My Strange Reading Habits

I love to read. More specifically, I love to read romance. If you’re here, then you understand why I love it with such desperation and devotion. Because you do too.

In a world of chaos and uncertainty, I can always count on a romance novel to give me one thing reality can never guarantee. A happy or at least emotionally satisfying ending. It also allows me to take the romance journey over and over. The meet-cute, the first kiss, the overcoming of conflict and obstacles in order to secure the relationship between the hero and heroine. These are the stories I long to lose myself in.

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I have had many people scorn, ridicule, and outright shame me for my passion for romance. And honestly, I couldn’t care less about their opinions. I make it a rule never to shame or scorn someone for the books they read and enjoy. If that is how they choose to spend their time and energy, then more power to them. They know what they like.

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To that same end, I know what I like. When I do get time to read, my genre of choice is always romance. People often assume that because I write historical romance, that it’s the only subgenre I enjoy. Well, they’re partially accurate.

I read quite a bit of historical romance. Most of the time, it’s because the premise of the story caught my attention. However, as I have been writing more historical, I find myself comparing my work to other authors. This can be both a blessing and a curse. So I limit my intake of historical romance if only to keep me honest and refrain from being discouraged. Because that happens too. Authors can often be their own worst critics.

Honestly, I find myself gravitating toward solid contemporary stories with unique premises or specific tropes. I have a soft spot for mistaken identity or hidden identity, forbidden romance, masked, enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, close proximity romances, and retold fairy tales. In contemporary romance, some of these are a bit harder to come by. So I indulge by changing it up. My latest discovery is the technology mixup trope. It has become one of my new favorites.

You know what I mean. The stories where the hero and heroine meet because one sent a text to the wrong number and mistakenly initiated a conversation with a complete stranger, who ended up being the one. Or the stories like You’ve Got Mail, where they dislike each other in person but have a connection online.

Here are two I picked up last month. I’m still reading Wait with Me, but it’s really good so far. Accidental Tryst was fun and heartwarming.

I also love a good taboo romance or the popular boss/employee trope. Sometimes a dark romance is just what I need to get my brain moving again when I hit the brick wall of writer’s block.

Earlier this year, I picked up Midnight Hunter on a whim. I devoured it in hours. I wasn’t sure how the author would redeem the hero, but she did. And I loved this book.

Heartless is the third book of Winter Renshaw’s that I read. I loved all three of them. The other two were Absinthe (a forbidden romance) and Country Nights.

Mr. Rochester is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre by Marian Tee. I love her work. She writes engaging characters and stories with depth. Drawn was the first book I read by her, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I love strong heroines and heroes with a strong drive and a bit of a chip on their shoulders. I love heroes and heroines who are in their thirties and forties.

Often times, historical heroines are in their late teens or early twenties, per the norm for a woman of marriageable age prior to the twentieth century. I find it more difficult to relate to these heroines because of my age. Although I do enjoy writing them, after a while, I crave more connection with the heroine.

Historical adventures and romance can be fun, but the restrictions sometimes prove frustrating for the reader. Not to mention being an author of that era. I know I personally get overwhelmed by the amount of proper etiquette required for a specific era. Sometimes I need a change of pace in order to be able to connect with my own characters in a historical.

Strangely enough, I don’t gravitate toward romantic comedies when it comes to film. I still love a good romantic subplot, but I’m an action/adventure junkie through and through. Bonus points if there are natural or manmade disasters and giant creatures wreaking havoc on some major cities. I’m weird, I know.

But I also enjoy Korean TV Dramas and period films like Timothy Dalton’s Jane Eyre and all the Pride and Prejudice variations. Then, just to shake it up, I watch Star Trek: TNG, HBO’s Westworld, and Game of Thrones. So I have an eclectic taste, as you can tell.

I don’t fit a mold when it comes to my tastes in entertainment. Strong characters, solid stories, passion and adventure, and always a bit of romance. These are what draw me into a fictional world.

So I never rule out other types of fiction when it comes to reading, but I prefer romance. It’s that happily ever after/happily for now that seals the deal for me there. I love diving into a story knowing that at the end of it all, the hero and heroine will be together and ready to start a new life together.

Contemporary romance gives me a reprieve from the historical worlds I write in.

Contemporary romance suggestions

Feel free to post your contemporary romance suggestions in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. I think I’m going to go read a bit now. Thanks for stopping by. *blows kiss*

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

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Shifting Gears and Finding My Voice

I have been MIA for the past two weeks, and for that, I apologize. If you aren’t aware, I am married to a military man. Which means, our lives revolve around his career. I embrace the life of a military spouse proudly. But the uncertainty that comes with it can be nerve-wracking on the best days.

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We had orders to a new base a few weeks ago. Then my husband made rank. Bonus! A promotion, a pay raise, and a new base. But it won’t be the one we had orders for, unfortunately. So we are in limbo at the moment, waiting to see where the powers-that-be will send us next.

My days have been spent sorting through my house, organizing and purging, preparing for the move I know is coming. So, I put aside my weekly posts until I found something worth sharing with you. I mean, really, sometimes I wonder if posting a weekly blog is even worth spending the time and energy.

Then I realized. If you’re a reader like me, then you just want to feel a connection with the author. I love hearing behind-the-scenes stories and snippets from an author’s daily life. I also enjoy when authors share their likes and dislikes. It makes them more relatable and human. Not that I think the authors I love are aliens or robots or anything so ridiculous. But, we do sometimes forget that authors have a life, a family, a home, friends, a social life, struggles, hopes, and fears. We forget there is a person behind the brand.

I adore the human connection. I long for the relationship between reader and author.

So, my wish is to do that here. I want to share bits of me with my readers. My question is, what do I share with you?

Well, it will not be my views on politics or religion. Sorry, while I hold my beliefs quite seriously, these are two topics that you will not see me talk about from this platform.

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Earlier, I found a post on another page that had Questions to Ask an Author. I liked the idea, and I may run with some of those since each question could easily provide us with some conversation starters.

Next week, I’ll post a response to one of the questions on the site. Hopefully, I will have some questions from my awesome readers to answer.

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Do you have any questions to ask me?

Or do you have any suggestions for posts you’d like to see from me? Feel free to contact me using the form or send a message on Facebook or Twitter.

You are more than welcome to comment on this post with your ideas as well.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Confession of an Aspiring Romance Author

Time for a little confession. Okay, a big confession. I’m not always motivated to write. In fact, some days I’m downright discouraged. Being a self-published author is wonderful because I get complete creative control. The downside is…well, I feel like I’m standing in a crowd of thousands and my voice is being drowned out. I have a strong voice, solid stories, beautiful cover art, talented editors, and a supportive collection of family and friends. What more could a budding romance author want?

Readers. Faithful, engaging, loving, wonderful readers.

I have seen these types of readers. I’ve dined with them. I have laughed and conversed with them. They’re amazing people. I know, because I’m one of them.

The last two years I’ve had the fortune and opportunity to attend the Historical Romance Retreat. I attended strictly as a reader, but my little author heart couldn’t help but crave more. Seeing so many talented historical romance authors in one place. My poor fangirl self nearly imploded from the sheer pleasure of being in the presence of such talent.

Not only did I meet like-minded readers, I met authors I could have only DREAMED of meeting in person. Seriously, I could have died from pure bliss surrounded by people I admired and aspired to become. HRR has become the event of the season for me, and I will cherish every moment I spent traveling back in time and celebrating with my tribe of historical romance lovers.

Here are a few pictures from my adventure to HRR 2016:

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And HRR 2017:

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The costumes, the events, the interaction, the atmosphere. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, DO IT. It will be worth the expense and the time. (Here’s the link to the website: https://www.historicalromanceretreat.com ) The friends I made through this event have only fostered my desire to persist as a romance author.

Why do I bring up this conference? Because it energizes me. The thought of being at HRR gives me life. It gives my motivation life. I want to be these women. These passionate authors and voracious readers inspire me. They give me direction and purpose. I want to be them. I want to bottle their energy and drive and fuel my own goals. I came home feeling reinvigorated and ready to write my next book.

But coming back to reality is often jarring. And time away from such a positive and uplifting atmosphere seems to wear me down.

To be honest, I feel like I’m drowning right now. I’m drowning in hours of promotion and preparation. I feel like I’m sinking in the quicksand of social media trying to market myself and my brand. I can feel my motivation slipping farther away from my grasp.

My desire to write never dies, but it wavers, it falters. I find myself staring at the screen wondering if anyone can hear me. I wonder if anyone wants to read my work. The monsters of self-doubt and rejection and fear linger in the dark recesses of my mind waiting for the opportunity to prey on my insecurities.

I want to write. I want to publish my work. I want to bring joy to readers around the world who crave escape and romance and adventure if only for a few hours.

But how can I reach you, gentle readers? How can I prove myself to you?

Over the last five years, I have learned a great deal about writing and publishing. I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. I have grown, matured, and persevered. I’m damn proud of myself and my journey as an author. I will continue to grow and mature. I will continue to write. My passion for the written word and romance has never dimmed. I shall always be a reader first and an author second. Because that was where I began my journey.

My desire is to have a relationship with my readers. I love knowing that you enjoyed my work. I love hearing your feedback and constructive criticism. It helps me make my work better. I value your reviews and your recommendations. I absolutely adore hearing that you recommended one of my books to your friends. It makes my heart soar.

Your joy brings me joy.

I will soldier onward. My words will continue to flow. The stories will be told, come hell or high water. But I need you, darling readers, to do what you do best.

Read. Review. Recommend.

These three simple steps can mean the world to an author. Especially to this author.

My aspiration to join the ranks of Elizabeth Hoyt and Eloisa James and all the fabulous authors I’ve met at HRR has been my dream since I began this journey. And when I finally earn my place among them, I can truly say that it was you, my lovely readers, who helped me reach my goal. For that, I will be eternally in your debt.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romance Survival 101: Ignoring the Hate When You’re All About the Love

Being a lover of the romance genre doesn’t come without it’s pitfalls. Unfortunately, I happen to be an author and a reader of romance, so I end up getting whammied from both sides.

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I can’t speak for everyone, in fact, I can truly only speak for myself. But I am tired of the romance genre getting such a bad misrepresentation.

As an author, I’m really tired of hearing these things:

“You’re so talented. Why don’t you write a real book?”

“Oh, so you write mommy porn?”

“Romance novels are trashy and unrealistic.”

“Those covers are so tacky.”

“Do you really have to put sex in your books? Sex isn’t a spectator sport.”

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Oh, my darlings, the list goes on and on and on. And frankly, I’m exhausted trying to defend my genre. I should not have to defend my passion for writing or enjoying a good, strong love story.

As readers, neither should you. It’s time we take our genre back.

The genre of romance is defined by only two criteria. (This information is taken directly from the Romance Writer’s of America’s website.)

  1. The story MUST focus on the relationship.
  2. The story MUST have a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happily For Now (HFN) ending.

That’s it. It can have whatever other elements the author chooses as long as it doesn’t break these two commandments.

So why has reading romance become a “guilty pleasure”? There’s not a damn thing to feel guilty about when you’re reading a romance. NOT. ONE. DAMN. THING.

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We’re human. We crave relationships with other people. We desire intimacy and connection. We LOVE to be LOVED. So why should we feel guilty about following a couple on their romantic journey to happiness?

I don’t. And neither should you.

We’ve all heard the hater’s commentary:

  1. Romance novels will give you unrealistic expectations for relationships.
  2. They’re basically porn for women.
  3. My Grandma/Mom reads those kinds of books.
  4. Is there even a plot?
  5. Don’t you want to read a real book?
  6. Romance novels are all the same.

The list could continue for days if I asked you all to contribute a piece of what you’ve heard from the naysayers and romance-haters.

Look, I get it. Romance novels aren’t for everyone. Just like I don’t enjoy reading high-fantasy or horror. And not every romance novel is suited for every palate within the genre, for example, the preference between steamy and sweet romance.

But our differences in taste are what make us who we are. If everyone liked the same thing, life would be boring and bland.

We need to stop feeling like we have to defend our love of romance. Authors and readers alike. There is nothing to defend. Instead, maybe we should share the love.

The next time someone decides to throw one of those tired cliched questions at us, our response should be simple and direct:

“Have you read one before?”

If they answer no, then offer them a taste. Give them a recommendation. Let them discover the wonderful world of romance for themselves.

They may not like it. And that’s fine. But just like I tell my kids, you can’t say you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it. So, take a few bites.

Sometimes one taste can change someone’s mind.

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So carry that paperback with pride. We are the genre of love.

LOVE makes the world a better place. ❤ So let’s sprinkle that glorious stuff everywhere!

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Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

Every Author Needs a Reader

The first week of January. It seems like the BEST time to renovate. Right? New year means new me. I hope I’m not digging my own grave here by posting my intentions for the year. You’ll hold me to it, right? Not exactly new year’s resolution material, but I’m definitely gearing up for a new direction. So…my game plan this year:

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But wait, don’t you already market, Kirsten? I tried, and I failed. Let me be honest with you. I suck at marketing. I’m horrible at it. I absolutely hate trying to sell myself as an author. Feels like I’m tooting my own horn a little too loud. The worst part is, I have to toot my own horn louder than everyone else who’s blowing theirs. So, it’s just a gigantic cacophony of authors making noise. And honestly, it’s exhausting.

I need something new, something fresh, which also brings me to my brand. I know who I am. I know what I like to read. I certainly know what I like to write. And I will be perfectly frank, I write what I would want to read. Sounds simple right? Wrong. Once again, I need to build my relationship with readers. Which is why I’m firing up the old blog again.

Facebook has done a bang-up job of hiding posts from my followers and potential followers. They want me to pay for every post to be seen. Well, I’m sorry, I don’t have that kind of money laying around. I have to be wise when I invest my money and my time as an author. Just like you do when you’re thinking of trying a new-to-me author with a shiny book cover and a promising blurb. I’m a reader too, I know. *wink*

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I picked up two part-time jobs to pay for my self-publishing. The problem was, it stole all my time from writing and marketing. My writing fizzled out. I had no direction. So, I made the decision to leave those jobs behind and focus on my writing again.

YOU are going to be the biggest help in having me succeed in my goal this year. When I say Focus on the Relationship, I mean the relationship with you as a reader. ❤

Readers are KEY. Why am I spending the money and the time writing and editing a book if no one will read it? I will gladly write it for me. But I want to see the joy and delight when someone dives into one of my stories and loses themselves if only for a short period of time.

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I love creating worlds and characters and romance. I truly believe it’s my calling in life. But I can’t write if I don’t have readers.

I promise to do my part. I have a list of stories that long to be shared with the world. Your love, encouragement, and support are more important than you know.

If you love an author’s work, let them know.  It could be the encouragement they need on a day when they just want to give up writing altogether.

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Here’s to a new year. I hope you will join me on my journey of writing self-discovery. I have faith it will be a productive adventure for both of us. Be sure to follow for updates. There are some fun blog posts planned for this year.

May your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten