Adding Conflict to Romance (+ A Sneak Peek at My WIP’s Cover!)

It’s been raining a lot here in California, and with the wetness comes a lot of allergies. I’m not sure what was in the air yesterday, but I was sneezing almost non-stop. By the end of the evening, C said my face looked burnt, and I was ready to crawl into bed and hibernate.

I hoped some sleep would help, but I woke up this morning with another sneezing fit. After I had ah-chooed a big one, I turned to hubby and exclaimed, “What is wrong with me?!”

He grinned and replied (a little too) quickly, “That’s what I’ve been wondering, too, for a long time.”

Hardy har har. 😛

Okay, I admit I totally set the stage for hubby’s punchline, but most of the time he doesn’t need any help from me to mess with my head. 😉 Take the instances when he’s in the shower (and I’m on the porcelain throne) and I wonder why in the world I’m getting rained on … until I notice hubby oh-so innocently throwing water over the glass door in my direction. Argh! 😉 Yup, as I’ve said before, he’s the sand paper to my sharp corners, and I’m the hole in his bubble. The very things we love about each other are also the very things that can drive us craaazy.

But what romance would be complete without some conflict? When I read or watch love stories, I do so to feel the push and pull between characters and to virtually experience the highs and lows they have to go through to find love. It’s much more exciting when you have some kind of obstacle (ie. a comatose brother or a scheming family friend) on the way to happily ever after. Wouldn’t you agree? And as a writer, I want to provide that entertainment in a meaningful and believable way (always with humor of course!).

I think this is why I’ve been struggling so much with the third book in my “Taking Chances” series. I have been working on this WIP (work-in-progress) for nine months now and it’s been, in one word, hard. Like this kind of hard:

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Hahaha!

Ever since I got feedback on my first book that the story lacked conflict, I’ve been trying to make life harder for my characters, which in turn is making life harder for me, too. It got to the point where I vowed to never write another romance book (after I finish this one of course) because people and love can be so complicated. That lasted about a day though because I realized the conflict I’m having with writing conflict is something I can’t escape from. Like my characters, I need to struggle through the trying, heart-wrenching, angsty times in order to earn the right to type “The End” on the last page of a book. Isn’t it ironic, that the one thing I’m forcing my characters to face is the one thing I don’t want to deal with. 😉

So, that’s where I am, struggling to write this book that so far is my favorite one that I’ve written. Now if only I could get it finished and published so you can enjoy it, too. 🙂 But in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek.

Drawn to You_peek

When I showed hubby the cover, he said, “It looks like the girl is upset and kneeing the guy.” Haha! Yup, there’s a lot of conflict in this story. 😉

Alrighty, I’ll end here with a sassy song by Walk The Moon that my sassy main character reminds me of, “Shut Up and Dance”.  🙂

How has conflict made your relationships more interesting?

Sibling Rivalry 101

I hate conflict.

You could say that conflict and I have never gotten along and we likely will never become friends. I prefer hanging out with my pal, Passive Aggressive, over the other guy, Direct Confrontation, any day. But we know people have all kinds of different ideas and opinions, so conflict is (gulp) inevitable in relationships. This was a hard fact for me to swallow when I got married, especially since I married Mr. I-Love-Debating. :p  It’s taken me a good decade’s worth of work to be willing to look conflict in the eye, instead of avoiding it, but have no fear, I have plenty of more opportunities to face it. This is where my kids come into the picture!

I never realized how peaceful life was when we only had one child. Of course there was a lot of crying and screaming with our high need baby, but at least I knew how to deal with it (ie. meet E’s needs by feeding, holding him, etc).  However, three weeks after C joined our family and E realized there was a “no returns/no exchanges” policy on siblings, things began to get a little sticky.  This is when I got a crash course in Sibling Rivalry 101.  And ever since then, conflict has been a part of my every day life (faint!).

These are some of the things I’ve learned so far:
1. Siblings can fight over anything and everything.  Sometimes I think they just want whatever the other person has, regardless of what it is.
2. There is a resolution for every conflict, but cutting mom in half isn’t one of them (this was C’s suggestion for how she and E could share me).
3. Conflict can bring siblings closer (if they are taught how to work through it).  It’s amazing how E and C can say to each other, “I’m not your friend anymore!” and then, “You’re my best friend in the whole world” a few minutes later!

I’ve had to learn a lot of conflict resolution skills over the past few years.  It hasn’t been easy with my lack of experience in this area, but believe me, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have plenty of  opportunities to practice.  I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to hear both sides of the story and to address each person’s feelings, especially if I was in the other room when the screaming started.  Once I know what’s going on, I can then give some advice on how to end WWIII and also prescribe a “make-up hug”.  🙂  I’m finding that the more we deal with conflicts, the less frustrating and emotional they are (at least for me) and the easier it is to move on from them.  But of course the fewer conflicts I have to deal with, the better!

I do have to say that I appreciate sibling rivalry for the good lessons that it teaches my kids.  Having a sibling means that E and C are learning how to share, how to wait and take turns, how to consider another person’s feelings and needs when making decisions, how to forgive when they are wronged, how to apologize, and most of all, how to develop lasting friendships.  They are light years ahead of me when I was their age in terms of their relationship skills.

Image courtesy of sattva/freedigitalphotos.net

Even though conflict isn’t my friend, I guess I shouldn’t consider it my enemy either.  It’s just one of those things that you can’t live with, yet you also can’t live without.

Check out Pentatonix’s cover of Sugarland’s song, “Stuck Like Glue“.  It reminds me of E and C’s bipolar friendship.  🙂

How did/do you handle sibling rivalry?