It’s in the voice

I’ve been reading romance novels since—forever and haven’t read a romance I didn’t love—well maybe one or two. Several years ago my “to read” stack of books was growing and my reading time was shrinking. A time when I was working fifty plus hours a week and free time was at a premium.

I spent the day with author Linda McLaughlin, shopping at Barnes and Noble (adding to the “to read” stack) when we found an audio cassette box set of Nora Roberts’ The Key Trilogy. Linda asked if I’d read the trilogy, and sadly I had not. In fact, I’d only read one or 9781491542071_p0_v1_s192x300two of Nora’s books. She suggested giving the box set a try. I’d only listened, or tried to listen, to one audio book before when a friend let me borrow a mystery-suspense novel. I ejected the first cassette within minutes because the narrator’s voice drove me crazy, and never tried one again. At the time, I spent a minimum of two hours a day sitting on the freeway going to and from work, and since my car had a cassette player I decided to give audio books a second chance. If this one faired better, then I would be able to read more authors—no, listen to more novels by authors I hadn’t had time to read.

I slid the first cassette to The Key of Light into the dash. Brother, what a difference a voice makes. Within minutes Susan Ericken’s wonderful voice swept me into the lives of Malory Price, Dana Steele and Zoe McCourt and the world surrounding Warrior’s Peak. When I finished The Key of Light, I immediately started book two, The Key of Knowledge and finished with the Key of Valor.

One audio book led to another and another and another. Before I knew it, I’d listened to numerous titles by Nora, including J.D. Robb. I added other authors I didn’t have time to read. Then I started listening to favorite books I’d read. My favorite historical romance is 9781469261492_p0_v2_s192x300Saving Grace by Julie Garwood. I’ve read the book several times and when I was finally able to obtain an audio version, I was in seventh heaven. Performed by Rosalyn Landor, the Highlands and the Scottish warrior Gabriel MacBain became so vivid in my mind. I remember listening to Jennifer Cruzie’s Agnes and the Hit Man and laughing out loud while driving down the freeway.

My audio library is still growing. I now have either CD’s or MP3-CD’s in both unabridged and abridged (I prefer unabridged). I have even repurchased certain audio books I originally bought in cassette format. I recently read an article that stated there has been a strong growth in audio books in companies such as Audible. Amazon’s Kindle Edition offers an audible narration with your book’s purchase. OverDrive is a digital download platform for public libraries.

Even though I no longer find myself sitting on the freeway for hours at a time, I still prefer listening to an audio book instead of a music channel. And heaven forbid if I forgot to bring an audio book along.

If you have never tried an audio book, why not give one a try? You too might find yourself falling for them as I have.

INSPIRATION…where does it come from?

I’m often asked where my ideas and inspirations come from by family members, friends and new acquaintances when they find out I’m a writer. My answer—everywhere: when I travel, just out and about, or reading travel and cooking magazines. I take pictures galore to remember settings and save articles that have piqued my interest.

Here’s an example. My professional background is in the field of real estate. Whenever I’m in a new town or city, I pick up the local real estate magazine showing homes for sale. I flip through the pages, look at the pictures and read the listings. I usually fall in love with at least one or two of the homes. One time I read the intro for a property that went something like this:

Nestled in the stately ponderosas, this 5,000 square foot cedar and redwood home weaves modern comforts with endearing rusticity. A huge stone fireplace graces the living room area, while high ceilings and glassed dining area show off breathtaking views. Five bedroom suites provide warmth and elegance, with most rooms overlooking either the lake or the forest. In addition, the 30 plus acre parcel provides a wealth of outdoor activities. This is one of the finest homes ever to come on the market. Priced to sell quickly. It won’t last long.

I can tell you my imagination went wild. I started to think about a heroine who needs a fresh start. She reads an advertisement (like the one above) on a real estate website and decides then and there to put in an offer to buy the property (sight unseen of course). When she arrives she finds that yes, it is nestled in the stately ponderosas, but the modern comforts are not endearing at all. In fact, they look to be from the 1940’s. And so the story begins.

My niece took a picture when she was in Oregon and sent it to me of train IMG_2593tracks leading into the woods. And I was off on an adventure. Might hero or heroine be returning home after running away years before??

One day I was out walking at Downtown Disney by the Disneyland Hotel and I saw a man talking on his cell phone by the gated swimming pool area. I started to think, was his wife sitting by the pool watching their children and wondering if her husband was again talking to the office or worse, his mistress? Was this the last straw?

I’m working on a new project I was inspired to write when a friend sent me a picture of a lighthouse on a charming little island. This one will have a bit of suspense and I will be blogging about it occasionally as I go through the process.photo(2)

I wish you and yours a glorious 2016! I hope it’s filled with relaxing days reading your favorite author and a few new ones.

Jann Ryan

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.