Joey W. Hill – A Genre of Joy

It’s Read-A-Romance Month.


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Romance: The Genre That Writes Joy Like No Other Does

NEWS ALERT! (one I’m sure will be a shock to us all): Quadruple D books (dark, TBV cover 413X628
depressing, dysfunctional and deemed meaningful by the literati) don’t increase joy in the world. They may be thought-provoking and possess beautiful prose, and readers may sound ultra-intelligent when they want to impress their friends and the book club with their reading list. However, when those folks finished reading it, I bet they didn’t have a smile on their face, a warmth in their heart and a generally optimistic feeling about the world that they wanted to spread around. Oh, and did they emerge from that literary masterpiece with the desire to jump their significant other and provide HIM a little joy? I’m thinking not.

I’m not bashing those 4D books. I’m just kind of poking fun of the people who put them on pedestals like they are the be-all, end-all of vital reading material. We need all kinds of books in the world, and a well-written romance is equally critical, because JOY is important in our lives. And I honestly don’t think any genre can express joy as wonderfully as romance does it. Here’s an example. I have a keeper book on my shelf that never fails to make me smile, because of passages like this one (modified/edited for length):

“Ah, God, even angry at you, there’s this craven, aching need in me—” He cut himself off and his hands closed around her shoulders to push her off him.

Jessalyn pressed down hard against him as if she could fuse their two bodies into one. SoulRest-Flower600x900“I will do anything for you, McCady,” she said into his open mouth. “Anything. Except stop loving you.”

He tore his mouth from hers, pulling his head back. She stared, breathless, at the harsh beauty of his face, but the shadows had consumed the suns in his eyes. “Damn you,” he said. “Damn you for being able to do this to me.” He pushed her off him and rolled in one swift, graceful movement to his feet.

And then he was gone.

She lay on the sand until the throbbing in her lips subsided. A wide smile broke over her face, and she spread her arms, embracing the world. He loves me, she thought. He does love me. Only the silly goose didn’t know how to say it yet.

She smiled again as she thought of that long ago summer when the morning breeze had touched her cheeks with fleecy softness and the sea had seemed to pound against the rocks in time with the wild beating of her heart. When every day the sky had stretched above her head, wide and empty and of so intense a blue the soul could not bear it. When she had loved a man with all of her heart and asked for nothing.

But that he love her back.

That’s from Once in a Blue Moon, by Penelope Williamson, a historical romance that has vampire queenremained one of my favorites ever since I read it. I can feel Jessalyn’s joy in this passage. Part of the impact of this excerpt comes from what they’ve endured to get to this point. However, it’s at this pivotal moment, through her happiness, that we know it’s all going to work out for them. She feels it so strongly, she makes us feel it too.

A good romance gives me a sense of hope about family, emotional connection, trust and the power of love to overcome obstacles. A great romance may offer us escapism with fantasy elements like over-the-top erotic tension and a sexy hero, but it also reminds us of the importance of love and relationships in our lives and how we should celebrate that in ways large and small.

I’m a big movie fan, because I love well-told stories in any medium. The subject of joy and romance reminds me how often comedies and comedians have been overlooked for Oscars, despite the fact that every actor knows it is WAY harder to make people truly laugh than it is to get them to cry or think about weighty, important issues. And romantic comedies have always been a great way to fall in love with love again – with a big side helping of happiness and joy.

So embrace your joy, inner and outer, and read a romance!

Joey recommends:

Alexis Hall ( ) He writes absolutely marvelous male/male love stories. I discovered him through Glitterland (which I mentioned last year) but recently read his For Real, which was phenomenal enough I’m going to mention him for the second year in a row.

Sarah Dunant ( )  In the Company of the Courtesan and The Birth of Venus are the two I’ve read by her, and both are beautiful and moving stories. She writes Italian Renaissance historicals that make me feel I’m in the time period, but they don’t throw so much history and proof of the author’s research at me that I lose connection to the characters. In fact, that’s why I love her books – they’re very character-driven, so I not only feel immersed in the time period, but I empathize and become hugely invested in the outcome for her amazing heroes and heroines. I have Sacred Hearts on my shelf and plan to start on that soon.

Questions for the Author:

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

When I was in my thirties, I woke up to find my husband studying me while I slept. When I blinked at him and asked him what he was doing, he touched my face, gave me this indescribable look and said, “You’re so beautiful.” Now I’m not beautiful (though bless him, to him I am) so it wasn’t the surface meaning of the word that made this a joyous moment. It was what was in his voice and expression. Since my husband is a good old shy Southern boy of few words, he’s not a charmer or empty flatterer. He meant that I was beautiful to his heart, because he loved me in a way that would never alter at its core. I understood the miracle of that truth in that second, and whenever we’re going through a rough patch, I go back to that memory.

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

Disney in Florida. I love it. Every time I walk in the gate and see the castle, and hear the swelling overture they play at opening time, it fills me with delight. I usually shed a few happy tears over it. I know a lot of people see the commercialism, but I see Walt Disney’s dream. I think he understood that deep in all our hearts there’s this hunger for magic, romance, fantasy and childlike wonder, a place where we can suspend disbelief and be kids at any age. When I retire, my dream job is to be one of those little old ladies who wanders about sweeping up trash and answering questions to help park guests make the most of their visit.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

The sound of my husband and pets sleeping at night. That rhythmic breathing, the occasional snore. It’s peaceful and happy, and says that everyone is safe and close.

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?

I’ll cite the one I used in my essay. Once in a Blue Moon by Penelope Williamson had such a great mix of emotion, romance, passion and humor I’ve often gone back to it when I need a shot of good feeling, a belief in the wonderfulness of a well-written romance. Somehow, believing in that makes me believe overall in the good that does exist in the world (no matter what the news would have us believe!).

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)

Choose?!  Really? What a hot and sexy lineup. I adore Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk, and don’t get me started on Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy or Jurassic World (happy sigh). Chris Hemsworth’s Thor would have been my choice, EXCEPT you threw in Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp. That character was one of my earliest Dom fantasies, so I’m going to go with him!

Joey is generously giving away three books, print or ebook, of a U.S winner’s choice, and one print or e-book of an international winner’s choice.

BioPhotofromCroppicAAD2010Winner of the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement award, Joey W. Hill has published over forty contemporary and paranormal BDSM erotic romances, including six series. Her emotionally-intense love stories offer everything from vampires, mermaids, witches and angels, to boardroom executives, cops and simple housemaids.

Find Joey online:

Free excerpts from all her works are available at her website, Additional vignettes, character interviews and graphics inspired by the work are at the fan forum site, accessible through

Twitter: @JoeyWHill  Facebook:

Buy Joey’s books:

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*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to an affiliate portal that supports Read-A-Romance Month. Thanks so much for your help!

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  • Aye Lopez

    Thanks for the chance!! 🙂

    • storywitch

      You’re very welcome, Aye!

  • Karen Mikusak

    Thanks for the giveaway. Would love to win!

    • storywitch

      Karen, you’re very welcome. Thanks for visiting our posts today!

    • storywitch

      You’re welcome, Karen!

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I enjoyed reading your essay. I look forward to reading your books.

    • storywitch

      Thanks, Melissa! Hope when you get a chance to read any of my books, you enjoy the journey. :>

  • Linda Henderson

    I don’t mind laughing and crying while reading a book but I do like to be smiling at the end.

    • storywitch

      Linda, that’s a great way to describe reading a romance novel – a good one, that is! (smile) And I agree totally.

  • storywitch

    I was tickled to notice that Julie James and I had a similar answer for a place of joy. We both love Disney! Lol…

  • Sheila M

    I love Disney too!

    • storywitch

      It’s just so much fun, Sheila, isn’t it? I particularly love how families from all over the world come to Disney, so you see childhood (and childlike) excitement expressed in all cultures and languages. It’s also tenderly amusing to see other common emotions expressed by the parents as the day progresses – exhaustion, patience tested, etc (lol).

  • Christi

    Joey, I enjoyed your essay and loved reading about the moments that bring you joy. Many times it’s the simple things in life that bring us happiness and lasting memories 🙂 As usual, just want to let you know that I LOVE, LOVE your books and that they bring me much joy! Hugs, Christi

    • storywitch

      Thank you so much, Christi! And I agree. I really believe it’s the small moments that make a life. As I look back on things that are memorable to me even now, it’s usually small things. For instance, when my husband and I were sailing the waterway for the first time, we had a night we were docked and sitting up in the cockpit. Both of us exhausted, leaning against one another, watching the sunset into twilight, and a pair of dolphins slid by us in the water. A small moment, but so special.

  • TK/FS

    Hey Joey!! *waives like a crazy woman* I just love it when you do these interviews. We get a little more of what makes you not only a great author but one grand individual. I have to admit imagining you at Disney is perfection LOL He created some of our first loves as a young girl and you have created some of our best loves as an adult. I do believe this is a partnership made in heaven *wink* You and Walt have fired our imaginations and kept our dreams alive.

    It was so good to see you again in GA for the Authors After Dark, even if I didn’t get to stay the whole weekend. I have to tell everyone if you get a chance to go to a book Conference and meet Joey DO IT!! or any of your favorite authors it is a real treat and the friends you will make are keepers too!

    • storywitch

      I was SO excited that you were able to come, even if only for a short time. I know it meant the world to all of us. My advice would be the mirror image to authors – if you get a chance to go to a book conference and meet the amazing readers like yourself who make every edit and aggravation worth it, DO IT!! I always come home tired but creatively re-charged thanks to all of you.
      And of course I’m VERY flattered to have any common thread with Walt, because I’ve always been blown away by what he created. I can feel the magical energy of that castle every time I walk through the gates.

  • Diane Radtke

    I’ve been reading your books for years, Joey, and these “behind the book” author insights are so much fun. Thank you!

    • storywitch

      Diane, I’m so glad to hear that! I’ve done so many of these, but I always try to include something new, so that long term readers like yourself find something interesting (or at least different – grin) to take away from them. So pleased you joined us! And thank you for reading my work for so long!

  • Erin F

    Hehehe… I love your designation of the 4d’s 🙂 And you’re absolutely right, I read now for joy and for the journey to joy. Life is too short to spend on the 4ds!! Thanks for sharing!

    • storywitch

      Erin, it kind of boggles my mind. I’ve had friends who give me the “yes, you should read THIS story, because she cheats on her husband, and they go through this arduous emotional journey, and he cheats on her, and it’s all about the shortcomings of human nature, and oh, she tries to kill herself at one point, and he plots her murder and… See, Joey, this is SO much better than those frivolous stories YOU read, where the people fall in love, respect one another, celebrate romance and believe in happily ever afters…” Ahem. I just smile, nod, clutch my romance tightly and RUN. (lol)

  • Reanna Hatcher Hanley

    Joey W Hill is my favorite author! It’s always fun to read interviews! Thanks for your time and the giveaway!

    • storywitch

      Reanna, hey girl!! Thanks for coming by to see me!

  • Kareni

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and congratulations on landing on NPR’s list of 100 swoon-worthy romances!

    • storywitch

      Kareni, thank you for that! I was very flattered to be included. :>

  • Dawn Anderson

    I read some of those 4D books, but I always come back to romance. I prefer to read towards a happily ever after.

    • storywitch

      Lol – I’ve read a few as well – and enjoyed them quite a bit. So when I act a tad snarky about them like that (grin), it has more to do with how people feel like they have to slur one genre to validate another, as if somehow the 4D books are more worthy of our time. I say, why can’t we enjoy and love ALL good stories? It’s like if I choose to go on a nature hike versus going to a classic film festival. Both activities have merit and give me something of value. :> Thanks for stopping by my post!

  • Dorothy Salvagin

    Thanks for this giveaway. I’m looking forward to reading your books.

    • storywitch

      Thanks, Dorothy! Hope you enjoy them. :>

  • Pamby50

    Great post. I understand about listening to your spouse sleeping. It is a peaceful sound. Will have to check out Once In A Blue Moon.

    • storywitch

      Pamby, thanks for stopping by! Yes, there’s something about watching those you love sleeping peacefully nearby that just brings the soul ease. And of course I have no sense of whether the book is dated or not in terms of sophistication, but I love it so much, I always easily slip back into it as if it’s twenty years ago.

  • mariannewestrich

    I’m so glad to hear that someone else loves Disney. My husband and I have no children but we still like to go every other year. We spend the whole week after Thanksgiving there and enjoy every moment together!

    • storywitch

      Marianne, same here. We have no children, either, but I enjoy watching the kids’ reactions. We could honestly just sit on a shady bench most of the day, people watch and just soak up the atmosphere.

    • storywitch

      Oh and I love the fall decorations they do for Oct-Nov timeframe!

  • Brenda Roth

    *wave* Thank you Joey for giving us another great interview and a chance to win more great reads from you. I so don’t have to tell you what I want if I win (wink). Have a great week.

    • storywitch

      Lol, no you don’t! Okay, maybe you will – you know how bad my memory is! Thanks for coming by to see me.

      • Brenda Roth

        LOL-the bad memory thing is working it’s mojo! VQ (wink), you did this horrible, wonderful, amazing, caring gift for us VQ freaks, you wrote more. So, now I have to work to get 2 more signed books! You’re welcome, it was my pleasure to stop by.

  • Carol Luciano

    Thank you for your post. How beautiful what your husband said. That action says it all. :). I love the Vampire Queen books. Thanks for the giveaway.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750. (at) aol (dot) com

    • storywitch

      Carol, I agree (beaming). Thanks for coming to visit me, and always glad to hear you’re still loving the vampires. Night’s Templar is coming out SOON – Oct-Nov time frame. We finally get Uthe and Keldwyn’s story!

  • Ren

    Thanks for sharing. I love your sheer joy moment! It reminds me of my hubby. I haven’t read any of your books but am going to check them.

    • storywitch

      Ren, that kind of husband is a keeper for sure! I remind myself of that on the days I think of smothering him with a pillow (lol – which is all part of love as well!) Hope you enjoy whichever book of mine you choose to read first!

  • marypreston

    We do need all kinds of books in the world. I love to read across all genres.

    • storywitch

      Mary, so do I. It serves a professional purpose, too, because it keeps my writing style fresh when I read different genres. I can always tell when I’m doing enough “leisure” reading, because my writing runs a lot more smoothly during the first draft and editing processes.

  • Marcy Shuler

    The comment from your hubby after he was watching you sleep was just so sweet! <3

    • storywitch

      Thank you, Marcy! It made such an impact on me, I guess because it’s one of those things we read about a hero doing in a romance. When we read something like that, it gives us a lovely little flutter and makes us feel all smooshy, but when someone we love outside the pages of a book does that, it has an impact that’s unforgettable, because it underscores how a love story, especially your own, can never stop surprising you.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    Books I read have to have a HEA and I don’t mean just romance books either. I don’t want to be left hanging or my characters getting killed or . . . I enjoyed reading your essay and look forward to finding your books.

    • storywitch

      Eileen, I agree with you on that as well. I can handle a tragic ending if it has a romanticism or nobility to it, like say the end of Glory (fabulous movie), but if it’s one of those pointless “why did we take this journey and life is meaningless” kind of things, it actually just sort of pisses me off (lol). Thanks for giving my books a second look!

  • Emmel

    Our silent types may not share their feelings often, but when they do–oh lordy, it means so much.

    • storywitch

      Absolutely. My husband has taken me by surprise in so many good ways through the years, when he says just the right thing at the right moment. What makes it even more lovely is it surprises him as well (smile). Glad to hear you’ve been blessed with one of those treasures as well!

  • Sue G.

    I love what you wrote about your husband when he told you you were beautiful. My husband was raised where you don’t show your emotions (only brothers). Well my family was the complete opposite. We kissed our mom goodnight every night….still kiss her every time I see her. It’s always hugs with my brother and sister. Imagine my hubby’s surprise….we have 3 daughters who are very emotional! He’s coming around and at the times he does, it means so much more.

    • storywitch

      Sue, it sounds like the fates aligned in every way to help him show his more emotional side – three girls and a demonstrative wife! (grin) He sounds like a fortunate man.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    Well said,and sounds like you have a pretty amazing husband. I’m currently listening to some quiet dog, cat and husband snoring myself. It’s a great sound though and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I discovered your books last year on RARM and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far. Thanks for all you do!

    • storywitch

      I think he’s very awesome. But don’t tell him; he’ll get all full of himself (grin). So glad to hear you’ve been enjoying my work thus far, and I hope you find lots of new good reads thanks to RARM this year as well. It’s a great event! Enjoy the peaceful family snooze… ;>

  • Kim

    Thanks for blogging. It’s often the simple joys in life that bring happiness.

    • storywitch

      Kim, I agree! See my note earlier on that very thing. It seems we’re less happy when we focus on the big things and the big goals, and miss the joys of the small moments.

  • Texas Book Lover

    Sounds like you have a keeper of a husband!!!

    • storywitch

      I definitely think so. Of course, it’s only been 27 years. It might not work out…lol.

  • Range Girl

    It’s so funny to see you here. I was just looking at some of your recently re-released ebooks on Amazon (got your rights back?). I haven’t read any of your books yet, but you were highly recommended in an Amazon forum I came across. I really enjoyed reading your blog and learning more about you (and your husband). Thank you for sharing with us.


    • storywitch

      Miranda, that’s excellent timing (beaming). I did get my rights back on 9 of my titles (6 had expired contracts and 3 I bought back). But all of them, self-pubbed and those through publishers, are available in all the usual places, so let me know if you have any difficulty finding one you want. I’m also pleased to hear I came recommended from a readers’ forum, and hope you find something you enjoy. If you need any help or insight into the books when making your selection, just let me know! Thanks for hanging out with us for RARM. :>

  • kirsten west

    Touching memory of your husband. Thanks for the fun interview.

  • Kai W.

    I haven’t been to Disney World yet. I need to go there when it is cool over there. Heat and humidity doesn’t agree with me.

    • storywitch

      Kai, Oct-Nov are really good months to go. We went in mid-January one time and most of the food services were closed down, so wouldn’t recommend that month, but fall is nice!

  • Mary McCoy

    I agree, 4D books are kept to a small percentage on my shelves.