Paul is a physician who saves lives—mine included. (Flashback to the day my son was born, and the resident anesthesiologist overdosed me, sending my blood pressure to 60 over zero. My husband’s quick orders brought me back off the ceiling and into my body so I could hold my son that night.) Paul’s smart—bring up any topic and he can spout back facts. (Okay, sometimes this is annoying. Especially when it might be my area of expertise and when I research further, he is usually right.) And from the day we met, he has been a romantic. (When we were dating in college, sitting among friends at a local bar, he would pass me notes written on paper napkins with words like “I love you madly” and little drawings. (Did I mention he is a great artist too?) He’d sing to me when we’d take long driving trips and never complain once when I’d join in off key. (Yes, he sings too. In college, he played Jesus in Godspell and was offered a position with the National Opera Company after graduation.) The man never fails to amaze me. His support is the reason I now have a career in romance writing. He convinced me to publish my first novel and pushed me to release the second one.
Last year, just before Valentine’s Day, I was struggling with revisions of The Ex Lottery. Now, you need to understand that my husband doesn’t read fiction. Seriously, no fiction. (Does this mean he has an actual flaw?) We’ve been inseparable for thirty-seven years, and during that time, even my kids joke that their dad is still trying to finish the one novel he began when they were very young. Turns out that so-called novel he brings on every vacation isn’t even fiction—it’s a nonfiction account of a man’s sailing adventures. My husband would rather read a book on building a computer from scratch than read fiction. But he knows I love fiction. When we met, I was lying by our apartment swimming pool in a white bikini reading a romance novel. He and his roommate were doing fancy dives to impress me. I was too absorbed in my book to notice. Apparently, they had been playing out this routine for weeks. Finally, he walked up and asked, “Don’t you ever look up from your book?” I looked up and smiled, and he invited me to a party. We got married a year later—a week before he started medical school.
So, last February, Paul asked when I was going to publish The Ex Lottery. I’d been revising and rewriting for almost a year. I probably would still be rewriting if not for Paul. I was getting great feedback from editors and beta readers, but I was insecure. I was nervous because the book was pure romantic fiction without the mystery element that ran through my previous novel. I told him I was worried it wasn’t good enough. He said he’d read it and let me know. I was incredulous. He didn’t read fiction. I was not sure I wanted his opinion, but he took the manuscript and headed off to his study. He read the entire manuscript over the weekend, came downstairs on a Sunday night and said, “It’s great. Publish it. It should be a movie.”
Valentine’s Day fell during the following week. I came home to a pile of candy and a card that read on the front: “Sweetie, I know I’ll never win the lottery.” And on the inside, it read, “I used up all my luck finding a wife like you. Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.”
So over the next few months, I tweaked The Ex Lottery, a book about a woman who uses the numbers her ex-boyfriends’ dumped her to buy a winning lottery ticket. I formatted it and released the book—and the reviews from editors, Kirkus Reviews, Writer’s Digest, and readers from several countries have been even better than my last book. Sometimes I like it when my husband is right. But he should know, I’m the one who won the lottery the day I met him.