I’m celebrating the month of August by joining dozens of romance authors for the Read a Romance Month event. I am honored to be invited to participate by Lorelei’s Lit Lair and Bobbi Dumas, writer for NPR and Kirkus reviews. (Follow the links to find them on FB). If there were ever two super fans of romance, it would be Lorelei and Bobbi. They have been amazing advocates of the genre, and if an author is lucky enough to show up on their radar and they enjoy your books well enough, they'll shout about it to the rooftops and beyond! Thanks for including me, Lorelei and Bobbi!
Our theme, The Joy of Romance is a topic near and dear to my heart. Specifically, teen romance. Because I love the thrill of first loves, awkward “almost” moments, and those emotional roller coaster rides that teens call “relationships,” I read—and write—YA lit.
Like many YA authors, I fell into reading about teen romance with the Twilight saga. Bella and Edward captured the hearts of teen readers (and many adult fans) who latched on to their quest for that promise of eternal love. Nothing is more compelling for lovers of romance than the thought that love conquers all—even death. Romeo and Juliet anyone? Thanks to the heroes and heroines of a thousand romance novels, we all crave the idea of a happily ever after and the possibility of finding a soul mate to spend our lives with—if not our eternity.
What I enjoy most about writing YA fiction is the ability to impart some wisdom and understanding in a way that doesn’t feel preachy. Teens can identify with the plight of the characters in my books and are allowed to see how they work through their problems, hopefully reaching a conclusion for themselves about what works and what doesn’t in relationships. I believe adults enjoy YA romance for the same reason. They know that hindsight is 20/20, can see the error of the protagonist’s ways, and can’t wait to watch them evolve into a more mature person by story’s end. They also get to experience all those firsts again without the actual drama, LOL.
In spite of the inherent angst, YA romance is more about the journey to a “hopefully" rather than a "happily ever after.” Since most real life teen romances last about as long as a Taylor Swift song, teens read more for the “idea” of a lasting love or the mechanics of how it works. We don’t expect our teen characters to marry and ride off into the sunset at the end of the book, but teen readers want to understand this crazy law of attraction and the ins and outs of negotiating the fundamentals of first love amid family drama and acne. The hormonal upheaval, the torturous moments waiting by the phone, and the ever-present insecurities that plague every teenager with the question…am I worthy of being loved, drives readers to voraciously devour teen romance novels.
Hopefully, what they get from these books, is the concept that they were worthy all along and that the love of another does NOT define them. The days of the damsel are happily over! The teens of today love kick-butt heroines and flawed heroes, as do adult readers. With so many fabulous YA novels to choose from, readers are bound to get the message that they can do or be whatever they want and that love and romance is simply the icing on the cake.
Stop by Lorelei's Lit Lair to read a lovely post about her journey to falling in love with romance and how one romance author changed her life!
1 - Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy.
I “practice” joy every day, so coming up with one moment is challenging. I say practice because sometimes it’s easy to lose our joy beneath the day to day struggles and worries that weigh us down. It takes effort to put aside the negativity and focus on the beauty of life. I find joy in the smallest things. A toad in my garden, a hummingbird floating around my petunia basket, and the incredible smile of my fifteen month old granddaughter. Spending time with her brings me countless moments of joy and even when I am alone floating on a still water pond in my kayak, I am easily overcome with the sheer bliss of sharing in the abundance of nature.
2 - Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.
Sitting in my garden reading a good book is probably the closest thing to Heaven on Earth for me. Whether I’m being entertained by dragonflies, bumblebees, or by the memorable characters in a sweet romance, I am never alone there.
3 - Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.
I love to sing, and thankfully, I’m lucky enough to be able to carry a tune that has a pleasant sound, so I can often be found singing or humming throughout my workday. Here's a sample if you're interested:
The only thing that lifts my spirit more is my granddaughter’s sweet smile and making her giggle—even if it requires that I make ridiculous faces.
4 - What recent book have you read that brought you joy. Why?
I love Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series. I know those books are fraught with calamity (poor Jamie and Claire), but they are also riddled with beautiful moments of love and redemption that move me to tears and call me to re-read those books again and again. Gabaldon's descriptions and prose leap off the page for me and make me want to be a better writer.
5 - And for fun, the joy of choice.
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!)
Any one of these Chris’s would make my list for handsome and talented men, but to break from the crowd, I’ll say Chris Meloni. I still miss him as Elliot Stabler on Law & Order SVU. He played that character brilliantly!
And those steely blue eyes made him the inspiration for a villain in FINDING HOPE, my WIP about kidnap survivor Brinn Hathaway, who helps the FBI on a case that stirs painful memories and drags her back into the line of fire. This upcoming NA Romantic Suspense novella is based on HOLT Medallion winner, SAVAGE CINDERELLA. I'm hoping to have it out by November!
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I’ll be giving away an e-copy of The Girls of Thompson Lake Box set, which includes my YA Romances, HEAVEN is for HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and PIECES of LOVE. The set also includes SAMI's CHRISTMAS WISH LIST, a novella that ties all the characters into one sweet holiday story. Just leave a comment and let me know you’re interested and you’ll be added to the drawing. A winner will be randomly chosen at the end of August and announced here on my blog. Drawing ends September 1st at midnight.
Author and book recommendations
My latest favorite YA authors are:
Huntley Fitzpatrick-MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE, and THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO
Patty Blount-SOME BOYS
Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls Series isn’t romance, but it’s a blast and well written. I highly recommend it for young teen readers.
Award winning author of young adult books, including PIECES of LOVE, HEAVEN is for HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and Holt Medallion winner SAVAGE CINDERELLA, PJ Sharon loves writing for teens and teens at heart. Her latest work, HEALING WATERS, completes The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a YA dystopian trilogy that RT Book Reviews calls “An action-packed read with a strong female lead.”
In her “real life” job as a Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Yogi, PJ has been called “a powerhouse of positivity and productivity.” Her mantra is “find balance in all things, and live every day to the fullest.” A black belt in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate, avid kayaker, and singer of Italian art songs, PJ has two grown sons and lives with her brilliant engineer of a husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA where she writes YA…because every teen deserves a hopefully ever after.