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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Writer Wednesday: Meet Katie Baldwin!

Hello! Welcome back to Writer Wednesday! Did you notice we were on a bit of a hiatus? Sorry about that (stupid sickness), but all’s well now, and I’m glad you’re here for our weekly mini-interview with a fellow author.

This week it’s Katie Baldwin! Wahoo! Katie and I met through the Virginia Romance Writers, and let me say, she’s awesome. Full of pep and spunk and just a delight to be around – and her debut novel, A Kiss to Build A Dream On, debuts TODAY!

That’s right! Go scoop up a copy to help make the day truly special, will ya? And then settle in for a brief but blissful look into Katie’s life and her new book.

What inspires you to write?

A story, a weird thing someone told me, or just people watching at a cafe can start my mind going! I created “Kiss To Build a Dream On” because I received a gift from Russell Crowe after sending a fan note. He gave me chocolates, y’all!

Name two things people don’t know about you.

1. My first language was Portuguese (I lived in Brazil when I was a baby)

2. I trained to be an opera singer before moving on to writing. 

What one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?

Write every day. Even if you don’t feel like it! Even if Grimm is on and you really want to watch it! (or is that just me?) I struggle with the habit of writing every day now and if I had started that way, I’d be a lot further in my writing!

Also, don’t take rejection so hard. Everyone gets it and eventually, you will be a better writer and someone will notice! 

Which type of romance do you love most, and why?

I have a weakness for the insecure or wounded woman who doesn’t realize how strong she is until – through the process of the story – she sees her own strengths. I like the alpha to be very alpha but aware that wounded women need to grow by themselves and don’t need saving. 

A Bit About A Kiss To Build A Dream On

Bethany Michaels leads a fairly isolated existence, but she longs to be an outgoing and sexually confident woman. When her celebrity crush comes to town, and literally falls at her feet, her prayers seem to be answered. But can she protect her heart while still experiencing true passion?

Hollywood celebrity Aidan Shannon, drunk and lost in small-town Virginia, finds himself in the home of a beautiful woman, and he finds her more than just a little alluring. Bethany is voluptuous and nurturing, fragile, yet steely. And that is a problem for a man who never wants to be tied to another woman again.

Living in the now is good enough for Aidan and Bethany for the short term. When the universe steps in and shows them what’s important, will Aidan take a chance on love a second time around when his girl needs him?

Find it on Amazon!

A Bit About Katie:

Katie Baldwin has a secret life. During the day she is a mild-mannered administrator at a University. By night she writes fantastical tales of romance and mystery. When she is not pacing her home working out dialogue in her mind, she is baking scones and working out dialogue in her mind. Aside from writing, she has a ferocious passion for the Green Bay Packers and Nutella. She can be found on twitter waxing eloquently about all of her passions. Go Pack Go!

Want to connect further with Katie? Find her here:

Facebook | Twitter | Website  

Thanks so much for being here, Katie! And congratulations on your new release!

Writer Wednesday: Meeting Tina Susedik!

Happy #WriterWednesday!

We’re just a few days away from Christmas (for those who celebrate it), so I’m bringing you an early present in the form of a mini-interview with Tina Susedik, author of books “where love abides through time.” Wahoo! Who doesn’t want THAT?

So grab that hot chocolate, kick up the feet, and take a break with Tina and me. 🙂

What inspires you to write?

Just about everything inspires me to write. I can’t imagine what it would be like to travel, go out to dinner, go for a walk, take a shower, etc. without thinking about writing a story, or having story ideas come flying at me. I’ll have to live to be two hundred to write all the ideas I have.

What one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?

I wish I’d known how hard writing is. Not just writing the story, but the editing, editing, editing. Sometimes I’ve read my stories eight times before they go into print.

I also wish I’d known how hard it is to promote my work and how much I’d hate that part of the business.

Name two things people don’t know about you:

I’m also a photographer. I love taking pictures of old barns, birds, and nature. I also write under a pen name: Anita Kidesu.

One more thing: There is a scene in Never With a Rich Man that takes place in a restaurant. This scene actually happened to my (now husband) on our first date. Thankfully he asked me out again. The scene that follows, though, didn’t happen to us – we were only 18 at the time!

A Bit About Never With A Rich Man:

Cassie Jordan has been lied to, cheated on, and passed over for a promotion. All by men. She was tired of men. She didn’t need a man, and certainly not a rich man. Then she met Hogan Wynnters, and ordinary salesman – or so she thought.

Hogan Wynnters is part owner of a family business and has the kind of money Cassie despisese’s tired of women coming on to him because he’s rich. He decides to never tell a woman about his financial status until she gets to know him as a person. As an undercover FBI agent, he uses his knowledge of antiquities to find the people who are bringing stolen WWII artifacts into the country. Unfortunately, the woman he’s falling for is in the crosshairs of the FBI.

Can they work through their preconceived notions and find true love?

Find Never With A Rich Man on Amazon: https://amzn.com/B01MAXTN9A

TypewriterA Bit About Tina:

Tina has been married for over forty years and lives in northern Wisconsin. After careers in accounting and teaching (not necessarily at the same time), she found her career in writing is what fulfills her the most. Besides Romance, she writes children, military, and history books. When not writing, she loves camping, hiking, photography, reading and playing with her five grandchildren. She also writes as Anita Kidesu.

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, and PAN (Published Authors Network).

Want to connect further with Tina? Find her here! 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Pinterest

Thanks so much for joining us, Tina!

Writer Wednesday: Meet Adriana Anders!

adriananew1of1-copyWelcome to Writer Wednesday! It’s a cool fall morning here in Virginia, and I’m snuggled up in my new purple pajamas with a cat on my lap, pleased as punch to bring you the marvelous Adriana Anders.

I had the pleasure of meeting Adriana a few years ago at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, and immediately fell in love with her. She’s charming, personable, a little wicked and a whole lot of fun, and NOW she has her first book coming out – HOORAY!

So enough from me – let’s hear from Adriana a little about herself and her upcoming release, Under Her Skin.

Hi Margaret! Thank you so much for hosting me! [ML says: The pleasure is mine. Truly.]

Which type of romance do you love most and why?

Love and journalI adore romance where the characters seem irredeemable, at first. When a heroine or hero is so far from perfect that they have to work hard for their Happily Ever After, I’m happiest. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a master at this and I can’t get enough of her writing.

Tattooed muscular guyName one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book:

It’s amazing how much I’ve learned with every book I’ve written. Did you know that tattoo removal is much more painful that getting them done? And you’d be shocked by some of the things that people use for tattoo ink. One that shocked me: melted tires!

Heart shaped book pagesWhat fellow romance author do you recommend reading, and why?

Because I’ve never been able to stop at just one of anything, here are a few: Amanda Bouchet. Her brand new fantasy, A Promise of Fire, is a fabulous, epic adventure; Anne Calhoun, whose steamy, smart romances always force characters into the toughest situations before they’re allowed to be happy; and if you like sexy, tattooed rebels, try upcoming author Kasey Lane. Beautiful Crazy is out in November and her books are as hot as they come.

female hands with small red heartWhat’s your favorite romance novel of all time and why?

I have a new favorite romance every month. However, my current obsession is with Susanna Kearsley, whose The Winter Sea is as beautiful as they come. It’s lyrical, emotional, and a little bit tragic, which is pretty much my happy place!

under-her-skin-copyA Bit About Under Her Skin (Blank Canvas Book 1):

Her Body is His Canvas

A darkly possessive relationship has left Uma alone and on the run. Beneath her drab clothing, she hides a terrible secret—proof of her abuse, tattooed onto her skin in a lurid reminder of everything she’s survived.

Caught between a brutal past and an uncertain future, Uma’s reluctant to bare herself to anyone…much less a rough ex-con whose rage drives him in ways she can’t possibly understand. But beneath his frightening exterior, Ivan is gentle. Warm. Compassionate. And just as determined to heal Uma’s broken heart as he is to destroy the monster who left his mark scrawled across the delicate tapestry of her skin.

Pre-order Under Her Skin: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Vintage TypewriterA Bit About Adriana:

Adriana has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small non-profits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children, and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, emotional love stories of her heart.

Adriana loves to hear from readers! Sign up for the latest freebies, giveaways and general tomfoolery or keep up with what’s happening on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest – or on her blogs at www.adrianaanders.com and www.booksmarttarts.com

Thanks so much for hanging with me today, Adriana! (Can’t wait to do it again in real life!)

Writer Wednesday: Meet J. Arlene Culiner!

jill-culiner2baWelcome to Writer Wednesday, that glorious day of the week where we shine the spotlight on a fellow author. We’re so glad you popped in to share it with us.

Today our mini interview features J. Arlene Culiner, author of quirky characters, great romance, and engaging stories! What’s better than that?

Enjoy getting to know J. Arlene and her writing better, and please, leave some love in the comments!

Creative WritingWhat inspires you to write?

I love stories. I love telling them, hearing them. I love being a fly on the wall and watching other people’s stories unfold. And I love thoughts that begin with, “What if…”

sunset in heart handsWhich type of romance do you love most, and why?

I love romances that are realistic with older characters. I also like rebellious heroes and heroines, the ones who don’t have big fortunes or flashy cars and designer clothes but do things they’re passionate about. And of course the romances I really appreciate have to be well written.

Gobekli Tepe (Pot-belly Hill) is an archaeological siteName one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book:

I learned a lot about archaeology, of course, and I discovered that some very important sites are being deliberately destroyed, covered over by cement and buildings, all in the name of profit.

Name two things people don’t know about you:

I’ve crossed much of Europe on foot — most of the time on my own — and I worked as a translator in Turkey, just like the heroine of my latest release, The Turkish Affair.

Fireworks DisplayWhat one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?

Know that writing and trying to find a publisher or an agent can be heartbreaking. Therefore, you have to take care of yourself, congratulating yourself when you’ve achieved a goal, no matter how small: meeting your word count goal; finishing a story; writing one scene beautifully; sending out queries. Give yourself presents, even little ones like a good cup of coffee and feel proud.

turkishaffairA Bit About The Turkish Affair

Danger at the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu:

A top-notch Washington journalist before a liaison with the wrong man implicated her in scandal, Anne Pierson has been hiding in backwoods Turkey and working as a translator. She’s determined to keep her past a secret, to avoid personal relationships. But after meeting Renaud Townsend, her discreet little world is turned upside down.

Archaeologist Renaud Townsend is troubled by Anne Pierson’s refusal to talk about her past, but instinct tells him he can rely on her. Or is it only desire speaking? A lusty love affair for the duration of the summer dig is a very appealing idea.

When Anne’s bad reputation links her to stolen artifacts and murder, the budding romance with Renaud comes to a halt. If they learn to trust one another, her name can be cleared. But is there still enough intensity to give love a second chance?

Published by Crimson Romance

Find The Turkish Affair here:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books

TypewriterA Bit About J. Arlene:

Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to public dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She works as an actress, a photographer, a contemporary artist, a musician, writes mysteries, history books and perfectly believable romances. Her heroines are funny and gutsy; her heroes, dashingly lovable; and all are (proudly) over the age of forty.

Want to connect further with J. Arlene?

Website | Anecdotes Blog | J. Arlene’s Blog | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks so much for being here today, J. Arlene – I’m glad you could be a part of Writer Wednesday