For any of you who’ve been told the odds are against you, here’s a post I love from Kristen Lamb’s Newsletter.
Mint Condition has just been contracted to Escargot Books and Music! Yay! Here’s a post as it appeared when it was first pitched. Enjoy!
Before today, I thought I was just crazy. I see out-of-context things in ordinary patterns.
Here’s how it works. I see a contraption on the beach. I can’t see the base of it because it’s behind the dunes. It’s at least a half mile away, and for a moment, I think–no, I’m positive–there’s a huge crane sticking its erector-set neck up out of the middle of what I know is a lagoon where no crane that big would ever go. There is a cameraman perched on the top of it wearing an Indiana Jones hat, hiding in a makeshift blind, waiting for just the right moment to catch that line of pelican’s swooping across the waves on the other side of the dunes. I walk at little further and the object morphs like a Salvador Dali painting into a crooked driftwood tree trunk someone has hung their hat on, not more than twenty yards away.
Last year they put up a new billboard along the highway on my way home from my local beach. It’s a dog face, with floppy, dachshund-like ears, a cute black nose, and his pink tongue peeking out. He’s sporting a sad smile, his eyes half-mast. When I get closer, I see that it’s an advertisement for bank loans with two people shaking hands.
Every time I drive by, it’s the same: first the dog, then the people. It freaks the heck out of me because this isn’t an uncommon experience. It happens to me all the time. I was at my daughter’s last month, and magnetized to her refrigerator door is a picture of a horse with a Mona Lisa smile. He’s looking right at me, and reminds me that I could be…what? A little off? Delusional? It’s so disconcerting that I confess:
“Now, I don’t want you to worry, but…I see freaky stuff that turns out to be ordinary. I see ordinary stuff that turns out to be freaky.”
I tell her about the horse. Trooper that she is, and a mother now herself, she humors me. (Come to think of it, we used to see things together in the random patterns of our shower tile–lions, tigers, and bears.) “Oh, yeah…I see it,” she says. With an arm around my shoulder, she walks me up to the fridge to show me the portrait. A family portrait of some friends. No horse, no smile. Just ordinary people.
But today, I’m vindicated. And relieved. And I can thank a random post on my social media page for my relief. There’s a name for this–I’ll call it a gift. It’s called pareidolia. No, it’s not a matching set of those lacy crocheted things your great grandmother pin all over the furniture.
Pareidolia is, according to Wikepedia, a “vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Like the man in the moon and those little lion faces on the shower tile? Yep. Pareidolia. Honest to Pete, I didn’t make this up. You can read and see some wonderful examples here: Pareidolia
I, my darlings, will stick this away in my writer’s toolbox and return to my WIP: A novel based on a woman who sees freaky things in the wallpaper. And keeps it to herself.
Long before Nick Berlin became the successful CEO of the Central Coast Real Estate Trust in my contemporary romance, MINT CONDITION, he was a part of my life, streaming through the viaducts of my dreams in silk underwear.
It all started with a phone call. Like in the Whoopee Goldberg film, Jumping Jack Flash, the phone would ring and someone would be looking for Nick Berlin.
“I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.”
“Are you sure?” We’d check the number, which I’d just gotten after moving to a new city in the 805.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
Days stretched to months as I systematically informed dozens (maybe hundreds) of people who I imagined were Nick’s friends, family, bill collectors, ex-girlfriends, ex-wives, current wives, employers, ex-employers, old buddies from high school, the FBI, the IRS, the CIA, the Rotary Club, the gun club, his car insurer, his home insurer, and his current girl friend’s hairdresser’s mother who wanted him to paint her fiancé’s house.
I had to assume Nick was a handsome rake by the number of calls I got from women looking for him. If the phone rang late at night, inevitably, I’d get a hang up.
My husband would ask “Who was that?”
“Someone for Nick,” I’d answer.
It became a running joke in the family, especially around Valentine’s Day.
After a while, I stopped giving the polite “wrong number” line and started asking questions of my own.
“Nick? I don’t know. I haven’t seen him either. Where do you think he’s gone? Is he in trouble? Oh my god, he’s missing? That’s horrible…”
The fifth year, after fielding thousands of calls, many of which came in the middle of the night from tearful, desperate women, I started to mess with him.
“Is he married? Wow. That’s news to me…He told me he’d divorced two years ago…”
“As far as I know, he’s still in Costa Rica…”
“I haven’t’ seen him since he won the Power Ball…”
“His mother told me he was in the witness protection program…”
“God I miss him. I can’t live without him. Please, you have to help me find him…”
Ok. I admit. It wasn’t fair. Nick wasn’t there to defend himself. But honestly, what would youdo? My husband was beginning to wonder if I was having an affair with him.
In a way, he was right. I began to conjure up scenarios where I would meet Nick in a dark corner of a restaurant somewhere out of town and see what phone number he gave. I’d find out just what was so special about him that women persisted in tracking him down.
What did he look like? Why was he so secretive, so compelling, and so mysterious?
Nick Berlin began to take shape in my mind. He was tall, sandy-haired, successful, but not so much that it ruined his cavalier approach to life. A surfer, for sure. A humanitarian. A philanthropist. A patron of the arts. Women couldn’t resist the sea green of his eyes. The way he leaned in a shoulder to share an intimate glance, a touch, a heartbeat. Ummmm…
All right. I admit. I did do a Google search. And Linkdin. And Facebook. To my dismay, there were hundreds of Nick Berlins. Nick had cloned himself and planted his clones all across the country. The world even. He was a doctor. He was an unemployed veterinarian’s assistant. A Hells Angel. A hairdresser. A master chef?
The list went on and on.
I decided I liked my Nick the best.
When the idea for MINT CONDITION began to take shape, there was no doubt in my mind who the hero would be. Nick now floats through Maddie Kerrigan’s dreams in silk underwear.
If you want to meet Nick Berlin, check out my latest contemporary romance, MINT CONDITION. But be careful. You might just fall in love.