Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Treat 'em Mean...

by Christine Wells

When I was a poor university student, I took on a variety of casual jobs, including tutoring at my old school. It was an all girls' school and fairly cloistered from the outside world.

There were no school dances or other co-educational social interactions. Even in plays and musicals all the male roles were played by the girls. Which is why I was stunned, at age 19, to receive advice on boys from my 14 year old student when we should have been balancing equations.
She was a gorgeous little thing and she had the male sex all worked out. Her motto, which she kindly shared with a roguish twinkle, was 'treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen'. On my own account, I was doubtful such a strategy would succeed, but I could see it had worked like a dream for her.

The best way to hold the interest of the opposite sex is never to appear too eager, or so the conventional wisdom goes. Well, readers are a lot like a member of the opposite sex.

A reader doesn't like the entire story laid at her feet from the beginning of the novel. She likes to be teased, tantalized, led on and on. And then, at the aptly named climax, the pay-off must be worth the wait.

Anne Gracie, a wonderful writing teacher as well as a gifted writer, sadly never had the benefit of my student's advice. Instead, she often quotes Charles Dickens--make them laugh, make them cry, make them wait.

I've waited six years to see a book I've written in print. When I held Scandal's Daughter for the first time, when I saw all my friends around me celebrating its launch, when I received wonderful messages from all our readers and such brilliant support from the Banditas themselves, it was like the end to the most satisfying read of my life. The pay-off has been more than worth the wait.

And a new chapter is just beginning...

Thank you all for sharing this special occasion with me.

And now I have a question--what in your life has been eagerly anticipated and well worth waiting for? It could be the ending of your favourite book--Flowers from the Storm, anyone? Or an event in real life. If you're not sick of the sight of me by now, I'd love to know!
And the winner is...

For the Jessica Faust guest blog, Cathie!

And for the Leis Pederson guest blog, MsHellion!

Congratulations, ladies! Please send me your snail addies by email at christineATchristine-wellsDOTcom and your Scandal's Daughter packs will be winging over to you soon!


Andrea said...

Before I met my husband, I was anticipating finding "the one" and then I did. After we married, I anticipated having children, and now I have two. They are my pride and joy!

I anticipate books every month! I keep an extensive spreadsheet with upcoming novels that I want and I add to it frequently.

Am I the only one singing Carly Simon's "Anticipation" in my head? LOL!

Anonymous said...

First, I need to pick myself off the floor from my shock at seeing the name Christine Wells (possibly the sweetest lady in all of Oz) paired with that picture! AWK! I absolutely loved it!! :-)

I discovered SEP rather late in life, so I got to devour her backlist while eagerly awaiting the publication of Natural Born Charmer. I read the whole thing in one sitting, on a plane ride across country and it was worth every second of anticipation of put into it.

I am overcome with gratitude every time I look at my husband and think about how amazing it is that I found the romance I always dreamed about when I was growing up. And it's even better than a romance novel because it's 100% real and never going away.

Lovely post, Christine!

Caren Crane said...

Christine, I really enjoy having something to look forward to. Seeing a movie, reading a great book, visitors, a date with my husband, a family vacation. I think anticipation heightens my enjoyment of my entire life.

I agree it is a way to hook a reader and make them want to turn the page. It certainly works for me!

Interestingly, I had a male friend in college give me the advice you received from a 14-year-old: hold back, make them wait. It works for men, for sure. I was simply too impatient to practice this with much success. Though it did work with my darling husband! *g*

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

My Darling Mme D-W, you are advising a woman with a riding crop to "treat 'em mean"?!?!?!

Okay, Aunty is now recovered from her spasms of laughter to answer seriously. I agree with Caren, that anticipating any event (like my next cruise) makes it that much more enjoyable. HOWEVER, being the impatient sort that I am, the waiting (as in waiting to hear from editors and/or agents) tends to make me snappish, and I don't mean JUST the crop!

Other than this never-ending wait for publication, I think the wait that seemed the longest and yet had the sweetest pay-off was pregnancy. I thought that baby would NEVER get here! Of course, the fact that he came 11 days AFTER his due date did NOT help. Those really were the longest 11 days of my life.


Anna Campbell said...

Oy, you, Kirsten! Ain't I Sweet? Actually, well, maybe not, um... Yeah, I got a giggle out of the tough guy picture too!

Christine, we're so keen on seeing more of you, we're setting up a subsidiary blog for you to do EVERY DAY!!! Bwahahahahaha!

Actually, on my website, I've got a column about how anticipation is the best part of travel. I mean, I LOVE seeing new places. But imagining seeing new places is even better, in a lot of ways. No huge suitcase to lug around. No awful public transport to negotiate. No fetid washing to worry about. No fetid laundromats to have to sit in. No getting tired and cranky and sore-footed. In my anticipation of travel, I'm elegant and soignee and full of witty quips as I step onto the Orient Express (first class, naturally, dahlings!) in my Balenciaga gown to meet Cary Grant for dinner. Hmm, perhaps I should write romance for a living!

Great post, Christine!

jo robertson said...

This is terribly corny, but after 41 years of marriage, I still anticipate my husband coming home from his golf game every afternoon, even though I hurry him off to the showers straight away!

I'm one of those persons for whom the anticipation is more delicious than the arrival. That's why Thursday was always my favorite working day. I love the excitement of waiting for Friday and beginning the weekend!

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks AndreaW - I now have that song in my head ... still it's better than that stupid song for the new Heineken draft keg which was there previously!

Love the pic and the post Christine.

I'm an anticipation junkie too - though terribly impatient with it *grin*. Whether it's new books, films, friends' visits - I savour the build-up. My big wait right now is the eternal wait for The Call. I think I've moved beyond savouring though to impatience!

And as for the darling DH? I never anticipated him, because I didn't believe in The One after a bad marriage. He proved me wrong! And I savour each and every day with him.

Joan said...

Anticipating trips is the thing that gets me through the hum drums of the day job. I am dragging the floor right now because I have no more trips planned for 2007! (Though I do have some time off the end of Oct.....anyone want to take me somewhere?)

As to anticipating romance...STILL believe I can find it though I'm a bit peeved it is taking so long (sigh, ESPECIALLY because that dreamy Oz guy from Christine's launch party is unavailable. Gah!)

But the important part is...I still believe :-)

Christine Wells said...

Hi Andrea, well said! The love of your life, children and books. Wonderful pay-offs for the wait.

Kirsten, there's a bad girl with black knee high stiletto PVC boots in all of us! I love SEP! She's right up there with Jenny Crusie in my book and that's high praise. I know she said she can't write another footballer to save herself but I love the Chicago Stars!

Christine Wells said...

I always had trouble 'playing games'. The only time I could be mean was if I didn't really like the guy that much. The result was the ones I didn't like always stuck around:)

Yes, I know, you are the Mistress of Mean! I would never presume to teach you anything in that respect! Pregnancy was horrific for me both times so I can certainly identify with your impatience on that one.

Christine Wells said...

you're so right! I love seeing new countries and places but I hate the logistics and discomfort of travel, particularly the long flight! And er, no thanks to the subsidiary blog. I already neglect my own blog enough as it is!

That's so sweet about anticipating your husband's return! Not corny at all.

Christine Wells said...

Unlike you, I'm impatient. If I'm traveling somewhere, I want to get there, not enjoy the ride. Fingers crossed the anticipation of the Call will be over very soon!

Make your next trip to Oz! We have LOTS more lovely men to choose from out here.

Beth Andrews said...

I too am an anticipation junkie *g* I love looking forward to things, whether they're big or small events. I still look forward to my kids coming home from school each day and you'd better believe I look forward to them GOING to school each morning ;-)

Christine Wells said...

LOL, Beth! I always feel a sad thump in my stomach when it's Wednesday afternoon, the end of the kindy week. I'm so glad to have him with me, but so sad that I won't get a break until Monday!

Helen said...

Great post Christine and yes I love the anticipation for lots of things as well, I check out the new releases due next month make a list of what I want and order them then I eagerly await their arrival I am still waiting for my Sept releases hopefully anyday now. I have been on a cruise and the build up to that was fantastic and of course the cruise brilliant. Husband and children and now grandchildren they are all worth the anticipation because they all mean so much to me we have so much fun when we all get together. BTW I have Flowers From The Storm in my TBR pile sounds like I should move it up.
Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

If you haven't read FFTS yet, you're in for a treat! Foanna introduced me to Laura Kinsale (well, not in person, unfortunately, though maybe I should say fortunately, because I've no idea what I'd say to such a goddess!) She's a very powerful, intelligent writer and her Jervaulx is just to die for!

Trish Milburn said...

The wait to finally sell my first book was SO worth it. Now I'm in the anticipation stage for getting the actual contract, seeing the cover, seeing the actual book on bookstore shelves -- so many things to look forward to.

And I agree with those who said half the fun of vacation is anticipating it. Is there anything more exciting than driving toward the beach, anticipating seeing the ocean (especially when it takes you 8 hours of driving to get there and you don't get to see it very often)?

Tawny said...

Ooooh, anticipation! I love it. First off, I'm anticipating the day I look like that chick in the pciture you posted, Christine ;-)

Hey... it could happen! I sold, didn't I? And for the longest time, that felt even more out of reach than a tight body in size 5 leather. I think that was one of my biggest waits, although the thrill of a new cover, the excitmenet of haunting the bookstore waiting to see it on the shelves... the deep pleasure of petting the cover and knowing thats really my book... those rock.

Simpler things I anticipate are actually more special. The taste of my grandma's cooking when I go back to visit, watching my kids faces on Christmas morning or while they watch a new movie, that barely-awake blur as I listen to my husband get ready for work at 6am and wait for his goodbye kiss...