Sunday, April 24, 2016

Liz Flaherty: Exploring Emotion

Thanks so much for having me here! This is one of my favorite places.

One of my favorite parts of writing romance is that I get to explore emotion. I get to hold it in my hands and literally peel it like an apple or a peach or a tangerine. Exactly like that, because sometimes the emotion is tart and sharp like an early apple; often it’s sweet and juicy like a peach; sometimes it’s almost too easy, like slipping the rind off the tangerine.

Other times, I get to pick up a piece of fabric and tear it in half the wrong way, against the grain, when those first threads absolutely will not break...and then then do, and the fabric rips but it’s not straight. It’s not pretty, but it’s strong. It will stay with you. Of course, you have to put it back together to make it strong, and sometimes there will be little holes or crooked scars in the cloth.

Still other times, I get to play a bass drum really loud in the sunshine. Or walk in the rain where the water softens everything, blurring its edges and softening the sound of music, but irritates at the same time.

I confess, I’ve blogged about writing until the very thought of coming up with something new about it makes my eyes cross on their own and my fingers come to an abrupt stop on the keyboard. That’s why I’m getting a little abstract with emotion. Well, that and the fact that it’s my favorite component of romantic fiction. There are so many parts, aren’t there? The story itself, the heroine’s and the hero’s journeys, the sensuality, the action (if I’d written this about action, we’d still be in the first paragraph—that’s how bad I am at it), the setting, the black moment, the...oh, you get it, right?

Most of us, I believe, have our areas of expertise. Ken Meyer, who’s the best limerick-writer this side of the Irish Sea, is in the writers’ group I’m a part of, and he wrote a setting the other day I swear engaged every one of my senses and left them yearning for more. I love setting, I do, but mine never resonate like that.

Kathleen Gilles Seidel takes us on such a comfortable trip through the protagonists’ journeys that I don’t even realize we’re moving until the train stops at the “oh, here we are” moment.

Kristan Higgins does the same thing with black moments. I don’t even realize I’m there until I have tears on my face.

But me? I write emotion. Not better than anyone else, probably, but I love it so much that even if I stop writing books someday—and I will, right?—I think I’ll always write emotion just for the pleasure and pain of feeling it.

So, whether you’re a reader or a writer or both, talk to us about your favorite part of romance novels.

My newest book, Every Time We Say Goodbye, is out now. Here’s the blurb and buy links, and below that is an excerpt—not a long one, I promise—but it’s emotional.

He had her at "hello again…"

After the prom night accident that had stolen the innocence of his small lakeside hometown, Jack Llewellyn had run. The guilt—especially facing his high school sweetheart, Arlie Gallagher—had been too much. Now he had no choice. He was back in town, and on Arlie's radar.

Arlie couldn't believe that after all these years, she still had him under her skin. He was such a changed man…a responsible business owner, a single parent. Would he understand the changes she'd gone through, the secrets she lived with? She was ready to forgive him but was he ready to forgive himself? And did they have to say goodbye this time?

That pretty well summed up her relationship with her mother.
Arlie had been five years and two months old the day Glennis Gallagher set her on the couch in the living room with her Cabbage Patch doll, a plastic bag of Goldfish crackers and a glass of chocolate milk and told her to not move until Daddy got home. She had kissed Arlie’s forehead, leaving a fresh lipstick mark, and left without looking back. Glennis carried a suitcase and a big purse. The leather coat she’d gotten for her birthday squeaked when she walked. The scent of musk perfume drifted through the air. The locks clicked when the door closed behind her.
Arlie had been a very obedient little girl. By the time Dave got home from a twelve-hour shift at his job at the automotive plant in Kokomo, his daughter had wet herself and was sobbing quietly into a sofa pillow. The crackers and milk were long gone and she was hungry and scared, but mostly she was embarrassed because big girls never had accidents on their mothers’ good furniture.
Even now, as she sat on her own couch in the same room, which was unrecognizable compared to that day long ago, tears slipped silent and hot down Arlie’s cheeks for the little girl she’d been. She remembered the sounds of leather and clicking locks, the feel of Glennis’s cool lips against her forehead. She could still conjure the scent of musk in her consciousness.
It made her gag.
Her father had hugged her close, bathed her and put her into pink flannel pajamas. He’d set her at the kitchen table and made her an egg sandwich, bragging that no one made egg sandwiches like superdads did. He gave her more chocolate milk and a Twinkie, then tucked her into bed without making her brush her teeth again. He read Goodnight Moon to her even though she was a big girl of five and she’d heard it so often she knew the words by heart.
“Please don’t tell Mommy,” she begged when he kissed her good-night. “She’ll be mad about the couch.”
“I won’t tell,” he promised, “but you need to remember something, Arletta Marquetta Brigetta.”
“What’s that?” she whispered.
He smiled at her, then kissed her again, tucking her blanket in close. “Couches don’t matter. You matter.”
   And now Glennis wanted to see her.

Buy links: Amazon | B & N | Kobo | Harlequin

Liz Flaherty thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant chances you have to reinvent yourself. Her latest professional incarnation is as a Harlequin Heartwarming author and she is enjoying every minute! She’d love to hear from you at or please come and see her at


dstoutholcomb said...

what a sweet excerpt!


Liz Flaherty said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm a few chapters in to your latest book, "Every Time We Say Goodbye." Yes, it's emotional as well as insightful and a comforting read. I haven't even gotten to this excerpt, either. I think you're especially good with relationships, which is my favorite part of romances, seeing how people interact with each other and taking away tidbits of why we all act the way we do. I'm loving the stepmother, Gianna Gallagher, and am now wondering if she was inspired in any way by your mother-in-law who passed. So sorry for the pain you're in. Be good to yourselves during this time. I remember watching "Terms of Endearment" alone to have a good cry. Cathy Shouse

Liz Flaherty said...

Hi, Cathy. I had not thought of that, but Mom was great with food--she always wanted people to eat, like Gianna, and mad as she got at me (and she did!) she loved me until the day she died. Maybe not as much as her own kids, but I always knew I was loved. After my own mother died, I needed that a lot.