Confessions of a Romance Writer

Pockets of WildflowersI have a confession to make. I’ve been cheating.

I had good intentions. You can read about them in this post Juggling Summer, Kids, Sheep and Writing .

Unfortunately, the unexpected happened…I fell in love…with the new book I started. I should have seen it coming. After all, it is a romance novel.

It didn’t help that when I created the male character for the female, I created someone who I’d consider a great catch. I’m the writer, so I see through his faults and his lies, and I see what dwells in his heart. Darn it. Maybe I should have made him less likeable, but then, maybe Olivia wouldn’t have fallen for him either.

The woman slapping the man and sending him off to be never seen again doesn’t work in romance novels.

On the journey through Pockets of Wildflowers, I drew on the same methods of creating characters I have in the past. That included using images. I wrote about this in a post—Using Images to Capture a Character—in February 2011.

I didn’t know how my male character sounded until he opened his mouth, and I heard the lilt in his voice. It probably had something to do with hearing a Johnny Reid interview earlier in the day. He’s an awesome singer who was born in Scotland and came to Canada in his mid-teens. He hasn’t lost his accent even though he’s lived in Canada for more than twenty years. This accent stuck in my head, and I used it and its history to build my main male character.

From there, I went looking for an image to use as inspiration. I didn’t need to go far before I found this:

Button shirt, pants that looked like they’d been worked in all day and boots. He even had the I’m up to something but I’m not telling you look. This man had the right accent, but his hair was a wee bit short for John…Olivia’s love interest. That’s okay. I knew where to get the length and the short beard for John.

So here I am in the sizzling heat of summer with an equally hot romance going on between the pages of Pockets of Wildflowers. I had planned to write 500 words a day…a day, not every 15 minutes for hours a day. Unfortunately, my fingers wouldn’t stop. Between June 29th and July 15th, I wrote just over 35,000 words, completing the novel in 17 days.

When my fingers stalled, I played with images I had taken and the ones I had found on the Internet, making dream covers and possible covers. Here’s a sample.

Note: The ones with Gerard Butler are only dream covers using the images I jigged off the net. Obviously, he’s not going to sign off on them; I don’t even have his email to ask for the official rejection; I’ll just assume. But hey, romance novels are all about dreaming big, so…it’s okay to play with images and covers here. Everything else on the covers (including the flowers) are mine.

Dream Covers

Book Covers Removed after reading this post.

Possible Covers

…using Windflowers by artist John William Waterman (public domain)

Diane Lyn McGyver

Diane Lynn McGyver

More Probable Covers

…using my own photographs

 Diane Lynn McGyver

If you could have anyone on your book cover, who would it be? Do you think of a particular movie or music star as your leading character when you write?

8 thoughts on “Confessions of a Romance Writer

  1. I think it’s all a personal preference. I write young adult novels, so there’s a lot of varied cover options. It seems though, from my observation, that the lean is towards very elegant looking covers–girls with ball gowns and deep, rich colors. I think this could work for romance novels as well. I understand not using stock photographs. I will only use my own photographs, so in the end I sometimes end up in my own photographs and my husband hands up being the person to click the button. It makes it difficult to have a cover with a person on it though, as I don’t really want my face plastered everywhere. I have this wonderful idea for my novel Let the Fates Decide where there is a girl standing in “dead” woods, which happen to be next to my house, holding a red rose in a black ball gown. Since it will be me I’ll have to dress up in a ball gown, stand bare foot in someone’s woods and turn my head away from the camera in hopes it’s an idea that works.
    As for your sexy Irish man, you could always have him facing away from the camera with his hands in his back pockets while he stares out into a field of wildflowers? Leaves a little to the imagination, but not too much!
    I really like your cover with the girl on it without the horse. I love horses, don’t get me wrong, but my eye goes directly to the horse instead of her. Maybe that is because I love horses so much though (what a pretty gray Arabian!).


    • I’ve seen the ball gowns, but to be honest, that’s not my style, and it would be misleading readers. I’m not elegant, and neither are my characters. They’re more down to earth. My romance novel is about a woman who works a farm, so she’s more in jeans than dresses.

      I’m trying to convince my 14-year-old daughter to wear a fantasy-like dress and ride her horse across the pasture for any upcoming fantasy novel. So far, that’s a big NO! lol. I’ll work on her. I’ve used my kids’ hands and feet in pictures, and they don’t mind that. Of course, the alternative is to get pictures of me…like you plan to do. Costume, make-up and setting.

      I love horses, too. The second cover has our Haflinger in the background. The other horses are from the barn where my daughter rides. I have a few hundred photos of horses and insert them where I can. The woman in my book owns a Haflinger, so if I can include it on the cover, it hints to what’s inside.

      Thanks for the wonderful comment, Cassandra.


      • Yes, I can see how the ball gown wouldn’t fit! I love your idea for a fantasy novel cover! It sounds gorgeous.
        My grandmother owns a horse barn and has a Haflinger mix pony. What a beat he is, but the way he moves–spectectular. I’m sure whatever you end up with will be fabulous. I love all your photos on here.


  2. This post really made my day, and made me smile! I have to say I am a hopeless romantic and hopelessly in love with my husband. So when I write a character they are always him. There are minor variations to match the needs of the novel, but at the core they are always him!
    As for cover–I’m more for ones without people on them, or ones where you can’t see the persons face!


    • Great. The post was all for fun, so I’m glad it made you smile.

      I wondered about faces on covers. It immediately tells readers what the character looks like which is a good thing but also a bad thing. I don’t want to show readers what the character looks like; I want them to create their own image. It makes it more pesonal for the reader.

      However, I see many romance novels with faces on them. Some just have the six-pack abs, from neck to belly button, of the male, but I don’t want to do that. Maybe I’l run a poll and see what others think about this. Faces or no faces? I won’t use stock photos, so I’m limited as far as pictures go.

      Thanks for your comments.


  3. I used Clive Owen (the way he looked in “Queen Elizabeth 1” for the image in my head for Klast in my first novel – dark, a bit coarse, and VERY sexy. And this, even though the romance was only a sub-plot.


    • I just googled him, Yvonne. Yes, he’d make a great-looking leading man. I haven’t seen “Queen Elizabeth I” yet, but I want to. It looks like a great movie.

      Thanks for visiting.


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