Day 28 HelenKay Dimon – Romancing My Own HEA

Life-Changing Romance

I was not one of those people who always wanted to write. I sit on author panels and hear fellow romance authors talk about writing their first booksLongWayHome-1 by the age of five. That’s amazing but it’s not me. I’ve always loved to read.  The sensation of falling into a book, of being so hooked that I can’t put it down or do the “just two more pages” thing before bed is one I’ve enjoyed all my life. My mother has always been an avid reader (and collector of books, something which I may have inherited). Reading, going to bookstores, talking about books were ways for us to connect even through those tough teens years when connecting could be…shall we say, difficult.

Books sustained me through so many difficult times. I was not the popular girl in high school. I didn’t love participating in sports. I was the drama club girl and for me books truly were an escape from some of the harsh realities of what was happening around me.  And that love continued and grew as I got older. I went to college and brought my love for reading with me. I went to law school and when it came time to study for the Bar Exam the only thing I made time for between Bar Review classes and working was reading. I set aside an hour each day. Now, of course, once I started reading I would try to give myself “just ten more minutes” and often did before picking up the study flashcards. But each morning I looked forward to that time I knew I would have with a book right after dinner. At this point I’ll thank Jonathan Kellerman for helping me survive those days because I read his backlist during that summer.

Then I need to thank Julie Garwood, Jayne Ann Krentz and Linda Lael Miller.  See, with all that reading I had never read a romance. Yeah, I know. I didn’t put down the genre, I just never bothered to pick up a romance novel…and shame on me.  By the time I came to romance at around thirty I was working full time as a lawyer. I specialized in contested custody cases. Think about that for a second. So much nastiness. Then one day a fellow attorney who was leaving the practice handed me three romances – The Bride by Julie Garwood, Daniel’s Bride by Linda Lael Miller and Perfect Partners by Jayne Ann Krentz – and a fan was born. I raced through those books and then through the authors’ backlists (and with those three that was a lot of books). Then I branched out and read more – Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, Carla Neggers…the list goes on and on.

Through all that enjoyment, I remained a reader.  Writing a book was never something I aspired to, not consciously and not at first. Maybe I Mercyassumed I couldn’t do it and never let it be a dream. That’s possible. I think we often limit ourselves by believing the things we want are just too big or too impossible (or not a solid way to make a living) and don’t let our minds go there. But then one day Lori Foster held a contest on her website – write three pages and she would pick her favorites and pass those onto her editor, Kate Duffy. I tried writing and I got hooked. The genre that gave me so much reading enjoyment turned into a hobby and then an unbelievable dream, and finally a career.

I can honestly say reading romance changed my life. I was a partner in a law firm and had set career goals. Then everything changed. Picking up those first three books set me on a path and now I do what I love for a living. How many people can say that? I write about love, which for me is really about hope and acceptance – two things that mean everything.

So, thank you to all who came before me. To the authors I mentioned here, to the writer friends I’ve made, to the authors I read and devour the day the books come out, and to the readers. You make everything possible. Thank you.

Recommendations:

There are so many authors I love but two of my favorites have releases right about now.  You should snag a copy of It’s In His Kiss by Jill Shalvis. I got an early read of this one and it’s terrific. I also had the chance to read Lauren Dane’s The Best Kind Of Trouble early and adore this new series.  So, if you want contemporaries, go check these two out!


Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

Probably taking those first few steps and realizing that I wanted to write for a living. I had so many years of schooling behind me (and the student loans to show for them). I had made partner in my law firm. Things were going great in my career and I stepped away from all of that to do what I loved – writing. Not huge money for me…not much at all at first. But I’ve never been happier. I think it’s a testament to trying the thing that scares you because maybe, just maybe, it will work out and be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

My journey is pretty much highlighted in my essay. I mean, really, how many people can say they decided to become a romance author by being a divorce lawyer?  I’m betting I’m one of the few.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

So many books have meant so much to me. There’s a list that stretches from childhood where books provided an outlet and taught me about survival (without ever telling me that’s what they were doing) and books I read later in life that helped to shape what I believe and who I am. But I’ll go back and highlight the very first romance I ever read – The Bride by Julie Garwood. It’s funny and smart. The heroine is brave and the hero is tough but has that melty inner core, a softness and love for the heroine that brings out his decency. I remember reading it and thinking, “wait, this is what romance novels are like?” and realizing I’d been missing out. The Bride was my entrance into reading romance and starting a new life I never expected. And now I need to go re-read it for the 100th time…

HelenKay is generously giving away a winner’s choice of one of her Harlequin Intrigues in the Corcoran Team series, or if the winners like something a bit naughtier, MERCY, her erotic romance from Berkley Heat. One book for a U.S. reader (entry below) and one for an international reader (enter here).


helenkay-1HelenKay Dimon is a former divorce attorney turned full-time romance author. Odd transition, right? She has sold over thirty novels, novellas and shorts to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Kensington, Harlequin and Penguin, Samhain and Carina Press. Her nationally bestselling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and her books have twice been named “Red-Hot Reads” and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. But the best part of the job is never having to wear pantyhose. You can learn more at her website,  www.helenkaydimon.com.

 

 

Buy HelenKay’s Books:

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  • TrishJ

    I am one of those, “just a few more pages” readers. If I absorbed have to do something, I will put my bookmarks at the beginning of the next chapter so I will KNOW I have to stop. I love getting lost in a story. I have read all your books (and thankfully you have lots). My favorite were the Hawaii books. Yummy!! You said you entered Carly’s contest and were hooked, but did you win?

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Actually, Sylvia day won Lori’s contest that year…so I was in good company 🙂 I’m so happy you enjoyed my books – thank you! I miss writing those Hawaii books.

  • MK

    What an inspirational story! I’m so glad you made the switch from law to writing- I so enjoy your books!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you!!

  • Robin Driscoll

    It is important to love what you do for a living – much of your life is spent working, isn’t it. I am a computer programmer and I love it – always learning something new.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Robin – We are so lucky because I think a lot of people have careers they hate. I love mine and I’m thrilled you love yours.

  • Karen G.

    I love that so many intelligent women are writing and reading romance! I have just started reading romance in the last few years and hate that I have to defend it to everyone. Thank you for creating something that brings so much joy to others. 🙂

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Oh, I know. People put down romance all the time. I’ve decided that’s THEIR issue, not mine. I know I’m smart and I love romance readers. I now ignore whatever nonsense other people say about the genre.

  • Karin Anderson

    I love both Lauren Dane and Jill Shalvis!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Me too! I’m lucky enough to know both of them and they are amazing people in addition to being terrific writers.

  • mariannewestrich

    Linda Lael Miller is one of the first that I read, too. And it snowballed from there!!! 😎

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Her books are addictive!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      I still re-read Daniel’s Bride now and then. I love that hero.

  • Martha B

    How nice to read that sitting on author panels you realized you were NOT like the others who wrote at a young age. Those differences in how people came to be writers makes for unique stories (or voices) in all sorts of genres. One of the best things I take away from romance books is accepting myself as I am (not who I wish I was). Secondly, and even more powerful, is that we are ALL are worthy of love – – – we deserve love just as we are. Lastly, the power of love can cause us to change, grow and become better (kinder, loving, compassionate, etc.)

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Yes! I always talk about how, for me, romance novels are about so much more than love. They are about hope and acceptance – two things that can sustain people when everything else is gone. We all deserve that.

  • flchen1

    How terrific for us, HelenKay, that you found your calling as a writer! 🙂

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you!!

  • Erica H

    I love that you were a divorce lawyer and became a romance novelist- that must be a great conversation starter. The Bride by Julie Garwood was my gateway to historical romance. Prior to that book, I only read contemporaries and I never thought I would enjoy it. How silly of me!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Oh, Erica. I could talk about The Bride forever. Love that book!

  • Books help all of us in terrible moments, and give us a source for hope and acceptance. Thank you so much for your words and for the international part too! Really interesting prizes! If I win, I’ll try the bit-naughtier one!! 😉

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Yes! Books bring joy and hope. They provide escape and information and entertainment. And I’ll let you decide what that naughty one of mine does for you 😉

  • Debbie Oxier

    Have never read your work. Will check it out.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you!

  • Beverly Long

    Hi HelenKay. Excited about sharing the post with you today.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      HI Beverly! It’s so good to see you and your cover looks amazing. I just ordered the book.

  • Debbie Fuller

    I also love The Bride by Julie Garwood. I’m looking forward to reading your books.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      I think we need a club for those of us who love The Bride. I think there are a lot of us!

  • M Kuxhaus

    Sounds like you’re on the right career track now!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      I think so!

  • Pamby50

    Now you have me wanting to re-read The Bride by Julie Garwood. So many authors that I love got you hooked. I look forward to reading one of yours.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you! And like you I want to do another re-read. It might be time.

  • Quinn Fforde

    Inspiring post! I have so many books I feel that way about, too!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      I love that feeling, like you can’t forget that book. Happy you have it too.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I truly enjoyed your essay and reading about your journey to become a writer. I too was that kid with their nose in a book all the time. Yet maybe because I always knew I would be a teacher I never thought about being a writer. I wouldn’t even know how to start. I am awed by people like you.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      That’s very sweet. I would say if you ever think you want to try writing, just do it. The first book I wrote I did for me. No one else ever saw it. It was very freeing.

  • Yaritza Santana

    That’s pretty ironic divorce lawyer/ romance writer. Glad you picked what you loved doing best.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Me too 🙂

  • Meredith Richeson Hillenbrand

    It was quite brave to give up such a solid career for writing. However, romance novels give the rest of us a chance to escape for a little while, and sometimes, to even learn some good pointers for a good relationship. Thanks for making the career change. 🙂

    • HelenKay Dimon

      That’s very nice, thank you!

      • Meredith Richeson Hillenbrand

        You are more than welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read my comment.

        • HelenKay Dimon

          Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

  • Sue G.

    It sounds great that you can now do something that you love! Congrats and happy reading!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you!!

  • Emmel

    You were a partner and walked away? I’m impressed; that takes chutzpah! What an amazing credit to see where that’s brought you!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      It was hard because I loved the people I worked with, but my husband was very supportive, so that helped.

  • donnas

    Great post. I can’t tell you how many times I did or thought the same. Knowing I have that time to read at the end of the day can really help on some of the harder ones. And whats 10 more minutes anyway in the long run.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      I’ve lost so much sleep because of reading! But I don’t regret it.

  • Mj

    Books have always been a part of my life as well, they are a necessity in life. The fact that you didn’t realize what you truly needed to do when you grew up makes your books even better.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I don’t think transitioning from divorce attorney to romance author is such a strange change when you consider the reason why you said you love your job so much: you write about love, which is really about hope and acceptance. I don’t think anybody evers gets married with divorce as a goal, so your desire to write about love, hope, and acceptance is really reaffirming (and reassuring) after a day of bitterness and loss.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Very true.

  • Glenda

    I’m thinking that as a divorce attorney you saw SO many ways to kill a romance (and marriage of course) that you can draw from that in building successful book romances. 🙂

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Yeah, it’s a good thing I write romantic suspense as well because I saw some not-so-nice things that now inspire me.

      • Glenda

        I can see that….

        • HelenKay Dimon

          I don’t miss that part of the job.

  • Peni Anne

    Thank you for sharing. Julie Garwood is my all time favorite storyteller. I too have worn out copies of her paper books and am so glad they are now all on ebook. I have also had the pleasure of devouring some your stories, reviews on Goodreads. Keep up the excellent stories.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you!! You know, I actually had to get a new copy of The Secret this year because all of the pages started falling out.

  • Dawn Anderson

    I’ve enjoyed several short stories you’ve written in Christmas anthologies. My first thought of romance novels was the same as yours.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you! I’m so happy you liked them.

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your post. From divorce lawyer to romance writer??? I will add you to my TBR list. When I finished graduate school, I turned to Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught. I read everything they had at the Borders and Barnes&Noble (mobile devices were not available at the time). 🙂

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you! And I’m the same with Julie Garwood. I prefer the Scottish historicals but I’ve read all of her books.

  • Cindy A

    Books helped me get through high school, too!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Me too! Without them…oh, I can’t even imagine.

  • Erin F

    I totally understand! Reading got me through school too 🙂 Thanks for sharing and congrats on your career!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      I feel the same way. I’m happy we both got through and still love reading. 🙂

  • Sheila M

    Congratulations on finding your true calling.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you!

  • Laurie W G

    I also love Jill Shalvis’ books. One of my first romance books was Julie Garwood’s THE GIFT.
    I’m so glad you switched to writing full time.

    • HelenKay Dimon

      The Gift – yes!!! Love that one.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    What a career change! Glad you switched to something that makes you happier!

    • HelenKay Dimon

      Thank you!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I love your story of transitioning from divorce law to writing romance. I am an avid reader of romance and I love the HEA that comes with a good book. I have worked in the domestic violence division at the courthouse in years past and I can honestly say that those were some of the hardest times of my life. Seeing that kind of nastiness up close and personal is life altering. Without the escape of reading romance and building a clear separation between work and personal life, I don’t think I would have made it without breaking. I think that romance is such a vital part of life and we should all spend more time celebrating it and basking in the happy glow 🙂 I look forward to checking out your books and thanks for the fantastic post!

  • Kim

    I wonder why so many attorneys transition to a career in writing. Do you think it’s a lawyer’s ability to tell a story to the jury or the strong research skills needed in both jobs?

  • Marcy Shuler

    I enjoyed your post, HelenKay. Books have gotten me through many rough patches in my life.

  • rebecca moe

    Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing 🙂