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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 115 fb kids fav scarf vert headshotI’m over at Jaunty Quills today, talking about all the great advice I’ve received…but didn’t take.

I might even be complaining, just a little, about all the great advice I’ve given that got ignored. 😉

I hope you can join me over there and tell me what the best advice you ever got was. Now that I’m not a kid anymore, I’m absolutely willing to listen!

betting on cowboy box of booksAlso, I’ll be giving away a book to one lucky poster, so if you haven’t read BETTING ON THE COWBOY yet, this is a great chance to win a copy! If you’ve already read it, you can pick another title! You can even put your “win” in a savings account, if you’d like to wait for the newest Bell River book, THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND. It’ll be out in December!

Hope to see you over at JAUNTY QUILLS!

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betting on cowboy box of booksHi, ladies! Thank you all so much for stopping by and making me smile about cowboys yesterday! It was a wonderful break from revisions! 🙂 The three randomly chosen winners this time are

EllenToo
MADerbin
Virginia C.

Congratulations! Please email me at KOBrien@aol.com so that I can get your snail-mail address, and which books you’d like!

I wish I could send books to everyone…and maybe someday I will! So don’t go too far…

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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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Prueba1675

For the past couple of weeks, most of my reading time has gone into judging the RITA awards. For those of you who aren’t romance writers, that may not mean much. But the RITA is like the Oscar for those of us who do! 🙂 The Romance Writers of America holds the contest each year, and the awards are handed out at the national conference in the summer.

Judging is hard work, but it’s fun–and being part of honoring the best in our genre is pretty exciting. This year, the writing in the entries sent to me was, overall, of very high quality. Of course, some of the stories and characters really stood out–but that’s the part I can’t share! I will, as always, be watching for the list of finalists to see if anything I judged made the cut!

FINISHED: ROUND HOUSE, by Louise Erdrich. Wow. Just as powerful as everyone promised it would be! I may be about to embark on an author binge. You know what I mean, I’m sure. Get excited by one book, scour the bookstores and the libraries for everything else the author wrote, read, read, read until your eyes are crossed, your soul fed, and your palate ready for something different. 🙂 I had my first author binge when I discovered Jane Austen in middle school. Even now, finding a new binge-worthy author is almost as exciting as falling in love!

STILL CHEWING ON: DROOD by Dan Simmons still sits on the end table, unfinished. I tell everyone how good it is, and I mean it. But it’s just too heavy (not usually a problem for me) and too dark (sometimes a problem for me).

UP NEXT: GARDEN SPELLS, by Sarah Allen Addison. I would have read it before ROUND HOUSE, except that I couldn’t find it. 🙂 It turned up neatly beneath the end table, where I’d placed it to protect it from the cat hair.

Elizabeth Gordon The Turned-Intos illustrationJUST BOUGHT: At a new antique mall in town, I discovered a darling old children’s book called THE TURNED-INTOS, by Elizabeth Gordon. Best thing about it–the illustrations by Janet Laura Scott. I casually collect wonderful children’s illustrations, and this one is a gem!

DRACULA, by Bram Stoker. If I ever read the whole book, it was ages and ages ago. My daughter, who often turns me onto great new/old things :), listened to it recently on Audible, and she says it’s fantastic, so I’m going to add it to the pile. The tall, tall pile…
Good luck making it to the top after all these years, Bram! 😉

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I’ve always been intrigued by little things. I am awed when a craftsman of any kind can reduce something to its smallest possible perfect form. Uncluttered, unbloated. Stripped of the unnecessary. Beauty you can hold in the palm of your hand, or absorb in sixty seconds.

Exquisite miniature things, like…

Russian lacquer boxes
Tiffany eggs
Bonsai trees
Haiku

And modern, sassy shorts, like…

Movie trailers
Superbowl commercials
Clever Tweets
LOLcats

Or…coming back to the world I work in…well-written short stories and novellas! 🙂

I’ve been doing some of that short writing lately, and it’s definitely given me a new appreciation for how hard it is to capture emotion, texture, richness and excitement in a limited space!

I have two short online reads coming up soon on Harlequin’s website, eHarlequin.com. The first one starts Monday! It’s called Hideaway Hero, and it features Greta Kinyon, a young real estate agent struggling with commitment issues, and a hunky hotelier who is haunted by his own past. Greta is one of the secondary characters from my upcoming March Superromance, THE VINEYARD OF HOPES AND DREAMS. It was great fun getting to give her a romance of her own!

Then, in May, I will have a Mother’s Day novella online—so watch here for details of that! Both online reads are offered FREE by Harlequin. (Another great small thing…price! 🙂 )

I hope you’ll come read along with Hideaway Hero, and join in the online discussion. I’ll post the link here Monday, so that you can zip over with ease!

Meanwhile, I’m celebrating the fun of the online read by offering some giveaways here. I’ve written several novellas in the past, and anyone who posts a comment on the Hideaway Hero pages at eHarlequin.com will win one of my backlist novellas! Each one is part of an anthology, so you’ll be winning a chance to read several other writers, as well—ladies who are so talented it’s an honor to share a book with them!

Here are the titles you can choose from:

Mysteries of Lost Angel Inn, a Gothic novella with Evelyn Rogers and Debra Webb.

More Than Words, with Linda Lael Miller, Sherryl Woods, Curtiss Ann Matlock, and Jennifer Archer.

That Christmas Feeling, with Brenda Novak and Karina Bliss.

Pretty awesome line-ups, right? 🙂 Remember, when you join me for the Hideaway Hero discussion at eHarlequin.com, make sure you send me your choice of titles, and your snail mail address, either here, or privately at KOBrien@aol.com, and I’ll get your book off asap.

Hope to see you there! Meanwhile, happy weekend wishes from one of my favorite tiny things…my Wee Forest Folk cutie, “Best in Show.”

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Hi, everyone! I’ve created a new “author” page , and I hope you’ll stop by and “like” me!

This is the spot where I’ll be posting all the latest news about books, writing, reading–and, of course, contests!

In fact, I’ll start a new one right now. THE RULES HAVE CHANGED HERE, as I try to make sense of FB’s contest rules!

Over the next week, anyone who comes by this website and leaves a comment on this blog entry will be entered in a drawing to win a $25.00 gift certificate from Amazon.com! Remember, this contest is run by me, and not by Facebook, and you’re giving your information to me, not to them! 🙂 (This is me trying very hard to comply with their rules, because I believe in following rules!) You do NOT, repeat, do NOT have to “like” my page in order to be entered. Just leave a comment here and let me know what you think of the page!

I love to hear from my readers, and I always value–and USE–your comments and advice! It’s wonderful to have an ongoing dialogue about what makes a good book, and which books you’re loving right now! I hope you’ll come join the fun!

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