Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Guest Author: Ellen Hartman

Helen here. I can't remember when I first met fellow Superromance author Ellen Hartmen, but I should. She is truly one of the funniest people I've ever met and writes wonderful romances. She has a new one out this month, so I'll let her tell you a little about it. Please welcome Ellen ...

I told Helen I was going to blog about enriched eBooks. But then I got a better idea. So, briefly: my May Superromance, The Boyfriend’s Back, includes extras with the eBook edition. (Like the extras on a DVD.) Some enriched eBooks include character sketches, maps, links to websites, or historical facts. Mine includes a short story about the main characters when they were in high school. I expect we’re going to see more enriched content, in more variations, as eBooks grow.

Enriched eBooks are interesting, especially for a person like me who’s part geek and part writer. I didn’t think it would make a great blog post, though. I imagined that I would post the info as I did above and then I’d say (imagine me talking in an announcer voice), “What enriched content would you like to see?” and then there’d be some polite comments and pffft. Nothing. Or at least nothing fun.

So instead we will discuss Lessons Learned from Old Boyfriends. In The Boyfriend’s Back, Hailey Maddox and JT McNulty dated during their senior year of high school and then JT left town. Fifteen years later, he comes back. They have to face up to their unresolved feelings and figure out if they can make something together after all that time. (There’s also the small complication that Hailey’s daughter thinks JT is her dad…but he’s not.)

Obviously this is a romance novel so the things that happen are both fictitious and romanticized. In real life, old boyfriends are rarely the source of new love; they’re mostly the source of Life Lessons. Here are some things I learned from my old boyfriends.

1. If you think he’s cheating, he’s probably cheating even if it is your birthday and no one could be that mean.

2.You can not teach a man to dress better through suggestion. You must buy the new wardrobe for him and then order him to wear it.

3. If the woman who raised him is nuts, there’s a good chance she passed some of that along. They don’t call them the formative years for nothing.

4. If a voice inside tells you you’ve just met the perfect guy for you, it’s telling the truth. (Okay, I learned that one from meeting my husband. But he was a boyfriend at the time.)

So what about you? Any lessons you learned from old boyfriends that you’d like to share? I have a signed copy of The Boyfriend’s Back to send to one randomly chosen commenter. I’m can’t wait to learn some lessons! (I’m also up for discussing enriched eBooks so ask questions or share your wish list of content you’d like to see. Anything you want to share!)

Information about my books including excerpts, deleted scenes, and more are available on my website at: The enriched eBook edition of The Boyfriend’s Back is for sale at (Link:


Ellen said...

Hi Everyone!

Thanks so much to Helen and the rest of the regulars here for inviting me to visit. I don't know exactly when I first met Helen, but I vividly remember the night she let me hold her Rita statue! What a thrill!

I thought of a lesson my cousin learned from her old boyfriend: It might only be a fantasy draft, but it really is that important.Have fun!

D Twomey said...

Lesson learned/Advice: You may want to rethink getting involved with an "only" child. He'll most likely be very spoiled and a big Mama's boy!

Ellen said...

Ooooh. That's a good one.

Don't you wish we didn't have to "learn" these lessons but could just "know" them?


Kylie said...

Hi Ellen! Welcome to the convertible! Life lessons...hmm. If you go to church every Sunday morning thinking, "I've got to break up with that guy, he's such an a**!" He probably is. And you probably should!

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, Ellen. Thanks for coming today!

I can think of some doozies I've learned from old boyfriends, but not sure they're publishable here. lol

The life lesson I learned from an old boyfriend? The phrase, "I'll wash the dishes after I digest," means he either has really slow digestion or he's so full of something, nothing can get digested!

Ellen said...

Hi Kylie,

Thanks for the welcome and the wisdom!

Why are we so smart and yet, we don't take our own advice? ;-)

Ellen said...

Hi Helen,

Thanks again for inviting me!

Your lesson is so true. Washing the dishes aids digestion or at least that's what my parents taught me!


The Gay's Divorcee said...

#1 and #3 are SO true. And to carry #3 a bit further, if his family all looks and acts like trailer trash, chances are they ARE trailer trash and it's only a matter of time before boyfriend will revert to his roots.

My sad-but-true addition to the list is that if you suspect your husband might be gay, he probably is. Just get lots of proof, a separate checking account and a good lawyer before you confront him.

D Twomey said...

Absolutely! "Knowing" could have saved a few years (or 8.... but who counted :) out of my life!

CrystalGB said...

Don't let him come between you and your family and female friends. Boyfriends come and go but your your family and female friends are loyal to you.

Kimberly Van Meter said...

This is so true but most of us like to think we're special and it won't happen to us...


and one more...

IF HE HATES HIS MOTHER, HE WILL EVENTUALLY HATE YOU, TOO. Why? you ask? Simple. Because he will try to turn you into his mother even as much as he denies it.

Sad but so true.

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

I went out with this one guy that liked to touch his body ALL THE TIME, can anyone say narcissism?


Dottie :)

lois greiman said...

Wow, Ellen, you brought out some good advice from everyone. Thanks for joining us.

So...let's see...lessons learned: If he's broke, you probably can't fix him, especially if he doesn't want to be fixed.

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Ellen! Thanks for joining us and what a great subject. Looks like we all have lessons we've learned.

Mine: If his ex is still calling, that relationship is not over.

Too little (even if it's a lot) is too late.

p.s. Love the cover!

Debra Dixon said...

Welcome, Ellen!

I thought the lessons were funny!

I have to admit that I don't have any old boyfriend lessons. I started dating my husband at 16 and I'm still married to him. It's been close to a hundred years. (g)

I blew all my luck in life on finding the right person at an early age.

ForestJane said...

Hmm - I have several. In the order I learned them:

If he always 'forgets' his wallet when you go out, never has his food card in the university cafeteria, then he's probably planning to be a freeloader for life.

If he's got a job, but his credit cards are maxxed out, and he's only paying the minimum every month, that should immediately discredit him. Insist that he get his cards paid off BEFORE you marry him. :)

If he's over 30 and still living with his folks (even in an attached garage, paying a small rent) he's probably still dependent on Mom for things like shopping, laundry, dinner, etc. Watch out.

One guy comes to pick me up, walks me out to his car, opens the driver's side door, motions for me to get in. I do, but see that it's a stick shift, and I squeak, "You want me to drive?" He answers with pride, "Naw, the door don't open on th'other side." That would NOT have been a match made in heaven. If he's in his late 30's, you have a right to expect a vehicle at least as good as what you're driving. Or maybe I'm a snob?


Ellen said...

Wow, the Gay's Divorcee--that's a story and a half. Life is hard to figure out at times.

The "reverting to his roots" point is so true. Sigh. You'd think we could train them, but some are untrainable.



Ellen said...

CrsytalGB--you have a valuable lesson there. If I had daughters I'd be sure to teach them that one.

The related corollary: If you can't pry him away from his friends, you're probably better off leaving him where he is.

Thanks for commenting!

Ellen said...

Kim--you're so right on those. The cheating one is a trap I fell into. Sigh. Why did I think I had such power?

Good thing I wised up. Took a couple years, but I made it.


Ellen said...

Hi Dottie,

I'm not sure I can spell narcissism, but I can definitely say, "Ew!"

And also, "Run!"


Ellen said...

Hi Lois,

I like that all-purpose approach. Covers a whole lot of issues we'd otherwise have to encounter one by one.


Ellen said...

Hi Christie--I love your tips. The ex is a huge clue but one that's easy to want to ignore.

I think the "too little" lesson is harder to learn. I know for me, when I was younger, I was a pushover. I have better clarity now and I'm happier because of it.

Maybe I'll add, "If it feels like 'too little,' it is, and you're not being demanding for wanting more."

Thanks for the compliment on the cover. I really got lucky--it's perfect for a May book!


Ellen said...

Hi Debra--I've been blogging about high school boyfriends in a lot of different ways while talking about this book. I've been so happy to hear about people who find their right person early and manage to hang on.

I'm glad you didn't have to learn any of these lessons the hard way! Hope you have another happy 100 years together.


Ellen said...

Hi ForestJane,

That's a good collection--you should write a column on this theme!

Although, I do have to admit the first time I met my husband he had car troubles. It was New Year's Eve and his teenage brother had borrowed his car that afternoon and gotten into an accident that shattered the passenger side window.

My husband drove it to the party with the broken window and glass still on the seat. We met and I was desperate to get to know him better so I begged him for a ride home. He was really not interested in driving me (I thought) but I persisted.

Then I got to his car and saw the window and understood. ;-) I sat IN the glass on the way home. I must have looked so foolish but we were both half in love by that point so it didn't really matter.

The next time I saw him, his car was back together so I can forgive that first lapse. :-)

Doesn't negate the value of your advice, though. You definitely want a guy who can stand on his own two feet and act like an adult!


Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome, Ellen! Fun topic. Let's see.

If he has no rhythm as a teenager, it won't improve with age.

Really interesting about enriched eBooks. Years ago an editor with one of the big NY houses approached me with a discussion of online material. They were just beginning to explore the idea. She called it "value added" material. One thing they were using was outtakes from books. At the time I thought something visual or interactive would be real "value added."

Snookie said...

Ouch on sitting on glass all the way home! Don't have any old boyfriend stories... but do have an ebook question. I'm not quite sure what they mean by enriched... do they provide more of the story? perhaps an epilogue that might not be in the paperback? more information on the characters? just wondering...

Debra Dixon said...

Jane-- ::hoot:: Yep. A reasonable facsimile of a working car is a must for me too.

Of course, I'm saying that mostly because my little truck is in the shop. :/ They called to say the bill was not little. Arrgh!

MarthaE said...

Fiddle - lost internet when I tried to publish. Hi Helen and Ellen! Great comments from everyone. I would add: Beware the long distance relationship... I do not think guys are wired to be faithful for a long absence, sad to say. Also, if a guy says that you cannot agree to disagree.. may as well move on.

Ellen said...

Hi MarthaE--the long distance thing is hard. I did it three times and only once did it work out. (I married that one.)

For me, part of the trouble was not being wired to be trusting long distance. I'm trustworthy, but suspicious. ;-)

Definitely need to be able to disagree like adults.


Ellen said...

About the enriched eBooks...

I think the field is wide open at this point. My extra content is a short story (14 pages) about the main characters when they were in high school. I also included an excerpt from the next book about this family.

I've seen a lot of historical romances with nonfiction information linked in.

I think Linda Lael Miller just had one that included character sketches. I'm not sure it was hers, but I know I saw that featured in one book this spring.

So basically, when you buy the eBook, some extras come along with it. The extras are meant to enhance your experience with that book, but they vary widely.

If I have the chance to do an Enriched book again, I'm going to include some extra scenes. For The Boyfriend's Back, I'd love to have included a scene between the hero's dad and the heroine's daughter. They have a great relationship and are fun characters, but the book is never in their point of view. That's the kind of thing I'd love as an Enriched eBook reader.

Thanks for asking. I am jazzed about this topic!

ForestJane said...

A lot of writers are putting book club discussion questions at the end of their books. You're probably planning on doing that for your e-books, but... Have you ever considered putting a book club trivia contest game on instead? If you're making a DVD anyway.

Simple rules, maybe divide the book club into "A" team and "B" team (or names that fit the book) then get someone to program a game where the question flashes for a second or two - first team captain to tap a key on the keyboard gets to enter in their response. Stick some really tough trivia in for tiebreakers... etc.

Just a thought. ;)


Ellen said...

That's an excellent idea. I never thought of it. I bet we're going to see all kinds of stuff in the future.

I don't think JK Rowling lets her books come out in e-format, but imagine the kind of stuff she might have had with all that publisher money behind her?