Category Archives: romance books

Reading Between the Lines

I have a confession to make. I love to read. Really love it. I can remember the first book I read for my own enjoyment to this very day. It was called ‘Socks’ and it was about a stray cat. I was about 11 years old, at a new school away from all of my friends and Socks helped me escape how ‘unbearable’ my life had become. I put unbearable in quotations because when you’re 11 your definition of unbearable and others’ aren’t quite the same.

Anyway, after ‘Socks’, I moved on to Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super-mysteries. I sure did love solving the crime before the book was over. I’m something of a smart ass when it comes to that. If you’ve read/watched enough, you pick up the clues that tell you who the perpetrator is. Remember ‘The Usual Suspects’? Yeah, I knew who Keyser Soze was. So thank you Nancy and the Boys. You helped me be the person who ruins the end of movies for their friends!

Once Nancy Drew was no longer fun, my aunt’s neighbor was getting rid of boxes of books. We’re talking about years of Harlequin romances. Some of these books were probably as old as I was (at 13) and they were going to throw them away. My aunt, being the thrifty person she is, asked me if I wanted them. I said ‘sure’ and the world of romance was opened to me.

That was it. I was hooked immediately. By the time I was sixteen, I’d read all 300 books the neighbor gave us and began checking books out of the library. I was reading all the time. It got so bad that my mom threatened to throw my books away. I think she was worried I was going to rot my brain or something. I didn’t party, I read. I still did things with friends, but seriously, those books kept me out of trouble.

Senior year: My high school was right across the street from the library and since I didn’t have my license and had to wait for someone to pick me up from band practice, I’d hang out at the library. Every week I checked out anywhere between 6 and 12 books, finishing them and returning them the next week to trade for more. This went on at least 9 months. I began to read fast enough to finish a full-length novel in 3 hours. This excessive reading actually helped me on my ACT! Can you believe it? I wasn’t the best student (hiding my romance novels in my textbooks), but I scored well enough that the valedictorians and all were asking me how I did it. What’d I tell them? I just read a lot. Yeah, the geeks thought I was a geek, lol.

When I finally got a car and a job, I began to cultivate my collection. Over the years, I’ve had to thin it out, but I still own some of the first books I bought for myself. No, I don’t have anymore of those old Harlequins or Barbara Cartland’s (they were taking up too much room in my bookcase!).

I’m 33 years old and if I had the money, I’d be at the bookstore every week buying 20 books at a time. Because I don’t have the money (and I’ve started writing). I re-read my novels. I have some books I’ve read up to eight times. Excessive? Probably, but when you’re desperate to read and can’t spend money, this is what you do! I keep telling my mother this, lol. If a new book comes out in a series, I have to read the entire series before reading the newest release. This is a little more difficult with some of the series (like Sherrilyn Kenyon or Laurell K Hamilton), but I do it. The Black Dagger Brotherhood? Immortals After Dark? Lords of the Underworld series? Yeah, I’ve read them about eight times.

My joy of reading has helped me so many times. Now that I’m writing, I hope that my books (should the blessed things ever be published) do the same for some other teenager.

Now that I’ve finished rambling, does anyone else re-read their books frequently? Do you remember the first book you read for the joy of it? How fast do you read?

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Contest Perhaps?

I’ve been trying to devise ways to get this blog out there, get some more readers (because I know everyone wants to read about my fabulous lifestyle). Having commented on several blogs, I found myself winning a book from the lovely ladies at http://southernsizzleromance.wordpress.com/ and it gave me the idea that perhaps I should do something similar.

Unfortunately, until I get published, the books folks can win will be from my own (enormous) collection of romance novels. If you’re interested in this type of contest, here are the rules:

There are none! Just comment on something I’ve blogged about. I’ll put all the names in a hat and randomly choose one winner a week and give them a choice of novels to be sent to them. Trust me, my bookcases will appreciate it. They’ve been recently cleaned out, but I have a nasty habit of buying and buying…well, you get the idea.

If you’re interested, comment and send your friends over to comment as well. We’ll have the drawings on Sundays and winners announced on Monday morning.

How does that sound?

On a different note…the ladies at SouthernSizzleRomance are trying to give me a heart attack with their pictures of sexy men taking showers. Shame on you! I think I need my heart checked at least once a day, so post more! haha I’ve decided I need to have something like this as well. It’ll be very difficult to search for pictures of hot men, but someone has to do it, right? So this is your chance to leave some great comments.

We’ve already got Gena Showalter’s Beefcake Mondays, Sapphire Phelan’s Hot Hunk Wednesdays, and SouthernSizzleRomance has Wednesday Eye Candy. I’ll take Fridays…here’s your first assignment for the contest! Come up with a proper name for a Friday hunk fest…should it be Frank and Beans Friday? (Okay, that was awful which is why YOU need to come up with the right name. Get to work!!

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Cut it with the negative waves

I was talking with my family yesterday about my writing and my cousin said ‘Why write romance?’ When I told her that romances are great and very popular, she replied ‘There’s lots of sad, desperate women in the world.’

Now, my cousin doesn’t mince words. No one in this family does, but I was a little offended that she thought sad, desperate women are the only ones who read romance. It was on the tip of my tongue to start spouting off statistics about the education level of women who read romance, but didn’t want to waste my breath.

I know that most of the world view women who read romance as sad, desperate women who are either: lonely housewives, bitter divorcees, old maids, or grandmothers. I’m sure they read romance as well, but I know a lot of women who are successful, educated to the nine’s, beautiful women in loving, secure relationships who also read romance. I also know this is an ongoing struggle withing the romance writing community. It shouldn’t be.

From this weekend, I met a lot of fellow pre-published and published authors (my first conference) and found them to be funny, outgoing, smart women. They’re confident and make no apologies for what they write, as it should be. You don’t see Stephen King apologizing for writing horror novels and no one seems to expect people who read his books to be closet serial killers.

It’s a shame there’s such a stigma associated with the genre when it’s the fastest growing genre in the country. So either there are a lot of sad, desperate women in the country, or more and more people are drawn to these stories. And why not? With a romance, you’re almost guaranteed a happy ending, a resolved conflict, and the hope that love really does conquer all. Who doesn’t want that?

It isn’t like all romance these days is of the ‘oh dearest, I love you and only you and we will never fight and have many children together’ variety. Today’s heroines are smart, tough, and don’t wait around for the hero to save them. It’s a reflection of the new wave of feminine confidence that our mothers fought for in the 60’s. We’ve embraced our sexuality, are confident in our abilities to take care of ourselves and we want to read about heroines who feel the same. But the stigma remains. It’s truly sickening.

So what do I say to people who think romance is for the lonely, sad, and depressed? Well, if it’s a man, I’ll tell him ‘Maybe you should read a romance before you make any assumptions. You might learn a few things’ (and hand him The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter) and if it’s a woman, I’d say ‘What’s so wrong with a little peace, love, and understanding?’ (and give her a copy of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers).

Love is the universal language. The job of the romance writer is to ensure that the Happily Ever After is so satisfying that the reader is left with a feeling of good will towards their fellow person.

Viva la romance!!!

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