Thursday, November 7, 2019

Life Lessons: Write what you know by Jan Scarbrough #Romancegems

As a teenager and aspiring writer, I proudly showed my newest composition (a romance) to my favorite aunt. Mary K. was smart and single, and devoted most of her adult life to teaching children and caring for her elderly aunts. That day, she handed me back my carefully typed short story and asked, “Why don’t you write something more profound?” Ouch!

In high school, my journalism teacher told me someday someone would remove my rose-colored glasses. I didn’t understand. But it happened. Life happened and children and divorce. I didn’t lose my desire to write but put it on hold for a while.

When I started writing again, I found my experiences held a wealth of inspiration. Life lessons.

Mostly, I write about single moms and children, stuff I know too well. I like happy-ever-after endings. I like horses and dogs and cats. All these things found their way into my books, as you can see in this excerpt from Kentucky Rain. By putting Life Lessons into my novels, I think I’ve fulfilled Mary K.’s request to write something more profound.

What Life Lessons have you learned?


“I’m worried about Reagan, Dad,” she said in a raw voice. “I thought this kitten might help ease her through the divorce. Give her something to love.”

Ben put the finishing touches on the tree house, placing it in front of the kitchen window so the cat could climb up and look outside. There were three carpeted perches, one being a tunnel perfect for hiding. He snatched up the kitten and deposited him on the top perch so that they were eye to eye.

“He is a cute little thing,” Ben conceded. “What’s his name?”

“Spike.” Kate’s voice choked with emotion.

Ben turned and surveyed her. “Now it’s nothin’ to cry about, honey.”

He knew her so well. He’d raised her. “I’m not crying.” Kate lifted her chin. “It’s just that I try so hard, and it’s so unfair that Reagan and I have to go through all this.”

“Nobody ever said life was fair.”

How often had she heard her father say that? Why couldn’t she get it through her hard head?
“I know. It’s just that I want so much for my daughter.”

“I did too, honey,” he said in agreement. “Life didn’t deal me no favors when your mother left us.”

“I know, Dad.” She shouldn’t have brought this up. She shouldn’t have made him remember his own disappointments and heartaches.

“But all you can do is your best. Children are forgiving, especially if they know they are loved. Believe me, Reagan is well-loved, and she knows it.”

“Oh, Dad.” Kate crumpled into his arms as she had done so many times growing up. He hugged her tight and kissed the top of her head, ruffling her hair.

“It’s okay, Katy,” he whispered. “It will all be okay. Trust me.”


November is the month for Gratitude, Appreciation, and counting your Blessings if you are religious and/or philosophical. Grateful, Thankful, Blessed—that's what we Romance Gems Authors feel. Join us this month in celebrating the Life Lessons we all learn. Enter our November Rafflecopter now for a chance to win 1 of 5 Amazon Gift Cards.

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  1. What a wonderful and VERY relatable post. Kentucky Rain is in my to read list! Thank you for sharing <3

  2. I’m a fan of your writing, Jan...and now you’ll find more of them!

  3. A great post. To borrow Elsa's word, what we write from things we've felt makes our work relatable, and even if we've gained the knowledge through pain, it's valuable!

  4. It drives me nuts when people think writing romance isn't "real" writing. But everyone feels emotions and craves love and goes through conflict in their lives. And if we can help people push through the bad times to look for the good, isn't that a worthwhile endeavor? Maybe if more people read romance, the world would be a better place. Thank you for helping the world be a better place!!

  5. Your excerpt drew me in. I'm ready to read your book.

  6. Great life lesson. Those times in our lives are what can make us stronger. I loved the excerpt. Lots of emotion.

  7. I'm with Kari. How many times have I heard people mock romance? The process of two people coming together, opening themselves up to someone else, being truly accepted, discovering new possibilities, and finding love can be so difficult! I'm so glad you've found a way to distill that transformation to the page and within your characters. Taking the hard lessons of life and turning them into love is an act of grace. In my opinion, that IS profound.

  8. It sure seems profound to me! Phooey on your aunt for not being more encouraging when you were just starting out.

  9. This story should resonate with a lot of readers. I hope your hard times were followed by joy.

  10. Too often people discourage when they should encourage. Creativity is so easily suppressed when one is young and uncertain. I bet your aunt would be proud of you.


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