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THE ART OF ROMANCE–The Inspiration

Friday, April 8, 2011

You know how sometimes you come up with an idea, you jot down some notes, that idea sprouts legs and becomes something, and then, some time later, you can’t remember what gave you the idea in the first place? Well, that’s where I am with trying to remember how I initially came up with the idea for what would become The Art of Romance. The only thing I know for certain is that the idea hinged on my character-development-crush on the guy who should have won season 2 of Top Chef, Sam Talbot.

Initially, when I came up with the idea back in February 2007, my working title was Cover Model. I even still have the idea writeup I did back on February 20, 2007, so that I wouldn’t lose the idea:

Jason ??? (Sam Talbot)–

After years living in New York City, all Jason wanted was a quiet place to settle down and focus on his art – and maybe teach a lesson or two. To ensure his anonymity, he takes on the stereotypical artist persona – paint covered clothing, distracted, mussed look. When his grandmother encourages him to teach classes for the senior adults at church, he agrees to humor her – and to take her up on her promise of two home-cooked meals a week.

Diana has lived with her grandmother for the past five years, ever since Manna’s eyesight became too poor for her to get a new driver license. Even though Diana is single and 31, Manna has a better social life than the young college Linguistics professor. Most of Diana’s free time is spent with Manna and her three zany best friends, one of whom keeps hinting that she wants to set Diana up with her grandson Jason.

When Manna informs Diana that every Tuesday night she will be attending an art class at church, Diana agrees with a sigh, knowing it’s just as easy to grade papers at church as at home, and without the distraction of the TV or fridge.

Eight seniors have signed up for his class. So when a tall young woman enters with one of the ladies, Jason’s attention is captivated. The girl isn’t beautiful by the New York sense of the term, but in her perfect posture, long dark hair, and chiseled features, she reminds him of a Rodin sculpture.

Diana takes over a table at the rear of the fellowship hall where she hopes she won’t be distracted by the group at the front. But her attention is drawn to the artist teaching the class. His hair is haphazardly pulled into a ponytail, the large white shirt he wears is splattered with paints, as are his worn, torn jeans and battered athletic shoes. His eyes are half-obscured by dark-framed glasses, and Diana wonders what he would look like without them.

Jason tries to keep his attention on the differences between water colors and oils while the young woman pulls out piles of papers and a red pen from her briefcase and organizes several stacks around her on the table. His mother used to grade papers like that.

Unable to concentrate on grading Old English translations, Diana pulls out a notepad and begins to scribble down an idea for a new romance novel… with a handsome artist as the hero. No one except for her grandmother knows that she publishes sweet romance novels under the name Kate Blane. She’s afraid if anyone knows, they’ll lose respect for her as a serious academic.

After the class ends, the grandmothers start. As best friends, Julia and Maggie have long plotted to get Diana and Jason together. Each woman knows a secret about her grandchild that she’s kept from the rest of the world.

Diana can’t deny her attraction to Jason as they shake hands, and her reaction surprises her. Jason bears no resemblance to the man who has occupied her dreams for the last six years. Ever since she saw the cover art for her first published novel, the dark, brooding man in a Marine uniform has consumed her imagination. At her request, the publisher uses the same model for each of her covers. When Diana asked for the model’s name, hoping to meet him, she was told that he wanted to remain anonymous.

Jason thinks about Diana constantly. He draws pictures of her, paints her, and even imagines her as the heroine in the books of his grandmother’s that he reads secretly. The romance novels by author Kate Blane. The books with his picture on the cover.

In 2009, when it was time for me to pitch a new series idea to Barbour, I went back through my Ideas folder on the computer—looking for this one to go along with the reworked idea for Love Remains. And because the grannies played such a big role in this book—and because Zarah’s grandparents were vital in her story—the idea to have the grandparents not only all be friends, but band together to try to matchmake for their grandchildren, developed.

But I wasn’t crazy about the names Jason and Diana. And, obviously, the storyline here needed a little more development. And, for some strange reason, I decided to make the heroine seven years older than the hero. And that initial story idea morphed into this:

    English professor Caylor Evans moved in with her grandmother five years ago when Sassy’s eyesight became too poor to get her driver’s license renewed. Though she is now writing sweet/inspirational romance novels, Caylor still draws inspiration for her heroes from the portfolio of covers and sample images drawn/painted by Patrick Callaghan for the steamy romances she used to write (as “Melanie Mason”), and dreams of meeting a man like that cover model. After losing his teaching position and being shunned by the fine-arts community in Philadelphia, artist Dylan Bradley has returned home to Nashville to regroup and determine the next step for his life. His grandparents offer him their guesthouse for as long as he wants it—along with plenty of opportunities to meet young women. Though it was years ago, Dylan is uncomfortable with the fact that his face—only slightly disguised—is on the covers of half a dozen steamy romance novels by Melanie Mason, the artwork he did to put himself through college under the pseudonym Patrick Callaghan. Especially after he meets Caylor Evans, a woman who has her life together in a way he only dreams of. Will Caylor and Dylan learn that the true art of romance is grounded in honesty and truth?

So, that’s the “inspiration” behind The Art of Romance. And, just in case you missed them, here are some other posts I’ve already written about it over the last year or so:
Sneak Peek at The Art of Romance
I’ve Been Hungry while Writing (real restaurants in The Art of Romance)
Sassy and Caylor’s House

Next Friday: Character Names & Character Casting

  1. Friday, April 8, 2011 6:29 am

    LOVE seeing how the story ‘morphed’ into what it was, especially since I’ve read it and know how it all turns out! 🙂


    • Friday, April 8, 2011 10:52 am

      Now if I can just get on the ball and get Turnabout’s Fair Play written!


      • Friday, June 17, 2011 4:53 pm

        Yes, yes, I’m anxious for Turnabout. No pressure… but HURRY! 🙂


        • Friday, June 17, 2011 5:16 pm

          It’s been with the publisher since May 15. I’m waiting to get the galley for final proofreading, but as far as I know, it’s still on schedule for its November release date.


  2. Charmaine Gossett permalink
    Friday, April 8, 2011 10:13 am

    You’ve got me hooked. I must read the story. Sounds exciting.


    • Friday, April 8, 2011 10:53 am

      Once I figured out the subplots and major story beats, it was a fun story to write, broken ankle and all!


  3. Friday, April 8, 2011 10:38 am

    Can’t WAIT for this one! Ever since I learned that HGTV’s John Gidding modeled for romance novels, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of this story! 😀


    • Friday, April 8, 2011 10:53 am

      That still cracks me up. That, and knowing that Corben Bernsen did the same thing years and years ago!


  4. Friday, April 8, 2011 11:00 am

    I am so looking forward to reading this one!


    • Friday, April 8, 2011 11:03 am

      Every day, I keep listening for the tell-tale sounds of boxes of books being delivered to my front door—and I keep having to remind myself that it’s still early April!


  5. Friday, April 8, 2011 1:32 pm

    Barbour did a pretty sweet job on that poster! Hope they send you one. 🙂


  6. Friday, April 8, 2011 4:04 pm

    My very first copy of the book just arrived in the mail! So good to hold it in my hands!


  7. Lady DragonKeeper permalink
    Monday, April 11, 2011 2:38 am

    =) This sounds like a great book –then again, I’m hoping to major in Fine Arts, so … I might be biased when I say that I love the premise.



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  2. THE ART OF ROMANCE—The Art and Your Questions Answered «
  3. Fun Friday—TURNABOUT’S FAIR PLAY Character Introductions «
  4. Writer-Talk Tuesday: Tell Me a Story (of how you came up with your story) «

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