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If you were to meet me at a cocktail party, there are a few things you would discover right away. First, I love a good gin martini, very dry, with extra olives. Second, I am not actually a cartoon character like my online avatar, but I do have strikingly similar red glasses and have been known to wear pink. In fact, I have a pink dress with martini glasses all over it, and this surprises pretty much no one who knows me.

What you would probably not find out is that I am a writer, and this is because, even though my sixth novel publishes this week, I find it difficult to claim that title for myself. In my mind, real writers retreat to castles on deserted windswept coastlines, or live in sleepy villages in Maine with shockingly high murder rates, where they somehow hit their deadlines while simultaneously helping the local sheriff solve crimes.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I watch a lot of television and movies, which almost certainly disqualifies me as a ‘real’ writer. My humor is equal parts Monty Python and I Love Lucy, and I adore romantic comedies. If anyone ever tells me one of my books could be a Meg Ryan or Sandra Bullock movie—and let’s face it, wouldn’t the world be a better place if either of them had made a lesbian romcom?—I will have accomplished my mission on earth.

One thing is for certain, writers definitely do not stare at their blank laptop screens and then procrastinate for weeks by doing laundry and baking, and then stay up until 5 am three nights in a row to feverishly finish their last chapters in order to meet a foolishly optimistic and self-imposed arbitrary writing deadline. Which, I’m going to be honest, is simply how I function.

But then I went to a retreat a few weeks back—in Maine, in fact, because as we’ve already established, most real writers live there. At this point, Fifty Percent Illusion was woefully behind schedule and I was addressing the issue by ordering a gin and tonic from the hotel bar instead of sitting down to write (they had martinis, but the G&Ts were free, so…).

In walks a hugely successful romantic suspense writer. Like, so well known, I have her books in paperbacks that I bought at the grocery store. And she starts talking about her writing process. It involved a lot of dog walking, hand wringing, late nights, and wine. I could have kissed her, if it wouldn’t have been really awkward. But I did come away from it feeling like maybe, just maybe, I was a real writer after all. It still took me another month to finish my manuscript, though.

But now it’s done, and I hope people find it worth the wait. I’ll probably have a martini or two before jumping into starting the next one. I have a few planned, mostly romcoms, plus a romantic suspense I hope to tackle next year. I’m sure you won’t be surprised that it will be set in Maine, nor that I will likely take some weekend when I really should be writing and drive up the coast to do some ‘research’ instead. You know, now that I have it on good authority that real writers do stuff like that, after all.