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All about words



FIRST, Get in the Game

Posted by nancyfreund11 on April 2, 2014 at 5:30 AM

I asked my brilliant romance writer friend Lauren Christopher whose novel The Red Bikini comes out soon, what can you tell me about the skeletal structure of a good romance? I assumed there was one, even though writers in all genres like to say they write from their guts and even if they outline, there's a certain seat-of-the-pants je ne sais quoi that brings the magic to the story. Well, I have plenty of je ne sais quoi, so I was asking Laurie for the true scoop. The meat-and-potatoes. The bones. And she delivered. It's all about FIRSTS.


And I start there, today, because it's relevant to so many, many things in life... even when you're going on 50! OK, I'm 48. Some people call that late-40's. But let's face it, a good few firsts are behind me now, and YET! YET! I've got first-time fun stuff happening all the time these days, and today was one of them. I'll tell you about that in a sec. But gratification is all the sweeter when delayed, so FIRST, let me tell you what Laurie said about romance.


There's evidently a seritonin release or dopamine or some such brain chemical pretty much the same as what happens when you fall in love. You know that giddy, flowers-in-springtime, even on a rainy day joy you feel when newly in love? It's the shimmering golden question mark inflated overhead... is this... could this be... does he maybe... feel the same about me? Followed by an immediate blue-and-silver balloon saying hell-yeah-MAYBE, and somehow, a little higher, a little brighter, you can just about make it out in that upper-echelon breeze, is a sparkling mylar balloon saying yes. Pearly pink stuff and fairy dust glitters down upon you. It makes your hair look awesome. Those balloons are all swollen up with those brain chemicals that are so addictive and feel so amazing. And guess what? They come back again and again and again, when triggered the right way. A good romance novel triggers them. First the question, then the first eye contact, the first kiss, the first date, the first "I love you," the first, first, first. There's no template, necessarily, and the sequences in these things are all jumbled up in fiction these days just like they are in real life, but the fact is, there is joy in doing something for the first time.


And now, to my own "first" from this morning. A month ago, I launched a giveaway at" target="_blank">Goodreads for my novel Rapeseed. I'd never really had any interest in doing one because I didn't see why I would. Then I met Patrick Brown from Goodreads at the London Author Fair, and he made it seem, well... FUN. So I did it. And as usual, when I saw my stats begin to change on my Rapeseed page, I got a little addicted. It's not just firsts that are addictive, it's CHANGE, period. It's progress. So one day, I had 80-some people who'd clicked to win the book, and the next day I was closer to 90, so then I was hoping against hope maybe I'd hit a hundred! The numbers don't even matter, point is, it became a game. Click again, check for change. Click, click, click. Facebook, Twitter, website, blog. (My next novel seriously needs my attention now, and just as SOON as I sign and send these two winner copies, I swear I'm getting back to it).


But today the giveaway closed and I got the names of two winners. Crystal and Mimi. Florida and Chicago. REAL PEOPLE! I'm so thrilled to ship these books to them. The first two people I'm sending books who I didn't know before... other than Oprah, but let's face it, Oprah's kinda my best friend, and yours and everyone's, so we won't count her. I had no idea how excited I would be to read these two ladies' names and addresses. And to top things off, I discovered that those stats I'd been clicking weren't what I thought. Those were new to-read stats. People who found the novel intriguing enough to click their interest in READING it. The number of people who clicked to win it was double what I'd thought. DOUBLE! If I wasn't giddy before, let me tell you... giddy-plus. Giddy-overload. Ultimate giddy-rama. Festival of giddaciousness.


And yes, Patrick Brown. This stuff is fun. Writing a novel is awesome, I THRIVE on being squirreled away in my writer's garret for long, long stretches of time, but this" target="_blank">coming-out stuff of publication is a whole nother kind of fun, and I'm so pleased I decided to get in the game.  (Yeah, that link is an excllent speech about yet another kind of coming-out -- too good not to share where I can).  So to repeat -- Get in the game!  You truly don't know until you try it. Whatever your "it" is, I heartily recommend, as they say in England, giving it a go.

Categories: writing & publishing, marriage, parenting & family, neuroscience & health