Saturday, October 14

Moments that Define Us

When Liz mentioned having a theme for this week’s blogs – defining moments – I didn’t have a clue what to write about. I think of a defining moment as a fork in the road. Take one fork, and you end up in location A; take the other fork and your life goes in a completely different direction. A defining moment can also be an epiphany, a time when you come to a realization, perhaps a life-changing realization.

Then I thought about moments in my own life that have defined me. Like realizing my husband was the person I wanted to spend my life with. In my writing career, it was getting the email telling me I’d sold my first book. At that point I decided writing was more than a hobby for me. I finally had the confidence to call myself a “real” writer. When I realized that, I changed my working life and I changed things at home, too, making writing more of a priority.

Just as I have had defining moments, so have my characters. Since I’m currently knee-deep in edits for Secrets and Solace, the second book in my three-book series, that’s where my brain goes. My heroine Scarlet is in love with Cameron, but he pushes her away. He believes he’s no good for her because he’s a recovering alcoholic. She doesn’t care about that, but she cares about stability. She now knows what she wants and needs:

She had a sudden epiphany. She needed someone who was in it for the long haul. Someone who would stand beside her in good times and in bad. She’d finally figured out  she didn’t want to run anymore, and she needed someone who felt the same way. She needed someone who needed her.
 She turned to face him. “When we thought Tessa was gone, I wanted to stand beside you, but you wouldn’t let me. When things go bad in the future, will you cut me loose again? I can’t play that game, Cameron.”

Cameron eventually has an epiphany of his own. It takes him a while, though:

He didn’t want to repeat his father’s mistakes.
For reasons known only to him, his father had been incapable of accepting the disappointments life had thrown at him. His resentment had had profound effects on his own life and the lives of his children and wife. But it was over now. Cam could choose to live his life on his own terms. 
I forgive you, Dad. I’m sorry you were so unhappy. 
It’s been fun reading about the defining moments of the other Word Wranglers this week. So, dear readers, what moment in your life has defined you?


  1. Great post, Jana. I like characters' defining moments--we them. :-)

  2. Good point, Liz! I often find that seeing a character's defining moment is far easier than seeing such a moment in our own lives.

  3. Outside the writing world -- realizing RadioMan was The One...the first time we saw bebe ... there have been a few others.

    1. Oh yes, seeing your baby for the first time is definitely a defining moment for a mother!

  4. And this is why I love romance! The defining moments of our characters are a lot easier to spot! :-)

    1. And unlike real life, we totally get to control those moments!

  5. Great post, Jana--I'm all in with Secrets and Solace. Sounds like good one!

  6. Great excerpts. Like Nan, I'm right there!

  7. Jana's post about her characters inspires me to think of my characters too, especially my heroine Amanda Miller. She is very much with me right now, because her story has just launched. A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Every story I write is a conversation with myself as the author and myself as a person. I usually don’t recognize what that conversation is about until I’m at least halfway through the writing. Or maybe not until after I’ve typed “The End.” In A Time of Fear & Loving I knew all along that Amanda Miller’s dilemma has been my dilemma more than once. Can we really reinvent ourselves? Can we turn from the path destiny seems to have chosen for us to a new path that beckons us, but frightens us as well? When the way we have been living no longer nurtures us as we need to be nurtured, what can we do? The answer is more difficult when we’ve had a life experience like Amanda’s and the hurtful memories that go with it. One of those memories involves Mike Schaeffer and is more confusing than hurtful, but she still doesn’t want to go there again. Or, so she thinks. She does go there, and what happens as a result is definitely a defining moment in her life. Here's how that moment begins.

    Excerpt from A Time of Fear & Loving by Alice Orr.

    A sign indicated the hotel bar and restaurant to Amanda’s right, down a hallway lined with blown-up photos of Riverton’s turn-of-the-last-century glory days. In their own earlier times, Willow would have been waiting in that bar, surrounded by friends and admirers. Willow’s highly charged spirit drew people to her, occasionally the wrong people, but no real harm had ever resulted, certainly nothing like the trouble she claimed to be in now. There was no mistaking her fear last night on the phone. She’d begged Amanda to meet here. Her immediate instinct was to refuse, but she couldn’t ignore such pitiful pleas from the person who had been her only ally during some difficult years when a friend was what she needed most and Willow had been that friend. Consequently, here Amanda was, trundling her overloaded luggage toward the registration desk, so absorbed in thought she nearly ran into the man standing still as a stone wall in her path. She glanced up to apologize, but the words flew out of her mind before she could utter them.
    The handle of the rolling bag slipped from Amanda’s grasp and hit the marble floor with what sounded to her like a thunderclap. She might have lost the strap of her purse down her arm as well, but it caught on the shoulder pad of her jacket. In one of those odd flashes of thought that can happen during a moment of shock, she wished she hadn’t worn linen because the fabric crumples so easily. She must look like one big wrinkle right now, hardly the image she would have preferred to present the first time she saw Mike Schaeffer again. At any moment over many years past, if she’d been asked about this man, she would have said she barely remembered him, which she would have honestly believed to be true. Her heart and her life were filled with William then, but now William was gone. More and more each day, she felt like he had been gone a very long time.
    Standing awkwardly in this hotel lobby, she was suddenly aware that she remembered Mike Schaeffer much too well. She stared up into his startling face, startling because he was here in front of her, so close she could have reached out and touched him. More startling because he had grown more handsome with age. Most startling because she was instantly seventeen again, filled with the confused, exciting, wonderful feelings he had aroused in her then. She might be a thirty-something woman now, running a complicated business back on Riverton Road Hill. But, here in the lobby of the North Country Inn, she was once again a young girl with an aching adolescent crush on a man beyond her reach.

    I hope you might want to read the rest of A Time of Fear & Loving, and that you will enjoy my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.