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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Guest Blog: Lois Winston: Bending - and Breaking - the "Rules" of Romance

I'm often asked where I get the ideas for my books. I’m a news junkie. Most of my plots have arisen in part from newspaper article I’ve read. I start playing the “what if” game, adding elements from my own personal experiences or those of others I know. Such was the case with Finding Hope, a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist that’s now available in print and as an ebook.

The idea for Finding Hope came to me after reading about a fertility doctor in Virginia who had used his own sperm to impregnate the eggs of his in vitro patients. My cousin had gone through many years of unsuccessful fertility treatments at that point. When her insurance refused to pay for another treatment, she and her husband adopted a baby from China. But what if my cousin had become pregnant and years later she and her husband discovered he wasn’t the biological father? That “what if” led to other “what if’s” which I won’t give away here because I don’t want to include any plot spoilers. Let’s just say, I gave the factual story a few very unique fictional twists.

I’ve also been deeply touched by our troops overseas, especially those who have given their lives to keep us safe. I’ve often wondered about how their young widows have coped with the loss. So I sent Hope’s husband off to war where he’s killed in action.

In addition, I put some of my own experiences into the book. I have a degree in graphic design and illustration. My husband is an architect. I made Hope an artist and Ben, my hero, an architect. Write what you know, right?

Finding Hope in not your traditional romance because the hero is still married to someone else at the beginning of the book. It’s also a first person narrative. That made for a hard sell back when the book was written. Editors loved it but didn’t know what to do with it. The book didn’t fit their concept of what a romance should be, but it also didn’t quite work for their women’s fiction lines. No one was willing to take a leap of faith and give the book a chance. So it spent years gathering virtual cobwebs in my computer. Thankfully, we authors who have gone indie now have more options and are able to bend the rules—or even ignore them totally.

For me, Finding Hope was an extremely emotional book to write. Even though I’ve infused it with touches of humor (how can you not have humor when you’ve got three-year-old triplets in a book?) there were many places in the book where I cried as I wrote the scenes. I still get teary-eyed when I reread parts of the book. If you like romance that tugs at your heartstrings, I hope you’ll give Finding Hope a read. If you do, I’d love to hear from you to find out how you liked it.

Hope Morgan was always the good girl, doing what her conservative parents expected: she gave up her dream of going to college, became a secretary right out of high school, and married the boy next door. When Hope is suddenly widowed, she finds the courage to pursue her own dreams. Twelve years later, after working full-time and going to school at night, she obtains her degree and is offered a position at a prestigious architectural firm.

That’s when her long-exiled libido decides to resurface, and Hope finds herself falling head-over-heels for Ben Schaffer, her married boss. What Hope doesn’t realize is that Ben’s marriage is less than ideal. Within days of Hope starting her new job, Ben’s wife walks out on him and their three-year-old triplets—the same day the nanny lands in the hospital. When Ben can’t find a last-minute replacement, Hope agrees to step in as a temporary nanny—not the best decision she’s ever made, given her raging hormones.

Ben is fighting a battle with his own hormones, but an office romance is the last thing he needs or wants. However he and Hope are no match for three very determined three-year-olds on a mission to find a happy ending.

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USA Today bestselling author and award-winner Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Tsu at, on Pinterest at, and on Twitter @anasleuth.


Rose Anderson said...

Sounds like a sweet interesting story, Lois. Very powerful when the author makes herself cry. I love the set up in the blurb. :)

Thanks for joining us today, and best luck for the coming year.

E. Ayers said...

Those what-ifs do play on our minds. I know this is going to be a great read. Glad it's been dusted off and brought out of the cobwebs. Indie readers get some great books because of the changes in publishing. We all know that Lois Winston can write!

Red L. Jameson said...

Love the blurb and how the idea of the book came to you, Lois! Can't wait to read it!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Personally, I love a romance that bends the rules. I'm not a fan of predictable fiction. Congrats on your new novel!

Lois Winston said...

Thank you, Rose. Best of luck to you, too, this year.

E., thanks for the compliment. I'm blushing!

Red, hope you enjoy the book. Please let me know what you thought after reading it.

Jacqueline, isn't it a shame that mainstream publishing so often doesn't realize that most readers are like you in not wanting predictable stories?

Sandy said...

Lois, I get most of my ideas from the news and from real life events, too. It sounds like a wonderful story.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Sandy! The one problem with getting ideas from the news and real life is that there aren't enough hours in the day to write all those stories!

Jeanine said...

Interesting story. Yes - not a traditional romance. Thanks for sharing.

Berengaria Brown said...

This sounds like a beautiful book, Lois. Congratulations.

Sandy said...

Oh, you're so right, Lois. I could never find the time to write all those stories. lol

Kathye Quick said...

Lois this book sounds like the perfect romance. Nice job

Lois Winston said...

Thanks so much, Jeanine, Berengaria, and Kathye. If you do happen to read the book, please let me know what you think.

Melissa Keir said...

I love stories that tug at my heart! And books with true events are the most interesting. It sounds like Finding Hope has finally found it's home and I wish you many sales!

Angela Adams said...

This is sounds like a great read!

Judy Baker said...

What a heart warming story. I'm sure there are many stories on the shelf that aren't the traditional romance, and that's sad. I'm glad you were finally able to publish it. Thank you so much for sharing

Lois Winston said...

Thanks so much, Melissa, Angela, and Judy!

NLB said...

What an interesting plot! Love the cover, too!

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