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Readers often ask where my story ideas come from. A story begins with the smallest seed of an idea, and as it percolates in my mind, the concept develops and the characters become more vivid as I visualize how they’ll work together. When an idea won’t let go, I begin writing character studies and a general outline. Sometimes I collect pictures that reflect the setting or circumstances of the book. After I have a clear idea of the tale I want to tell, I begin to write. The twists and turns in my novels and novellas happen organically, but the basic plotlines are structured in advance.
My usual process didn’t happen, though, with UPSIDE DOWN LOVE. The story came to me in a flash from beginning to end while riding my new bicycle along Rehoboth Bay in Delaware. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid, and though I was scared to try again, I soon became exhilarated by the sensation of flying. My heroine, Lilly, formed in my imagination while I pedaled along; and my hero, Theo, joined her. Their love story unfolded before my bike ride ended a half hour later. I took a picture of my bicycle and the bay behind it for inspiration, headed back to my summer house, and started writing.
The submission deadline for BLUE COLLAR: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology loomed at midnight, and I emailed my completed manuscript to editor Delilah Devlin at 11:59 PM. When she accepted the story several weeks later, I was thrilled by her enthusiasm for Lilly and Theo’s romantic tale. My couple is a little older than the usual hero and heroine in romance novels, because I believe there’s a need for mature characters in the genre. I hope you agree and will enjoy reading my contribution to the BLUE COLLAR collection, UPSIDE DOWN LOVE.
Here’s a little about the story:
UPSIDE DOWN LOVE by Adele Downs
When a handsome construction worker rescues her after an accident, a divorcee discovers that falling in love at middle age is easier than riding a bicycle.
Lilly eyed the water, rippling softly at high tide, as blue as a pool of sapphires capped with sunshine. She’d been right to move to this beach town. She had the bay, the ocean, the boardwalk, and her book club to keep her company. Her convertible made driving to work at the bakery a pleasure, and her new bike would offer regular exercise. Who needed a husband of twenty-two years when she could fly?
The birds scattered again when a backhoe rumbled, and Lilly slowed to watch the construction crew lay a foundation. A few of the guys glanced over at her, and the man operating the pile driver smiled. He looked to be her age, mid-forties, with a trim build. She couldn’t clearly see his features beneath his ball cap and sunglasses, but his expression was friendly and open and not at all salacious or threatening. For that reason alone, Lilly smiled back.
The simple exchange warmed her from the inside, out. Maybe the divorce hadn’t stripped away her sex appeal along with her self-esteem, after all. The idea that she could attract a new man hadn’t occurred to her…maybe because she hadn’t been paying attention. She let her gaze linger on the man as he continued his work.
The pile driver hung in the air on a heavy cable, ready to plunge foundation holes deep into the soil. Rehoboth Bay rarely caused storm damage, but rising oceans made it necessary to build new homes on stilts as a precaution against unusually high tides.
By the look of the layout, the house under construction would become the centerpiece of the neighborhood. Lilly took a deep breath and blew out her envy on a long exhale. She would never afford a place on the water. The owners of this home would enjoy spectacular views she could only see during her walks or from the seat of her bicycle. Still, she loved her little fixer upper and considered herself lucky to be part of this waterfront community.
Lilly raised a hand to the construction worker, and he waved back, and she continued on her way.
An oncoming car moved toward her, taking more than its share of the narrow throughway. Lilly hugged the shoulder, fighting handlebar wobble, as the tires crunched sand and cinders and the spokes got nipped by foliage.
Just then, an enormous sound erupted from the construction area behind her, shaking the earth and sending tremors through the ground. Startled by the noise, she lost control of the handlebars. The front tire slipped as Lilly lost her balance, and the bike flipped sideways.
Lilly heard herself scream as her bottom flew off the seat, her knee connected with a handlebar grip, and her shoulder took the brunt of her landing. When the back of her head slammed the blacktop, daytime turned to night.
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Adele Downs is the award-winning author of more than 20 romance titles, including those written under another pen name, and a former journalist with hundreds of articles to her credit. When not writing in her home office in rural Pennsylvania, she can be found reading a book on a Delaware beach, taking photographs, or riding in her convertible.
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