Saturday, September 21, 2013

Diamonds and Rocks

My mama had a saying…”Some days are diamonds and some days are rocks.” For me, the past year was a mountain of rocks.
In my previous posting, so many months ago, I spoke of my sister’s death. A few months later, my 89-year-old mother-in-law succumbed to complications of a broken hip suffered from a fall off my front porch. Then I had foot surgery, my husband had shoulder surgery, an incorrectly installed humidifier in the attic created havoc in my kitchen that has taken months to repair. My computer copped a mean streak and became utterly useless. And, to add insult to injury, we discovered earthquake damage to my studio…like I said, a mountain of rocks!
Amidst all of this, a diamond fell into my lap. I was invited to be one of six authors to contribute to an anthology. I’ve participated in over a dozen such collections and there is nothing like the thrill of seeing hard work in print. However, this anthology had stipulations. First, all stories were to be a light romance, each in a different genre.
My assignment was nostalgic romance. Seemed appropriate since I’m most comfortable writing in the past. Nostalgia, after all, is a sentimental yearning for a remembered era. Scene, props, dialogue, situations, should stimulate memories of another time period.
Never written a romance, but I can do this, I thought. It was the second stipulation that gave me pause. Each story was to incorporate food in some way. Any food, central to the story or not, could be used with a recipe to follow the story.
A romance involving food?
Visions of whipped cream and chocolate syrup swirled in my head. Once I shook free of that apparition, I pondered all the elements required. And, then, the proverbial light bulb clicked on. Many times, Mom shared an incident involving food and my father, often ending the story with another one of her sayings, “Wisdom has it that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Thank heavens for exceptions.”
Suddenly I was comfortably in the past, remembering summer evenings lying on a quilt in the backyard and talking. Just the two of us, me and Mama. She was warm and funny and certainly dramatic, burning her own memories into mine.
Over the next several weeks, forgotten facts surfaced as I sat at the computer––Mom’s favorite songs, favorite nail polish, tricks her boy cousins played, being courted by the college Casanova, and the day the world nearly ended.
Against the backdrop of big bands and World War II, a mostly-true romance story with all the required elements developed. While facts are blended with fiction in “Casanova Comes to Dinner,” by virtue of the telling, two people have been immortalized for their descendants.
And that, above all, pleases me. It is my personal mission to encourage others to write their ancestor stories. Eventually the storyteller is gone. Written history ensures that personalities and events aren’t forgotten. Hopefully, it guarantees the future will know what they owe to the past.
To quote the book’s cover copy, “Romance – the Spice of Life is an anthology of love in all its manifestations.” Readers are guaranteed to find something to satisfy every appetite in this collection, because each novella encompasses a different genre –– suspense, historical, inspirational, paranormal, contemporary, and nostalgia.

 In “Casanova Comes to Dinner,” pretty Melba Kalkins is determined to prove that Professor Dalmayer’s theories on the physical attributes of the human body are not correct. She ignores her best friend’s warning and sets about capturing a college Casanova’s heart.
Fellow authors are: Linda Trout, who weaves a thrilling story of suspense around a deadly plane crash and kidnapper in “Shattered Promises”; Kathlyn Smith reveals the hand of God in affairs of the heart proving that love the second time around is a beautiful blessing in “Sips & Slices”; Lynn Somerville’s “Getting it Right” encounters one very ticked-off ghost proving that even from the grave, the dead can scheme; Nita Beshear, sets characters, different as night and day, in an early Oklahoma Choctaw settlement in “Muskadine Love”; and Gloria Teague finds the only thing worse than your daughter dating your new husband’s son is when they break up in a story aptly titled, “Family Feud.”

As an added bonus, included at the end of every story, is the recipe for the food element woven into each romantic tale. If you like turning actual pages, it is available as a paperback on Or, if you have jumped into the electronic age, it can be downloaded as a Kindle. Yes, this is shameless promotion.
Read and enjoy six very different romances; then sit down and record your own, “How Mama met Daddy,” story. You won’t be sorry you made the effort.

Did you know: According to a 2006 statistic, romance novels captured 40% of all book sales. While romantic liaisons figured in early literature (i.e. Romeo and Juliet), the modern concept of romance novels didn’t occur until Samuel Richardson published Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded in 1740. This was the first popular novel to be based on a courtship as told from the perspective of the heroine.