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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Karen Hawkins will also be on the page.)
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Liz Lincoln – Books Bring Us Together
The Magic of Books is such a hard topic to write about. There are eleventy-seven different ways books bring magic to our lives, so how do you possibly narrow it down to one blog post? I’ve struggled for days to figure out what to talk about here. And then I remembered a recent experience that to me perfectly illustrates one of the most magical powers books have.
Books bring us together.
I’m not just talking about book clubs, or cuddling your kids as you read a bedtime story. Though those things are important too. But I’m talking about finding kindred spirits and building true friendships, based on books.
When I wrote my Milwaukee Dragons football romance series (get them all now at your favorite ebook retailer! They’re also super nerdy), I hoped it would find at least a few fans in the Milwaukee area. Packers fans who knew who my blond linebacker hero was based on (I miss you, Clay Matthews, but I do love seeing you in Rams blue and gold, aka Dragons colors). I didn’t hear of any local fans for a few months. Then RomBkLove rolled around. (If you don’t know RomBkLove, it’s a lovely thing Ana Coqui spearheads every 6 months or so, so follow #RomBkLove on Twitter and Instagram. She’s also starting a RomBkPod podcast in September.)
One of the days during RomBkLove, the theme was Sportsball. And I was tagged in several posts on Twitter and instagram. But one Instagram post in particular caught my attention. Because the poster mentioned she’s in Milwaukee. I looked Beth up on Twitter and found she’s a librarian. It’s always good to be friendly with librarians, so I followed her on both platforms.
About a month passed, and I saw a tweet of hers that mentioned her child goes to a Montessori grade school. So do mine (fun fact: Milwaukee has the largest public Montessori program in the country), so I DMd and asked which school. Lo and behold, we figured out her daughter and my son are in the same grade, at the same school, and they know each other. At the time, her profile picture somewhat obscured her face so I didn’t recognize her. But when we met a few days later at the school event, I recognized her. We chatted, met each other’s husbands, and it was very cool, if a little awkward, because situations like that are just awkward.
That alone would have convinced me of the magical power of books to bring people together. But then, a little while later, I saw a tweet where she said something about being glad she lives close to her child’s school. Wait a minute. I live close to that school too. So I DMd her again. And wouldn’t you know, she lives 1 street over on the next block. When I go on walks with my kids, we go past her house (though this was December in Milwaukee, so we weren’t going on many walks then).
Because on a site of roughly 1 billion users, of course you meet your neighbor.
Since then, our kids have gotten to know each other better, her daughter has made friends with my cats, she’s introduced me to a couple other romance-loving librarians who I now count as friends, we’ve had Chris Evans- or Keanu Reeves-themed movie nights, we’ve drunk a decent amount of wine together, we definitely haven’t gossiped about school-related things, and we even got to have drinks with When In Romance podcaster Trisha Brown when she was in town. And we managed to take a double entendre tweet from a Packers player and turn it into two Toronto-area romance authors driving to Milwaukee for a weekend to give a program at Beth’s library and then go to a Milwaukee Brewers game (if you’re in the area, we’d love for you to come!). And of course, we’ve swapped books and discussed Romancelandia and romance novels. A lot.
In this day and age, a lot of us have friends online that we never get to meet IRL. I feel very lucky to have found a few new friends right in my city, in my neighborhood, through social media.
All because of the magic of romance novels.
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Liz Czukas/Ellie Cahill – lizczukas.com – Liz@Amazon Ellie@Amazon
A completely underrated romantic comedy writer. Her books are fun and flirty and everyone should read her. She writes contemporary YA as Liz and adult romance as Ellie.
Olivia Dade – oliviadade.com – @Amazon
I will read any and every book by Olivia Dade. She’s the queen of heroes who are examples of non-toxic masculinity and heroines who know who they are and what they want.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
I have a number of health problems, and had to adjust various medications before I got an all-clear to start having kids. The day my doctor said everything was good, that moment alone was pretty magical to me. But that night, my husband and I went out with friends, and I was sitting at the table drinking my wine, and he leaned over and said, “You know, that might be the last wine you have for several months.” And I looked at him smiling at me, and in that moment, everything felt just right. It felt magical. It was 10 years and 2 kids ago and I still get flutters remembering that smile.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
When I was 6, I remember my mom took me to the library. She wanted to get a book for me that she’d liked as a kid. It was way back in the corner (probably because the author’s name starts with a W), and I remember her squatting beside me and handing me Little House in the Big Woods and explaining it was about a little girl in Wisconsin (where we lived) and her life growing up in the 1870s. I ended up devouring the whole 9-book series. I read the early books so many times, the covers fell off and one of the books came apart in 2 places. We visited Plum Creek, MN, and De Smet, SD, I wore a sun bonnet for my first grade school picture. I watched the show every day after school. I was all in with Laura Ingalls Wilder. She was part of the reason I decided to become a writer. And now, all these years later, I still remember the magical moment my mom opened the door to an entire new world for me.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
This kind of sounds like the opposite of magic, but for me, it was. We went to visit friends in Kansas two years ago. It was at the time of the solar eclipse, and they lived near the line where it would be most visible. My brand new agent had my book (On the Line) on submission and she’d been emailing me with updates. Nothing in publishing happens quickly, so I wasn’t expecting more news for a few days at least. But driving back from our trip, on what happened to be my husband’s birthday, I got a call from my agent. We were stuck in stand-still traffic somewhere in rural Iowa. I actually had cell reception (another magic moment!), and my agent called. To tell me that I had not one but three offers for my book. When she said that, I might have exclaimed something my kids shouldn’t have heard. After we got off the phone, I told my family what she’d said. Then I opened my car window, stuck my head out, and screamed as loud as I could. I decided when I was 7 that I wanted to be a writer, and now I was finally selling a book. So screw traffic, I was going to make that moment magical. And I did.
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I don’t have magic in my books, but a theme I revisit in all my books is family. No matter what else happens, family has some influence over the characters. Maybe they had a rough childhood and it has affected who they are now, or their emotional journey in the book, even if they don’t talk to their family members anymore. Maybe they’re close with their parents and siblings. I’ve only written one parent character, Seth in On the Line (single dad trope alert!), and his relationship with his tween daughter is central to the story. No matter what their relationship to their family, it’s always an important theme in my books. My best guess at why (my therapist can probably answer this part better than I can) is because my own family, for better or worse, has strongly influenced who I am, and continues to do so. Those relationships are very important in my life so they come out in my books. And family is something universal, connecting all of us. We all have some element of family, even if it’s found family or family we no longer see. And to me, that idea has a little magic in it.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
As cliché as it sounds, my kids are what inspire me. I’d gotten pretty casual about my writing for several years, focusing on my day job career instead. After my daughter was born, I had a sort of epiphany moment (another magical moment?) where I was thinking all the big things moms of newborns do, wondering what sort of values I wanted to instill in her. And it occurred to me, if I was going to tell her as she grew that she should work hard for her dreams, pursue her passions, I had to do the same thing. I wasn’t at the time. So from then on, whenever I took a break at work to go pump milk, I wrote. Like everyone else at the hospital where I worked, I was on my phone as I walked the endless halls, but instead of checking email or social media, I typed in the notes app. Now I write full time (when I’m not Soccer Mom, helping my daughter pursue her ultimate dream to play for the USWNT), and I sometimes slide into the habit of too much social media and not enough writing. But ultimately I pull myself back to remembering that if I don’t keep pursuing my passion, I’m setting a poor example for my kids.
Drawing – Liz is generously giving away an e-copy of On TheLine (open to anyone who can accept a gift of the book.)
To enter, leave a comment below or on the Read-A-Romance Month Facebook page post, here. Open until August 22, 2019 11:59 PM Eastern.
Comments will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 3 participating authors. You may enter by commenting on this original blog post and/or on the Read-A-Romance Month Facebook page post, here.
Each first unique comment at each space offers an extra chance to win, so check in with each author. Must comment by 8/28/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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Liz is a Wisconsin native living in Milwaukee with her own romance hero and two pretty awesome kids, a pair of goofy cats, and a turtle. She’s an author, freelance editor, amateur crafter, and Certified Soccer Mom. Her favorite season is football – Go Packers! Go Badgers! Thanks to her daughter, she’s all-in obsessed with the USWNT soccer and the NWSL.
And don’t ever mess with her romance HEA.
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