Full Circle, Full Heart: Female Friendship in My Book (And My Life)

Over at the Manic Readers blog today, I’m talking about female friendship in my books and my life. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway there!

Hen party! Funny friends for your design

Yes. This is what my friends and I do when we get together. Every time.

In many ways, Penelope Callahan is just like me.

Penny—the heroine of my debut novella, Broken Resolutions—works at a small, rural library in Maryland. For almost two years, so did I.

She serves as the children’s librarian for her branch. Until I switched to the central branch of our library system, I too ran storytimes for kids.

She’s an introvert, quiet and uncomfortable in crowds no matter how calm she appears to be. Among trusted friends, though, she’s mouthy and raunchy. As am I.

And in the first draft of my story, she was like me in one other crucial way: unmoored by a strong circle of female friends.

I had friends, of course, most of them wonderful and supportive. But there weren’t many I felt comfortable calling for no reason, or if I needed to cry or share a funny story or bitch about a tough day. Over the years, that lack had become a constant ache within me, not always acknowledged but always present.

When I was looking over my first draft of Broken Resolutions, I realized I wanted more than that for Penny. I wanted people in her life who would bolster her through heartache and celebrate her triumphs. She needed friends. Good ones. And I was going to provide them for her.

Funny thing, though. Just as I was revising my story to give Penny a BFF—Angie, her outspoken, erotica-loving supervisor—and plotting my second book to expand their network of close friends even further, I found myself inundated with like-minded women in my own life. Warm, smart, and hilarious, they appeared like magic as soon as I made my first tentative foray into the world of romance writers and readers.

You probably already know this, but women (and men) who love romance are amazing. They lavish affection on people who offer the same in return and are bafflingly generous with their time and energy.

Seemingly all at once, I had a fantastic critique partner, Mia Sosa, whom I could call for any reason whatsoever. Some writers I met for drafting (coughCHATTINGcough) sessions, while others I saw at special events and online. And on Twitter, I grew close to so many women whose real names I may not know and whose real faces I may not have ever seen. But they are real to me nevertheless, and so is the acceptance and support they’ve offered.

Life imitated art. My heroine found her tribe, and so did I, simply by telling her story. I’m almost forty, and for the first time in my life, I have a teeming circle of faithful female friends.

Full circle, full heart. It wasn’t too late for Penny. It wasn’t too late for me. And if you’re lonely like I was, I truly believe it’s not too late for you either. Go forth and find your tribe.

Happy reading, everyone—and happy everything else too.

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