Photo Journey: Outside the UVa Rotunda & The Colonnade Club (pt 3 in a series)

Part 3 of my photo journey of UVa’s central grounds. All photos taken February, 2017, in remembrance of my grad school days and to show places that appear in my Magic of Love series.

Looking at the Rotunda from the west side of the Lawn.
Looking at a Pavilion from the Rotunda’s patio.

Continue reading Photo Journey: Outside the UVa Rotunda & The Colonnade Club (pt 3 in a series)

Why I Write Romance

Don’t tell my mom, but I started reading romance at the age of ten. I’d worked my way through all of the children’s books available in the local bookmobile, so I turned to the adult section, where I spied a book with a woman in a flowing green dress on the cover. The back said something about a pirate. I was hooked from that moment on (and still wish I could remember the name of that fateful book!).

As a teenager addicted to historical romance novels, I often had to defend my reading material of choice, even writing an essay for my tenth grade English class explaining my love for the genre: I read romance, because no matter what happens (and some pretty crazy things happen), you know those two people are going to end up together.

For this anxiety-prone child of divorce, that was the ultimate comfort, the idea that two flawed people could encounter all sorts of obstacles and still stay together, still find everlasting love.

As to why I write it? Because as an adult, I continue to seek that comfort, that security, that promise every day. Also, I’m a bit of a control freak. Plus, I really love witty repartee between characters. So an encouraging, reassuring story (with funny/witty parts, or so I hope) dictated entirely by me? Sign me up!

Romance provides escape, yes, but it also provides hope, and reminders that no matter what obstacles may come, Happy Ever After might be just around the corner. I hope my books entertain, amuse, and give that sense of hope, that sense of promise we all need, that second chances are possible, and that when life seems its bleakest, a new chapter might be waiting to be written. Gosh, that’s super-corny, but it’s true.

Writing, I’ve learned, also allows me to explore my own thoughts and beliefs through watching/learning what my characters do.

In A Man of Character, I examined the ideas of fantasy versus reality, perhaps in part because people have long challenged romance as presenting impossible ideals.

In A Matter of Time, I delved into whether feminism is compatible with wanting to prioritize love and marriage. (For the record, I am an ardent feminist who happens to be madly in love with my husband and who finds my identity in that relationship, and I’m good with that. So my answer to that question is a resounding yes.)

In A Scandalous Matter, I switched up the feminist theme by asking if romantic relationships negate individual independence, through the eyes of a heroine and hero who believe the two ideas are incompatible. (Spoiler alert: I disagree.)

And in my forthcoming The Demon Duke, admittedly a bit of a Beauty and the Beast story (my favorite Disney tale!) I looked at how we judge others and how we judge ourselves, and how we must make peace with who we are before we can be truly happy.

In each of my books, a main theme is finding one’s place in the world. How ironic that in becoming a writer, I’ve finally done just that. I know where I belong now, where my heart feels happiest, and it’s in writing romance.

I’ve come full circle, and I’m incredibly blessed.

Now, to you: What makes YOU read (or write) romance? I’d love to know! 


An earlier version of this blog post appeared on Tina Glasneck’s Celebrate With A Book site. I’m grateful to her for being fine with me posting it here, as well.

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Photo Journey: The University of Virginia’s Rotunda (pt 2 of a series)

Taking a much-needed break from editing The Demon Duke to bring you an image-heavy post about the stunning interior of the University of Virginia’s Rotunda.

This is the second in a series photo-documenting my visit to UVA on a delightful but cold February day, 2017. I hope you enjoy!

Have you been there? Share your experiences in the comments!

The basement entrance (from the south looking north). Perhaps not the most glamorous place to start, but it’s where I’ve always gone in, and it seems fitting to begin at the bottom, as the building only gets more glorious as you go up. Plus that bell is cool.
The basement room on the right (east) houses a display about the Rotunda, giving you information on its uses and adventures over the years.

Continue reading Photo Journey: The University of Virginia’s Rotunda (pt 2 of a series)

Photo Journey: A Walk Around UVA’s Academical Village (pt 1 of a series)

On a sunny but brisk day in February, 2017, I headed to Charlottesville, Virginia, to tour the newly renovated (and utterly gorgeous) University of Virginia Rotunda. I’ve loved UVA since my grad school days there and spent a pleasant few hours of snapping photos of places near and dear to my heart.

Two of the novels in my Magic of Love seriesA Man of Character and A Scandalous Matter, are set in C’ville (as the locals call it), and university spots feature prominently in the action. Just for the fun of it, I’ve included quotes from my books relating to certain pictures. Enjoy!

Because of the large number of photos, I’m breaking this up into a series of blog posts, so do come back for interior views of the Rotunda, the UVa Chapel, and Alderman library.


Newcomb Hall – location of The Pav dining services, where my grad school friends and I spent more than a pretty penny on food to fuel our long study sessions.
Monroe Hall – I never went in this building, though it’s directly across from Alderman Library. But it’s a great example of the architecture.
Another shot showcasing the architecture. Columns abound. As do old, old trees.

Those instantly recognizable serpentine walls that enclose the delightful gardens along the back of the Academical Village.
One of the many gardens.

From A Man of Character: “They lapsed into easy conversation, talking about favorite places in Charlottesville. He was fond of Jefferson’s gardens on the UVa grounds; she confessed she enjoyed sitting on the downtown pedestrian mall to people-watch when she got a chance.”

A view of the UVA Lawn looking south (away from the Rotunda). I walked through here nearly every day while in grad school. At the far end is Old Cabell Hall, where I had many of my classes.
A close-up of the student rooms along the Lawn. I never could decide if I’d want to live in one: on the one hand, they were quite prestigious, and you lived right on that marvelous Lawn. On the other, because they are so old, they do not have central heat (hence the firewood outside the doors, to fuel the fireplaces within). Or a bathroom – you have to walk to communal ones behind the row of rooms. I never had the choice, though; they’re reserved for senior undergrads. 

From A Scandalous Matter: “She strolled along the colonnades, passing numerous doors. Once, a young woman exited one, giving Amara a glimpse of a bed inside. Students lived here?”

Another shot looking south, this time showing the western side of the Lawn.

Now looking north – there’s the Rotunda! It was almost strange to see it so open-looking after it’d been under renovation wraps for several years.

 

A 360 degree view of The Lawn.
http://360.io/w35QFM

 

Just another beautiful day on UVA Grounds. I had fun imagining the couple strolling there might be Matthew and Amara from A Scandalous Matter. “Amara ambled around the wide green expanse, not wanting to leave. The solid, white columns, the long black window shutters, the whole atmosphere of this central area reminded her enough of her century that homesickness unfurled through her.”
And then it was on to the Rotunda itself…here’s the view of the South Side.

From A Man of Character: “Reaching the south side Rotunda steps, Ben stopped for a moment to look down the expanse of the Lawn. “Isn’t it breathtaking?” he said. Cat nodded. It truly was a gorgeous sight, one she’d taken for granted, having lived in Charlottesville for so long.”

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode: The Rotunda! 

Turning Up The Heat in A Scandalous Matter

ASM3DMy darling husband reads every one of my books – just once, right before publication, to help ensure I haven’t missed any egregious typos or made any other noticeable boo-boos. I love him for that (well, and for a zillion other reasons).

Last night, he finished A Scandalous Matter. When I asked him what he thought, his first response was, “It’s more explicit than the first two.”

I laughed. Partly out of nervousness – was that a good or a bad thing? Then I defended: “Yes, it is, a little, but that’s because of who the characters are, who the heroine is.”

And that’s the truth.

In fact, A Scandalous Matter‘s Amara Mattersley sprang out of my desire to create a heroine quite different from A Man of Character‘s Catherine Schreiber and A Matter of Time‘s Eliza James in regards to sex.

Both Cat and Eliza are a bit more conservative, for lack of a better term, in their approach. I hate to use that word, as it implies a judgment I don’t feel – if you can think of a better one, let me know! What I mean by it, is they’re not interested in sex for sex’s sake; Eliza, especially, can’t and doesn’t want to separate the emotional from the physical.

That was easy to write, because that’s how I am.

A Man of Character and A Matter of TimeBut as I was crafting A Man of Character and A Matter of Time and I realized Eliza’s view on physical pleasure just for the fun it was a basic, “No, thank you,” I thought to myself, “What would it be like to write a heroine more driven by physical desire? Who only wants the sex, and not the emotional attachment?”

I didn’t want readers to think, via Cat and Eliza, I was implying that such an approach to sexuality was wrong. I believe women can and should choose for themselves (as long as they’re being honest with themselves and not bowing to pressure or judgments from anyone else in either direction). If they want to wait until marriage to have sex, fine. If they want to have casual encounters, fine (but be safe!). If they choose somewhere in between, or their views evolve and change, more power to them. I know where I fall on that continuum, but I’m not going to say where anyone else should.

Thus, Amara was born, showing up as quite the spitfire as Deveric’s sister in A Matter of Time.

Of course, in truth, as I got to know her better, it became clear she was much more than her initial impression. That there were reasons behind her behavior – major hurts to overcome. And as A Scandalous Matter unfolds, emotions definitely come into play – I am a romance writer, after all, with a firm belief in love.

Insta1But I also made it clear physical passion has always driven Amara. Not necessarily an easy thing to deal with for a high-born woman raised in an era with fairly stringent expectations in regards to women’s sexual purity.

In real history, of course, tales abound of women engaging in scandalous affairs and all of that – I know the past is never as “pure” as many of us try to make it (thank you, Victorian ideals!). But by and large, the expectations Amara Mattersley faced in 1813 when it came to sex and sexuality were far different from 2016.

And therein lies part of her inner conflict.

And mine, in writing. This book is somewhat steamier (though not as steamy as many romances – I don’t want to raise expectations in the opposite direction! There’s still plenty going on outside of the bedroom). Will my audience be okay with that? I hope so.

Once you’ve read it, you tell me. 🙂