An Evening of Romance.
What image do the words evening and romance conjure up for you?
A hand-in-hand stroll on a shoreline bathed in twilight's lavender glow...long, savory kisses beneath a golden summer moon...rich wine and red roses on a candlelit table for two?
Maybe it's hands folded behind your heads, you and your love wishing upon stars as you gaze from the bed of a pickup truck. It could be pizza on the sofa as you settle in to watch a favorite TV show together. If you're really lucky, it's the everyday blessing of being happy -- truly happy -- to see each other at the end of the day.
Or if you're like me, it's setting off the smoke alarm's obnoxious ambiance as you burn his special dinner, then realize that the package of his favorite rolls is out in the back yard, swiped from the counter and carried through the dog door by your Black Lab.
And just what makes that romantic?
It's the moment when he laughs, wraps his arms around you from behind and says those three little words every woman longs to hear: "Let's eat out."
My late husband (John) and I were very romantic, but often in a sitcom way. I Love Lucy things just happened to us, but that's okay because we found laughter to be bonding. We even had a special expression we used when one of us said or did something that the other found to be exceptionally funny.
"That's a peach, Hon!"
That line, borrowed from the movie Caddyshack, was a true term of endearment for us, but we also found it romantic to show PDA, which we did by sharing kisses in the stadium when our favorite football team scored a touchdown. Truth is, we were doing kiss-cam before kiss-cam was around. We were also spontaneous smoochers when we both won a hand of blackjack while side-by-side at a table in Vegas. And if the pit boss decided to comp us a steak dinner in the casino's restaurant...well, the night would just turn downright magically perfect.
John, my eternal Valentine.
One of the most romantic things John ever did, though, was give me eleven roses. No, the florist wasn't running short and this wasn't some weird one-shy-of-a-dozen special at the Blooming Bargain Basement. Right after we'd gotten engaged, he had to travel for out-of-state business. On his way to the airport, he slipped into my apartment and left a vase of eleven roses on the counter with a note that said:
"There were twelve roses in this bouquet, but I took one with me so you'll know I'm thinking of you."
Awwww, right? It really was.
Our 23rd wedding anniversary came up a fast five weeks after his untimely death in July of 2015. I had eleven roses delivered to myself. Sad and pathetic? Not at all. They were beautiful and made me happy.
Another thing John did that I found romantic? He read the manuscript for my now newly released (November 2016) book, Watching the Water.
Now this was a big deal because John was a Tom Clancy guy -- not, and I mean not, a historical romance guy. But he kicked back in his manly man recliner and read every single word of Watching the Water then told me to take it as far as I could. To shoot for the moon. This thrilled me, and honestly, John reading and liking my book was a whole lot more than romantic. It was all out, full blown HOT.
I love that John supported my writing and wish he was here to share the exciting season of my book being published. I carry on, though, and just had the delightful opportunity to take part in an event called An Evening of Romance, hosted by The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia, owned by Jennifer Gillman, who I first met last September when I presented at the Southern Independent Bookseller Association's trade show in the charming, so-southern, moss-draped city of Savannah, Georgia.
The Book Exchange, Marietta, Georgia. February 9, 2017.
An Evening of Romance was held February 9, 2017. Along with author Lisa Ricard Claro (www.lisaricardclaro.com), I spent the evening hours interacting with passionate bibliophiles (some of my favorite kind of people) who came out on this chilled, windy night. Yet, it was wonderfully warm in Jennifer's store, with its shelves and shelves of books and books that makes you feel tucked-in and happy, wanting to sleep over and slumber party with your girls for all-night reading, laughing, snacking and more reading. It's very easy to understand why The Book Exchange has a loyal following of customers, book clubs and even a group called the Ninja Knitters. It's truly a community and I'd encourage anyone in the area to drop by. Heck, I'd encourage anyone not in the area to take a road trip to Marietta and check out this independent bookseller. http://www.bookexchangemarietta.com/
I particularly enjoy the Q&A session at events like An Evening of Romance. At this gathering, one of the questions discussed was why romance? Of all the book genres to write for, what lures an author to this one? For me, it goes back to Shakespeare penning "the course of true love never did run smooth in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Granted, this is a comedy set in a place named Fairyland, but real love is rarely as simple as they met, they hit it off, they lived happily ever after. Writing romance invites me to explore the human condition of what makes people who they are and what motivates them to do as they do -- and to love who they love.
What is a love story without characters we give our hearts to? And how do we love characters who lack depth? It's hard to, so we must fill them to the brim. Of all the genres, romance most lets me sculpt a story that draws from the full well of life -- the beauty and joy, the ugly and sorrow, and the dreams and devastation. I can blend many facets of personalities and experiences to create characters who walk out life and triumph, characters my readers will feel like they know.
And finally, God created us to love. So no matter who you are, doesn't everyone love a love story?
May your world be filled with its own love stories, including the ones that aren't romantic. All those we love are significant others, so may we contribute to each other in ways that are positive and good. Here's hoping your Valentine's Day is all you want and need it to be.
It's Romance Week at Goodreads! My publisher (BQB/WriteLife), distributor (IPG) and I invite you to enter to win a copy of Watching the Water. The giveaway is through February 14, 2017 and there will be three winners.
The Book Exchange, Marietta, Georgia, February 9, 2017