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April 30, 1993 - Image 39

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-04-30

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Happily Ever After

in the 1980s when she
took a look at several
books in the Dell and
Silhouette romance lines.
She started reading; she
couldn't stop. "I
absolutely loved them,"
she says. "So I went back
and got all the rest."
What Ms. Shapiro
liked was the happy end-
ings. "And I don't buy
that line that romances
are not like real life.
That's baloney," she
says. "Real life is not so
grim. Life has a lot of
happy endings, too."
Like Mrs. Greenberg,
Ms. Shapiro's career
started when she read
several romances and
realized, "I can write
better than that."
She began in 1983 and
completed a book that
was quickly rejected, "as
well it should have
been," she says. "It was
Soon after, she attend-
ed Oakland U,niversity
seminars on romance
writing, which lead her
to the Romance Writers
of America (RWA) associ-
ation (today, she is head
of the local chapter). She
began meeting other
writers who supported
her in good times and
bad; when she
received her
first rejection
notice, she was
at an RWA con-
vention. "One
writer put her
hand on my
took my
hand. They
told me, 'Now
you've arrived.'"
Then she began what
would become Hello,
Love, found herself a top
agent and was a finalist
in an RWA contest. The
rejection letters still
came, but they were of

the "We like your book
but think you should
work on these areas"
variety, not the "This
material is not for us"
form letter that most
writers take to really
mean, "Your book is the
worst piece of garbage I
have ever read."
After Zebra accepted
Hello, Love, Ms. Shapiro
was as elated as one of
her characters who has
just discovered true love.
Editors did want revi-
sions, a few more chap-
ters, a new title. The
publisher wanted "love"
in every title. "It could
have been worse," Ms.
Shapiro says. "It could
have been something like
Love's Passionate Em-
Hello, Love tells the
story of Barbara, a pro-
fessional, elegant woman
from Grosse Pointe, and
Sam, a rugged Montana
rancher. Neither is a
spring chicken.
"It got to the point
where I was tired of
reading about younger
adults with whom I could
no longer identify," Ms.
Shapiro says. "Life
doesn't end when you hit
She describes writing
as a process of "what ifs"
and making connec-
tions. Recently, her
publisher requested
:.:a short story for a
1 holiday anthology, for
which Ms. Shapiro
offers a glimpse of the
creative process:
"My starting point is,
`What -do I associate with
Chanukah?' Candles, of
course, but I had already
written one short story
about Chanukah,
`Rachel's Candle,' and I
didn't want the same
focus. So what else do
you associate with
Chanukah? Latkes.
"I start thinking, she

(the heroine) will be
making latkes, which
smell great, and that will
attract him (her roman-
tic interest). Maybe it
will remind him of his
"And where will she be
when she's doing this?
How about making them
for her grandchildren.
But why? Maybe because
she's watching them for
their parents. The par-
ents are not very tradi-
tional, and she wants to
give the chil-
dren a taste of
the old-fash-
"Now, how
can he come on
the scene? He'll
walk by and
smell them..."
Ideas, she
says, come
from every-
where: her own
past, the doc-
tor's waiting
room, the
newspaper, sto-
ries friends
tell. Dialogue,
however, is not
likely to reflect
one would over-
hear in a cafe.
"It can't be
exactly the way
people really
talk," she says.
"Imagine read-
ing, 'Would you
like some tea?
Will you have
some sugar in
your tea? How
about some
milk?' How bor-
Hello, Love
has been on the
shelves at
throughout the
country for sev-
eral months
now, but Ms.
Shapiro says the

thrill of seeing it for sale
hasn't diminished.
"I still go to stores and
I'll look at it and say,
`That's me!' " she says.
"But you wouldn't
believe what my husband
does. He'll actually go
into malls and say, 'My
wife just wrote a book,
it's called...' and then
he'll ask, `So, do you
carry it?' "
Montague set the paper
down and rose from his


page 40

Jan Greenberg

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