Country Music and Romance?
I’ve introduced authors in the past from the group I’m in, Seasoned Romance. This week I have another SR friend, Morgan Malone, joining us and sharing her love of music and how it influenced her book, Unanswered Prayers. Enjoy her post and don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Unanswered Prayers. Welcome, Morgan.
I love Country Music! I grew up in Northern New York State, farms were everywhere. The only music acts that performed at the County Fair every August were Country and Western stars: Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, Jr. and Crystal Gayle. I was not a fan. But years later, driving my daughter back and forth to school events in the evening, I found our local Country station playing music with catchy melodies and lyrics that read like a romance novella. One night, I heard “That Summer” by Garth Brooks about a “lonely widow woman, hell bent to make it on her own” and I was hooked! I fell in love with Garth Brooks.
That’s where the idea was born for Unanswered Prayers, my newest release. I started writing the story in 1997. It took me over ten years to finish. I was caught up in a full-time job as Counsel to a small NYS agency. My daughter was heading to college and my son was finishing middle school. It was not until 2008, when I retired, that I finally was able to really work on my half-finished manuscript. I delved into the story that had been on my mind for almost a decade: Sam Rhodes, a weary Country singer, back on the road again after suffering a personal tragedy, playing the songs that had gotten him through the loss of his wife and baby girl, joined by rock and country stars, each showing up unannounced to the fans, to join him on stage, creating the summer’s biggest sensation. Naomi Stein, longing for a few weeks on Cape Cod while her son was at summer camp, tired of the demands of her ex-husband and her boss, weary from carrying too much emotional baggage, receives a can’t refuse assignment from Rolling Stone to follow Sam’s tour for exclusive access to the star and the promise of the magazine’s cover. A great concept, right? Sam looked like Tim McGraw at his sexiest and Naomi was a ringer for Kyra Sedgewick in Phenomenon, all that curly blonde hair flying. A conservative Country boy from Oklahoma meets a feisty reporter from New York. All the elements for a hot romance, right?
Except my writing was terrible! My manuscript sounded like a legal brief. So, I followed the advice of some author friends and took creative writing classes to lose my legal voice. I wrote essays each week about my adventures in Internet dating as a widow in my fifties. I soon had enough essays to create a book. Cocktales: An After-50 Dating Memoir was my first sale. The publisher asked for an erotic romance next that was a play on 50 Shades of Grey. So Unanswered Prayers languished while I wrote Katarina: Out of Control.
Finally, I was able to concentrate on the book of my heart. With the help of my fabulous editor, Deelylah Mullin, Unanswered Prayers became my best book. I wanted to write a romance with a Jewish character. I’m Jewish and I love romance novels; many of my Jewish friends love them too. But there aren’t many romances featuring any Jewish characters, so I was determined that Naomi would be Jewish and allow me to explore that rich cultural and religious heritage. I love the scenes where she is explaining Yiddish to Sam.
Both Sam and Naomi are in their mid-thirties. The largest single group of romance readers is woman 40-60. But there are not many romance novels featuring characters in their forties or fifties or older and usually, they are secondary characters. So, I write romance novels with “older” characters. Naomi is 36, Katarina is 40, and Rick, the hero in the sequel to Katarina, is 50! I’ve even joined a group on Facebook, Seasoned Romance, dedicated to authors and readers who appreciate “mature love.” That means romance involving characters who are at least 30.
My next release will be part of Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay Kindle World. The working title is Barefoot Bay: A Shoulder to Lean On and it features a 50-year old orthopedic surgeon known as Dr. Hottie Rock Star and best-selling murder mystery author who really wants to write romance.
I hope your readers will comment on seasoned romances: do they want a book boyfriend who is over 25? A heroine who could be their sister but not their daughter? Remember, love, like wine, gets better with age!
And, back to Country music, because I’ve been listening to Garth as I wrote this post. Please share your favorite line from your favorite Country song. Though I love Garth, who I finally saw in concert last year, my favorite song right now is Kenny Chesney’s You and Tequila Make Me Crazy. “One is one too many, One more is never enough.” I’ll draw from the comments for an autographed copy of Unanswered Prayers.
Thank you so much, Patti, for inviting me today.
Unanswered Prayers Blurb:
Summer 2001. Naomi Stein is just praying for a little peace from her son, her ex-husband and her boss. Instead, she is following surly Country singer Sam Rhodes across the USA, covering his breakout tour for Rolling Stone. Sam has had bad luck with women and for him Naomi is trouble from the start. Sam tries to keep the feisty, sexy blonde at arm’s length…until Naomi pushes him over the edge. The hottest tour of the summer has just caught on fire. The music gets better and the romance steamier as they crisscross the country.
Will their passion burn out as autumn approaches? Stubborn pride forces them apart until the tragedy of 9/11 compels them to face each other one more time.