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redman photo 115 fb kids fav scarf vert headshotHi, everyone!

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!

lorelei white t shirt
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.

Dry rose on an old book/ Vintage Books and Roses

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.

Young lovely smiling woman wonders on flower, tearing petals, close-up.

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. ❤

Pink roses and old books on wooden desk

Recommendations:

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!

AUTHOR QUESTIONS

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.
closeup roses
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.

heart necklace

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.
Publicity shot for Kathleen O'Brien Pynn (Kathleen has royalty free license for image)
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.

irene at slea head
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.

little yellow duckling swimming towards the camera
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?

The Wishing Star cover
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. 🙂

DRAWING!

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.
friend is someone

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redman photo 107 horiz with book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi, everybody!  I’m guest blogging today over at Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs …and I’m giving away more books!

betting on cowboy box of booksI hope you can stop by. I’m reminiscing about all the sexy cowboys I’ve never known…and I’d love to hear your stories about your cowboys, too.  The real ones, or the ones who exist only on the screen, on the page, or in your dreams!

I know it’s Wednesday, and everyone has hump-day blues, so a little fantasy time with those long, tall Texans (or, in the case of my new Superromance, Colorado cowboys) might be just what we need to spice things up!

Three lucky posters will receive a signed copy of BETTING ON THE COWBOY.  Or, if you’ve already got one of those, you can request any of my other cowboy titles.  There are actually quite a few cuties in my collection. 🙂

See you there!

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fireworks postcardHappy Fourth of July, everyone! I hope your plans are either super exciting or super relaxing, depending on what your heart craves today!

Over at Jaunty Quills this morning, I’m blogging about seizing the day–about grabbing a joy and cherishing it, even if you know it can’t possibly last. Would you do that? Or would you rather play it safe, and avoid the heartache of losing the joy later?beach postcard 2

I hope you can stop by and tell me what you think.

One poster will win a copy of BETTING THE COWBOY! So if you can hop out of the pool long enough to check out the blog, I’d love to see you there!

Meanwhile, be careful when you light those candles…brief or otherwise! 🙂

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betting on cowboy box of booksMy author copies of my July Superromance, BETTING ON THE COWBOY, have arrived, and to celebrate I’m giving away one copy to someone who posts here today!

BETTING ON THE COWBOY is Bree’s story. She’s the middle Wright sister, the cool blonde who earned the nickname “Ice Maiden,” and probably would have kept it all her life…if it hadn’t been for Gray Harper, the bad-boy turned cowboy who is hot enough to melt even the coldest heart.

If you haven’t read Rowena’s story, WILD FOR THE SHERIFF, I’ll include one of those, too! Rowena, the oldest Wright sister, found love in the first book of The Sisters of Bell River Ranch series. Dallas Garwood, the guy she left behind–the one her crazy father shot–is now the sheriff of Silverdell, Colorado, and a divorced father of a little boy who is almost as irresistible as his dad! 😉 You don’t need to have read WILD to enjoy BETTING ON THE COWBOY, but I love all the Wright sisters so much I don’t want to play favorites! 😉
redman photo 107 horiz with bookHope to see you here soon! I’ll be doing revisions on THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND, book three of the series. They’ll keep me pretty busy all day, so I’ll check back at midnight to pick the winner!

PS…Don’t you think this cover hero looks a little like Jake Gyllenhaal? I think this is a very, very good thing. 😉

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Tiara

Such exciting news! I’ve just been named Queen of the Universe!!! Well, okay, not quite, but it feels that way! As of today, I’m officially the newest member of the fantastic group of writers who blog together as the Jaunty Quills!

I love, love these authors, and I was so proud to be invited to join their site! It’s been so hard not to shout it from the rooftops! happy computer

I am lucky enough to know a few of them personally. Nancy Robards Thompson, who writes such sparkling, sexy stories for Harlequin Special Edition, is one of my critique partners. Katherine Garbera, whose fun, sensual Desire titles you probably already love, is a longtime friend and such a sweetie that I even forgive her for getting to live in England. Cindy Kirk, who also writes fabulous love stories for Special Edition, is a newer friend who feels like an old one.

The six other authors I technically know only by their brilliant reputations–although their warm, wise blog posts make me feel as if I really know them even better.

redman photo 115 fb kids fav scarf vert headshot Of course, I’ll still be blogging here whenever there’s something special to share, but I’ll spend a lot of time over at the Jaunty Quills. I hope you’ll stop by and say hello. It’s a fabulous place to hang out with some of the best names in the industry and make friends with friendly, talented people who love to chat about reading and writing, pets and children, trips and TV, unicorn dreams, pine nuts, Pinterest, and even freaky frogs. It’s more fun than you ought to be able to have online…and you can win give-aways, too! Hope to see you there!

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Prueba1675

I finished my manuscript, and the joy of a little free time is making me giddy! But even though I’ve given myself a full week off, there still aren’t enough hours in the day to read everything on my list and in my stacks. I have books due back at the library any minute. I have new ones, bought with my Mother’s Day gift certificates, gleaming at me from their pile on the desk. I have an Amazon wish list about eight pages long. 😉 Seriously.

K with Age of Innocence 2 So what do I do? I pick up a book I’ve read maybe half a dozen times before. Edith Wharton’s THE AGE OF INNOCENCE is so sad, so beautifully written, so fascinating in its exploration of how savage social expectations can be, that I never, ever tire of it!

The new books will have to wait a little longer.

In fact, I have two writers I re-read frequently. Rex Stout, who wrote the Nero Wolfe mysteries, is the author I choose if I’m unhappy, or lonely, or worried. Nero Wolfe shelfArchie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe are the greatest of all buddy teams, and together there’s nothing they can’t handle. They always inspire me to believe I can handle my problems, too.

Guess that’s why I have a whole shelf of extremely well worn Stout books.

I don’t turn to Edith Wharton, my other staple, unless I’m feeling strong. Seriously strong–I’m talking about “I am woman. Hear me roar” strong. Her books are gorgeous, but they’ll take out your heart and stomp that sucker flat, as Lewis Grizzard so memorably put it. If I’m already emotionally fragile in any way, I give Wharton a wide berth. Hey–since I have her in hand now, I guess that means finishing a manuscript is empowering, right? 😉

window with booksHow about you? Are you always moving forward, conquering new books, checking them off your to-be-read lists? Or do you sometimes snuggle up with an old favorite, preferring to spend time with old (character) friends?

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redman photo 82 side k pref head vert typaI had a very strict mother. Not about everything, you understand. She was actually quite a free-thinker, an intellectual and a good deal ahead of her time, feministically speaking. 🙂 But she believed in a certain kind of public behavior. Manners. Refinement.

Lucy at typewriterWhatever you call it, she must have made a bigger impression on me than I realized. I like to think of myself as terrifically open-minded, a little avante garde in a very ladylike way, not at all repressed or repressive.

Imagine my shock, then, when my daughter told me that, way back when she was in elementary school and someone did something crazy, her friends would pose the sardonic question, “Irene, would your mother call this vulgar? Or tacky?”

OMG. That is how they saw me? Cool, intellectual, free-thinking me? Apparently.

puzzle monsterSo, just for the record, girls, here’s how you know what’s vulgar, and what’s tacky.

TACKY is just a bit cheap, poorly made, or the etiquette equivalent of poorly made. It hints that you might not have champagne tastes or the Queen’s manners. Nobody gets hurt with tacky. It includes innocent sins, like showing too much cleavage at a funeral, or letting your dog lick your plate when you’re finished.

VULGAR is much, much worse. Vulgar is when you send naked pictures of yourself in a Santa hat as Christmas cards–and you actually believe it’s sexy, not gross. Vulgar is when you make body-function jokes in front of your maiden aunt, or tell strangers too many details about things that should be private.

Tacky makes you look bad. Vulgar makes other people uncomfortable.

Or so my mother taught me.

However, there are quite a few things that the world probably considers tacky (and I *KNOW* my mother did!) that I absolutely adore. Don’t we all have some? Here’s my list of my top five Tacky Treats.

St. Francis corner1) Yard knick-knacks. I know…I really do know…that a dozen cheap little ornaments scattered around your yard don’t look very swanky. But I don’t care. I’m addicted. I do keep my shame in the *back* yard, though, to avoid embarrassing the rest of the family.

beach store mannequin2) Kitschy beach stores. I love the smell of plastic beach toys shaped like alligators, and what we used to call “suntan oil,” but now would undoubtedly call “sunscreen.” I like towels embroidered with the name of my favorite beach: Indian Rocks. I like flip flops and straw hats and yellow plastic buckets with crenelated bottoms for making sand castles. I even like…get ready…little people and creatures made entirely of shells, like these poker players.

puppy in christmas lights

3) Christmas lights hanging crooked, or mismatched. I love the idea that real people who want to twinkle a Merry Christmas to their neighbors actually get on ladders and string these babies up…maybe getting a little cranky, even, while they do it. I like yards that have gone a little too far (not Griswold far), or who clearly let the six-year-old pick out the color scheme. I don’t really like those net strands of lights, because they look too neat, too linear, as if someone professional put them on.swing at christmas I also love lights that stay on all year. I have an outdoor swing that I decorate with fairy lights. I have some in all different colors–pink for Valentine’s Day, red-white-blue for Fourth of July, purple and orange for Halloween. I’m hopeless.

glitter

4) Glitter. This is obviously a hangover from childhood. We had a babysitter once who knew how to draw a ballerina using only a very few lines to make a fluffy tutu skirt. And then she’d let us paste glitter along each ruffle of the skirt. Oh, it was magical, and I never got over it. Also, we used to drive to Indian Rocks Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast every summer, and somewhere along the way we passed a billboard that had a strip of something metallic that glittered in the noonday sun. I can’t remember what it advertised…if anyone else remembers, please let me know! I see that glittering sign in my dreams!

Tiara5) Wacky costume jewelry. I don’t wear this, you understand. Not because I’m afraid of offending the memory of my mother. She thought costume jewelry could approach true art. I don’t wear it because I wear four piece of jewelry, the same ones all the time. A necklace, a watch, my wedding rings, and a pair of earrings. I got them all from His Highness on special occasions, and, except for the earrings, I never take change them. The necklace hasn’t come off in twenty-six years…although don’t worry–it does take showers. But in a purely “museum” way, I love a fabulously tacky piece of costume jewelry. The more color and kitch the better! I particularly can’t resist tiaras. 🙂 Pinterest was invented to allow people like me to indulge interests like that. 🙂

Big blue monsterI also love wonderful, horrible tearjerker ballads, like “Shake Me I Rattle, Squeeze Me, I Cry.” But those songs can’t be on this list, because they’re corny, not tacky. Don’t believe me? Ask your mom. 🙂

How about you? What do you insist on loving, in spite of snob pressure to renounce it?

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