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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.)
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Lucy Parker – Books Are Powerful & Love Endures
One of my earliest childhood memories is my dad reading to me from Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree, and the way that book unfolded in my mind. It was so real to me—in my imagination, I was walking in those enchanted woods, I was with those children as they climbed the branches of the Magic Faraway Tree and stepped into the magical lands at the top. I was thrilled by the idea of The Land of Take-What-You-Want (my grown self still wouldn’t mind an afternoon in that land!) and suffered vicarious motion-sickness in The Land of Topsy-Turvy. And I believed that tree was out there, somewhere, waiting to be found.
With adulthood comes many disappointing things—bills, lack of sleep, the knowledge that it’s possibly unlikely that there’s an enormous tree acting as a portal to curious and wonderful worlds—but one thing that remains, forever, is the pure magic of escaping into a favourite book.
As someone with a chronic illness, I, like so many people, frequently turn to my comfort books as both a coping mechanism and a simple joy. Life can be extremely difficult, for everyone, in so many ways; and I think that being able to give your mind and your soul a break is invaluable. During times when my reality is physical pain and exhaustion, I can open a book and suddenly be at Pemberley with Elizabeth Bennet, taking Mr. Darcy by surprise. Or in a den of shapeshifters with Nalini Singh’s changelings. Or on another planet entirely in Robin D. Owen’s Celta series.
There are books where the characters stay in my mind long, long after the book ends—in some cases, I think they’ll stay with me for the rest of my life. I care about them, I get comfort from them, and they do, in that way, exist beyond the page. Often, reading a book can completely change my mood for the rest of the day, it can affect the way I look at the world, it can cause me to make concrete changes for the better in my own life.
Books are powerful. Words are powerful. They’re a way to connect with someone you’ll never meet in person, or hear the voice of someone whose time on this world came long before yours. They can boost your courage in times when you feel afraid, and remind you that you’re important, that you’re enough, when your own mind might be telling you otherwise.
And when it comes to romance, it’s a constant reminder that in a world of adversity, love matters. Love endures.
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Three authors with warm, witty voices, incredibly well-rounded characters, and romance that leaves you feeling better about the world:
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
When I was a child, spending holidays with my grandparents, we would go out in a boat and spend time on the lake as the sun began to set. It was in a part of New Zealand that’s incredibly beautiful even in the worst conditions; but when the light starts to dim and the sky streaks into shades of pink and grey before the stars come out, and the mountains just become this wall of shadows, it’s magical. We would cut the engine and just drift for a while, watching all the lights twinkling in the houses along the bay. I remember this feeling of total security and infinite possibility, being able to live completely in the moment without viewing life through the lens of anxiety and illness that would take hold later. Looking back now, I’m sure the adults were at times hiding plenty of problems and worries, but they gave us these hours of pure, happy calm, and it’s a priceless memory to hold on to.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
In every sense, the Harry Potter series was magical for me. Inside the book covers, you were immersed in this whole new world; outside, you were swept up in this global phenomenon. The anticipation seemingly everywhere before a new book came out, seeing so many people excited for a book, was an unforgettable experience. Of the series, I’d have to go with the release of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as my favourite moment. I was heavily involved in the fanfic communities, I’d made a lot of friends through the fandom that I still have today, and both of the romantic pairings I was hoping for became canon in that book (because I can apparently read nothing without looking for the romantic possibilities). I remember sneaking a peek while waiting in line at the store and probably making an audible squeak. And I was on holiday when it came out, so there were a lot of happy hours spent wrapped in a blanket with that book and lots of snacks. It’s the little things in life!
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
One magical moment for me was getting to attend my first romance conference. Writing can be a very solitary experience, and suddenly being surrounded by all these people with shared interests and challenges, it was incredible. And getting to meet some of the authors I most admire, and hear their advice—amazing.
Probably the biggest moment for me, though, was the first time somebody messaged to tell me that my book is a comfort re-read to them when they’re feeling unwell and unhappy, that they turn to it for a bit of solace at a difficult time. Hearing that—there’s really nothing more important that I could want from the whole publishing experience.
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 do write the tropes I most like to read, because you’re going to spend much longer with your own book than you will with anyone else’s, so it has to be a space you want to be in. And surprising nobody who’s read any of my books, I definitely am drawn to the grumpy main-character falls for happy main-character theme. Admittedly, in real life, not everybody would want a partner whose main interests include sarcastic comments and becoming easily irritated (…although I think I just described myself). But in fiction, there’s something very satisfying about watching the pessimist with no time for love falling hard for this optimistic ray of sunshine. THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK is the book in my London Celebrities series that most closely fits that theme, but most of them have an element of it. I’m also a fan of enemies-to-lovers, with bonus points if they’re forced to work together for a common goal, which is pretty much the plot of my next book, HEADLINERS.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
In general, it’s starting a new project—and trying to come up with at least a very basic plot outline—that I find most difficult. Once I’ve started writing and I have at least ten-thousand words or so, there will hopefully be a moment when something “clicks” in my mind and that’s it, I’m immersed in the book. I’ll think about it all the time, I’ll write dialogue in my head while I’m out for a walk, and essentially, the characters’ lives will seem more real than mine. If that click doesn’t happen, which I’ve also experienced, then there’s something wrong with the book for me, and maybe it isn’t the right one.
However, obviously even when you’re fully into the writing, we’re all human, you can’t turn creativity on and off like a tap, and life can intervene. And sometimes your mind just goes, “No. Not today.” I always need to evaluate, then, whether it’s something I need to just push through or if I do need to take some time away from it. If I need to push through, then one thing I find really useful is to insert a page break and type in the next chapter heading, plus one placeholder word to start off a new scene. And then go back to the scene I was working on before. For some reason, seeing visual evidence of the next chapter, knowing that the book is going to progress and I’m not going to be stuck on this bit forever, can help my mind break through a block.
Drawing – Lucy is generously giving away a digital copy (.epub format) of the London Celebrities Collection anthology, containing Act Like It, Pretty Face and Making Up, open internationally.
To enter, leave a comment below. Open until August 26, 2019 11:59 PM EST.
However, 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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Lucy Parker is a contemporary romance writer who lives in the South Island of New Zealand. Her interest in romantic fiction began with a pre-teen viewing of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Firth-style), which prompted her to read the book as well. A family friend introduced her to Georgette Heyer and then to contemporary romance, and the rest is history.
She’s been writing stories and wanting to be an author for as long as she can remember, but it took quite a long time to summon the courage to just go for it and finish a full-length novel. She is currently working on her London Celebrities series, featuring West End actors, make-up artists, circus artists, directors, and TV presenters falling in love amidst the drama of the stage and spotlight. Her next book, Headliners, will release in January 2020.
Discover all of Lucy’s books:
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