Day 31 Connie Brockway – Adventure & Participation

Romance – Dreams, Respite & Entertainment

I think I was predestined to write romance novels. I mean, really. “Constance Brockway?” It sounds like one of Eleanor Hibbert’s pseudonyms. Even as a little kid, I loved a love story. In fact, I penned (okay, painstakingly printed) my first romance in the first grade and a thrilling little fable it was, too, about a boy squirrel who wants to befriend a girl chipmunk. You might not see romance in there, but I assure you in my little girl mind there was love brewing in that tree. Thanks to a fond mother, I still have that story stowed away in a cedar trunk.  No Place for a Dame by Connie Brockway

Even then, writing a romance in its most nascent form, I understood that there is simply nothing more gratifying than a well told story of romance. Because that squirrel-chipmunk story encapsulated what all romance authors and readers look for in a story, the emotional choreography between two people, or in this case rodents, trying to overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties (in this case, a trans-species one) in order to be together.

My romance bent started early and it stayed with me. All through high school and college and grad school, my ferocious reading habit included a hefty number of romances. Other books challenged my perceptions and fostered a love of learning and the written word, but romance nourished my sense of adventure and cemented in me a determination to never settle for less in any relationship. It’s not an accident that after a male friend told me he’d dreamt I was locked in a tower and he’d rescued me, I threw caution (and probably my jeans) to the wind and embarked on a passionate love affair with him. Thirty some years later, that particular romance is still going strong.

And later in my life, when I finally decided to test the worth of my degree in creative writing, I spent all of twenty-four hours contemplating the old saw “write what you know” before starting to tap out a romance. Because I know romance.
Romance novels transcends class and race and gender by tapping into universal tropes. They encourage us to dream, provide a respite from the daily grind, and fuel the imagination.

A romance novel offers unapologetic, substantive, transportive entertainment that requires no apology and no explanation. For those readers who enjoy it, romance is not only a helluva good time but, more importantly, it’s their chosen way to spend their time.

Now, I like canning jam, I like sewing, and I like gardening. I like the sense of accomplishment I get when proudly surveying neatly weeded rows of tomato plants or jars of bread-and-butter pickles. But a sense of accomplishment is not a substitute for the rich worlds explored between the pages of a book, and it can’t compare with the thrill of slipping into a heroine’s skin to feel her breathless anticipation on experiencing that first kiss with her hero.

In romance novels, we walk avenues closed to us in real lives, heading out on a journey of  both discovery and sacrifice, a love story where everything is hyperbolized, the men manlier, the women more vibrant, colors richer, the dialogue wittier, the passion stronger, the sex better.

And because this is the written word, every reader subtly changes and molds the story they read by becoming an essential part of it. It is the individual reader’s personal history that informs every scene. Your imagination provides the background noise in a ballroom, the quality of light in a predawn love scene, the timbre of the hero’s voice, the scent in a night blooming garden. A romance novel not invites only reader participation; it relies on it.

I don’t know how many more romance novels I will write. Soon after starting my third novel, I distinctly remember telling a friend “I think I have five romances in me.” That was twenty books ago. Romance kept and keeps surprising me. I keep imagining tales that need telling and conjuring up heartbreaking, hilarious, sophisticated, broad, raunchy, demure,  passionate people to inhabit them. And when I run out of those? Well, there’s a squirrel and chipmunk in my mom’s cedar trunk…

Recommendations: A MAN ABOVE REPROACH by Evelyn Pryce, set in 1830s London. It won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – Romance and will be published in October by Montlake. I’d also like to mention the late, great, inimitable Edith Layton.


 Questions for Connie:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

The multicolored pencil holder my daughter made in art camp when she was 7 because it’s the multicolored pencil holder my daughter made in art camp when she was 7.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

UFF-DA starring Cate Blanchett (it’s my fantasy , so leave me alone!)

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

Season tickets to the Jungle Theater (local top-notch playhouse).

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

The “You are my Egypt” scene from AS YOU DESIRE.


 

You are reading this essay at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.

Connie is generously donating three copies of NO PLACE FOR A DAME to US readers. To enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 31 to be eligible, though winners will be announced at a later date.

Also visit the Awesome Contests page to register this week to win a Kindle Paperwhite and “A Month of Romance” (31 books) from Amazon Montlake, or  the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!

If you love Read-A-Romance Month and decide to buy recommended books, please consider using the links from the site. Every bit helps and I do get a tiny percentage of sales. Thank you for considering it!


Connie’s early years are shrouded in mystery. What we do know is sketchy and incomplete but will be presented here in lieu of another way to fill space. Brockway claims to be a native of either Minnesota or New York. Neither has been confirmed. She also claims to be thirty-two. No one has even bothered looking into this.

We do know she was attending graduate school at the University of Minnesota when she became involved with medical student, David Brockway. At some point they apparently legalized the relationship because when next she surfaces, she is sporting a new surname and a daughter.

A decade of relative anonymity ensues– except for the infamous alien encounter photographs which have, of course, now been debunked. No substantiated records occur until 1994 when Brockway published her first book, PROMISE ME HEAVEN. Since then she has written over twenty full-length novels and anthology stories, bringing the current number of her books in print to over 1,500,000 published in thirteen countries.

Brockway has twice received coveted Publishers Weekly starred reviews and unqualified recommendations from Library Journal, as well as two starred reviews from the Library Journals organ, BOOKLIST. Her 2004 title, My Seduction was named one of 2004s top ten romance by that same industry magazine.

An eight time finalist for Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, Brockway has twice been its recipient, first in 1998 for My Dearest Enemy and in 2002 for The Bridal Season. Her books regularly appear on national and regional bestseller lists and are frequent Doubleday/Literary Guild selections.

Today Connie lives in Minnesota with her husband David, a family physician, and two spoiled mutts.

 

Buy Connie’s Books on Amazon

  • Nancy Huddleston

    Thank you for your wonderful romances. I enjoy them.

  • Laurie W G

    Thanks for sharing your own HEA!

    20 books WOW! I will look for NO PLACE FOR A DAME.

    I do like Edith Layton’s books. I didn’t know she had died.

  • Kim Cornwell

    I’ve meeting new authors. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Donna Logan Brown

    Connie, I especially like your statement, “entertainment that requires no apology and no explanation.” This is so true in my opinion. Your books also bring joy and fulfillment. So glad you could be a part of Bobbi’s wonderful venture. So sad to see it coming to an end.

  • Donna

    You wrote, ” I understood that there is simply nothing more gratifying than a well told story of romance.”

    “Well told” is the key to that sentence, and maybe I’m too critical, but I don’t think there are very many authors in this genre, even extremely popular ones, who tell a story as well as you do. In fact, you probably heard a resounding, “YES!” all the way from the Bluegrass of central Ky. when you recommended the “You are my Egypt” scene from AS YOU DESIRE.

    I love your books; thank you for the chance to win another one!

  • Valerie

    I’ve loved your novels for years now and I am always eagerly awaiting your next one, so I hope you’ve more than a few left, then again reading your chipmunk/squirrel one might be interesting as well.

  • Polly

    Always looking forward to your next book, and not beyond reading a trans-species novel or two … you were just ahead of the curve.

  • Aislinn Kearns

    I think it says everything that as soon as I read “The “You are my Egypt” scene from AS YOU DESIRE.” I got a HUGE smile on my face and did a loud Happy Sigh.

  • Karin Anderson

    I love the way you put the reader’s experience. Each person sees the story unfold in different ways. The subtleties are up to the reader alone.

  • Britney Adams

    As a first-time reader, I look forward to the “You are my Egypt” scene from AS YOU DESIRE! Thank you for sharing!

  • Rosemarie N.

    I love discovering new authors you are now on my list. Thanks.

  • mariannewestrich

    You description of the reader’s experience reminds me of the quote, “an author begins the story … the reader finishes it!” 😎

  • Emily Wheeler

    I love the bio, so mysterious ;). I have never read your books but have seen As You Desire on many a ‘best of romance’ list, and you have been on my tbr list for a long time! I will finally have to pick it up & read it now so I can find out about this “You are my Egypt” scene!

  • Meredith Richardson

    That pencil holder looks great 🙂 My little cousin recently made me something similar except it was bright pink and purple with strange looking flowers. It might not look the greatest but I couldn’t resist when she came home from school beaming and so proud of her accomplishment.

  • M Kuxhaus

    Wonderful bio, even better books. I did love the “you are my Egypt” scene.

  • Hi Connie! Thank you so much for sharing with us today. What a cute pencil holder 🙂

  • Pamby50

    I love that your Mom kept your first written story in the cedar chest. It must be something about squirrels at that age. I still have the one my daughter wrote. Looking forward to reading your books.

  • Ann

    Thank you for this post and your wonderful books!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I just got your book, As You Desire; I’m really looking forward to reading the, “You are my Egypt” scene!

    “…because this is the written word, every reader subtly changes and molds the story they read by becoming an essential part of it. It is the individual reader’s personal history that informs every scene.” I love the idea that no book is the same for any reader, even when it is the same book and the same author, because the reader brings a different set of background experiences and interpretations to each story. That’s really pretty cool when you think about it.

  • jcp

    I’ll be looking for your books.

  • glittergirl54

    I wrote a story about a cat and dog who fell madly in love while I was in grade school. They had a litter of cats and dogs colored like their opposite parent, lol. Alas I was not blessed with the writer gene but I did go on to be creative in textile and paper arts. You are so right about exploring life through our books. I have found stories that have helped my heal and experience things I’d never be able to in real life. Thank you for adding to those experiences.

  • Sue G.

    I read The Other Guy’s Bride by Connie and it was awesome. Could not put it down. Such a great, strong heroine. Maybe someday we will get to see the squirrel/chipmunk story.

  • Tonda Galloway Hargett

    I have something similar to your pencil holder, but not quite as grand as yours. I use it to hold pocket change. But no matter how they look, they really are the best gifts!

  • Kareni

    Wow, you met and married your husband at age two — that’s pretty impressive/scary! Many thanks for your wonderful books. My favorite to date is My Dearest Enemy; I love a good epistolary novel.

  • Marcy Shuler

    How lucky that your mom saved your squirrel/chipmunk love story. I’m giggling at the thought of the little squirmunks those two would have. 😀

  • Larena Hubble

    I think the squirrel/chipmunk story if funny. Love that your mom kept it for you.

  • Shar Madsen Cardona

    i would love to read no place for a dame!

  • Anne

    Thank you for the great essay!

  • Glenda

    The fact that the reader’s imagination helps fill in the details of every scene is part of what makes reading so , uch better than watching a movie about a book!

  • Azucena Rodriguez

    Another new-to-me author I am excited to try 🙂

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I loved As You Desire & I would recommend that one also! And I love that you found your own knight in shining armor!

  • Barbara E.

    Loved the essay Connie, and the author bio is hilarious. I too have some pretty ugly homemade things that I will never relinquish, anything made by my child is golden. 😀

  • WinnieP

    Your daughter showed talent as a 7 year old. That’s an adorable pencil holder.

  • Tin

    That’s a very nice pen holder. ^_^ I am looking forward to the day when my kids will start bringing home their little craft gifts for me.

  • Mary McCoy

    Thank you for your books! There is a big smile on my face thinking about the ‘You are my Egypt” scene.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Hi Connie! I really enjoyed your blogpost today, especially because it was written in the same way and with the same dedication that you put into your novels: straight from the hip and the heart. Who else could have me laughing out loud just visualizing you throwing caution, heart AND jeans to the wind for love and romance?! Well done, Brava! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of “No Place for a Dame.”

    Hugs,
    Flora

  • Tawnya Bentley

    Love the pencil holder!!!!! My kids think I’m “hokey” because I have kept everything they have ever made for me. And I think in my son’s eye’s (just days from being 17 yrs old) the worst thing I’ve ever done is cried over a porcelain dolphin he painted for me when in a wresting match the bookshelf it was on was bumped and the dolphin fell and shattered.
    Love your books!!!

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your essay. I would love to read the story about the squirrel and the chipmunk. 🙂

  • Jen C

    “A romance novel offers unapologetic, substantive, transportive entertainment that requires no apology and no explanation” — I love this because it is right on and very intelligently worded (unlike my sloppy commentary). 🙂

  • Anna

    Haha, that pencil holder reminds me of the toothbrush holder that I made in an after school pottery class when I was younger. It doesn’t really work for toothbrushes, but I was so proud of having made it!

  • Kim

    I’m currently finishing up grad school and reading romance is a very welcome break!! I can’t imagine a time when I won’t read romance.

  • MooMoo Cake

    I’m so glad you had more than 5 romances in you. I’ve enjoyed reading your books and look forward to participating in more of them as a reader 🙂

  • leah g

    I love your essay (and your bio) thanks for sharing.

  • Brenda E

    Loved your blog, Connie. You also reminded me of a memory, also some 30 odd years ago. My intro to Romance was through gothic romances, specifically Victoria Holt. I was hooked, reading every one of them I could find. They impacted me so much I decided to write my first fan letter. A kind librarian steered me to a resource book showing her real identity, Eleanor Hibbert of course, and I was so disappointed to find I had waited too late to write that sweet lady. Love your books, Connie. Glad it’s not to late to let you know that. 🙂

  • rebecca moe

    I LOVE that scene in As You Desire! 🙂 Thanks for writing.

  • J.J.

    The Golden Season was your first book I read…. for some reasons many of your books have taken up residence on my book shelves since. 😀

  • BookLady

    Thanks for sharing your journey of writing romance. You should definitely turn the squirrel and chipmunk story into a picture book for children.

  • Janie McGaugh

    The pencil holder is adorable. I’ve read a number of your books and really enjoyed them, but I haven’t read As You Desire, yet. I’ll have to get a copy and read it.

  • Bernadette Long

    I love your creative bio and it’s wonderful that you have your own romantic hero.

  • Beverly DeeAnjello

    I have a silver dollar size beige shallow clay dish that my son made me meant moons ago. I’m not quite sure what it is, but it was made with love, I hope, lol

  • Kim

    I’ve enjoyed both your contemporary books and your historicals

  • Pam P

    Connie, I love your books, and that scene in As You Desire. Another top favorite book is your All Through the Night and I am so happy we all will finally get to read Giles story in the new book!