Day 7 Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Heart of the Matter

Life is too shortIf you know me at all or hang out with me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen this graphic before.  Life is too short to make a habit of reading depressing books, and it is definitely too short for me to write them.  I’m basically an optimist, which is why I love popular fiction in general. Popular fiction gives us all a sense of order. A crime will be solved in the mystery novel; the serial killer will be caught in a thriller. In the romance, the lovers will find their happy ending, which means babies will be born and civilization will go on. The great romance novel affirms our core values as a society–values we may believe are slipping away from us. We write about love and justice, trust and loyalty. About forming families and community. The lovers’ path will be treacherous – and almost certainly paved with deliciously hot sex(!) – but our hero and heroine will eventually find their way just as we hope we will find ours. What’s not to love about that?

I receive e-mail from readers all over the world that clearly tells me how challenging women’s lives can be. I hear from readers coping with the death of a spouse, a child; readers dealing with serious health issues; with job loss; and readers who simply want a little “me time” after working hard all day. Our books provide entertainment, inspiration, and a sense of order. We write to the big emotions, and readers love that. They clearly know the difference between reality and fantasy. They simply want a good story, characters they care about, and emotions they can identify with – exactly what the good romance delivers. What I strive to deliver in every one of my books.

I love what I do! Writing stories that explore love, friendship and journeys of personal metamorphosis is affirming and joyful (even though greatescapethe process is sometimes arduous – for me at least). There can’t be anything more satisfying than knowing you’ve found the path in life you were meant to take.

But there’s also something special about this genre. Look at its diversity: from historical to contemporary to futuristic settings. We have social issue romances, romantic comedies, suspense and adventure. We have vampires, werewolves, and regency bucks.  And – more than any other field of popular fiction – the romance genre has proved to be a fertile creative playground for its authors. Jayne Ann Krentz has an interesting take on this, one with which I concur.  She believes that, because the romance genre historically has received so little attention from literary critics and academics, our authors have felt free to fly under the radar and do pretty much whatever they want. No one in the literary establishment (except a few million readers!) is watching us all that closely. This freedom has led to an astonishing degree of innovation that makes it difficult to define exactly what a romance even is these days.

I’ve heard my share of non-readers who don’t get the genre and take joy in putting it down. They don’t matter. Romance fuels our imaginations and, frankly, the publishing industry. Romance and the power of a happy ending fulfill us, entertain us and make us feel better about our world and our lives.

That’s what matters.

Susan is generously donating a copy of the trade edition of The Great Escape to give away internationally (enter here) and a copy of the audiobook of The Great Escape to U.S. 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 midnight EST Aug 8 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


SEPSUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS is proud of having pioneered the sports romance with her 1989 novel Fancy Pants, which was about golf, a sport she declares the most boring in the world, although she fervently hopes her novels are not. Not long after, she created the legendary Chicago Stars football series. In addition, she has written a number of stand-alone novels⎯21 books in all, which have been published in over 30 languages.  She is a New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and USA Today best seller, as well as the 2006 recipient of RWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She is currently working on her next book.



Buy Susan’s books on Amazon.



  • helena rizzuto

    I agree… life is way to short to be sad. Your books dont have that (thank god)

  • Jordan H

    I’m with you all the way; optimism is the best way to approach life. Having a happier outlook overall makes it easier to handle the tough stuff in life.

  • TrishJ

    We are all so busy with the clutter of stuff life throws at us. I read romance books to take me some place where things do turn out okay, and my messy life doesn’t seem quite so impossible. Your books have humor and great quirky characters. I love a happy romance story.

  • lisa

    Your essay confirmed for me why you are the great writer that you are. I identify with all the points you mentioned. Romance for me is entertainment, hope, happiness and even at times shared sorrow but the knowledge that there will be a happy resolution is what keeps me reading them. Thank you for all your wonderful stories.

  • Britney Adams

    I love the graphic…life certainly is too short to read depressing books!!

  • Ketta Peters

    Lovely post — and I agree, the diversity of romance is astounding.

  • Ann

    The graphic says it all!! Happy endings are the best!

  • Jen Ferraro Stepke

    Your books are wonderful! Thank you for the many, many hours of love you have brought into my life! 🙂

  • May

    Love your books! And totally agree with you… life is too short to read depressing books!

  • Cheryl Hastings

    I tend to watch depressing tv shows (Criminal Minds is on right now!) so I only read fun, romantic books. Add in some football, like your Chicago Stars series and I’m a very happy girl 🙂

  • Bette Hansen

    I definitely agree with you…life gives us enough issues to deal with….reading is my escape and I want happiness!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  • Dotty

    The Great Escape and Natural Born Charmer are some of my favorite books! So happy you share your considerable talent with us! Looking forward to the next book:)

  • Karin Anderson

    I enjoyed your essay. I love the diversity in romance, as well. I can read about pirates and cowboys anytime I want. 😀

  • Susan Mallery

    Oh wow, Susan, I’ve said that exact thing and didn’t realize you said it first. 🙂 Life is too short to read depressing books. I don’t understand why anyone would want to. I’m going to give you credit from now on for that quote, if I can catch the blogs that were sent out already…

  • Kim Cornwell

    I love your books and as many have gotten me through life. Most if my life I have been a mom and a caregiver for my disabled husband. I also raise horses and do most of the work! Romance books give me an out of this daily routine. It takes my mind off today’s turmoils. Thanks for all you write! It keeps me sane!

  • Kathleen O

    Susan, your books bring such sunshine into my life.. I know when I read one of your books love and laughter will spill from the pages and make me feel good from the first page to the last.. thank you…

  • Amy McKechney Lang

    Susan, I love the graphic!

  • Ann Mettert

    Love SEP’s books!! And what you’ve said here is just so true!!!

  • Jen C

    Romance certainly does make the world better! 🙂

  • Kristy Birch

    I love the diversity of romance too! We get the best of everything; mystery, suspense/spy, si-fi, historical, comedy but all of it, we know, will end with two people finding in each other something wonderful. What could be better? The haters have no idea what they are missing!

  • Gina Burgos

    Thank you Susan for the great romance books you write! Continue your great work 🙂 I enjoy reading your books.

  • Meredith Richardson

    I love your books!! You have a way of spinning tales filled with romance, suspense, and intrigue that allows your readers to escape from their lives. Your books and others allow us to see that dreams can come true and of course give us sizzling intense men to drool over.

  • Linda White

    Heaven, Texas was the first romance novel I ever read. I LOVED it! I haven’t stopped reading them and never will. Thank you!

  • Nicole Fortuna

    I love your books especially Ain’t She Sweet. I couldn’t put it down. You write such wonderful characters! I agree that life is too short to read depressing books and when I do read outside the romance genre I always read a romance next to cheer me up!

  • Robin Ray

    I love the sentiment that “Life is to short to read depressing books” When my son was in Middle School he had an English Teacher that required them to read books that didn’t have particularly happy endings. The only title I recall is “Lord of The Flies” but there were several. A number of us parents questioned the reason after the effect it seemed to be having on our children. Her reason, “Life does not always have a Happy Ending and they need to learn that.” We agreed she had a point but couldn’t they read something with a Happy Ending? I’ve read books where the ending wasn’t so happy and admit they have a place but mostly books are for escaping and feeling better not for getting depressed.

  • Eileen Wetterstrom

    I agree with you. The books I read should not leave me depressed. And it is indeed, surprising that we have such diversity within the genre. There is no need to look elsewhere for a good read. Thank you Susan for your work.

  • Erlinda Mejia

    Love your books! Thanks for sharing the love, tears of sorrow and tears of joy, the humor and the happy endings.

  • Brittany

    Love your books! And the graphic is so true.

  • Cyndee Martin

    Susan from the first book of yours I picked up it was like a wonderful release from life. There is so much real life in your books but never do you forget to help us laugh.
    Thank you for the time you take in writing your books! I have loved everyone of them!

  • Sandi in OH

    I agree with you. I don’t like to read depressing books. I’ve done enough crying in real life. I have always enjoyed your books.

  • Sue G.

    I love happy endings. That is why I read. I get mad when I read book and get blindsided because it was not a HE. I love your books. Keep them coming!

  • MaryC

    The diversity in romance books is wonderful – love your books!

  • Linnea Bassin

    I don’t like depressing books and I don’t like books that wander. I have run into some of those while reading. If a story goes on forever I am going to put it away and move on. My time is valuable and if I am taking time away from family and such I want it to be enjoyable.

  • QuenKne M

    I am a huge fan of your books; thanks for bringing joy, love, and happily-ever-afters to my life through your books.

  • Nancy Huddleston

    Your books are great. They always make me laugh.

  • christinejensen

    Ooh, I love that!! I agree, life is too short to read depressing books. I have always preferred to read happily ever after than depressing stories 🙂

  • glittergirl54

    Oh, I so agree with this post. I read pretty much only romance. Live is to short not to have a happy ending. Romance guarantees this and gives me hope and a fantastic journey along the way. Real life needs an escape once in a while and romance does that. And JAK is right, we’ve flown under the radar for so long we’ve been allowed to explore all the “worlds”. I love it because there is no limit to what fantastic journey our romance authors can take us on :-).

  • Ruth

    I am pretty strictly a straight historical romance girl. Hundreds of years in the past fuels my need to escape without ever leaving the comfort of my home, and the historical aspect feeds my love of, well, history. BUT a year ago, my romance reading buddy, who is a gushing SEP book lover, relentlessly nudged and encouraged me to try Susan’s book, Kiss An Angel. Bliss. How can you go wrong with not only a literal circus full of characters, but a baby elephant who has fallen in love with the heroine? And the human hero is not so bad either! Next, without any nudging or encouragement, I moved on to Dream a Little Dream. Now, all the books from the Chicago Stars series have permanent homes on my book case. If you haven’t read them already, do not miss them! I’m still an historical girl, but Susan is totally worth spending time in the present! Life is too short to read depressing books!

  • Jen

    I read all sorts of books. I like historical and fantasy romance mainly but I am trying to expand my romance reading.

  • Kim

    I enjoy reading all of your books. While there can be serious problems between your characters, you still alkways find the humor in a situation.

  • mbk

    The cereal killer scene in Nobody’s Baby But Mine, might be truly the funniest scene in any book ever written.

    • rebecca moe

      I loved that scene!

    • leah g

      I am adding this to my to read list, funny is good.

  • brhill2010

    I am waiting on one of your books to get to my library that I had put on hold and I am excitedly awaiting anticipation until I can pick it up. Thanks for being part of the creative romance writers!!!

  • Terri C

    I read mostly romances. I have Fibromyalgia and it helps to take my mind off of the pain if I can lose myself in a book. Don’t dare give me anything but a happy ending.

  • sbrinnmerel

    I love these words from SEP! Her Chicago Stars books are among my favorite romances of all time, and I am thrilled every time I pick one up, even if I have read it one hundred times before.

  • christieMI

    okay, I love that graphic at the top of the posting. I need a copy of that. I like reading something that’s ‘real’ life but I’m not wallowing in ‘oh, woe is me,’ no matter how allegedly good or how many prizes a book has won. And when the literary establishment does deign to take notice of the romance genre, it’s too often to sneer. I guess live and let live isn’t part of their community.

  • Rebecca Berus

    I love your books. You always write the most entertaining and interesting characters. Thanks for writing!

  • Melanie Backus

    You are a great writer. Thank you!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I do not understand people who think romance books aren’t “real” books. These books feed my imagination and take me places I would love to travel to. That doesn’t mean I don’t read & enjoy other genres. I just don’t limit myself. Love your books SEP.

  • Joan Varner

    I totally agree with your outlook that “romance fuels our imagination”. No matter where the romance story is set in history, current or future times, we learn and grow along with the characters as they attain their HEA. Thanks, Susan.

  • Marilyn White

    I love your books, thanks for always making me laugh.

  • Marcy Shuler

    “Romance and the power of a happy ending fulfill us, entertain us and make us feel better about our world and our lives.”
    I totally agree!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I love your quote about reading depressing books. I feel the same way about the movies I watch. Thank you for understanding that simple, but important, premise!

  • I get asked all the time, “Why do you read romances?” And it took me a really long time to understand why I did–that includes many years in my English B.A. and M.A. programs pretending that I didn’t read them. Finally, though, I figured it out: life’s too short to read depressing books. I love to study and analyze depressing books. George Gissing–who seems to doom everybody–is one of my favorites. But curled up at home, I want joy. I want the safety of a sure-thing happy ending. I started reading romances as a child. (My mother is still horrified by my fourth grade book report on Stardust and Shadows,) but there was so much violence in my life at that age, I was literally afraid to turn a page if I didn’t know what might come next. So I would probably add, that life’s not just too short, it sometimes has too many trials.

  • MooMoo Cake

    I love your books! I also tend to stay away from depressing books/movies/etc., getting enough of that from the news I see and hear and read. And I really do believe that part of my love for romance novels is that they remind me that some people still exist that believe in the societal values you mentioned. Thank you for writing such beautiful stories and for contributing to this event!

  • Nae

    That’s why I love your books Susan! I like a bit of happy in all my reading.
    Thank you.

  • Dana Shoulders

    I love what you do too! And you know that feeling you get when you take out a coat for the first time that season and find money in the pocket? I had that same feeling when I somehow missed one of your books and realized one day that there was one I hadn’t read. I got to snap it up on Kindle and gloat all day :).

  • M Kuxhaus

    I love your writing, and your Facebook posts. 😉

  • Ardie Ford

    I love your books above all others and reread them and listen to all of them on audio repeatedly…just wished you would write faster 🙂 I hate having to wait in between your books.

  • BookLady

    I love romance with happy ever after endings.

  • Donna Logan Brown

    Your books have been a staple in my library ever since I discovered the Chicago Stars. I picked up your other books along the way. There’s a fondness in my heart for Heaven, Texas. I’ve shed tears over romances, not because they’re depressing, but because they’ve brought joy to my soul. So glad you’re a part of the wonderful RARM.

  • Ella Catella

    Your books are wonderful, the best way to escape life’s little hiccups, I love reading your books because I know along the way I am going to cry and laugh and rejoice when the characters come together as they are ment to. Thank you for making me smile and cry.

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    I love your books SEP! And Yes, romance does bring many Happy endings, thank you for all of yours! ♥

  • Pamby50

    The first book I read by you took place in my favorite city, Chicago. After that I couldn’t get my hands on any other books you wrote fast enough.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I absolutely love romance and I think it is largely due to the vast array of sub-genres. I love to read everything from thrillers to scifi/fantasy to historicals and in the romance genre I can find all of that plus get a happy ending with a heavy dose of steamy fun along the way. I love your books–they’ve given me many hours of escape! Great blog 🙂

  • Miss_Pshaw

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips is my favorite author currently writing. I’ve
    come to realize she’s all about romance, yes, but for people who come
    back from the brink, who are willing to face transformation. Always
    inspiring! My favorite SEP quote also happens to explain why Romance
    Matters: “You try spending six months sitting at somebody’s bedside
    waiting for them to die and then tell me that the happy-ending love
    story isn’t one of God’s good gifts” (said by Sugar Beth Carey sparring with Colin Byrne in “Ain’t She Sweet”). I just spent those six months and can attest it’s true. Thank God for the happy-ending love story!

  • Kim

    I LOVE your books! I’ve read most of your books and I’m always looking forward to the next book you release!

  • I absolutely love that quote. Thank you for sharing happy romance. 🙂

  • leah g

    heh you sound just like one of my good friends. She always harrasses me that life is to short to read anything serious or sad.

  • Bernadette Long

    I love all of your books and they give me a great feeling, too!

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    It was wonderful to finally meet you in person at RWA/Atlanta and at the Margaret Mitchell house event last month, SEP! I’m still trying to convince my Chi Town husband that there is another football team in Chicago besides Da Bears! I hope that meeting you finally did the trick!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Life really is too short to read depressing books! I need that HEA when I am reading, which is why romance novels are such a good fit for me. Your books have that great HEA, with love, romance, humor & a great story.

  • suepeace

    I love that graphic!!! Every time I see it I say “Yes!” 🙂

  • Beverly DeeAnjello

    I live books that are upbeat and fun. Life is definitely too short to escape into something depressing.

  • Rhiannon Rowland

    HEA is the only way to go! Happy Happy Happy!

  • Diane Giarrusso

    Thank you for the many years of reading enjoyment you’ve given me!

  • Dorothy salvagin

    Thank you for loving what you do, we love what you do too!

  • tonda hargett

    I absolutely love romance novels of any kind! I think it’s wonderful that you can do what you love, because we definitely love what you do!

  • Becca Luman

    I love your books! I love being able to curl up with a good book! And I know I’ll get that every time I pick up on of yours!

  • michelle fitzsimons

    Your books are always “a great escape.”. Thank you for sharing your voice with us;-)

  • mariannewestrich

    Can’t wait to read some of your books. You’ve been added to my to-be-read list!

  • Cindy A

    I love your humor and those alpha guys getting knocked on their butts by love!

  • Renee N

    There are a handful of writers that I have had to own every book they’ve written in every form they’re available in, so that I’m never without them. They have been read, re-read and listened to so often that I can’t possible come up with a number. Susan Elizabeth Phillips books are in that group (she had me at “It’s not every day you see a headless beaver walking down the road”), along with Jennifer Crusie, Lani Diane Rich/Lucy March, Toni Blake, Kate MacAlister, Lisa Kleypas, Carly Phillips, Rachel Gibson & Candis Terry. And the list grows……… The level of enjoyment I receive from these gifted authors is immeasurable, and I’m forever grateful to them. I’m 50 and only just began reading for pleasure in 2007 when I was intrigued by the cover of Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie and bought it. I haven’t looked back since and it has now grown into a full on obsession. So I send out heartfelt thanks to you Susan Elizabeth Phillips as well as they others and a hope that you never run out of stories to tell and share.