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MENU FOR ROMANCE: The Inspiration

Monday, June 8, 2009

When I wrote the first draft of Stand-In Groom (Happy Endings, Inc., as it was then known), I needed to surround Anne with family—as an orphan, sticking close to her extended family would be important to her—and I wanted her to be best friends with a cousin about her age. Enter Meredith Guidry, who was not only her cousin and best friend, but her protege—Meredith worked as Anne’s assistant event planner when Anne worked for Meredith’s parents’ company, Boudreaux-Guidry Enterprises, before Anne started her own business.

Then I wrote a scene when Anne goes over to have dinner with George, cooked by a caterer she wants George to test out for the engagement party. It needed to be someone Anne had a past with . . . but a past that in no way interfered with her life now. So when Major O’Hara first appeared on the page, he was a married man.

But then, as I delved deeper into the story during the two-year-long revision process, I began to realize that not only was Meredith growing in importance, but that Major was as well. And as Major grew in importance, I realized I had the perfect opportunity to develop a character who would be a good romantic interest for Meredith.

So the wife got nixed, and Major’s role got beefed up—and he became not just any caterer, but a chef who worked with/for Meredith.

However, after finishing Stand-In Groom and knowing that I was going to give Meredith and Major their own story, I had a problem with Meredith that I didn’t know about until I got about twenty to thirty thousand words written. You see, I’d given Meredith social anxiety disorder. I thought that would be a very interesting challenge for a character whose whole life is dealing with, well, social situations. I already knew that Major’s mother was schizophrenic—I discovered that when his character developed over the course of writing SIG. Who better to be able to handle falling in love with someone with a disorder like SAD than someone who grew up with a mentally challenged mom, right?

And the foil for their relationship was to be Meredith’s first love, her research partner from graduate school who based his dissertation for his Ph.D. on research he conducted on Meredith and her condition—unknown to her—and now wanted her to come work for him at his school in Maryland, so he could conduct more research on her and write a book based on it. Yes, to exploit her.

And if you caught it, that was the basis for the summary that originally went up on Amazon before I saw it and realized it was wrong and wrote new cover copy in the nick of time. (Yikes!)

But I discovered, once I got about nine or ten chapters into the story that getting inside the head of someone with Social Anxiety Disorder was not conducive to writing a light-hearted romance novel—nor was that character someone who was emotionally prepared or capable of falling in love easily (not that love’s ever easy, but you know what I mean). And not only that, but my own personal tendency toward SAD started surfacing the more I got inside that character’s head. And believe me, that was not a fun place to be, after working so hard for so many years to get over my innate inability to put myself forward, enter unknown social situations, and meet/talk to new people.

So I scrapped the whole thing and started over again. No more social anxiety disorder. Which meant no more college professor as a foil.

In that story treatment, I also had Major leaving Boudreaux-Guidry Enterprises to start his own catering company. But as I considered where to take the newly renovated storyline, I realized that if I had him leave the company, I’d be working against my ability to put my two main characters in scenes/situations together. Not only that, but I needed the idea of striking out on his own to be a carrot someone else dangled in front of him that put him in a difficult position to make the decision of go or stay, so that’s where the idea of having Meredith’s parents offer to become his silent partners in a restaurant—at a property they’re developing—came from.

The one thing I did know all along was that Meredith had been in love with Major for quite a long time before their story began.

I’ll talk more about the inspiration for the characters in another post, but that’s the round-about way that I finally came around to what ended up being the final storyline:

After eight years of unrequited love, Meredith Guidry decides it’s time to move on, to try to find someone who’ll love her in return. So she makes a prayerful New Year’s resolution to meet someone new and end her single status by year’s end. And when the handsome contractor she hires to finish remodeling her house asks her out, it looks like her prayer may have been answered. But dating the handsome contractor doesn’t seem to do anything to lessen Meredith’s feelings toward a certain chef she works with every day.

Executive Chef Major O’Hara has foresworn relationships, knowing he could never saddle the woman he loves with a family situation like his. When he’s offered the opportunity of a lifetime—to open his own restaurant—he must weigh his family responsibilities and feelings for Meredith with the desire to move forward in his career. Should he leave his comfortable job—and Meredith—for this once in a lifetime chance? And can he create a menu for romance to win Meredith back before he loses her forever? Will God serve up a solution before it’s too late?

  1. Monday, June 8, 2009 8:17 am

    Can’t wait to read Stand in Groom!! And Menu for Romance.

    Just checking to see – did you get the email(s) that I sent you? My email has been doing funky things lately, so I’m just checking to make sure. 🙂



  2. Carman Boley permalink
    Monday, June 8, 2009 9:16 am

    Yay! That sounds great! I am looking forward to reading these books very much!


  3. Jess permalink
    Monday, June 8, 2009 9:22 am

    I find that too. My heroine is fearful, and as I write her fears I feel my own cropping up more and more. But I think in some ways it’s okay for that to happen. The issues wouldn’t crop up, just from writing about them, if they weren’t already there, and this way it’s easier to recognize them and deal with them.
    Thanks for the post. Now I can’t wait to read that book.


  4. Monday, June 8, 2009 1:56 pm

    p.s. love hearing about how you developed the characters and storylines. How frustrating is it to have to scrap what you had been doing to rewrite?



  5. Monday, June 8, 2009 4:15 pm

    Woohoo! Just got a copy of MENU in the mail, along with my cover flats!!!

    And it looks like it may start leaving Barbour’s warehouse for stores around June 15th. So be on the lookout to see if it starts hitting shelves in stores near you before July 1!


  6. Carman Boley permalink
    Monday, June 8, 2009 6:27 pm



  7. Renee permalink
    Monday, June 8, 2009 7:43 pm

    Menu for Romance looks terrific…can’t wait to read it!!!!!


  8. Monday, June 8, 2009 10:42 pm

    Kaye, side note. Looks like you made GREAT progress on ACFL. Keep going!!!


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