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Special Music Feature and Q&A: Christopher Ferguson

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Here is a great new music release by writer and musician Christopher Ferguson. Please help me in welcoming him back to this romance blog! 😉

Christopher Ferguson is giving look at his romance album, With Love, today.

Great cover!

 

This is the info on With Love:

With Love is a project started by the musician/composer, Chris Ferguson of Northern Alabama. Begun originally as a small collection of love songs, the project has grown and become a campaign to offer support for other charitable organizations that offer music, performance and educational services to schools and local communities. The current roster of charities that With Love supports is listed on the webpage http://www.wearewithlove.com. The website also includes original writings that have been featured on NPR, and original songs published on Reverbnation.com.

Currently featured on Reverbnation, the song “Beautiful Tears Will Fall” has 7.3 million listeners worldwide and With Love is ranked #1 locally (Northern Alabama), #1 regionally (Southeast U.S.), #1 nationally (U.S.) and #1 globally on Reverbnation. With a focus on hope, compassion and thoughtful self-reflection, the songs and stories from With Love offer a way for everyone to think of our life experiences as a part of a shared journey.

We also have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak with the musician and composer.

Marie Lavender:  Hello, Chris. Please have a seat.

Christopher Ferguson:  Hi, Marie! Great to see you again.

Marie:  It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Please tell us a little about With Love. What brought you to create it, and what is your origin story?

Chris:  I met a musician that changed everything that I knew. His name is Tim Noah. I started playing bass for him at his concerts and I saw that what he offered was not just music. It was much more than that. He started a live performance theater and invited anyone and everyone to participate. Young and old, experienced musicians and pure beginners, everyone is welcome to share their talent and message. It created a community that cares for one another. His efforts have been recognized with six Emmy awards. It’s really quite amazing.

Marie:  Nice! 🙂

So…you are a musician, but you are also a writer. Tell us something about that.

Chris:  There is an organization in Northern Alabama called The Huntsville Literary Association (HLA). It has about 200 members, which includes professional writers, university English professors, poets, and novelists. Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird) and Billy Collins (Poet Laureate of United States, 2001-2003) have been members. I was invited to become a member because of a story I wrote that was broadcast on NPR about a 75 mile wilderness hike I took. The Poetry Group of the HLA intrigued me and I joined that group. We meet every month and present new works that we read aloud and everyone offers feedback. It has helped me to write more meaningful messages in the form of poetry that I then turn into songs. The HLA has also helped me to become a better short story writer as well, which I  write for NPR.

Marie:  Wow, isn’t it fascinating how the muse works? And such a great resource for you to develop your writing. Sounds like fun.

Any new works we should know about?

Chris: Well, I like to read the New York Times. Recently, I saw a story about a girl that lived in Sarajevo during the Serbian War in 1993. It was a really touching story. She was in high school and had been asked to go to the prom by her boyfriend. But the war interrupted that and she never got to go. Her family moved away from Serbia and she never saw her boyfriend again. Until twenty years later, when she got a text message from a mystery phone  number. It was her high school sweetheart asking her to go to the prom…again. The story really touched me.

So, I wrote a piece called “A Simple Thing” that presents the story in a narrative and song form. The song features Keith Taylor (piano), and Ingrid Marie (vocal) and myself on upright bass. It was produced by Phil Williams. I really love what he did for the production, a great, artistic result.

Marie:  So cool! Your music and writing resonates with the ILRB audience. It’s great when someone finds us because of a link that was included on another website like With Love.

Chris: Yes, I have been surprised at how the romance novel audience has embraced With Love. It just shows that there are some really passionate people interested in what the I Love Romance Blog offers. Such a cool and fun collaboration.

Marie:  Aww, thanks! Can you tell our readers where and how to find your music and writing?

Chris:  Sure, a new website was created for With Love earlier this year.

Of course, With Love has a Facebook page too.

And the website used for publishing music is called Reverbnation.

Marie:  Thank you so much for letting us know more about your music and your story. I am sure that our readers will find something they can enjoy and share with others. Best of luck!

Chris:  Thank you, Marie. It is always great to talk with you, and the I Love Romance Blog is really what we all need right now, I read it often!

Marie: Awesome! ♥♥♥

Readers, check out one of the songs, “Beautiful Tears Will Fall”, here!

 

Also, here’s Christopher’s new release and single on Reverbnation called “A Simple Thing”, featuring Ingrid Marie on vocal, Keith Taylor (Dean of Music, Univ of Alabama, Huntsville) on piano, and Chris on acoustic bass, produced by Phil Williams. Plus a live verson on YouTube! 😉

Wow! Thank you for telling us about your album! It looks wonderful!  😀

Readers, don’t forget to check this album out at ReverbNation. You’re sure to be moved by these songs!

Writer/Musician Bio

My name is Christopher Ferguson. I am primarily a musician/composer (….a bass guy) and have also been writing for NPR for the last couple of years, as well (mainly just short stories that I narrate and that get broadcast on our local NPR station here in Alabama).

I call my brand of music “With Love”. The music is piano, bass and vocal. It is intentionally not loud or aggressive. I am writing gentle songs, that are soft and require the attention of a listener, with the intent of giving them something to use to reflect upon their own thoughts and feelings of love.

Link

Website:  http://www.wearewithlove.com

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/musicbywithlove/

ReverbNation:  https://www.reverbnation.com/fergusonandwithlove/songs

 

Thanks again, Christopher! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime, perhaps with your next musical release. 

Happy listening, everyone! 🙂

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Filed under Blogging, Contemporary, Drama, Event, Faith, Guest Writer, Interview, Love, Message, music, new release, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic ideas, score, Writers

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by The Smut Report

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on the I Love Romance Blog. In recent years, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep to the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback.

Without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to blogger The Smut Report, a female team with a few things to say about the question at hand.

What Does Romance Mean to Us?

 

At The Smut Report, we read a lot of romance novels. Like, a LOT of romance novels. And let’s be real – there’s a stereotype floating around that people who read romance novels have a skewed idea of romance and relationships. Obviously, we must be delusional spinsters or miserable sex-starved moms who expect men to read us poetry and/or fight monsters and/or know exactly what we want at all times.

Romance is also super oversimplified. There are pivotal life events like birth and death that, when addressed in literature, are considered really “deep” and vulnerable and raw. This non-genre fiction is lauded for its thoughtfulness and meaning. There’s a whole sub-genre dedicated to “coming of age” and all the inner turmoil that comes with that — but a genre whose sole purpose is to unpack the delicious, unsettling, sloppy moments leading up to individuals falling in love? That’s for unsatisfied housewives.

freestocks.org, Unsplash

Falling in love transforms individual people into something new, something with overlap and grey area and messiness. And strength. In romance we see people coming together to form a stronger whole, yet we also see how having the support of a loving partner can provide a wellspring of strength to an individual.

Ryan Jacobson, Unsplash

But before that can happen, all the messy feelings and social and personal obstacles must be resolved. There are new debates in the romance community every day about whether it’s romance if there’s no happy ending, if there’s no sex, if there’s this, or that, or the other thing. These arguments reflect this messy, sexy, grey area that exists in our lives when we love. This genre, maybe more than any other genre, asks us to be honest about what a satisfying life looks like. And it acknowledges that the answer is different for different people.

Created by Freepik

Even though the three of us have somewhat divergent tastes (Erin likes heroes who ooze power, Holly prefers her books on the sexy side, Ingrid sometimes skips the sex scenes so she can get back to the witty banter), there are a few things that we all love in a romance novel. Far from creating unrealistic ideas of what romance is, the best romance novels feature satisfying portrayals of emotional connection. It makes us ask what pleasure looks like for YOU, what commitment looks like for YOU. You know, that extra spark that brings out the swooning romantic in the most jaded of us. (That would be Holly, in case you were wondering.)

Created by Senivpetro – Freepik.com

Romance can be just a fun, sexy romp or a swashbuckling adventure, but it can also bring you closer to yourself. It’s a safe way to examine romance in your own life–your likes, your dislikes, what you want to feel and how you want to be loved. You know it when you read it.

Flower photo created by tirachard – http://www.freepik.com

We recently went to an author talk in which Sarah MacLean said she loves the increased use of dirty talk in romance because it’s “ongoing consent”. How amazing is that? That there are authors looking for ways to make love scenes more clear, more unfettered, by making sure the consent is obvious AND beautifully done. This stuff matters.

Romance is a largely inclusive genre – and that’s important. The authors who write these books are constantly bursting open doors and welcoming more people in. It matters to have characters that look like real people and who love like real people do. Race, gender identity, sexual orientation–it’s all discussed in the romance literature written every day. Possibly there are not really people in love with shifters, we acknowledge (if there are, Erin would like to hear from you). But in all seriousness, there are so many different combinations of who loves whom (and how many love together) out in the world that it’s appropriate and necessary for such love to be reflected in our literature.

Created by Ijeab – Freepik.com

And where reality fails us, we have the opportunity to explore the notion of romance in the “other” in paranormal, sci-fi, and other sub-genres of romance. The authors who are opening these doors and windows for us readers are also readers themselves, and we support each other. Romance creates community, even if we never speak directly to one another.

Created by Pressfoto – Freepik.com

In short, romance means a lot to us. It’s been a source of comfort and connection for us for decades. It’s made us think about things in different ways. It makes us test ourselves. It’s made us uncomfortable and angry and happy. We have literally cried and literally laughed so loudly that we’ve scared pets and woken sleeping children.

Ben White, Unsplash

Romance brings us joy. It’s as simple as that.

Lovely! I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post! Great to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

The Smut Report is the brainchild of Erin, Holly, and Ingrid, three thirty-somethings who have been swapping smut books for twenty years. They’ve read a lot of smut and love the genre. They want to share their love of smut with people who already love to read romance, but also with people who are curious about the genre, yet are a little bit scared to dive right in. So, in order to further their goal of sharing the wonderful, witty, and downright weird corners of the world of smut with everyone they know, they started a blog, where they can chat about romance novels to their hearts’ content.

Links

Website/Blog:  https://smutreport.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/smutreport/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/smutreport

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/91403885-smut-report

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/smutreport/

 

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is romance a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we usually get booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a freelance writer or author, or even from a romantic themed organization. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, The Smut Report, for giving us your take on what romance (and the book genre) has come to mean to you, plus some food for thought. Awesome! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next guest post when Dr. Anne Hancock visits ILRB on October 3rd! Yay! 🙂

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Filed under Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Dating Tips, Event, feature, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic ideas, Special Feature, Stories, Writing

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Katherine McIntyre

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. In 2017 and 2018, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?”

I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Katherine McIntyre, who has some things to say about the question at hand.

In real life, romance has meant different things to me at different times in my life. There’s the brand-new love sort of romance, that addicting thrill of hope and possibility that comes with initial attraction, or that flash of compatibility.

JD Mason, Unsplash

A lot of people get stuck in this cycle, as there’s an addiction to the intensity of the feelings, which can be hard to sustain for the other sorts of romance.

Then there’s the long-term sort of relationships, the goal for many of those early loves, the hope that they mature into something like this. Except one of the things I didn’t realize until I entered into one myself was the amount of work it takes to sustain those relationships. As the adrenaline rush from the beginning fades, then comes the real work. Life gets in the way, and time can dull that initial thrill, which is why I had to learn to continue to feed the romance, to schedule dates and make sure we spent quality time together.

Jelleke Vanooteghem, Unsplash

Created by Freepik

In finding that other sort of romance, the long-lasting kind, it’s not a flash in the pan, but instead a steady hearth stoked over time.

Except the thrill of early relationships, of finding ‘the one’ is seductive. There’s a giddiness that can’t be replicated, the feeling of stepping to the edge of a precipice and daring to jump.

Created by Freepik

Which is exactly what led me to reading and writing romance.

Ben White, Unsplash

Debby Hudson, Unsplash

Through the genre, I’ve experienced love through the eyes of thousands of different characters, which has led to a deeper understanding of why I fell for the genre in the first place.

Romance is this beautiful, healing thing. It’s hope. It’s a force of good, when there is so much sadness and pain in the world. In my Tribal Spirits series, I’ve written romances between a hero and heroine who are equally stubborn and had never managed to find commitment before, and a later book features a couple who both believe themselves too broken to ever find love.

The sheer amount of variability allows me to keep diving into the genre again and again, because as no two individuals are the same, every romance is unique.

What I adore about romance isn’t just the bringing of two people together, but how the relationships impact their individual communities, their families. When people unite, they can become something stronger than when alone, and seeing those individuals bolstered and supported often offers a glimpse of their best selves. Romance becomes a source of power, of strength, and of growth.

Bruce Mars, pexels.com

For me, romance has always meant hope.

Too right! ♥♥♥
Thanks for stopping by with your inspiring guest post, Katherine! Lovely to have you here! 😀
 
Guest Bio

Strong women. Strong words.

Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes–high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women. Easily distracted by cats and sugar.

Author Links

Website/Blog:  http://www.katherine-mcintyre.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/kmcintyreauthor

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1816179461992109/

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/pixierants

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00J8U4VNU

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6473654.Katherine_McIntyre

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/103953984130384189045

Newsletter Sign-Up:  http://eepurl.com/duIScb

Publisher:  https://bit.ly/2B6QKGa

 

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re always booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Katherine, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for a romance blog tour feature on November 27th! Yay! 🙂

Have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 🦃

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Faith, family, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writers, Writing

How Will Facebook’s Dating Service Work: a guest post by Dating Connections

How Will Facebook’s Dating Service Work?

 

Facebook, the biggest and most popular social network in the world, is launching a brand new dating service. This new feature will definitely attract new users while making current members seeking dates happy. Mark Zuckerberg announced this new feature at the F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference, and the idea was greeted with enthusiasm.

Beiins Nebs, Flickr

The Facebook owner is eager to compete with dating apps such as Tinder and Hinge but in a different way. Zuckerberg says that the Facebook dating app will aim to help its users explore scenes, such as senior dating niche for instance, and find real, long-term relationships. If you’re interested in this new feature, make sure to stick around and see how it will work.

Joining In Will Be Rather Easy

When Facebook first came out with this idea, a lot of users were worried that this new feature will complicate their overall Facebook experience. However, accessing your dating profile will be rather easy. All you’ll have to do is go to your profile page and click the heart-shaped icon in the top right corner of your screen.

Created by Freepik

This will automatically take you to your ‘dating home’, where you’ll be able to browse certain groups and look for other single users.

Dating Profile Will Be Separated From Your Original Account

Setting up a dating account won’t have anything to do with your existing Facebook profile. It will be completely hidden from your Facebook friends, so if you don’t want people to know that you’re using this feature, you will have nothing to worry about. Anything you do on your dating profile including photos, chats, and status updates, won’t appear on the news feed of your original account.

Farica Yang, Unsplash

Also, you’ll be able to choose which information you want to share with your potential dates.

How Will People Find Potential Matches?

First of all, your matches won’t necessarily be your Facebook friends. This new dating service will present its users with a number of events and groups that might interest them based on their likes and the information they entered in their profile. The matching algorithm will take your interests, passions, location, common interests, mutual friends, and similar dating preferences into account. You will be able to ‘unlock’ certain groups and events in your area which will make you visible to other event attendees and group members.

Jacob Postuma, Unsplash

Communication And Safety

Once you find someone you like, you will have the option to click/tap on the ‘interested’ icon which will be located in the bottom right corner of your screen. Also, the chat will be much different than the one on your Facebook profile.

A Woman Sitting on the Floor and Using Laptop

Users will only be able to send text messages and they will be limited to only one initial message. This will prevent scammers, perverts, and frauds from harassing other users with inappropriate content…such as nude photos, for example.

Created by Freepik

According to Mark Zuckerberg and developers, the safety of the users will be their number one priority.

When Will It Be Launched?

There is no specific date just yet, but Mark Zuckerberg is confident that the new feature will be launched by the end of this year. This gives you enough time to prepare and work on your online dating moves.

Created by Freepik

Great! What nice info for anyone willing to get into the new Facebook real dating experience…

Thank you, Dating Connections, for such a wonderful sneak peek! ♥♥♥

Guest Blogger Bio

Dating Connections is a site that offers the opportunity for you to explore a variety of dating tips, previous relationship experiences and interact with other people!

Links

Website:  http://datingconnections.org/

Blog:  http://datingconnections.org/category/blog/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/datingconnections/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BoyanUlv

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101423157749445118069

 

Thanks again! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

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Filed under apps, Blogging, Contemporary, Dating Tips, Event, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Research, Romance, romantic ideas