Monday, January 27, 2014

Marriage and Women in India

This blog continues where my last blog on heroines left off.

Thanks to all of you who've contributed and shared your insight.

Reasons women in other countries do what they do:

When right and wrong of a culture is programmed into you from when you are a child it is extremely hard for women to go against that inherent core belief.  If religion is added to it (and it always is), the equation becomes hard.  The bogey man is 'society'.  That's a name that includes religion, of course.  Religion formed the basis for the voice of society at one time.   
As young girls we are told the family honor is at stake and our parents will be shunned if we step out of line.  Making a good marriage (one arranged for us) will elevate their position. To preserve a beloved father's honor is everything to a child.  We are also told (if we have younger sisters) that their chances of a good marriage will vanish as no one will want a girl from a house where another girl has shown willful behavior.  If we have an older sister, already married, then any wanton behavior will reflect on her new family too and she will be embarrassed/ disgraced by our choice.   Hindu guilt is a ball and chain.
This guilt isn't just in women in exists in the heart of women the world over.
To be thrown out of a family/disowned scars women psychologically.  The reasons for 'toeing the line' go on and on....

Luckily for me my father was extremely independent, didn't give a &*#& what others thought and backed me up 90%.  My mother too, bless her traditional heart, let me have my way though my choices didn't sit well with her.

When we women in a free world talk about what others 'should' do, we have to remember that we need to walk in their shoes for just one day to realize the coils of tradition are iron chains.  If you are not raised to think freely, reaching for personal freedom is a terrifying GIANT step to take.

Tradition is not all bad...the ideals were made for the protection and well being of daughters.
Many traditional marriages are preceded by a period of courtship and are the epitome of love and success.
It is when women are abused in the name of tradition that life derails.   No one should put up with cruelty in the name of 'family honor', 'religion' or 'tradition'...but unless they have an acceptable alternative they will put up with it the world over.
I've talked to women here who are married to indifferent/cheating/no-good husbands and told them what their choices are...they've listened politely, thanked me and then said they prefer to be Mrs. Somebody than a nobody in a 'house for women' or one their own.  Her parents, one woman said when she told them about the way her life had crumbled, told her, "That's your life.  Go back and live it."

These women believe that suffering makes them true heroines in the eyes of 'their' world.

Luckily more and more young women each day, empowered by education, are making choices for themselves and 'divorce' once a religious taboo for Hindu women is becoming common abroad and in the cities in India.

As I said before laws are being made for the protection of women but Independence in the area of marriage is an individual movement.

Friday, January 24, 2014


January, 25th, 2014

TOPIC:  What type heroine(s), traits, personality, in particular always draw you into the story?
Has it changed with time?
And do you write this type of heroine?

Heroines who draw me into a story are ones who:

1. Stand up for themselves.
2. Do not choose love for the sake of security but demand to be loved back 100% before they will commit to a relationship.
3. Face a compelling challenge other than the romance, from the word go.
4. Have a fault that makes them vulnerable and human.
5. Someone who at least once in the story 'rescues' the hero from a predicament.
6. Insist on equality at every level.

This type of heroine draws me into a book and makes me want to share her journey of external problem solving and self discovery on the path of love.

In Faith, Hope and Love, my first traditional romance and again in Daddy's Little Girl, my sixth, the heroines Rachel and Sara don't have two nickels to rub together but they still stand up for the things they believe in each in their own way.

Remember Anne of Green Gables, Jo of Little Women and Portia in The Merchant of Venice?  These were a few of my favorite 'early' heroines.

The changes time has brought about:

When I was first published in 1990, the traditional romance category was for young women.  Heroines in this category fell in love, worked through challenges with the hero and then got married before they consummated their relationship.  When I had one couple in bed before they were married in one of my books, I remember an editor telling me,  “Your heroine's not been married before so we can't have that scene in here.”  She went on to say, "If she's a widow or divorced that’s okay but explicit love scenes belong in another romance category, not yours."

Things have definitely changed since then with 90% of heroines now jumping into bed first and then working out their relationship with the hero for the rest of the book.
When I tell people I write 'traditional romance' they ask what's that and I explain.  Then they look at me like 'She must be the sister of the Dodo bird to be still writing those books!'

So, in today's world I'm a young adult writer and that's a label that’s right for my books.  I continue to use the traditional romance label as well for those 'golden oldies' readers, like me, who still recognize their favorite category by it.

Do I write about this type of heroine?

I do.
I have to sidetrack a bit and explain why this type of woman is so important to me...
I read romances in India as a young girl (Essie Summers, Anne Weale, Lucy name a few).  Hemmed in by traditions that gave no leeway to women where marriage was concerned, I felt trapped.  The books I read reached into the head and heart of a ten year old and gave me the idea it was all right to be independent and to want to love someone and marry them because they loved you... not because your horoscopes matched, or you were good looking and healthy and would have many sons to carry on the family name, or well trained and would never give your husband a moment's worry no matter what he chose to do, or that there was a large dowry offered to diminish your faults and make you acceptable.

Back to the present:

I like to think that young girls all over the world, not just in the USA, might read my books and get ideas from them of self sufficiency, self worth and their rights in the decision making process about one of the most important areas of life...their choice of a partner…just like I did.

The women I write about now are not 'mooning' about love; they are realists...they meet someone who makes them realize that life has much more to offer with that special someone in it, but also that instead of a guaranteed 'happily ever after' they are going to work every day at building and maintaining a successful relationship.
They have to fall ‘in like’ with the hero first, find common ground to sustain their initial interest for a relationship to develop to the point where they cannot live without each other.

As for personality traits....

I like my heroines to be intelligent, have a sense of humor and be absolutely determined to support themselves so they are not leaning vines who need to be propped up by a hero.

Christy, Bridget and Laurel, the three heroines in my Cupid holiday trilogy, are all like this though they come from very different walks of life.

When I’m writing a romance, I think of my heroine as 'sleeping beauty being brought to life by the kiss of reality and determining to have it all:  a great personal life and success in work that is vital to her...whether it is running a home, raising a family, having a great career or running a country.'

I hope that strong heroines will continue to inspire women all over the world to insist on their right to freely choose whom to love and marry…just as they inspired me.

Thank you for your comments.  The replies to your comments are in the next blog...


Robin, thanks so much for letting me sound off on a topic very dear to my heart.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Cupid Trilogy

Putting my three books in the holiday series together is a good idea.

To get the 'Ah' feeling at the end of these romances and share the sense of accomplishment Ma and Pa Cupid feel at the end of their mission one has to read these three books in sequence.

I felt sad to stop writing about the Cupid's family, their connection to Cupid Lodge and its rich history.  A fellow author told me she has twelve books in one of her series and I'm impressed.

I hope you enjoy this holiday trilogy, the characters and the rich fabric of the Cupid history that stretches back to the Gold Rush days of California when Ma and Pa came to the South Lake area and discovered Silver Lake.

History, romance and intrigue...what better combination could there be in a story?


Cupid's Arrows

Ma and Pa Cupid are a pair of spirits sent down to right a wrong Pa did. Pa has to get three couples together and understand what love is all about for his sentence to be commuted. With Ma’s help he’s on his third mission now accompanied by another spirit he has to mentor. Ma has decided she’s getting two couples together this time around. Pa and Stephen, the spirit he has to mentor, will take care of all the other stuff. 

Lt. Laurel Cupid was an exemplary combat camerawoman till she regains consciousness after an accident and cannot remember her name and rank. In a perfect world she would not be facing a charge of attempted murder nor would she be referred for a court martial. Unable to defend herself, she’s declared unfit to stand trial and placed on medical leave. 

Dr. Jacob Lightfoot is a Navy psychiatrist home on leave. Laurel’s godfather, General Paul O’Keefe, asks Jacob for help with Laurel, as he’s afraid of what’s going to happen when she regains her memory. Jacob undertakes the task without realizing he’s will be unraveling his own past while he helps Laurel Cupid with hers. 
In a perfect world his ancestor would not have been forbidden to love the man she wanted to. 

The General’s task force band together at Cupid Lodge, Silver Lake to help Laurel and keep her safe. Why is someone trying to take her out of the picture? 
As he shows her a new way to look at life, Jacob finds himself falling in love with Laurel but will she choose him over all else when her memory returns? 

Writing Laurel and Jacob's story was a challenge I loved.  All female officers are heroines in my opinion and I wanted to emphasize the sacrifices they make to serve don't go unrecognized.

Laurel and Jacob's story involved a great deal of research, which I love doing. JAG and the Washoe Indian Tribe of South Lake Tahoe came alive through the contacts that helped me with my information.  

Laurel is a survivor and she had the best help she could get from Jacob...


Cupid's Kiss

Ma and Pa Cupid are a pair of spirits sent down to right a wrong Pa did when they were alive. In 1870 Pa came between his son and the girl he loved, changing their lives forever.
Now Pa has to get three couples together and understand what love is all about for his sentence to be commuted. With Ma’s help he’s on his second mission now.

Bridget Cupid was raised in the Orphanage at St. Mary’s, Tahoe. Before she can make a wholehearted commitment to becoming a nun she wants to resolve the mystery of who her parents were. Christy Cupid’s website is a lead she has to follow.

Andrew Blackwell is an Intelligence Officer just returned from a deployment. His next mission is to help a colleague defect and be given a new life under the witness protection program. When Andrew breaks his knee he is forced to take cover at Cupid Lodge with his friend Mark and accept Bridget’s help to save his friend’s life.

As Andrew and Bridget work together to save a man’s life, the mystery about Bridget’s past is untangled. He hopes his kisses will waken the shy sweet woman of his dreams to wanting a new life with him.
Will this unlikely match turn out to be one made in Heaven? 

I loved Bridget from the word go.  Her convent background was one I was very familiar with being 'convent educated'.  She has very little experience of the world outside the Convent yet she's a quick learner and not the least bit submissive.  Her 'take' on life put things into perspective for Andrew Blackwell and her determination to do what is right no matter what impresses him like nothing else has in a long time.

The nuns I write about in this book are very dear to me as they were part of my high school years in St. Mary's in India.  Much later when I visited them in the Convent at Wantage, England they were surprised that I had gone out of my way to visit them.  Like Joy Adamson's Elsa, I wanted to show them my family and thank them for the great education I received.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cupid vs. O'Keefe

Cupid vs O'Keefe

The first book in my holiday trilogy starts with a pair of spirits sent down to right a wrong.

Ma and Pa Cupid, as they're called, caught the eye of an editor who loved them and then before you can say Boo! the publishing company announced they were closing!  Really?  This was happening to me again?  Was my middle name Jinx by any chance?   The synopsis was shelved.

To cut a long story short, last year the two spirits finally got their first story out in Cupid vs. O'Keefe.
When Christy Cupid discovers her father was alive till a few months ago and her mother had lied to her, she set off for Silver Lake close to South Lake Tahoe.  The house he left her gives her the new start she's always wanted away from her mother and she starts to clean up the house and turn it into bed and breakfast business.

She's opposed every step of the way by the caretaker her father left in charge.  O'Keefe will not help a woman who never responded to her dying father's plea to visit and has now arrived to claim her inheritance.  He keeps up his guise of beach bum refusing to let on he's an agent on a special Government task force guarding two men in the house next door.

Left to themselves the pair are like two parallel lines but Ma and Pa Cupid have other plans and are very sure of one thing...their first mission cannot end in failure.

It was so much fun to write about a strong woman like Christy and a great hero like Mark O'Keefe.
I love the picture of Cupid Lodge on this cover and the attic that is Ma and Pa Cupid's official residence.


Monday, January 20, 2014


When I was a teenager, a local magazine in India had a 'made for each other' contest every month.  The winning couple had their couple posted in a full page ad.  and I always wondered how those couples had found each other.

A clown at a children's party prompted the idea for this book and a performer I interviewed later thought I should become a clown myself.

I wrote and re-wrote the first three chapters of Prescription For Love more times than I can count.
My first submission was accepted by an editor right away and then the publishing house closed!

Was I the jinx or was it the book?
I kept looking at the story and re-working it till I found myself putting in Brewster's story...I fell in love with the book all over again at this point and was so glad to find a home for it with Books We Love and receive a comment from my editor Roxanne that she liked the story too.

When out of work teacher Tess Hudson starts performing at parties she runs smack dab into Dr. Simon Tyler's arms.  Once the initial fireworks die down, Tess finds herself accepting a job in Reaching For Rainbows, a children's hospital run by Dr. Tyler.

She has to pay Aunt Mattie's hospital bills and as the latter always says, "Beggars can't be choosers."

Despite his warning she becomes attached to Brewster, a six year old with no family of his own.  The little boy needs a serious heart surgery; one pioneered by Dr. Tyler.   Simon's given up performing surgeries since a little girl died on the operating table.

Can Tess convince him to believe in himself again.  More important can she convince him to fill the prescription for love she's written him before it's too late?
Aided by Brewster and Aunt Mattie, Tess and Simon realize they were 'made for each other'.


Daddy's Little Girl

The idea for Daddy's Little Girl came to me when I read an article about an ad being put into the wrong section of a newspaper.

What if a job wanted ad got into the matrimonial section?

Sara Adams a modern Cinderella has no choice but to accept businessman Jason Graham's job offer which entails marriage.  Instead of living with him as his wife she suggests posing as his fiancee so he can retain custody of his three year old daughter.  His late wife's mother Dee Dee Smith wants Kelsey, saying it is Jason's unsettled lifestyle that is the reason behind the problems in Kelsey's development.

As she plays her part of adoring fiancee to perfection, Sara finds herself winning the Triple Crown:  Kelsey, Jason and Dee Dee all hand their hearts over to her before one can say, 'Love is in the Air.'

Mr. Wrong

I can't remember how I suddenly found myself writing, Mr. Wrong.  I just know I loved the story from the word 'go'!

Brady Gallagher had kissed the blarney stone but when he met the beautiful Kathryn McArthur he was at a loss for words.  She had her ideas of Mr. Right carved in stone...he had to be rich, successful and ambitious.  Brady made up his mind that his Katie would learn love transcended everything on her list before he would tell her who he really was.

Brady and his Katie truly were a 'match made in Heaven' and the book was so much fun to write.


The Old Fashioned Way

I gave a talk at the Friends of the Pomona Public Library when my first book was published and my life changed.  I met a wonderful group of women who brought to mind words like 'pulchritude', 'chutzpah' and 'amazing'.  They drew me into their group with their intelligence, experience and ability to handle more problems than I could have thought possible.

They became my best friends, took my writing class not once but 'twice' when they saw enrollment was down and read my books even if their taste didn't run to traditional romances.  Besides all this the stories they told me of growing up and raising families in America drew pictures, working and then facing retirement and the challenges of a new life after some of their spouses passed on, fed my imagination and gave me the background for, 'The OLD FASHIONED WAY'.

I knew I had to write a book that mirrored their problems and described in a small way the courage they faced problems with.

Abby and Daniel's story is dedicated to all those couples and women who took me into their hearts.

When Abby Silver a young widow sets out to find a solution for her Grandmother's failing business she meets Daniel Hawthorn an executive who holds seminars on how to fix ailing businesses.  Challenged by Abby to prove he know what he's talking about, Daniel finds himself visiting Carbon Canyon and being lured into staying.

Before he knows it he's fixing his own problems by falling in love with Abby...helped by a group of senior citizens competing for title of 'Matchmaker of the Year'.
PUBLISHER:  Books We Love

This book is dedicated to my friends:  Beth Page, Vivian and Dick Speier, Lorraine Osborn, Fern Weisend, the late Dolly and Roman Zialkowski, the late Doris Tinsley and many more dear ladies.