Saturday, May 26, 2007

Unhappy Endings

Anyone out there a Grey’s Anatomy fan? I am… or was. That last episode, the season finale, really bummed me out. Not one upbeat moment in the entire 75-minutes! And the behavior of some of the characters was totally uncharacteristic. Contrived, even. McDreamy turning down the offer of Chief of the hospital? Smart George, flunking his exam? Callie, named chief resident? Grey and McDreamy breaking up? Burke, canceling the wedding only seconds before the ceremony? Don’t even get me started on the Chief’s wife being pregnant with his baby when they’ve been separated all season!

Give me a break! I haven’t decided whether to tune in next season or not. And this is (was) my favorite show! (Notice all the exclamation points?! That means I’m rather... peeved about all this.)

The thing is, the writer(s) broke some cardinal rules. One is that viewers don’t like contrived situations, written in simply to add conflict. We feel cheated, and wonder just how dumb do the writers and producers think we are. The second is, we need at least something to hope for. Hopelessness does not sell, people!

The Grey’s Anatomy writers could learn a thing or three from romance novels and authors. Our genre guarantees an upbeat, or at least optimistic, ending. The stories grow out of the characters’ behaviors, not some forced plot contrivance that adds phony conflict.

Next year, when Grey’s Anatomy starts a new season, I just might pick up a romance novel instead.

Ann Roth
Summer Lovin’ Anthology: A Reunion Story, June 2007
Mitch Takes A Wife, August, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

An Introduction

This is my first blog as a Harlequin American Romance author. I am so excited to be here, and to be one of this year’s debut authors. In a few weeks I’ll be shamelessly trolling the book stores, looking for sightings of The Man for Maggie. It’s a June release and yes, I’m counting the days!

A little about me. I’m not sure, but I might be the only Canadian American author. I am the product of a Canadian mother and an American father, with a huge network of aunts, uncles, and cousins that spans the border and both countries, coast to coast. No matter where I go, it always feels like home.

I live on Canada’s west coast, in a city with miles and miles of coastline, gorgeous beaches, beautiful gardens, and virtually snow-free winters. Really, it’s paradise, and I am so fortunate to be where I am.

I’ve read romance and dreamed about being a Harlequin author for what seems like forever. Finally started writing about eight years ago, and after six full-length manuscripts and four Golden Heart finals, here I am.
The Man for Maggie is a story about two very different characters, one who leaps without looking and another who has both feet firmly planted on the ground. Writing this book was a lot of fun, although not without its own ups and downs. It started as a short contemporary, was lengthened for American Romance, and then needed to be shortened again. Math was never my best subject but after all that adding and subtracting, I finally came up with the right answer! Two secondary characters from this book have a story of their own. With This Ring will be out in December.

Huge thanks to everyone at Harlequin American Romance for the warm welcome I’ve received. Can’t wait to meet all of you in Dallas!

Lee McKenzie

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Best Kind of Review

Well, it's almost here. The release of His Only Wife, my first Harlequin American book. In — oh, my gosh — about two weeks. This is a pretty exciting and scary time for me. On the one hand, I can't wait to walk into stores and see my book (I'm hoping even grocery stores). On the other hand, I'm on pins and needles as the reviews start to come in.

So far, so good. I hope no one minds if I share a couple of snippets here:

"A sweet second chance at love story. Gage and Aubrey have a great deal of baggage that they must dig through in order to find that happy ending, and this story is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon."
Romantic Times

"This entertaining second chance at love is a fine contemporary tale starring two likable protagonists. Each of the lead pair carries plenty of emotional baggage making a permanent adult relationship seem unattainable. HIS ONLY WIFE is an pleasurable read."
The Best Reviews

Hmm, anyone besides me notice a similarity in the two reviews? Here's the review that means the most to me:

"It was the best Harlequin book I ever read!"
Cathy's Mom

Yes, my mom. Okay, I know, she's supposed to love my books. It goes with the territory of being a mom - unconditional support of your children. But she meant what she said. I could hear it in her voice, see it in her eyes. And I can't tell you how great that made me feel. I might be all grown up. My kids might be almost grown up and be having kids of their own in a few years. No matter how old I get, having my mother be proud of me is still really important and probably always will be.

Sappy, I know. I don't care. Hey, this is Harlequin American. We're allowed to be sappy. Maybe even encouraged!

Cathy McDavid

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Back when my kids were small, people used to tell me to enjoy those days because the teenage years would be twice as hectic. I’m afraid I didn’t believe them. With two children born eighteen months apart, I’m afraid I spent a lot of their toddler years wishing for five minutes of peace and quiet.
Now I know what they meant. Life with two teenagers is hectic, to say the least. They’re busy and far more interested in cell phones and their friends than spending quality time with my husband and me. But every so often, everything aligns, we get a break in between work, sports, and traveling schedules—and we plan a ‘family day’.
My daughter gave these infrequent times the official name, and I have to say naming these days worked. Our scheduled family days are pretty sacred—all four of us look forward to them and have never yet tried to reschedule. This past Sunday was our most recent.
We decided to go downtown to Joe’s Crab Shack. It’s a chain restaurant with a good atmosphere. The one near us is on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. We sat outside, watched barges go by and teased our son about his current ‘it’s not serious’ girlfriend. Everyone also ate a bunch of crab. Next we shopped a little, then came home and sat outside in the backyard. My husband puts up a badminton net every spring, so he and the kids played round after round while I did my usual Sunday afternoon activity…read and nap.
So far, so good. Another successful Family Day. No arguments, no homework assignments suddenly remembered. Everyone was happy .
Until a robin decided to fly under the net. Phoebe the beagle (who previously only moved fast for ham and pizza) jumped up and caught the poor thing. The bird squawked.
Well, you can imagine what happened next.
My husband Tom started yelling and my daughter shrieked. The bird flew out. It had almost scampered away when Suzy, our miniature dachshund, did a mad dash and caught it. In no time at all, all we could see of the robin was a wing sticking out of the weiner-dog’s mouth.
Now Tom had the awful task of getting one very proud, very small dog to drop the bird without touching either her or the bird. The beagle began howling.
My daughter’s screaming reached new decibels. The neighbors on either side wandered over to see what was going on. Out came my son, who-I’ll go ahead and say it-had snuck in the house to get a break from Family Day.
All that was left of the bird were the remains, and they weren’t pretty.
Our next fun family activity involved working together to bag the bird. My son and husband started arguing. The dogs circled, wanting praise for disposing of the intruder. Tired of the hysterics, I told my daughter to go settle down inside.
After all that--well, ‘Family Day’ was officially over. It hadn’t been perfect. Or pretty. But, well, we’d been together…and it was certainly memorable. That counts for something, right?
Anyone else have a ‘family day’ activity that didn’t turn out quite like you’d hoped?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Summer's Around the Corner

Summer's around the corner. I have exactly 10 teaching days left. My students are preparing for finals.

The Dunaway household is getting ready as well. This past weekend we purchased new bicycles so that we can ride on the Katy Trail. We live only 10 minutes away. The Katy is a rail-to-trail and it's great. For many parts we'll be riding along the Missouri River. We also visited Camp Cedarledge, a Girl Scout camp that my daughter will be attending for two weeks in July. It'll be her first time being away that long, and guess what, she gets to bring her new bike. We walked all over camp yesterday, and a bike will definitely help.

My oldest is going to a two-week drama day camp. As for me, I'll be attending RWA in Dallas and a 5 day workshop in Manhattan, KS.

So what is everyone else doing?