Monday, September 20, 2010

Our Life in Our Books

Readers and aspiring writers often ask two questions. (1) Where do you get your ideas? and (2) Do you base your characters on real people? I usually tell people that I don't know where the ideas come from; they could be based on anything from a TV news segment to a story in a magazine to a dollhouse sitting in a hallway. (Yes, I actually did write a book based on a dollhouse - A Cry at Midnight.)

But I can honestly say that I don't base my characters on any one real person. I also don't base a whole story on what happened to me or someone I know. However, with the book I'm writing right now, which will be a July 2011 release, several events from my own life have crept in. The most significant one is that both the heroine and I planned and executed a wedding in less than a week.

In my July 2011 book (We don't have a title for it yet!) the heroine's conservative aunt and uncle, who raised her, are coming to town AND the heroine is secretly three months pregnant. Because they will find out at Christmas that she was pregnant and didn't tell them, her friends talk her into having a surprise church wedding when they arrive. Of course, all the Brody's Crossing folks pitch in to not only plan the wedding, but also renovate a house for the couple.

In my case, thirty nine years ago this month, I got married in Louisville, Kentucky. My husband actually announced that we were getting married on Monday when we were at our newly married friends' apartment. This was news to me since we'd broken up for some reason that I never understood and can't remember! I wouldn't say "yes" until that Friday at about eleven o'clock in the morning. If we were going to get married before he moved away on Wednesday, we had to get our blood tests and our marriage license on Friday. We went to the doctor and the courthouse, then went to my house to tell my parents. After that went pretty well, we celebrated by spending the rest of the afternoon at the movies.

Above, Sara and Eric with my husband Chuck and me right after the ceremony.

On Saturday morning, my mother and I started planning. We arranged for a minister, church, and wedding cake. My sister and someone she knew who did flowers volunteered to help. The newly married couple, Sara and Eric Schulenburg, volunteered to have a reception in their apartment. (Here they are in a photo from last year, still married and beautiful after all these years.) I also had to pack up my belongings and move to Denver, Colorado. And to top it all off, the retail store where we worked was doing inventory on Sunday, and we both had to work!

Chuck and I cut our wedding cake. He was 28 and I was 20. We looked so young!

Somehow, everything got done. It was tough to load up a small U-Haul trailer with everything except my dresser, desk and rocking chair, which wouldn't fit. My husband sold his six month old MGB to a good friend, and we hooked the trailer to my 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T. We pulled out of town Wednesday afternoon for St. Louis, Missouri, exhausted but excited about the future.

I hope I can give my characters the same feeling of hope for whatever will come. They are going to start a life together when they don't know each other very well. They are going to have a baby when neither was planning on starting a family. They are going to have to learn how to compromise and talk through their problems. That's what will make their journey interesting, and hopefully, seem real to readers. At least I can say without a doubt that a wedding can be planned in less than a week, and sometimes, you can look back on that wild, crazy time even after thirty nine years of marriage.

P.S. If you have ideas for a good title, please let me know. The word "Texan" must be in the title. The other elements are surprise, wedding/marrying, expecting/pregnancy, and baby. The hero is a retired rodeo cowboy and the heroine is a project manager for a renovation company. Thanks!


Victoria Chancellor said...

I just realized something based on a comment from one of my friends on Facebook: Unlike my heroine, I was NOT pregnant when I got married. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but in another funny story, we had to make a trip back to Louisville a few months later just to show everyone at work that I was not going to have a baby. Usually when the wedding happens that fast, the reason will be "obvious" in a few months. :-)

Estella said...

Marrying the Texan
A Baby For the Texan

Not too good at titles.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Thanks, Estella. I'm collecting suggestions will let my editor make the final decision. Sometimes she likes a title that I don't, but editors have different considerations, like making sure all the titles for the month are different and don't contain a lot of the same words. (My first book with HAR was ALMOST A BRIDEGROOM but I was told someone else already had "bridegroom" for the month, so I had to change mine. It became THE BACHELOR PROJECT.) Thanks again!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I always tell people when I explain that my husband and I were married at 19 and 21 respectively, that our son was born three YEARS later!

Good luck on book titles. I had a whole list and then the computer froze. It must be tough when the word "unexpected" has been used so much recently. And then, do you know what kind of cover you want? Male model, both hero and heroine?

Here are my few...

Love by Surprise

The Cowboy's Surprise Marriage

Mending Broken Hearts

Building A Family

Taken by Surprise

Restored by Love

Kara Lennox said...

Does it have to have "Texan" in the title?

I like "Surprise Wedding" or something like that.

Very sweet story, BTW, and I LOVE the pix of you and Chuck!

Kara Lennox said...

So, yes, "Texan" does have to be in the title.

The Texan's Surprise Wedding
A Surprise Wedding for the Texan

Hmm, just doesn't have the same punch!

Victoria Chancellor said...

Thanks, Julie, for the suggestions, but it has to have "Texan" in the title. All my Brody's Crossing Books have that in common. This will the the sixth in the series.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Kara, thanks for the suggestion of THE TEXAN'S SURPRISE WEDDING. I'll add that one to the list! You're good with titles. It's always easier when one isn't already set on a title, like I do sometimes. As you know, I can get a little stubborn. :-)

Pamela Stone said...

Love the pics. We are from the same era, my friend. I am really bad at titles, but I'll take a shot. Like my granddaughter told her parents when they were trying to name her soon to be baby sister, "Why don't you just add Shelby to the list so you can mark it off?" How about just Texas Surpise?

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Opps. When right past that sentence. Must have been the line on my bifocals! But I am new to you so now must glom your backlist!

I like the folks other suggestions.

peace, Julie

Victoria Chancellor said...

Pam, I figured we were about the same "vintage." :-) Thanks for the suggestion, but it must have "Texan" in the title. TEXAN SURPRISE just doesn't have the same ring to it. I know the editors/art department love anything to do with pregnant heroines (I'll probably get a big belly on the cover even though she's only 3 months pregnant) and they love weddings, too, for the covers. I'm sure we'll come up with a good one. Take care.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Thanks, Julie. I would love you to "glom" my backlist anytime. :-)
FYI, I did a series of books set in Ranger Springs, but they didn't have the same logo/i.d. so they appear in different collections, like "Baby on Board" and things like that. When I started the new town of Brody's Crossing, I got my own series logo, so all of those can be pulled up together. Before writing for Harlequin, I was published in historical and paranormal romance, and I did three short contemporary romances for Precious Gems.

Lynn said...

Sold his MGB? Tragic. My bff in high school had a convertable green one we spent a summer getting into trouble with.. I loved that car.

Texan Three Step
Texan Baby Makes Three
The Cowboy's Texan Surprise
Texan Rodeo Cowboy's New Life

The book sounds good...