I like them. They’re rejuvenating. They’re why I escape from day-to-day life and create stories in my head, or on paper. They’re what I think about before I go to sleep and what I try to get in real life. Some people call it “Jennifer-world” and I’m fine with that. In “Jennifer-world” I’m always right and everything works out perfectly. People listen to me and do what I ask, without whining and without endless questions. I have patience, I always say the right thing and I’m remarkably funny. I am never afraid. The four food groups all have chocolate ingredients, there’s a different pair of shoes (with a matching purse) for every day of the week and there is ALWAYS a happy ending.
Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work like that. Mines collapse and trap miners for months; oil spills destroy the environment and the local economy; politicians do stupid things because they’re greedy or just plain stupid. Schedules are crazy and make me cranky; my children don’t understand why they can’t have what they want when they want it; the car makes noises that no mechanic can hear or fix. My “Calgon, take me away” pleas are made too often and go unheard.
Those are the catalysts that send me to my computer, to rewrite life the way I want to live it. In my head, the girl is always brilliant, funny and strong. The guy is always understanding, challenging and not afraid to show a little vulnerability. They work together and save each other. And always, always, ALWAYS find their way to a happy ending. That is why I love romance and that is why I write it.
Every writer has heard stories about “THE CALL.” Whether it’s a phone call or an email, it’s the contact from the publisher that they like your work and they want to publish it. The ultimate acceptance of the writer’s worth, the validation of their craft, the justification for all the hours put into writing. It’s kind of like getting to hold your baby after long hours of labor. Recipients of “THE CALL” can tell you exactly where they were, what they were doing, and yes, even what they were wearing, when they received the good news.
I am no exception. Yup, I got “THE CALL” on Saturday. Only, I didn’t believe it. For some reason, I thought they only happened during the week—who works on weekends? Okay, well, as a writer, I do, but nobody else does. Apparently, I’m wrong (shh, don’t tell my husband). And even though I knew it could come in an email, I’d gotten so many emailed rejections, when the name and subject line popped into my mailbox, I just assumed it was another one to add to my list—believe me, four years of sending queries and partials and synopses and getting them all rejected makes a very long list. Even the cute little paperclip symbol for an attachment didn’t clue me in that this email was different. So, I opened all my other emails first. Postponed the disappointment for as long as I could. Until…I opened it.
I stared at it. Read the letter, stared some more. Thought it was a joke. Read the letter again. Took a phone call from my friend and talked to her while I reread the letter. Hung up the phone and stared at the computer screen again. I’d always imagined screaming into the phone at my husband. Unfortunately, I’d never imagined him at a bachelor party at the time I got “THE CALL.” And no matter how excited he’d be at my news, it’s tough to compete with Hooters.
Well, the good news is that I was able to reach my husband while he was still in the car. He was thrilled, my kids were thrilled, my family was thrilled. When the numbness wore off, I was thrilled.
It wasn’t anything like I’d imagined it. But it was perfect.