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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Liz Flaherty: What Happens to Dreams Deferred?


Do you have things you wish you’d done that you’ve never gotten around to and, for whatever reason, you probably never will?
                From the first time I ever drank tea and ate quiche from lovely mismatched dishes in a tearoom, I wanted to have one of my very own. I wanted to select the old dishes, tables, and chairs from estate sales and other people’s attics, choose the recipes (though not cook them), and even serve the tea, coffee, and lunches in my establishment. I never named it in my mind, but it would be in a lovely old Victorian on a street with mature trees and plenty of parking.
                Another of my wish-I-hads is owning a bed and breakfast. I’ve stayed in some and toured more. Honesty compels me to admit they look like more work than I want to do, but they have libraries and beautiful furniture and cushy towels and I think I’d be a great hostess.
                The fact is, neither of these particular pipe dreams is going to come true for me. However, if I never do anything else psychologically wonderful for myself when I write, I gain vicarious enjoyment (and success!) in realizing them for the people in my books.
                In Jar of Dreams, protagonist Lucy Dolan co-owns and manages a tearoom called Tea on Twilight.
                In One More Summer, Grace Elliot wants to turn the family home into a B & B called Elliot House. That dream doesn’t come true for her, either, but it keeps her going when not much else does.
                In my WIP, there is a tearoom on the periphery of the story that is called Seven Pillars Tearoom, named after a riverside formation on the Mississinewa.
                In Back to McGuffey’s, which released just yesterday from Harlequin Heartwarming—pause here for some squealing and jumping around; there are those of us for whom that particular excitement never grows old—Kate Rafael runs a bed and breakfast for a friend. Kingdom Comer, the B & B, is in a big old Victorian house in a small town.
                If I go back and pay squirmingly close attention to all of my backlist, I’m pretty sure tearooms and B & Bs, play some part in nearly all of them. The truth is that I didn’t mean to do it. The other truth is that it’s okay with me. I hope my stories provide pleasure, make readers laugh and cry, make them feel as though they’d had lunch with a friend in a tearoom or spent a relaxing time in a B & B.
                What are your unrealized dreams? We’ll have a drawing from the commenters for an as yet undetermined prize. Until then, thanks for stopping by. I hope all your dreams come true, even if you have to change what they are somewhere along the journey.

Back to McGuffey's

The one that got away
Could Kate Rafael’s day get any worse? First she lost her job, then her house burned down and now her ex is back in town. Apparently, Ben McGuffey's taking a break from being a big-city doctor to help at his family’s tavern and reassess the choices he's made for his career.
Ben ends up giving Kate a hand...then giving her kisses...and finally, a second chance. But when a local teenager shows them both a glimpse of what it means to be a family, Ben wonders if having kids in small-town Vermont would clash with his ambitions. Or can he truly come home again…to Kate?

Excerpt:
                Ben leaned into the bed-and-breakfast’s kitchen when he got back on Friday afternoon, and her heart quickened, beating a tattoo against her ribs that made her a little light-headed.
                “I’m off to the tavern pretty soon,” he said. “Morgan’s talking mutiny, so I’m working the weekend. See you later.” He ducked out, only to stick his head back in a moment later. “If I need you, will you come and help?”
                She thought for a moment of her weekend plans. There was a trip to the wholesale grocer tomorrow afternoon and church on Sunday. At some point, she would most likely clip her toenails and work highlights through her hair.
                She could probably spare the time.
                “Okay.”
                “I’ll take you bowling Sunday night,” he promised. “Not that you could beat me, but it will be fun.”
                She snorted. “On your best day, if I gave you twenty pins, you couldn’t beat me.”
                “Those are mighty big words for such a little woman who probably doesn’t remember where the bowling alley is,” he drawled.
                She laughed. “You forget, tall guy, I stayed here while you went to the big city. I bowl on a league in the winter and teach it to kids on Saturday mornings from January through March. Winner buys dinner? Just remember how much I like steak.”
                “Uh-oh, I’m scared.” With a wave, he was gone, loping across the yard to his apartment, and Kate sighed, feeling the emptiness he left in his wake. She kneaded dough for the weekend’s cinnamon rolls, pushing and pushing and turning over and trying not to hurt.
                She liked being a temporary innkeeper. It was interesting meeting guests from faraway places and walks of life she knew nothing about. After nearly twenty years of living alone, she enjoyed sharing space with other people, especially since she had plenty of room and time to be alone if that was what she wanted.
                But it wasn’t enough. She wanted a family. She wanted children she didn’t have to give back and she wanted to be in love. She wanted a man to look at her the way Dan looked at Penny.
                She thumped the dough into a greased bowl and placed it on top of the refrigerator.
                Standing at the sink, washing her hands, she watched Ben’s bicycle ride away. He’d been wearing a helmet all the time lately as part of teaching Jayson to ride. It made him look a little goofy, and she’d laughed uproariously the first time she saw it. His response had been to buy her a matching helmet and refuse to ride with her unless she was wearing it.
                What a great father he would be.
                There’s an emptiness to it, she remembered her sister Sarah saying during the couple of years she and Chris had had fertility problems. It seems as though everyone we know is either pregnant or they already have children. I don’t know what to talk about anymore.
                Kate had seldom felt that kind of emptiness. She had friends, such as Joann, who had chosen to remain both single and childless and were perfectly happy that way. Kate had never minded it, either. Until recently. Until the doctor reminded her as kindly as he could that her reproductive time was running out.
                She didn’t have a “why me?” personality. She’d even printed “Why not me?” in a 72-point font and stuck the paper to the front of the inn’s refrigerator to remind herself that she wasn’t the only person whose dreams had been deferred. She hadn’t really cried over her house until Penny poured her a pint Mason jar full of wine and told her no one liked a martyr. Then, of course, she had wept buckets. She didn’t like martyrs, either.
                The truth was she didn’t want to be a single parent. She didn’t think it was wrong—some of the best parents she knew were doing it on their own—but it wasn’t right for her. She wanted not only a basketball hoop in the driveway, but a tall guard to partner up with her small forward in the game of parenting.
                The thought drew her glance to the front of the refrigerator. Beside her self-directed “Why not me?” sign was a snapshot of Ben and Jayson on the inn’s driveway. Jayson was mid-dribble with the basketball, his tongue sticking out the corner of his mouth as he concentrated. Ben’s arms were up, and only someone who knew him well could tell he wasn’t really trying to stop his opponent.
                What a great dad he would be, she thought again. What a great guard.



Liz retired from the post office and promised to spend at least fifteen minutes a day on housework. Not wanting to overdo things, she’s since pared that down to ten. She spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and doing whatever else she wants to. She and Duane, her husband of…oh, quite a while, are the parents of three and grandparents of the Magnificent Seven. They live in the old farmhouse in Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…37 years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening!  She’d love to hear from you at lizkflaherty@gmail.com.


44 comments:

Jillian Jacobs said...

When is this book coming out? I'm so in! Love the cover and the story concept.

Jan Scarbrough said...

Liz, You are so right! "when I write, I gain vicarious enjoyment (and success!) in realizing them for the people in my books." I may never own a champion American Saddlebred show horse, but the characters in my books own them. In fact, in my WIP, my heroine owns a thoroughbred horse farm near Lexington, KY. It was so much fun to tour the Bluegrass to get background for the setting. In 1994, I made a list of dreams. I've attained most of them in limited ways. The only one I haven't attained is showing a horse at the World's Grand Championship. But as I said, my heroine did and won!

Liz Flaherty said...

It's out! Yay! Thanks for coming by, Jill!

Liz Flaherty said...

It has its own kind of happiness to it, doesn't it? I guess that shows us just how heavily invested we get in our people! Thanks for coming, Jan!

Vicki Williams said...

I've been to Ireland and Scotland...in my dreams. I've started a wild horse refuge and owned a NASCAR team and lived on a ranch in Wyoming....in my books. Now I'm retired from working and sit here in my house in Indiana and get up every morning to smoke and drink coffee and write....and that schedule was the biggest dream of all!

Kristina Knight said...

Thanks for sharing this, Liz! When I was still in school I wanted to be a sportscaster and then, in college, that dream changed to working for a network and going to whatever hotspot there was in the world. Neither of those things happened (although I married a sportscaster so I've dabbled a teeny bit) and sometimes I wonder if I should have tried harder to realize either of those dreams. But I can't complain about my life - I've reported on some great stories, I've written a few good books and I can always live vicariously through my characters. :)

Judith Palmer said...

You already know my big one--living on an island off the coast of Maine. I've been an adopted member of the Bennett Family for decades, ever since I first discovered them at my branch library. I used to own a lobster pot! (To catch them in, not cook them.) Life is good, so long as there are books. Thanks a bunch for adding to the great reads, Liz! More power to you!!

D'Ann said...

I have wanted a cattle ranch my whole life. Not gonna happen, but I've been lucky enough to be around cows a lot.

Liz Flaherty said...

Our characters do have interesting lives, don't they? I used to want to be a foreign correspondent. Not for the work but for the perceived glamour!

Liz Flaherty said...

Thanks, Judith! I want to come visit you on Bennett's Island--I loved it too.

Carolyn McCutcheon said...

Liz, your book is sitting in my Kindle calling my name. I hope to start it tonight after I get out of teaching my psychology class. Right now I am living my dream teaching college classes and finishing a doctorate. Then I will probably make quilts and start on my post doctorate list. Love all your books. Thanks for sharing your dreams with all of us.

Liz Flaherty said...

I imagine in that gorgeous area where you live (and ride) you can imagine it pretty well. Sometimes that's almost good enough.

Liz Flaherty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz Flaherty said...

Aside from the smoking part (gave it up in 2001 and am way glad), I'm with you on that schedule. I know when I was working, I was afraid I wouldn't enjoy retirement, so how much I love every day of it has been extra-good. Like quilting, I never realized it was a dream until it came true.

Muriel Jensen said...

I'm a pretty simple woman with little dreams - and they've been the same since I was ten - find a good man, have children, be happy. I found the man and he wasn't bald in my dreams, but he also wasn't half as wonderful as he's turned out to be. The children had to be adopted, but are more wonderful than any we could have produced, And I'm happier than should be allowed. So - all dreams realized. (In my head, I was taller and thinner, but, oh, well.)

Muriel Jensen said...

Agghh! Forgot to say congrats on the book! You're a wonderful writer - can't wait to get to it.

Lil said...

Unrealized dream? I had set my self up educationally to have a professional career. Career was set aside when I became a mom. Stepped back into the workforce but am not at the level I had hoped to be at my age. Still plugging at it though. I live with hope to still reach my past goal.

Anna J Stewart said...

Hi Liz! What a wonderful post and I LOVE the excerpt. :)

I actually worked in a tea shop at one point and I can definitely attest to the fact it's a fun job and the idea of a bed and breakfast is so tempting. One of the reasons I started writing was because I wanted to "be" and "do" so many things (probably why I changed majors so much in college). The books I write now give me some time to "become" those things. I also work with miniatures and I've made some small tea rooms and such...much easier than a real life store, let me tell you. :) Hope your sales go swimmingly for this book and all future releases.

Patricia Bradley said...

Travel is on my bucket list. Ireland, Israel, Hawaii...Congrats on the release. Love your cover and the excerpt sent me to Amazon! And if I were you, I'd cut that housecleaning down to 5. :-)

Barbara Bettis said...

Such a terrific excerpt! The story sounds wonderful. My friends and I love those unique, atmospheric tea rooms! But, yes, much work and expense.

Liz Flaherty said...

I'm right there with you in that every dream that mattered came true for me, too. But it's fun writing about the ones that were just there in the background cooking. :-) Thanks for coming by, Muriel!

Liz Flaherty said...

Thank you!

Liz Flaherty said...

I so admire anyone who continues education--and I'm prouder of my son's doctorate than he is! Making quilts is one of the nicest dreams I never knew I had. I'm so glad you like my books!

Liz Flaherty said...

I hope you reach it, Lil. I loved the work force when I was in it, but must admit I love even more being out of it. :-)

Liz Flaherty said...

Thank you so much, Anna. I wish all the Heartwarming group well--it's just the most wonderful imprint!

Liz Flaherty said...

LOL. Could yet happen, Pat! Thanks for coming by--I hope you get to visit all the places on your list.

Liz Flaherty said...

Oh, I'm sure it is, but I wrote much of a book in a tearoom (no longer there) in Logansport, Indiana. The atmosphere was wonderful!

Margie said...

I guess my unrealized dreams are about travel. Road trips with spontaneous stops to be precise. When I was in college, I thought about just driving cross country. Now, I think about traveling Europe but not in a tour, just driving or railing where my dreams take me.

I love the fantasy of running a B&B but then the reality that fixing dinner for my family is a stress point and the fact that I hate to clean---probably not in my future...but I love to read books about women who make it work.

Liz Flaherty said...

Fellow Word Wrangler Nan Reinhardt and I keep talking about doing that. So far, we've only traveled as far as Chicago--about three hours--but I think more distant places are in our future! Thanks, Margie!

petite said...

Life is fleeting which I found out two years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and then realized that my dreams were not fulfilled. I would love to travel, and experience this wonder.

traveler said...

Congratulations and best wishes on the release of this captivating book. A delight. When I was busy with family and then grandchildren who are babies now, I know that my wishes, desires and dreams are important. Enjoying family is important but having a memorable vacation and exploring distant lands would be like a dream come true.

Liz Flaherty said...

I hope you see them all come true.

Liz Flaherty said...

Some of my favorite vacations have been family ones!

erin said...

Congrats Liz on the new release!!! Ummm... I would love to get to a point where I can work a lot less and become a dog "foster" mom :) Thanks for sharing!

Cathy Shouse said...

A dream deferred? I lived in England for a quarter in college and have always wanted to go back for a visit and take my family. And I absolutely love this excerpt. Kind of wish I had read it before SYTYCW. . . .So are these books in Walmart/stores, or is it mainly a book club or a buy-it-online thing?

Mary Preston said...

I have always wanted to work surrounded by books - library or book store. Even better, be paid to read. Visits to the library & book store are the next best thing.

Liz Flaherty said...

That's a good one--I have a sister-in-law who shares that! Sounds attainable, too, so I hope it happens.

Liz Flaherty said...

My son has done this, too, although their travel lessened a lot after the second child came along! Heartwarming are mainly book club and digital--or buy at Harlequin--but we have hopes of more. It's also in England, Cathy--there's a good idea! You should go there and get it! :-) Thanks for stopping by.

Liz Flaherty said...

Oh, gosh, me, too! Only now--when maybe I could--I think the work (the dealing with boxes of books part) might be too much for me. However, I do have the whole used-bookstore-tearoom combination going on in my head. Maybe it will happen for both of us!

Dana Mentink said...

Well I wanted to me an Olympic ice skater, but it turns out you have to know how to skate!

Liz Flaherty said...

Well, that's just mean! Reminds me of wanting to win the lottery--not much, just a million or so--and finding out you need to buy tickets. :-)

Melinda Curtis said...

Hey, Liz! Great post! Your book is already in my TBR. I wanted to teach sixth grade for the longest time - I went into business instead and then writing. My brother-in-law and wife own a B&B (TheIronGateInn.com). You have to love people and hard work, both of which they do. I love people, but I love my alone time at the computer, too.

Liz Flaherty said...

Thanks, Mel! I never wanted to teach, but I did want to be involved in school somehow, so now I'm a volunteer at the elementary school where my daughter teaches--it is so much fun!

Liz Flaherty said...

I just did a virtual pulling of a name out of a hat--I love that you can do that electronically!--and drew Barb Bettis's name, Congratulations, Barb, and thanks to everyone who came by. This is one of my favorite places to visit!