The taxi slowed to stop at the red light, my head moved against the window slightly as it came to a stop. The cold window felt great against my hot skin, warm tears still streaking my face. Did I really just do that and was it what I wanted? I closed my eyes to focus on the pitter patter of the rain against the car. It wasn’t raining hard, just enough to make a nice quiet rhythm to calm down my hysteria. As I sat there, everything disappeared. I thought I heard my name. No, it couldn’t be. It started to get louder, I turned to look out the window. It was him, he was running, shouting to me.
In that instant I knew I made a horrible mistake. I threw a $20 at the driver and got out of the car. Running to him as well. I ran into his arms. He picked me up swinging me around, brushing the hair out of my face as I slid down to the ground. I never felt my feet touch the ground, he kissed me as we had never before. I knew in that instant he could be the man I needed and wanted. The past was forgotten and the future was brighter than it’s ever been before.
Finally I thought to myself as I typed my last sentence. I hope my editor likes this novel, it felt like just any other romance novel. I remember when I wrote my first book. It was such a sense of accomplishment, I was shocked when I got it published and even more when people actually read it and started to recognize me. I was amazed when my publisher asked for another. I happily turned out another book basking in the glory of my new found career. I never knew how quickly it would fade away.
I was young when I started writing, I was full of hopes and ambitions. I wanted to be a mystery writer. I wanted to write something that kept people guessing till the end, I wanted to shock people. I had been dating my boyfriend since high school. I thought I knew what love was and what I wanted in life. I wrote my first story about how two people’s lives intertwined until they finally connected and dated off and on, torn apart by the universe, only to meet in the end and have the perfect life together. I felt that was my life. I worked hard trying to get my book published. He never thought it would go anywhere. We started fighting and realizing how little we had in common. We divorced soon after we married. I was able to focus on my career and get the book I loved published.
I never knew it would trap me in the romance genre. My publisher would not let me break free and write anything because my readers expected a romantic love story from me. It was on my last book tour stop that I met my second husband. It was a love story that any romance novelist would have loved to write. The mysterious man see’s the woman across the book store, signing books. He is intrigued and buys her book just to talk to her. He is captivated by her strong personality, her passion for what she does and her money. Needless to say stupid young girl falls madly in love with mysterious stranger. They have a whirlwind romance and get engaged and married on a cruise with copious amounts of alcohol involved. When I finally got home and told everyone, they were more shocked than congratulatory. My publisher insisted I get a prenup drawn up with all my royalties. I agreed after all it did not matter to me. We would be together forever and he loved me not my money, or so I thought. We ended up getting an annulment in the end and I hate to think how much the lawyers made out with on my mistake.
I suppose that was the point I started to really wonder if love was truly out there. I wrote about it, I saw it in movies, people seem in love when I see them interact, but I couldn’t help but think it was all lies. Love did not exist, it was a tangle of lies we tell ourselves so we can meet someone and have children. We always have that biological feeling that we needed to have kids and there was more to life. Well if a romance novelist can’t find love, is there really any hope?
Whenever I finish a new novel, I always scour the internet reading my last books reviews. I think if I had that negativity going into a new novel I would never write again. However, the praise and excitement surrounding the release of a new novel always removes my self doubt and prepares me for writing my next novel. I started with my favorites, they were usually positive and it was the book store websites. The fans on there were usually the most gushing and helped give some constructive criticism to help with future books, which made it easier to come up with other ideas.Â The first few reviews were most of the same praise for the author, praise for the book, citing their favorite book.
The next review left me speechless, it was as if they actually captured my feelings about my writing. The review read, “As always Katrina Karr gave her fans exactly what they wanted. Unfortunately, for this fan it was a complete miss. I feel I have her formula figured out and the stories are lacking the romance and believablity her previous novels had. She either needs a new genre or a wake up call.”
I couldn’t believe it, it was as if I wrote this review myself calling out everything I knew in my heart to be true. I wasn’t feeling it anymore. My stories were just what was expected and I did not believe in them.Â I didn’t want to believe that this stranger could sum it all up so quickly though. There was no way I could let them get away with it. Who was this person that thought they had me all figured out. I responded to the review snarky as I usually am when responding to reviews I do not like. “Those are big words for someone who has probably only read two books. All romance books have the same formula if you get basic enough. Why would she change something that works and the fans love?” I suddenly realized I had no more desire to read my reviews. Instead I closed my laptop and decided to go for a walk and get some fresh air, I needed to move after working so hard to meet my deadline for the latest book. I walked away cleared my head enjoying what the outside had to offer.
My phone was ringing on my nightstand and it woke me up. I hated being woke up and preferred getting up on my own when I was ready. Book tours were always a struggle for me as the schedule was so strict and I had to have everything planned out to the minute to maximize my time. I enjoyed the relaxation between books. I looked at the phone and it was my publisher, Jennifer. She always kept me grounded, on task and on time for everything. She had everything meticulously detailed that it drove me crazy. However, over the years I learned to accept it and stop trying to have her take a more relaxed approach with everything. She always did maximize my time. “Hello,” I answered still groggy from a good dream. “Katrina! Finally! I never received your final copy of your book. I need it right away!”Jennifer was frantic and I could hear the annoyance in her voice. I must have forgot to send the book. I remember getting the email wrote, I must have been distracted and forgot to press send. “I am sorry Jennifer, I will do it right now.” Jennifer calmed down immediately but was not going to let me go until she was sure I emailed it. She knew I had a tendency to get distracted and she was not going to let that happen.
Jennifer told me about how my other books were going and upcoming events I had to attend. She was always filling up my calendar, it always amazed me I ever had time to write with all the things she expected me to do. I opened my laptop to send the email, I opened my email and immediately saw it was still sitting in my drafts folder. I apologized and sent it. I could hear the disapproval in her voice as she thanked me and we hung up. I looked at the time and saw it was 5 am. That was a major disadvantage to living in Arizona when your publisher was on the east coast.Â She tended to not care what time it was for me, she had things to do and made sure they were done on her time table. I closed my email deciding to go back to bed. That was when I saw the review page refresh and a reply to my response. “I have read them all, they have become predictable and without depth. She needs to remember her readers are more intelligent and they want more and can handle more. I am tired of knowing how the story is going to play out based on the title alone. I am not sure I am even going to read the next one, unless it is to prove myself right.”
Wow, how dare this person think they know my stories based on my title, that is just absurd! I reply to the message via the email address in their profile, “I heard that her next story is going to be A Twist in Time. If you are so smart, what do you think it will be about? They are keeping this stories summary pretty secret.” I felt satisfied they would either stop responding or be way off. There was no way they would know the story. I didn’t even know how it was going to go until I finished it. I went back to bed satisfied that there would be no response.
I woke up after a more respectable amount of sleep. I was still groggy and not very happy that I was woken up so early but I decided to get up anyways and consider doing something productive with my day. I grabbed lemon poppy seed muffins at the bakery, when I went to the grocery store the other day. They are always my weakness and they make a good breakfast when I am not really ready to admit I need to wake up. I grabbed a soda to wash it down with. I was not a fan of coffee and I hated that almost every book store has a coffee shop in it and I could always smell that strong coffee smell. It took weeks to get the smell out of my nose after a book tour.
I opened up my laptop again to check my email and make sure Jennifer didn’t need anything else from me. The first message wasn’t from her, it was from an unknown sender. I clicked on it and immediately recognized the email address, it was the one I sent my response to this morning. I read their message. I was in shock they had the stories plot figured out. They had a few things off but not much. I had to know if it was someone from the publishing office trying to mess with me or did I accidentally repeat a story I’ve heard before. I asked them what made them think that was the story and how they could have possibly thought that. I sent it and started reading through my other email. I was half way done when another email came from the unknown sender. They explained what they read and the tells in all the stories. They read the stories as an escape and an attempt to restore faith in a chance to find that perfect love. The reason they liked the stories originally is they would talk about topics and places and different subjects to carry interest. However now the stories were just like everyone else’s books.
I felt an instant connection to this person via email, like a best friend you haven’t talked to in years but we can immediately pick right where we left off. I replied,Â affirming most of what they were saying. They were so spot on how could I disagree. I wanted to talk more and learn what else they had to say so I asked about other things they read and enjoyed. It was nice to be able to talk to someone who doesn’t know who I am. To be an anonymous email address that gives nothing about me away. I finished reviewing my email, everything was going well with the new book. What people had read so far they loved and the editor was reviewing it now. I was about to close my laptop when I received a new email from the unknown sender. I got excited to see their reply. It was everything I dreamed and more. It was an actual email with more than one word responses that I was so used to getting. They told me of other books they enjoyed reading and why. What they hoped to see later. It was all books I had enjoyed as well I needed to learn more about this person, I had so few friends with my hectic life. I replied with my thoughts on the subjects they brought up and offered my private information for messenger.Â I went by Kat so I knew I could keep my identity secret and finally have a conversation with someone that could be more than just about my next book. I went to make myself a decent breakfast.Â My phone dinged with an alert.Â I had someone trying to add me on the messenger, I accepted it recognizing it is as my unknown senders email address. I couldn’t wait to talk to her and hopefully get some fresh ideas. A message immediately popped up. The screen name was *****, she was actually a he. No man has ever been able to relate to me this much before, I was shocked and intrigued how this would play out.