Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Read A Romance Month

NOTE: I'm running this same blog on my personal site today, but figured it never hurts to cover more ground. 

August is Read A Romance Month and I was fortunate enough to be asked to take part in telling readers, or anyone interested, why romance matters. Where do I begin?

I can't remember how I got my hands on my first romance. No one in my house was a reader outside of the Reader's Digest and the newspaper. My mother didn't have them hanging around the house, but I managed to find one somewhere. I was 13 (or thereabouts) and life wasn't exactly wonderful. There were three adults, three kids, a dog, and probably a parakeet at the time, all living in a two bedroom, one bath, one level home.

Lack of privacy or even sanity is not conducive to a young girl smacking headlong into puberty. But when I had my nose in a book, I wasn't cooped up in that house. I wasn't bored in the suburbs, lamenting my crooked teeth, baby fat, and ugly clothes. Oh no. In the pages of a romance, I traveled the world. The Wild West, the antebellum South, the English countryside and ballrooms. I stood against the wind in the Highlands, and danced uninhibited through Versailles.

There was a world out there, with space and beauty and people falling in love. Those books became my life lines. Flash forward to senior year of high school. Life had turned topsy-turvy. My living situation had changed, but I was still a social outcast in school. Every ounce of determination in my body was focused on getting out of that town and taking life into my own hands.

The waiting might have done me in until I found a romance novel by Judith McNaught. I know some of her earlier work is controversial these days, but epics like Kingdom of Dreams, Whitney My Love, and all her other books got me through high school alive. (I read them as they were released, so that tells you how long ago this was.)

I'm not really a drama queen, and I've never been prone to depression, but I remember how miserable and unhappy I was. Those books kept me going. They helped me believe it was worth holding on until I could break free. They made me laugh and cry and sigh with longing and satisfaction. They saved my life.

I've leaned on romance novels quite often since those rough teenage years. When the baby wouldn't sleep. When the marriage fell apart. When it seemed like the whole world was against me. Or even just when I was really happy. And now, writing my own novels has saved me again in more ways than I could ever explain here.

If my books could do for even one person what romance novels have done for me over the years, then I will have done something truly important in this life. I want to thank Julia London for sharing my name for this wonderful appreciation event. And Ms. McNaught, whom I hope to one day thank in person.

Romance novels matter, because they showed me that I matter.

Now to lighten things up with some fun questions:
What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?
Unfortunately, my house is the ugliest thing in my house right now. 2012 is what I refer to as the water curse year. The water heater flooded the living room in January, then in late summer, both a pipe under the house and the drain on the AC system clogged. In less than nine months, I lost all flooring in the bottom floor and have been living on concrete ever since. Not pretty. But I have big plans, and by this time next year, my house is going to look amazing.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?) Excellent question! For the title, I'll go with something a friend asked me recently. "How Are You Not On Prozac?" Now, who would play me? I'd like to say some gorgeous and tall like Charlize Theron, but could never type that with a straight face. I'll go with Melanie Lynskey, best known for playing Rose on Two And A Half Men.

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?
When I was about twenty years old, my first ever boss, who was an amazing woman, gave me a glass card. It's very simple, with flowers painted on the clear glass, and says "If you look far enough... You'll find what you seek." I have always treasured this gift. Twenty years and three states later, I found my calling in romance novels. I guess the card was right.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)
This one is easy, since I only have one book available. As to other novels, it's a tough choice between Bet Me and Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. In my opinion, these two titles are perfectly written. I'd also have to give an honorable mention to Ain't She Sweet from Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Over the years, I've forget full plots of books I've loved, but Ain't She Sweet stays with me.

Now, how would you answer that last question? If you've never read a romance, are you willing to try one? And don't forget to follow along on the Read A Romance Month website. There are 93 authors participating throughout the month, talking about what romance novels mean to them.


Marnee Bailey said...

I love this. A great tribute to the romance genre in general. :)

What book would I recommend? I love love love Paradise and Perfect by Judith McNaught. I've read these books over and over, especially Perfect. To me they have great character depth and huge stakes. Wonderful.

MsHellion said...

I felt like I was at one of those RWA conferences speeches...I see this as a keynote speech in Terri's future.

What book would I recommend? Depending on the person I was recommending to: NIGHT PLEASURES, Sherrilyn Kenyon; THE BEST MAN, Kristan Higgins; or THE GIFT, Julie Garwood.

Terri Osburn said...

Julie Garwood is a must. And I can't believe I didn't mention LaVyrle Spencer. The Hellion, Years, Morning Glories. Oh, how I wish she'd return to writing.

MsHellion said...

OMG, MORNING GLORY! BEST. BOOK. EVER! My friend Pam would never read romances. Hated them--not sure why, but she just couldn't get into them. But someone at her work gave her a LaVyrle Spencer book and the woman was hooked. Now she'll read quite a few different authors--and loves Sherrilyn Kenyon. *LOL* But it was really, really cool to bond with her finally over LS, even if I was jealous that I wasn't the one who could persuade her.

Terri Osburn said...

I'm sure that still irks you today. LOL! I tried for years to get my mother and sister to read romances. My sister finally caved with a Nora Roberts. Now she reads non-stop. My mother was a tougher nut to crack, but she also reads them non-stop these days.

And that reminds me, I was supposed to send books home with her a couple weeks ago. Dang it, I forgot.

Terri Osburn said...

I just realized there's a store where you can buy Romance Rocks kind of stuff. T-shirts, mugs, totes, and more. I might get the Romance Matters sticker to put on my laptop.

Check it out >

Janga said...

Terri, I love the post. I agree with Hellie that this is keynote material.

I'm assuming that I'm recommending these romance novels to my non-romance reading friends. I'd recommend Mary Balogh's The Famous Heroine to those who love to laugh, Mary Jo Putney's The China Bride to those who like a touch of the exotic, Eloisa James's A Kiss at Midnight to those who think romance can't be feminist, Jennifer Crusie's Maybe This Time to those who think there's no connection between romance fiction and canonical texts, and Ruth Wind's In the Midnight Rain to those who like books with music and books that are music.

Terri Osburn said...

Thank you, Janga. (And Hellie!) I cringe at the idea of giving a speech, but I'd happily introduce a litany of speakers. LOL!

Those are great recommendations. It does depend on to whom we are giving the recommendation. Love the description "...books that are music." That book definitely is.

MsHellion said...

Of course, it still irks me today. But the happiness that she's finally won over to the dark side and we can now dish romance and casting calls for favorite books outweighs the grumbling, mostly. You know, because I'm still right.

You like speaking in front of audiences. You say so all the time! You'd be great. Also it would probably be your major guarantee all the pirates would have to show at the same time.

Terri Osburn said...

I hadn't thought of that! Yes. I will take one for the team if it means getting this entire crew in the same damn room. LOL!

Maureen said...

What couple from my books? Well, I'd have to go with Jake and Miranda. I'm having a scene acted out by a Mr. Casanova suitor at the Romance Novel Convention and the after-first-sex scene would be it. Funny, flirtatious, explains Miranda's power...Yup, that one.

Other book? Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. I still don't really understand why that book...Or the one with Fred, the Bassett hound.

Terri Osburn said...

Fred was in Anyone But You, but I think most people forget the title and remember Fred.

Are you really have a scene acted out??

Maureen said...

And yeah, you did have the water curse year...but maybe it was all symbolic of the benefits that would pour down on you THIS year!

Maureen said...

Yes, I'm really having a scene acted out. It's a promo thing and I went for it. It will be video taped and I get a copy for promo... I get to narrate and there will be a woman actor to play Miranda... ;-)

Every suitor gets a scene to act out...part of their soliciting votes from the attendees...

I read once where Crusie said everyone says Fred's book, but doesn't remember the title... Yup!

P. Kirby said...

This reminds me of a post over on Dear Author -yesterday? day before? -- titled "Why We Read" that touches on some of the points you made. Lately, because I am so fucking miserable with my job situation, books have become an essential coping mechanism. In fact, I've been sneaking reads all morning here at work.

Because...a good book, it's like therapy.

Terri Osburn said...

See? Pat just summed up everything I said here in 3 words. "'s like therapy." Exactly!

Sorry about the day job.

Di R said...

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

While not really crazy or ugly, the oddest object in my house would have to be a pipe lighter. I keep it because it belonged to my grandpa, he would light it just so I could blow it out.

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?
I’m guessing that my husband and kids don’t count :)
Hmm, I would have to say it is the unwavering support and encouragement from my family. They believed in me before I believed in me.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

A lot of my favorites have already been mentioned, but I might add Jill Shalvis, Kristan Higgins, Gena Showalter, and Shannon K. Butcher. (There are countless others.)


Terri Osburn said...

Excellent answers, Di! And you're right, this should probably be Read 100 Romance Novels Month. :)