I finished it that evening.
It was THAT good. I read in between customers at my garage sale. I read while DG and AC dyed Easter eggs. I read while I cooked dinner (without burning myself or the food, thank goodness). I read while AC was in the tub. And I was sad when the book ended.
There were places where I laughed out loud. When the hero kissed the heroine for the first time, I felt it—I tingled with as much anticipation as she did as his hands slid… ahem. Sorry. At the black moment, as the hero faced his worst fear without seeing a way out, my chest hurt. When they reconciled and all the truths came out, I felt a shiver go across my skin. When I read the epilogue and realized there’d be another book starring one of the heroine’s siblings, I was the one sighing in anticipation and I headed straight to Amazon.com to find out when I’d get to see these fabulous characters again.
Yeah, it really was that good.
Of course, that made it hard to face my book Monday morning. Why? As I read over my stuff, my skin didn’t tingle, my chest didn’t hurt. Instead, I worried I’d probably never write that well. Who was I kidding—even if I could create characters as wonderful and memorable as the ones I’d just added to my keeper pile, I’d never be able to breathe life and emotion into them as well as this author had. It’s a realization that’s almost enough to make a girl hang up her keyboard.
I’ve heard of authors who wrote their first book because they read a not-so-great book and said “I can write something better than that.” I’m not one of those writers—that’s not why I started writing, nor is it the reason I want to write romance. I’m indebted to the talented authors who wrote such wonderful stories that I’d stay up late at night to finish them and then dream of my own hero. There are characters who feel like friends—I’ll reread the book just for the chance to “visit” and connected books make me happy because I feel like I’m getting an update on these old friends.
THOSE are the books I want to write. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’ve got the goods, and, if so, will I ever be able to deliver?
Now, before everyone goes into Support Mode to bolster my sagging ego, let me say there’s no need. Yeah, my self-confidence is a bit shaky at the moment, but I don’t think I’m alone in the Unpublished Self Doubt Department. (It's actually kinda crowded over here.) It’s one thing to realize you don’t suck; it’s another to realize how far you still have to go. I’m going to think positively, though, and assume I’ll get there eventually.
So I’m off to write a gushing fan letter to Julia Quinn—thanking her for sending me the book, but more importantly, thanking her for WRITING the book. (And encouraging her to get busy on more books starring that family so I can read them!)
Which characters do you consider friends you could visit over and over again? Which family saga is your favorite? For me, Jamie and Claire (Outlander) will always be a favorite, as will the entire Mallory clan created by Johanna Lindsey. Willa and Ben (Nora Roberts' Montanta Sky) are always fun. Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley and family gets an honorable mention as well, even if she does send all of them off into harems.
PS: Happy Birthday, Marilyn! You're the best Monitor a Playground could ever have! We love you!