Friday, July 9, 2021

How did I end up writing romance? #WritersJourney #HappyEnding #NewAuthor

Fate Takes A Hike cover

By B. D. Storey (Guest Author)

I like to think I am just your normal, average guy. My wife will tend to disagree, but she's biased. So, given that, how did this guy end up writing a romance story? We're not talking a small love story to the wife, or a bit of doodling while at lunch. We're talking about a full blown, 104,000 word novel that just fell out of my head and onto the computer.

Maybe a bit more about myself will provide clarity. I am a romantic. Okay, that statement may blow away your image of "average guy", but I like to think we men do understand romance and being romantic, however, society and our buddies may frown on displaying it!

Anyway, I'm a sucker for a happy ending and any romantic subplot. My wife and I play a few online role playing games, go to DragonCon, have lightsabers, etc. We are geeks. I play lots of console games. While I enjoy a good shoot-'em-up as well as the next gunslinger, I really enjoy the games with a story to it, especially if there is a romantic sub-plot available. If the character can pursue a romantic relationship with another character, I'm in. If there are multiple options as a partner, I'll play the game over and over just to see each relationship and the dialogue that the storyteller came up with. He or she put a lot of effort into that story, and I want to read it and see it play out.

In our online role-play games, we joined a group of like-minded people and we all played together. Over the years, we became a family. We met once a year in real life. We visited each other's homes all across the US. From that camaraderie was born my love to write. I teamed up with others and wrote long, winding stories of adventure and even love. We're talking thousands and thousands of words over a 15-year span of time.

We had a separate chat channel setup just for role play. We called it the Guild Stage. We let everyone know when a production was going to be on so they could make popcorn and watch. We loved roleplaying and forming relationships between characters. Imagine "watching" a female dwarf and a male barbarian roleplay a dinner at the local tavern, that entertains the other players, all while knowing that both characters are being played by men! Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

I tell you all of this to get you ready for how we ended up where we are. My wife and I love the Hallmark Channel. Love watching those great, feel-good shows. We have our favorite actors and actress combos, and ones we don't like. You pretty much know how a HC story is going to end within the first ten minutes, but it's fun to see how it gets there!

Anyway, last July, while watching yet another HC movie, I turned to my wife and said "You know, I could write one of these. It's got your guy, gal, plot, angst, makeup, and the happy ever after. I could do that."

She pondered for a moment, then nodded and said "Yep, I bet you could. You've done it before with the others, just not in a formal way."

"I'd make it a bit more edgy than HC, but I could do it." I said, nodding. I then set my back brain to working on ideas.

A few days later, basic story idea in hand, I hunkered down at my computer, opened up an editor, and away I went. By Christmas, I had the first major draft done and I began editing, reviewing, rewriting. I focused a ton of effort on details and continuity.

In February, I enlisted the aid of two young ladies I knew from one of my favorite urban fantasy authors Facebook groups. They do a lot of alpha/beta reading for other authors in that genre as well as romance. I sent them the first four chapters to see if what I had was workable. Their response blew me away. That first response was "You're going to publish this, right?" followed by "Dude, you're a romance writer!!"

Over the course of the next month, these two thirty somethings educated me on the world of writing romance. When you're a sixty-year-old guy, and a thirty-something tells you "You're writing like a Dad. Loosen up!" you tend to sit up and listen. They helped me with naming my characters with a more modern flare, bringing my "language" more up to date, and telling me which phrases and words I were to never use again. My male ego was taking some hits, but my inner romantic told me to shut up and listen.

By March, I had what I felt was a better story. I enlisted the aid of three more readers, one of which was my wife.

"Wait," you ask, "Your wife had not read it YET?"

No, she had not. My wife, being an all-knowing individual and knowing me so well, knew that if she got involved, it would hurt our relationship because I would take her comments personally. And she is right. She's also a grammar nazi, and would let every small grammer mistake of the draft pull her out of the story. So, she waited, patiently, while I chomped at the bit to get her input.

I released it to her, along with a 27-year-old master librarian who ran her college newspaper, and one of my wife's friends, who is also an inspiring author. These three ladies ate my lunch on grammar. My two alpha readers focused on story, not grammer. These three new ladies made up for that. Who knew a comma could be so misused?

But, for me, what I heard from them was that the story was good. Really good. They pointed out some places where the reader got pulled out of the story because I tried to get cute. I was smacked and told to rewrite. I rewrote.

By May, I had a completed project. I had written my story. I was happy with it and I had done what I set out to do. Now was the big question. What next? Talked to my wife, did some research, and we decided to self publish. How hard could it be, right? Yes, I know. Famous last words, right up there with "Hold my beer …"

An editor was hired (she was also an author), as well as a cover artist. The editor helped me polish and buff, and the cover artist gave me a beautiful wrapper. Software was purchased to help make publishing easier, accounts were created with the big distributors. I had already joined several Facebook groups dealing with romance and marketing romance. I felt I was good to go. Go ahead, keep laughing. I'll wait.

Anyhoo, I felt I needed to do more. If I was going to give this romance writing gig a good shot, I needed more knowledge. So I joined the Romance Writers of America. It was at that point that my wife took my man-card, painted it pink and only lets me have it when farm chores need to be done. I'm okay with that.

But it doesn't end there. I live near Nashville, TN. The RWA is having a summer retreat from 14-17 July in Nashville. I signed up to attend. There was a forum set up for the event where the attendees could introduce themselves. To date, I appear to be the only guy signed up. I showed my wife some of the successful authors who are going to be there. She just laughed and said "Those ladies are going to eat you alive." Fear is a good thing, right?

So, there you have it. A challenge was set, a project created, and a book ready to be published. Will it be successful and sell a bazillion copies? Don't know. To be honest, if it doesn't, it's not a deal breaker. Oh, my ego will be bruised, but that wasn't the point. The challenge was in the doing. Some will like it, some will not, and that's okay too.

That's the story of how this sixty-year-old dad (as of July 8th) ended up writing a romance novel. Will I do another? More than likely. I enjoyed the writing and the collaboration, as well as the whole creative process. I think I have a few more ideas left in me.

But, enough about the process. What is Fate Takes A Hike? Let's give a brief look at Josie and Jacob, the main characters of the story.

Josie Callison was a single mother of one, living with her mom in Azton, WA, where she grew up. The past few years had been hard on Josie. First she lost her husband suddenly. A year later, her father passed away quietly in his sleep. It seemed only right to move back home to help her mother with the struggling family business and take time to heal and raise her daughter.

Jacob Berman, widower and former soldier, has seen his share of death, the latest being the loss of his wife and child. Living alone and keeping mostly to himself gave him time to work on the plan made by him and his wife for their future in Azton. Swearing off dating ensured that nothing else could cause his heart and soul any more pain.

On that clear and beautiful Saturday, neither expected to be falling down a hill or rescuing a damsel in distress. But, as we all know, Fate rarely asks us for our input when planning our lives. When Fate decides that two broken hearts can heal each other, it will use all the tools at its disposal to put those hearts on the same path. That includes a demonic rabbit intent on hiker mauling.

What? A quick synopsis is not enough you say? Okay, how about a chunk from Chapter 1?



I shook the small handheld GPS unit in an attempt to make it work.

You’ve got to be freaking kidding me! I will smash you into a million pieces, you worthless hunk of plastic!”

The small, yellow electronic devil was obviously unimpressed with my threat and mocked me with its refusal to comment. Looking up at the sky, I almost asked the heavens, ‘What next?’ But I didn’t want to tempt fate. Little did I realize at the time that the heavens could read minds, and fate could be a real bitch.

Sighing like a teenager being asked to do the dishes, I shoved the worthless plastic demon into my backpack and pulled out my trusty old compass. Flipping open the lid, I began turning in a small circle, talking to myself while the needle danced inside its glass case.

Okay, let’s see,” I muttered to myself. “If that’s north, then that way is west and towards the lake. If I can make it to the lake, I should be able to get to the marina and use their phone.”

I nodded to myself, taking a deep, calming breath. This was good. Everything was going to be okay.

I’m going to call Brianna Cranston and give her a piece of my mind. Wait, no. First, I’m going to get her to come pick me up and take me to my car, and while she’s driving me to it, then I’m going to give her a piece of my mind. She’ll be trapped then and can’t escape my wrath. Nice plan, Josie. Less walking, more righteous satisfaction.”

Brianna had been the one to talk me into this jaunt when I should have been helping Mom with the store. I knew that somewhere in those spreadsheets and invoices was the answer to our financial situation, something that would pull us up out of the hole we were spiraling into.

Apparently, I had been getting a tad bitchy with folks lately. Brianna cornered me in my small office Wednesday. Mom apparently let her slip back to harass me.

Girl, you need to get away from the sheets of numbers and clear your head before you bite one of your worker’s—or worse, Kaylin’s head off,” she told me, crossing her arms and skewering me with an icy glare.

I scrubbed my tired eyes, glancing up at her. “I don’t have the time. We’re losing money every day and if I don’t figure out how to stop it, Mom and I are toast.”

Brianna began lecturing me, using her finger like a conductor’s baton. “Get your lazy butt out in the woods. You and your dad loved the woods and trails around here. Hell, you were a tomboy for most of your time here. Get out there, walk among the trees, and clear your mind. Maybe an acorn will fall on that head of yours and give you the idea you need!”

I had reluctantly agreed, more to get her to leave and to stop her nagging. And I had to admit … she had a point. I needed a break.

Putting my compass in the pocket of my shorts, I began walking in the right direction, only slightly limping, thanks to the blister on my heel. Normally, I’d have fixed it with some moleskin, but since I was in such a hurry to leave this morning, I neglected to pack my first aid kit.

My pack contained everything else I might need. Bear whistle, snacks, water, and dry socks. I even had a copy of Cosmo that I had filched from the beauty shop. Figured it could double as emergency toilet supplies should the need arise.

No GPS, no moleskin, a squishy blister on my heel, and still a long way from my car. The day was just a winner all the way around.

Just you wait, Brianna, I’ve got two sweaty socks with your name written all over them!”

I chuckled evilly at the thought of taking off my boots in her car and launching an odoriferous attack. If I were lucky, she’d puke. Hey, if you can’t make your best friend puke, why are they your bestie?

While I might have thought Brianna gagging on sweaty socks would be funny, what galled me the most was that she was right.

About an hour into the hike this morning, I realized I actually felt better. The rich smell of the trees and the sounds of nature slowly eroded my stress level, lowering it to what most folks considered normal. I was bordering on darn near relaxed. Even with the blister and the evil GPS unit, I was feeling better than I had in several weeks.

Okay, Brianna, maybe no socks this time.” Nodding to myself, I continued on down the trail.

After another thirty or so minutes of walking, I came to a ridgeline. Taking a moment, I glanced down into what appeared to be about a fifty-foot drop-off. It wasn’t a straight drop, more of a steep downhill, something you might ski on if there were snow, and if you didn’t mind rocks and trees at the end of your run. Unhooking my water bottle, I took a small sip as I drank in the panoramic view. I could just see the lake on the horizon. Clipping the water bottle back to my pack, I took a deep, refreshing breath.

Finally, something is going my way.”

I began walking along the edge, hoping to find a way down that looked less like a blue diamond run and more like a bunny slope. I enjoyed skiing, but the lack of skis and snow put a damper on shooshing down the ledge. With my luck today, I’d fall and break an ankle.

At that exact moment, the heavens showed me that they had been paying attention to my thoughts. Just as I walked near a patch of scrub brush, a small rabbit burst out of it right at my feet, moving as if it was late for something.

Like any red-blooded girl seeing something that looks like a mouse on steroids flying at her, I screamed and high-stepped away from the impending rodent mauling that I just knew was coming my way.

Unfortunately, in my adrenaline-fueled rush to escape, I forgot about the ridgeline I had been admiring. I screamed again as I toppled over the edge. I smashed flat on my side and began tumbling end over end as the loose rocks and dirt gave way. I saw ground, sky, ground and then felt a sharp burst of pain in my leg and a punch to my stomach.

I barely had time to think, “Ow … shit,” before blackness took me.

* * * *

Well, that's the start. What happens next? How bad is she hurt? Will the bunny return to finish the job? Only way to find out is to buy the book. It is available for pre-order, with an August 6, 2021, release date, at the following locations:


B & N:




Every book usually ends with a bit about the author. This one should be no different.

I grew up in a pretty typical Southern household. An Army brat, I was born in Germany and spent my formative years moving around the country from post to post, never going to the same school twice until my father’s retirement. 

A typical teenager of the 70’s, I spent hours playing baseball, tennis, band, and dumping hard earned quarters into arcade games. 

I retired from the Air Force in 2000 and began working in the technology department of the Nashville Sheriff's office, where in 21 short months I will retire again.

A lover of both PC and console games, I've spent many hours immersed in the lands of role playing and make-believe with friends and family. This is where my love of writing took off as me and my online friends spent hours writing epic tales of fantasy, love, and adventuring. Oh, and dragon slaying. One can’t forget that.

I am married to my best friend and love, Pam. We live on a small farm in Clarksville where Pam keeps me busy with the multitude of chores that come with having three horses and four cats. We have three great kids who are the lights of our life. 

Some of my favorite romance authors are Nicholas Sparks, Abby Jimenez, Claire Kingsley, and Maria Luis.

That's a wrap!




Author Page:


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Bob!

Welcome to Beyond Romance. Thanks for sharing your odyssey. I hope your book does really well. Do you plan to write a sequel? Or are you exhausted by this process? ;^)

Fiona McGier said...

I find it interesting to read romance written by men--it has a different flavor. Not good, not bad, but different. I review for TBR Pile, and often read a lot of M/M romance. I can usually tell if it's a male or female author--but don't ask me how.

For the record, I avoid Nicholas Sparks books like the plague. First off, men (and many women) make faces like they stepped in doggie doo if you tell them you write romance. But if a MAN writes it, then it must be literature, and hence GOOD, right? GRRR. Plus that bridges of Madison County thing--honestly, if I cheated on my husband while he was off somewhere, I'd be crawling to him when he got back, begging him to forgive me. To save myself that humiliation, I've never even entertained the notion of doing something so duplicitous. I'd be royally pissed if he did, so I'd expect him to be also. But as readers, we're supposed to find this romantic? How?

Tad bitter? Perhaps. But I've been published a long time and I still dream of attracting enough readers to make more than coffee $ in royalties. That being said, welcome to being published. Lisabet and I are both members of MFRW (Marketing for Romance Writers.) It's a very friendly group, willing to offer advice, trade reviews, or trade promos with your book being promoted on their site, and theirs on your site. It helps you reach more readers. Joining the group is free.

Post a Comment

Let me know your thoughts! (And if you're having trouble commenting, try enabling third-party cookies in your browser...)