Things Happen the Way They’re Supposed To

As I check the weather report each day, I’m reminded that so much of life is about doing the footwork and letting things happen the way they’re supposed to. What prompted this topic is a Spring Break trip I have planned to “the old sod” next week. My cousin Martha and I have been looking forward to a week in Ireland since last fall.

Who knew the US would be pounded week after week with  blizzards and arctic blasts. And did you know that Ireland has been pounded all winter with deluges and fierce winds? Buildings swept out to sea, roads washed away, main streets under water.

Image (Doran cousins at the Bo’sun Restaurant in Monkstown, County Cork, Ireland)

Even the “glass half full” cousin we hope to visit in Cork says, “Now if only Ireland doesn’t go under with all the water that’s falling it will be great to see you both.”

We have no control! We may not even make it out of Rochester. Nevertheless, we’re planning a wonderful week in Ireland starting in Cork and working our way around the southwest coast and up to the Cliffs of Moher. Grand!

What has any of this to do with writing novels? Setting out to write a book, for me, is the same back-and-forth of planning and letting go and re-planning and letting go. I might begin with a brilliant outline and a richly developed GMC chart, but those characters of mine are going to wrestle me around to their points of view, their burning issues, their dreams and their schemes! I am merely their conduit.

The good news is, with them taking such strong roles, I can put a lot of my energy into the writing. That seems to suit all of us, as my writing is improving all the time.

So, even if I can’t kiss the Blarney Stone next week (are you kidding?? at my age??) I can continue to develop my gift for storytelling right in my own home office. Still, my bags are packed and, oh, how I yearn to be back in Ireland. Stay tuned…

Time for a Villain?

As Book Three of the Lakeside Porches contemporary romances takes shape, I’m thinking ahead to Book Four. Those of you who have read Book One, Stepping Up To Love (Soul Mate Publishing, 2013), have met Manda Doughty and her boss Joel Cushman.

Manda’s sister Lyssa makes small, dramatic appearances in each of the first three books, and Book Four is Lyssa’s turn as heroine. Personally, I think this is one love story that needs a villain, but I may be wrong.

I did a little poking around on the web to see the current take on villains in romance. There are many schools of thought!

Goodreads, for example, has two lists of books with villains: “Villains as romantic love interests” and “Villain Gets the Girl.Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are included, with many historical romances and contemporary, too. These are books “where the hero doesn’t have a complete turn around and become a good guy.” In other words, the hero is the villain.

What I had in mind for Lyssa’s story is a villain who vies with another man for the heroine’s heart and who may or may not succeed. It’s up to the heroine to decide which man is her hero.

Several interesting articles gave me caveats, terrific examples and food for thought. Concerned that your villain may be out of step with today’s romance genre? Anne Marble profiles eights villains to avoid in “How Not to Create a Villain”. Want the male view? Try Andrew Moore’s article “Top 10: Romantic Villains”. (Personally, I would add one of my favorite romantic villains to the list: Jasper Bloom in the Nancy Meyers’ film The Holiday.) Finally, Steven Slavick wrestles with the question “why don’t romance novels have villains?” in his short, savvy article “Who Doesn’t Love a Romantic Villain?” Food for thought!

What is your take on villains in romance? Do you love a good rake? Do you think the villain should always lose? Do you have a favorite villain? Have you written a villain into your romance novel? I’d love to hear!