posted on March 13, 2015 by Dani Collins

Writing What You Imagine

by Dani Collins

COLLINS-TheBachelorsBaby-300dpiOne of the first pieces of advice a writer will often hear is, “Write what you know.” That is good advice in some respects because it helps you write with confidence.

For instance, the fact that I live in a small town allows me to write with authenticity about Marietta, the small Montana town where The Bachelor’s Baby is set. Fun fact: I was visiting my sister in Australia and looked around in the coffee shop before I told her something about my kids because, you know, you do that in a small town to be sure you’re not accidentally starting rumors about yourself.

And this means that when I write about a character feeling the weight of becoming the subject of the town’s hottest gossip, I know it really happens. I also know it’s never mean-spirited. People care. I love small town life for the very fact that it can be like a big family where, yes, you sometimes lack privacy, but you have an amazing network of support.

So writing what you know has power.

For me, however, writing what I don’t know, and can only imagine, is equally fun. Okay, sometimes more fun. Maybe it’s more satisfying, because it’s so challenging.

You see, I am not adopted, but my heroine, Meg, is. I’ll admit to doing some research about adoption years ago for a book that never made it into print, but that was a lot of information about how the process works. When you’re writing (and reading) a story, you want to know how a character feels about something, right?

This is when I start writing what I imagine. In Meg’s case, her brother, Blake, (my hero in Blame The Mistletoe) is also adopted. His parents were locals who were killed in a car accident. He had grandparents who were too elderly to care for him, but he spent time with them as he grew up on the ranch.

Meg didn’t have that. I imagined her brother knowing his own backstory fed her desire to know her own. I imagined that she was a little bit obsessive about finding her birth mother, thinking it would fix something in her. I imagined she had some latent resentment and feelings of superiority. She was never going to have an unplanned pregnancy.

But she does. And this means she gets to know her birth mother in a completely different way than she had ever imagined. Plus, it makes Linc’s reaction to her pregnancy that much more powerful.

I’ll post a snippet of that scene below, but don’t worry. He redeems himself.

The Bachelor’s Baby

Your date with Bachelor #3 includes champagne and chocolate in the limo that collects you, a helicopter tour or Marietta and the surrounding mountains and valleys, and dinner at a five star restaurant in Great Falls. While oil baron Linc Brady wines and dines you, a maid service will completely clean your home.

Who could resist this tempting offer? Meg Canon plans to do just that. She’s only home to clean out her childhood bedroom for her brother’s new step-daughter, then she’s outta her childhood small town and back to her life in Chicago. Then she meets the sexy, renegade millionaire while she’s stuck in the snow. Sparks fly and Meg is tempted to stay a little longer.

Linc Brady is new in town and happy to help a kid in need, but a bachelor auction? Technically he doesn’t owe Meg a damned thing after she sets him up for the auction, then bids on him, but her high-class city polish is his fatal weakness and makes her impossible to forget. When she agrees to come home with him, he makes it clear he’s a confirmed bachelor. This is a one-night thing.

One night that turns into nine months and maybe…a lifetime?


He searched her expression, seeing mostly anxiety. He shook his head, refusing to believe this because it was too far out there. “Are you serious right now? You think I got you pregnant?”

“I know I’m pregnant, Linc. There’s no think about it.” She was really white, her freckles standing out like little brown dots.

“Well, it’s not mine,” he blurted, furious that this was even happening. Panicking. “I wore condoms. They didn’t break. Were you poking holes in them when I wasn’t looking?” he demanded.


“’Cause I wear them for a reason. I don’t want kids,” he railed, hearing himself sounding like the biggest jerk on the planet, but did she know what she was saying? “I am not interested, Meg. I told you that night that I wasn’t ever going to marry and have kids.”

“Okay!” She held up a hand. It shook and her lips were white. Her blue eyes were wide and dark and shiny. Deeply wounded. “I hear you.” Her voice was so jagged with emotion it sent a preternatural chill over him. “If you don’t believe me, fine. I didn’t come here for anything except to tell you. I have to tell Blake that I’m moving back here, and he’s going to ask who the father is. I’ll tell him and everyone else it was someone in Chicago. Have a nice life, Linc.”

She turned and was slamming the door behind her before he’d properly absorbed what she’d said.

Fine? His brain was having a nuclear meltdown with how not fine he was with any of this. He’d been a golden boy of crisis management on the rigs, never letting emotion get the best of him, always taking stock and forming a plan of action faster than anyone else.

He stared at the door, trying to grasp what had just happened.

Meg was pregnant. She wasn’t standing here insisting he claim it as his though. She didn’t care if he believed he was the father. But it sounded like she’d come here directly from the airport. Like that was the only thing on her mind from her door across the country to his.

Now she was planning to tell her brother she was moving back here. But she was going to tell him the father was back in Chicago.

While, at some point in the future, a kid might start running around town wearing something like Linc’s face.

Linc didn’t care much what people thought of him, but he knew what he thought of men who didn’t care for their own children.

He’d worn a condom, he tried reminding himself, but that argument was falling away as he saw again her rigid body language, like they’d been throwing punches and all she’d wanted was to get away in one piece to nurse her injuries. She’d retreated with the speed of the combatant who’d taken a swift one-two and lost.

Hell, she hadn’t even put up a fight. He was the one who’d started swinging without even considering what he was saying.

“Meg,” he called, far too late because he could hear the sound of her engine receding.

He swore. Self-contempt bubbled up inside him. He reached for his keys, wondering if he was being a fool, but he had to talk to her. Had to know.

Was she really pregnant with his kid?


Dani Collins HeadshotCanadian Dani Collins spent twenty-five years dreaming of becoming a romance author, made her first sale in 2012, and promptly won a Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times. Best known for her Harlequin Presents, she has also published a romantic comedy, a medieval fantasy romance, and The Bachelor’s Baby is the third in her series of novellas for Montana Born. Married to her high school sweetheart, Dani has two mostly-grown children (one of each) and doesn’t have any hobbies. She’s too busy writing.

Look for The Sheikh’s Sinful Seduction, Dani’s March Harlequin Presents, on shelves now!

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The Bachelor’s Baby can be purchased in eBook format for/from:

Dani Collins

Dani Collins

I grew up in Maple Ridge, a suburb of Vancouver, when it was still a small town. My father and both grandfathers switched up between logging and fishing so I grew into a quintessential BC girl: green, natural, and impervious to rain.

I started reading romance in high school. The first one I really remember featured a heroine researching her family tree in Scotland who meets a distant cousin (very distant!) and falls in love with him. I don’t remember much about the actual story, just the amazing setting, a heart-stopping kiss, and a happily ever after. I knew this was my kind of book and began consuming romances voraciously. Within a year or so, I wanted to write them for a living.

However, I thought becoming a writer was something you did when you were old. It was your second career. (Kinda turns out to be true in my case. Hashtag SpoilerAlert.) I still gave it a shot at twenty, taking up writing about the time I moved in with my high school sweetheart.

The key to writing, for those of you wondering, is to actually show up to the keyboard and make words land on a page. While I received my first rejection from Harlequin Presents when I was twenty-one, for the first decade or so, I was hit and miss at actually producing stories and sending them in. We traveled, got married, had kids… the usual distractions.

I also worked at various office jobs from a ski hill, to a real estate office, to a chiropractor’s office, to an air conditioning installer and some manufacturing facilities. None of these jobs was particularly glamorous and rarely a day went by when I didn’t imagine myself quitting to write full time.

When my husband took a job in the interior of BC, I thought my ship had come in. I was a stay-at-home writer for the first year, started writing for the local paper and concentrated on finishing manuscripts. When money got tight, I took a part-time job in yet another office. It turned into a fulltime job and I kept writing on the side, still hoping, dreaming, of someday writing full time.

I should mention that along the way, much like a gambling addict, I had just enough success to keep me going. I placed in several writing contests, most notably: HUSTLED TO THE ALTAR was a Golden Heart finalist and an American Title finalist. I also had an agent for a time. In 2008, I was notified that my story was a runner up in the Instant Seduction contest with Mills & Boon in London. I was convinced this was finally my big break.

Four. Years. Later…. And several (five or six) manuscripts later, they called to offer me a two-book contract. Did I quit my job? No. All those years of rejection had taught me not to count my chickens. So I wrote and worked and somehow managed to stay married despite the fact I didn’t really participate in family life or household chores. I’m surprised my kids didn’t sue me for neglect.

Almost a dozen books and two years later, I did quit my job. As of May 2014, I am a full-time writer and it is awesome. Click for my printable book list and you’ll see that I don’t have any problem with showing up at my desk and doing the work. I’ve even managed to pull a few of my old rejected manuscripts into the pile of paying titles. (Take heart from that, fellow rejected authors!)

And I was lucky enough to have one of my first books, PROOF OF THEIR SIN, nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. Having been a bridesmaid in so many contests, I was fairly convinced I’d remain honored to be nominated, but I won! Click here to see me with my daughter after I accepted the award.

What’s next? Well, I love, love, love writing for Harlequin Presents so expect as many of those out of me as they’ll take. I have some fun novellas with Tule Publishing’s Montana Born imprint and I have a few more of my rejected tomes I’d like to revise and publish. Honestly, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep this career going so I never have to work in any office except my own ever again.

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