The year was 1996 and I had powered up a second hand desk top computer and began my writing career at long last. Our sons were in high school. Daisy, our tricolored basset hound, sat in a sunbeam waiting for me stop poking around on this keyboard.
After hours, I closed the file for the day and Daisy and I went for a walk on the path beside Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada. Later in the evening, I returned to work on the file, but it was gone, disappeared.
I cried. When my husband came in to comfort me, I said, “I either have to leave you, or get a job.” He suggested I go back to University and obtain my English degree. And that was what I did. In 1999 in cap and gown, I walked across the stage and received my degree.
An aunt introduced me to romance novels one summer while I was still in my teens. In fact when our children were young, my husband would often purchase a romance novel, so I could curl up and escape for a few hours on a weekend. But then again, In Paul Grescoe’s book The Merchants of Venus, Inside Harlequin and the Empire of Romance, he states that “Harlequin readers read—and watch television less than the average [person]. And they have better sex lives.” Hmmm! There may have been an ulterior motive. Lucky him. Lucky me. I enjoy reading novels with an underlying social message as well as the romance. I read sweet romance and I write romance where my characters become friends and build a foundation for love. Both of my novels explore building a relationship from loss, through friendship, and move to love. My book shelves are loaded with books on grief, love, loss, and books about returning soldiers, books about orphans, and about grandparents raising a grandchild, and a shelf for books on beauty and body image. Oh yes, and how to wear a credible disguise.
My first novel, Woman of Substance was inspired by my women’s studies courses where I learned the negative effects that body image has on women. I knew I had looked at my less than perfect figure and sometimes hid under baggy clothes or when a size didn’t fit, it was my problem rather than the designer, but this course showed me that so very many women experience these same feeling. I chose a strong heroine who wanted to walk on the journey the women in her thesis did. She disguises herself as if she is outside the norm of what is considered acceptable for a woman. Not many women will dress as if they are larger, usually we squeeze into control top pantyhose to smooth our bulges and cellulite. I also wanted to discover a man who would love Robbie for her strengths and weakness. Jake is a man of integrity, but he also comes with his own issues.
There were so many armed forces personnel returning home injured. I wanted to discover what that could be like for a man. My heroine, Anna is also recovering from loss.
Before I became a mature university student, I had worked as a rehabilitation nurse and as an executive secretary which I parlayed into Regina Beach’s Town Administrator, managing budgets, writing bylaws, and taking property tax money from residents.
Can you see what I’ve done? Yes, I have utilized my life experiences to inform my stories.
When I write I want to learn what I know and also what I don’t know.
Stories are all around, but the stories that I want to write explore social issues. The characters have baggage and they have to find a way to unpack the past to allow for a present and a future. They explore the benefits of close, long-term relationships formed on trust. They respond to each other’s vulnerability and discuss inner fears and deep longings.
I begin a story with a character in a position of change and discovering the strength to move forward. I then look for another character who will be there and love that character. I choose a social issue as a backdrop. In my third novel, I am using the idea of what happens when a large resource based company comes to a small community. The draw backs and benefits are also mirrored in my heroine, Tiffany, she needs to change too. She needs to hold true to who she would like to become without being forced to give up her dreams. Will, the hero is on the scene with strengths that he has achieved over a lifetime of overcoming barriers. He’s part of the new movement in the town. He wants to support Tiffany but he also wants her to be his one true love.
I love creating my characters. In another book case I have name books, because I believe that a character becomes their name. I have horoscope books which can provide a basic characterization, then I build their past. I have books on style and decorator magazines to assist in dressing and housing my characters.
I ask you, in what other profession can a writer research love? In researching I continue learning about relationships that I have garnered from life experience but also so much that I don’t know. My third novel with the working title of “Will’s Intentions” explores a premise that has surfaced recently. I believe it will work. I wonder if my readers will.
Yes, I was born with a story on my lips but my inability to spell and conquer the English language mechanics handcuffed me. If I had known I could hire people with the talents that I lack, I would have written a whole lot sooner. But then I wouldn’t have had all of the wonderful experiences that I have had to help enrich my stories.
I began writing. I am Annette Bower, author of more than two dozen published short stories in magazine and anthologies in the UK, Canada and the US. And a proud Soul Mate author with two published contemporary romance novels and a third contracted for release in 2016.
As the author, I am most thrilled when I laugh and cry with my characters. And the most rewarding is when a reader shares that reading my book has made them look at life just a little differently. A doctor’s receptionist told me that she looks as clients who are larger with another view than she did before. Another reader told me that Moving On was the first book she read in a very long time, she is now downloading regularly and reading to her grandchildren.
Anna Jenkins, a mysterious woman arrives in the resort town of Regina Beach as the heir to a cottage, even though there isn’t an obvious family connection. The residents of the town know everyone’s business and they are very keen on discovering Anna’s secrets. Anna meets Nick Donnelly with a secret of his own. As a soldier, the injuries he sustained in an IED explosion were greater than most people realize.
During his rehabilitation, Nick and Anna become friends. Nick begins to dream of a life on the land with a family of his own. When Anna discovers that Nick plans to return to active duty, she puts the brakes on loving a man who might die because of his career. Nick must convince Anna they have a future to live for.
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Annette, thanks for visiting with us today!