Matchmakers Abound in My World

Matchmakers abound in my world these days, whether it’s Grandma “Gran” Violet in my upcoming release, The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé, Amy in Regan Black’s The Matchmaker’s Mark, or Snarky Daughter’s friends. Or mine, for that matter. They’re everywhere!

“I know this guy. He’d be perfect.”

Sound familiar?

The all mean well. Even the bumbling 14 year-olds “helping” love along. Now truly, Regan and I are both happy these people exist in the world as they give us central characters in our books.

Writing about Gran was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Probably because I wasn’t her latest victim. Yes, Gran has a history. But Jess and Matt are definitely her toughest match to date. The problem with a matchmaker with a history is her victims know her tricks and will do anything to avoid them.

Like all matchmakers, Gran thinks she can force a man to move along before he’s ready. As an impatient woman, I understand the urge. Poor Jessica’s been waiting for Matt to get it together and notice her as something other than a 12 year-old for ten years. Luckily, when Gran drops her on his doorstep, Matt finally notices.

One of the best parts about being a romance writer is that I get to be a matchmaker all the time. No one gets hurt because I’m playing with the lives of characters, and I get to have all the fun. Although my characters are about as happy with the meddling as I am when it’s done to me. I like to pretend that I control everything in my books, but characters are just like real people. If you start taking them down a road they don’t want to go, they’re going to dig their feet in. Usually you can work with that. I mean, their reactions are honest. Who wants someone else making decisions for you?

But characters like Gran and Regan Black’s Amy are what bring layers to our stories. They make the stories believable. Because we’ve all been there. Even Snarky Daughter was recently a victim when over-zealous friends couldn’t wait for a young man to act on his feelings.

Unfortunately, 14 year-olds don’t know how to handle these situations as gracefully as 40 year-old men do. As we get older, we learn how to ignore matchmakers, laugh at their antics, or divert their attention to other victims. Whatever works. (Hey, I’m not noble. I freely admit to pointing a matchmaker toward another victim.)

Jess and Matt don’t have those choices since Gran is playing multiple games at once. Add in Jessica’s meddling father and you’ve got a whole lot of trouble for Jessica and Matt to juggle while Matt tries to find a wife who wants to stay in Blakely, their home town, and Jessica tries to figure out how far away she has to run to escape her family.

Grandma Violet is the reason Jess’ parents got together. Now she’s working on Matt and Jessica. If she’s successful, with them or her own love life, will she retire as Blakely’s matchmaker?

I doubt it. Let’s just hope she doesn’t bother Snarky Daughter. She’s got her hands full with two real-life matchmakers already.


Finding a Hero in a Song

The idea for The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé came out of a song.

Number one question writers get asked? Where do you get your ideas? I never know where ideas will come from. Sometimes it’s a snippet of conversation overheard in line for coffee, sometimes it’s a magazine article and NPR interviews some really interesting folks. But this time, it was a song.

Moving On, by Rascal Flatts. As the title implies, it’s a song about new starts. I was singing along one day in the car (it’s what I do), and wondered what the guy in the song would look like. And Matt just appeared.

A good kid born to the wrong family, who was determined to make something of himself. Matt didn’t follow the plot of the song, but he also didn’t leave me alone. Yes, my characters talk to me.

I tried to ignore Matt. I was working on corporate projects at the time and really didn’t have time for a landscape architect with a chip on his shoulder the size of the Grand Canyon. Lucky for all of us, Matt refused to keep quiet.

The more I tried to ignore him, the louder he got. I found myself playing Moving On all the time. Wondering what sort of a woman would be interested in Matt. And what sort of woman would interest him.

It didn’t take long to decide Matt was coming back home to gain the respect he craved as a child. Jessica Heymore, the town Heiress, was a lot harder to pin down. Matt needed a strong woman, but would he see her in the girl he’d rebuffed back in high school?

Jessica has her own issues, what with a father who thinks he can buy her success and a meddling grandmother who thinks she knows best (seems to be a family trait). When Jess blows back into town, licking her wounds from her father’s most recent attempts to help her succeed, she turns Matt’s world upside down.

Force them to live together while Jessica tries to decide how to escape her family’s meddling ways, and you get to watch the sparks fly. But that should go without saying since this is a romance novel.

Creating Blakely and the people who live there took even longer because I wanted to get the town just right. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now looking back, I see the reason it had to be right was because I’ll be spending more time there.

I was laying the groundwork for additional books for the fantastic characters that live there. Of course, in the meantime, I started a trilogy, so the stories from Blakely are percolating. But that’s OK. It’s a small town with some big personalities, which leave lots of room for more fun.

I can’t wait to see what happens next in this little town that’s big on down home charm. Of course, since it’s a Carolina beach town, I might need to head for the coast and do some more research before winter really sets in.

Don’t worry. We’re less than a month away from you getting to meet Matt, Jessica, Gran and the rest of Blakely. Hopefully you’ll like them as much as I do. Maybe some of them will even stop by for some guest blogging!

Until then, be careful what you say in the coffee line. You never know who’s listening or what kind of ideas it will spark!


Going Nuts in Scouting

So, in a stroke of local insanity, the Girl Scout nut sale and Boy Scout popcorn sale are going on concurrently. They are also following the middle school’s sale of, you guessed it, popcorn, nuts and magazines.

Now, first, would it be too much to ask for the PTA to not sell the same stuff that’s hard enough for Scouts to sell when their neighbors haven’t just been hit up for this stuff two weeks before? We’re not talking Girl Scout Cookies, which sell themselves. We’re talking Boy. Scout. Popcorn. And. Nuts. Your kids are in these organizations. WHY are you making us sell the same stuff twice?!!?

I admit, I have issues with the whole thing. Adult scouts aren’t allowed to sell fundraising items. Yet, both organizations expect me (an adult scout in each) to take the forms and post them at work. Um, isn’t that selling?

Whatever. But here’s what it comes down to: my kids and I now get to spend two weeks hocking food that nobody actually wants to buy. And, like school fundraisers, we get the kids jacked up on the idea of scoring cool prizes for selling what really is good popcorn. (I have no idea about the nuts since we didn’t sell them last year.) Really, I’d rather write a check to Scouts and run over to WallyWorld to pick up the $4 prize on my own, but selling is supposed to teach the kids responsibility. Or humility. Never sure which one it is as Scout Son totals up the 4 sales each year.

But, as a Scout shows up on your door this year, form in hand, I want you to remember something. When you buy that box of popcorn in the store that’s 25 cents cheaper per bag than Scout popcorn, you’re lining the pockets of some corporate conglomerate, and giving some executive a new boat. When you buy the box of popcorn from the cute kid on your doorstep, you’re sending kids to camp, and helping to provide the Scout experience for boys who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to participate.

If you haven’t had Scout popcorn in years, it’s gotten better. I can’t speak for the chocolate stuff, although I know people who love it. The caramel corn with cashews is the bomb, and I really can’t tell a difference between the microwave popcorn from the store and Scout popcorn. I just know I feel better supporting Scouts than I do supporting some millionaire’s retirement fund.

The same thing’s true with Girl Scout nuts and magazine sales. Yes, these fundraisers provide a product, but really you’re making a donation to building today’s youth. In both cases, there are options to send food to the troops, or in the case of our Girl Scouts this year, to local food banks.

And isn’t making a change in your community better than buying some guy you’ve never met a new boat?