I’m thrilled to welcome Jude Johnson today for the latest installment in our Lucky 13 series. Jude is the author of a contemporary romance novella trilogy set amid the rigors of ballroom dancing called Save the Last Dance: A Dangerous Dance, A Wicked Waltz, and A Torrid Tango. She also created the Dragon & Hawk saga, a trilogy of historical novels: Dragon & Hawk, Out of Forgotten Ashes, and Dragon’s Legacy. Also published by Champagne Books: a short historical fantasy about a selchie and an officer of the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars, Within The Mists. Living in Tucson, Arizona, Jude is a member of Gecko Gals Ink, LLC, a group of five sassy local authors who help other writers develop their craft through writing seminars.
When Liz kindly asked me to share how luck has affected my writing, I wasn’t quite sure where to start. One could say I’ve had incredible luck, lucky breaks, lucky timing, and so forth. I think I’ve either been too obtuse to be afraid of failure–or reckless enough to jump before I think long enough to know better. However, I do believe in accepting serendipity in my life, and can honestly say the moment I did that, my existence definitely changed.
ser·en·dip·i·ty: noun; luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.
One could also say it is seizing opportunity when it is presented. Opportunity can be anything from a story idea to a networking connection to help you get that story sold. Everything in life is fodder for a writer, be it your own experience or that of someone else.
When my friend began taking ballroom dance lessons and then entering competitions, I loved listening to her explain how each dance felt, how hard she worked, and how nerve-wracking the competitions were for her. At the same time, her long-term relationship was disintegrating amid disturbing descriptions of emotional abuse, and sadly, she wasn’t the only person I knew going through the same circumstance. More than one woman in my life told me that she didn’t think name-calling, shouting epithets, isolation, and brow-beating constituted abuse because there were no physical bruises to show. Talking with counselors in the local women’s shelter confirmed how difficult it is for a woman to leave their abuser. They believe what they’ve been told and have no injuries to prove their misery. It’s very hard for other people to understand; most think they would simply walk, but it truly is not that simple when you’ve been told repeatedly that you’re worthless, hapless, and stupid, that you’ll never survive alone.
Not long after my friend got her first medal in ballroom–and got out of that relationship–I had the privilege of attending a movie première in New York City and observing how the actors responded to the fans cheering along the street. The notion of combining it all into one story resulted in my Save The Last Dance romance series: A Dangerous Dance, A Wicked Waltz, and A Torrid Tango, which was just released by Champagne Books on February 3.
As I was polishing A Torrid Tango for my editor, I learned about a tango milonga (class) right here in Tucson. Of course I went, even thought I’m the least graceful person on two feet, to make sure I got the details right. A small but enthusiastic group of Argentine tango enthusiasts were quite willing to talk and even dance with me so I could truly relate how spontaneous a tango can be. I met wonderful people and didn’t even fall off my high heels.
How’s that for serendipity?