes in the woodstove, the bottom of the birdcage. Okay, I don’t have a pet canary, but you get the idea.

After three days of futile attempts, I find the Lost Recipe. Where?

Jammed into the manual for the motorboat, marking the page for the setting of sparkplug gaps. The manual which the DH had referenced the day the recipe disappeared. It’s a good thing he was in the room at the time of discovery or accusations would have been tossed about like confetti. Apparently he’d been doing his version of “tidying up.”

Sometimes the D in DH does not stand for dear.

© Joan Leacott 2011x-posted at Voices from the Heart

Antidote to Rejection


Rejection sucks more than the vacuum department of a Sears store!

~Bonnie Staring

As happens more often than not in the publishing industry, I received a rejection for a manuscript.

I huffed and puffed and blew around the house for a while. I whined to my ever-patient husband who read the email and pointed out all the nice things.

Then, for the first time, I reached out to my writing gals and pals. Notes dinged into my inbox and across my page offering cabana boys, chocolate, margaritas, and hugs. Empathy and encouragment filled the messages.

Little by little, I was cured of the rejection blues by the kind words of dear friends and cyber friends.

I’m back in the chair with my hands on the keyboard. My skin hasn’t been thickened by rejection, but strenghthened by friendship.

Thanks everybody!

© Joan Leacott 2011

An Inherited Condition

It’s November 1951. Tove, a young Danish farm girl is hanging laundry in a snapping summer breeze. The sound of horse harness and wagon wheels carries across the field from the road. The handsome young man driving the wagon catches her eye. “That’s The One,” she says. She meets Magnus a few days later at a social gathering and confirms her condition—Love at First Sight.

But, Magnus is scheduled to board ship and emigrate to Canada. Romantic letters floating back and forth across the Atlantic encourage his lovely Tove to join him in building a new life in a new land. Because they’re unmarried, they must live in separate towns at least six miles apart. If the distance of an ocean can’t stop their love, a mere six miles is no obstacle. They marry on November 1st, 1952. They now have five children, eight grandchildren, and have celebrated fifty-five years of marriage—an impressive heritage.

Fast forward to July 1975. Joan, another young girl, is working as a store clerk in the fabric section of Simpson’s department store. She’s heard the story of her parents’ meeting and dreams of the same for herself. A young man walks past her. He’s got dark hair, dark eyes, broad shoulders, and a great butt. He walks like he owns the world. “That’s The One,” she says. Five years later, they married and are still going strong.

The young Danish couple is my mom and dad. The young Canadian couple is myself and my husband.

My mom passed away three years ago on Boxing Day. Apart from inheriting Love at First Sight from Mom, I’m told I’ve inherited her smile and her gift for caring. Who could ask for a better legacy?

What good thing have you inherited from your parents?

© Joan Leacott 2011x-posted at Voices from the Heart

RWA-A Writer’s Wetsuit

My summer home is a cottage on the east coast of Georgian Bay. Weather permitting, I swim laps across our small bay for an hour. Before I hit the water, I don my wetsuit. That’s right, a wetsuit.

Why should a tough Canadian need a wussy wetsuit? We’re all polar bears, right? Um, not so much. I wear the wetsuit for safety, buoyancy, and warmth. Besides, the hubby thinks it’s hot! Isn’t every man’s dream to have his very own Bond girl?

So, what’s a wetsuit got to do with romance writing?

The Romance Writers of America is your wetsuit in the deep and chilly waters of romance fiction.

Safety

Through its myriad chapters, the RWA provides a safe place for a newbie to learn the endless craft of romance writing. Local chapters have monthly meetings and there’s the mega-conference known as Nationals. My local chapter, theToronto Romance Writers, has offered fabulous workshops with amazing speakers such as Mary Buckham, Dianna Love, and Donald Maass—and that’s just in the last three months! Editor panels at the larger conferences give a peek at the inner workings of publishers large and small, print or electronic.

Buoyancy

Got rejections deep enough to drown in, or plot problems sinking your story, or writer’s block pulling you under like cement overshoes?  Fear not, there’s a whole raft of romance authors out there to boost you to the surface and float you along, giving you the strength to carry on. Critique groups, brainstorming groups, blog groups like RWA-WF or Voices from the Heart give a helping hand or a place to blow off steam.

Warmth

Is there anyone better in the whole wide world than your romance “peeps” for a dose of the warm fuzzies to celebrate your achievements? Cabana boys and chocolate, champagne and roses, hugs by the score are delivered in real space and cyber space when you break through with that first stupendous sale.

Safety, buoyancy, and warmth by the lakeful, the RWA is a wetsuit for writers.

Where does your wetsuit hang?

© Joan Leacott 2011, x-posted at RWA-WF

I’m  gone. So sorry, but I’m not really here.

I’m off in a land of make-believe; a land that may have very little to do with reality as we know it. My nose is leaving sticky prints on the glass of the world created by the author of the book I’m currently reading.

Whether the place is populated by blue-skinned aliens, Egyptian goddesses, or plain old folk from Texas; this world has been built detail by detail to enchant me.

How I love to be enchanted!

How I strive to enchant in return. Whether my setting is the urban Toronto of my Painted Ladies series or the fictitious small town of my Clarence Bay series, I seek details that will capture my reader’s imagination.

The crunch of biscotti and the bitter taste of espresso seat a reader at the bistro table with Caterina, my Italian heroine. The scents of sun on pine trees and rain-soaked earth take a reader for a walk in the woods with Ryan, my small-town hero.

Other than a description of setting, a turn of phrase evokes a time and place. You wouldn’t expect Regency cant to come from the mouth of a cowboy or to occupy his thoughts. Unless, he was a time traveler. Hmm, is there a story in there?

At the moment, I’m traveling in eighteenth-century London with a nobleman just returned from the New World.

Where are you and who are you with?

© Joan Leacott 2011

In my previous post, I chatted about my madness as a writer. I may, perhaps, have another writer’s flaw. My non-writing friends consider it far worse than voices that wake me in the night. After all, my characters don’t disturb their sleep.

Latest hunky hero says “Hey.”*

This flaw strikes anytime, anywhere. It favors inopportune moments; a sob-broken eulogy, a co-worker’s tale of woe, over crème caramel in a romantic restaurant. Something catches my writer’s fancy.

Suddenly, I’m scrounging for notepad and pencil. Really, a writer should come with a built-in version.

It happens so often, the Loving Husband coined a phrase for this special spasm of my mine: Fodder Alert.

I confess. I hang my head in shame. I apologize in advance and arrears. Not only am I a mad writer, I’m a scene spy.

Family, friends, acquaintances; all are surreptitiously propositioned for story ideas. But strangers are better. They never find out they been—OMG—used.

Before you all shun me, please know that the final result seldom mirrors the originating incident. My peculiar madness bends and twists the original beyond recognition. Innocent contributors are protected by a thick veil of privacy. I do, after all, want peaceable relations with my family and friends.

When and where do your Fodder Alerts sound? Which was your favorite?

*Ryan Chisholm, hero of Above Scandal (my romantic women’s fiction work-in-progress) informed me, “I am not idiot enough to use a little girl against her own mother”. He and Carter of The Painted Ladies must be gossiping behind my back.

© Joan Leacott 2011

Am I Mad? Or am I a Writer?

The first time it happened was in the middle of the night. I woke from peaceful slumber, a deep masculine voice ringing in my ear. “You can’t make me do that! I’m no wuss!”

Who was the dark-eyed, dark-haired man protecting his masculinity? Not The Loving Husband. Though he does have lovely laughing brown eyes, hubby’s hair is mostly grey and mostly gone. Besides, he was sound asleep, snoring ever so slightly.

The vocal fellow was Carter Whealdon; a complete figment of my imagination, a character in my first novel, The Painted Ladies. I’d made him do something, can’t remember what, that offended his virile soul. And he was making himself heard.

My characters talk to me; all the time, non-stop. They tell me they don’t like the clothes I chose for them, the friends I picked for them, the relatives I dumped on them. Why is it they only complain?

Why can’t my characters cheer about the good stuff that floats out the depths of my imagination? Why hasn’t Danni Parlowe thanked me for gifting her with the above-mentioned hunk? Why doesn’t he whisper sweet nothings to her in the dark of the night, and leave me alone?

See that romantic photo at the top of the post? Well, Danni doesn’t care for that tattoo, no matter how sweet and sentimental the verse. My man Carter won’t have anything to do with this gal unless she’s a natural blonde. Sheesh! What’s a writer to do?

Go away, people of my conscious deep

I really need my beauty sleep

So on the morrow, at the keys

I finally write some stuff to please.

Do your characters complain or congratulate? Do you listen to them? Are you mad, or are you a writer?

© Joan Leacott 2011, x-posted at Voices from the Heart

Inaugural Post

Look at me! I have a blog with an embedded website. Or is the other way around.

I have a website!

And now for my Oscar moment… Many thanks to:

Cynthia D’Alba and Gwen Hernandez taught an awesome  WordPress.com workshop on the PRO-Class loop of Romance Writers of America.

My son Adam helped with the header containing the gorgeous flowers created by Elisabeth Pérotin at fotolia.com. The background swirls are from Eve at fotolia.com.

Blushing, bowing and rushing off stage… to post my first blog about the special madness of writers.

© Joan Leacott 2011