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  • Writer's pictureLise Parton

Stories Behind The Stories, Act One Willow Beach

"How magnificent it feels to have my own romance novel spring to life with pen and paper!"

How magnificent it feels to have my own romance novel spring to life with pen and paper! Who knew? I read dozens of romances over the years, and like many women, (I’m guessing), I thought it would be cool to actually write one.

It was the early 90’s at the time, and my life was just plain hectic. You know, a big house, a full time career (yes, I was about 20 years in to a amazing job, and first woman to hit management in my large, big city government branch), and with it, a long daily commute, a husband, 2 small children, and a social life, oh, and a cabin to go to and manage in the summer. It was crazy busy, as many of you would understand. I longed for moments of escape in a good book, and so, one day an idea started to brew, and I started writing one.

I bought myself a couple small-sized, black binders, you know, the kind where you could add pages of lined paper. The smaller size from a regular binder allowed me to pop the binder into my purse and take it everywhere. If any of you out there are writers, then you know when you need to write, you write. When you need to get those words and sentences down, you write. It matters not that you are in the middle of cooking dinner. And I did that often, pen in one hand, book on the counter nestled between the ingredients, and a wooden spoon in the other hand stirring something on the stove. And so it began.

I saw a picture in a magazine in an ad for something or rather, and this beautiful, smiling red-headed woman was next to her blond lab dog in the picture. I cut it out and saved it, for I saw a similarity of her as my main character, Kathryn, and the blond lab would be Klondike. (I still have a digital picture of this ad photo today, but I expect it is a copyright issue to show you.)

As for my character Robert, well, maybe the image, personality, and him being an actor were a mix of elements born from several tidbits. Was it because my Father was often called, 'Mr. Hollywood', by my brother and I because of his looks, his charm, and bits of his lifestyle? He did, after all once have a blind date with Elizabeth Taylor when she was about 18 years old, he, 21, at the parents’ home in LA, of actor Peter Lawford (a rather famous socialite, Rat Pack member and brother-in-law to President John F. Kennedy). My grandmother’s sister was close friends with the Lawford seniors, and when my grandmother went to visit her sister, my Dad somehow ended up at a dinner party at the Lawford’s with Elizabeth Taylor as his blind date. The timing was just prior to her engagement and marriage to Conrad Hilton, Jr. (obviously, the date did not go well, or I might have been born with violet eyes!) I digress, but I’m guessing some of these elements were sprinkled into the concept and development of my story’s second main character, and love interest, the (fictitious) famous actor, Robert St. James.

As for the setting, well, I had in my world a cabin on a lake, but, the home and land details for Kathyrn’s property in the book was based on a property I loved and visited as a child on a lake. Along the shoreline of that wonderful property were the majestic, swaying willow trees, some of which, hung over the beach and water itself. As a youngster I loved to walk along the water’s edge, my bare toes squishing in the soft wet sand, along the lapping waves of the lakeshore right under those towering willow trees.

I developed the other characters, like Cynthia, from ideas in my head, snippets of perceived personalities, and found several pictures in magazines as a reference for coherency in personal and physical descriptions. Cynthia might have been a sharply dressed clothing or jewelery model in the advertisement on the glossy pages of a magazine back then, but I saw her facial expression, confidence and style as the character that would become Robert’s agent.

I wrote my romance novel in approximately four months, day and night, night and day. I wrote on breaks at work, curled up in bed before sleep, in between loads of laundry or meals and while cooking, as mentioned, and on the dock at my cabin on lazy, stolen moments at the lake on sunny afternoons. I wrote the entire book, about 87,000 words, by hand, with pen and paper. I transcribed it later into a digital doc format. It has been edited many times over the years, I will admit.

I suppose I originally wrote it in a hectic, busy time of my life when I think I needed a little more romance. (Doesn’t every busy woman with a home, a family, a career, kids and a husband?)

I am very proud of Act One Willow Beach, an eBook you can find on Amazon, re-edited, formatted and published in 2021, about 30 years after I originally wrote it, (better late than never, I guess), and I have started to write Act Two. However, I am currently working on other near-completion stories and books, and so Act Two may or may not see the light of day in my future. In any event, I go to my device Kindle app often and read my own book, and feel really good about my little romance-writing adventure. I hope you pick it up and enjoy it, too!

Cheers! Lise



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