Friday, May 27, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Barbara White Daille

Here’s Looking at You, Kid!

Hi, everyone! And a special hello and thanks to Mary for inviting me back. It’s great to be with the Seekers again.

To start off, I’d like to share the cover blurb from my current release, A RANCHER’S PRIDE (May 2011), which introduces my topic.


Sam Robertson's life just changed. In one short day, he found out that he's a daddy; that his beautiful little girl, Becky, is deaf; and that her aunt, sign language teacher Kayla Ward, intends to fight him for custody.

There are plenty of reasons Sam shouldn't fall for Kayla. A city girl like her has no place on his ranch, particularly when she's his ex-wife's gorgeous sister. But thanks to the judge's orders, Sam's spending a lot of time with Kayla, trying to give Becky the stable home she's never known.

Despite their ongoing custody battle, Sam and Kayla's love for Becky brings them closer than they ever expected, and Sam knows that no matter who wins in court, he could still lose—Kayla or his daughter.


I certainly hope the story sounds intriguing to you!

Today, my focus for this post is not so much the hero and heroine but the pint-sized character of the story.

One of the things I like about writing romance on the sweeter side set in small-town communities is the wonderful opportunity to do more with secondary characters.

They get to play many roles. Among other things, they can mirror the hero and heroine’s situation, add contrast to the main characters’ qualities, and find ways to cause as much trouble for the lead characters as possible. I love having these other adults in my books. They add so much to the plot and often show up in sequels, where they become the heroes and heroines of their own stories.

I also enjoy writing about children. As with grownup secondary characters, kids add humor and complications, pathos and poignancy, and sometimes just downright fun. Because I know my own stories best, I’ll share some examples from them.

As you’ve read above, in A RANCHER’S PRIDE, one of the main characters is a four-year-old child. Becky is deaf, but that doesn’t make any difference to her.

As she doesn’t hear, Becky uses other means to communicate with people (and with a stray dog she befriends). She has a very well-developed sense of sight. And for someone her age, she has a great ability to read body language. All this helps her pick up on everything happening around her—which sometimes is more than the adults in the vicinity want her to know. (smile)

My previous title, FAMILY MATTERS (October 2010), went to the opposite end of the underage continuum. There are several teenagers in the book, two brothers of the heroine and an eighteen-year-old runaway. As I’m sure you know, that age group comes with its own set of concerns.

Teenagers are often likely to be self-absorbed and egocentric. On the other hand, as with one of the boys in FAMILY MATTERS, they can have a knack for hitting on painful truths—and be outspoken enough to share them! This makes life very...interesting for my hero and heroine.

In my first novel, THE SHERIFF’S SON, the young character is a seven-year-old whose run-in with the law gets him—and his mother—into more trouble than even he can know.

You might think the younger the child, the fewer the problems, but that’s not necessarily true. In COURT ME, COWBOY, a baby not yet born is instrumental in setting up an entire range of awkward issues for the hero and heroine—while giving them some very sweet and special moments along the way.

No matter which story I’m telling, from four-year-old Becky to the troublesome teenagers to all of the underage characters I’ve since written about, I feel the need to caution the adults: Be careful, the children are watching....

But every time, I’ve managed to rein in that impulse.


Because giving the hero and heroine a warning isn’t nearly as much fun as letting them deal with the complications! (grin)

So...let’s talk.

Those are my stories—literally—and I’m sticking to them.

But what do you think? Do children add a lot to a romance novel? Or would you rather not have them on the page?


Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the dry heat and have taken up square dancing.

From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books." Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.

Barbara hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!

A RANCHER’S PRIDE (May 2011) was just released and has received wonderful reviews, including a 4-1/2 star Top Pick rating from RT Book Reviews.

You can find Barbara online at her web site and blog:  where you can check out her Virtual Book Tour schedule for A RANCHER’S PRIDE!

You can also reach her via Facebook and Twitter:  and

Barbara’s looking forward to chatting, so please feel free to take a look at her questions to you and to leave comments or questions for her.

Also, she will be holding two drawings for one of her backlist books. One winner’s name will be drawn from comments left here at Seekerville today, May 27th. A second winner’s name will be drawn from those who send her a message today via the “Contact Barbara” form at her website AND mention Seekerville in the message.

Good luck!


  1. Hi Barbara:

    But kids aren’t like that!

    If a romance magazine asks readers what they would like to see less of in romance novels, it seems that the answer is always “less kids”!

    I always found this answer disingenuous because there are more good romances published each month -- without kids -- than anyone could read. So let the fans who like kids enjoy their books.

    I like kids in a romance but not ‘cliché kids’ who are just there as window dressing or cute clichés. I like kids to be real, with real problems, but to still be good kids. No bad seeds.

    I like for the kids to provide the motivation for the hero and heroine. I also like the problems facing the kids to mirror or act as a counter-point to the problems the adults are facing.

    Most importantly: I want the kids to be essential to the plot. That is, if you removed the kids, the story would not work. If the story works just as well without the kids, then I’m not in favor of having the kids in the story.

    In one of Mary Connealy’s books there are four sisters whose fighting between themselves is so age-specific and realistic, that I was convinced that she was recording actual experiences. When you can do this, still make the kids ‘adorable’ and give the kids an important role in making the plot work, then that’s wonderful. Mary writes great kids.

    “A Rancher’s Pride” sounds like the kind of book I enjoy most. I’m going to check Amazon next to see if I can get it for the Kindle.



  2. I love kids in a story, but like Vince, only if they're necessary. Don't throw in a kid because you think people will like it.

    Ruthy's book Made to Order Family is a good example. Rita's youngest certainly kept everyone on their toes. In Reunited Hearts, there's no story without those kids. Also Missy's A Family for Faith.

    Vince~ I think Mary was writing from experience. She does have 4 daughters of her own.

    I'd love to win a backlist title.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

  3. Hi, Barbara,

    This topic hits home for me since I'm writing about a teen in one of my books.

    I find having children in the book a great challenge. I always remember what Seekerville Ruthy said about not making the kids too perfect. :)

    Awhile back, I did hear an editor on a panel say you have to be careful with writing in children. They can take over the story. Also, if mishandled and they are off-stage too much, it appears that the protag is an unconcerned parent.

    I guess they're saying kids are time-consuming and tend to take over your life, and the book. Many romances I read have children in them. Obviously, these challenges can be overcome.

    I also find it difficult to write children and get their behavior correct for their age. If I want them to be exceptionally bright, a critique partner will say "That's not something a 7-year-old would say." Likewise, if I have them losing a tooth, a crit will say "a child that age wouldn't lose a tooth." When, in fact, children's development can vary widely.

    Any thoughts on those issues?

    I'd love to win a book.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

  4. Lost power early and was missing me some SEEKERVILLE!!!!

    Barbara, thank you so much for being here today with a subject I LOVE!!!!!




    Small towns, heart and home, hot heroes and wounded hearts. Barbara, you had me at "hello"!

    Wonderful stuff, and the cover with the little dude pinning on the badge.... So stinkin' precious! Oh my stars, I'm in love, totally. Over the top. And the Dad might be a jerk, but the kid sucked me in.

    Andrea, thank you! Skeeter was a trip, wasn't she? And I modeled her after one of my daycare girls (WHO SHALL GO NAMELESS. CASEY... ARE YOU READING THIS????)

    Like Skeeter, Casey improved! Oh, wait, that's not exactly nameless.

    And Cory in Reunited Hearts is my little "Brookie", who's standing here next to me eating an approved ice-cream-for-breakfast.

    Perfect. ;)

    Right now I have Rachel and Sophie, two motherless girls, different as night and day...

    And their sweet beleagured father caught in a sandwich generation of aging parent, small children, no spouse.

    His dry, cryptic humor makes him fun. And the kids keep him guessing.

    The only thing missing is a fashion-model-gorgeous single old girlfriend with a past...

    Ah, Barbara, thank you so much for sharing the little "peeps" of romance. Like you, I love how they round out a story!

  5. Hi Barbara,

    Personally, I like when an author includes children in the story as long as they add not detract to the hero and heroine's conflict.

    But as Cathy mentioned including children can be a challenge as a writer. In one of my recent ms there is an eight year old boy, and keeping track of him while keeping the hero and heroine on track proved to be complicated at times. But in the end this little guy really made my other characters more realistic and reachable.

    I haven't mustered up the courage to include a teenager, yet. That's a whole new dimension.

    Thanks for visiting Seekerville today, and I'd love to be entered to win one of your books.


  6. Barbara, Kids can definitely enrich a book in my opinion. And Becky certainly does in A Rancher's Pride, and the the boys do in Family Matter's. I think the author has to gauge a fine line and not let them overwhelm the romance, which you do expertly. Congrats! Hello, Seekerville!

  7. Hel-lllooooo, Seekerville!

    It's great to be back here. A big thanks again to Mary for inviting me!

    I'm looking forward to a fun, busy day with y'all.

    To fortify us, I've brought along a Vegetable Quiche, a Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake, and a yummy Chocolate-Chip Pound Cake. All completely no-cal, of course (this is a virtual island, afer all), so feel free to indulge!

    Grabbing my tea and going off to read messages now.


  8. A quick addition: I'm normally a writer who "writes tight," and that's how I like my books to go.

    But I already see so much to reply to in the first few comments, I have a feeling my responses may be a bit more chatty than my usual style. LOL

    Also, I definitely want to chat and give your comments my full attention. I'll respond to everyone, probably in batches--as I need to fit in a little work today on my pesky deadline. ;-)

    And now...I'm really off to read and comment!


  9. Good morning, Vince!

    You've given me a lot to think about. Let me take another sip of tea while I contemplate. ;-)

    And so I don't forget, let me agree now--Mary does write great kids.

    You've hit on and/or reinforced some terrific points, the most important of which (IMHO) is the fact that kids should not be window dressing. The motivation and/or mirrors you mentioned are great, *justifiable* ways to make sure their roles are necessary.

    If they're in the story, they should have a purpose for being there. That's something I always shoot for and I hope, with my examples, it seems as though I've hit the target.

    Love your comment, too, about real but good kids with problems. That reminds me that in my brief mention of THE SHERIFF'S SON (my first published novel), I didn't have time to add that there's also a subplot involving a group of teenagers--and though it's not a major part of the plot, it does have a solid impact on the story in many ways.

    I'm very happy to hear that you're going to check out A RANCHER'S PRIDE!

    Also, I promise you I'm not just pushing the book, but your comment about "no bad seeds" makes me think you'd enjoy reading about the troubled teen in FAMILY MATTERS, too. I can't say why, or I'd be giving too much away! LOL

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments and your support of A RANCHER'S PRIDE. I hope you enjoy the story.


  10. Gotta recommend Barbara's latest. I loved the child in this book. She isn't a "cliche kid" as Vince points out, but a real character essential to the plot. I am one of those who doesn't like a lot of kids in my books but these two and that little girl stole my heart.

    No need to put me in the drawing. I have all Barbara's books!

    Peace, Julie

    Peace, Julie

  11. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraMay 27, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    Thanks for sharing Barbara!! I don't mind when kids are in the story but like everyone else said they need to be there for a reason not just so the story has a kid.

    I loved Skeeter in Ruthy's Made to Order Family!! You never knew what she was going to do next. I was wondering if she was based on a real person.

    I brought some tea and fresh fruit to share!! Dig in.

  12. Andrea - I think Ruthy just may have found the "secret." LOL

    And I agree, Mary could be writing from real life--with a whole lot of humor added.

    You'd said: "Don't throw in a kid because you think people will like it."

    You've gotten the point, exactly!

    And IMHO...of course, everything I say today will be IMHO...

    Worst of all, if someone did do that in a story, they'd run the risk of alienating those readers who don't like kids to begin with.

    While if they made sure to justify and motivate the child/ren in the story, they might just convert those readers into fans.


  13. Hi, Cathy - thanks for dropping in.

    That Ruthy's a genius! ;-)

    I love writing about teens, but they can be tough cookies.

    Although, I'm currently working with a PREteen (in my upcoming book, that is! ) and finding her a particular challenge. LOL

    I'm no expert and again IMHO...the editor you heard speak was right, you do have to be careful in writing about children.

    Regarding getting the behavior and life stages right for an underage character, off the top of my head, I'd say your best bet is to go to the experts.

    A good baby/child book can be a great reference. Real-life moms can be even better!

    But of course, with the moms, you'd run into your other issue about critics saying such-and-such is not age correct: unless they happen to have quite a few kids, who progressed and acted alike, the moms' experiences would probably be highly individualized.

    And you're right, kids develop at widely varying rates.

    So, my best suggestion to that falls in with the examples you gave, which are perfect.

    For the CP who criticizes because a child who is too precocious in one of the comments she's made? I see the solution in what you've said: "I want them to be exceptionally bright." That defines your character.

    Before that particular comment, we as readers need to see it established--believably and logically (not just tossed in, as Andrea and I discussed above)--that the child is bright. Then when she makes an *expecially* precocious statement, we buy into it because we believe in her.

    Does that help?


  14. Hi, I have to admit I don't usually toss in a child. Having said that, the one romance I've done with a child was a Christmas story. The child I hope posed as the innocence of life and as a way for the Hero to begin his journey back from the dark side. To see through the eyes of the child the wonder of the holidays. It was a free read and I was surprised at how many people fell in love with her. A child can bring a lot to a novel. They can be important as the bridge between two opposing forces but they should be a well thought out character just as your hero and heroine. A great conversation. Thanks for providing the link Barbara.


  15. I've had kids in a few of my books. Like Becky, the kids in my stories mattered. They made a difference to the story. So my answer is that I do like them in a story if they make a difference.

    I've read all of Barbara's books, so no need to put me in the drawing.

  16. And he-e-e-e-re's Ruthy!

    Sorry to hear about the power. Glad it's back up.

    It sounds like you've got another great story working.

    I'm honored that I caught your attention. ;)

    And, yes, Kevin *looks* like a little angel, doesn't he?

    I'm sure y'all can just imagine how I felt when I saw him on my very first book!


  17. Interesting post! I agree with Vince that kids are good in books but should not be used just for window dressing. Now, Cory in Ruthy's book.....what a joy and delight she is!! Just precious! I would love to win one of your books, Barbara.

  18. Hi, Kirsten - and thanks for the welcome.

    It sounds like your little guy played his part perfectly.

    Yes, adding to the hero and heroine’s conflict is something those underage characters do best!

    It definitely is a challenge to keep them from taking over the story—as well as trying to find something to do with them while they’re off-page.

    In fact, in my *next* book, after the one I’m finishing up now, the heroine has *three* children.

    And it has recently occurred to me that I have no idea who’s going to watch them when she’s busy. LOL


  19. Hey, Donnell! Thanks for stopping by.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the kids in both A RANCHER’S PRIDE and FAMILY MATTERS...and that you don’t hesitate to say so. ;-)

    Thanks for the compliments, too!

    You’ve made a great observation, as well. There *is* a fine line between inviting children into the plot and then keeping them from taking over the story.

    Sometimes it feels like walking a tightrope--and I try very hard not to think about what’s below! LOL


  20. Aww, Julie – thank you!

    I’m glad to have your support of all the books, and especially glad that Becky in A RANCHER’S PRIDE won you over.

    You enhance the point I made in my response to Andrea, which I swear I made before ever reading your comments. ;-)

    I appreciate your adding that Becky’s not a cliché. (I imagine Vince does, too.)

    Thanks so much for dropping in today!


  21. Hi, Laura - we *have* seen some very valid points made already today, haven't we?

    Thanks for reinforcing them.

    And for bringing the healthy snacks!


  22. Hi, Nan – you’re very welcome!

    Thanks for bringing up another very important aspect about writing stories that have children in them.

    Their sense of innocence and wonder can add so much to a book.

    Along with many other purposes in a story, children can change adult characters’ lives, from opening their eyes to their past to giving them a vision of their future.

    This is especially true during poignant times, as in the holidays, when people are already much more reflective, which is why I’m not a bit surprised to hear a Christmas story did well.

    Thanks for stopping in!


  23. Edie - you've said that so well! The kids have to MATTER.

    That's what I hope to acheive, too. (Please excuse the upcoming pun and inadvertent plug for my book.... )

    I may have only one book with this title, but in all my books, FAMILY MATTERS. And the children MATTER, too.

    Thanks for the comment. And, as always, for your support!


  24. Jackie - hi, and thanks for confirming we're on the right track here. ;)

    I'm *so* happy to see that this post has generated some chatter already, as it's one of my favorite topics.


  25. As I've responded to all the comments I've seen so far, this seems like the perfect time for me to go wrestle with the preteen in my WIP.

    She's just been especially sassy, and now the hero and heroine have to figure out how to handle it.

    Wish me luck!

    Save me some cake! (huge grin)

    See you later.


  26. Hi Barbara.
    If you have never seen the independent film "Dear Frankie", I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!

    I also wanted to add that I think surprise kids are the best to kicking off plots hehe. (Like my currant work in process, a historical woman's fiction)

    I like kids. In real life, on the page, essential or not, but that's just me. =)

    Would love an opportunity for one of your earlier releases. (And the weekly five page critique)

    nancykimball at hotmail -dot-com

  27. Barbara,

    Your stories sound wonderful. I love kids in books - especially when they embarrass the adults!

    Just started "A Family for Faith" and pre-teen Chelsea is a hoot! Loving it so far, Missy!

    I'll be in the store today and will check for A Rancher's Pride.

    Here's hoping that all the storms leave town this weekend! We all need some nice sunshine!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  28. Hi Barbara. I love stories with children. I like my children smart and maybe a bit precocious, but not obnoxious, as too often they are seen on television. Thankfully this trend hasn't made it to fiction.

  29. Barbara, I'm such a stinkin' blog hog....

    And hugs to you for putting up with it!

    Mary's girls.... Her naughty boys... Oh my stars, I laughed myself senseless since we had four boys. I'm still mending walls. Doors. And the youngest is 25.... Hysterical.

    And Vince, I love your answer to the 'kids' question. There are plenty of non-baby, non-kid romances abounding.

    Leave our kid-related-reads alone for us saps!


    Barbara, I'm dying over the cake...

    Loving it. And your great comebacks.

    I missed bringing food to Seekerville this week! Y'all most likely starved!

  30. Good Morning! Barbara thanks for being on. Crazy morning so I'm just checking in now.

  31. And RUTHY'S BACK!!!!!!!

    My world makes sense again!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. And Vince thanks for that about me and kids.
    I had far to few kids in the Montana Marriages series, well, Belle Tanner had kids....but kids didn't fit with the story I was trying to tell, so what're'ya'gonna'do?
    And Deep Trouble, no opening for kids there.
    I've got a toddler and one baby is born in my August release Out of Control.

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. (Oops. Deleted my own comment. LOL BWD)


    Those surprise kids sure are a lot of fun! They definitely throw the heroes and heroines into tailspins. ;)

    Thanks for the film recommendation; I’ll look for it.


  35. Sue – thanks for the compliments! I hope you’re able to find A RANCHER’S PRIDE--and, of course, that you enjoy it. ;)

    Another fabulous point to add to our list: we’ve talked about the kids adding conflict, but the embarrassment factor for the adults is oh-so-lovely, too, isn’t it?

    Joining you in hoping that the weather calms down all over the country.


  36. Patricia - hi!

    I'm with you in being glad that I haven't seen many obnoxious kids in fiction.

    Will confess...the preteen I'd mentioned previously just got borderline with that--but she's also just gone through a very shocking experience, so I think I need to cut her some slack.

    Thanks for commenting!



    I think kids are always fun because they can get away with saying things that adults can't, which I LOVE!! As a family-saga writer, I ALWAYS have kids in the wings, and when they grow up, I bring in new ones because they just add to the story SOOO much!!

    Your books sound WONDERFUL!! Thanks for being our guest today, Barbara, and kicking off our weekend.



  38. hogging? I never even noticed. ;-)

    I can only imagine what you went through in raising four sons.

    People say kids never leave home forever. Maybe when they do go, they also leave little (broken) pieces behind for us to remember them by?


  39. Hey, Mary!

    Thank you again to you--and all The Seekers--for hosting me today. I'm having a great time!


  40. Hi, Julie - thanks for the warm welcome! I'm thrilled to be back.

    Kids do add SO much to a book, don't they?

    With all the factors we've already discussed, we ought to have a good chance of convincing even those people who (think they) don't like kids in their books. ;)


  41. Think I've caught comments up to date.

    If I miss anyone, don't hesitate to holler. This is one HAPPENING blog. LOL


  42. Welcome back to Seekerville, Barbara. I just love your covers!!

    Tina Radcliffe

  43. Hi Barbara:

    I’m embarrassed to say this but I’ve read and reviewed over 1000 romances and I don’t think I’ve read more than five Harlequin American Romances in all that total. (It seems all the May and June HAR books have kids in them. Are there always children in HARs?)

    I remember reading one HAR because it had a baseball player hero on the cover and the other one had a pilot next to his light aircraft. I’ve once read that HAR was directed to fans outside the USA who want an American story. I like to read stories that take place in Europe and Australia and especially New Zealand. Reading so few HARs seems odd now that I think about it, however.

    Just how do you see HAR fitting into the romance marketplace? Do you have a good idea who your readers are?

    BTW: I’m now reading “A Rancher’s Pride”, and as the people here seem to love first lines, I’ll give yours:

    “The minute Sam Robertson saw his mother’s frozen expression, he knew something terrible bad happened. He hadn’t seen that look on Sharleen’s face since the night his daddy died.” (“A Rancher’s Pride”, page one.)

    (I’m hooked already!)

    You also wrote:

    “Writing A Rancher’s Pride kept me on the verge of tears, because even I wasn’t sure how Sam, Kayla and Becky could ever reach a happy ending.”

    OMG! Does this make you a pure 100% pantser? This sounds just like something that Tony Hillerman would write. (Hillerman: “If I don’t know how a story is going to end, the reader sure won’t either”.)


  44. Hi Barbara:

    The comments given so far here have made me think of kids in two very different ways:

    “Kids as kids”


    “Kids as characters”

    In Mark Twain and Mary Connealy, I clearly remember the kids as being kids.

    In Mary’s book with the four sisters, {she has too many titles to remember them all} the heroine/mother has taught her daughters frontier skills so they wouldn’t need a man to take care of them. When the brand new step-father takes it upon himself to teach the kids these same skills, so they can take care of themselves if the need arises, the girls have to pretend to be learning the skills they already perfectly know so as not to hurt his pride. This is ‘cute times ten’! You can only do this if the kids are otherwise totally believable.

    W.C. Fields was famous for ‘disliking’ children. He would never appear on stage with a child.

    In Ruth’s books and also Missy’s newest book, (A Family for Faith) I don’t remember the children ‘as children’ but rather as major characters. As such, I remember the plots first.

    Maybe this has something to do with ‘plot-driven’ stories and ‘character-driven’ stories and maybe it only has to do with how the author portrays the children in the story or maybe it is just idiosyncratic to me. Do you remember the plots first or the children in the book first?

    I wonder if other readers have this same experience.


    P.S. The mail’s late so I have more time at work to write these posts. I’m at work! Also, I’m writing a book about the romance genre. : )

  45. Whew! I'm late getting here today. Our summer vacation starts today (yay!), so I started my summer schedule of writing until 11:00 - no internet until then. Well, we'll see how long that lasts. I may have to sneak onto Seekerville early in the morning...

    Children: I never even thought of not putting children in my WIP! But I think they work. We'll just have to see what the final result is. But I agree - they have to be characters in their own right, not just stuck in there for the cuteness factor.

    Ruthy: "oh, snap"? You must have been raised at our house. My children use that expression at least once a day! And the children in your books are both realistic and adorable - as a reader I can tell you love them dearly, and I think that's one of the reasons they work so well.

    (And 4 boys qualifies you for the coveted title of "mother of boybarians". It belongs to those mothers who have 3 or more boys...)

    Thanks so much for the insights, Barbara. I'd love to win a copy of one of your books!


  46. Hey, Barbara. I'll say upfront that of all the non-Steeple Hill imprints Harlequin American Romance is my favourite. To read and to write. Having said that, there's a reason they're categorized as 'Heart and Home'.

    Some homes have kids, some don't. Some romances evolve around kids, some don't. A sad fact is that some romances fail because kids won't accept it, and some fail because the people involved don't want to work hard enough to give it a chance to succeed and then they blame the kids. Of course, the flip side is that some kids help a romance grow.

    Let's face it... kids are here to stay even though some people don't want them in their own house or books. I love reading both types. As it's been said here repeatedly, it depends on the story. I can't say I've ever read a book where I thought the kid(s) where there to fill empty pages.

    And I have to admit I've never read one of your books, Barbara, but I'm definitely intrigued enough to toss my hat in for the draw. :)

    anitamaedraper (at) hotmail dot com

  47. Tina - thanks so much.

    I actually did guest blogs this week and last on covers and titles.

    In both posts, I freely admitted that I was extremely lucky in all my covers!


  48. Barbara, you've got MARY and JULIE BOTH BEING NICE TO YOU????

    'Sup widdat?

    On the same day?

    This isn't another pretend rapture, is it?

    I remember getting some hefty criticism from critiquers for a really fun book with three naughty boys who thought the next door neighbor might be a witch.... She was artsy, wore long dresses and had a kiln...

    She was a potter. Not the smokin' kind, the artist kind, Mary, don't even GO THERE.

    And the boys delighted in making their poor father crazy. I can tell you guys understand that BOYS ARE BOYS but two people were compelled to write to me privately and tell me they were praying for that poor father. Those boys.

    And me, by default.

    Because it was fiction. And they knew it, but the middle boy was a Randy-type (Home Improvement) kid who was brilliant at set-up....

    I'll put that one up for sale one of these days and you guys will die laughing because it's hysterical....

    But more so because it made people actually nervous.

    Ah, fiction. ;)

    (And yes, those boys were based on a family that shall go nameless, but they'll recognize themselves when the time comes. And probably demand royalties, LOL!)

  49. The first book I finished was about a teacher. One of her third grade students became a major part of the story from the second half on. In fact, he became so important the book turned into a series and he became the grown-up hero in book two.

    In another book, a bizarre event leaves a baby named Faith in custody of an engaged man, no relation to the baby or her family. Though the story isn't entirely about the baby, she is certainly the catalyst for it.

    The other stories I've written don't have any children in them but I can see where they help certain story lines that wouldn't be as strong without them.

    Please enter me in the drawing for one of your books. They all sound intriguing!
    teaching by writing at yahoo dot com

  50. Hi, again, Vince.

    I’m sorry that you haven’t read many Harlequin American Romances, but I think it’s a very good thing that you’re getting starting again with mine. ;)

    (I have three other ones out and two in the works, in case you’re interested. LOL)

    Harlequin American Romance is definitely a home and family line, and yes, you’re almost pretty much guaranteed to have children in them. (FYI, in FAMILY MATTERS, they’re all teenagers, so they’re not necessarily *small* children.)

    The core audience is American and female, although the books can be found in other markets, too.

    Thanks for the compliment in quoting my opening line! It was not the original opening, but I’m kinda glad I came up with it as I like it, too. ;)

    As for being 100% pantser, no. I call myself as a hybrid, because I do like to have a complete outline to follow--and so do my editors! But while I’m plotting the story, I leave room for detours along the way. Sometimes those detours lead me down very scary paths....


  51. Vince,

    Good luck with your book.

    As to the question, I’m a character-driven writer so may not be the best person to answer this—but maybe others will chime in. (I actually typed that first as “many others” – you think that has something to do with the fabulous synergy here at Seekerville? LOL)

    I’ll give it a shot from my perspective. Being character-driven, I see--as you had tossed out--the difference being in how the writer portrays them.

    In other words, whether they’re fully fleshed out and play a substantial role in the story (major characters) or whether they’re more often off-stage and/or play roles such as plot device, comic relief, etc. (secondary characters).

    Hope that makes sense!


  52. Jan - you're right--they definitely need to be people themselves.

    And, after all, cute's cute, but when we give page time to the little rugrats, they need to pull their weight, don't they? ;-)


  53. Vince - I "call myself a hybrid" in that previous commentt. Not "as a hybrid." Why do I always see the typos after they've posted? (sigh)


  54. Anita – I’ll be very happy if both you and Vince pick up my books to read in the Harlequin American Romance line. ;)

    The line definitely focuses on “home,” and that can have very different meanings. I wrote another guest post recently--a Q&A--that talked about characters making up a family and said that I often use family as an underlying theme—but with a twist. (As my bio stated, I’m on a blog tour; normally, I’m not this chatty!)

    All the examples you gave above are why I often like to put children into my books. It makes the stories real.

    And it makes them complicated! LOL


  55. This has been a very strange day for me. I'm just meeting myself running all day. I'm sorry not to have hung around Seekerville more, to talk to Barbara and of course to Welcome Ruthy back. Tina too, except well, Tina's not really 'back' is she?

    Ruthy needs to be cross examined. Grilled. Get me a bright light. Get me a waterboard.

    Where is Tina??????????

  56. And NO, --"She was alive when I left her"--
    isn't going to satisfy us.

  57. Ruthy...

    ***Barbara, you've got MARY and JULIE BOTH BEING NICE TO YOU????

    'Sup widdat?***

    Gee, I didn't know that was unusual. But hey, I'm likin' it! So I won't complain.

    As for the hefty criticism...I will say this:

    You did a superb job of making your characters real.



  58. Sheesh. So I try to fix my typo and make another typo. I give up! Y'all are just gonna have to take me as I come.

    Speaking of which...Mary, I don't know how you could meet yourself when you're definitely one of a kind. ;0)

    But yeah, I am feeling kinda weird since you invited me to this party and then disappeared....

    Just sayin'.



  59. Christine – I like books where we get to see the characters later on.

    And, yes, catalyst, plot device, whatever term we use—the child doesn’t need to be the focal point but can definitely play an important role.

    Thanks for your kind words about my books!


  60. I enjoy reading romances with child characters as long as the children are well-developed characters in their own right, and really integral to the story.

    And I'd love the chance to win one of Barbara's books.

  61. Hi, Barbara! Thanks so much for being with us today. I love kids in stories! I think it makes for a fun book to write. The last one I wrote and turned in (will be out in Feb. 2012) has 4 kids in it! :)

    Andrea, thanks for your sweet comment.

  62. Welcome Barbara! I so enjoyed your post today, and your books sound very intriguing. ~ As a former first grade and kindergarten teacher (21 years) I LOVE reading about children in stories. I personally think they (and their perspective on situations) can add so much. And as we all know---children are often so much smarter than adults give them credit for being! *grin* ~ Thank you again for sharing today. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo Moore :)

  63. Thanks for being here Barbara.

    Mostly, my stories have kids in them, and these days they have more of a presence than ever before.

    Some kids just play bigger roles than others.

  64. Melanie - we've definitely seen people agree today that having the children be characters in their own right is important.

    I'm with you all on that, too.

    Thanks for stopping by!


  65. Missy - thanks for the welcome.

    You're so right, stories with kids in them are a lot of fun to write.

    And to read!


  66. Patti Jo - 21 years teaching first grade and kindergarten? I've worked for a school district and know what an accomplishment that is. I salute you! ;)

    Yes, the perspective a child brings to a book can make it a whole 'nother story.

    Thanks for your kind words about the blog post and my books!


  67. Pam - it's my pleasure to be with y'all today.

    Some kids do play bigger roles--if not almost take over the story completely!

    Fortunately, as I have the hero and heroine to worry about in a romance, also, I can usually keep the kids in line. ;)


  68. Abandoned by Mary.

    Film at 11:00.

    And TEEEEEENA's here, Connealy.

    Somewhere. Anonymously. Her computer doesn't like to integrate names it seems. But please, make fun of her like you do to me.

    Barbara, I love that you've contracted so many books. Good for you! How did you get that first contract? And to get a 4 1/2 Star Top Pick review... Oh, honey, that's such a wonderful thing! Can't wait to read this.

    So did you write long before you sold? Do you mind sharing that?

  69. Ruthy...

    Yes, I wrote for a very long time before I sold. I started at the age of nine--seriously! But I didn't know real people could get stories published, so I never sent anything out.

    Once I wised up years later and started submitting, it took me a while to find my home.

    The story is very long and involved, but to keep it short: I had some ups and down, came close a few times, and when I did get The Call, I sold two books at once.


  70. I like having children in romance books. It adds more depth to the story. I think it's interesting to have the child be the one to get in the way of the hero and heroine--especially if the child only belongs to one main character.
    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  71. Sorry I'm late chiming in, but welcome back to Seekerville, Barbara! I have really enjoyed writing teens into my books because I work with them at church every week at youth group. You're right in that they really do hit on truths sometimes in a way that adults do not, and that's fun to include in a story!

  72. Cynthia – it *does* add great conflict and tension to the story when the child belongs to only one of the main characters. It’s heartbreaking to watch the tug of war when that character struggles over loving the child vs. being with the love of his/her life.

    My next book (after the one I’m finishing now) deals with this, and I’m getting ready to agonize along with my heroine!

    Thanks for commenting.


  73. Camy – thanks for the welcome!

    With that weekly dose of teens in your youth group, you know exactly what I’m talking about. ;)