At the beginning of summer, I was asked to participate in a holiday anthology with 13 other sweet romance writers. Last year, I would have jumped up and down for joy. This year, I have 6 writing projects on the table and had deadlines that couldn’t be adjusted. Call me Crazy, I agreed. Only one problem besides squeezing it in the schedule: I needed an idea.
At the time, my friend, Kim, was in Ecuador researching a new cocoa product (translation: she wanted to create a new chocolate snack organically). Kim was in a very remote part of Ecuador and her weekly updates to friends fascinated me. All the things we take for granted – a bug-free home, air conditioning, internet – she didn’t have any of that. One week, she reported the humongous size of bugs that landed on her, and a trip from the cocoa fields uphill in the rain with a flat tire on her wheelbarrow. For a romantic comedy writer, it was nirvana. A fish out of water story was born! Add a wounded warrior and three matchmaking nuns and I had myself a story. Here’s part of the opening scene with my socialite heroine:
It was raining. Again.
Tiffany Bonander tried humming a few bars of White Christmas. It was, after all, December 23. Cheer was called for.
But the incessant beat of fat raindrops on the tangled foliage of the Ecuadorian rainforest and on her pink rain slicker, drowned out her cheer.
Or maybe she was just drowning under the pressure of heavy responsibilities.
Ankle-deep water rushed down the steep, muddy road toward Tiff and her precious cargo–thirty pounds of cocoa beans. She couldn’t lose the beans. They were the answer to all her troubles.
Thunder boomed. And boomed again. The downpour increased to a deluge.
Tightening her grip on the wheelbarrow handles, Tiff tried to find purchase with her rain boots, tried to make it to the next rise before the road turned into a river. Tried…and failed. Somewhere above her the river had risen high enough to crest a bank. Water surged toward her.
Tiff’s father claimed they’d abandoned this cocoa plantation years ago for drainage reasons. He should have used the F-word: flood.
Tiff stumbled to her knees, and water rushed into her boots–cute, pink-flowered plastic ones which quickly filled with water and felt as heavy as cement shoes. If not for her grip on the wheelbarrow, she might have been swept downhill. Just last week, she’d heard about a woman who’d been carried away by the cresting river and smashed into a tree. Smashed as in: to pieces. Dead.
That would be worse than being broke and the laughing-stock of the civilized world.
This was karma, plain and simple. She shouldn’t have jilted Chad at their engagement party or left Malcolm at the altar.
Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet and emotional romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line (book 4 coming 3/2015). Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”. Melinda also writes independently published, hotter romances as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: “Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age except a lot hotter.” Melinda has three books out this fall: The Christmas Promise (will be released in the Sweet Christmas Kisses anthology, out 9/30), Breaking the Rules (a hot novella in The Hollywood Rules series, out 10/15), and The Christmas Date (in a Harlequin Heartwarming Christmas collection: Christmas, Actually, out 11/1).