Bye bye september,
mese di lavoro, di ripresa, di cose iniziate e di energia ancora fresca, di mente presente e di buoni propositi, di speranze di gite di viaggi di soldi di mostre, di malintese trascuratezze e di fondati allarmi e di parchi e abbandonate giostre.
Bye bye september, e con te bye bye estate, letture tranquille, tempo smodato rilassato disteso e proteso all'interno, piacere assolato e gelato.
Bye bye september, è già ottobre, ottobre di vento, pioggia, nuvole, castagne, e se va bene vin brulé, e se va bene qualche film, e se va bene un po' di te.
(Ehi, ma è una poesia! Chi l'avrebbe mai detto.)
(Allora la firmo.)
(E guai a chi me la ruba!)
So when I was writing a scene in my
latest release, Tiffany
Girl, where an elderly character was, with
some authority, to reveal the secret of a happy marriage, I called my dad and
asked him what the secret was. He didn’t even hesitate with his answer.
“It’s when your spouse loves you more
than he loves himself.”
I hung up the phone and sat in silence
for a long time after that. So simple, and so complex.
I love this genre because it inspires
women to love well. To wait for the good guy, you know?
“You’re worth it.”
The exchanged affirmed in me again the
power of story and the power of romance.
I hope that young lady waits for her
prince. I hope she chooses an honorable, good, hard-working man of faith. A man
like the princes my stories.
Authors never really know the impact our
stories have on others. But that day, I was blessed to have an up-close
So enjoy the romance in your life.
Search for the joys! And love well. It’s worth it.
Sometimes I wish I were one of the
Joyful People—if it meant I could leave sparkles–but I keep forgetting to be.
When I wake up in the morning, I might push a cat out of my face and think,
“Oh, my God. Jack forgot to sign up for soccer camp. We’re screwed. And
I’m still twenty pounds overweight, and I have to go to a conference in a month
and I have no clothes that fit. F***!”
Yep, I’m one of those people, the
ones who might go to hell for having a bad attitude. I was taught by (mostly
scary) nuns, so I try very hard to be nice on the outside. But I find lots of
things to complain about secretly, like the gum I stepped on in the parking lot
or the price of gasoline or the mean girls at the PTA or the state of the world
It’s because of this tendency toward
crankiness that I need the joy of romance. When I read a romance, I go deeper.
I remember that the truth is, I actually rock. Yes, me. The one who’s not the
Joyful Person most of the time. Why do I rock? Because I know the most important
thing: Love wins. That’s it. And it’s all I need to know.
Love will save me from my worst self
every time. Love will save us all. We simply have to
stop and remember. We could stop right
now…but it’s kind of boring to remember this way, right? Like it’s a lesson
from the Barney show or one of the nuns (bless their hearts, they tried their
best with me!).
Here’s the truth: I’d rather remember
that love wins with some kind of excitement involved. Give me drama. Laughter
and the good kind of tears. A hot sex scene!
The joy of reading and writing romance
jolts me back into being the rocking Kieran who can put aside her nitpicking
and focus on what’s really important.
So thank you for making me a better
person—thank you to everyone who celebrates with me the joy to be had in
opening a book and reading a story in which love rules in a splendiferous way,
a way that makes you sigh, chuckle, cry, and sometimes yell things out loud
like, “Kristan Higgins, I love you!” or “I want this man!” or “Please, please
jump in the sack, you two!” because yes—some romances are that good.
Some romances bring that much joy, the kind that leaves sparkles all over us,
sparkles we’ll leave in our wakes until we run short again and pick up another
romance to replenish.
When someone gives us their trust, we tend to want to live up to it, but we also take joy in being the one who has received it and want to give back. However, when trust is withheld from one person to another, they both lose in the end. By my hero not giving his trust to the heroine, her hands would be useless to help him. But for her, her spirit could be broken by not having her man’s trust. There is no joy in either of those scenarios.
And a reader would find no joy in reading about them, either.
The reader knows that love is hard, they know the characters in the story will have some obstacles to hurdle before they can claim their Happily-Ever-After, but the reader also knows it is coming. That may not be the case in real life, but it is for a romance novel. The characters will overcome their obstacles and joy will be waiting for them in the end. The reader can count on it.
But the fun part of reading romance is that the joy found in the characters’ love doesn’t wait until the Happily-Ever-After. It is experienced right along in the story throughout the book—even when the characters look like they might maim one another. This is why I enjoy and write romance novels. It’s the little jokes the characters share with each other, or play on each other. It’s the sacrifices we see the characters make for one another, even when it hurts. But those sacrifices aren’t meant to keep the characters down. They’re meant to bring them to a higher standard of living and make them a better person, a better partner, and give the couple a stronger future. The grand gestures and pledges of love at the end of the story spread huge smiles on readers’ faces and have them sighing with contentment. These are the final promises to the reader that the characters really have earned their happiness. The reader can believe it, and they can also believe that maybe, just maybe, a love like this can happen for them, too.
Uno dei primi acronimi che ho udito come aspirante autrice di romanzi è stato BBM. Ho quattro fratelli, e così ho pensato : "Il che?!"
In parte avevo ragione. L'acronimo sta per Big Bad Moment (il grande, brutto momento) e si riferisce al punto della storia in cui ogni speranza è perduta. Il vero amore - dopo 330 pagine di fatiche, estasi, e ancora fatiche - si trova ferito e solo in una fossa oscura e fangosa. E' il punto in cui il lettore squadra metaforicamente l'autore e dice: "Questo è un romanzo. Non dovevi permettere che succedessero questi casini a due persone che finalmente si erano guadagnate il loro lieto fine!"
Dato che il vero amore non deve MAI essere lasciato nella fossa oscura e puzzolente, il lettore continua a seguire la storia e il lieto fine arriva quaranta pagine dopo, nonostante tutte le difficoltà.
Molte scrittrici dicono che quando riescono a "vedere" il Big, Bad Moment, hanno in pugno il libro. Sanno verso quale traguardo stanno muovendosi, sanno come tirare le fila della storia, hanno in mano il libro. Nondimeno, è una scena difficile da scrivere. Di solito è la scena in cui piangi con i tuoi personaggi.
Perché? Perché avere a che fare con la perdita è uno dei segreti del romanzo. Pensiamoci. Ogni protagonista che amiamo ha sopportato dure perdite - dell'innocenza, della dignità, della sicurezza, di persone amate, di un mondo in cui si stava a proprio agio. Come noi, questi personaggi fanno quello che possono, ma le loro vite sono colpite dalle perdite patite e dal dolore sofferto. Fanno meglio che possono, ma spesso non hanno più il coraggio di rischiare, evitano perciò i legami, controllano tutto ciò che possono, tengono basse le loro aspirazioni.
Poi arriva l'amore, nella forma di qualcuno che può vedere il dolore, e vedere quanto stia costando al protagonista vivere nel dolore o nella paura. Spesso, i due (o più) protagonisti hanno a che fare con ferite simili, ma hanno reagito alla sofferenza in modi diversi...e nessun modo è particolarmente riuscito. La ragazza da festa è sola, il lupo solitario è solo pure lui. Il duca guerriero è stanco, la zitella peperina anche.
Ma l'amore arriva, e così in una vita sicura, limitata, solitaria, stanca, giunge un soffio di qualcosa di dolcissimo - l'accettazione. "Io ti vedo" è il sottotesto di ogni scena d'incontro. "Io ti vedo davvero, vedo te". Così attraenti sono le persone che ci vedono e non distolgono lo sguardo, che l'intimità può tornare ad essere accettata anche in un cuore che aveva deciso di abbandonarla per sempre.
Il coraggio e l'amore sono due facce della stessa medaglia, e nello sviluppo del romanzo l'amore chiede sempre più coraggio, fino a quel momento, in cui anche il coraggio sembra non bastare più. In quel buio momento sono perduti sogni, preghiere, desideri, il ricordo di una vita vissuta col cuore, e il pericolo non è solo il cadere nella fossa di una vita piccola e limitata, ma una tenebra ancora più profonda perché ora anche l'amore è in pericolo oltre alla sicurezza.
Chi sano di mente vorrebbe scrivere storie così terribili? Chi vorrebbe leggerle?
La mia risposta: Tutti coloro che hanno un cuore possono innamorarsi del romanzo, perché la tenacia, l'ingenuità, la determinazione, la resistenza - tutti elementi rivelati da amore e coraggio - porteranno la storia, e le nostre vite, al di fuori di quella fossa. La vita, alla fine del libro, non sarà perfetta, ma sarà piena di amore e accettazione di sé, e da qui viene la vera gioia.
Il romanzo non parla di gente felice nella terra dell'arcobaleno, ma di persone coraggiose nella terra in cui ci si vuole bene. Che ci può essere di più gioioso di questo?
Perciò io scrivo per la gioia, e spero che voi leggiate per la gioia, perché è la gioia che conta.
Once Upon a Joy…
One of the first acronyms I heard as an aspiring romance author was “the B-B-M.” I have four brothers, and so my mind went to, “The big WHAT?”
I was partly right. The acronym stands for the Big Black Moment and refers to the point in the story when all hope is lost. True love—after 330 pages of struggle, bliss, and more struggle—is left bruised and alone in a deep, muddy ditch. That’s the scene where the reader glowers at the author, figuratively, and says, “This is a romance. You weren’t supposed to let this nasty business happen to two people who have finally, finally earned a happily ever after.”
Because true love must NEVER be left in the stinky old ditch, the reader hangs in there, as do the lovers, and the happily ever after arrives forty pages later despite the odds.
Many writers say when they can “see” the Big Black Moment, they have the book. They know what goal they’re writing toward, they know how to wrap up the loose ends, they have the book. Nonetheless, it’s a hard scene to write. If I’m going to cry with my characters, this scene is usually the one that gets to me.
Because dealing with loss is one of the secrets to romance, and to a happily ever after. Think about it. Every romance protagonist we love has been handed difficult losses—of innocence, of dignity, of security, of loved ones, of a world that worked well for them. Like us, those characters muddle on as best they can, but their lives are diminished by the loss they’ve endured and the pain it still causes. They do the best they can, usually playing it safe, either by avoiding attachments, controlling as much as they can, or keeping their dreams small.
Then along comes love, in the guise of somebody who can see the hurt, and see how much a life lived in fear of more pain is costing the protagonist. Often, the two (or more) protagonists are dealing with similar wounds, but they’ve each tried a different means of coping with the hurt… and neither one is especially successful. The party girl is lonely, the lone wolf is lonely too. The tireless warrior duke is exhausted, the spunky spinster is so sick of being spunky she’s ready to say a lot of very bad words.
But love has arrived, so into that safe, small, lonely, tired life, comes a whiff of something intoxicatingly sweet—acceptance. “I see you,” is the subtext of every meet scene. “I truly, truly see you, bad words and all.” So attractive are the people who see us and don’t look away, that intimacy can now come stealing back into a heart that had decided to never permit that folly again.
Courage and love are two sides of the same coin, and as a romance develops, the stakes for keeping the love demand more and more courage, until that miserable big, black moment, when even courage won’t seem to be enough. What’s lost in that moment is every dream, prayer, wish, and memory of a life lived from the heart, and what threatens is not simply the deep, slippery, stinky ditch of a small life, but a darkness all the more profound because now love is jeopardized along with safety.
Who in their right mind would write such hard, hard stories? Who would READ them?
My answer to those questions: Anybody with a heart can fall in love with romance, because tenacity, ingenuity, determination, and resilience—all wheels turned by love and courage—will get the story, and our lives, up out of the impossible ditch. Life at the end of the book won’t be perfect, but it will be filled with love and self-acceptance, and those are the sources of all true joy.
Romance is not about happy people in Happy Land, but courageous people in We Love Each Other Land. What brass ring could possibly shine more joyously than that?
So I write for the joy, and hope you read for it too, because the joy is what matters.
One of the largest lessons the characters learn is to put another person’s needs ahead of their own when the situation calls for it. Even more amazingly, they discover that someone else will do the same for them.
Ultimately, our hero and heroine discover that love cannot survive behind the barricades they have built around their hearts. Love is expansive. It makes their souls unfurl and reach for the light. It throws open closed doors. It leaves the past behind and marches boldly into the future.
Back when I started reading romance there weren’t a whole lot of people I could talk to about them. My mom didn’t read romance. My friends weren’t interested. It wasn’t until I started to write romance and joined RWA chapters that I actually found a crowd of people that read romance.
I felt like I found my people.
And I would meet with my friends and we’d talk about writing but mostly we talked about books. Good ones. Terrible ones. The ones that made me swoon and cry. The one that made me launch the book across the room. We talked about those books like they were friends.
When the Black Dagger Brotherhood series started my writer friend and I – who both had incredibly young babies and had no business staying up that late at night reading those books one after the other – would drive to each other’s houses to shriek about those books. To marvel and laugh and sigh.
Reading romance brings me joy but talking about romance is one of the best things in my life.
One of my favorite hobbies is travel. I love seeing historic sights and beautiful natural settings. And I love experiencing different cultures. But who can afford to travel all the time? The remedy for that– books!! You can even travel through time! Romance books have allowed me to experience different places, customs, and time periods. My imagination has been fed and encouraged to blossom, and that, in turn, has inspired me to pen my own stories.
What else brings me joy in a romance book? Strong, honorable heroes and heroines. I love a hero who respects and admires a woman for having the same mental strength and determination that he has. Who doesn’t love a sexy, smart, strong hero? And I adore the heroines who stand up to them, take charge of their life, and make their own choices.
Romances, in general, give us honorable characters with enough integrity to face their challenges and enough courage to fight the odds. In turn, they inspire us to respect ourselves and never give up. For dreams do come true.
The joy of romance comes from the sweetest, simplest places. So the next time you read a romance that moves you, do the author (and maybe yourself!) a favor and write to her. Share her book with your neighbor, your sister, your friend.
Because readers embody the true joy of romance. One happily ever after at a time.
Here are just a few of the little moments of joy I get from reading romance novels:
After the wonderfully maddening anticipation of waiting for a new book from a favorite author, that moment when you FINALLY have the book in your hands.
That moment when you settle into your favorite reading spot after a loooong day with a romance novel.
Or that moment of rebellious joy when you say to hell with homework, or the dishes, or the job or whatever and just lose yourself in a romance novel.
While reading the story, there are all those feelings to feel…good, bad, sexy, funny, scary, sad and happy all at the same time…which I allow myself to fully feel because I know it will end well.
And then there’s the HEA joy, that moment when All Is Right In The World or at least that fictional world.
And then there is the joy of sharing a beloved book with a friend and getting to relieve the story when you chatter and squee all about it.
A good romance might make me laugh and cry, smile and cheer, angry and even annoyed. However, I know—no matter what happens throughout the story—that in the end, the characters will get their happy ending. I finish every book feeling good and hopeful and that’s the outlook I want to have about life. I believe in love and happy endings and romance books reinforce this simple, but often forgotten, ideal.
After all, what other genre can you read where you cheer for love to come for a vampire or werewolf or reformed drug addict or sex worker or whoever. Love truly has no boundaries in romance. In many ways, each of these different love stories gets us to open our minds and hearts to other possibilities. They expand an often limited world and let us explore without leaving our house.
The truth is that even though I love adding romance to my women’s fiction books, and I like romance in my personal life, I can’t say I get all goofy – gaspy over it. In fact, sometimes – and this might make you not like me – I have to tell Innocent Husband to quit being so sappy. He rolls those toucan eyes every time.
Dinners out with white linen napkins are lovely. Flowers are lovely. But what gets me going is what’s behind the romance. The deep stuff. The stuff that has held us together for over two decades, and it has not all been pretty.
With no further yakking, this is what I have found romantic in my own life with Innocent Husband:
1)Raising kids together. Our kids are 18, 18, and 21. Yes, we had twins, and yes we had three kids under the age of three at one point. Two words: Controlled chaos. It was like living with our hair on fire and not having time to stick our heads under the sink.
There’s nothing romantic about nursing two kids at one time at three in the morning in bed for months on end. But knowing that I could whack Innocent Husband in the shins and he would haul himself up, gather up two babies, and put them back in their cribs because I was too wiped out to move – now that’s romantic.
Romantic is raising teenagers together – now that’s turned my hair white under the dye – and knowing that when tough stuff comes up we will talk out how to handle it, maybe argue, in private, but we will, in the end, present a united front to any Rebellious Teenagers living in our home to get them back on track because we both love and adore them. Romantic is doing what’s best for the family even when you both want to run away to the backwoods of Montana and live in a shack.
2)Taking care of all four of our parents as they were sick, and dying, together.Candlelight casts cool shadows, but knowing your spouse is behind you, supportive of you, when you are gone, yet again, to take care of a parent, to take them to chemo or radiation, and you come home and they give you a hug, even though you look like you’ve been through a tornado, and your mental state is shredded, now that’s romantic.
3)Going through the ups and downs in life as a couple. Someone recently told me, in looking at my website, that it seemed I had a perfect life. I about died laughing. Anyone who I am really close to knows the truth. In 22 years Innocent Husband and I have had twirly highs and murky lows. But we’re still here, still laughing, and I haven’t yet thrown anything at his head. This is fortunate because head injuries bleed a lot and I wouldn’t have wanted the carpet stained.
4)Fishing on our drift boat. Well, okay. He fishes and rows. I read and eat chocolate.
5)Driving to the coast for clams because we feel like it. Clams. Butter. Garlic. Bread to help wash it down. Can’t move when we’re done, but YUM.
6)Chatting about little things that are pleasant, as “pleasant chat” can be so relaxing. Because, after all, not everything in life has to be serious, all the time.
7)Laughing in the middle of the night. Our kids have told us that our laughter has woken them up at night. But that’s what I want for them: A spouse they can laugh so hard with that the kids wake up.
8) Innocent Husband is huggable.
Romance is fun. Exciting. Woo woo. But, after twenty two years, I know to my bones that true romance, the joy of romance, is found day to day, the good days and the lousy ones, the times of success and the pits of failure, the excitement and the grief. When two people stick their heads up after dealing with whatever life has shoved or thrown or exploded or miraculously gifted to them and they instinctively reach for each other’s hand, that’s freakin’ romantic.