Blythe Gifford – Reconnecting to Joy

It’s Read-A-Romance Month.


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   |   RARM 2015 Calendar    |    RARM on Facebook

The Joy of Romance

Before I started writing romance, I read romance.  I still remWAC Cover Webember the early joy of discovery – first of books, then of authors, and finally of a community of readers and writers.

But the dirty little secret of romance writers (at least it’s my secret!) is that it becomes more difficult to read once you start publishing.  That was certainly true for me and it has become more so in the last few years.  Between the demands of a day job and a writing pace that had me publishing and promoting five books in three years, I was burned out.  And not only burned out on writing.  I no longer enjoyed reading.

Oh, I still consumed lots of words, but they seemed to be in emails and Facebook posts or in research reading for my historical period and the occasional book on how to clear the clutter.  I was reading romance when I judged contests, but that only emphasized that to read was to analyze, not simply to enjoy.

So when I picked up a book to read for pleasure, I found myself reading it in author mode:  analyzing the set-up, the marketing hooks, the writing style…doing anything but sinking Cover_SAC_Medinto the story and allowing myself to be swept away.

The joy was gone.

The business, the pace, the distraction and shortened attention span of our digital age all caught up with me.  When I wanted to read for pleasure, I found myself reaching for a thriller (far enough from my writing world that I could take off my author hat) or, more often, reaching for a magazine with lots of pictures instead of words.

And at the end of the year, I looked back at my reading list and saw, in shock, that I was reading less than half the number of books I used to.  What was missing?  Primarily romance and particularly historical romance, the genre I write and love.

Some authors fear that if they read in their genre while they are also writing, they may beBlytheGifford_TheWitchFinder2_800
somehow influenced by another writer’s work.  I’m not one of them.  The truth was that time pressures and my increasingly short attention span had undermined one my greatest joys:  sitting and reading for pleasure.

To find that joy again, I had to do more than just carve out time.  I had to rebuild the reading muscle and relearn my old habits.

I’ve been working on it.  Interestingly, one thing that has helped is to switch back to reading more print books.  With print, I’m somehow more conscious of what I am reading.  Sometimes, reading on my Kindle makes it much too easy to break for email, text, or to check the news.  I don’t do that in the same way with a physical book in my lap.

It’s working.  Halfway through this year, I’ve read twice the number of books I read in all of 2014.  And a couple of months ago, I was sitting outside, reading.  It was a beautiful day and I looked up at the sky and at the book before me and suddenly, there it was.  That overwhelming feeling…

The joy was back.

Blythe recommends:

I’m going to recommend what is on my TBR pile, because as part of my rehabilitation, I’m going back to reading my first love:  historical romance!

Ruth ) won a Golden Heart and has published her manuscript, At His Command, as Book One of the War of the Roses Brides series. 

Elisabeth Hobbes ( also writes for the Harlequin Historical line.  A Wager for the Widow just came out in July.

Finally, time to break out The Dream Hunter.  I’ve hoarded this one for years, unread, in case of a reading emergency.  It’s by Laura Kinsale, ( one of my all-time favorite all time authors. 

Questions for the Author:

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

In some ways, the entire essay is about that joyous moment of finding pleasure in reading again.  That final moment, when I was sitting and reading and just felt…happy!  Now, to be fair (full disclosure), I was on vacation and sitting on a balcony overlooking the waters off Key West.  Sunny day, puffy clouds, boats sailing by…and a book!  Simple, but at that moment, I wanted nothing else in life.

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

Anytime I’m on or near the water, I’m happy.  Fortunately, I live within walking distance of Lake Michigan, so that experience is at hand nearly every day.  Best of all is to be overlooking the water (hotel balconies are great) or on the water (cruise ships – my favorite!), but not IN the water.  My love of water isn’t connected in any way to swimming!

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

I’m a junkie when it comes to music.  I am listening to music nearly every moment of the day, including a soundtrack for each book.  But I take particular care in selecting music to listen to while I’m making supper.  I rarely sing along, but you might see me dancing around the kitchen to the soundtrack of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”  Pure fun.  I really do try to enjoy the little things every day.  That’s the stuff life is made of.

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?

The Betsy-Tacy books, by Maud Hart Lovelace, have brought me a lifetime of joy!  Set in the early Twentieth Century, they are autobiographically-inspired stories of a girl who wanted to be a writer.  (No wonder I loved them!)  They follow her from girlhood through marriage, and grow in writing complexity as Betsy (and her best friend Tacy) grow up.  I still have them on my shelves and reread the entire series a few years ago.  I first read them when I was in grade school and one of the wonderful things about the series is that there is an entire community of Betsy-Tacy lovers, now active on the internet.  But years ago, when it was harder to make connections with random strangers, if you met someone who had read and loved the books, the first words you exchanged were “But I thought I was the only one!”  Clearly, I am not!

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)

There’s not a bad choice in the bunch!  But I’m a lover of classical musical comedy and I’ve a soft spot for a man with a guitar in his hand, so I’m going with Christopher Plummer.

Blythe is generously giving away three copies of Whispers At Court to US readers (apologies to international friends).


Blythe Gifford Headshot WebAfter many years in public relations, advertising and marketing, Blythe Gifford started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years and one layoff later, she became an overnight success when she sold her first book to the Harlequin Historical line.  Blythe writes historical romances set primarily in in England and on the Scottish Borders, most incorporating real historical events.  WHISPERS AT COURT, a Royal Wedding Story, was a June 2015 release.  The Chicago Tribune has called her work “the perfect balance between history and romance.”  Find her at

Buy Blythe’s books:

availableon-amazon  availableon-nookavailableon-kobo


(Please note that the Amazon button and most cover images link to an affiliate page that supports Read-A-Romance Month. Thanks so much for your help!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway