Monthly Archives: December 2013

Goodbye To 2013

As with most years, 2013 brought highs and lows to my life.  Unfortunately, the lows have had more lasting consequences than the highs, so I’m not sorry to see this year pass.  Hopefully, 2014 will offer opportunity for positive changes.Good-bye-bye-2013-wallpaper

But let’s not be maudlin.  Looking back, I want to acknowledge some of my favorite books and songs of the year (because a good love story or song can brighten any day, week, month, or year!).

Books:

My favorite read last year was probably Me Before You by JoJo Moynes.  This story really hit all the right notes for me emotionally (but have Kleenex handy).   I also read my first Courtney Milan book (the first of many to follow), Unveiled, and fell head over heels for the charming Ash Turner.  I also fell for a hot, cocky, serial-killing ghost (well, by the end of the second book, I’m pretty convinced he was wrongly accused) in Karen Robards‘ new series The Last Victim/The Last Kiss Goodbye (he reminded me of Sawyer from LOST).  Unfortunately, I have to wait until August for the third book…sigh.  I read a few more Kresley Cole books, my favorite being Shadow’s Claim.  I should give a nod to the one and only work of literary fiction I read this year, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, a gritty, compelling, disturbing story.

Music:

I discovered a couple of new-to-me bands I really like, including Australia’s The Paper Kites (the song Bloom is super sweet, and there are a few others on that album that are equally nice), and Family of the Year (their song Hero is great).  Lyric-master Sara Bareilles put out another great album, which includes a song that will long reside on my favorites list (Brave…love every word of this anthem).   While my long-time crush, Justin Timberlake’s, new album was a disappointment, I do enjoy the songs Mirror and Blue Ocean Floor.   I also enjoyed tapping my toes to ZZ Ward’s Put The Gun Down.  And like so many others, totally indulged in the guilty pleasure of dancing around my house (or car, or vacation pool) to Robin Thicke’s cheesy but fun Blurred Lines.

How about you?  Any favorite books or songs you’d like to share with me?

XO-Jamie

Christmas Wish For The Lonely

Many of us are busy finishing preparations for family parties, wrapping last minute gifts, boarding flights to visit distant relatives, and generally getting excited for the holiday and the dawning of another year.23728463_s

As I sit here taking a break from my own cleaning spree before my guests arrive, I want to take a moment to say a simple prayer for all of those who are dreading the holiday because they feel utterly alone, lost someone dear, or are unable to reconnect with family and friends (such as soldiers abroad).  As someone who has struggled with depression throughout my life, I’m acutely aware of how quickly one can tumble into a state of despair, and how the sense of isolation is exaggerated when everyone else seems merry and bright.

And although recently I’ve been enjoying a long stretch of good mental health, each holiday I remember my family members who are no longer with us.  With Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra singing old sentimental favorites in the background, I wonder how my grandparents or step-father might view my growing children, my foray into writing, and any number of other little things I’ll never be able to share with those who were once so central in my life.

So if I can help even one sad person feel thought of today, then I hope this wish finds him or her and reminds them that there is always love, hope, and good life to be had when they are ready to reach out and participate.

Merry Christmas and may 2014 bring good cheer to all.

XO-jamie

Let Love In

We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present ~ Marianne Williamson

As a writer of romantic women’s fiction, this statement catches my attention because it speaks to the internal conflict attributed to most characters in contemporary love stories.  Regardless of the subgenre, characters’ mental/emotional barriers to, or fears about, getting involved in a romantic relationship typically stem from some deeply-rooted past hurt (abandonment by a parent, betrayal of an ex-lover, and so on).  The painful experience changed the character’s beliefs, thereby affecting his or her ability to be vulnerable to new love going forward.images-1

In real life, many people also blame past betrayals for an inability to find new love (or build friendships or healthy familial relationships).  But this is where the truth in Ms. Williamson’s statement is so obvious.  Allowing an old hurt to inhibit us keeps us from extending ourselves.  By withholding our own love, we weaken opportunities to foster new (or strengthen existing) relationships.  In other words, we promote a self-fulfilling prophecy of loneliness and isolation.

Of course, ultimately the quote perfectly articulates the character arc of most heroes and heroines in well-developed romances.  The character begins the story in fear, creeps close to vulnerability, experiences a setback and retreats, and then finally moves fully into courage.   I think this is one of the fundamental reasons romance novels enjoy such popularity.   As readers, we root for those characters to find the courage we ourselves seek, and when they do, it gives us hope that we, too, may find our wings and fly.

If you’re holding onto a past hurt, perhaps 2014 is the year to let it go and move forward with an open heart.  Anyone else have suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions?

xo-jamie

Heroic Men

When you hear the words “heroic men,” you probably first think about soldiers, policemen, firemen, and others who protect and save lives.  Next you might also consider teachers, doctors, and other professionals who enrich or improve the lives of others.  But today I’d like to salute all the men who are heroic in the way they love their partners.I-just-need-someone-who-can-make-me-feel-that-Im-the-only-one-300x300

A friend shared a Buzzfeed post on her Facebook page today about Bob Carey, a husband who was willing to make a fool of himself in order to lift his wife’s spirits during her chemotherapy.  As I scrolled through the photos of that nearly naked guy in his pink tutu, my heart melted into a puddle on the floor around me.  I adore the fact his love has no pride, no vanity…no limits!   Talk about a real-life hero and love story.  His actions epitomize the loving relationship many romance writers try so hard to create in four hundred pages or less.  A tall order, to be sure!

I have to take a moment to also acknowledge my cousin’s husband, who recently organized a “last day of radiation” surprise for her at the conclusion of her breast cancer treatments.  He’d coordinated three “mini-parades” along the route home from the hospital.  One was comprised of his entire extended family, standing on a sidewalk along the route home from the hospital, holding signs and releasing pink balloons.  The next stop on the parade route was the elementary school where they both work, where dozens of teachers and their families stood carrying signs and pink balloons.  The final stop was their own neighborhood, where neighbors and her extended family waited with balloons and cake.  Needless to say, my cousin was overwhelmed by the love he demonstrated with his tremendous planning, and by the love she felt from all of the participants who took the time to show up and mark the occasion.

Although these two examples occurred during or following extremely emotional and frightening circumstances, I know there are hundreds of other real-life display of love out there – small moments when an unexpected gesture goes beyond the norm – that prove real men know how to love better than the most swoon-worthy fictional romance heroes.

Care to share a real-life example of heroic love?

xo-jamie

Holiday Giveaway!

UPDATE:  CONTEST NOW CLOSED.  It’s 5:06 PM on Sunday…and the winner is Jenny Marks!!  Thanks to all for playing, and for the great suggestions.  I’m excited to get started on this new “to be read” list.

 

What does one do when she wakes up to a foggy December morning with a case of the blahs?  Decide to play Santa, that’s what! images

It’s been quite some time since I’ve offered a giveaway on the blog, so let’s fire one up for the holidays.  How about a $30 gift card from Amazon, Kindle, or iTunes (winner’s choice)?

I think this contest should involve some give and take, and what I’d like from you is a good book recommendation.   When it comes to romances reads, it’s all about the heroes to me.  Personally, I’m a sucker for somewhat troubled heroes who have a lot to overcome.  I also like the introverts and heroes with a clever sense of humor.  I’m not so enthralled with the popular billionaire alpha-males dominating the contemporary romance scene these days.  Guess it’s no wonder I tend to prefer historical romance.

Given my peculiar taste, my all-time favorite heroes (off the top of my head) are Jamie Fraser (Outlander/Diana Gabaldon), Winter Makepeace (Thief of Shadows/Elizabeth Hoyt), and Viscount St. Vincent (Devil in Winter/Lisa Kleypas).  If forced to look at contemporary heroes, I’d probably pick Hardy Cates (Blue Eyed Devil/Lisa Kleypas) or Oliver Rain (Wildest Hearts, Jayne Ann Krentz), and in the paranormal realm, I loved vampire Prince Trehan Daciano (Shadow’s Claim/Kresley Cole).  Each of these guys had a unique sense of honor (despite mistakes made) and abiding love for their respective heroines.

Now that I’ve shared my list, I’d like to meet some new heroes!  So, to enter the contest, leave the name of a good book and/or romance hero in the comment section.  I don’t care if the book is fifteen years old…it may still be “new to me.”  Also, while I prefer historical romance, I read just about everything (including non-romance) so don’t be shy to introduce me to something unexpected.

I’ll close the contest at 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 8th.  Once the winner is selected, I’ll announce it here and on my Facebook page.  The winner can contact me privately with his or her mailing address (or email address).

Thanks for playing!  Can’t wait to add to my “to be read” pile! xo-Jamie