Thursday, August 8, 2013

Home Sweet Home


Congratulations to "Bonnie" and "Heather", the winners in Lee's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I truly believe home is where the heart is, so it’s probably no surprise that I write stories about love, home and happiness. And one of my favorite things about crafting the characters in my stories is creating the spaces they inhabit. To me, a character’s home is more than a roof over his or her head, it’s a personal space that has to connect or maybe sometimes conflict with that character’s personality traits.

In Maggie’s Way (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2013), my heroine inherits a rundown old house from her great aunt, and then she hires a contractor who helps to transform the house in the place of her dreams. To me, that house plays a very important role in the story. It brings the hero and heroine together, and as the house changes, so do they. Here’s how the book opens:

Nick Durrance looked at the run-down two-and-a-half-story house and double-checked the address he’d scrawled on a scrap of paper. He’d been surprised—okay, astounded—when his answering service told him that Maggie Meadowcroft wanted an estimate on a remodeling job. Collingwood Station was small enough that there could only be one Miss Meadowcroft. She had been his high-school English teacher, although it had never occurred to him at the time that she had a first name. She’d been positively ancient then, and that had been ten years ago.

Hers was the only house on the block that hadn’t been renovated and it definitely needed work. Paint. A new roof. Here’s hoping old Miss Meadowcroft had a nice bank account, because he really needed this job.

He pushed the gate open and lunged for it after it swung askew on one hinge. The house also needed new front steps, although to his surprise they held his weight. All but the second step, which looked too risky to chance.

The doorbell had an Out of Order sign taped over it. He added new wiring to the long list forming in his head and knocked on the wooden frame of the screen door.

By the end of the book I knew readers would want to “see” the house after the work was done, so the last scene of the book opens like this:

Nick stepped out of his truck and looked up at Maggie’s house. The mauve siding and purple trim wouldn’t have been his first choice and he never would have thought to paint the front door red, but it all worked and it suited her to a tee. Maggie knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to go for it.

The gate swung shut behind him with perfect precision. The new steps had been painted dark purple to match the trim and at both ends of each tread Maggie had set big terra-cotta pots filled with red and yellow and purple flowers.

He lifted the heavy brass door knocker and held it for a moment before he let it drop. Had it really only been a month since he’d come here, thinking his old high-school teacher wanted to hire him? He could hardly remember life before Maggie.

He let the grinning gargoyle fall against the brass plate and waited.

To me it was important for the house to reflect the heroine’s quirky personality, but I felt it was even more critical to show the reader how much the hero’s feelings about her and had changed, and it was fun to use the house as a way to do that.


In my three-book Ready Set Sold series for Harlequin American Romance, (The Christmas SecretNovember 2011, The Daddy Project,  December 2012, and Daddy, Unexpectedly, May 2013), the heroines own a real estate business that renovates, stages and sells homes for their clients while they pursue their own dreams of having a home sweet home, and of course end up with their very own happy ever after. The three houses in these books are as special to me as the characters who live in them, and I’ve enjoyed hearing from readers who love them, too.

Giveaway:
Speaking of readers, I’m delighted to offer two giveaways today. The first is an autographed copy of Maggie’s Way, and the second is an autographed set of the three books in my Ready Set Sold series. To be eligible to win, simply leave a comment or even just say “hi!” Do you like stories that focus on home and family? What’s your idea of home sweet home? Would you paint your front door red?

Happy reading! Until next time,
Lee

Lee’s bio:
From the time Lee McKenzie was ten years old and read Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, she knew she wanted to be a writer, just like Anne and Jo. In the intervening years she’s written everything from advertising copy to an honors thesis in paleontology, but becoming a four-time Golden Heart finalist and a Harlequin author are her proudest accomplishments yet. For more about Lee and her books, to sign up for her mostly monthly newsletter, Life in the Slow Lane, and to friend her on Facebook, please drop by her website at www.leemckenzie.com.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Aug. 9th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. US and CANADA residents only. Outside may be awarded digital copies.


16 comments:

  1. I would totally paint my door red or just to be even more different - a teal. For me home sweet home is where I feel the most comfortable which is where I live but also my boyfriend's place, my book club and on shelfari with my few close book soul mates. I think we have different things that me somewhere comfy :) I love family stories as they have a way of making everything okay.

    Anoveladdiction @ gmail dot com

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    1. Kris, a teal door would make a great statement on any home! Happy reading in all your comfy places!

      Lee

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  2. I wouldn't paint my front door red since I'm too dang lazy. :)

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    1. LOL, Abigail! I actually do have a red front door on my yellow house but I didn't paint it, my Handy Man did :)

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    2. Yeah, I don't have one of those, either. ;)

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  3. My front door is burgundy (it was that way when I bought it--I think to match the shutters). But I think it makes it stand out. Love it. And love books about home and family since I'm so close to mine. : ) Feel good stories are the best.
    hlb79 at yahoo dot com

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    1. Heather, my neighbor has a burgundy door and it looks very classy. I love feel-good stories, too :)

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  4. I have just happened upon these books and they look good! I have not read the books but hope to soon! ktbug_mom@hotmail.com

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    1. Thank you, Janelle! I hope you enjoy them!

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  5. My favorite color is yellow. I would paint the door yellow with yellow shutters. Plus yellow would stand out if "my guy" was looking for my house. I enjoy books about Home and Family. They are touching and a strong family value.

    bonnielee14 at yahoo dot com

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    1. Oooooh, Bonnie. A guy finding his special girl on the other side of a yellow front door has all the makings of a great love story :)

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  6. Hi Lee,
    I'm totally with you on house and home and setting being as important as characters in a novel. I'm often having to cut some of my darling description scenes from a draft because I love to build a home around my hero and heroine. In my WIP my heroine moves into a stark, empty room in house she has to stay in, and transforms it as she transforms--I think I channeled you when I was creating the idea, so thanks for the inspiration!

    Lots of good luck with your wonderful stories. Oh, and I'd paint a door red in a heartbeat!

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    1. Hi, Lizbeth! I know what you mean about having to cut those lovingly crafted descriptions ;). Although I will say that one of the wonderful things about writing contemporary romance is being able to rely on readers creating a great deal of setting description in their imaginations. Can't wait to read your next book!

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  7. What a timely post! I've recently begun seeing setting as important and something that can play a huge part in a story. So often, it's not more than an afterthought--just somewhere for an author's fully developed characters to live out their well-thought-out plots. I love the idea of letting the house play such a big role in the story, subtly giving life to everything else.
    Oh, and I'd definitely paint my front door red if the mood struck. It's a glossy black right now, but I love changing things up. The door leading into my house from the garage is a glittery gold. Why not have something fancy?
    monica.tillery@gmail.com

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