Time and again, I’ve noticed that when I begin a new book, I start receiving what I call “affirmations” that I’m doing the right thing. I actually have a list of affirmations I received while writing Storm Swept, my December ’09 release from Wild Horse Press. In that book, a character that is in the military is called up to help repair damage from a hurricane that I named Farrah. My affirmation? Right after I named my hurricane, I met a woman named Farrah at work. Coincidence? Maybe, but also an affirmation because I picked the name at random, and she was actually looking for another office. Another example is my decision to have my heroine enrolled in classes at a culinary institute. I immediately received two affirmations for that decision: I started seeing ads for a culinary institute while watching Ghost Hunter on the SyFy channel, and I heard one of my coworkers on the phone talking about her daughter actually enrolling in one. If I hadn’t already made that choice for my character, I’d think that hearing about the institute subconsciously made me choose it. But it just didn’t happen that way.
Yet another example is my choice of “mermaid” as a nickname the hero gives the heroine. After I wrote that, I immediately received three affirmations. First, the movie Mermaids starring Cher came on television. Second, there was a story on the news about a prosthetic mermaid tail created for a woman who didn’t have legs so she could swim. Third, a coworker randomly mentioned that her husband called her that.
In this same vein, right after I wrote a scene where a character is attacked by an evil spirit, but is rescued in the nick of time, I heard this lyric in a rock song “if not for me then you’d be dead.” Okay…I admit that’s a stretch, but it worked for me! And right after I decided that my heroine would be cooking breakfasts at her sister’s B&B, I got an e-mail from Kraft foods full of breakfast recipes and heard one of the characters on Big Bang Theory mention a B&B.
Receiving affirmations is not new to me. I remember my Silhouette Romance days and two particularly unusual incidences. While plotting a book about a hero whose job is to stop illegal immigration from Mexico into Texas, I realized I didn’t know what branch of the government controlled that. At the time, the internet wasn’t as huge, so the world wasn’t at my fingertips as it is now. Before I had a chance to research my question, I ran into a man who had the words Border Patrol on his cap. We were both giving blood at the time, which meant neither of us could go anywhere, so I was able to ask him a lot of questions. Another affirmation from that same book was my need for a stretch of lonely highway. I wanted my heroine to stop and change a flat tire for the hero, whose entire arm was in a cast. If there was a lot of traffic on the road, a man would already have done the job. I needed for my heroine to know that no one else would be able to help him. I found the answer to my question when the woman who sells me make-up stopped by my house and began talking about her recent vacation. Out of the blue, she said that she’d driven down a road for over an hour without seeing another car. I got out an atlas. She pointed out the road, which was, believe it or not, in Texas!
I have many more examples; they’re all lots of fun. And amazingly enough, my daughter, who recently began writing romance, has started getting them, too. She phones and e-mails me often, telling me her most recent. Jessica Coulter Smith recently told me that she dreamed about the last book in her series and woke up knowing how to write it. Well, no dreams for me so far, but I do get affirmations straight from my personal muse. And they never fail to encourage and inspire me.