The Big Black Moment

blogxfabioI spent yesterday with the lovely authors at the Washington Romance Writers Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, and one the topics that came up was the Big Black Moment.

This is the point in the book where all hope is lost. Tremaine has mounted up to leave town, though he and Nita love and respect each other. Ashton’s lady love has trusted him to keep her safe, and she’s facing a murder trial instead. Asher MacGregor has put Hannah on the boat for the Boston because she must return to America to keep her grandmother safe.

This moment in the novel has some defining characteristics. First, the individual characters might survive, but unless somebody is very, brave, resourceful, and lucky, the relationship is doomed. Second, a significant part of the courage that’s called for is the ktremaine_450x2ind of courage that can deal with loss.

Tremaine, a guy who started the book fundamentally self-centered, is ready to die for the sake of Nita’s honor. He has to part with that footloose, man about town persona, and put his meaning where his mouth is.

Ashton has to give up the last pretense that he’s not the true earl, taking advantage of privileges reserved for the peerage in order to save Matilda. When Asher MacGregor sends Hannah home, he gives up on ever having a family with her or an “heir of his body,” which was the sole motivation for his return from Canada.

ashton_450x2-450x675Each character has to give up on what he knew, absolutely, was important to him at the beginning of the book. All three end up with a happily ever after though, and that HEA would not have been possible without risking the death of something important–a dream, a self-image, or even life itself.

My year has had too many losses. My mom, my law practice, several dear old pets… even my daughter’s marriage sometimes feel like a kind of loss, though I certainly approve of her swain. I’m starting to think about next year, about what I want to do with my time, resources, and energy.  I’ve been wobbly and uncertain for much of this year, but putting one foot in front of the other anyway. One does.

Next year, I want to walk toward what makes me happy (writing more books!), and what has meaning for me (friends and family, but also service and learning). I’m not sure what that looks like, but the cogitating process has begun. Black moments can impart new life to dreams, new hope to a weary heart. On this day, when we invite darkness to arrive one hour sooner, I want to start walking away from my black moments.

What are you walking toward in 2017? To one commenter, I’ll send an audio edition of Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, which went on sale earlier this week.

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24 comments on “The Big Black Moment

  1. 1
    Susan Gorman says:

    I was walking the same path as you last year. It was a tough , frustrating year with too many losses. The final straw was when 14 1/2 year old corgi Irish had to be put down and it was a heartbreaking. I felt that a huge part of my life – my daughters childhood, happy family memories– was buried in my garden. I think what bothered me the most was that no one was happy to see me when I got home. I miss Irish’s happy to see you bark.

    One of your posts inspired me to make some changes….and I stuck to them.

    My goal for 2017 is to make better choices– food choices (yes, get back on the diet), friend choices, work choices and healthy choices. Sometimes, it’s a lonely path and I have learned that I have to put me first (which isn’t an easy task for me!) and keep walking.

    I am sure you would find satisfaction volunteering or mentoring in some capacity in some aspect of child welfare/children’s rights. Or teaching a writing seminar or course at a local university. Or volunteering in your community. You have a lot of give and would make a difference!

  2. 2
    Teenie Marie says:

    I used to think loss was bad but from experience, but not any more. I’ve learned to think about cutting the dead wood to grow, like roses which need pruning to get bigger and better. I think about moving on from difficult situations, knowing when we’ve outgrown a person or place or job or the need to move on for our own sanity. Losing a person we love because of death is never good, we miss and long and grieve for them. If their health was such that it was a blessing, then perhaps we miss and grieve for them but are happy for the end of their suffering. It’s still tough no matter.

    For 2017, I think I’m going to edit my weekly column (on my professional society’s website) into a book. I was hired last year to write about *choral ethics* (essentially, I’m the Dear Abby/Miss Manners of the choral world)for 42 columns. I was supposed to have the summer off but was told to keep writing…..so now I have over 70 columns! Most are about our behavior and our singers behavior and how to handle sticky situations. Some are about the *choral life*. As other blogger/columnists have fallen by the wayside, I’m still doing it probably because of my above mentioned behavior ideas and work ethic.

    I have connections with a publisher (one of my singers works for them) who publishes exactly this kind of book, so we will see. I also know someone who has a small music publishing house who says he’s interested. 🙂 Not sure if I need an agent right now but maybe I do! Should take a bit of awhile to get them into shape but I’m determined 2017 is the year!

    And my Nov. 17 column is about making the best of a bad situation…..there must be something in the air!

  3. 3
    Mary T says:

    What am I walking toward in 2017? Given the state of my knees, hip and back, I’ll just be happy to walk at all! All I can say is that it is a darn good thing I love reading as much as I do (smile).

    • 3.1

      At a recent writing seminar, the instructor asked us, “How is this book going to change the world?” One author said, “People are going to read my book and forget about their troubles for a while.” Boom.

      • 3.1.1
        Mary T says:

        I just saw a post on Mary Balogh’s facebook page that said “Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

  4. 4
    Larisa says:

    Thankfully this year hasn’t been defined by emotional losses for me like late 2009 thru 2012. The lingering impact of those years is hoping future just isn’t that difficult…No dread, taking it day by day.
    Managing my physical health is still an ever shifting target.
    Your books were a key component to making it thru lots of dark moments, and long sleepless nights…a place to curl up among Windham family’s love, connection, loyalty and hope. Thank you for those Grace. Wishing you that same safe place to heal and bloom in a new way.

  5. 5
    Pam says:

    Hah. Well, I’m in the grim period of looking forward to the day I can retire, in about 6 1/2 years. I dislike my job exceedingly but need to work to pay the bills.

    With every gain comes a loss. My shy son is now running around with a group of college kids (yay!) but then that means I’ve lost my running around buddy. (His high school friends had moved away or are working full time.) I’ll have to reach out to my friends, but most of them have elderly parents who need care, illness/disabilities, and most have full time jobs.

  6. 6
    Marianne says:

    I keep trying to walk towards balance and moderation. Right. “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, take what comes.” Still, I’m hoping for more like Grace Burrowes and a little less like Lemony Snickett.

    • 6.1

      I’m not such a fan of moderation as I might have been twenty years ago. I’m a fan of passion, and find I can be very passionate about my writing while still getting a good night’s sleep. Maybe that’s geriatric balance?

  7. 7
    Glenda says:

    This past year we moved our son to Colorado for 6 years of school. While it’s a great step for him, this Thankgiving will be the first he will not be with the family. He was also unable to make it home to say goodbye to ‘his’ cat. The feline that had been a part of our family for over 17 years. I’m phrasing the losses as what he is missing out on, but as a mom, I feel his loss and pain as well. Neither of my children are aware that their grandmother (my husband’s mom) has been undergoing radiation treatments as a precaution after having cancer removed from her breast. She was adamant they not know.

    SO what am I moving toward? Before the new year, our son will make it home for Christmas. We are praying for an official 100% all clear for my mother in-law. I’ll be home more – or at least in the car less once the new store opens and the holiday shopping season is over. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to find/make time to exercise more and lose some of the weight I put on sitting in the car so many extra hours the last few months. (Not to mention being able to eat healthier since the new store is next to a grocery store).

    • 7.1

      Glenda, what a lot of challenges, for you and for the people you love. Here’s to a 2017 that’s more on your terms, and for you. (And maybe a new kitty?)

      • 7.1.1
        Glenda says:

        Did I mention I work for a family owned high end pet supply company? My new store will have a cat adoption room! We will be working with one of the local shelters to help find kittys new homes! We do still have 2 cats and since my husband is slightly allergic to cats, I’ll have to be satisfied with helping people and kittys connect. For now. 🙂

  8. 8
    anne egger says:

    In 2017 I would like to work on my health, possibly take a class, possible apply to graduate school, I hope my husband to able to make his film.

  9. 9

    After three major medical procedures since moving to a new house in July and another scheduled for early December, not to mention dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane, I’m looking forward to small things like no pain and making it to the grocery store on a regular basis, followed by resumption of the sort of basic living most folks take for granted. The worst purgatory was the six weeks or so my vision was too blurred to read or write thanks to the side effects of meds. Without audio books, I would have gone mad. And a certain Miss Grace does not yet have more than a fraction of her books available in audio yet.

    2017 will be the year writing and feeding the well of creation becomes the center of my life. Now that I’ve made it clear to members of the medical community that medications that destroy my ability to create are unacceptable and death really is preferable (who knew entire classes of drugs like beta blockers or steroids are infamous for killing creativity?!), I’m celebrating getting my brain back along with my health.

  10. 10
    Maryland says:

    Herr,Der Bot ist kostenlos schon, was will man mehr? Umfragen helfen uns für Server Kosten zu bezahlen, wenn es Ihnen nichts ausmacht zahlen uns monatlich sind wir mehr als glücklich, Ihnen den Bot. Hoffe, Sie versrehen!Jerty

  11. 11

    Cool! That’s a clever way of looking at it!

  12. 12
    http://www./ says:

    What would many of us do minus the wonderful tips you share on this website? Who has the fortitude to deal with essential topics in the interest of common subscribers like me? My spouse and i and my pals are very fortunate to have your blog among the kinds we regularly visit. Hopefully you know how significantly we take pleasure in your work! Best wishes from us all.

  13. 13

    Świetny poradnim, mam nadzieje, ze kolejne lekcje będą równie przydatne jak te do tej pory. Jednak nie kryje, że małe zdjecia układów zaprezentowanych powyżej utrudniają ich odczytanie, a nawet uniemozliwiaja je. Czy mogłbyś może zamiescic schematy o wiekszej rozdzielczosci? Byłbym bardzo wdzięczny.

  14. 14

    La solución está en que no gane Rajoy, tú lo has dicho. En esta vida, a veces, no queda más remedio que tragarnos un sapo, siempre será mejor que la otra opción, que el sapo nos coma a nosotros. ¿No crees?Yo desde luego estoy dispuesta a tragarme el sapo aunque eso me produzca una ulcera, todo será bueno con tal de no ver a esa pandilla en el gobierno de España.Bicos