Reading and Writing and Romance

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WIN_20140916_164026I was an English major in college. I read a lot of fancy books, and a lot of wonderful ones too, most of them as required reading, but my guilty pleasure has always been romance. In the great long ago, I found a Barbara Cortland novel hidden in my older sister’s room, and was hooked from the start. What’s not to love about a handsome hero, a heroine he comes to adore, a gorgeous estate in the English countryside, and enough drama to keep you on the edge of your seat?

But I will admit that occasionally, I’m embarrassed by the fact that I read romance books almost exclusively. Once or twice a year, I’ll tackle an enormous non-fiction book about Lincoln, or a classic by Faulkner, or even the latest Pulitzer prize winner, just to see if my brain can still tackle that kind of complexity.

But the instant I’m done, I go back to what I love, and I’ve often asked myself why. I consider myself to be a reasonably functioning and responsible adult. I like intellectual challenges. I know that we don’t all have happy endings.

But is there anything wrong with wishing that we did? The wonderful thing about romance books is that in them, love always wins. Seemingly insurmountable challenges are always overcome. And two people get to face the world together, instead of going it alone. It’s what I’d wish for everyone.

A happy ending. I’ll take it every time.

That and an English estate.

On The Care of A Very Special Plant

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Jack's Orchid

Jack’s Orchid

So there are some things I do well, but keeping houseplants alive isn’t one of them. Maybe it’s that whole “need to water them” thing. I have a forgetful nature, and my plants often suffer for it.

However, if there is one I’m desperate to keep alive and thriving, it’s this lovely orchid, a gift from my eldest son, Jackson. He had the great good fortune to join his best friend, Wyatt, and Wyatt’s parents on a high school graduation trip to Hawaii this past summer. Hawaii! It was the trip of a lifetime, and yet Jackson took the time out to select this orchid, and send it to me to celebrate a milestone in the sales of my début novel, Once Upon A Wager. A milestone that was completely unexpected and a wonderful surprise.

But this orchid represents something far more important. Wyatt’s mother, Sandy, helped Jackson pick it out for me. She helped to arrange its safe passage from Hawaii to my home in Pennsylvania, when I’m sure there were far more exciting things she could have been doing on that trip of a lifetime.  And when they all returned from the island, she and I talked about how quickly our sons had grown, and how it seemed impossible that our lives had brought us to this moment, each of us on the cusp of sending a child off to college.

Tragically, Sandy died along with her sister in a car crash one week later, the victim of a box van driver who fell asleep at the wheel, and crossed into oncoming traffic. She was a wonderful woman, beautiful and kind and ebullient, and the memory of her will always remind me that our lives are fragile things. Just like this orchid.

I keep it next to the desk where I am writing my sequel to Once Upon A Wager. I will keep it there as long as, God willing, I can keep it alive. A reminder to live in the moment, and love fully. Because every moment is precious.

A new day and a thrill!

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Once Upon A Wager

As an autumn chill settles over my little corner of Pennsylvania, it’s hard not to reflect on this past summer, the craziest I’ve ever experienced. I drove thousands of miles, spent something like 45 consecutive days away from home, visited a half dozen states, and took my eldest son off to college. I still sneak into his room some days, wondering where all the time went.

This past summer was also my first as a published author, which has been the thrill of a lifetime. My début novel, Once Upon A Wager, was published by Crimson Romance in mid-May, and I’m too embarrassed to admit how often I’ve haunted the internet since then for reviews from readers.

The book has had so much more success that I could have dreamed, and on September 10th, when I logged into Amazon, I learned that–at least for a little while–Wager had become the most popular book in historical romance on the entire Amazon site, as well as the best-selling Regency romance. Of course, I had to take pictures of the notification for posterity’s sake, and I’ve posted one here.

Thank you to every person who has taken a chance on Wager. Many have told me that you enjoyed it. Some have said you did not, and while that’s never fun, your praise and criticisms are equally invaluable. You took a few hours out of your busy lives to lose yourself in a world of my imagining, and that has been a privilege and an honor. I’m currently hard at work on Jane’s story, Once Upon A Scandal, which will be published in the Spring of 2015. If you want to take a sneak peek, shoot me an email, and I’ll send you the first scene.

In the meantime, enjoy the blessings that autumn brings, and happy reading!

All the best,

Julie

Back from the Romance Writers Association Convention

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If you love romance like I love romance, you’re in heaven every time the Romance Writers Convention comes around. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the industry, meet your favorite authors, not to mention the awesome swag! The picture below shows some of my haul.  I thought my suitcase might burst, but we all made it home safely. Can’t wait to start reading!

Sexy Swag!

Sexy Swag!

 

Musings from the Coast of Maine

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WIN_20140717_130529Sitting on a porch overlooking the water on a pretty day in Maine, it’s hard not to feel blessed. There’s something very special about this place. Something that makes you slow down, take a deep breath, and appreciate the beauty of the nature that surrounds us.

Two years ago on this very porch, I started writing my first book, Once Upon A Wager. I’d run along the bay seen in this photo, and imagine characters and plots twists–mostly to keep my mind off my running. Setting pen to paper (make that fingertips to type pad) proved to one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done, but I could never have imagined that I’d be back here now, starting all over again.

Once Upon A Scandal is Jane’s story. Poor girl will take a bit of beating, but I’m sure there’s a happy ending out there for her.

If you’ve read Once Upon A Wager, thank you so much. Nothing has meant more to me during this whole process then hearing from people who’ve enjoyed my book. And if you’re interested in keeping up with Once Upon A Scandal, shoot me an email. I’ll be sure to keep you posted…

All the best,

Julie