Newly Successful Romance Writer Lets Her Imagination Do All the Adventuring

One of the hottest movies showing these days is "Jewel of the Nile," an account of the adventurous life of a woman who writes romance novels.

Well, Rita Rainville, 50, one of the 170 members of the Orange County chapter of the Romance Writers of America and 1985 winner of Best New Author award from the New York-based Romance Times magazine, hardly lives that kind of life.

"Most romance writers are happy with their lives," said Rainville, married to an engineer and mother of two grown sons, "and I'm really content with my life style. I love sitting down and creating people for a romantic story, but it's not a fulfillment of personal fantasies."

Her early success in writing romance novels is no fantasy. Since starting her writing a year ago, she has had four books published and two are awaiting publication. Although she would not give exact figures, she said new novelists earn less than $5,000 in advances and royalties for each book published.

She points out that romance novels have a short life in book stores. "Sales of romance books last about one month," she said. "Other royalties come from books that are printed in foreign languages for overseas consumption."

Rainville's record as a new author, according to chapter spokeswoman Suzzane Forster, herself a published romance author, is no small accomplishment "considering it's very tough to break in right now, and advances and sales have dropped back."

She noted that romance writing was fertile ground two years ago "and publishers were looking for writers just to get books on their shelves." But not now, she added. "The business is very trendy." Forster said romance novels account for 30% of sales in paperback books nationwide.

But to follow those trends, said Rainville, a former school registrar, "a romance writer needs a heckuva imagination. I love sitting down and creating people to weave into a romantic story." She said her books are not sexually explicit but rather are "flights of fancy interwoven with a great deal of humor."

Still learning her newfound craft, Rainville feels she's an undisciplined writer. "I often write 8 to 10 hours a day, but many times I don't get started until 10 p.m.," she said.

Most of all, she continued, "all my books have happy endings. I think that's why women read romance novels."

Talk about a man being cool under pressure. Here's the recent conversation between Daniel and Claudia Welch, of Yorba Linda, who suddenly knew they couldn't make it from home to the Anaheim hospital to deliver their third child.

Claudia: "Dan, I'm going to have the baby right now! "

Daniel: "OK."

So Daniel, who attended childbirth classes and had watched the delivery of his other two children, delivered the 7-pound, 11-ounce girl. "My friends now call me Doctor Dan," the corporate attorney said.

In La Habra, Jon Bernstein, 20, who celebrates Hanukkah, and Bret Johnson, 25, a minister who celebrates Christmas, are the city's resident Santa Clauses.

"There's no conflict that I'm Jewish," Bernstein said. "Children are children and Santa is Santa. If I have a problem, it's explaining why I don't have wrinkles around my eyes. But I look like a Santa."

He said children often ask how old he is. "Santa has no age," comes Bernstein's clever reply. "Children believe that because Santa is their confidant."

Johnson has been playing Santa Claus for four years, but for Bernstein, the role is new. He says it's an ideal college job that fits in with his studies in elementary education.

The La Habra Community Service Department charges residents $10 for a 10-minute visit from Santa and more as Christmas gets closer.

For this Christmas season, 1,000 Orange County households will have a part of Harry Page lighting their homes.

Page, 66, a resident of Placentia, decided 11 years ago to grow Christmas trees in Anaheim during his retirement years. He figures he'll sell 1,000 Monterey pines this year at an average price of $4 a foot.

Page, who operates a "choose and cut" tree farm under Southern California Edison Co. power lines, said sales are up slightly this year, but the idea of making a buck isn't his real motive.

He said growing Christmas trees is one of the few businesses "that you only need to have a positive commitment to three or four weeks a year, and that's the way I want it." He has other reasons for keeping busy. "If you do nothing (after retirement) you're aching for a short life."

Acknowledgments--Fountain Valley resident Michael Koelsch, 18, who won the 1983 Orange County Fair's commemorative plate design, was named winner of the 1986 plate design for next year's county fair. Gareth C.C. Chang, Donald Karcher and John M. Rau, all corporate presidents in Orange County, were named to the Cal State Fullerton advisory board for five-year terms.

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