Posts tagged with: finding joy

Read a Romance Book Month

RARM picWelcome, weekend! And welcome to an event you as a writer (or a reader) will love – NPR’s annual Read a Romance Month!

What’s RARM? Well, it’s a fabulous month of interviews, giveaways and celebration all for the wondrous beauty of something that gives you laughter, tears and a happily ever after – the romance book! (you can read more at Read A Romance Month)

This year’s theme centers on the joy romance brings, and I noticed that lovely Ruby Vivi Andrews blogged recently on protecting the joy. As I dwell on this theme of joy, I realized that it’s more and more difficult to protect our daily dose of joy in this world full of pins ready to burst our proverbial bubble. Reality ain’t easy. Reality is dog vomit, overdue bills, no gas station in sight and an extra pound on the bathroom scales. I don’t know about you, but helping my kid with his math homework and weeding the flowerbeds do not inspire joy. Neither do the heaps of laundry and the carpool line. See, the stuff we do day in and day out can nick away at the joy in our lives leaving us at the end of a busy week too tired to think straight much less go out searching for a fill up of joy. So how do we refill our wells?

Well, there are lots of ways – yoga, a nice bottle of wine, a good movie or a feel good book.

Ah, a feel good book? And what particular book can deliver exactly what you’re looking for?

Of course. The romance book.

Sometimes I get angry at how dismissive people can be when it comes to romance. Some call it fluff, others call it porn, and others call it trashy. I call it joy.

Nothing makes me sigh like finishing a good romance book. Nothing makes me look at my husband through a warm fuzzy lens like a good romance book. Nothing makes me determined to be proactive, considerate, aware or motivated like a good romance book. As an author, nothing makes me want to write a good book like reading another stellar romance book. In essence when I sit down with a good book, I’m filling myself up. It’s a time for me to do something I love so I can make it through all the meetings, grocery store lines and back to school events without having a break down or choking my child.

So do us all a favor and find your joy…through the pages of a romance. It’s much cheaper than therapy and the side effect is love.

Need recommendations? I have them. There are several lovely writers here at the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood. I loved Laura Archer’s Bared to the Viscount, a lusty romp through Regency England, and Lizzie Shane has a wonderful reality TV based contemporary set of romances, starting with Marrying Mr. Perfect. Vanessa Barneveld has a quirky YA romance called This is Your Afterlife and…..I could write a book on how many awesome books the Rubies have written. Take a peek up top of the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood and click on a book cover. You’ll find your joy there.

RARM also has a Q&A session with guest authors so the below are about me (if you want a peek into my weird little world)

1 – Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy.

More recently, it’s getting the call I finaled in the RITAs. I won’t go through the whole thing with you, but I will say that the honor of being nominated was much needed in my career. The writing business is such a tough business and that particular shot of confidence helped me revisualize who I am and who I could be in the future.

2 – Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

Hands down, my favorite place that gives me joy and peace is my camp on Lake Caddo. It’s so earthy and peaceful and allows me to power down and be in the moment. There’s something about that quiet joy that allows you to know exactly who you are.

3 – Tell us about a sound that brings you joy (or a memory attached to sound — music, laughter, wind chimes… ?)

The sound of my dogs playing. I love watching them, smiling as they chase one another. Sounds silly, huh? But watch dogs (or any animals) at play and try not to smile. You can’t. It’s pure fun because they are lost in the moment of play. Their heavy breathing, yips and chuffs as they bound through the tall grass, jump into the lake and wrestle beneath our big oak make me so happy.

4 – 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?

There are so many, but recently my neighbor brought over a stack of books (as if I don’t have enough!) and on top was Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter. I started the first page and couldn’t put it down. It was poignant, had a heroine you can cheer for and the hero – can we say young, hot, Hawaiian surfer? Um, yeah. It was good.

5 – And for fun, the joy of choice ;o) ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

I’m going with Chris Pratt because while he’s cute and funny, I see him having a deepness he likely protects. I love a guy who is light and goofy on the outside, but strong and still on the inside. I’m guessing this about him….or fantasizing it J

Thank you to Lorelei Lit Lair for recommending me to participate. You can read Lorelei’s essay at Read a Romance Month today!


To celebrate romance this month, I’m doing a giveaway! Leave a comment telling me about a day in your life of complete joy, and I’ll choose one winner to receive all three of my Magnolia Bend books. US or Canada winners only.


Give Me Just One Reason

Ah, as I pen this post I’m surrounded by the sights, smells and sounds of the holiday season.

Several weeks ago my husband and I climbed into the attic and trudged down with a bajillion boxes of Christmas decorations. There were wreaths, two trees, outside lights, centerpieces, stockings and fancy trappings of a holiday that seems to expand more and more each year. I dutifully fluffed branches, refastened glittering bows and searched for those darn ornament hooks (where DO those suckers disappear to every year?) And after a day and a half -and several trips to Lowes – I had festive, warm holiday décor from the guest bath to the front door. Christmas candles flickered almost in tune with the music streaming into the house via satellite radio. All was perfect, all was bright.

Except I felt nothing warm and festive.

In fact I actually had the thought (a very grinchy thought) that I wish Christmas wouldn’t come at all this year.

Yeah. First time EVER in my life I wished Christmas would have blown past without even honking its horn or tossing out a single gift.

Bah, humbug couldn’t touch what I felt. I wasn’t a Scrooge or a Grinch…or was I? I weathered the office party thrown at our house, bought all the Christmas gifts and wrapped them and still…nothing. I made gingerbread houses with the kids and faked the Christmas spirit the entire time, humming along to Bing and saying things like “Isn’t this fun?” But thing was…it wasn’t. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me (and I won’t delve into my spiritual life because I KNOW very well what the true meaning of Christmas is). Was I tired? Had I finally grown up? Or maybe all the crap of Christmas blocked the joy for me.

I didn’t know.

Now, I know you’re thinking to yourself that this is supposed to be about writing. I’ll get there eventually, but first you have to hold on a bit more.

So this past weekend, I volunteered to take my 14 year old son and several of his friends down to New Orleans to see their high school play in the state football championship game. His historic high school has not been to the state championship in 51 years, so it was a big deal for the school. Almost everyone went down with cars painted purple and gold. Yellow Jackets were going to the Dome (Super Dome) and I was playing chaperone. And just like my attitude about Christmas, I was less than stoked. But I faked it. So we went to the game…and lost. And though I did enjoy cheering and wishing and praying the Jackets would pull off the upset, I wasn’t particularly emotional about the game. After very little sleep (did I mention five 14 year old boys?) we awoke and decided that before we headed home, we’d play a bit in the French Quarter. The day was cold but sunny, and after a terrific shrimp po’boy at Maspero’s and poking around the shops (and finding some cool historic NOLA t-shirts), we headed back to the ‘port (Shreveport). The five boys were in fine form, and -okay let me stop here and say this – my son has been particularly difficult lately. He’s been doing his whole independence thing which means he’s pretty much an ass most of the time. Those of you who have raised boys know this stage – they know everything, they disdain every suggestion you make and pretty much only need you when there are no more potato chips or they cut themselves shaving. So my former sweet-as-sugar, I-love-you-so-much-mommy boy has been not quite a horror show but close for the past five months. Okay, back to driving home. So we stopped and ate at Waffle House and after the boys got enough carbs and caffeine in their system, it was time to plug in the ox cord and sing.

Now this is totally crazy, but what happened over the next two hours changed my heart.

They started with regular teenage crap. You know, stuff that made me cringe. I had to decree no more music with the “F” word or one that called girls the word that rhymes with witch. And I didn’t care about freeing Lil Boosie. So then they moved on to Natasha Beddingfield. Yeah. They knew all the words. Then it was “Unwritten.” Honestly, I laughed till I cried. Then they went to John Denver’s “Country Road” and Celine Dion’s “The Heart Will Go On.” There was ecstatic moves to “All the Single Ladies” And as we exited off the interstate, finally home, they had saved the best song for last – “American Pie.” They knew ALL five minutes of the song.  It was several hours of sheer beauty. Not so great singing. But sheer wonderfulness.

And it was a good enough reason to have missed several hours of sleep, spent a couple hundo and failed at working on the novella I’d declared will be finished by Christmas.

Sometimes all we need is just one reason to smile. Just one reason to press on and to remember the good things in life…and in writing.

Writing is hard enough without worrying about the business of writing. If sitting down and writing a book that has great characterization, controlled pacing, brilliant plotting and hooks at the end of each chapter is hard, then releasing the book into the cold bitch world of publishing is the devil. You can control nothing and sometimes you feel as though you are washed up against rocks, your forehead tapping a rhythm against the wet sand. It’s hard and sometimes you wonder “Why am I doing this?” or you think “Why bother?”

But all you really need is one good reason. Maybe it’s cathartic and the only validation you need is the beauty of your own words. Or maybe it’s a contest final just when you wanted to trash the sonofabitch manuscript and call it quits. Or maybe it’s a reader letter that says just the right thing. Or a call from your agent telling you the editor wants to see the rest of the book. Or maybe its getting that first contract. Whatever it is, we writers exists for that one little reason to keep tapping away like a woodpecker on crack, creating, pouring our hearts into something worthwhile.

It’s a stretch. I know. Five kids singing “Drove my Chevy to the levee” made me feel good things were possible. Made me laugh. Made me look through the rain-spotted windshield and see the Christmas lights strung across houses in a different light. Perhaps it’s silly, but it was reason enough.

And, really, that all you need – just one reason to write your story today. Find that reason….and if you want me to send some silly 14 year old boys up to sing Cher (yeah, they did “Do You Believe in Love” too) I can arrange it for a fee.

Wishing you a happy holiday…and wishing you a bit of joy in the midst of the chaos!


The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: I love this! I learned this fairly early as well. I also learned that sometimes I just have too many...
  • Heather McCollum: Thanks, Jenn! I forgot that you are also a free lance editor! Do you do both developmental and line...
  • Jennifer Bray-Weber: Very sound advice, Heather. I have done the same technique and often recommended it to some of...
  • Darynda Jones: Bwahahaha! I was so wondering where that was going! Did NOT see that coming. Great job, Evelyn!
  • April Mitchell: Congratulations Bonnie!