"Written In My Own Heart's Blood" by Diana Gabaldon, coming June 10, 2014. Let me tell you why.
Throughout my life I have always loved romance books, starting with "Gone With the Wind" when I was 13. When I was in college, a roommate who worked at a big chain bookstore introduced me to Kathleen Woodiwiss ~ and my addiction was solidified. The Flame and the Flower, The Wolf and the Dove, Shanna, Ashes in the Wind, A Rose in Winter, Come Love a Stranger ~ I read them over and over.
But hubby and I had four children between 1979 and 1987, and the little stinkers expected to be fed and clothed and entertained. Daily. Gone were the late nights spent reading "one more chapter..." ~ and my reading habit was necessarily put on hold.
For twenty years.
Fast-forward to 2006, when my kids were grown and out of the house, and a pair of friends suggested I try reading Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series.
Hello again, my darling drug!
I read the first five 800+ page books ~ twice each ~ in three months. And then I read Diana's "Outlandish Companion," a book which set me on my own writing journey.
Let me be clear about one thing ~ Diana insists that her books are not "romance" books, and from a strict genre viewpoint, she's right. Even though the relationships, first between Jamie and Claire, and second between Brianna and Roger, are what drive us forward, her stories are much too dense to be so narrowly classified.
I loved them just the same.
Six months after I started writing, I was in a position to have Diana critique my work (in a small group intensive at a writers' conference). Even though I was making every newbie mistake in the book, Diana saw past the passive voice and head-hopping to the settling, characters, and conflict. Her advice to me that weekend changed my life.
I kept in contact with her after that, showing up at her Phoenix-area book-signings, and I accidentally crossed her path at several events. Each time, she was positive, encouraging, and "so proud" of the progress I was making in my fledgling career.
In fact, at the end of May Diana will be the keynote speaker at Buildin' the Dream, the author-focused counterpart to my Arizona Dreamin' romance reader event. She even said she was "honored" to be asked.
So in spite of Jamie Fraser's endless list of manly talents, Claire's undaunted determination to live two-hundred years in the past, and Brianna and Roger's struggles in the 20th century, I am hooked on the series not only because of the epic story lines, but because of the kindness and encouragement shown to me by a talented, famous, and internationally best-selling author.
This is a lesson that has not slipped by me. It’s one I hope to emulate throughout my career ~ no matter what levels I do, or do not, attain. That's why I do all that I do.