Robin Wells Reflects On The Many Vices Of Writers

Author Robin Wells stops by the RT site to share with readers what exactly goes into writing a romance novel.

I crunched the numbers on my new book Still the One (I love that phrase, “crunched the numbers;” it satisfies my inner nerd and sounds like I ate math equations for breakfast) and here’s what it took to write it:  


  • Nine months
  • 2,000 sheets of paper (five drafts - I’ll  plant a tree, I promise).
  • 1080 cups of coffee (four cups of half-caff a day).
  • 2160 bathroom trips (two trips per cup of coffee; I know, I know--makes no sense to me, either).
  • 270 ounces of dark chocolate (one ounce per day, at least 70 percent cacao).
  • 540 miles of walking and 2160 minutes of weight training to counteract the chocolate. 
  • 540 breaks to rub my poodle's tummy (that's her reward for holding down the carpet in my office; without her 6-lb. body anchoring it to the floor, who knows? It might fly around the room).
  • 540 trips outdoors to smell the roses -- and look at and sometimes water (though not as often as I should, I’m afraid) the impatiens, petunias, bougainvillea, azaleas, hydrangeas, honeysuckle, sweet olive, jasmine, gardenias, grass, trees and scraggly pepper plants (I live in southeast Louisiana and the most beautiful, fragrant plants thrive despite my unskilled gardening).
  • 4340 breaks to check e-mail (I really don't know how many times I did this, but I'm sure it's at least twice the number of bathroom trips).
  • 2160 minutes lounging in the bathtub, writing in longhand (love scenes are best written this way).
  • 38 boxes of Calgon.
  • 405 minutes microwaving my spa socks (they’re filled with cornhusks or something that retains heat, and I looooove them).

If you count the amount of time I spent just thinking about this book, the numbers are a lot higher than these, because the idea for it came to me while I was writing Between The Sheets. Katie was the best friend of the heroine in that book, and she just grew on me. She owned the hair salon in Chartreuse, Louisiana, and her husband was a Marine in Iraq. 

Still The One opens two years after Katie’s husband was killed in Iraq. Katie has tried to move on with her life, but she’s certain she’ll never find anyone she loves the way she loved her husband. And then, to her shock, her teenage love, Zack Ferguson, moves to town -- accompanied by Gracie, the daughter Katie gave up for adoption seventeen years ago. Gracie’s adopting parents died in a car crash a year ago, and she’s still grieving them. She’s got a bad attitude, a smart mouth -- and a baby on the way.  

The novel has a lot of humor, but it also deals with some tough issues -- the primary romance between Zack and Katie deals with grief, teen pregnancy, loneliness and parenting, and the secondary romance between Katie’s mother-in-law and father-in-law deals with divorce, infidelity, alcoholism and aging. I hope readers will like the way the characters support each other, find inner strengths they didn’t know they had and deal with each other’s quirks and foibles. If you belong to a book club, this novel can spark some lively discussions. I have a list of group discussion questions on my website.

But I digressed. I was crunching numbers. The book also took:

  • Approximately 90 double-chocolate biscotti, with chocolate chips melted on top in the microwave. 
  • A fortune in ink jets. 
  • Four retreats to a cabin in the woods where I have no Internet or cell phone access (discipline must be imposed, one way or the other!)
  • 810 trips to the back door to let Winnie the Pooh-dle in or out (whichever side of the door she’s on is the opposite of where she wants to be).

For the book I’m writing now, I'm going to have to start keeping track of a brand new vice: Seeduction Bread from Whole Foods. OMG, they must bake crack in that stuff! My youngest daughter posted on Facebook that I'd bought Seeduction Bread, and one of her friends wrote back, "I hate it when my bread comes on to me." 

I do, too, and that blasted bread just won't take no for an answer. 

To read an excerpt of Still The One, download a list of book group discussion topics about it or sign up to win a free hair care kit, visit my website at

- Robin Wells