When the market for steamy romance novels took a downward turn, Bobby Hutchinson opened a B&B in Vancouver, B.C., despite never having stayed at one and knowing nothing about running a B&B. Stange people arrived from all over the world, while eccentric neighbors and peculiar friends did their best to help and hinder.
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Blue Collar Bed and Breakfast
Blue Collar B&B, Adventures in Hospitality, tells the story of a romance writer who decides to make a change in her life. Too old for prostitution, the only other career that will earn enough to pay the mortgage, she opens a B&B in Vancouver, B.C. Her ad says: Romance writer wants to hear your story.
Travelers come, bringing their suitcases as well as their emotional baggage. Neighborhood characters provide laughter, consternation and sometimes tears.
The book contains humor, tragedy, and life lessons as well as tried and true breakfast recipes.
BLUE COLLAR CHRONICLES
Divorce is the mother of invention. Of course necessity comes into it, but for me, divorce came first, which is why I decided, out of the fullness of my ignorance, to start a B&B.
I needed money, and how hard could it be? I’d raised three strapping sons, I knew how to scrub bathrooms, change sheets and make breakfasts Paul Bunyan would appreciate.
I was sixty one, twice divorced, loved people but hated leaving my home to come among them. I’d been single two years. My house in Vancouver had a respectable west side address, a terrifying mortgage due to buying out my ex, and three empty bedrooms upstairs.
My entire education consisted of a high school diploma from little old Sparwood High, located in a coal mining town in interior B.C., Canada. I’d married at eighteen, had a son at nineteen, and read my way through two more pregnancies and several libraries while trying to maintain sanity while raising three diabolically inventive sons whose sole mission in life seemed either to commit suicide on my watch or live past adolescence--in jail.
My only saleable talent was writing steamy romance novels. I was far too old for prostitution, the only other job I could think of which might net enough to pay the mortgage.
Writing earned me a fair living, but it was unpredictable. The urban myth about romance writers making mega bucks applies to those few exalted souls who make the best seller lists. There are others who commit slow suicide by turning out ten saleable properties a year, eating M & M’s from a desk drawer and sacrificing their health for thirty good pages a day. Their rule is, if you can’t write better, write faster.
Of course, there are a few amazingly gifted people—Nora Roberts comes to mind—who can write both fast and really well. It’s rumored Nora will turn out an entire page turner while waiting in line for take out Chinese.
Most of us are somewhere in between. We’re nail biting, coffee guzzling peons who glue our respective asses to the chair each morning and churn out five pages a day in between interruptions, probably earning less in a year than the check out girl at Safeway.
Why, people might say? We do it because we have to. Writing for us is like breathing—do it, or die. I’d done it successfully forty three times, and despite the impressive number of published books gracing my mantle, I was far from wealthy, albeit grateful to Harlequin for my not so steady income.
Writing fiction is hit and miss—one’s best, most brilliant ideas are often not what editors think will sell. Advance payments are always late. Most professional writers can finish a novel in the time it takes their publisher to send out the check originally meant to tide the starving writer through the creative process.
If we’re lucky, twice yearly royalties may pay the house taxes and the lawyer’s fees with enough left over to go to Puerto Vallarta to recuperate from divorce and deadlines.
Or, more probably, the check will barely buy a tank of gas. There’s no surety in this writing game—you’re only as good as your next novel, and you have to sell the damned proposal for that masterpiece before you can even write it.
Faced with shrinking markets and diminishing returns, I put a couple of notices on the Internet. I started with Craig’s list and added B&B International. Might as well go from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Blue Collar B&B. Stay in the heart of beautiful Vancouver with a romance writer who wants to hear your story. Reasonable rates, full breakfast. Close to golf links, shopping, and India town.
Some optimist (another B.C. writer, JP Kinsella,) once said, Build it and they’ll come.
Guess what? He was right.
“I polished up the handles so carefully,
They made me the ruler of the Queen’s Navy.”
Utterly petrified, I cowered in the kitchen as the doorbell announced my first guest. I’d checked the upstairs bathroom—pristine—the sheets on the king bed—freshly laundered soft beige flannel loosely tucked—and my hair and makeup, but at a certain age, there was only so much one could hope for in that department. Besides, he wasn’t coming to date me, was he? He was coming to golf, his pert sounding secretary had said. And he preferred B&B’s to hotel rooms, yippee for me. I was on my way to earning that few hundred extra a week I thought the B&B might