I Never

Have you ever started something with the certainty that you know exactly how it will go? You know, when you have such clarity that you can make a list of I Will Nevers?

That’s how writing romance started for me. I had a whole list of things I’d never do. Here is a sample.

1. I’ll never write a marriage of convenience story.
2. I’ll never write about little kids.
3. I’ll never write about a secret baby.

My first book came out in 2007, which means I have almost four years under my belt. How am I doing with my Nevers?

I’m 3 for 3. (Yep, I’ve done every one of them.)


So I’m not good with ultimatums. Or rules. Or maybe I’m just bad at predicting my career, because I do have some absolutes in my life.

1. I’ve never gone to bed angry with either of my kids. (Although, I have broken this rule with my husband.)
2. I’ve never littered. (At least not in my memory—maybe back in my toddler days I tossed empty milk bottles out the window of my parents VW bug.)
3. I’ve never said no to chocolate. (Unless it was chocolate pudding.)

See? I can do rules (as long as I’m allowed parentheses).

I think the trouble comes in when I try to declare the absolutes before I find out how I really feel and, more importantly, what really matters. Those “nevers” I outlined for my writing career were superficial. I didn’t know then what my real never was. The truth is I’ll never write a book unless I can find some way to identify with the subject and the characters. That’s the key.

My June Superromance, Married by June, is a marriage of convenience story. (Well, technically, it’s an engagement of convenience.) I struggled with it for many months, mainly because the motivation wasn’t clear for me. Why would modern, intelligent, stable, employed people ever agree to get engaged if they weren’t already in love? I answered that question when I let myself write the engagement scene. I did it as a writing exercise to explore the characters, but it was never meant to be included in the book. Once it was finished, though, I kept it and it’s now the opening scene.

Want a sneak peek? Here's Cooper Murphy proposing...

The spotlights on the front of the Capitol building glinted in his brown eyes, making them sparkle as he looked down at her. Suddenly he swung in front of her and dropped to one knee.
"Jorie, will you marry me?"

"What? No!" she said. The guard halfway up the steps straightened. He held his gun casually in front of his chest, but the Capitol was no place for messing around. "You've got to be—"

"The Wish Team granted your mom's wish," Cooper said, never looking away from her.

"What wish?" Jorie could feel her world starting to spin.

"She wants to give you a princess wedding. The one she's always dreamed of. The Wish Team is picking up the tab—"

"Wait— My wedding? To whom?"

Thus begins Jorie and Cooper’s engagement of convenience—the story I thought I’d never write.

What about you? Do you have rules you never bend? What about something you thought you wouldn’t do and wound up doing anyway? Leave a comment and be entered to win a set of my three most recent Supers: Calling the Shots, Plan B: Boyfriend, and The Boyfriend’s Back.

Ellen Hartman


Lacey Devlin said…
I love the rule of not going to be angry with your kids. We had that one when I was growing up and I think it's a non-bendable one too. Sadly, I can't think of anything I've sworn not to do and ended up doing anyway. I'm sure there must be something!
Jo Cro said…
I'm a firm believer in "Never say Never" Ellen, but there are a few life never's (I'll never hit my kids (though I don't have any... or some may say I have dozens) and I'll never understand why people are so closed-minded and hateful).
As for writing "nevers", I'm not sure I have any. Perhaps... I'll never write a heroine who is TSTL (Too stupid to live). (or if I do, I'll never admit it and I'll never allow anyone to see it)
Ellen Hartman said…
Lacey--It's a good thing if you stick to your rules.

Glad to hear the not going to be angry rule worked for you as a kid. I wonder sometimes if my kids even notice. ;-)

Ellen Hartman said…
Hi Jo!

I bet the kids in your life are happy you're giving them your time (especially when your time is so packed already!). :-)

I don't know why I bother with writing "nevers" since I never keep them. Heh. Yours sounds like a good one, though.


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