I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been invited to participate in the celebration of romance throughout the month of August at READ A ROMANCE MONTH. I was lucky enough to get the invitation because I’m lucky in my wonderful friends. A big hug and big thanks go out to the beautiful Lorelei of Lorelei’s Lit Lair for inviting me to participate. Another hurrah to the amazing Bobbi Dumas, founder of RARM, for being so generous and supportive!
If you missed Lorelei’s guest blog here, I hope you’ll go back and catch it. And don’t miss her RARM essay, which is wonderfully inspiring! She’s one of the sweetest, most generous people you’ll ever meet, and she’s a great friend of all romance writers!
THE JOY OF ROMANCE
Have you ever heard this quote?
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”
The source of those words is unknown or at least interwebally disputed, but I love the quote, because it’s true. It’s true of the best friends, and I’ve always thought it’s also true of the best romance novels.
Most of us carry the romance “song” in our hearts. If we’re lucky, if we’ve found the person who makes us come alive, we sing it loud and clear, sometimes from the rooftops, carried away by the bliss of it.
But sometimes we can feel as if we’ve completely lost the melody. We can’t remember how it goes, and everything we try comes out sounding harsh, discordant and wrong.
Maybe we’re facing a failed relationship, or maybe the person with whom we shared that joy has died. Maybe we’re enduring a rough patch in a committed relationship. Maybe we’re just temporarily overwhelmed by life’s other problems—health, money, deadlines, tragedy—and romantic joy seems like a mirage, shining from a shore we can never reach.
In those moments, a great fictional romance can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s a classic, like Heathcliff and Cathy, or something trendy, like Castle and Becket—or even something futuristic, like The Doctor and Rose—love stories remember the song, and they will sing it to us until we’re ready to try again. Like a lighthouse beacon, like a robin in winter, they remind us never to give up hope.
And so, as Read-A-Romance Month begins, I couldn’t be prouder to honor this wonderful genre. It’s been my nearly thirty-year privilege to write stories for you, and it has been indescribably rewarding to get your notes and emails telling me how much they’ve meant to you in times of sorrow or loneliness.
A big, heartfelt thank you to all the readers who have found joy in my books, and to all the other fabulous authors who have offered their “songs” for me to turn to.
Here’s to the joy of romance–and romance novels! May the song play on.❤
Have you heard of MIMI WELLS? Maybe not, because her novella with Tule Publishing has just come out, and it’s only her second published book. But I hope you’ll make a note to check out THE BILLIONAIRE’S DECEPTION, because it’s fabulous. All the books in this AMALFI NIGHTS series are (Nancy Robards Thompson, Eve Gaddy, Katherine Garbera and I each have one there, too), and I wholeheartedly recommend every single one. But I’ve singled out Mimi Wells for a special reason. I’ve known Mimi for years, and loved her sense of humor and loyalty, her intelligence and spunk. But when I finally read her work, I was blown away. She’s marvelous, and I believe she’s someone to watch!
THE ROSIE PROJECT, by Graeme Simsion. This likely isn’t news for you…I know this book is hugely popular. But it’s just so wonderful I have to mention it. I haven’t read the second, THE ROSIE EFFECT, but I can’t wait. If you’ve read it, please let me know what you think!
Describe a moment when you’ve experienced pure joy.
On our tenth anniversary, my husband and I took a trip to Charleston. We were married in April, so we encountered a city in full spring glory. Wisteria, azalea, dogwood, camillias…everywhere you looked, the gardens were hosting their own parties of riotous color.
I knew he would have planned some special gift, because he’s a traditional kind of guy. No birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day or special holiday ever passes without roses arriving at the door. But I also knew he hadn’t brought along anything big enough to notice, so I assumed his gift must be something small…like, perhaps, a jewelry box.
Now, as you probably know, receiving surprise jewelry for a special occasion is a little nerve-wracking, even for someone like me, who isn’t exactly a jewelry fanatic. What if you don’t really care for the piece? You’ll always cherish the sentiment and affection behind it, but will you love wearing it day in and day out? And what if the absolute worst happens, and he can sense your ambivalence? Hurting your husband’s feelings on a day like this would be unthinkable.
So when, at our lovely Charthouse steak dinner, I saw him reach into his pocket and pull out a little black velvet box, I was prepared. I’d thought it through, and I knew the jewelry didn’t matter. Only the love mattered, and we had plenty of that to spare.
And then…I opened the box to find that it held the most exquisite little diamond heart pendant I had ever seen. It was the pendant I would have dreamed of, if I actually dreamed about jewelry, which I don’t.🙂 It’s graceful and sparkly without being gaudy, and I was absolutely enchanted. Not only did he care about me…he knew me. He understood me. He understood what I would love.
He put the pendant around my neck that night, and it’s been there ever since. We just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary–yes, I was a child bride <g>–so that’s a long, long time. I’ve been forced to take it off now and then, for the births of my children, or mammograms, or cleaning…but otherwise it’s always there. Sometimes, in tough times, I close my palm around it like a talisman. It holds the memory of that night, and all the nights in between, and the pure joy of being loved and understood.
Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.
Dingle, Ireland. I’m Irish, and the air in Western Ireland just sings to me. The little beach at Slea Head, with its caves and winds and its crystal water trickling down stony cliffs, is pure magic. We traveled there as a family a few years ago. The day we visited Slea Head, my daughter, who has inherited a slightly aloof dignity from her daddy and isn’t a reckless hugger, had reached the beach first. When I arrived she came running up to me, threw her arms around me, and hugged me until I’m quite sure the air twinkled around us with fairy dust. That memory is like medicine to me, or like a spell to keep away loneliness forever.
Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.
Moving water. Waves, rain on water, even fountains plashing or sprinklers hissing. I grew up in a house that overlooked Tampa Bay, and I think water is the background music to all my happy childhood memories.
What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?
When I was in sixth or seventh grade, I checked out of the library a book called THE WISHING STAR by Norma Johnston. It was so beautiful, the imagery so vivid, the characters so delightful, that I read it over and over. I’m pretty sure it was while reading that book that I decided I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be able to create sparkling, snowy worlds like that. When I grew up, I looked for another copy of that book for decades and finally found one, thanks to the power of internet searches! I re-read it every few years, just to remember that joy of discovery.
Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer.
Hmmm…from that list, I’d have to say Christopher Plummer. The Sound of Music is one of my favorite films, and Maria’s softening effect on him makes their romance so touching–a real Beauty and the Beast story! But if I could pick any Christopher out there in the big, wide world, I’d pick Christopher Eccleston, who played the 9th Doctor on Doctor Who. He’d be a little gritty for me, ordinarily, but he was the first Doctor I met (I hadn’t ever seen the earlier series), and you know what they say about your first.🙂
Everyone who comments here will be entered, and on September 1st one randomly chosen poster will be offered a 25.00 Amazon gift certificate, and this wonderful plaque, with the quote I mentioned earlier about the song in your heart.