How to Write a Sweet Romance Novel

I have been watching a lot of romantic comedies, lately. What with Christmas romance movies (hello, Christmas movies on Netflix! #iwishihadthehallmarkchannel) and finishing up my Clean and Quirky Romance novel, Happy Scoops, I’ve had lots of opportunities. By the way, Happy Scoops is now available for purchase in ebook HERE or paperback purchase HERE! Woohoo! You can check out THIS POST to find out more if you’re interested.



Between watching and writing romantic comedies, I’ve learned quite a bit. If you care to read this slightly satirical list, you might actually get some good ideas, or just have a laugh if you’re not in the least interested in writing a sweet romance/romantic comedy novel, but enjoy being entertained by them.

Ready to learn a few of the secret weapons we romance writers use? Then read on!

1. As with any novel, there has to be a problem. However, in romance, and especially Christmas romances, there has to be some sort of deadline that propels a woman forward into finding a man and taking a chance on him. Sometimes the sexes are reversed. Maybe there’s a Christmas Ball she just has to have a date for? Or maybe he needs to find a mother for his children by Christmas? Also, it’s likely that if this doesn’t happen, well, I guess that all of Santa’s elves might die. Or something. You get the picture.

2. The first kiss has to be totally awkward. Like, mistletoe magically appears above them, or the man says; “Oh no! My lips accidentally fell on yours.” I’m going to tell you, if you don’t have this, then you might need to edit your manuscript. If you’re a reader and you haven’t encountered this in your Sweet Romance, then you might need to pick a different book. I had fun following this rule in Happy Scoops. Just sayin’.

3. You need a sappy story line at some point, although this one is optional. It is not optional, however, if you have a super-duper-inexplainably grumpy character that sulks around. When you get the audience to the point of writing him off, there has to be some sappy backstory that makes you suddenly care for said grump that you didn’t give a hoot about at first.

For instance, last night I was watching one such movie and I learned that Angry Main Character was angry because his fiance had died. Why this made him not want to sell his grandmother’s estate? I don’t really know. But I remember the sappy backstory. Do. Not. Forget this.

4. Do you like pets? Then throw one in for good measure. He’s definitely a great character to use to get the lonely souls together. Although, be careful! Some people don’t like pets, so you don’t want this pet to have too much of a main role. Just enough to be the same amount of cute as one of those animal pictures in those forwarded emails you get–not fifty of them.

Warning! Do not kill the pet! Not even if you think it’d be a great way to get the couple together. It’s just not worth it. How can you have a Happily Ever After if the dog is dead? And NO! The pet’s puppy is NOT a good enough substitute. Wait. Is there a movie like that? Yes, there is, though I’ve never seen it and I refuse to watch it. Just like your readers will cease to be your readers if you kill the pet.

5. Have you ever made a wish on a star, or on a snowflake, or maybe even just while gazing into a lake? Well, in your next romance novel, you can pretend that you are the main character and have said character make that wish. And you know what? You then get to make the star, Santa, time-traveling guardian or any other thing (the pet from number four?) make that dream a reality. In your novel, anyway. It’s preferable if this wish is the answer to #1, but, you know. Whatever.

6. Whether they had that awkward kiss in the beginning or not, nobody wants to read a book where the couple doesn’t end up having a little kiss at the end. You’d better do this, or nobody’s going to want to read your sappy, sweet romance. Tough words, but they’re true!

7. One thematic tactic you can take is to make sure that your main character has a name like Holly if you’re doing a Christmas film, or Bell, if your main character is going to end up in a ball. You know, the Bell of the Ball? Or how about Misty if you’re going with the whole, “Oh no! Mistletoe accidentally appeared above our heads and now we have to kiss,” theme.

Personally, I think I’m going to write a Christmas romance based on a girl named Misty, and I’m sure it will be a hit. “Misty and the Mistletoe.” Although, that title is probably already taken, or will be by Christmas 2017. Also, the name doesn’t really have to make sense. Just has to be tight enough that we get where you’re going with your little play on words.

8. Have you ever experienced a romantic relationship that went wrong? I’m pretty sure that most of these Hallmark romances were written by people who really, really, really wanted some relationship that went wrong to have gone right. So, using the power of an author, they write a romance, but disguise it a little. Voila! We have some quirky story that makes you wonder how anyone ever came up with the idea. So, feel free to write a romance based on a failed relationship and fix all of those missteps. Then, you’ll be able to think of that relationship as having ended Happily Ever After. It might make you feel better. Or possibly worse, if you discover what you did wrong in what could have been the relationship of the century. I’m thinking you should use #8 carefully.

Note: No, I was never forced to dress as an ice cream cone and work at my parents’ ice cream shop to pay off traffic tickets where I may or may not have discovered romance–the premise of Happy Scoops. See how I said that most romances are probably written by people with those kinds of relationships? “Most” is the key word, here.

9. There has to be that moment when the reader doesn’t think that things are going to work out. You know that point when the main character finds out that their significant other was lying, but the main character doesn’t know the whole story, so they take off and the relationship is devastated? It doesn’t have to include lying–maybe their ex comes back and professes that they actually do love the main character? Hmmm. Think about about it. You’ll come up with something good that leaves us hanging for a moment in preparation for the beauty of #10.

10. If you are writing a romance novel and you’re thinking, “Hmmm. Maybe I’ll get conceptual, metaphorical, or depressing at the end,” STOP! Nobody wants that. You just read what I wrote in #8. You need to end happily. That means that you end with a kiss, wedding, or in some way that informs the reader–without a doubt–that the couple is TOGETHER. Seriously, if you don’t have an H.E.A. (Happily Ever After), then you’re not writing a romance and your readers might end up throwing your book at you.

So, there you have it! Using these ten tips, you should be able to create an incredible sweet romance novel.

If you read through and enjoyed any of these, you are probably ready and trained to become a romance writer. Or, maybe you just want to read a romance novel?



You can snag my FREE Clean and Quirky Romance Book Bite (like a brownie bite–yummy, sweet and just the right size), Twenty-Five Candles HERE, you can snag Happy Scoops HERE, or please show a little author love by sharing my post on social media.

Filling the Cup

If you’ve been checking my blog posts or hanging out on Facebook with me, you’ll know that I’ve been working on a clean and quirky romantic comedy. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo in the month of November, which was a major accomplishment for me. Over 50,000 words and a completed manuscript in a month is a pretty strenuous task. In case you’re wondering, I ordered the paperback proof and it should be ready to be released withing a few weeks. I love it and am excited to share it with you all!

To add to the chaos of the month, I also published my four completed books in November; Inheritance Aflame and the first three books of Broden and Cookie, the ongoing chapter book series.

While November was awesome author-wise, I was ready to slow down a bit for a few days once December came around. With all of the Christmas festivities and a slight feeling of exhaustion from what I had accomplished in November, I wondered how my body and mind would react to the craziness of my newly-launched venture.

Let me tell you, after about a week, it became apparent that I had needs that demanded fulfillment! I was drained. However, the problem wasn’t that I wanted to stop creating/editing/writing/illustrating–those things generally fill my cup. However, I knew that my current route wasn’t necessarily the correct one. Or at least, I needed a detour.

Well, I didn’t really listen to myself and I kept editing the current project/outlining my next project to happy music (Cyndi Lauper radio on Pandora) and pushing away thoughts of other manuscripts that are on my list for 2017.

The problem was, I’m a rather broody sort. Bands like Iron & Wine and Tycho were my best friends when I was writing Inheritance Aflame. Even though they’re not necessarily bands that make “Happy” music, I feel good when I listen to them.

As a side note that I promise has a purpose, I’m going to tell you that I love music as a tool for provoking a feeling while writing. Finding music that captures the essence of my story really helps me to quickly pick up where I left off and begin typing away during the time I make for my craft. Thus, I listened to Cyndi Lauper radio while writing my romantic comedy.

Having my goal of finishing edits on my new manuscript, I pushed away the desire to retreat to my homeland of quiet solace and deep thoughts by keeping on with Cyndi and not doing what I really wanted–spending time drawing out some sketches for a new trilogy while listening to Tycho.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Even though I love my romantic comedy manuscript, my mind needed something different. Because I was doing something that usually feeds my soul, which allows me to care for my family, but wasn’t actually what I needed, it was draining instead of filling my cup.

After refusing to accept this, my body finally had to force me to stop what I was doing with the editing and do what I actually needed. My brain went on strike and it simply would not edit another word. After staring blankly at the laptop for thirty minutes one night, I finally put it away, pulled out my sketchbook and too-expensive pens, then switched my station on Pandora.

I ended up sketching out things that I’ve been imagining for a long time, as well as some new characters. I’m not sure if she’ll ever appear anywhere other than here, but the above witchy woman was one of the sketches that moved from mind to paper that night.

While I listened to the music that allows me to hit a heightened creative flow, it actually felt very meditative. I didn’t really have any coherent thoughts about my life as my brush-tipped pen moved across the page. I simply created and felt a peaceful fulfillment of my needs.

I slept amazingly well that night and I woke up feeling great the next morning. When I went back to editing, my mind was clear and I was able to move quickly because I was totally rejuvenated.

Ever since my little “A-ha!” moment, I’ve been trying to pay better attention to what I actually need. While I haven’t needed to pull the sketchbook out again, I might end up swapping my next two writing projects in the lineup. And, I’m listening to more “fill-my-cup” music.

What about you? What fills your cup?

What’s on the Inside of People…and Characters

Apple Pic

My neighbor invited us to come and pick apples last night and we happily took advantage of the offer. My kids were so excited and we had a great time talking about eating fresh applies, apple pie, apple cobbler and applesauce as we filled up bags of the delicious fruit.

As we were chatting, my neighbor kept warning me that there would be spots to cut out once I began working with them in the kitchen. Checking over the apples, I understood his warning of some, but I didn’t really believe him about the perfect ones. They were too…perfect!

My neighbor was right, though. Each apple that I have sliced into has some inner blemish. Every. Single. Apple.

This morning, I even chose one as carefully as possible–there wasn’t a single thing wrong with the outside of the fruit. But I sliced into it, and behold! Several brown markings, quite a bit like the apple pictured above.

Apple-wise, it’s fine. I’ll chop out the bad parts and the chickens will love it.

But my mind that often needs to be kicked out of the thinking-of-the-deeper-meaning pool, went for a swim. I couldn’t help but think about how profound it is that, like the apple, people–and the characters of our written design–need to be thought of with inner wounds and blemishes that we often cannot see.

For the sake of those non-fictional characters that we live with, we certainly need to give the benefit of the doubt. I can’t say that I know a single person that hasn’t had some tragedy in their life that wasn’t a factor that molded and shaped their mind and character. On the flip side of that, I have experienced the occasional burn of a person that looked nearly perfect on the outside but ended up showing different colors upon better acquaintance.

On writing, though, we need to make certain that our characters have blemishes and bruises that can be shown at the right time within our composition. Otherwise, our characters are unbelievable and difficult to relate to.

When I trashed 95% of the first manuscript of my first novel, I spent time a lot of time on character sheets. One particular character had me feeling just awful for the poor thing and if I remember correctly, I pathetically shed a tear or two for the figment of my imagination. But I honestly didn’t really care about this character until I gave the person dimension and obstacles that had been overcome…or not.

While I wish I would have given my characters more depth in the first place, I learned. And learning can be powerful. May yours and my characters be as three-dimensional as possible in the First Draft. And may we remember that people are pretty much never what they seem–a heart or possibly a shield are usually necessary.

Seeking Inspiration



Gooseneck Barnacles


On a recent trip to the ocean, we discovered a rock wall that was covered with all sorts of mussels and creatures that closed up during low tide. We got to explore it for some time and it was incredible to see the vast numbers, many varieties and very different sizes of the captivating beings.

We gently brushed our hands over the shells of many of the creatures and it was fascinating to watch the wall come alive with slow-motion movement at our touch. Our kids kept calling out when they found an especially large or unique one and we each chose our favorites.

I must say, though, that these Gooseneck Barnacles were the CREEPIEST!!

It was crazy to watch the black necks retracting back toward the rock with their wild shells up top. I didn’t know what they were before trying to identify them, but I learned their name and that apparently they are a delicacy–people eat their insides. Honestly, the thought of that sort of makes my stomach turn inside-out! Gordon Ramsey has some videos posted on youtube if you’d like to check them out. Just remember that the amazing Ramsey has quite the liberated tongue if that sort of thing bothers you!

Why the photo and article on Gooseneck Barnacles?

Well, after observing and feeling completely disturbed by them, I snagged my husband’s phone and took a picture. They are amazing inspiration and part of the puzzle of a book I’m working on right now. Between their other-worldly appearance and the chill-your-spine movement, I know they’ll find a home there.

Researching for a New Book

Last night as I was laying in bed–trying to fall asleep–I was doing a little research for a book. I LOVE doing research for books. I love learning new things, finding a different take on my prior knowledge, and it just feels great to know that my work has greater dimension and authenticity because I (NOW) actually know what I’m writing about.

I also HATE doing research for books! With all of the information out there, it can be very difficult to sort through and make sure you’ve got correct, up-to-date info.
Image Credit

My research of last night followed the habits of hummingbirds. And who wouldn’t enjoy that???

We have a hummingbird feeder and it was quite active for about a year, but then we moved to a place that is swarming with ants and I know that the feeder would simply attract more, so I haven’t put it up…yet.

I loved learning the sounds of the hummingbirds, and they sometimes got quite close to me. They are most certainly my favorite birds.
Image Credit

The thing about hummingbirds that I always find incredible is just how teeny-tiny their nests are. And their incredible construction. Bits of the softest materials and tiny feathers are strapped together with spider webs.

When I was a young girl, a hummingbird built a nest in my Granny’s yard and I couldn’t believe just how tiny those little eggs were. The size of jellybeans!

After my research, I’m thinking that I’d better find a way to defy the ants and get my feeder up once more. They’re just such neat creatures, I can’t resist trying to persuade them to come and visit.

Anyone have tips for keeping ants away from hummingbird feeders?