When we decided to write about Father's
Day, a friend, father of two and a non-romance writer, asked, "How can
Father's Day have anything to do with writing a romance novel?"
"Au contraire," Tia replied.
"Fatherhood could have much to do with it." She mentioned books where
the beloved heroes were raising a child or children...and how it only took a
heroine's arrival to sweeten the mix. And, of course, men, who weren't fathers,
but became one under unusual circumstances. She proceeded to inform him about
Secret Baby books.
He shook his head. "Secret babies?
You're kidding, right?"
"Nope." She grinned. "There
are even stories where the heroine (the mother) doesn't know when or how her
baby was conceived."
"Oh." He walked away totally
We loved it. Befuddling men is fun.
Let's take a look at the special day
that venerates those proud, paternal-driven papas. Fathers have been around
since Adam first fertilized Eve, but, it wasn't until the early1900's ministers
and women's magazines seriously touted the righteousness of fatherhood.
Whatever for we have no idea. We decided to go look into the reason.
It began with Mr. William Jackson Smart. His
daughter, Sonora Smart (a neat first name, isn't it?), aka Mrs. John Bruce Dodd
of Spokane Washington, came up with the idea in 1909 while listening to a
Mother's Day sermon (a holiday which originated two years earlier.)
Sonora, along with five brothers, had been raised by
their widowed father, a Civil War veteran. Following the death of his wife in
childbirth, Smart struggled to work his eastern Washington farm, while keeping
his children clothed, fed and properly reared.
Mr. Smart, an admirable man, considering in the
early 20th Century men frequently lost their wives to childbirth. The majority remarried
quickly so they wouldn't have to care for children, specifically newborn
Widowed Men, often farmers, looked for a widow with
children. Marrying her, he not only had a woman seeing to his home and
children, her offspring were needed help with the never-ending farm chores. Many
second marriages turned into genuine love, others didn't, but both ways, more
children were born and families often grew as large as 6 to 15 kids living at
home at one time. Now, that's what we call being a fertile father.
Sonora Dodd's proposal was met with enthusiasm by
local ministers. The date suggested was the fifth of June (William Smart's
birthday), but many of the ministers needed more time to write their sermons,
so the celebration was moved to the 19th, the third Sunday of the month.
Word spread and newspapers across the country
endorsed this new holiday. One notable supporter to Mrs. Dodd's idea was orator
and political leader William Jennings Bryan. He wrote "...too much
emphasis cannot be placed upon the relation between parent and child."
However, even with notable support and the holiday being accepted across the
nation, members of the all-male Congress at the time felt to proclaim the day
official might be interpreted as a self-congratulatory pat on the back. (Go
figure, huh?) So the holiday remained a minor one.
But it didn't remain a silent one. In 1916,
President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the holiday, and
President Calvin Coolidge wrote in 1924 that states, if they so wished, should
do whatever they wanted as far as celebrating the holiday. In 1937, New York
City founded a National Father's Day Committee and decided to choose a theme
for each Father's Day and select a Father of the Year.
In 1957, Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote to
Congress saying Americans should honor both parents. To single out just one and
omit the other was "...the most grievous insult imaginable."
Yet, it wasn’t until 1966 when President Lyndon B.
Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June to
be identified as Father's Day. In April of 1972, President Richard Nixon signed
it into Public Law 92-278.
How about that? It took 62 years for fathers to be
Here's a bit of trivia for you. Did you know the Romans observed a Father's Day, every February...but...just for dead ones. Think about it. It could be an interesting twist for a Secret Baby story. Tia's great-grandparents: George and Katharina Meir (later changed to Meyers) because my great-grandfather wanted to sound moree american. Katharina married George after ge lost his first wife, leaving him with two children. Katharina too was a widow witth three children. all together they had 10 children. And, yes, they had a large farm Everyone worked. Including my grandmother, Elizabeth. Despite she was a girl, she worked along side her father out in the fields.
Grandparents JW and Emma Eaton. Emma was also a second wife. However they did't live on a farm. My grandfather owned a barbershop and ice cream parlor. Can't remember if my grandmother had been married before. I don't think she had been. But between them they had quite a few children. Can't reemember right now what the total was, darn it. what I do remember my dad was the last one born.
Tia with her dad. Note bandage on my chin. Fell off a stone ledge and split open my chin. Had to have stitches. What can I say, I was quite a rough and tumble kid.
Dani and her dad
Yes, I'm the little baby he's hold. Uncle Hershel sitting on the curb. This is in southern California.
Grandpa JH Christian and his second wife, Mae. Grandpa had 6 kids when she married him and together they had 6 more including my mom. The little girl in picture is my mother. All worked the farm in Arkansas.
To find out more about the writing team Tia Dani and our books visit us at:
Whenever we work at a restaurant, it means we're usually creating a new book.
Beginning a new story, always fires us up, however, sanityalso rears its annoying pointy head and sniffs, "Where are you going to start?"
Since our stories are generally character driven, we first like to know our characters inside and out. We talk about who they are and what they specifically want. Once we've got their names and backgrounds, flaws, and why they are driven, then we work on where we're going with the story.
Actually sometimes a plot line will come to us first, but that's a topic for another blog later on. (Has anyone picked up we're always saving things for other blogs?)
Back to brainstorming. Our second step is who opens the story in their point of view? Normally we gear our books toward the romance genre (Dani's strong point), so we usually start with the heroine. Sometimes the hero will protest and win the argument. We're really not gender driven.
But here's where it gets tricky. Once we know the characters, know the underlying plot, we have to add flesh and blood to the story…the stuff that not only draws readers avidly into the book, but ourselves as well.
We rely on our handy dandy writing class rule. Every scene needs three parts:
1. Goal. What does the character want? CHECK. DONE THAT.
2. Conflict. A series of difficulties characters must face on the way to reaching their goal. CHECK…WAIT! HOLD ON…We're not exactly there yet.
Several minutes (actually hours) of discussion, heavy research, and some wine, maybe a lot of wine, one of us (usually Tia) yells, "We got cows!"
Imagine in the restaurant the looks we get are quite comical. "Cows? What cows?" Several people look around nervously. "Where?"
We grin at everyone and explain we're co-authors, Tia Dani, and Tia's yell, "We've got cows." is an expression for seeing difficulties (like in the movie where cows fly in the middle of a tornado.) Some nod and say, "I see." Others…look confused then go back to eating.
Now onto Rule Three:
The Ultimate Disaster. What keeps characters from reaching their goals? By this time Tia is jumping up and down, waving her hands at a bunch of unseen cows in her mind. (Remember how she loves a great disaster.) Even Dani can't help but get drawn into the excitement. She has her own cows. With rapid-fire description, she embellishes great love scenes to go along with Tia's disaster(s).
By this time we have new people around us and we have to explain all over again.
But the really funny thing is, our waitress, who's gotten to know us quite well, strolls by and says with a grin, "Katie, bar the barn door. Tia Dani has their cows!" This is how we look by the time we've finished brainstorming a book.
The fact we've been writing together for a very long time still amazes us how well we work together. The reason? There's a strong bond of trust between us and, as we've always said, "Our friendship is imperative", beyond any other emotion or personal quirks.
What's one of those quirks, you ask?
Well, we're a bit competitive.
Pushing our limits has become a challenge. For example, we are "dogged" determined to dig deeper and deeper into our current story in progress. Which makes it kind of difficult since, at the moment, we're working on two stories at once. One is a paranormal and the other a futuristic. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum. Have we mentioned before we're eclectic? Yep, it keeps things interesting for us.
Anyway, back to our competition. We call it our Double-dog Dare. Here's what happens.
An initial story gets written.
So far, we're good with what's on the pages, but it really needs to zing.
Tia, ever thirsty for drama and spine-tingling action, takes off and inserts all kinds of spooky, weird, unusual, and not your run-in-the-mill happenings. "Hmmm," she chortles and rubs her hands. "What disaster can be added to intensify the story?"
Dani, however, forever the romantic, plunges into the protagonists' love quandary. How she can push the boundaries and build their relationships. She loves to dream about how passionate our hero and heroine can have it and build the sexual tension. She smiles and asks…"What incredibly sweet or spicy thing can I do to them before disaster strikes?" With that, she blissfully types away.
Dani calls this the fun stuff. Tia calls it the gooey, hooey stuff. Uh-oh, our personalities are showing.
Working together and daring each other to push harder is how we create realistic characters, strong emotion, and a story line that keeps our readers entertained all the way until the end.
Take for example our paranormal story we're working on right now. The story involves quite a bit of Apache Indian culture and Arizona history. The story didn't start out that way. It originally started with the hero and heroine meeting on a guest ranch in northern Arizona.
Okay, simple, but not exactly a hand wringer.
Then we into competition mode. And one chapter developed into another.
The hero and heroine soon find themselves drawn into a battle of metaphysical beliefs. Two Apache lovers have been trapped in time by a shape-shifter's curse. The lovers? Well, Dani won that round…lots and lots of emotional and physical love scenes.
Once Tia gives in to Dani, she insists there has to be a twist. Ensnared within her own spell, a jealous Apache woman vows that no one will ever free her captives.
Sounding stronger…BUT…the bar has to be raised higher. Tia pushes for the past-life regressions to be dangerous and scary. Dani agrees, but insists the heroine and hero must find themselves strongly bound together through time and other lives.
Kinda of a draw wouldn't you say? Round one to Tia. Round two to Dani. Round three. A mutual agreement: The love between the hero and heroine must be strong enough break the curse cast by the evil one.
To find out how it happens...you'll have to read the book.
One more thing though.
Before this book is ready to send to our publisher, we have one more step to achieve. Make sure our historic storyline stayed believable all the way through. So, off we went the world acclaimed Heard Museum in Phoenix for research. It ended up being a wonderful adventure. Not only did we discover some Apache objects to enhance our story, we also learned that many of the incidents we wrote were darn near spot on. (Spine tingling and lifting neck hairs hit us both.)
Some of the Native American jewlery on display at the Heard Museum.
Apache wedding dress.
Navajo blanket robes. The Apache traded for goods and would very likely have blankets like these.
Apache footwear on display.
It was a perfect day to enjoy lunch on the patio and make some notes. We have learned the hard way...write it down while fresh in our minds. We also enjoyed a glass of Twisted Cedar Native American Wine. http://heard.org/
Final round to the competition? To our powerful channeled spirits who helped us become one with the book.
Bio: Tia Dani is the multi-published writing team made up of good friends Christine Eaton Jones and Beverly Petrone. Together they create endearing and realistic characters, humorous dialogue, and unusual settings. And…best of all…they’re having the time of their lives.
Storytelling has been a passion for Christine (Tia) since childhood when she regularly enthralled the neighborhood children with make-believe fairy tales and wild adventures.
Always the lover of a good romance, Beverly's (Dani) goal is for you to step into the shoes of her heroine, fall head-over-heels in love with her hero, and most of all believe in the magic of love.
Tia Dani happily calls Arizona home where they play in the sunshine and dance in the twilight of the beautiful Sonoran desert.
Since there are two of us, wouldn't you think we could finish a book in record time? Sure, we both have busy lives. We have husbands, kids, grandkids, housework, other careers and hobbies (well, Tia has hobbies, Dani just plays) but that's another blog for a later time. Like we said, we are both fully committed to our writing. So what happens that we can't seem, to finish a project?
Life happens. Not always in a mundane way.
Take the other day for example. Our plan was to meet up at Tia's house and not leave until we had completed the next phase of editing our work in progress. Which, by the way, it is going to be an awesome blend of the present and past, with elements of paranormal, regression, and plenty of romance. But when Dani pulled into Tia's driveway she was met with a frantic Tia waving her arms. She needed help with an unexpected emergency.
The emergency was a baby bird that had fallen from its palm tree nest near the front of Tia's house. Tia was certain it was an owl and we needed to find a rescue place quick. Someone needed to come get the bird before it died. She had already called two places who both told her they don't take in raptor species. Raptors?!? Aren't they supposed to be those honking, huge birds during the dinosaur age?
We made several more calls to animal shelters and finally were directed to a place that would take in raptors. Only problem, they didn't pick up. We had to deliver.
Twenty minutes later we had packed the back seat of Dani's car with the make shift cage, which was really a crate with a lid over the top to hold the tiny ball of white feathers. Off we went with the directions programed into the GPS system. It took us almost 45 minutes on the freeway to the exit we needed to take us north to Cave Creek and the bird hospital.
At this point, we should let you know Dani is not really fond of birds. Not that she doesn't like them, it's just she's sorta afraid of them.
When she called her husband to let him know where she was headed he said, "You are what?"
"Rescuing a bird."
"That's what I thought you said. You have a bird in your car?"
"Yes. We are saving his life."
"Ooookay. Good luck"
Meanwhile Tia is yelping and leaning over the seat, trying to keep the tiny owl from squeezing through the holes in the grate and jumping out of the box. Miniature fuzzy feathers are flying everywhere. With all the commotion we missed the turn off and had to do a U-turn and go back to where the GPS was insisting we should go in the first place. It was a winding dirt road with large pot holes. We bounced along making the odd turns, when told by the voice that seemed quite sure of where we were going. Us not so much.
In the distance we saw a sign and perched on top was a metal hawk with the large wings spread wide. WILD AT HEART. Yep, we had reached our destination.
Relieved we pulled in and parked. Not only had we arrived safe and sound, our little owl was still alive. Tia retrieved her precious cargo from the back seat. Dani stayed a safe distance away. Off we went to find a doctor. We were greeted immediately and our little guy was taken to be examined.
After a thorough examination we were assured he would be fine. He was wrapped in a warm blanket and placed into an incubator where he would be watched for several days. Then they broke the news to Tia that her baby was not an owl but actually a falcon.
"What!" Tia exclaimed. "It must be an owl. He's so small and his feathers are white. And just look at his cute little face. He must be an owl?"
The examining veterinarian assured Tia her bird was definitely a falcon.
While we were in the critical-care room, a landscaper from the near-by golf course brought in a severely injured hawk.
We were allowed to stay and watch as they examined him, feed him an antibiotic stuffed into a dead baby mouse. (Here's where Tia nearly lost it…Abandoned baby bird fine. Poor dead baby mouse…ugh.)
Once our sweet raptor was snuggled in and sleeping, we were invited to look around at all the wild raptor birds they had in their outside sanctuary. We could stay as long as we wanted. Tia immediately took advantage of their generous offer and pulled along the reluctant Dani outside to see the many different kind of birds.
It was a wonderful day of adventure. Needless to say we didn't get any writing done that day, but we did help save a life.
Which is okay because there's always tomorrow.
And who knows, our little adventure might just end up in a book someday.
Wild At Heart is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Arizona's native birds of prey. http://wildatheartraptors.org/
To find out more about the writing team Tia Dani and our books visit us at:
As a writer sometimes you need to get away and re-charge your brain. The best way we found to light a fire under our dormant muse is to hang out with like-minded friends, brainstorming, eating chocolate, and drinking wine. We do this several times a year by going on a weekend retreat at a fun place in our state. And nothing is more fun for us than staying in a hotel that is supposedly haunted. For us half the fun is delving into ghost lore and learning the story behind the haunting then exaggerate it to another level.
A couple of years ago a group of our writer friends reserved the entire third floor of the Jerome Grand Hotel. Jerome AZ is an old mining town set on the side of a mile-high mountain now mostly home to artists who sell their work in the local shops. Originally the Grand Hotel was the United Verde Hospital, but as mine operations phased out the hospital closed and remained vacant until the building was turned into the Jerome Grand Hotel. Local legend tells the story of a lady who roams the building looking for her daughter who died at birth.
"What makes the Jerome Grand Hotel a worthwhile place to stay, is the fact that this is probably one of the most active haunted locations in the world," according to www.ghostlyfavorites.com
As we checked into the hotel we were told stories of strange noises coming from empty rooms such as coughing, labored breathing, and even voices. We were told not to be surprised if the lights or TV's turned on and off by themselves. Spines tingled in anticipation of a ghostly encounter as we made our way toward our rooms. The first night, several of the girls reported strange sensations and several said they felt cold spots in the hallway but nothing unusual happened to us…yet.
On Saturday night, the Jerome Grand took our group on a fun ghost hunt where we got some great orb pictures. We didn't see any ghosts while on the tour, but some creepy events happened to us after we went to bed. Our room phone rang at midnight waking us up, but when answered, no one was there. The ringing phone was a bit spooky, but the scariest of all was the feeling of panic Bev aka/Dani had as unseen hands tugged on her body as if trying to scoot her off the mattress. Since the hotel was once a hospital could it have been a nurse trying to move a patient? Convincing ourselves it was only a dream, we tried to go back to sleep, until Chris aka/Tia screamed that someone had yanked her hair. After that happened neither of us slept until the sun came up.
When we all met up for breakfast Kathy Twohawks complained that someone or something had pinched her hard during the night. She rolled up her sleeve and showed us the beginning of a large bruise on her arm.
Were all these incidents real or just active imaginations of creative romance writers? A personal experience can either change your mind or reinforce your belief in paranormal activity. We believe there are things that can't be explained. And, besides, who doesn't love a good ghost story?
Our next book has a couple who are trapped in time by an evil shape-shifter. We're finishing up the last chapter as we write this blog. Meanwhile check out our latest release, Time's Enduring Love. It's a time travel set in Kansas during 1866. We think you will enjoy reading it and we promise that you won't be scared.