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My Favorite Child

A while back, a father blogged that he liked one of his sons better than the other one. He didn’t say he loved one more than the other, just that he enjoyed spending time with the older one more than the younger one because—duh!—he and the older son could do more fun things together. The admission caused quite a stir in the parenting blogosphere and everywhere else it reached. While I applaud the guy’s honesty, I think he’s an idiot for putting it out into cyber space for the entire world to see. But he’ll get his payback years from now in the form of therapy bills for his younger, least favorite child.

If we’re admitting to having favorites, though, I’ve got a little confession to make: I have a favorite child. No, no! Not one I created with my husband, but one I created in my head. (Note to my daughter: Just because you changed your contact to “Favorite Child” in my phone doesn’t mean you own the title.)

RiskyGame_coverReviseNext week, RISKY GAME, my fourth book in the Out of Bounds series will be released. (In case you missed it, the third book in the series, A NUMBERS GAME, was released as a digital novella last month.) The book features Baltimore Blaze tight end, Brody Janik, my favorite child among the Blaze players. I don’t know what it is about Brody, but from the minute he ambled into my head, he became larger than life. Laughing blue eyes, a wicked smile and a laid back demeanor all make him America’s favorite cover boy, but there’s more to Brody than just a handsome face who can catch a football. I think that’s what I love about him so much.

Growing up with four older sisters, Brody understands women. But, as he told Julianne in FOOLISH GAMES, he just wants a woman who “gets” him. Too bad for Brody that he’s still trying to figure out who he is himself. With a guy like that stomping about in my head, of course I had to put a smart woman in his path who could unravel the man-child and point him in the right direction. Shannon works hard and makes her own way in life. She doesn’t need Brody or his money and fame to validate her. There’s a reason this book is dedicated to five young women who are just entering the adult world. I want them to be like Shannon. My wish is that they own it—whatever it is they wish to be. Especially that girl who calls herself my favorite child.

What do you think? Is it possible to have a favorite child? Is it easier for a father to make that type of declaration than a mom?

Reading: the Ultimate Comfort Food

I read an interesting blog on USA Today’s HEA page last week that asked readers to go to their keeper shelf and name the book that was third from the left.  It was fun to see what books readers—and writers—decide are keepers.  I read many more books digitally now, so the book third from the left on my keeper shelf is dated—Jo Beverley’s St. Raven—but it’s still holds it own with today’s releases.

reading a book 5 timesMy son asked me why I keep so many books if I’ve already read them.  Well, duh!  Because I read them a second time.  And sometimes maybe a third!

Why?  You already know how it’s going to end, he asked. 

That doesn’t matter, I answered. These books are my comfort books.  I read them again because they make me happy.  

His response was the typical teenage double negative—an eye roll and a shake of the head—before leaving my office.  But, hey, I know I’m not crazy.  Just based upon the posts in the HEA blog, there are plenty of people who keep books and read them again; romance novels in particular.

Why?  Because of that comfort.   A reader always knows they’re going to get that happily ever after at the end, no matter what the main characters have to go through to achieve it.  That HEA is the premise behind the romance genre. 

But wait.  I read another blog this week.  (I know I’m on deadline, I shouldn’t be reading anything!)  This one on Dear Author.  It was a thought provoking look at HEA versus happy for now (HFN).  You can read the full commentary here.  In the article, the author opines:

Knowing that you can find constancy in a fictional love match can be a point of comfort for readers.

There’s that word comfort again.  I’m okay with an HFN ending in my books—as long as we’re not talking Gone Girl here.  (But even that ending is being changed for the movie version!)  That’s because I always infer that the couple will be together for the long haul.  I don’t always need an epilogue to wrap things up.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I love when a book has one, but it’s not a game changer.  For my Blaze series, I did write epilogues for each book.  The first was before the wedding, the second during the wedding and the third on the wedding night.  I hadn’t planned them that way, that’s just what the characters demanded.  

In my current WIP my characters are getting a HFN ending.  Not because they’ve been maddening during the writing process and I don’t want them to have an HEA, but because they’ve been through a lot and I think it would be too contrite to rush them into a wedding.  (Who says a wedding defines HEA anyway?)  Because this is the first book in a series, readers will see these two again and can follow them through the process a little more naturally than if I just gave them the requisite epilogue ending.

So what do you think?  Is a traditional HEA necessary for you to enjoy a romance?  What about epilogues? 

More importantly, what’s the third book to the left on your keeper shelf?

I can’t wait to type “the end” so I can cuddle up with St. Raven!

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