by Barb DeLong

Are you one of those crafty types—you know, one of those creative creatures who swoon upon entering Michael’s or Hobby Lobby? Then you’ll have noticed that, starting sometime in July, Christmas project supplies elbow Halloween frights in an ever-growing mash-up aisle after aisle, week after week. You might have to ask where the Pilgrim hats are located. Disneyland famously combines Halloween and Christmas in its IMG_1611Nightmare Before Christmas-themed Haunted Mansion open in early September. Some retailers have begun sneaking in some holly among their scary zombie masks.

Christmas in July is a popular promotional tactic used by many businesses, not the least of which are authors of holiday stories. Be sure to read Ottilia Scherschel’s recent WSR post called “Love for Christmas” for insights into the possible origins of the Christmas-in-July phenomenon. And yes, Ottilia, I confess to watching some wonderful snowy Hallmark holiday romances this past summer and loving them with temps outside in the 80’s.

So, what’s my actual point here?

My Writing Something Romantic author group missed the boat—er—sleigh this past July for our Love for Christmas holiday romance anthology promo. Here it is September and we feel perfectly justified in doing so now, especially because the paperback version of the anthology will be available in October (the e-book is already up on Amazon under Love for Christmas, a Holiday Romance Anthology). Check it out. It’s never too early to get into the spirit of the holidays! In fact, it seems rather late.




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

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.