Thursday, October 12, 2006

Got Romance?

On the eve of my seventh anniversary, and hungry for an idea to wet my honey’s appetite, I find myself looking back over our years together…and those little touches I made. Suffice it to say, while my main squeeze is very yummy to look at and oh, so lovable, he isn’t a romantic. Which means of course, being the woman (and writer) that I am, I tend to overdo in this area.

Let’s see. There was that one time when I used my Photoshop skills to make him a racy anime Pookie card, then dressed as that same character he’d pet-named me after. And the hilarious window of opportunity when every one of his co-workers knew I was covering his car with sticky hearts with cute sayings—U R Cute, Hot Stuff—except for him. Plus I’ll never forget when I gave him the City of Angels soundtrack to mark the first time I’d ever seen him cry. (Which of course he promptly lost and I later replaced, being the great gal I am.)

Then there was the card…the one we both picked out in secret, on separate shopping trips and kept hidden away in secret alcoves. Mine was the bedroom closet. His was the trunk of his car. Both had different pictures to portray masculine vs. feminine tastes, but contained the same saying.

“Since I met you, all I can think about is making you happy. I want to see your smile and hear your laughter, I want to kiss away old hurts, and hold you until you know without a doubt, that this is for real. I want to memorize the sound of your voice and the dreams of your heart.”

The second the irony registered was definitely an “Aw, shucks” moment. The kind that every writer must include in their books to forge a deeper connection between the hero and heroine. My books rarely escape without a couple, because I think those defining moments reveal so much about the personality of your character. And I feel they help the reader to connect with the hero and heroine in a personal way, which means that mental snapshot will resonate in their memories.

To see if I was reading more into the moment than what was there, I decided to ask my heroines just what their heroes had done for them to make their hearts melt.

Zara Dior, the kick-ass and takes names later Voyager from TIES OF VALOR hemmed for a bit, while her index finger traced her sword’s scabbard. “It was a gift from him.” She tapped the twines of leather and added, “But not this. He gave me a flower—a zizan—which made my lifeless room fade away.” A smirk twisted her lips. “I knew then that he had a heart beneath that black armor, but not that it was already mine.”

Face-to-face in Fred’s Diner, artist Shanna Karis’ first response was a brilliant smile. “I’ll show you.” Just that fast she swiped a pen from a passing waitress and started to doodle on her napkin like a bored child. “He gave me a handbound sketchbook, then showed me a slice of heaven to wet my failing artistic appetite.” She swiveled the layered paper around for me to see. An impish fairy winked at me, its cherubic face bracketed by fluttering wings. “Ravin opened my eyes to the impossible.”

Dara Carlton forwarded me a snippet of a home-Karaoke recording while co-piloting her nerd-turned-hunk’s National book tour. The simple message she’d tacked on said, “He had my heart for a song, literally.”

No longer a Familiar, but all woman Gwynan Kadin lifted her gaze from her library book and licked her lips. “Kendron bought me my first scoop of chocolate ice cream.” Her fingers delved into her pocket, then routed through a pouch of change to find a gold coin. “I was a stranger and yet he showed me kindness.” Hovering locked between her thumb and forefinger, Gwynan studied the metal dollar bearing a woman and child. “After our treat he gave a homeless man a coin just like this.” She flipped my hand over, dropped the money into my outstretched palm, and curled my fingers overtop. Then she snapped her spell encyclopedia shut with purpose. “My research can wait. Want to join me for a commemorative double at Landry’s?”

“In the beginning, I could’ve pummeled Eric for his extravagant dry cleaning bill. However, it’s now in a place of glory hanging on the wall of our office beside his treasured cocktail napkin. But you said you’re looking for love.” Afra Dytte leaned back in her desk chair, her picture streaming via my computer, and stared into space with the ears of her pink bunny slippers bobbing. “In my professional opinion, the turning point came with his totally, one hundred percent home-cooked meal without any help from me. But the homemade cocoa with mini marshmallows he served up in front of the raging fire,” she cooed in delight as if recalling it’s mmm-mmm goodness, “that was the cherry on top of his sucker sundae. And I guzzled last every drop.”

Go-to-girl Jacqui Valere from BELIEVE IN ME took a minute out from her much needed vacation to e-mail me this rainbow colored message—Rad kept me from forfeiting that To Do Before 50 list I’d started to pen. Now I can add a few miraculous things to master before my pink hair turns gray. Honestly, along our wild ride what meant the most was that he believed in me when I doubted myself. What more basic thing can you ask of a man?

With all these tales as evidence, I know I can brainstorm a timeless souvenir to mark our special day. Maybe it will simply be a night spent snuggling while we watch “his” new season of HIGHLANDER. That might not make my honey cry, but hopefully it won’t make him want to ring my neck. Unless of course we shared another mind meld moment and got each other the same boxed set to complete our collection.

However I do have to wonder—do you think that a romance writer should be a romantic at heart? Or do you think it’s possible to “wing it” or dare I use the words “fake it” by relying on books like 1001 WAYS TO BE ROMANTIC for fodder?
For more ideas on how to think outside the box romantically skim my ROMANTIC TIDBITS on the About Skylar at


MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

I think that the very fact we write romances makes us romantics at heart. That's why men who write romance are very few and far between ...they just don't have the gene for it.

My hubby at the beginning of our long and often hilarious relationship, used to do a lot of very romantic little things. Now, his idea of getting romantic is putting some water on for tea for me. the scheme of things is really pretty sweet when you think about it. Truth is romancing your spouse takes time. Time to plan. Time to execute. Time to receive the 'accolades' all that planning leads to to. *smirk, smirk, wink, wink*

I love the fact you plan all those sweet little 'aw shucks' moments in your books. That's one thing I've never done in my books. I'm sure if I go through and reread them I'll find something similar. I do have a few scenes where the's always the man...bathes the woman because she's too ill to care for herself. That's so intensely caring.


Skylar Masey said...

I usually don't plan/plot out the "Aw, Shucks", they just usually come about organically after I get to know the characters. Now that I reflect on it, I can see where each is a physical representation of what is going on emotionally within the story.

And I love the idea of the bath/taking care of the significant other. I have a little bit of that in both TIES OF VALOR & BELIEVE IN ME. And from personal experience, I can definitely say sometimes its heaven to have someone who can help you wash your hair. :0)

Angela Verdenius said...

I think you need to be a bit of a romantic to write romance. How else could you capture an ordinary moment and make it sweet? Make it mean something?

Angela *ducking for cover*