"A Romance Novel"
By Julie A. Newell

Chapter One

Julie read a million books in her lifetime...

Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but, then again, it may not be.

Eloise Jones started her children out early...marching them to the Cairo Public Library. Being poor did not stop the Jones family's love of reading. In fact, poverty probably contributed to that manner of escape.

Julie was what is termed a multi-tasker. She could cook dinner, watch television, carry on a conversation, and read...all at the same time.

Men are not known for their ability to do more than one thing at a time. Ronnie was no exception. Often the time that I simply sat back and watched...with awe.

I did not enjoy reading until much later in life. (Yeah, guess it "rubbed off"!)

My reading difficulties probably resulted from my background. One does not skim-read a mathematics textbook. I was a definite "plodder" in the reading department. Julie often chided me for trying to memorize books, rather than reading for the shear enjoyment.

Gradually, I was able to relax. However, even in retirement when I may read 3 or 4 books a week, I pale in comparison to Julie...pun intended.

Three or four books a week? Julie would sometimes match that quota in a day! (You will note in the picture above...one book in hand, two on the armrest. Typical...) Granted, Julie's books were thinner than my normal fare...maybe a couple hundred pages instead of four hundred. Even so...

Another characteristic of my reading style is that it's one book at a time. In fact, ask me a couple of days later after I'm half-way through another book what the first book was about, and I will most likely fail miserably at recall. Try to keep two or three books straight at the same time...NO WAY!

Julie, on the other hand, would typically have three books going at the same time...depending on what room she happened to occupy.

Julie would be in the kitchen preparing dinner...and reading. When the food reached the stage where it did not need to be closely watched, Julie would put her book down on the counter and join me in the living room. While I watched TV, Julie would pick up another book that had been awaiting its turn on an end table. Later, when Julie went to bed, she would pick up the book that she had been reading the previous night or early morning.

So...a million books? I wouldn't bet against it...

Julie and Friend Kathy often talked about writing their own novels...that they had read enough books to know the tricks of the trade...the "formula". They also had read enough "bad" books to know that they could do better.

Unfortunately, when one would have the urge to write...the other wouldn't. And, for some reason, neither would embark on their own. So the book venture never materialized.

THAT was part of the background for my efforts on this website. Kathy and I reminisced about their book-writing ambitions. Kathy said it was now up to me...to write "The Book". I quickly declined...correctly asserting that I wouldn't know where to begin.

From reading my posts (here and on CAT Tracks), you have noted that I have no problem with being wordy. (WOW...what a chorus of "Amen's"!)

BUT...to do as authors do...develop characters, write extensive dialog, stay on plot without rambling digressions. Forget about it!!!

Julie had no question in her mind that she could do it...but I never saw the proof. Oh, she wrote a couple of articles for the NEA's OWL website; as union president, she wrote some nasty letters to school district officials and wrote contract language; and I was not allowed to send my nasty letters to school district officials without her editorial approval. I knew Julie was a skilled writer and a helluva editor/teacher.

But, no book.

Until now...


Friend Kathy will recall me sending her an e-mail a few months back...maybe even last year. I sent her some pages that I had run across during an earlier excavation. My query was whether the "book attempt" was hers or Julie's. Kathy responded by stating that it was definitely not hers.

For the life of me, I do not remember whether the pages below are one and the same...rediscovered, or another version. My anal self spent a couple of hours seeking yesterday, but, alas, I did not find.

However, I am sure of one thing...it's original, NOT a printout of something from the Internet. I'd recognize the product of our old printer anywhere.

How about Rachel, the professional family writer? Romance novels are not Rachel's thing. Also, you've seen enough examples of Rachel's literary efforts to confirm that she is not the author.

Another thing for certain...the writing is NOT the product of yours truly!

Back to the story...

Decided to clean out another filing cabinet last week. Ironically, from among piles of medical billing statements emerged six sheets of old dot-matrix computer print, paper-clipped together.

At some point in time, unknown to me, Julie began her book. She never showed it to me, but I now know it to be hers.

It's a "romance novel"... Julie's secret addiction (even resorting to "book covers" to hide the bodice-ripping covers.) Oh, she liked mysteries, historical novels, read my serial-killer books...don't think she ever met a book she didn't like. However, for shear distraction...cheap paperback romance novels were her "eye candy".

And, by golly, Julie could write...could develop character...could develop dialog.

I'm not shocked by any means. Julie could do anything to which she put her mind!

Uh, well...except whistle...and ride a bicyle...and swim.

But, as usual...I digress!

Julie's "book" is untitled and (at least until I clean out another filing cabinet) there is only one chapter.

Judge for yourself - "A Romance Novel" by Julie A. Newell - in her own write...