Jann Ryan—and happily ever after

Jann Audiss

I love reading romance novels—what more can I say? Born and raised in Orange County, California, I grew up with the smell of orange blossoms as I played outside around my home. I have to admit, I was never a bookworm. Instead of reading, I would use my imagination to create stories where I was the heroine, and the hero was from a current TV show. My friends and I would play out different scenarios, build forts in the grassy fields, climb trees and turn them into castles. My dad had a couple of wooden sawhorses that we pretended were real; I named mine Trigger, and I’d ride off into the sunset.

As life went by, my interests were those of a typical teenager. The only time you would find me reading a book was for school. I did read The Winds of War by Herman Wouk in my early twenties. I enjoyed the novel (it took forever to get to the end), but it didn’t drive me out to a book store to buy another to read. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties and I stayed the weekend at my mother’s home. It was summer and the temperature was well over a hundred by noon, and we were all sequestered in the house. My son was down for a nap, and for a change I had some free time. I found a basket of paperbacks, mostly westerns, as my mom loved Larry McMurtry novels. I dug around and pulled out one that had an interesting cover—a romance. What? My mom read romance novels! I had nothing but time to waste, so I settled in on the sofa and turned to the first page. AND MY LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME!

I took every romance she had in the basket home with me. When I finished one, I grabbed another. When I finished them all, I went to the small local bookstore in the nearby shopping mall and a whole new world opened to me. Me, the woman who didn’t like to read. There were shelves full of romance novels. I had no idea there would be so many to choose from. Historicals were my favorite from authors such as Julie Garwood, Amanda Quick, Valerie Sherwood and a host of others. Eventually I worked my way into the world of romantic suspense when I found out Amanda Quick was also Jayne Ann Krentz and Jayne Castle. It was nothing to read into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes finishing two or more novels per week.

The novels I read gave me so much enjoyment that I wondered if I could do the same for readers. First I purchased a few “how to books” about writing. But it didn’t take me long to realize that wasn’t enough. A friend, who also had a love for romance and a desire to write novels, found a local adult education novel writing class taught by Maralys Wills, and the local Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America®. As much as I loved historicals, I recognized that I had a contemporary voice and a love for writing romantic suspense, emphasis on the happily-ever-after ending.

It has been a wild and bumpy ride, filled with ups and downs. Sometimes I had to put my writing on hold. Currently, I’m working on a romantic suspense set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town on the California central coast. I plan to blog as I go, so I hope you follow along.

Ottilia Writes

Ottilia ScherschelMy life has always been filled with learning to read and write in some language. I was born in Hungary and educated in Europe, Latin America and the United States. When my family settled in Southern California, I was introduced to English literature and got hooked on novels. My father and I used to read his favorites out loud together. He liked mystery and adventure—Sherlock Holmes and James Fennimore Cooper. I grew to love suspense, action, and brave warrior heroes.

As an adult, I worked in corporate communications for an international trade association. I did a lot of traveling. I had down time on planes and in airports and started to dabble in fiction by creating dangerous adventures for the people I saw around me. I turned businessmen into swashbucklers and tired mothers into FBI agents.

Before long, I produced a manuscript. When I read it, my head spun with the speed of the pacing that was like Die Hard on steroids and without the lovable wife for breathers. I put my first effort at fiction in the depths of my closet and asked myself what I knew about adding love, romance, to the page. The answer was I needed help.

A friend, who was an avid romance reader, invited me to a local Romance Writers of America meeting. I hit the jackpot—a place to learn.

I dove into the learning pool. (I could write a book about that pool but won’t bore you.) I took classes, added Elizabeth Lowell, Nora Roberts, and Jayne Ann Krentz to my reading list and re-read Daphne du Maurier and Jane Austen. I came away with a desire to work in the romantic suspense genre but with a wrinkle. I would set my stories in foreign places and include some of those characters I cooked up at airports.

My life today is still filled with writing and language. The difference is I’m working on my own writing and honing words on the page to create language I’m proud to share with my readers.

What do you write?

Why I Write Historical Romance

KH-Edit-Small-

I’ve always been entranced and enthralled by different historical time periods. And this love of history drives my passion for writing in many different settings. I’ve moved from Western America to Georgian England, from Victorian Scotland to the Highlands in the early 1500’s.

Reading was my first love. For as long as I can remember, the stories I’ve most enjoyed reading were set in another place and another time. I always received a book at Christmas, and my earliest beloved novels –  Anne of Green Gables and Little Women – came from Mrs.Santa Claus. (aka Mom).  We lived in a small Nebraska town set alongside the Missouri River – small but not too small to have a public library built during the Great Depression by the WPA. What a gift from FDR that library was to South Sioux City’s boys and girls. During the long summer days of my childhood, my cousins and I would walk to the library together.  I can picture the children’s section where I selected from the Bobbsey Twins Series, The Wizard of Oz, and Dr. SeussI can no longer recall the many titles, but the sheer pleasure of reading, I’ll never forget.  As a teenager, I’m sure I read everything by Louisa May Alcott available. I can remember discovering with delight the stories by Georgette Heyer, starting with April Lady and continuing until I’d read every one of these marvelous Regency romances I could lay my hands on.

Along with the books, came the movies. I remember the green witch of Oz who scared me to death! And seeing She Wore a Yellow Ribbon with my mom and dad and brothers. Later I attended the films with my cousins, watching Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and The Vikings, starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh. How I loved those historical dramas!

When I grew older, I read War and Peace. What a fantastic novel, with several heartbreaking stories woven throughout the historical narrative of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the burning of Moscow. If you doubt that Leo Tolstoy understood the power and passion of love, just consider Anna Karenina. What pathos. What romance. What a joy to read! And Lonesome Dove influenced me tremendously. So when I began to write in earnest, I knew, without a doubt, I would write historical romances.

Hello from Shelley Bleackley

Chase TherouxI, too, have a confession: I’ve never thought of myself as a romance writer. After all, my published books are middle-grade fantasies (under a different pen name). There isn’t a lot of romance you can realistically put in the lives of eleven to thirteen year-olds—and rightly so.

But I also think that defining one’s writing as “not romance” is short-sighted. In fact, I’d argue every great story ever written has a romance built into it. (Even The Martian—a book hailed by scifi readers for its science—features a sweet romance between Beck and Johanssen.) Each of us craves the intimacy and connection love provides. We live love. We write love. So here I am.

My first thought to write a book—that I remember—was in the second grade. I had a whole publication plan, a co-author/co-illustrator (another second-grader from church), and who today is an accomplished author-artist, which is interesting isn’t it? We both followed that dream.

My path to publishing started back when I was a corporate author-publisher. I wrote, designed, published, and disseminated volumes of software manuals and online help (aka Click OK). When I mustered the courage to write what I wanted, I started with writing adventures for kids (simple, right? ha). Since then, I’ve learned a lot and have joined the wonderful author co-operative Patchwork Press. At times it’s been thrilling, and at other times difficult, but overall it’s been a journey for which I’m grateful.

I’ve learned that when writing a fantasy series, the bounty of ideas is wonderful, and paring them down while editing is absolutely essential. That while you definitely need to know why you are writing a particular story, you need to express that subtly. And when you come up against a block, chip away at its foundation until the wall is weakened, then take a wrecking ball to it.

I love the old fantasies of George MacDonald, CS Lewis, and of course Tolkien. Anything that is rich with symbol and metaphor, and makes me read a line and then stare off into space as I contemplate its deeper meanings. Makes for slow reading, but it’s wonderful. I’d love to write like that someday.

My current projects include a YA mythical fantasy based on an old Asian myth, and a paranormal mystery featuring werewolves on Vancouver Island. Both have strong romantic elements. The reasons I chose to include love as part of the story—aside from many of my friends being romance writers—was a wish to explore its spiritual side and the eastern idea that love can be used as a vehicle for spiritual development.

My favorite heroes are Dean Winchester from Supernatural and Sherlock Holmes from the present-day BBC production. Favorite heroine? Mary from Downton Abbey. (I’ve got a sneaking feeling I’m spending too much time watching TV!) Who are yours?

Who is Katie Keelor?

If I’m not here, I’m there.  Time-traveling will do that to you.  And, I do it constantly.  “Pushing my button” doesn’t take much.  A beautiful old book with intricate, gold-tooled bindings, a piece of antique furniture with exquisitely carved wood, a vintage photograph, some obscure fact of history, a déjà vu moment or a simple reason to know how and when something came into existence does it every time.  I think I’ve lived before and just can’t let go.

Val MilletteI’m a history buff.  Always was and always will be.  History fascinates me and when I discover some unusual event, I latch on like velcro.  Of course, this distraction proves to be a serious roadblock in my writing process.  I get so involved in the research that I can spend hours and hours gathering information.  Since writers know that less than one percent of all that fact-finding should find its way into the story, I’m doomed.

“Got her nose in a book” was a familiar phrase when I was growing up. My dad had this wonderful home library filled with biographies, geographies, histories, and an odd stash of contemporary mysteries.  Nothing was forbidden and if there was something that shouldn’t be read by a youngster, it was not to be found.

I began to seriously read romance fiction in the 19……’s (not telling) and, like a fiery dragon,  devoured every medieval novel that I could find.  Then came pirates and scoundrels.  I moved through time and fell in love with Regencies, was totally absorbed by the Victorian era and now I’m captivated with the Edwardian era.  (I think Downton Abbey played a part here.)  Sometime during my Jude Devereaux phase came my “I want to write” epiphany.  I took writing seriously and focused on historical romance—all with my favorite time travel theme.

Spurred on by my love of history, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to England, Wales, Ireland and France.  Visits to these sites fueled my historical fire (and I have the boxes of photos, maps, local brochures and books to prove it).

I am also totally devoted to researching my family’s ancestry and my love of the past has helped me trace both sides of my family back to the early 1700’s.  Time spent working on genealogy takes away from my writing time, but in the end, they do compliment each another.  I actually got the idea for “May I Have this Dance” when researching my family.

And to those who really know me, I seriously embrace technology and covet almost every new technological device out there.  I wish I had stock in Apple.

Introducing . . .Barb DeLong!

It all started when I was twelve years old, this passion for romance. At least, writing about it. I combined my love of westerns, which were the big thing on TV at the tiBarbPhotome (Cheyenne – sigh!), with a pre-teen’s notion of romance, and pecked away on an old typewriter over summer break. I still have those yellowed pages with the two-tone black and red letters, where laughably, cut and paste literally meant cut and paste. I won my first writing contest that same year in Toronto’s I Love My Daddy Because contest. In twenty-five words or less I did just that in a quirky, humorous style and won a shiny new two-wheeler. I was on my way!

Then life intervened – hectic high school, college, marriage, kids, a move to California from Canada. Don’t get me wrong. I’d been writing the whole time, just not romantic fiction: articles for company and car club newsletters; dry as dust aerospace engineering documents and maintenance manuals; children’s books self-published for a family craft business; a family memoir anthology; some really bad poetry. Yeah, that sort of thing kept me busy until I read about a local adult education novel writing class led by Maralys Wills. I’d been reading romances by the armful for years, so why not go back to my roots and try my hand at writing them? My first visit to class changed my life. I met two would-be romance writers who introduced me to Romance Writers of America and the local Orange County Chapter.

Since then, I’ve been a finalist in several romance writing contests for unpublished writers. In 2015, I was thrilled to win OCC’s coveted first place Charlotte Award for my humorous paranormal Charm’d. My contemporary short story “The Guy With the Dragon Tattoo” appears in the anthology Romancing the Pages.

So what do I write about? I call it paranormal light-hearted. The dark, world- and soul-crushing paranormals I’ve read have awesome world building and fantastical characters, but I can’t write them. I’m not happy if I’m not writing humor, so my paranormals are infused with the loopy stuff. Animals of all kinds (horses and raccoons being faves) show up frequently. Can’t help myself. Even though I’m almost an arachnophobe, I seem to tuck a spider in a cozy story corner somewhere.  But who knows? One day I may dust off that old western romance and complete that hunky cowboy historical from my youth. Meantime, I’m happily working on a humorous paranormal romance series called Charmed by a Witch, filled with the magic of love, laughter and happily ever after.

Who is Jill Jaynes?

Jill Jaynes

I have a confession to make.

I love romance. Not only that, I love being a romance writer, even though I know that Romance gets a bad rap in some circles.

So I want to talk about being a romance writer; who I am and why I do it.

You probably wouldn’t guess by looking at me, and my life, that I am a Romance Writer. I happen to currently be a documentation manager at a medical device company. I have also spent a fair amount of time as a mechanical designer in the electronics industry. I have two daughters, I’ve always worked full time. I like dogs. I like camping and hiking. I love people. I have a degree in psychology (which always makes people just a little uncomfortable when they find out. Bonus!).

Dig just a little deeper and you’d find I am also a creative person. I sing and play guitar (contemporary and classical). And I write. Writing feeds my soul. I had always dreamed of writing and publishing a book. I started writing once I finally believed in myself enough to stop just dreaming about it and start doing it.

Here I have another confession to make. Actually, I started writing when my then-teenaged daughter (now launched into the world as the lovely and talented author Katie Masters) showed me the fan mail she was getting for fan fiction she wrote and posted online. I realized that if I didn’t get going, she was going to get published before me, and for whatever reason, I wanted to be first. Hey, whatever it takes to get started!

(Thanks Katie. I owe you one).

But there is more. There is the Romance part.

I could be writing anything, and I am certainly not limiting myself to only one genre. But Romance holds a special place in my heart because Romance has a mission. And it’s a mission to be proud of.

A Romance is defined, by the writer’s industry group Romance Writers of America, as having a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. “In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.” See Romance Genre, on www.RWA.org.

Wow. Emotional justice. Unconditional love. I want me some of that. Let’s all live in that world for just a little while.

Romance gets panned for having a happy ending. “It’s not real life,” people complain. Well excuse me, but I get all the real life I need all day long and then in full technicolor recap on the evening news.

I’ll take a Romance please.

What Romance brings to the table is more than just a little escape, although immersing oneself in a different world for a while is a time honored tradition (watch movies much?). Romance is positive. I love that about it. It celebrates love- the most positive power for good in the universe.

I’m totally good with being associated with these kinds of stories and I love telling them. These are often stories of people who struggle to face, overcome and grow beyond their struggles and fears.

I feel like I may at least brighten someone’s day when they read something I’ve written. But I may also be encouraging someone who is facing a similar struggle to the one that a character in my story is facing, giving them hope that a positive outcome is possible.

How lucky am I to get to do something I love and be able to contribute something positive at the same time?