Category Archives: Romance

I have a confession to make…

I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. There. I said it. Out loud. That dirty, shivery feeling will pass in a moment. In the meantime, Lucy, let me ‘splain.

Frankie D is a romance junkie. No lie. When we were first married, he called his favorite category of movie “sexy comedy.” Now, he’s adopted a new favorite term. Rom-com. Don’t give him world powers and their intrigue, dystopia, or indie films about unlikeable characters doing unlikeable things. He loves a happily-ever-after wherein the problems encountered are either hilarious or of the romantic kind. Preferably both. If any Saturday Night Live alums appear, all the better. Don’t tell him I told you. Actually, you can. He loves his rom-coms and has no problem admitting it.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone, now, that the Hallmark Channel is his favorite for holiday fare. I’ve formerly refused to watch any of these movies. This year, we both need a bit of over-the-top schmaltz, so I relented. Some of them are cute. Some of them have me rolling my eyes. Some, laughing out loud and not in any way the writers meant for me to. Oy, many are just really, really bad, but having watched a few of these movies now, I’ve learned something. The writers know exactly what they’re doing. They’re giving the public what it wants, what it expects when they turn on a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Such viewers aren’t looking for Alistair Sims’ version of A Christmas Carol, or Bad Santa. They’re looking for a feel-good, over-the-top cute holiday romance complete with adorable kids, puppies, and the darling pair of lovers never angsting over one another for more than thirty seconds before the dilemma of the moment is resolved. They know the villain will get her comeuppance, and the girl’s going to win the guy. Mom’s cancer will go into remission, Dad will get an unexpected leave from the war overseas, and Rover will find his way home. The cheesier the dialog, the better. The acting is akin to the soap-opera kind. And I noticed something else–there is no actual chemistry between the romantic leads. Chemistry equates to sexual tension, and aside from that longed-for kiss, there will be no tension suggesting s-e-x. Deviating from this path is not an option. And it’s all very purposely done.

The writers and producers are marketing not just the movie, but the channel, and they’re doing a bang-up job. Are these movies great? Even memorable? No. They’re not meant to be. Like a fair amount of romance in general, it’s meant to be enjoyed and forgotten. Why? Because if you remembered it, you wouldn’t watch–or read–the next one exactly like it.

Sometimes, I’ll pick up a book and wonder how the hell it sold a gazillion copies. The answer is simple–it fills a need. I get it now. While I believe a steady diet of this sort of thing is frighteningly escapist, we all need a little something sweet once in a while. The part of me that feels dirty and shivery when she sits down with her Frankie D to watch one of these movies will get over her damn self and enjoy it. Thanks Hallmark Channel.

The 12 Dates of Christmas from ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas was really cute. Any favorite Holiday movies you care to share?

Mine? A Christmas Story, Trapped in Paradise, Scrooged, Bad Santa, Christmas Vacation, to name a few. Not a yearly must-watch but memorable movie is The Family Stone.



Filed under Romance

Cover Reveal: Dreaming August

Want to see the cover to the next book in The Bitterly Suite? Dreaming August will release in April, 2016. Here’s the “official” cover reveal.

This never gets old. It really doesn’t.


She should have been off-limits. After all, Benedetta “Benny” Grady is his best friend’s widow. But in the space of a whirlwind week, Daniel Greene went from strong shoulder to lean on to Benny’s ardent lover. Now Dan is determined to make Benny his bride. He hasn’t waited this long for love to let it get away so easily. But first, Benny has a few ghosts to contend with…

When Benny finds herself pregnant with Dan’s child, telling him should be easy. After all, she’s fallen hard for the wise-cracking bachelor. But how can she love another while remaining true to her late husband’s memory? Could the past hold the key to their future happiness?


Filed under Romance

Today’s the Day

Seeking Carolina is out in the world, to do whatever it’s going to do. I am over the moon. And that’s all I’m going to say. I’m just going to sigh serenely, and get back to writing.



Filed under Romance

Only one more week to go


Seeking Carolina releases one week from today. Despite everything else going on right now, the joy of this is overwhelming.

I’ve gotten a few early reviews, all of them good (so far!) but two reviewers were disappointed that it wasn’t what they consider contemporary romance. They found it more women’s fiction. I can see their point. Definitely. And yet, I feel that if my story were categorized women’s fiction, readers expecting it to be so would be just as disappointed. What I’ve discovered is that my work straddles a line. Yes, it’s contemporary romance. The story of two people and how they come together is the key element. Happily-ever-after is assured. And yet, Seeking Carolina is also, in equal measures, the story of four sisters, and how they come to terms with their past. So there’s a strong romantic element, that makes it women’s fiction, right?

What my work is, from Seeking Carolina to Dreaming August to Waking Savannah, is both. It has all the elements necessary to contemporary romance, as well as those elements expected in women’s fiction. But there is no marketing category for romantic women’s fiction, or women’s fiction romance. Maybe there will be a few more readers disappointed when they read my book, expecting something they didn’t get. But maybe, like several readers I’ve heard from so far, it’ll be more than they were expecting.

Here’s hoping, anyway.


Filed under Romance

Pulling Out the Positive

Those who know me know my past. I don’t make it a secret. I don’t wallow or dwell, though I can’t help but carry it with me every day. I do my best to honor it, honor him, accept and learn. It has shaped me as a person, as a writer, as a mother and wife. As a daughter and sister. Embracing the tragedy of my past rather than shunning it, I believe, gives me the freedom to be truly happy. We can’t hide from what has been. It is my devout belief that pulling a positive out of any negative lessens the impact and the power of any tragedy. I have pulled, and continue to  pull, positives out of every negative. The facets are as intriguing as they are beautiful. Maybe even divine.

Since the day he died, Brian has been part of every story I write in some way. Just now, I was working on Waking Savannah, and the absolute truth of that fact hit me right in the belly.

Slumping back in her chair, she blew out a deep breath. Drew in another. Let it go. If Benny and Johanna and half the town knew her story, she had been oblivious to it. No one brought it up, not even after her alter-ego became common knowledge. Conversation did not hush the moment she walked into a gathering.

It happened all the time after Brian died, whenever I walked into a room. All eyes turned to me, pitying and compassionate, and all conversation stopped. It never mattered if they were talking about me or not, because the result was the same. It hurt every time. I did not want to be identified as “that poor girl.” Years later, I would come to understand that from this negative, I pulled out the positive decision of not being her. I became the woman who survived, who thrived, who found happiness after grief. Brian’s children always knew him, and not because of tears and grief. He was Daddy-Brian, not just to his two biological children, but to the two kids I had with Frank. We remembered him with happiness, included him in our lives. How else does one honor the beloved deceased?

And still, that old feeling lingers to this day to a lesser degree, when someone first finds out I had a life before this one. That I was a wife and mother and widow before I turned twenty-two. The instant pity/compassion. The “that must have been really hard.” What does one say to that? “It was.” Plain and simple. But I always fluster, because that “poor girl” gets thrown off every time. “It was a long time ago.” “I try not to dwell.” “Shut the fuck up, you know nothing, Jon Snow.” Okay, so I don’t say the last one out loud, but sometimes…sometimes it’s hard not to lash out. I want to tell those kind souls who have no idea the nerve they’ve tapped not to look at me like that. I can’t stand the pity. I overcame my past to make a freaking amazing life. Don’t throw me back there again, dammit! Not even for a moment of heartfelt compassion.

Writing that line this morning really hit me, which is why I took a break from the story to write this post. I needed to get it out of my head. It’s not like I didn’t know I was writing this piece of myself into Savannah. Like all my characters, she has been a facet of me from inception. It was the visceral response I had to that bolded line above that got me, all these years later.

Unlike me, Savannah kept her past secret for many years, but will she continue along my path? Well, I know the answer to that; you’ll have to wait a year and five months. But I bet you can guess.


Filed under Romance, Writing is Life

Cover Reveal!

I’m just going to put this here and revel a moment…


Sigh…there they are–Charlie and Johanna, on the cover to my October 27, 2015 novel being published by Lyrical Press, an imprint of Kensington Publishing, Seeking Carolina. It does all a romance cover should do. The colors, the images make you want to pick it up, turn it over, read the blurb. What you do from there is up to you.

I’m just going to bask a while. There will be more in upcoming months, but for now…sigh…life sure is good.


Filed under Romance

Taking a Stand

Twice last week, friends alerted me to the Jodi Picoult article on Jezebel in which the fabulous lady lamented:

…Despite this success – 23 novels in 22 years, eight of which have been number one on the New York Times bestseller list – she struggles to be taken seriously. “I write women’s fiction,” she says, an ‘apparently’ hanging in the air. “And women’s fiction doesn’t mean that’s your audience. Unfortunately, it means you have lady parts.

Women’s fiction. What the fuck does that even mean? No, really. Does it mean literature for women? By women? Why does it need the “women’s” part added on, like a nurse who happens to be a man is always a “male nurse” and not just a nurse? Marketing, schmarketing. It perpetuates the notion that it’s something lesser. Ms. Picoult’s, The Storyteller is certaintly not “women’s fiction” any more than Lief Enger’s, Peace Like a River is YA or Nelson DeMille’s, Gold Coast is “men’s literature.” Oh, right–books written by men don’t get a designation. Men can write books about men, about women, about children with points-of-view from any or all and it’s just literature. A woman writes a book with a female protag and it’s automatically women’s fiction (or the dreaded “chick lit.”) If she writes a male point of view character, she generally writes under her initials, like the amazingly talented and recently lamented PD James. THEN it can be literature without the “women’s” tagged on.

I know there are exceptions, and I look forward to having them listed in comments. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand comes to mind, and yet when I began listing authors like Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver, I had to wonder if most of their titles would not be given the “women’s fiction” lable. But you know what–this is and is not the point of this post. What is my point?

heart2 <– That’s my point. I will admit, when I first latched on to the notion, it was funny to me on many levels. It still is. The more I embrace it, the more it is coming to mean to me. Why does the “women’s fiction or “chick lit” appellation bother amazing writers like Jodi Picoult? You know what I say to that?

Bring it on.

In my original post concerning this little button I had made, I quoted Eleanor Roosevelt–no one can make you feel inferior if you don’t let them. We are letting them, ladies. We are letting labels get under our skin and define what we do, and how we feel about it. You want to call my work “women’s fiction”? I’ll take that. I’ll own it. It’s an honor I am not going to feel lesser for and no one can make me. We have to stop buying into this. The labels stick and the connotation stands because we don’t embrace it as women, as female authors.

I do not advocate the “if you can’t beat them, join them,” mentality–ever; I do believe that if we allow the label “women’s fiction” to rankle, it’s always going to be seen as a lesser form of literature. Sometimes, to make a point, you have to go beyond debating rationally and do it up big–which is where “I write cliterature” comes in.

I have always felt that the best way to get a point across is with humor. People remember funny. It makes them think. “I write cliterature” is funny, but when shouted instead of giggled behind a hand, it says so much more.


Filed under Romance, Women's Issues

Why Romance?

I am a diehard fantasy fan. I read it. I write it. I watch it. I decorate my house with it. I tattoo it on my skin. My three published novels are fantasy, and I’ve another in the process. I also work as a fantasy editor with Hadley Rille Books. And yet the novel I just wrote and sold is romance (Seeking Carolina, Kensington/Lyrical. October 2015.) The one I am working on now is as well. The publisher releasing this book is best known as a publisher of romance.


Many of those who know me as a fantasy writer have expressed this, eyebrow raised–or, at least, I imagine so. These are the people I must now question whether or not they’ve actually read any of my work, because while it is most assuredly fantasy, it is also romance.

Traditional, HEA romance? No. Seeking Carolina does not fit the parameters of a strict romance either. The story itself focuses at least as much on four sisters as the romantic element. However, the story itself is heavily driven by the romance, as is Finder,  A Time Never Lived, and Beyond the Gate. Even my fairy tale, Jingle.

Life revolves around love. Romantic love. Familial love. Platonic love. Having it. Not having it. Wanting it. Avoiding it. Being hurt by it, bereft of it, in it. Love begins in a myriad of ways, but always ends in tears. At least, for one person, even if those tears are of releif. I cannot imagine a story without love at the core. I’m not saying that love and romance must be the focus of a story, or even exist as a plotline. But it’s there. It drives our characters. I would be interested to know if anyone can come up with a story not driven by love.

So when people ask me, “So…romance?” I am going to say, “Yes, romance,” and end it there. I’ve not abandoned fantasy for a more lucrative genre. I’ve been writing fantasy for…egads, twenty years now. It’s time for a little switch-up. Maybe I’ll find some new fans, and maybe–just maybe–they’ll read some of my fantasy work and realize, “Hey, I do like fantasy!”

But that’s a story for another time.


Filed under Romance