Shannon here: Donna Schlachter shares why she puts the romance in the writing, plus a chance to win an e-book copy of Tina (book 5 Prairie Rose Collection). Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing. Deadline: July 8th, 11:59 pm, central time. Here’s Donna:
Romance in the Writing
No matter what genre of TV series I watch—and I will admit, I am a glutton for historical and contemporary mystery/detective shows—romance always comes into play. Perhaps as a motive for murder in the main plot line: “I loved her so much, I couldn’t let her leave me” or “If I can’t have him, nobody else will, either.” Or else two characters realize they are in love, then they break it off, maybe they get together, or not, as a subplot. Whatever the case, characters are looking for love.
Often in the wrong places. Which, of course, is the point, of including romance in the writing. It makes for the perfect stage for conflict, tension, and, well, more conflict.
If I have any ability to write romance, I have to give credit to God, first, and my friend Mary Davis second. While working with her on my very first fiction novella as part of a collection, she taught me to write romance. And one thing she made clear was that it didn’t always have to be mushy. Sometimes love is difficult. Sometimes romance might feel like it’s non-existent in a situation. When we read historical romance, we often find that the woman had little choice in the matter. For example, if she was traveling west and her husband died, she could be forced to accept a marriage proposal before she left the cemetery. This was especially true when children were involved. There was no social net in those days, other than the church and family.
In my book, Tina, my heroine lives in a covered wagon on a patch of rented ground just outside Loveland, Colorado, in 1882. Her father died years ago, and her mother passes early in the story, leaving her to raise her two younger sisters.
As you can imagine, being responsible for her sisters won’t improve her marriage prospects. But that’s okay with Tina. For now. She is willing to work hard to keep the family together. For now. She loves to sing, and especially loves to honor God with her singing on a big stage. Someday. For now, she looks for work to get her through.
The restrictive employment opportunities in the 1880’s often forced women into marriages of convenience, or even into contract marriages where they agreed to raise the children and keep the house. Sometimes the husband demanded other benefits, but sometimes not.
As you can imagine, this life wasn’t for everybody. Some women entered out of desperation, to have a roof over their heads and food to eat. Sometimes they even fell in love with their husband, which are the stories we love to hear. But often, while perhaps there was a comfortable friendship, nobody would have described it as romance.
So what is romance? The Oxford dictionary describes it as “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love”. Well, that doesn’t say a lot. We refer to a person as being romantic when they court their spouse, surprise them with gifts, or lavish them with edifying and encouraging words. Perhaps we each have our own idea about what constitutes romance.
But I think we’d all agree that, at the very least, love or a growing love relationship is required. A happily ever after, or at least the promise that an HEA could happen. In many romance stories, an engagement, wedding, or the birth of a child heralds the culmination of the story. And we smile, put the book down, and say, “That was good.”
A lieutenant in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Paul has dreams of traveling the country, building dams, and learning from the greatest engineer he knew of: John Wesley Powell. After Major Powell retired from the army, he continued leading exploration parties west of the Mississippi and into California, selecting dam sites to provide water for the fast-growing population in the new state.
He wants to marry—someday. He plans to settle down—someday. But not yet.
Paul is like a lot of men—keeping themselves to themselves, particularly men of that era. He commands with authority, but women—well, he just can’t figure them out. So he avoids them. And so Tina thinks he doesn’t like her.
As you see, these two people have conflicting goals. Sort of. Each has dreams, desires, and commitments to fulfill. And if left to their own devices, they might never stop long enough to get to know the other. And definitely, no HEA in the works.
But God. As He does in our lives, He interrupts their plans, speaking love and life into them both.
God’s love for us is the greatest romance story ever told. He is faithful, loving, respectful, compassionate, giving, serving, encouraging, and a strong right hand. We could all take a lesson from Him.
Question for Readers: Where is this story set? (Town and State)
A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She also coaches writers at any stage of their manuscript.
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About the book – Tina:
In 1882, Tina’s family is so poor they live in a covered wagon outside the brand new town of Loveland, Colorado. When her parents die within two weeks of each other in an outbreak of the influenza, Tina is left to raise her two younger sisters.
Paul Burton, with the US Army Corps of Engineers, is on his way west with John Wesley Powell to survey sites for potential dam sites. He meets Tina at the café in the hotel and admires her perseverance. When he hears her story, he wants to take care of her, except he’s on a grand adventure and has no time right now for family.
Brokenhearted that Paul is not willing to give up his career for her, and convinced he doesn’t love her, Tina allows another to court her. Except this man has no intention of supporting her sisters—or her. As saloon keeper, he plans to put her to work for him in the upstairs rooms as soon as possible.
Will Tina go from broken home to broken heart to broken reputation—or will God intervene and save her from herself? Will Paul realize too late that his choices affect not only himself—or will his Lord reach into his heart in time?
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