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Gifts That Say “I Love You”

I love getting gifts. Not jewelry or long stem roses or $50 chocolates. I mean, I won’t turn ‘em down LOL but those aren’t what I want to blog about. I’m thinking about the most romantic gifts I’ve ever received and what made them perfect.

To me, romance has to do with truth, not cost. I don’t need a guy to make a quest across the globe to find the last whatchmadoodle on planet Earth. I just want to know he gets me. Or my heroine. There’s nothing sexier than a guy who pays attention. I don’t want my heroine to ask for things. I want her hero to appear with something he knew would make her smile. Maybe the heroine works at an upscale flower shop where the arrangements look more like abstract art than flowers, and that’s sort of a bummer because she love flowers. Her hero might show up with a small bunch of wildflowers tied with a simple ribbon. He’d know this was perfect, even though she’s surrounded with flowers all day, she wants these. He gets her.

In college, my husband (then new boyfriend) bought me a leather bound copy of Wuthering Heights. Why? Because he saw me reading it, heard me saying I read it every Christmas, and the copy I had in hand was tattered, corners curled, cover torn. I didn’t even know I wanted a new copy until I saw the glorious one he had in hand. He’s like that.

He still does things for me like put gas in the car so I never have to. I hate doing it. I could do it. But he does it. I don’t ask. It just happens. Not a “romantic” gesture to you, maybe. But it tells me he gets me. For mother’s day every year, he takes the kids away for breakfast and they don’t come home until after lunch. Sometimes I stay home. Sometimes I go out, but I get what I need – a moment to myself before alllll that awesome mothers day celebration time begins later.

When writing a relationship in a story, I keep these things in mind. I want him to earn a place in her heart. I make sure that above all else the hero “gets” her.

 

What Makes A Good Heroine?

I think the most important thing a heroine can have is a brain. There’s nothing sexier than confidence. Nothing more beautiful than a girl who knows her stuff.

I write lots of different types of heroines. They come from my life, usually. I might know them personally or just see them somewhere. Something about a woman’s looks, fashion choice, voice or almost anything else catches my attention and keeps her in my mind. Next thing I know, my heroine begins to resemble the quality that got my attention. I don’t do cookie cutter characters. People are different. Our heroines should be as well. As I look through the books I’ve finished this year/last year I see they’re all beautiful. To me, all women are beautiful though they don’t always know it.

One reason I write a smart heroines: I want to showcase women with brains, street smarts, book smarts, some trade or artistic talent. They are more than curves and soft skin. They live out their passions and/or pursue their dreams. I think readers of all ages can be inspired by a heroine they connect with. Side note: If ever I write a story that encourages a reader to go back to school, open the business they always dreamed of, train for that marathon — whatever it may be, then I’m set. I will die happy. Before I met my husband and dropped grad school like a decaf coffee, I was on my way to becoming a motivational speaker. Okay that was the dream. I was working toward a Masters in counseling and wanted to work specifically with women of any age who lost their way, hope, gumption, or smile. Maybe one of my heroines can do that.

A secondary reason I write a smart heroine is because I do my best to write the perfect hero for her. I contour him to meet her needs. And none of my heroes want to hook up or fall in love with a ding-dong. They too want a challenge, to be inspired, to do better, be more. Ditzy Mc Doe-doe won’t do much in that way for a decent hero.

Bee-tee-dub: I take my own advice too. In case you think I’m all talk :) I seek to learn something new everyday. Then I share it with at least one person. Sometimes they already know my new information. Sometimes they don’t. But either way, it starts a conversation that builds our friendship/relationship. Reminds them that we can talk about anything even something as silly as “In every episode of Seinfeld, there’s a Superman somewhere.” Who cares? I did. It was a fun thing to test. <– And that little nugget of info started a week long Seinfeld marathon for Hubsy and I after kids went to bed. First one to find the Superman got a prize. And that’s all Ima say about that.

Now, I’m off to go learn something! It’s all about the brain.

Insta-Love: Why I’m not a hater

I see tweets and blog posts more and more with angry, snarky, “I hate this whole book because it’s full of crappy – stupid insta-love junk.” Okay, that’s not a real quote. More like a paraphrase of many similar ones. Personally, I like insta-love. I don’t want to read it every day, in every book, but I don’t hate it. In a world so full of cynicism and grouches, I rather enjoy a good love-at-first-sight story. Whether everyone believes in it or not, sometimes that instant connection is there, two people are drawn to one another, can’t get enough of one another, become friends and love is building with every encounter. It’s just true. Don’t gotta like it. But I do :)

Insta-love is one more thing that gets my writer mind working. “What ifs” pop up at alarming rates until I need to know. If I’m reading it, I need to see that kiss, read that first “I love you” confession. If I’m writing it, I need to get through those scenes without short-circuiting my keyboard from the deluge of Julie tears. Insta-love is a nice, refreshing take on the normally grueling and heart wrenching process of finding a prince among toads.

As a reader, I find a need to switch up the order I read sometimes. Like I said, too much of one thing can make an otherwise astounding book feel a little “meh.” So, I set it aside and come back to it after I read a few stories where the heroines come to love the hard way. As a writer I do this too. My first romance novella, Bloom, had a hero and heroine with hardened hearts. They worked through it and fell in love unexpectedly. My upcoming novella, Love Blossoms, is very much an “I have always loved you” story where the heroine’s journey to love is easy. He’s always been there. She just took a while to figure it out. The third novella, Harvest of the Heart, is awful. The poor poor hero and heroine both are in very dark places. They aren’t right for one another – if you look at the facts. When they look at their hearts though….completely different story. It’s a tough one for me to read even now, a year after I first finished it. I love my characters, but I gave them a terrible road to travel.

I think the bottom line here is: You can’t put love in a box anymore than you can put Baby in a corner <–*shows age*

In my heart, there will always be room for insta-love as well as any other form of love, because love is what makes my little world all pink and cozy. Thoughts?

Defining Ourselves as Writers

I’ve blogged before about my genre hopping habits. While I tend to read YA almost exclusively, I write in several genres. Some stories I’m dying to tell aren’t YA. What can I do about that? I write them. *Shrugs* But here’s the thing that’s in my face lately…if the YA doesn’t have some pink cheeks and chemistry brimming by page 25…I’m skimming. If I don’t see any by page 50, I put it down and move on. I like the romance.

So why don’t I read romance? I’m not into the sex scenes. Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice. Well written, steamy, exciting even…but I’m realizing I prefer the build up to the climax – literarily speaking. I like the meet cute. I become engrossed in the quick looks and butterfly thoughts. YA authors nail this. Probably why I read so much YA *epiphany moment*.

I write a little YA. I write a lot of sweet romances. I wrote a cozy mystery too…guess what, there was a lot of chemistry in there. *Imagine*. It’s fun to look at my writing and see the pretty pink thread tying all my ideas together, uniting them as uniquely mine, regardless of genre or theme. They all pulse with that I’m-falling-in-love heartbeat.

Since this is finally taking root in a real way inside my brain, I’m planning a series of posts on what I love, find interesting, enjoy most, etc about romance in reading and writing.

Tossing this out into the abyss … I am fully considering a move from blogging about my experiences as a writer (partially because I’m not sure I have anymore to offer) and gearing my posts toward all things lovely.

2nd Annual Summer Giveaway Hop! August 1-7th

I’m A Reader Not A Writer Blogspot

When I think of summer, I think of Alyson Noel books. So, going with the summer theme here, I have two paperback copies for one winner. One winner inside the continental US (because I’m too broke to ship to my International friends….not because I don’t love you) will receive:

Forever Summer by Alyson Noel

Summer. A break from the burdens of school. Deep tans, deeper thoughts. Far away from the everyday. Closer to making dreams come true . . . What does summer mean to you? For the two teenage girls in these two unforgettable novels, summer means being torn away from the familiar and finding new friends. A new place in the world. A new sense of self. And maybe even new love along the way . . .

When you’re having the time of your life, you never want it to end.

 

Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel

It’s been one year since the brutal murder of her older sister, Zoë, and fifteen-year-old Echo is still reeling from the aftermath. Her parents are numb, her friends are moving on, and the awkward start to her freshman year proves she’ll never live up to her sister’s memory. Until Zoë’s former boyfriend Marc shows up with Zoë’s diary.

At first Echo’s not interested, doubting there’s anything in there she doesn’t already know. But when curiosity prevails, she starts reading, becoming so immersed in her sister’s secret world, their lives begin to blur, forcing Echo to uncover the truth behind Zoë’s life so that she can start to rebuild her own.

Prepare to laugh your heart out and cry your eyes out in this highly addictive tale as Alyson Noël tackles the complicated relationship between two sisters and shows how the bond can endure long after one of them is gone.

TO ENTER:

1. Leave your email in a comment. You can write it in secret code to avoid the bots ex: julie dot a dot lindsey at gmail

2. I will email you if you win. If you do not respond to the email in 7 days, I will choose another winner.

3.  You don’t need to follow. I just like giving readers more books. :)

**Now, don’t forget to use the linky below and visit hundreds of other blogs on the giveaway today!

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