I know I’m supposed to be the romance writer, but underneath his shy/quiet exterior, my husband is even more romantic. We’ve never been big on celebrating Valentine’s Day — for some reason his bosses always seem to manage to schedule him to be on a trip or having to work overtime on Valentine’s Day. But it’s never really mattered to me. Because here in the Braemel household, life with Gizmo Guy means every day is Valentine’s Day. To prove it, for the next few days I’m going to repost a couple of letters he’s sent me and given me permission to share on my blog over the years. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may have seen them before, but they’re worth a repeat.
The first note he sent me was “I Slept with Leah Braemel” back in 2010. This one came out of the blue for our anniversary. I had no idea he was writing it or what it was when I opened his email, other than a murmured, “I thought you might like to put this up on your blog.” He got that right!
I Slept with Leah Braemel
By Mr. “Gizmo Guy” Braemel
I have for more years then either of us would like to admit, shared a bed with the famous Leah Braemel. And a house, two kids, and at times various animals – a budgie, a cockatiel, a wonderful lab-mix dog, and the current master of the house a tuxedo-cat named Spike. (Update: Spike has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but we’ve added Seamus, the shih tzu, and Turtle the cat to the household.)
Yes I am Mr. Braemel, or Gizmo Guy as I get referred to in these pages. I am Husband, sometime critique partner, research assistant (one of the perks), sounding wall, and firm supporter of Ms. Braemel.
The worlds and the words Ms. Braemel create are glorious, but perhaps I am coming from a biased view. I have watched her mature through the years, starting as a twenty-something young girl scribbling her words in small notebooks, hiding them from curious eyes.
Then she realized the characters in her mind demanded to be let loose, their stories had to be told. She was amazed when people actually read her early fan-fiction works – and demanded more.
You see I am a product of the Canadian Education system – although a graduate of community college in a technical field I had not read, for purely entertainment purposes, a novel until my mid twenties. I was a television junkie – the boob-tube was on twenty-three hours a day in the house I grew up in. Meals were consumed in front of it. Conversations took place over its din. My mother even managed to time her cat-naps around the commercials – waking herself up just in time to turn the sound back up.
So I was confused when Leah would disappear into another room for hours at a time ‘reading’. Why read when they will act it out in front of you – and you don’t have to think… A typical male I imagined I had done something wrong – that she was mad at me. I just didn’t understand.
Then one day I was in a used book store with Leah – did you know that some of the movies I watch on my glorious TV were books originally. Who Knew! Tom Clancy actually wrote ‘Red October’ as a book before it was made into a ‘blockbuster’ film.
And you know what – the book was better.
Well it was all downhill from there – Clancy, Steven Coonts, Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Series, along with the wildly popular Grisham novels amongst others. Piles of paperbacks grew in the bathroom (still my preferred place to read). I was hooked. This woman was a terrible influence on me. [Leah here–sorry, I can’t stop my editor’s red pen from breaking in — he actually started reading years before this, but he’s right, he was influenced by finding out a show was actually a book. The show and the book was James Clavell’s Shogun. Then he started bringing home books–even more than I did!]
But the people that wrote those stories, they were not mere mortals. They must be gods sent from the heavens to entertain us. Surely one of us could not ascend to such heights.
Then the magic happened. Leah scrunched up enough courage, and egged on by some close friends, to expose herself as openly as anyone can. She put herself out on display. She took one of those worlds that she created, and sent it off to one of those dreaded people – the Editor.
The rest is shall I say history. Three books out there being received well beyond her dreams. Accolades coming in from all sides.
I was sitting in my chair the other day, watching golf on my glorious TV (yeah I’m still hooked) when I noticed Leah smiling to herself. I inquired to find she was following two people talking on Twitter as they read her latest novel. It was like watching a little girl at Christmas. In the famous words of Sally Fields at the Oscars ‘They like me – they really like me’.
Leah – get used to it – you have talent. You have stories to tell. You have – dare I say it – fans!
I won’t say that living with a writer is always fun – many a night I have rolled over only to find the other side of the bed vacant – “the characters started talking to me… I had to let them work it out…” I think there is a very fine line sometimes between the creative and the insane…
But her influence has once again hit me. I put pen to paper (actually finger to keyboard) myself and wrote a comedic attempt at a very short story about a modern plight – the failure to launch syndrome. This was based mostly on our own home life – and the fact the two very grown children still lived in our house well past the norm. Sitting again in front of the TV with my laptop in my lap I read it over for the hundredth time. Finally I screwed up the courage and sent it in an email to Leah – who was sitting all of five feet away from me.
“What’s this,” Leah asked.
“Um, something I wrote…” I mumbled.
Between the tears and the laughter she gave me something that I will never forget – encouragement. “She liked it – she really liked it.” This woman has indeed been a terrible influence on me.
Leah – the twelve hour days – the constant research and work – the edits – the promotion – the endless novels, good and bad you read – are worth it. You have arrived. Your words and worlds are out there for all to see.
Congratulations – and know this – you are loved – and not just by your fans….
I still tear up when I read that. For those who might wonder about Gizmo’s stories, he’s written not only that novella, but two full length thrillers a la Tom Clancy — the second one of which had a plot twist that had my jaw dropping. Which made me wish he’d consider putting his work “out there” too because he has a flair for telling a story. But after watching some of the behind-the-scenes stuff I’ve gone through, he’s content with the status quo. Sort of like I was for almost fifty years.
For all those who sneer at romances and claim they set women up for unrealistic expectations, Gizmo Guy is proof that there are real heroes out there, and Happy Ever Afters can be found. After all, we’ve been married almost 37 years.
I’ll share another one of his love letters tomorrow…because as I said, Valentine’s Day in the Braemel household isn’t just on February 14th. It’s every day.
Love you, GG! You’ll always be my valentine.