Do novelists live vicariously through their characters, just as their readers do?
By CATHY SECKMAN
From the fertile imaginations of Romance novelists come the perfect ways to celebrate Valentine's Day.
But even romance writers live in the real world, where time and privacy are at a premium. Sometimes, a hug and a kiss will have to do.
Other celebrations might have to wait.
"Valentine's Day?" asks East Palestine-area author Lindsey Brookes. "We have two children. It's hard to manage any kind of time alone. We'll probably all go out to dinner and maybe to a movie, but I'll leave the romance to my hero and heroine."
Still, she can't help but get a little dreamy-eyed. The perfect scenario? That's easy.
"A night away with my husband," she muses, "a hot tub and a bottle of Zinfandel."
Imaginary escapes aside, Brookes, who is a two-time winner of the e-Harlequin Round Robin and a multiple winner in Romance Writers of America contests, is all in favor of adding passion to everyday life.
"Take time to hug every day," says Brookes. "Set aside time for just the two of you, and notice the little things your significant other does for you."
What not to do
Be sure not to get too practical about it, though, says Amy-Anne Kibler of Lisbon, who pens romance novels between raising two children and working in community theater.
"Do not buy your wife a vacuum cleaner for Valentine's Day unless she has expressed a desire to watch you sweep in the nude. You want to inspire romance when buying gifts. Don't rush out after work on Valentine's Day to grab something; start thinking well in advance."
Flirting also goes a long way toward igniting sparks, Kibler says. "Even if you've been married for 30 years, there's nothing like flirting with your partner to make them feel like they're the only person in the world. Nothing is more romantic than that."
Unless maybe it's a crackling fire. Novelist Jo Anne Cassity of Canfield, who has published seven romance novels, including "Tender Wishes" and "Blue Ribbon," says, "My idea of a perfect Valentine's Day would be to spend a night in a log cabin, far away from the busyness of my everyday life, with just my hon, a bottle of wine and a couple of great steaks. A roaring fire would be great, too. Time alone is always a gift. This year, well, this year is different. However, in my heart, I'll be in my cabin in the woods. ..."
Joe Mentor, a Boardman teacher who dabbles in quixotic time travel stories, says daily 20-second hugs are imperative for romance, and he can analyze the exact reasons.
"The first five seconds clear your mind and you settle in. The next 10 seconds are to enjoy and get lost in your partner. The last five seconds are to remember the feeling and know there will be more."
The perfect Valentine's Day celebration, he says, "would involve privacy, favorite music, activity, and food. Bring home one red rose. Chicks love flowers. Spontaneity can be explosive. If the fuse is lit, let it burn. A sensual sax, lingering kisses ..."
To the roses and mood music, writer Darlene Torday of Boardman would add candles, chocolate and bubbles. Torday, who has published poetry and memoirs, knows exactly how she and her husband will celebrate the holiday.
"Time alone for the two of us is very romantic. A few red roses and some of my favorite dark chocolates go a long way. I'll make a special meal my husband loves, pull out the good china and light some candles. With no interruptions, the evening can go wherever we choose.
"A bubble bath for two," she adds cryptically, "is nice for adult moments."