09/22/18 – Dianne Drake

Friday, September 21, 2018

Guiding Stars of Inspiration #amwriting #scifi #fantasy

I don't know if being a book worm made English Literature at school not only easier but interesting to me, or if I was lucky with the books assigned to us. I was already a fan of fantasy and scifi, though I would read pretty much anything including things from my parent's bookshelves that were totally unsuitable for my age. But I even enjoyed Shakespeare, mostly loathed by my classmates (and my kids!). In my first year at secondary school (age 11-15), we were assigned Jane Eyre (which I enjoyed) but also A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. I loved it, and I think the almost poetic style (not quite as heavy as Tolkien) is what went on to influence my own style (which my editor described as lyrical). It also confirmed my favourite kind of hero: quiet, talented and tortured.
At this stage I'd found my home in fantasy - Terry Brooks, David Eddings, JRR Tolkien, Barry Hughhart, Terry Pratchett, and so on. In year four we got an anthology of science fiction edited by Brian Aldiss - heaven for me! Even WW2 thriller Rogue Male and a weird play about murder and intrigue in an all boys school were a delight to me. I'd also moved towards scifi and become an avid fan of Anne McCaffrey, which put the final seal on my preference for what is now referred to as science fantasy, but with a romantic soul. I'd picked up a Star Trek book by Janet Kagan simply for the feline alien on the cover (Uhura's Song), Drowntide by Sydney J. Van Scyoc (another book which reading back now I realize influenced not just my leading hero Keir but my apparent love for marine planets), and more sea in Mirage by Louise Cooper (I also loved her Time Master trilogy).
But it was in 2009 on completing what became my debut novel that I found more recent authors to inspire me. Hunting for an agent prompted me to find other published works to compare my own to. Googling scifi with a medieval setting led me to Jaine Fenn and her Hidden Empire books. Psi powers mixed with old Earth myths in a far future setting? Perfect.
Since then I've discovered many friends and peers also writing scifi romance where I can happily lose myself (and you can find my favourites on my Goodreads shelves HERE).
And while I can't claim to come anywhere near the standard of my latest writing heroine, finding elements I love and parallels to what I enjoy writing gave me that little bit more confidence in my own work.
I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and supernatural stories with a romantic soul. I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the books and authors that have shaped me as a reader and a writer.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

What's Good is bad and what's bad is good....

This month's topic had really thinking... So many things inspire/influence me...for example....

Does this really need explaining??? Plot bunnies are wile

Beauty is always inspiring

Doughnuts... my life source :-)

Walking trees anyone?

But when it comes to people influencing me things become very foggy

I mean people who love me and honestly want the best for me have really crushed my dreams. When I was young (like still in my 20's) I had 2 babies and was trying the college thing on for size. I was in an English class. I wrote a paper. The teacher asked me to stay after... Then asked me if the school could use the paper in the sample book they printed every three years of how to write certain style.

This simple thing validated my secret dream of being a writer. I was so excited I went home and called my grandmother. Told her I was going to be a writer. To this day I remember her words - "How are you going to feed those babies? It's time to firmly plant your feet."  My grandmother loved me...wanted the best for me yet she crushed my dreams and it was years and years before I ever wrote again.

Then my kids were in their late teen/early twenties (they could feed themselves) and I brushed my dream off... I drew a deep breath and started to write.

I joined an on-line critique group. Overall, it was a middle of the road experience...BUT I found a fellow writer just beginning her journey. Rebecca Royce has been such a positive influence, a compassionate ear, and cheerleader better than any Dallas Cowboy cheerleader.

She always listens and does her very best to help me. In a business where authors don't always play nice...and we often are secluded from the 'real' world as we live our dream, I have a person who truly sprinkles the fairy dust on my dream.

Thank you Rebecca!

Here's a sneak teaser at my upcoming release...

Thanks for stopping by! And I'll see you next month... 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

50 Shades of Influence

Like it loathe it. Have read it or wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. Fifty Shades of Grey might have been just another erotic romance novel - until it became a publishing phenomenon. It can't be denied that EL James' trilogy created controversy and conversation, and if that's not influence, what is?

The 50 Shades books got people talking. Not since the first Harry Potter had there been such global discourse among writers and readers. And people who were neither.

Erotic romance had already been on a steady upward popularity trajectory before Christian Grey burst on to the scene. With the arrival of digital books women (and yes I'll generalize about the readership) could read saucy, spicy or downright erotic stories on the privacy of their e-reader or Ipads. They could indulge their totally normal interest and fascination with sex in relationships without displaying the distinctive covers that would give away the content. They could avoid the judgement that had been liberally poured on women wanting to firstly read romance, and secondly romance that had some, or a lot, of sex.

For a lot of people, getting into 50 Shades was the first time they'd read a book in a long time. Whether the book that did that was good, bad or just ordinary, if it got people back into reading then EL James' influence is a hugely positive thing.

50 Shades started its life as a digital book with a 'print on demand' option. It's hard to determine why or what pushed 50 Shades into the stratosphere of book sales and subsequently being picked up by a big name publisher, but EL James certainly pushed the door  of acceptance of erotic romance (and BDSM romance in particular) open a lot further than it had ever been.

To quote Maxim Jakubowski (editor of the Mammoth Book of Erotic Romance and Domination) : 'It was the year it (erotic romance) moved from a relatively confidential corner of the bookstores and shelves to a wider and surprising appreciation and acceptance by the reading public'. 

Whether people had read it or not, it was talked about. BDSM was talked about. A topic that everyone knew existed, and had previously been something that was maybe giggled about or relegated as just a weird kink, was now openly discussed. And discussion about controversial topics is a good thing. Those who actually live the lifestyle were commenting on the authenticity of the way it was being depicted and with the discussion, showing that it wasn't just something written about in books. It  was a lifestyle choice. Anyone who might have harbored BDSM fantasies could now see everyday people talking about it and living it and have access to legitimate information.

Naturally with such a controversial topic there was also a negative point of view, one that the books did nothing but romanticise violence against women, that they send the wrong message. Particularly now, in light of the subsequent 'me too' movement. There was also the point of view from many in the writing community that the books were poorly written.

And then there are the millions who loved the books and subsequent movies. 

EL James wrote about love within a specific lifestyle choice. Whether she wrote it well, or wrote it accurately has been debated but that an author can create such wide and varied opinions is huge. As the saying goes, it doesn't matter what they say about you as long as they spell your name.

No matter which side of the fence you sit on, as a writer, reader or just an observer, with regards to her work, Ms James has certainly put her mark on the world, and as a writer of erotic romance I'm happy that her books have introduced more readers to the genre.

Find out what Andra's up to on her website.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A sneak peak at my upcoming holiday romance by Kristin Wallace

Launching a new book never gets old. There is always a buzz of excitement and nerves with each one, even after more than 15 books. This month will see the launch of my latest release, a sweet contemporary holiday romance. It’s part of a holiday box set, Sweet Christmas Kisses 5, which will be here on September 25th and it's on sale for only 99 cents!

My contribution is SECOND CHANCE CHRISTMAS, which is part of a new trilogy in my Palm Cove Tales series. It’s the follow-up to The Heiress Games trilogy, which launched this spring. This tale features desperate single mom, Mia Reynolds, the cousin of security expert Damon Grant (who appeared in the Heiress Games books). Mia has been hiding a very big secret about her daughter and now the truth is about to be revealed. 

Second Chance Christmas
A Palm Cove Tale

Ten years ago, Mia Reynolds and Winthrop Barrington spent one magical Christmas together. Until lies and manipulation at the hands of Win’s wealthy family tore them apart and left Mia to raise her daughter Riley on her own. Now, both of them have returned to their hometown of Palm Cove, Florida. Once they uncover the truth about what happened, can Mia and Win rediscover the love they once lost and celebrate a Second Chance Christmas with their daughter?

Here’s a fun excerpt giving you a peak at the moment Mia and Win come face to face for the first time…

Mia eventually left Damon and her daughter Riley, who were hanging up posters in her new room, while she went back to get the last box from her car. 
Serena Douglas met her at the bottom of the stairs. “Oh, you haven’t changed yet?”
            Mia frowned. “Why would I change now? I’ve been moving and there’s still a lot to sort out.”
“Yes, but you can’t conduct an interview looking like that.” Serena wrinkled her nose. “Not the best first impression.”
Mia gaped in astonishment. “What interview?”
“For your new job, of course.” Serena smiled as though she’d done the world a favor.
“What new job?” Mia looked over at her sister for an explanation, since Serena seemed to be speaking in code.
Chloe grinned. “She has a great opportunity lined up for you.”
“She does?” Mia swiveled back toward Serena. “You do?”
“An old friend of mine recently moved back to town to take over his family’s company and he’s in need of a new executive assistant,” Serena said. “The previous one who worked for his grandfather retired, too.”
“And he’s willing to hire me, just like that? No interview or anything?” Mia asked, amazed that a job offer was being laid out on the table so easily. Even more amazing, the job offer came courtesy of Serena Douglas. “Why are you so willing to help me anyway?”
“Why shouldn’t I help you?”
Because it was Serena Douglas, and she never went out of her way to do anything nice. 
Her sister seemed to understand what Mia was thinking because Chloe sidled closer. “I know it’s weird, but just go with it.”
Serena looked over at her. “Why is my job offer weird?”
“You’re not exactly known for your charitable nature,” Chloe said, her voice full of sarcasm.
Serena straightened, her “off with their heads” look in full force. “I’m workingon that, all right?”
Chloe grinned and shook her head. “I know, but you’re gonna have to give the rest of us time to catch up to the new you.”
“This is what I get for trying to be nice,” Serena murmured, before turning to Mia. “Listen, the job offer is real, and yes, he’s willing to hire you. Actually, Win said he knew you, and wanted to help out.”
Mia almost fell over. “Win? As in Winthrop Barrington?”
Serena stared at her in confusion. “Yes, that’s right. You know him? Well, of course, you probably do know who he is. The Barringtons are one of the most prominent families in town. His grandmother’s family is just as important.”
Panic gripped her like a vise. Win Barrington was living in Palm Cove again? He was supposed to be working for some big corporation in New York. That was the only reason she’d agreed to move back home. “I can’t work for him.” 
“Well, why not?” Serena began to look insulted. “You have an objection to a regular paycheck?”
Chloe put a hand on Mia’s arm. “Honey, calm down. Win is a pretty decent guy, for a North-sider, and you know Barrington Enterprises is stable. It’s been around forever.”
“No, you don’t understand,” Mia said. “He’s not supposed to be in Palm Cove anymore.”
“Why do you care if Win Barrington lives here?” Chloe asked. 
“Yes, I don’t know why you’re freaking out,” Serena said. “Anyway, it’s a little late to protest now. He’ll be here any minute to discuss the job.”
This could not be happening. In town less than a day and already disaster was striking. “No, no, no, no!”
The bell above the door jingled and a tall, dark-haired man in an expensive-looking suit strolled into the bakery. Familiar blue-green eyes found hers and the room spun.
“You!” she breathed.
He gave a half-smile and a shrug. “Hello Mia.”

Sweet Christmas Kisses 5…9 holiday tales for only 99 cents!

Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 brings you contemporary romances that celebrate the joy of the season around the world, including snowy Maine and the sun-kissed skies of Florida, the mountains of Colorado to small-town Illinois and Virginia, New York to San Francisco, and even the glittering lights of Paris and the old-world charm of Florence. The Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 bundle features all-new, standalone novellas that will make you smile and warm your heart with the Christmas spirit. 

Pre-order your box set for only 99 cents today!

AMAZON     /       ITUNES      /    BARNES & NOBLE      /    KOBO

Kristin Wallaceis a USA Today bestselling author of inspirational and sweet contemporary romance filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of 3 popular series, Covington Falls ChroniclesShellwater Key Tales and The Heiress Games (Palm Cove Tales). For more info on her books visit Kristin Wallace Author.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Susan Carlisle, Harlequin Medical Romance Author

“I’m Susan Carlisle, and I write medical romances for Harlequin.”

“Are you in the medical field?” I’m often asked after my introduction.

I answer, “No, I’m not a doctor or a nurse and I don’t play either on TV but I sure know a lot of them.”
Since I was a teen I have read Harlequin books and many of them were medicals. When I started writing a friend told me that Harlequin was looking for authors to write medicals and that I should try writing for them.

Since I have a son who received a heart transplant twenty-seven years ago I have a little knowledge of the medical field. (Today, he is twenty-nine and doing great.) So I wrote what I knew. My first book was about a woman with a young son who needed a new heart and the surgeon who saw to it that he got it. The rest is history. I have now written twenty-three medical romances. My latest will be out in November.

I really enjoy writing medicals and never lack for storylines. I love writing the drama of the medical side but foremost my books are about the romance between the characters. It is easy for me to get caught up in a book.
Some books are more of a challenge in the medical area than others. Simple stuff like a sprained ankle is easy. Most of us have that type of first-aid in our heads. When I am unsure I can usually find a source who is more than willing to help me. I once asked my son’s heart surgeon a simple question and he came back with a page worth of information. I couldn’t use it all in that book so I saved it and used it in another.

My current book in progress is about hemophilia. I knew little about it so I talked to a friend whose son has the disease and he shared his son’s trials. I was amazed at what these people live with every day. Through this book I hope I can educate others about hemophilia, share some insight. Again my book are romances with a happily-ever-after ending but it doesn’t hurt for the reader to learn something along the way. 

While my family was on a skiing vacation I interviewed the woman who headed the Safety Patrol. She spent over an hour sharing with me what she did and how the system worked during a medical emergency. Two years later I returned and gave her a copy of the book I had written from what she had told me. She was thrilled.
Moments like that are some of my greatest joys as an author. I love it when people are excited about getting my books, and it is even better when they love what they have read and want more. That is the highest praise an author can receive. I take great pleasure in making others happier through reading one of my books.

I’m honored and tickled to be a medical romance writer. I’m still amazed daily that I am.    

Visit Susan's Website

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Writers of Influence by Lynn Lovegreen

There are so many ways to define a writer of influence. I love reading authors in different genres, and often try to emulate them in elements of their writing craft. But today I’ll talk about a few writers who I admire for walking their talk and living up to their ideals. They influence me to try to do the same in my own writing life.

The first is one of our own Genreistas, B. A. Binns. While B. A. is a talented author of middle grade and young adult novels, she also shares her expertise in writing diverse characters through teaching workshops in the subject and honoring diverse authors at events like Romance Slam Jam. Learn more about her at

Another is author Cynthia Leitich Smith. She is a children’s and YA author, and her website is full of great resources including topics like “Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s and Young Adult Books” and “Free Speech, Censorship, and the Right to Read.” She also gives shout outs to diverse books and authors on her Twitter account.

A third is Alaskan author Dana Stabenow. She is best known for her 31 novels. After several years of success, she recalled her influential experience at a writer’s retreat and decided to pay it forward by creating the Storyknife Writers Retreat, where women writers can create in a peaceful, inspirational setting. Learn more about this at  

All of these writers (and others I don’t have room to mention here) share their hearts and minds through their writing, and also through their actions. I want to be like them. My advocacy for libraries and my blog theme #Let’sThinkAbout Critical Thinking is a start. I hope I can refine my mission and techniques by following these masters of influence.

Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for almost fifty years. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Nobody's Perfect

Hi everyone! 

I am YA, and now MG author Barbara Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. My tagline tells you what I am about - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.  My debut middle grade novel, Courage, was recently published by Harper Collins.

My first book was published nine years ago (where has the time gone?) Pull won a Reader’s Choice award, and was a finalist in the Reveal Your Inner Vixen contest. Pull garnered good review from Kirkus and School Library Journal and several other professional reviewers.

But one reviewer noted there was an unresolved subplot. I was mortified. I reread the book a dozen times trying to find what plot line was left dangling. Every book I have written since then (Being God, Minority Of One, and now Courage) had me going over every subplot with a microscope to be sure I never made a horrible mistake like that again.

Right now I am racing to a deadline on a new story. I've also been victimized by writer’s block for several weeks. The source of my block was another review, only this one was not from a stranger. It came from a member of the librarian community, someone whose blog I have read and whose recommendations I have trusted for years. I actually put an ARC for Courage in her hands and asked her to read and review when we met at a conference over the winter. Mind you, I didn’t expect a mind-blowingly awesome recommendation. I simply thought she would be fair. What I didn't expect was that she would write falsehoods about the content of Courage.

I teach a class on diversity and inclusive writing.  I begin a new session next month. So I was horrified when her review accused me of creating a stereotypical Asian tiger mother. I actually doubted myself for a moment.

Then I remembered, there are zero Asian women in the pages of my book. Black women, white women, but not a single Asian women. The mother in question is a white, over-enthusiastic soccer-type mom, or, in the case of Courage, a pool mom.

The reviewer made an honest mistake, I told myself. She goes through so many books, she somehow mixed mine up with another. So, even thought I have been told to never have respond to reviews, I did the unthinkable and wrote to explain the mother was not Asian, her heritage is described on page 20. I felt good, until I saw that she “fixed” things by adding a note admitting the mother was not Asian, but then accusing me of turning her adopted Filipino son into a stereotyped super-Asian kid. He was, she proclaimed, the only Asian in the book and illustrated the dangers of the “single story.”

Well, he is adopted and from the Philippines. But he is not the only Asian in my story. He is also not a superkid, just an 11-year-old diving student who wants to improve. Taking one last chance, I reminded her that there is more than one Asian in Courage. She changed her comment to admit that, while he was one of many, he was still an example of the single story AND a represented an attempt to use a checklist to to insert diverse characters to make a story commercial.

I bowed my head and licked my wounds. I sank like the Titanic, into an ocean-deep funk, knowing that the Internet is forever and that people would read her and believe I had written stereotypes. Never mind that anyone who read the book first would know she was wrong. Those who read her blog first wouldn't touch my book, ever.  I had a meeting with my critique partner last week, and had to struggle to think of anything to say about my WIP – the one with that deadline approaching. My mind just wasn't there.

My new story involves magical realism, and includes one ghost (and the danger of that single story looms again). The ghost sends some modern kids back in time, then reverses things and brings a kid from the past into the present. Frankly, after the review turmoil, I simply couldn’t think straight, much less deal with a couple of time paradoxes.

At least now I can cease worrying about that forgotten subplot. I’m ready to cease trying to fix a problem that probably never existed outside one reviewer's mind.

I’ve stopped worrying about this issue as well. I've heard from too many other people about Courage. This coming Sunday (September 16) I will be one of the featured authors at the Chicago Children’s book fair. I’ve also been asked to speak at the Illinois Library Association Conference on the subject of invisible populations and how librarians can reach out to them. And just yesterday I was asked to participate in an Illinois Youth Literature festival in 2019. These invitations come from people who believe in the way I strive for diversity and inclusion in my stories for children.

My block has cracked, and my ghost is ready to fit on the page.

PS, At least this has given me a new anecdote to relate to my diverse writing class next month, what happens when you do things right and readers still see a distorted picture in their minds. If you are interested in taking the class, you can find out more at

As a reward for reading this, if you sign up for the class you get a 10% reduction, just for mentioning this post. This online class  begins October 1. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Heroes and Heartbreak

by Madelle Morgan

 As I do every year on September 11, I think about true life heroes.

On this day seventeen years ago, one of the worst tragedies of the twenty-first century unfolded.

The sacrifices of so many courageous men and women on that terrible day are not forgotten. We owe them gratitude that we can only repay by striving to live up to their high standard of selflessness and courage.

The Oxford dictionary defines “hero” as:

1. A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

2. The chief male character in a book, play, or film, who is typically identified with good qualities, and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.

The first definition relates to a person in real life. The second relates to the fictional hero in a novel. A romance author is in a unique position to merge the two definitions of hero in her characters.

Fictional Heroes as Role Models

We authors can give our fictional characters courage and other noble qualities, thereby reinforcing in stories the high standard of behavior to which we can all aspire.

Our fictional heroes are often flawed and wounded, just like real people. In our stories, love heals the wounded hero. The romance describes the hero’s path to healing and happiness. Romance novels thus resonate with and inspire many readers, giving hope that they too can similarly deserve and achieve healing and happiness.

Real Life Heroes

We all have heroes in our lives. Members of the military, first responders—firefighters, emergency medical teams, police officers—and others in service to the rest of us are heroes. In fact I dedicated my most recent novel to them. (The dog in that book is a hero too!)

But heroes have many other professions and roles in our lives. Heroes come in all sizes, ages, shapes and genders:

  • Caregivers.
  • Teachers who guide us to be our best selves.
  • Scientists who discover cures for deadly diseases.
  • Volunteers in our communities.
  • People who stand up to bullies.
  • People who devote their lives and resources to helping the less fortunate, animals, or other good causes.

    You can add to this partial list the heroes in your life.

    Each person can step forward and make a difference.

    In fact, every ordinary person who makes the world a better place is a hero. A person doesn’t have to win the admiration of thousands in order to be a hero. Unsung heroes may never win awards or be officially recognized for their efforts. It does not diminish their personal achievements.

    Please take a moment to honor the heroes who gave their lives on September 11, 2001 while attempting to save others.


    Connect with Madelle on her website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Wattpad

    Madelle writes romance set in Canada. Find all her books on

    Sunday, September 9, 2018

    Lara Lacombe Writes "Romance with a Scientific Twist"


    Thanks so much for having me on the blog today!  I always love talking about two of my favorite things: romance novels and science!

    I started out my professional life as a scientist—I actually have a doctorate in immunology and infectious diseases, and I’ve worked in labs all over the country doing biomedical research.  

    With such a ‘serious’ day job, I turned to romance novels as a way to escape and unwind after a long day in the lab.  Gradually, I began to think up stories of my own.  You’ve probably heard the adage, “Write what you know.”  In my case, what I knew was biomedical science.
    I love to write about heroines who work in the medicine, or in some type of scientific field.  It’s fun to incorporate interesting details about their job, and I try very hard to keep things as realistic as possible.  Obviously, I’m not a medical doctor.  But my brother is, so I frequently pester him with questions about procedures, drug dosages, even something as simple as the type of phrases doctors and nurses would use in a given situation.  Nothing pulls me out of a novel faster than an obvious inaccuracy, so it’s important to me to stay as true to life as possible.  I have been known to take a few fictional liberties for the sake of the story, but hopefully readers will forgive me!

    If you enjoy medical romantic suspense, I’ve written several books that feature a heroine who is a doctor or biomedical scientist.  My first book, Deadly Contact, features a microbiologist who must work with an FBI agent to prevent a bioterrorism attack in Washington, D.C.

    In Lethal Lies, an ER physician is kidnapped by a desperate undercover FBI agent who needs her help as he faces down a deadly street gang.

    Finally, my Doctors in Danger trilogy is jam-packed with action and suspense!  In the first book, Enticed by the Operative, a plastic surgeon and DEA agent work to outsmart a drug cartel in the jungle of Colombia.  In Dr. Do or Die, an epidemiologist (disease detective) from the CDC is sent to Antarctica to help the doctor on the research base stop an outbreak in its tracks.  And in the third book, Her Lieutenant Protector, a cruise ship doctor teams up with the head of security to prevent a dirty bomb attack in New York City.

    For a full list of my books, please visit my blog (   You can also find me on Facebook ( or follow me on BookBub to get notified of my new releases (
    At any rate, I hope you ‘see’ you around the web soon!

    Bio: Lara Lacombe is a recovering research scientist turned college professor who now spends her days writing and wrangling a toddler. She lives in Texas with her family and two entitled cats, and loves chocolate and her Crock Pot. She uses Facebook to procrastinate--stop by Lara Lacombe Books if you'd like to chat!

    Friday, September 7, 2018

    Romance Authors Helped Me Through Tough Times

    Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual practices that nourish the soul and celebrates the journey from relationship to romance.

    I’d never really read romance novels until the summer of 1997. Oh, it isn’t that I’d never seen one, one of my aunts was an avid reader of Danielle Steele.
    However the summer of 1997 my dad had exploratory surgery. Sitting in the hospital waiting for the surgeon to advise us as to the outcome, I needed something to distract me other than a Tom Clancy or psych-thriller-type book.
    The hospital gift shop had Nora Roberts’ books and, while I don’t remember the title, I never looked back. You see, even though the surgeon said the operation was a success and the cancer had been removed, that wasn’t true.
    When my dad’s balance went and his eye-sight was affected and the headaches relentlessly pounded, my mom relented and let me make an appointment to see an oncologist.
    By this time it was too late. Over the next months, I spent hours with my dad at doctor appointments and while he had radiation treatments. Where was my mom? Her grief over losing her soul mate, her life partner for almost 60 years took a massive toll on her health. So much so, we weren’t sure she’d survive.
    Trade paperbacks by Nora, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jo Beverley and a myriad others easily tucked into my purse. One was always on hand to distract me while waiting.
    And that’s how my path to writing romance started. I read, immersed myself in the stories knowing that a happily-ever-after waited for me on the last page, while knowing a happily-ever-after was not waiting for me in my real life.
    My dad died March 8, 1998. I was invited to join Wild Women Writers in December 1999. Originally I was going to take a personal growth program I’d developed in the early 1980’s and turn it into a book. I dithered around with that project for a year and then the magic happened.
    I started remembering dreams, having day dreams, hearing voices of women who wanted me to tell their stories. They each wanted a happily-ever-after and were positive I was the only one who could write about them. All those hours of escaping into the pages of romance novels rushed back. I put the personal growth book away and started writing down the visions and voices that would not leave me alone.
    Would I be a romance author now if not for all those books I read in hospital rooms and doctor’s offices? Read at night or when I couldn’t sleep in an effort to push away the darkness of grief at losing my dad?
    Would I have taken the plunge if I hadn’t had these books in my hands?
    I don’t think so.
    While I’m no Nora or Susan or Jo, if one reader benefits from my books like I did from theirs, then I’m happy.
    After working in social services for fifty or so years, one thing I know is this truth: We never know the impact we have on others. We never know if something we’ve said or written or done will change someone’s life.
    What I also know is true is that when we move forward in our lives with love in our hearts and our deeds, we do no harm. And what better caveat than that – we send love into the world and did no harm.
    Learn more about Judith's The Sacred Women’s Circle series at

    Follow Judith on Twitter: JudithAshley19

    Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

    You can also find Judith on FB! 

    © 2018 Judith Ashley

    Thursday, September 6, 2018

    Romance Authors are Writers of Influence by Dora Bramden

    This months topic of writers of influence got me thinking about how many writers have influenced me. One thing they have in common is that they wrote romance, relationship stories with a happy ending.

    The romance genre was once overlooked as having cultural influence. Probably due to it being written mainly by women but also because it appealed most to women. But that is precisely the reason it should be given credit. Male historians weren’t so interested in social change outside of war and politics. But now women historians are asking questions that pertain to the lives of the female role models and people of note. Also, romance writers have an impact, on the women who read them, their family life, roles in the workplace and their roles of responsibility in general.

    While the male gender had for so many years dominated what women read about themselves,  the rise of female romance authors changed that. They started telling stories with female main characters that shaped their world and made life better for themselves and the community around them.
    Women reading these stories saw heroines proactively participating. Powerful and making things happen. Female characters modeled empowering behavior in the books women read.

    Change is slow, and I know there isn’t really a direct link that I can point to, but the rise in women’s power came when they started to take their place among the ranks of working men. Jane Austen was a Vicar’s daughter and never expected to earn money. But in publishing her stories, she gained some independence and a voice through her novels.

    Because her letters to her sister were published, we have been given an insight into her attitudes toward society, and it’s inequities. In her life she chose to reject marriage as an institution, refusing to wed without love. She wouldn’t give up her independence because society told her that was her only way of having success.

    This has enabled us to see that those views paralleled in her works of fiction. Elizabeth Bennet refused Mr. Darcy’s first marriage proposal because she wouldn’t give in to societies pressure to marry for security alone. It had to be a marriage that gave her something more substantial. It had to be about love.

    Romance as a genre has traditionally been a male and a female who look to form a loving relationship. This has been the same since  Charlotte Brontë, published Jane Eyre under the pen name "Currer Bell," in 1847. Jane was dependent on her circumstances, however, was never subservient. She used every bit of power available to her to be self-determining. The pay off was a  happy ending with the man she loved. This was a time when women were expected to be little more than a helpmate for a man and to provide him with children. She saves Mr. Rothschild from a lonely existence.

    Since those early days, when women often chose to publish under a male name so that they’d be taken seriously, we have come a long way in the quest for rights for women. We are now sitting in the houses of parliament and running countries. It’s not hard to imagine Jane Eyre stepping up should the occasion arise for her to use her power of intellect for the good of all.

    Over the last couple of centuries, romance novels have continued to keep pace with women’s empowerment. Romance novels now contain women in roles that give men a challenge intellectually.
    A favorite novel, ‘The Accidental Tourist’ by Anne Tyler is a masterpiece.  Muriel is a dog trainer who takes Macon’s dog in hand and teaches him to respect her. Although she is poor, she’s extremely resourceful. When Muriel and Macon fall in love, he thinks they’re too different. Muriel finds a way to show Macon that she’s the right person for him. She follows him on a trip to Paris. He’s amazed and can’t work out how Muriel has managed it. She goes over her elaborate arrangements with him, including calling in favors and doing trades. This teaches him to respect her and her talent for making things happen.

    A recently published romance called ‘In At The Deep End’ by Penelope Janu has a heroine,  Harry, who has been strong enough to keep alive the foundation set up by her environmentalist parents, even though she was orphaned when a teenager. Her love interest arrives in the shape of a Per, navy man who wants to conduct important scientific research in the Antarctic. He wants to bark orders and have Harry fall into line, but she’s never going to do that. She wants to back his research and works to make his expedition a reality, but she does it her way. She earns his respect and grows through knowing him. It’s the way relationships should work. It models men and women as equals, working together. Each has to adjust their attitudes so that they can become a united couple.

    I could cite many more romance writers that use the critical ingredient women having an equal footing with men, pursuing their dream job and being proactive and capable but I don’t have space to do them justice in this blog. Safe to say, regarding women in literature being depicted as intelligent, active human beings, romance writers are continuing to inspire and model feminine strength to readers. 

    Dora Bramden writes contemporary romance.
    Find out more about Dora Bramden and her books on her Amazon Author Page
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