Tag Archives: open heart

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by C.L. Donley

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, 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 C.L. Donley, who has some things to say about the question at hand.

It took me my entire 35 years to realize that I was a romantic person.

It was the last thing anyone would ever accuse me of being. None of the telltale signs were there. I didn’t particularly enjoy romantic movies, never had any bouts of boy craziness or childhood crushes. Certain love songs made me cringe. I was never particularly girly, didn’t go to dances or prom, hadn’t really been on a proper date really. Certainly I wanted to be in love, like any woman. And when I met my husband it was likely all of these misnomers that caused me to accept much less than I deserved. Anniversaries went uncelebrated; Valentine’s was just another corporate holiday. Even birthdays could sometimes be considered vain, if too much money was spent.

Several years and three kids later, after enduring all this, not to mention infidelity and a host of other problems, I found myself wanting to escape. It’s cliché, I know, but which part? The situation itself or my reaction to it?

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I knew I couldn’t very well get in the car and leave my family behind. If only there were a way to go somewhere without physically leaving. Instinctively, I reached for romance.

At first it was a concession, a guilty pleasure. Like everyone else, I knew all the stigmas attached to the genre. As an English major and writer, I had to get over my own pretenses and open my first romance novel. I chose a Harlequin, being familiar with the name. And it didn’t take long for me begin a steady diet of romance literature.

Within a week I was coming across some really compelling stories and I realized that like anything else, romance could be done well. One day I remember reading something and just feeling completely alive and happy. I realized that I actually was a romantic person. That romance wasn’t necessarily a certain order of outward gestures or traditions. It was the business of loving and being loved and the fruit of that, because all love bears fruit. I learned that it wasn’t romance I lacked, but sentimentality. It’s this lack of sentimentality that makes my voice unique among romance writers.

It didn’t dawn on me at first that I should write romance. I was a writer in denial, on the run. I never wrote for fun; the idea of writing as a job sounded like the worst torture. I pretty much only wrote for school, which was years ago, and after three small kids all under five, the idea of writing for me was pretty much laughable. Part of me was unsettled, because it was the most prominent talent I had. People that barely knew me would ask me if I was still writing, and I would have to break the news to them. In the back of my mind I felt all kinds of guilt that I wasn’t utilizing my gift.

In the thick of a separation from my husband, I was starting to think about the future, and what, inevitably I would have to do for money. I dusted off my résumé, started looking into childcare prices for my kids. In the midst of that I got a germ of an idea. Not unusual. I got story ideas all the time, all of which I ignored. But this one was a romance, and it gnawed at me all day. The thought of taking pencil to paper was nauseating, so I saved an audio note on my phone. And that was the moment the floodgates opened.

Aaron Burden, Unsplash

The ideas wouldn’t stop. I wrote for twelve hours that day. I had 12,000 words by the end of the weekend. In three weeks I had the whole novel, the initial draft of what eventually became Amara’s Calling.

Romance saved my life. Not only did it connect me to my heart, but to my identity as a writer. It kept me from taking out my frustrations on my family, propped up a marriage that would’ve otherwise crumbled before its time, and was the hope that kept me buoyant after it was over. It showed me that love was not a matter of being attractive or deserving, but a necessary part of being alive, not to mention a necessary part of being a woman. It made me realize that nothing was wrong with me or my sexuality, that my marital issues were less about my personal failures but more about the fact that I was being starved. Without that realization I might still be blaming myself today.

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I suspect that all women have an infinite capacity to be loved, as in no amount of romance is enough. It sounds like it’s a bad thing, but it isn’t. Do we ever get to the point as humans that we’ve had enough food and we no longer need anymore? No, because it’s not the way the system works. I suspect love is like food in that it can have a variance in quantity and quality, and these variables can positively or negatively affect the health of the individual.

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Love should be daily, fresh and new in the same way. To me, romance is life itself. And now that I’m waking up every morning, excited to see what more I can create, I’ve never felt more loved than I do now.

Great! Love should improve us in various ways…and like you, I agree that reading and writing romance opens your mind and heart to its possibilities. 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, C.L.! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

C.L. Donley is a future New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of multicultural and interracial romance. Armed with an B.A. in English and M.A. in Writing, she is a natural born writer and can’t wait to be done with this bio so she can get back to it. Her writing style is sophisticated yet simple, apologetically escapist and character driven. She likes to write lovable, redeemable and believable characters and place them in equally lovable, romantic and relatable settings and scenarios– removed from reality just enough so that reader can properly escape, and even revisit!
She loves hearing from readers and discussing her favorite parts of her own books, so feel free to indulge her. Check out her website, Facebook page, Twitter page and feel free to email her at cldonleyauthor@gmail.com.

Author Links

Website:  cldonley.com

Facebook:  facebook.com/AmarasCalling

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/C_L_Donley

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/C.L.-Donley/e/B078Z6TSS8/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17605062.C_L_Donley

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

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/bonniebmccune/

 

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 getting 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, C.L., for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for a historical romance blog tour feature when author Sofie Darling visits us on April 24th! Yay! 🙂

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Love, Message, Multicultural/Interracial, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writers, Writing

Chivalry Doesn’t Have to Be Dead: a romance blogger post by multi-genre author Marie Lavender

Chivalry Doesn’t Have to Be Dead

 

It isn’t a reach to suppose that many romance readers spent part of their childhoods dreaming of sweeping fairytale relationships, comprised of a white knight on a steed coming to a maiden’s rescue after slaying a dragon for her.

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Or, for a feminist type, perhaps she was indeed the one saving her chosen male. Why not? Such individuals not only still savor a great romantic tale, but also most likely continue to admire happy couples around them. We’re looking for that elusive ‘soul mate’. Some of us, myself included, took it a step further, and now write those sweeping romance stories that might capture readers’ hearts.

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I always dreamt of a love that would stand the test of time, a true romance like my parents had. Not an easy love, by any means. Even in romance novels, the journey includes ups and downs, as in life. But I hoped – and yes, even prayed – to find my soul mate, someone who understood me, accepted my dreams, weathered the storms of existence with me. And I would do the same for him. I poured that yearning into my stories, telling complex tales of imperfect people who found each other despite the obstacles thrown in their direction. For it’s true that real people are flawed. We live, love, hurt, and keep repeating the cycle. That’s life. I guess it’s one reason I launched the I Love Romance Blog – to not only discover new romance novels and the talented authors who wrote them, but also to learn how other people view romance. What were their romantic adventures? What advice might they offer up to readers?

I believe that within us thrives a light, a little hope for a companion to stand up and support us during our greatest accomplishments, as well as when life just gets too crazy. A partner, so to speak.

Yet, the perfect partner isn’t a perfect person. He or she has probably done something foolish before, and they might have a few regrets. There will be similar interests, but you’ll have a few differences as well.

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It’s true that I am fortunate. I found my soul mate. We’re creative people, and I love that I’ll never have to explain the intricacies of the muse to the man I love. But, there are occasional days when we disagree, when one of us tries to needle the other. I like to make plans, and my fiancé is definitely more casual about life. Though that might seem like a nutty match, it actually works because our differences make us stronger. Those little things complement each other.

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As partners, we challenge one another, and thereby put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. We’re both Libras too; so that makes for an interesting decision-making process when it comes to trivialities such as what to eat for dinner or which film to watch for the evening. We agree on so much, and yet there are traits that make us entirely unique. Still, at the end of the day, we have treasured moments of peace, cuddling and finding comfort together when words are no longer necessary.

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My point here is that whoever you imagine will be your soul mate might not be the person who ends up as the one tailor-made for you. It’s okay to be surprised. Life is unpredictable. Keep an open mind on the journey. Don’t close the door to new experiences. You just might find that your destiny turns out even better than you planned or imagined.

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Be your own white knight. Open yourself to the world, and enter it with a kinder heart. And this suggestion isn’t merely because Christmastime, the season of giving, is upon us. This is a year-round request. Do something nice for your neighbor, or the next person you see on the street. Of course, you can do that without seeming like a stalker. Just be kind. Open a door for someone, offer a smile. Give that person a rose from Roses Only.

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You never know how that small kindness will impact another soul, how many ways it might inspire. Perhaps by doing so, you’ve given them a small slice of hope, and it just might be enough to jumpstart them on their own new journey.

Someone out there is your perfect match, not because he or she is, in fact, perfect (no one is), but rather because that individual was made for you. When you’re both ready, at a precise moment in time, you will find the one. In the meantime, keep everyone else open to it too.

 

Romance is a dream we hold tight inside our hearts. But it’s not fictional at all. Romance can be a mere thought, a word, or an act. Something as simple as holding a person’s hand is a tactile gesture that can change your entire perspective. As reading can open new worlds us, so can our own dreams of romance. Think about the traits you might like in a mate. Someone trustworthy, dependable…perhaps inventive? Jot them all down, if you prefer. Remember not to limit your imagination, but don’t get tied down to appearances either. There are those who prefer blondes or dark-haired individuals. In reality, it’s superficial. Though it’s possible the person meant for you might have one of those specific traits, in all likelihood they may not.

Let me explain. In the dictionary, a soul mate is defined as “a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs”. Sure, that makes sense. You’d want to have similar values if you were dating someone. The earliest known use of the word soul mate was when Samuel Taylor Coleridge implemented the term in a letter to a young lady, claiming that a person shouldn’t “settle, but rather [choose someone] whose character and sensibilities [are of] a nature suitable to [their] own”. It’s not about looks, but rather about two souls connecting.

That’s a better way of saying it, right? Opt instead for the person who is the perfect accompaniment to your own unique tune, and together you’ll create the best symphony in the world.

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Anyway, that’s my take on it! ♥♥♥

Host Blogger Bio

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She is also the moderator of three blogs…the I Love Romance Blog, Marie Lavender’s Books!, and Writing in the Modern Age. She’s the proud recipient of several blogging awards and book awards. Follow Marie via her author website, varied blogs, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Her books can be located at most online booksellers.

Links

Website:  http://marielavender.com/

Blogs:  http://marielavender.blogspot.com/

http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/

https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58

https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/marielavender1

Amazon Author Page:  Author.to/MarieLavender

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender

AllAuthor:  http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/

Youtube/Book Trailers:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

 

Happy reading, everyone! 🙂 Have a wonderful holiday season!

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I’ll check back in for our end of the year post. 😉

 

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Filed under Blogging, Books, Dating Tips, Faith, Holiday, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writing

My Romantic Thought of the Day 50

The person who’s right for you may not come in the package you’re expecting, so keep an open heart and an open mind.

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https://twitter.com/marielavender1/status/865283970656849923

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Filed under Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance