I find one of the strangest, and most magical, aspects of writing romantic fiction is that once the characters come to life for me, they are real in a way real people are real. (Better yet, they don’t die…unless I end them, but I write light romantic fiction, so be assured that’s not happening!)
I don’t know all of the characters equally. You, the reader, won’t either, because secondary or minor characters don’t get as much stage time as the two falling in love. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t creating their own stories in a place I haven’t tapped completely yet.
What better time to tap the strange and magical world of story characters then October, when things come alive! Two of the characters readers have said they especially enjoyed are Livvy and Mindy, the five-year-old girls in my story Under a Halloween Moon. Livvy is the bolder of the two. She wiggles with glee when she can shock the adults but stay within bounds that don’t get her in trouble. You’ll discover that pretty quickly when she renames one of her teachers. Mindy is an accomplished observer, which makes her an skilled trickster. She giggles with glee when she can get a rise, and a laugh, out of those around her by pushing the envelope, but staying just within the limit. And what better time than Halloween to pull a trick!
Livvy’s single father Cam dedicates long hours to growing his architecture business to take care of his daughter. Mindy’s single mother is dedicated to her daughter and her job managing customer service for a local business that enables her to take care of her daughter.
When the story opens, Livvy and Mindy, new friends in kindergarten, have not considered the possibility of their parents getting together. Annika and Cam haven’t even met yet. But when a windy overcast Halloween parade meeting blossoms into a trick-or-treat evening under a Halloween moon, everyone is considering Annika and Cam together.
What specifically are Livvy and Mindy, our two potential matchmakers, thinking about this development that I didn’t show you in the story? We could be sisters!
I hope you’ll read Under A Halloween Moon, and fall under the spell of a sweet story destined to raise your spirits…
I first swam with the fishes in Hanauma Bay on Oahu. Little did I know, snorkeling in this flooded volcano crater teeming with fish and marine life, that I was starting at the top. I had traveled half way across the globe from Maryland to Oahu to join the man I would marry. He was there on business. I was there in the throes of that beginning stage of love–when gravity shifts, your vision sharpens, the sun brightens, your energy abounds, the leaves wave and clap for you, and life is the most wonderful stupendous adventure. I was queen of an ongoing parade, floating, with my king.
Life was indeed magical above ground those first few days in Hawaii. But when I, my girlfriend who had traveled with me, and my husband-to-be duck-walked in our flippers into the bay, donned our masks, stuffed snorkels in our mouths, and fell backwards into the warm Pacific water, my fascination increased. Under the crystal blue water was a world of magic that had nothing to do with my husband, and everything to do with…physics and the fishes?
If you imagine the most diversely-stocked aquarium ever and you’re swimming in it, you get a vision of snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. But what left me staggeringly breathless was the perfect floaty dance that immediately began between me and this staggeringly colorful, diverse, and ever-moving kaleidoscope of fish! They were ALL around me, dozens, hundreds, close enough to kiss, and yet, no matter how I moved, what appendage I moved, or where I moved, I NEVER touched them. They would move in concert to my moves, in a dance that was infinite, ever reaching, and never ending. The physics of water does not explain this. I’ve run into plenty of people in the ocean, and they’ve run into me. I’ve collided with swimming crabs, and been repulsed by putting my hand through jelly fish. I know water doesn’t provide an absolute barrier. How did I never touch a one of those fishes?
Fast forward a WHOLE lot of years…I’m swimming last week at the Jersey Shore. The water is clear and the waves are moderate. I can see the sandy bottom between breakers. I’m swimming horizontally to the beach, against the pull of the current so I don’t end up several beaches below where I entered, when I realize I’m not swimming alone. There are two fish with me; really with me. No matter how I twist, or turn, or swim, they stay right next to each other, and right next to me, close enough that they are almost touching my ribs, but not quite. Not ever, quite. Observing that I absolutely can’t shake these two little companions, but I never run into them either, I’m half freaked out and half giddy with delight. I’m twisting, and turning, and leaping—and grinning. They adore me!
Here’s why fish swim in schools:
1. Feel safe from predators.
2. Higher chance of finding food.
3. Easier to find a mate.
4. Higher hydrodynamic efficiency.
In my bathing suit, my two little zebra friends had found a school. Everything in them said to stay close. Here’s a description of school swimming from www.theaquariumguide.com: “The way they move close to each other while keeping in perfect rhythm is incredible. It is like they are being operated from one mind at the same time…”
Like being operated from one mind at the same time. Me and my two minnow friends. Me and the gang at Hanauma Bay. And maybe, every now and then, me and the man I married almost 30 years ago. Call it attraction. Call it synchronicity. Call it love.
I just call it wonderful…
There’s more to May Day than the Maypole! In the early morning, children in the Middle Ages explored the fields to collect wildflowers to create a May basket. The baskets were delivered in secret to friends and neighbors…delightfully described in this poem by Virginia Scott Miner.
May Day Morning
Oh, let’s leave a basket of flowers today
For the little old lady who lives down our way!
We’ll heap it with violets white and blue,
With Jack-in-the-pulpit and wildflowers, too.
We’ll make it of paper and line it with ferns
Then hide–and we’ll watch her surprise when she turns
And opens her door and looks out to see
Who in the world, it could possibly be!
I hope you’ll tap in to some contemporary May Day festivities by starting this month of May reading May Day Magic!
Single mother Diane enlists the help of her two children to create a May Day basket to deliver to her ailing mother, their grandmother. She’s all thumbs when handsome plant nursery owner Marc joins in to help select the flowers. Diane has also secretly created May baskets for her children as a surprise they will discover when they return from delivering their grandmother’s basket. But there’s one more surprise coming, this time for Diane. Marc’s got a little May Day magic of his own in mind…
I didn’t expect to take another peak inside my upcoming Candy Heart series book I’m Sure. The release date is only four days away, on February 10th. But Tony, the fire fighter who makes all the meals for Jason and the guys wants to–
“Yeh, I want to represent for Jason. I’m Tony, and I work with the guy. We’re both firefighters and paramedics. I don’t think Ms. Breton—”
Please, Tony; Beverly is fine.
“Okay, Beverly then. Pretty sure you weren’t planning on talking to me — professional courtesy, I guess, because of my job and my family responsibilities. Didn’t want to take up my time. I do have two numbskull boys I love like crazy, and a wife who is an angel.” Tony drops his head as he flips cutlets in an oversized frying pan. “No question I miss important occasions because of work.”
Tony’s Italian, like Jason, and I can tell by watching, this man knows his way around the kitchen.
“Like I just missed my oldest’s first home run. He can hit okay, but man, can he run. Like a streak.” Tony beams me a wide smile. “Jason pays attention to all this stuff, you know, with the boys, and the wife. How I work on juggling everything. He’s no fool.” Tony gives a quick stir to a pot on the back burner. “He knows having a family with this job can be a circus act.”
Cracking apart a garlic head with a whack of his knife, Tony lines up the cloves and begins to mince.
“Jason’s up for the challenge. That’s not the hold up. The problem is he’s gun-shy. His last relationship, that woman wasn’t good enough for him. She wanted him at her beck and call. That’s not happening.” He stares at the cutting board, nodding. “You seen Jason?”
I nod, then realize Tony only has eyes only for the garlic. Yes, I answer, I have.
He shakes his head with a laugh. “Of course you have. I wasn’t thinking. You know then—“ He gives me an intent stare. “He’s fly paper for women. The way he looks? And if you haven’t seen him without a shirt?”
Yes again, Tony, I have, but I keep that to myself.
“Woo-heee. Muscles city. He can outwork any of us in the training room. And he does, all the time.”
Tony’s heating the garlic in some butter. The smell is to die for, and I bet it’s for garlic bread. Anyone eating in Tony’s kitchen on a regular basis would need to work out.
“But I have to wonder what’s driving him to take to the gym so hard. More than he needs to stay in shape, that’s for sure.” The burly firefighter throws a checked dish towel his shoulder. “Jason hasn’t mentioned this Megan. That’s not his style. But he’s been different. Like he’s walking above the ground or something.”
I smile. This is good news.
“You know, Ms., ah, Beverly, I hope this is the one, this Megan. And I hope he sees it. Time for him to be happy…”
I couldn’t agree with you more, Tony. Now please add a plate for me at the table?
To take another peak inside my upcoming Candy Heart series book I’m Sure, the florist at the Riverton garden center where Megan works is here today. Hard to believe these two are best friends, they are so different in appearance. Megan goes for the natural beauty look, and she pulls it off with her coppery hair and that healthy outdoor glow to her skin. Sara likes drama, the impact of jet-black hair with a who-knows-what-color-today streak, Cleopatra bangs, and perfect eyeliner. Here she comes now, in a black lace blouse and royal blue capris, flashing that sapphire and diamond engagement ring…
How are the wedding plans going Sara?
“Great!” she trills. “Do you know the date we chose? May 1st! Thought we’d go for a little May Day Magic.” Sara gives me a knowing smile.
I laugh. This woman knows how to work the room; she’s promoting my books for me.
“But you asked me here to talk about Megan. Dear Megan.” She reaches up to adjust the chop sticks poking out of her high bun. “She’s been living like a nun. I don’t know how. Or why.” She shakes her head, her blue-streaked bangs swaying. “That last guy, Mr. Works-All-Night-But-Not-At-My-Job, really did a number on her.” The florist sends me a penetrating gaze. “I don’t think Megan’s ever had Stars In Her Eyes.”
Sara, those stars in my first book are because the heroine is knocked in the head by an incoming wave pool surfer, and you know it, not because she’s dotty with love at that moment, but nice plug.
“I know.” Sara grins. “But I mean the dotty with love kind. I’ve never seen Megan moving around in a daze, like everything’s twinkling.”
Is she now?
“Something’s going on, since she met Jason. The start wasn’t smooth.” She gazes down, her lips pursed. “I’ll do what I can to get them together. I think they could be Crazy Happy…” she glances up expectantly, her eyes twinkling.
Without missing a beat, I finish. Hearts. Crazy Happy Hearts, my last book, starring my sexy sixties-something couple who reunite at the Jersey Shore.
“And by the way, Bev–I can call you Bev, can’t I? You are rockin’ some Specs Appeal today.”
This woman is a piece of work. I do wear glasses. And she’s woven in one of my favorite books to write.
“I had to land that since we’re talking about I’m Sure. Specs Appeal was your first go around with ‘puny’ double entendres. You didn’t expect that reunion story to be such a huge hit with the reviewers, did you?! You were concerned they might think the puns were too silly…”
I nod. Yes, I was.
“But they loved it! So now we’ve got Megan and Jason and their double entendres…but a little racier this time.” She nods sagely. “That fits those two. They are two very attractive individuals. Can you imagine their babies? I predict, by next autumn, Megan and Jason will be Under A Halloween Moon–”
I resist the urge to genuflect. My couple in that book caved to the magic of the Halloween moon…but since it’s only February, I hope Megan and Jason don’t have to wait that long to figure things out.
“—planning their own wedding.” Sara finishes, a confident ring to her words.
My turn–to feed her for the finale. You sure about that, Sara? They’ll be planning a wedding?
“Of course.” She waits a beat.
Do I hear an orchestra crescendo?
“I’m Sure,” she pronounces with gusto. Then, with a flourish of her arm, her dozens of bangle bracelets chattering softly, she takes a deep bow.
A well-deserved one. Thank you, Sara. Flawless.
Maggie, the owner of Peggy’s café in Riverton, California, is a chatterbox these days. She’s excited about the upcoming February 10th release of my Candy Heart Series title I’m Sure. She’s got a supporting role, as do two of her sandwiches, and she thinks—well, she can tell you herself…
Maggie rearranges her ash-blond-from a bottle locks to settle over her shoulders, framing the very ample chest she’s showcasing in a bustier-inspired top straight from the racks at Forever 21. Because that describes Maggie—who is on the high side of fifty—to a T; Forever 21. She finishes with an upward push on her hair near her crown, for height. Blinking her mascara-laden eyes, she blots her pink-frosted lips on a tissue. “Oh, am I on?”
Yes, Maggie, you are so on.
“Hi everybody. I’m Maggie. I run Peggy’s café, the best place to eat, not just in Riverton, but anywhere around here. You should see our menu, which is real cute.” Her long French manicured nails on display, she pulls a laminated card from one of her counter racks. “I’ve got one right here. I’ve named all the sandwiches, you know?” After a moment of indecision, she retrieves leopard reading glasses from under the counter, balances them on her nose, and starts reading. “Like The Sky is Falling—that’s a chicken sandwich with everything on it, and–” She jerks her head up.
I just reminded her what we are talking about today.
“Oh, yea, Megan Donovan. The water garden designer.” Maggie slips her glasses off and releases a loud exhale. “I gotta admit, that long hair of hers, that copper shade, is to die for.” She purses her shining lips. “But I really think that girl could use more make up. Where are her eyelashes? And every time she comes in for lunch with that friend who works with her, it’s like the girl’s been on year-long safari. Khakis, boots, mud spattered.” Maggie shakes her head. “Until the other day. You could have knocked me over with a feather when she walks through the door wearing a clean T-shirt–although it did need sparkles or somethin’–with this man.” Maggie’s eyes widen. “I’d never seen him before, but woo-wheeee. Tall. Cheekbones. A body that would take no prisoners. Calendar material.” Her eyelids dip lazily as her glossed-mouth widens into a cat-ingesting-cream smile. “What a woman wouldn’t want to do with that man.”
Did she just close her eyes? Her lunch rush could start any moment…
When Maggie’s lids pop back up, her gaze bright. “Jason.” She claps her beringed hands. “That was his name. Jason. He entered my candy heart contest for a free lunch…after I asked him, too, anyhow. I hope he wins, and brings Megan. I like her. She’s due for romance, if you ask me.” She snaps her gaze up, peering into the ceiling rafters of her café. “St. Valentine, you listenin’…?”
Awaiting the release date for I’m Sure, my next title from The Wild Rose Press! I’m excited to be one of the authors featured in The Candy Heart Series, a collection of Valentine’s Day stories titled after sayings from the classic candy conversation hearts.
During the day, Megan surrounds herself with water lilies and goldfish in the ponds she creates. At night, memories of her lying ex-boyfriend are a reminder she can never again trust a man.
Jason embraces his career as paramedic firefighter, even though ugly experience declares his profession a greedy mistress. During quiet nights at the station, he wonders if this bachelor existence is all he’ll ever know.
Then Jason meets Megan and sparks fly, chased by flashes of anger when Jason, battling a raging apartment fire, stands up Megan on their first date. Is St. Valentine powerful enough to bring these two strong-willed people together?