Photo Journey: The University of Virginia Chapel and Alderman Library (Last in a series)

Ah, that beautiful February day in 2017 when I spend a leisurely afternoon strolling UVa’s Central Grounds. Previous blog posts have detailed the Rotunda – for this final one, I bring you photos from the Chapel and Alderman Library.

The front of UVa’s Chapel. Such a lovely building. Hubby and I married there in July of 1999!
The chapel from the east side.
Interior of the chapel from the back.
The chapel’s impressive and space-efficient organ pipes.
The gorgeous stained glass window at the back of the chapel.
One of the side sides of windows in the chapel.
Another side window.
More side windows.
I love stained glass windows.
Looking to the back of the chapel. Or maybe the front, I should say? This is the rear of the chapel, but near the entrance door…
And now the same rear shot with more light, so you can see the roof.
A view of Alderman Library from afar (it’s the building on the right in the distance). I spent many, many an hour in there.
The front of Alderman Library. Love the columns.
The plaque at the front. I sure would like to know more about the secret Seven Society, but alas, I was never a member.
The interior lobby of Alderman – which looks much different from 20 years ago in some ways, and the same in others. The computers in my day weren’t as fancy as these. 😉
And this cafe didn’t exist at all. This area to the left of the library entrance had study tables and chairs, and it’s the spot in which I watched my future husband walk into the library for the first time when we met for a lunch date in person after meeting online via Elvis.
The reference area in Alderman. How I love that checkerboard floor – and grad school friends and I spent LOTS of time in here.
Another view. It was quite the walk down memory lane to be in here again.
I wandered into the stacks – nothing like that old book smell – and found my carrel. This is it, with a view to the side.

“I want to go find my old study carrel on the fourth floor and see if Elvis is still carved in it. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

“Sure thing.” Eliza poked her. “I had no idea you were such a vandal.”

“I never said I did it.” Quirking an eyebrow at her friend, Cat added, “But I never said I didn’t.”

As Eliza headed toward the elevator, Cat walked back to the old side of the library. Passing through the metal doors, the familiar smell of timeworn books assailed her. She breathed in deeply. Geez, I’m as bad as my dad.

She moved through the stacks until she reached the spot in which she’d sat many an hour in school, reading Cicero while dreaming of a Romeo. Yeah, those days are long gone. She reached out and ran her finger along the bookshelf in her old carrel. Elvis was still inked across the edge of it.

“I have a sneaking suspicion you know who defaced this lovely university property,” drawled a voice from behind her.

From A Man of Character. Yup, this very spot in the photo above.

Giving a sense of the narrowness of the book aisles – and the spot in which Cat from A Man of Character had a little rendezvous…

And thus ended my tour of UVa. I hope you enjoyed the photos!

 

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! 

Publishers Weekly Reviews A Man of Character! (And they like it!)

*Squee!* Publishers Weekly, one of the foremost magazines in the publishing industry, reviewed A Man of Character in their March 6th edition
– and they LIKED it!

Forgive me while I run around the room like a crazy chicken,
but I’m so excited they selected my book to review (and gave it a thumbs up).
An author’s dream come true. 

Thank you, Publishers Weekly!

And thank YOU to all my readers who’ve told me how much they love my books. You rock my world, 100%.