Why I Write Romance Novels

Last night, at writer’s group, we discussed with the group, what projects we’re working on. And as I opened up about the historical fiction that I so dearly love and have recently gotten back into writing, we discussed the aspects of romance in novels, especially in Christian novels.

Despite technically being labeled a “Christian romance novelist,” I hate, no despise, the romance genre. Why? Because 99% of it is graphic garbage, that focuses on the shallow end of lust. The entire group agreed.

So the question came up of what makes my work different, and how I can justify writing it if I hate the genre so much.

The answer: I use romance to tell a story, I don’t use a story to tell romance.


Image credit: Marina Shemesh

That might seem a subtle difference, but it’s really not. In fact, it’s the most significant difference that exists in any genre. When your plot devices are used to tell a story, they work. When a story is used to portray a plot device, well, there is no story.

I use romance to tell the story of people. Nearly all of my fiction is biographical. Whether it’s the story of a girl in love with a rock star, like in Nobody’s Girl, or my first heroine, an abused child who ran away from home and fell in love with her rescuer, their romances tell the story that’s at the core of my being. The stories all come back to the one and only message I live for: the salvation offered in Jesus Christ to all.

My characters are often marginalized and betrayed by the people that they should be able to trust. They live through broken relationships, often abusive lives, and never have things easy in any department of life. Why? Because I can relate to them. I’ve been betrayed, abandoned, rejected, unwanted, abused, forgotten and ignored. And, since you’re alive, you have experienced most, if not all, of these tragedies yourself.

And romance is one things that nearly every human being on the planet has in common. We all want one–a beautiful, glorious, earth-stopping love story that changes us and everyone around us.

And that, dear readers, is why I use human love to depict heavenly love through earthly situations and struggles.


Life as a Full-Time Writer

Most writers dream of quitting their “real world” jobs to join the few who can make a living as a writer. I’ve finally made it! And thoroughly enjoying this freedom, the massive amounts of research, and the ebb and flow of words mixed up in deadlines and goals.

I’m writing for a couple of different companies, doing very different types of writing projects. The skills I pick up in the one are applied to the other. The skills I’ve picked up along the way through becoming a full-time writer (writing tests, application sample writing, etc.) have all fed this development as a writer as well. I apply all of these new skills to my work that’s both consistent and paid, and to the things I write for fun.


Image credit: Francisco Farias Jr

The best part is that writing non-fiction for a paycheck has expanded my world of knowledge for the fiction I write and frees up my schedule and life to write for myself. I’m still working on novels, memoirs and my own nonfiction pieces (as well as blogs), and setting my own schedule, being able to work from anywhere, and being able to enjoy long stints in front of my windows helps my life gain peace and non Type-A structure. I work 30-40 hours weekly, allowing myself time for whatever I need throughout the day and week, taking breaks from work to write blogs, exercise, do other jobs (like tour guiding), walking or playing with the cat, and, well, watching t.v. with my husband when he’s not feeling well.

It’s not a perfect life, by any stretch, but it is a good life. I’m able to work full-time, but take time to travel, do ministry, write my novels, do my fitness training, and enjoy social time. Plus, you know, doing one of my great loves for a living! That’s pretty good to me.

Why I Tried Something New for NaNoWriMo 2017

Like those in every other profession, writers get into ruts. And though I wasn’t particularly in a rut this past October when I decided to try a whole new genre, I knew it was possibly a great preventative to avoid becoming rutted. So, the idea for the Eden Blum mystery series was birthed. I love reading a variety of genres, so I thought I’d try writing one of those that I thought I could never write: a mystery.

I decided to start with cozy mystery, as those are less “hardcore” than things like Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs write. I have vision for a stage play to write in the more hardcore realm, but a novel–my first mystery novel–wasn’t the place to start with hardcore work since I only had 30 days in which to write it (and no time ahead to research).

It was still intimidating to step into a new genre world, though. I kept thinking, “There’s no way I’ll pull this off.” I had always assumed I couldn’t write a mystery of any kind without years of research. Heck, I haven’t written any book before that wasn’t loaded with years of research and personal knowledge of the main topic. The “For the Love of Music” is saturated with knowledge from my own musical education, experiences, et cetera, plus the heavy research I did interviewing musicians, studying life and career histories of famous bands and musicians, and hundreds of hours analyzing music.

But this new book, the Eden Blum mystery, I just chucked it all in and did it without researching prior to writing.

It was an odd freedom filled with mild terror. “I’m not cut out for this genre!” echoed through my head a thousand times over that 30 days. “This is absolute rubbish!” chimed in my research loving self. But I pushed through the stupid voices in my head, and I did it. I wrote an entire mystery novel on my first attempt. I didn’t have to give up and abandon the idea–I didn’t give into the fear that I couldn’t do it.

The book will require hundreds of hours in editing and revising, but she’s still a book. And I’ve grown as a writer for taking that scary goal on and smashing it over the head with winning NaNoWriMo 2017.

What are some of the ways you’ve been pushed as a writer? Have you ever written something completely out of your scope before? How did it go?

5 Writing Tools for Inspiration

Today I thought I would share 5 tools that I use for inspiration when I’m feeling a little blocked.

  1. Story Cubes–these little guys have images on them, and are shaped like dice. You toss them, and take the images from them to craft a tale.
  2. Pinterest–I go searching for the term “writing prompt” and discover ideas this way.
  3. Dictionary.com–I simply open the site and look for the word of the day (which should be at the top of the home screen). I use this word to write a scene.
  4. Flickr.com–Going to the front page for Flickr will bring up new photos I haven’t seen before. These images are the prompt–either a combination of 5 or 6 images, and a solo image can be the prompt for writing a piece.
  5. On this Day–there are many apps and sites out there that will give you a recap of the world’s history, based upon today’s calendar date. I can use any of these facts from the day’s “on this day” bit to prompt and write a short story or article.

What are some of the tools you use to induce creativity?

The Lonely Maple Wood: My Origin Story

In the forest of north Florida, there stood a tiny, lonely maple tree. With bright green leaves and not quite enough sunshine, this little tree fought its way upward toward the life giving light. And this tree, on the land my family bought when I was fourteen, was the thing that inspired me to become a writer.

The title, inspired by the piece “Tales from the Vienna Woods” by Johann Strauss, pulled me into the world of crafting stories and imagery through written word. The little tree, inspiring the piece, gave the impetus to begin the tale.


I have not a clue what was written in the 300 word short story about a lone maple tree, surrounded by echoing oaks and towering pines. I do know, however, that that piece is one that’s meaning I will never forget. And I am forever grateful to the darling little tree that pricked my heart with song and rhyme and word and created a writer out of me.

Thank you, thou now large and sturdy maple. Thank you, for once being lonely.

A Writer’s Life Balance with Reality

Have you ever had that undying urge to sit down and write that next part of your death-defying action novel, and then the reality of life smacks you in the face in the form of a crying baby or unpaid bills screaming louder than any kid ever could?

Thus has been my life of late. Every time I sit down to write some fiction since winning NaNoWriMo in late November, I have had no time for writing for pleasure. Sure, being a copywriter and research brief composer gives me a hint of the writing satisfaction, but there’s nothing quite like creating your own world of characters who demand your presence for their lives.

And my life will continue to be this way until we finalize moving to our new home sometime this week. The kitten is frantic with sniffing boxes, getting onto surfaces she knows she’s not allowed near, and her favorite sleeping spot has become the tip-top of a 7 foot bookshelf, because furniture is piled up against it, and now she can climb to the height of heights. And while she’s running around like mad, I’m dripping with exhaustion trying to meet deadlines and figure out which box I packed that unexpectedly needed dress for new headshot that was due like yesterday…


So, today my balance between writer’s life and “real life” is simply putting off the fictional writing until after we’ve settled into the new apartment. It sucks, but I’ll survive. And as soon as we’re moved in and my office is set up, I’m celebrating by doing as I agreed with NaNoWriMo to do and edit that novel!

How do you find balance between writing and reality?

Team Time Review: Hyson Rooibos

South African Red Bush Snob here. And today, I would like to speak openly with you about the state of Rooibos Tea in America.

Not really. I just want to review a Rooibos that’s actually decent—and available in the U.S.A. After having fallen in love with tea time, and specifically Rooibos, while visiting South Africa for a missions trip in 2004, I have grown accustomed to a certain level of quality in my Rooibos. 95% of what I have found in the States doesn’t remotely live up to my standards.

But there’s a pre-bagged, reasonably easy to come by brand that I can endorse. The Hyson Tea company’s Rooibos.


Rooibos is a naturally caffeine free herbal tea made from a plant found only in South Africa (natively at least). This is known as Red Bush tea. True Rooibos only comes from South Africa.

Rooibos has a delicate and earthy sweet flavor, too often corrupted by add-ons by other brands (such as Celestial Seaonsings’ Madagascar Vanilla). Twinings offers Rooibos as well, but I am unimpressed. However, Hyson, a brand I recently discovered I had already been drinking for a couple of years, offers a pure, unadulterated choice in Rooibos that even this purist snob can approve.

Hyson’s process and packaging (out of Sri Lanka) has kept the smoothness of what one could get in South Africa, while leaving the strength of flavor, and the delicate aroma intact.

So, if you’re looking for a good Rooibos and don’t live in South Africa, try Hyson.


Overall rating: 5 out 5 stars for tea you don’t personally obtain in South Africa