Anne Calhoun – Romance, Nourishing Joy

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Visit every day in August to see what 93+ of your favorite authors have to say about The Joy of Romance. Do you love Romance? Let’s celebrate. xo

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Finding Joy & Celebrating Romance

Straight up truth to start: 

512Wt-XOUPL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I looked up joy in the dictionary before I wrote this blog post. It’s not an emotion I feel often. Happiness, sure. Irritation, often. Satisfaction, equally often. Anger and shame and insecurity? Yup, yup and yup. But joy? Um….maybe?

But then I started to think about joy, what it is, when I’ve felt it. I realized two things. First, I almost never felt joy when I was doing or experiencing something where I was supposed to feel joy. True joy surprised me during the most mundane activities, like using a beaver puppet to make my son laugh during a long car trip. The second thing I realized, especially after my mother’s unexpected death back in March, is that joy is heightened, deepened, made sharper and more potent, after great sorrow. It reminds me of a quote from Kahlil Gibran: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?

How else can it be?

And romance really, really celebrates this duality. Even in the funniest of romances (I’m the listlooking at you, Jill Shalvis, and you, too, Molly O’Keefe), there’s a moment of despair, a moment when the characters and the reader both think that all hope is lost. That black moment (or palest gray moment) is critical to the story arc because it’s true in life. Only by losing hope do we feel that incredible relief and yes, joy, when the characters find their way to each other, to love. 

Uniform happiness looks pretty, like the seaside and beaches and white picket fences of The Truman Show, but it’s not real. That’s why Truman longed for real, and real includes storms and battles, death and loss and disappointment. But without that contrast, the joy loses its poignancy and power.

As Gibran says, “And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.”

Look deep into your heart, and you’ll find joy filling the hollows carved by sorrow, and roots of sorrow nourishing your joy. Celebrate both. Celebrate romance.

Anne recommends:

Adriana Anders  – adrianaanders.com – is a debut author and has a fabulous Twitter presence. I’m really looking forward to her first series from Sourcebooks.

Kat Latham’s series about English rugby players is simply fabulous! (Kat did a RARM post here. Thanks Kat!)


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. 

Riding a bike around Oxford with my dad in May. I rediscovered the joy of bike riding last year when I bought an Electra Townie cruiser in a gorgeous shade of Persimmon. I named her Persie, and any day I can get in a ride is a joyous day.

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attachedsummervillebeachNS to a memory of joy.

The beaches in Nova Scotia. Sunshine, cool breezes, saltwater waves, and my son, laughing. Pure joy.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

Deep wind chimes. Something about them resonates in my soul. Tinkling ones just sound eerie!

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

Tana French’s In The Woods and Likeness are two of the best books I’ve ever read. Alison Kent recommended her to me, and I bought In The Woods for my mom last year. The memory of those books is now connected to friendship, and sadness. Oddly enough, that makes me smile.

And for fun, the joy of choice ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

Chris Pine. Love those winter sky blue eyes!

Anne is generously giving away 3 paperbacks from her backlist to US readers (apologies to international friends).

IMG_7612. 300xpAfter doing time at Fortune 500 companies on both coasts, Anne landed in a flyover state, where she traded business casual for yoga pants and decided to write down all the lively story ideas that got her through years of monotonous corporate meetings. Her first book, LIBERATING LACEY won the EPIC Award for Best Contemporary Erotic Romance. Her story WHAT SHE NEEDS was chosen for Smart Bitch Sarah’s Sizzling Book Club. Anne holds a BA in History and English, and an MA in American Studies from Columbia University. When she’s not writing her hobbies include reading, knitting, yoga, and coffee.

Buy Anne’s books:

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  • Susan Craig

    I never thought about romance novels having “a moment of despair” but the best ones all do. Thanks for the post and for mentioning Jill Shalvis – she rocks.

  • Molly

    I haven’t read one of your books yet but I am look after classes today

  • Jennifer C

    What a profound quote from Gibran! I agree about a bike ride – nothing better. Happy to have found you and your books!

  • catslady

    I haven’t read you as yet but that’s one of the great things about this, finding new authors 🙂

  • cheryl c.

    I like this quote from your article: “Look deep into your heart, and you’ll find joy filling the hollows carved by sorrow, and roots of sorrow nourishing your joy. Celebrate both.” Very profound and honest.

  • jcp smith

    Thanks for the recs

  • Karen Mikusak

    I love finding new authors! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Kareni

    I’ve enjoyed a number of your books, Ms. Calhoun. My favorite is Uncommon Passion. Congratulations on being chosen for the 100 Swoon-worthy Romance list; you’re certainly in fine company there! Happy reading and writing!

  • Kim

    Thanks for posting. I just finished reading one of Molly O’Keefe’s & Jill Shalvis’ books.

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for taking the time to contribute.

  • Linda Henderson

    I enjoy stories that make me feel different emotions. I’ve laughed out loud and cried while reading books and sometimes at the end of the story I feel all wrung out emotionally but to me that’s a great story, because life is that way.

  • Christyna

    Beautifully written, Anne! We can’t have joy without the sorrow. And we can get both, safely, from romance novels.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Carol Luciano

    Thanks for posting and the giveaway chance.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  • mariannewestrich

    Sorry for the sudden loss of your mom. We lost dad after a very short battle with cancer over 5 years ago. And I’ve just recently found joy in all my memories of my time with him and the special things we used to be able to enjoy together.

  • Pamby50

    I never thought of joy and sorrow together. I makes sense. When my dad died, it was such a devastating loss. Then one day I heard I Wish by Stevie Wonder and I just smiled. I never knew dad played saxophone when he was younger. That song was playing when I found that out.

  • Emmel

    Sorrow and joy are ying/yang. Thank you for that reminder!

  • Erin F

    I also think that part of the bittersweet element of joy is that after all of the sorrow, you feel more joy b/c you’ve earned it. That bright piercing sunbeam after a storm. Thanks for sharing!

  • Glenda

    It is a tough concept for some people to understand that you can’t truly appreciate joy without ever experiencing some sorrow. Would be nice if it weren’t true. 🙂

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you for your post. I had forgotten that sorrow and joy are so interconnected.

  • Dorothy Salvagin

    I look forward to reading your books.

  • Dawn Anderson

    I have always liked the Gibran quote “look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.” It fit your essay perfectly.

  • Texas Book Lover

    Great post! Thanks for the recommendations.

  • Sue G.

    That beach looks hypnotic….beautiful. Love how you named your bike!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I am so sorry for your loss of your mom. I loss my younger sister unexpectedly over a year ago. It took me a long time to heal, at least a year. I really enjoyed your post and your thoughts on JOY. Thank you. You are a new to me author and I will be checking out your books.

  • Sheila M

    I, too, love the connection between sadness and joy in romance books.

  • Deana Dick

    I look forward to reading your book. Thanks for sharing about yourself

  • Kai W.

    I love this quote:

    As Gibran says, “And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When
    you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only
    that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.”

  • kirsten west

    I love the sound of wind chimes. Enjoyed your interview!