Day 9 Mary Jo Putney – Romance IS Celebration


Years ago, my friend Robyn Carr said that romance is the sizzle of the steak, the crazy, wonderful feel of falling in love. The love story is how you feel about him fifteen years later when he throws his socks under the bed.

Mary Jo PutneyRomance novels are about both those things, and so much more; not just the thrill when a boy you really like takes your hand in a darkened movie theater, but also the warmth and tenderness of a smile from the love of your life after decades of shared experience. And it’s also the friends who love and support us as we love and support them.

Romance is not only entertainment but a useful coping mechanism, and the same is true of other varieties of genre fiction. In murder mysteries, the villain is caught and justice triumphs. In epic fantasy, good triumphs over evil. In a Western, the good guys shoot the bad guys or drive them out of town. The moral order is reasserted after being out of whack.

The reason we need this, of course, is because the real world so often seems out of balance, and this is magnified by a toxic atmosphere of broadcasting and cable channels and internet news dedicated to screaming and outrage ALL THE TIME. Even the weather channel seems to have orgasmic fixations on tornadoes (and let’s not follow that image too far!)

Romance celebrates not crime or tornadoes, but humanity. Jennifer Cruise said that she discovered romance novels when she was researching a dissertation on the different ways men and women tell stories. For the female research, she decided to read a hundred romance novels. 90% of them were awful, a percentage she says is true in all genres. 10% were terrific.

But what really intrigued Jenny was that she recognized the world in which those romances were set. That world centered on women and their concerns. It’s a world where emotion and how you feel about something really matters. A world where love and commitment are celebrated.

Reading a good romance novel can light up our lives by making us smile and laugh even on bad days. In a challenging world, a good romantic story reminds us that many of the best things in life are small and personal.

We don’t need to celebrate romance. Romance is celebration!


I very much enjoyed the first book by a new author, Jael Wye. ( She successfully blends smart, tough science fiction romance with–fairy tales. <G> Ice Red was the first in her Once Upon a Red World series, in which Mars is a flourishing colony and giant elevators travel from the surface of Earth and Mars to great space stations. It was also a very fun fairy tale with futuristic versions of an innocent princess, a wicked stepmother, a charming prince, and an innovative twist on the poisoned apple. I bought the second in the series, Ladder to the Red Star as soon as it was released, and I look forward to reading it.  *Jael created RARM content you can read here.

Lillian Stewart Carl ( is not new, but the variety of her books and the way they often cross genre boundaries means she’s not well known even though she’s an excellent writer. She’s written fantasy, suspense, romantic suspense, and mystery, all of it romantic, and usually with wonderful history woven in. A good place to start is with The Secret Portrait, first in her seven book Jean Fairbairn/Alasdair Cameron mystery series. The series has an American heroine transplanted to Scotland, a Scottish police detective, and a wonderful sense of Scottish atmosphere and history. I love Jean’s wry asides as her curiosity leads her into unexpected places. Reading the books is like a delicious visit to Scotland!

 Questions for the Author:

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

The most daring, not to mention clueless, thing I’ve ever done was graduate from college with my degree in industrial design, pack up my portfolio, and buy a one way ticket from Syracuse, NY, where I went to college, to San Francisco. I didn’t have a job or a place to stay, but I figured I could work something out. As indeed I did.

When I landed in San Francisco, I took an airport bus into the city to the YWCA where I’d booked a room. It was night time and the great rolling hills were spangled with lights and the dark sweep of the bay was to our right. I’ll never forget how the bus driver, who had a deep velvet voice, said, “Welcome to Baghdad on the Bay.”

Pure romance! But looking back, I marvel at how crazy I was. <G>

SometimesaRogueMMTell 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?)

I always had stories in my head. I thought everyone did. I read stories at every available moment, and when classes were boring, I developed romantic adventure sagas in my head. But I was a kid in a small rural school, and the world of publishing might as well have been Mars. So I read and daydreamed, and couldn’t even imagine being a writer.

Then I bought my first computer, and after mastering the word processing program, I thought it would be fun to try to write a book. I’d been reading as many traditional Regencies as I could find, so that’s what showed up on my monitor.

I realized I was a writer three months later when I was offered a three book contract for Signet Regencies based on a partial manuscript. I mean, I must be a writer, they were willing to give me money! (Though not very much. <G>)

Even now, there are times when I blink and think, “Wow, am I really a writer? How did I get so lucky?!!”

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

That’s a hard one! Perhaps it could be Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings, first in what became her epic Lymond Chronicles. The story was dazzling–lush with language and atmosphere and what is perhaps the most complex and fascinating hero ever created. Dunnett’s throwaway lines were so intelligent that I didn’t understand half of them, but no matter. I was well and truly bewitched. And after an amazing journey across sixteenth century Europe–the series gives a happy ending.

Mary Jo is generously giving away a copy of her current release Not Quite A Husband for one U.S. reader (entry form below) and one copy for an international reader (enter here).

Mary Jo PutneyMary Jo Putney was born in Upstate New York with a reading addiction, a condition with no known cure. Her entire writing career is an accidental byproduct of buying a computer for other purposes. Most of her books contain history, romance, and cats. She has had ten RWA RITA nominations, two RITA wins, was the recipient of RWA’s 2013 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and she’s so distractible that she’s amazed that she ever finishes a book.


You can find her online at and

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