Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How romance novels changed my life

Regina's contest winner is Cynthia Eden! Regina's favorite male body part is his brain. Please email her at rita thedford (no spaces). Congrats!!

I have a secret to tell you. One I'm not very proud of, but hey, if I can't share my secrets with my fellow wicked writers and my wicked friends who can I share with? So, here goes...I used to be one of those people who scoffed at romance novels. Of course I'd never actually read one when I felt that way, but I was one of those people who "judged a book by it's cover". I had this picture in my mind of what romance novels were (which couldn't have been farther from the truth) and assumed that they weren't my thing. Now I realized I wasted a lot of time that could have been spent with a fantastic book in my hands!

It started with a move. My husband, daughter and I moved from a tiny town in Southern Oregon to Southern California. I went from a town where I knew EVERYONE to a town where I knew no one. I went from a full time, working mom to a stay at home mom and I was lonely. I loved spending the time with my daughter but I craved more adult contact. I'd always enjoyed reading but I wasn't the avid reader that I am now. On one of my boring days at home I picked up a Nicholas Sparks book, one I'd read before and one I truly enjoyed but this time, in the end I was a little bummed about because there wasn't an happily ever after. Sure the couple got together but after the fact the heroine died and that left me feeling more lonely than I did before. So, I loaded my kiddo into the car and made a trip to the bookstore and *gasp* headed straight for the romance section! I had no idea what to look for, what authors I might enjoy but I was determined to find what I needed. A happy ending. I ended up going home with, A Soft Place to Fall by Barbara Bretton and guess what? I LOVED the book. It was set in a friendly little town that reminded me of home. I bonded with the characters and in the end I got the happily ever after that I needed. When I closed the book I felt great. I know it sounds crazy but it was like I met a knew friend. Someone I could go to any time I needed an escape. From then on Sunday's were my bookstore day. I'd go by myself when my hubby could be home with our little girl and I'd pick up a couple books. I went from Barbara Bretton, to Lori Foster, Lucy Monroe, Erin McCarthy, Toni Blake and more. My books started to getting hotter and hotter. I discovered vampires, and shifters. I found out about erotic romance, and like Regina mentioned in her post yesterday it opened my world up to another sub genre of books. I devoured every book I could for two years before my old love of writing started to reignite in my body. I loved reading romances, I've always been a romantic (don't ask me why it took a romantic at heart like myself so many years to actually read a romance novel but it did) and I couldn't help but wonder if I could write one. And the rest is as they say, history!

Now my writing and reading give me so much that I wonder how I ever made it without them. I can't go without reading at least one book per week and I try to write everyday. With two little ones now, that isn't always possible but I do the best I can and I miss it when I can't. Romance books gave me a friend when I needed one and they also helped my marriage as well. Not that we had problems but like everyone else we let the romance part of our relationship suffer because of responsibilities. Now we work at keeping the romance alive every way we can. Romance books changed my life in so many way. They helped me accomplish my dreams of becoming a writer, helped me in a hard spot in my life and so much more.

For my contest today I'm giving out a free download of my novella, The Emperor: Trenton's Terms. All you had to do is tell me your history with romance novels. Did you sneak them from your mom when you were a kid? Start reading later in life like I did? What is it that keeps you coming back for more and more each time you finish a book? I'll draw a winner tonight and Anne will have the winner posted in her Thursday post.


Fedora said...

Ooh, Kelley, I loved your story :) I started in on romances much earlier than you--I definitely read some of those Silhouette First Loves in junior high, but didn't read a grown-up romance until high school, when a friend from Algebra lent me a historical of some sort. I can't remember much about it, but I was hooked and avidly read through everything at our local library. I stopped for a while in college and for a while after, and then picked up a Jennifer Crusie at the library a some years ago and have definitely been rehooked but good!

Jodi said...

I stumbled on romance books about 10 years ago. I was bored one day and discovered the Harlequin website. My first story that I read on there was one by Lori Foster. I was hooked immediately. I ordered her available books at the time (Buckhorn Brothers) and as they say, the rest is history!
The funny thing is, I grew up with my mom reading romance, but I never had the inclination to read them!

Unknown said...

Okay when I was 12 years old (which was only 6 years ago) I went to the Barnes & Noble bookstore near my house with my mom. I haven't really heard of romance novels before and I was totally clueless about novels at that age. I looked around and I went past the mystery section and bought my first adult book by Tami Hoag which was Guilty As Sin.

I started reading as many of her books as I could but it wasn't until I was 13 years old and my mother's friend from chruch that I discovered my love for romance novels. My mom gave me a bag of old romance novels that her friend's daughter was through out. Out of all those books I picked out 2 that really interested me, Three Fates by Nora Roberts and Warrior's Song by Catherine Coulter. And as you can say the rest was history.

Since then I've discovered a whole new world and I've met so many good friends on the internet who share the same interest and passion for reading and even writing romance novels. To this day I have over 820 romance novels of almost every subgenre.

J.K. Coi said...

Well, I've been a romance junkie since I was a kid. I started reading very early. And by the time I by the time I was in the third or fourth grade I had already been through the classics like Tom Sawyer and Nancy Drew, CS Lewis and Lord of the Rings, and I had started to devour stuff like Stephen King. I think I was 12 or 13 when I rifled through my mother's book shelf because I didn't have anything to read and found one of her romances. It was Loving Julia by Karen Robards.

And even though I'll still read anything and everything under the sun, romances are of course my favourite genre.

Kelley Nyrae said...

Flchen1- Lucky you! I should have started so much sooner!

Jodi- I fell in love with Lori's books early on too!

Ivette- And you read so fast too! It always amazes me. How many books a week do you read? I too have met so many online friends since I started reading romance. I consider myself very lucky. They are some of my very best friends.

J.K. Thats great that you read so much as a child. I read but not nearly as often as I do now.

Sophia Danu said...

Good blog Kelley! I remember reading Wild Orchid by Karen Robards. It was my mom's book and it hooked me! Then I started reading every romance I could find. :)

Happily Ever After Authors said...

Well, I was about fourteen -- living in a small town with a small library. I'd read all the Phyllis Whitney, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and all the werewolf and vampire stories they had until my mom couldn't take my nightmares any longer. Didn't bother me, loved the stories.

I went in search of other things to read. I happened across racks of Harlequin Romances almost hidden from young eyes. I checked out the limit as per my usual. My mother didn't think they were appropriate for young girl, so I hid them inside books I'd brought home from the school library. Yeah, I got caught. But then I guess she ventured into one or two herself and found no premarital sex (ok, just aged myself), because then I could read at will. And boy did I. Over and over and over because they didn't put them out fast enough to quench my thirst. Which led to the beginning of my writing.


Cindy said...

Hey Kelley,I started reading about 18 yrs. afo I'd had surgery& it got infected,& I had to lay on my stomach for three months, well it only took a couple of days & I was bored stiff, my grandma brought me over a bag of romance novels of every kind,& I was hooked from that moment on,I read 4 books a day, that is after I got over the fact that my grandma actually read these really hot books.

Kelley Nyrae said...

Sophia- Thanks!

Bekki- What a great story.

Cindy- LOL about your grandma.

Georgie Lee said...

A friend in high school gave me "A Knight in Shining Armor". I loved it and went on to read all of Jude Deveraux's books in college as well as Joanna Lindsay and other historical writers. After college I stopped for a while because of life but I found my way back and learned to love writing romance as much as I love reading it.

Laura J. said...


I only started reading romances (and well anything) about 3 years and I seem to be making up for lost time. 3 years ago I read just under 60 books (uh, before that it was maybe 2 a year), the next year it was 80 something and then last year 100. So far I've read 43 books this year and my goal is to read one more than I read last year.

I can trace my not wanting to read back to third grade when a teacher made us read only history, biographies and mostly non-fiction with current events. I read over 100 books during that school year and got a DAR pin for my efforts but I lost my love of reading. Fortunately a good friend of mine re-introduced me to the love of reading again and romances (which is pretty much all I read now).

Kelley Nyrae said...

Laura- It's been almost 4 years for me since I started reading romance.

Regina Carlysle said...

Ooooh I loved Knight In Shining Armor too. WOW. What a book!

My first experience with romance was watching a girl I knew in High School hiding a harlequin inside her text book. Every day she had a different one and finally I asked her about them. Headed off to the drug store (which was the only place you could buy a book in my little town). Honestly? I thought the HQ covers were kind of goofy looking so I ended up buying The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and a fan was born.

Today is my daughter's birthday and she turned 17!!! She started sneaking my romances at 15 and I just finally threw up my hands and gave up. And the time's have changed. She cut her teeth on Sherrilyn Kenyon and her Dark Hunters. Another generation of romance fans!

This is an excellent post Kelley!!!

Unknown said...

Kelley I think I read about 2 books minimum to 8 to 10 books maximum a week. It all depends on how many pages the books are and how interested I am in the book and how much time I have on my hands

lrhubble said...

I started out hiding the ones I snuck. :-) I was preteen

As for what keeps me coming back for more is the HEA's. Got to have that.


Regina Carlysle said...

I know what you mean about an HEA. I remember reading a book by a very popular romance author. When her latest came out in hardback, I grabbed it up. The story rocked right along and then I started to get a very bad feeling. Yep. The heroine was killed off in the end. I swear I wanted to thrown the book against the WALL. I was furious with this author and NEVER bought her again.

Fedora said...

Regina, that would completely put me off an author, too--if I'm reading a romance (marketed as such), I expect an HEA, period. I sometimes am hesitant to pick up "women's fiction" or "chick lit" because I don't feel that an HEA is guaranteed with those genres. But if it says romance, the hero and heroine should totally be going off together in to the sunset, growing old and still going at it like rabbits ;)

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh, hell yeah.I'm with you 100 percent. Had a conversation about stuff like this the other day on my "other" blog about the author of a popular series who is doing really weird stuff with characters we LOVE. If it's marketed as a romance, the HEA is a must. Life is depressing enough without depriving your readers of their HAPPINESS!!!!

Fedora said...

Amen, sister! ;)

Anne Rainey said...

I actually didn't start reading romance books until I'd had my first daughter. I used to read stuff like Martha Grimes, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Dean Koontz...Madeline Baker was my first romance author. Later I read Connie Mason, Bobbi Smith, Nan Ryan...then I got into contemporary like Nora Roberts, Jayne Anne Krentz, Sandra Brown...even later I read steamy contemps like Lori Foster. Then I tried my own hand at writing romance and yes, it's been an interesting journey!