As a happily married woman of 35+ years, I don’t pay much attention to TV commercials for online dating services. Although I have wondered how multiple services can claim theirs is the company with the highest match rate or greatest number of marriages. Until… about 18 months ago, a publisher call for submissions with an online dating theme made me want to explore this avenue for how a couple could meet. I did my research and decided to locate the story in Loveland, Colorado—mainly because I like the name. For the first time, I decided to use characters who were both divorced, in their forties and had adult children. Based on the ads I see in the sidebar of my Yahoo mail screen, this is one of the age groups that turns to online dating. I wrote the short story but fortunately, the story received a rejection. I say “fortunately” because the story was not fully realized. So I set the story aside as I worked on other projects but I kept going back to tweak parts of it.
Then last fall when I was doing revisions on a short holiday novella, Gingerbread Wishes, (part of an anthology the previous year but my rights were reverted) I got the idea of creating a series set in my fictional small Texas town of Dorado. I remembered the person who edited my story when it was titled Wishes Comes True asked me where the town was located because her husband had grown up in Texas and didn’t remember it. That was my first clue that I’d included enough information about the town, its sense of community and its holiday events to appear real.
As I thought about creating a series centered around a family-owned bakery, I remembered my online dating story. After reading through it again, I realized the location wasn’t essential to the events in the plot. With only minor changes and additional scenes, I could move it to Dorado and have the second novella in my series. (Now I had to come up with a series title and make sure my cover artist created a “look” that would be consistent.) I included a brief conversation about the dating service and a sponsored holiday event in Gingerbread Wishes and the seed was set.
Of course, because my story is a romance and short novella-length, I didn’t want to put my characters through horrible match-ups or make them endure boring dates. Now that I’ve released that story titled When Lonely Hearts Meet, I’m seeing the theme in several other novels. But, if the ads are to be believed, this is a common way for people to get together. I’m glad that I met my husband while we worked for the same employer. Hmm, a story idea is nagging. Have I written a workplace romance?
Linda Carroll-Bradd is the author of sweet-to-sensual contemporary and historical romance. Her latest contemporary release is When Lonely Hearts Meet. AMAZON