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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

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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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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critique photos 1923 cropped for kWhen I saw how long it had been since I posted, I was horrified! I keep up with people on Facebook fairly well, but I’m awful about making sure I post things here!

So, belatedly, I am making a new year’s resolution! I’ll stop by twice a week. Once, either Friday or Saturday, I’ll just be here to chat about whatever’s happening. On Wednesdays, I’ll stop in to mention what I’m reading right now…and I hope you’ll share your great finds, too! If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for a great new read!wild for the sheriff cover 235

I’m working on the third book of the Sisters of Bell River series right now–Penny’s book. She’s the youngest of the three sisters, and I’m having such a terrific time with her. She’s lived a very isolated, quiet life, and she’s ready to break out of her cell with a heck of a yell, to paraphrase the old limerick my parents used to quote! 🙂 Letting a heroine find her true self after years of repressing all genuine emotion–that’s sooo much fun! I hope it is as much fun to read!

The first sister, Rowena, has her story out right now. WILD FOR THE SHERIFF is a February Superromance, and I hope you’ll give it a try! In fact, anyone who posts here today will be entered to win a free copy! Just my way of saying thanks for still stopping by after all these months of silence!

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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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When I’m under a lot of stress, I use my entertainment hours (if I have any) to calm myself down.

When I’m stressed out and want to read a book, I almost always pick something dramatic and full of tension and suspense. It’s as if I want to remind myself that there are far worse problems out there than mine….like zombies, monsters,serial killers, madmen and ghosts. I especially love a writer who shows me an average person taking on the Big Bad Things and winning. If they can conquer the werewolf, then surely I can conquer my …insert problem here…

But when I decide to cope with my stress by watching a movie, I am completely the opposite. I want sweetness and light. I mean seriously sweet. Red velvet cake with sprinkles sweet. Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream sweet. Musicals and cute kids and sparkly costumes and flower-filled fairy fields and satin wedding dresses.

Taken together, those stress-relieving techniques can make me look pretty schizophrenic. Take yesterday, for instance. I sat in the family room with a few of my favorite people. By my side was my Dan Simmons horror novel, “Summer of Night,” in which a group of pre-teen boys ride their bikes to a showdown with the Forces of Evil. And on the TV was my favorite sweet-treat musical, “The Slipper and the Rose,” in which Richard Chamberlain’s Prince sings and dances to win Cinderella’s heart.

How about you? How do you calm down when the world is pressing in a little too hard? Do you go for the wild ride for total distraction? Or do you cuddle up to some warm fuzzies? I’d love to hear what works for you!

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I’ve just done something very exciting. I’ve decided to revisit a past love.

Okay, not a living, breathing human being kind of past love. This heartthrob is one who lived only between the pages of a book I read when I was…maybe 16? But frankly I’m as nervous about meeting this guy again as I possibly could be about meeting the real boyfriend I had that year. Maybe more so. What will I think of this man now? What will re-reading his story tell me about my 16-year-old self? What will my new, middle-age reaction tell me about what I’ve gained through the years–and what I’ve lost?

Back then, I was a big fan of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. One day I woke up and discovered I’d read all the Heyer books. So I went hunting, and I ran across a book that promised me it was “IN THE TRADITION OF GEORGETTE HEYER”!

The book was Barbara Cartland’s Desire of the Heart. I know today that Barbara Cartland was a romance machine, and her dozens of books make “real” writers and readers smirk behind their hands. But I didn’t know it then. This was my first, and last, Barbara Cartland novel. I had no preconceived ideas, except that she might provide a temporary Heyer fix.

Somehow, that book was perfect for me. It starred Cornelia, a plain, unglamorous Irish girl sacrificed in marriage to the dark and dashing Duke of Roehampton. The Duke was already having an affair with a sophisticated older beauty, and he wasn’t at all interested in his boring new wife. So Cornelia ran away and created an exciting new identity for herself as an exotic mystery lady named Desiree. And of course Desiree’s first conquest is…the Duke!

For decades, I thought about the book off and on, wondering if it could have been as magical as I remembered it. Why would an insensitive, adulterous husband, however handsome, be appealing in any way? Why would I love a book whose message pretty much was…get glam, or your brute of a husband won’t love you? Through the years, I forgot the title, forgot character names, forgot everything but the broadest outlines of the plot.

When Google came around, I casually searched databases of Cartland titles, wondering if I could find the one that had meant so much to me. But my details were too sketchy, and her library is too large. I never found anything I recognized.

Until last week…Last week I stumbled onto a site that provided plot outlines, and I was able to narrow it down to one title. Desire of the Heart. I went to eBay and found a used copy just cheap enough to seem worth the risk. Today the book arrived at my door. I’m neck deep in other commitments, so I can’t take time to read it now. And I’m almost relieved.

As I look at the cover, so many memories from that year come back that it’s almost overwhelming. The summer I turned sixteen–I’d forgotten how tumultuous that year was. Our family moved to a new neighborhood, the first move I’d ever made. I started a new school, very tough for a shy girl. And for the first time in my life, I fell in love. Or at least…let’s say that I got a serious crush on a boy, the first one who actually seemed more important to me than Paul McCartney.

I was such a kid, really, but I could see adulthood from there, and it was simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. I had so much to learn. Somehow I feel as if this might have been the last book I ever read with a totally romantic heart, if that makes sense.

What do you think? Will I be disappointed? Will I be annoyed with that silly girl who still thought bad boy Dukes were romantic?

Should I even read it?

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I love that song! Remember it? Air Supply…super corny (my favorite kind)…ultra romantic!

I’m guest blogging today over at Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs , and I’m trying to find out what you, the readers, need in a romance novel to convince you that what the hero and heroine feel is really True Love.

Is it just a matter of the author conveying the feelings clearly enough that you recognize them as love? Or do you have to see specific reasons why the two people are made for each other? Does the heroine have to offer something specific to the hero, and vice versa?

It’s a dilemma all writers face, and I’m eager to hear what you think!

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