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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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Marilyn Brant – The Magic Of Being Captivated
I’m part of our local library’s adult summer reading program. Much like Read A Romance Month’s theme, “The Magic of Books,” our library’s theme this year is “Reading is Magic.” (Hey, great minds!!) If we, the library patrons, do a handful of easy tasks—i.e., read or listen to an award-winning novel, read a nonfiction book, read a book by an author whose last name starts with the same letter as ours, etc.—we officially complete the summer reading challenge and qualify for entry in a grand prize drawing. Completion of the tasks also comes with library tote bags for all participants, additional prizes (books, of course! 2 beautiful trade paperbacks, in my case…), and cute buttons that have sayings on them about the magical experience of reading.
I finished all of the required tasks, plus a couple more—I’m an overachiever that way, LOL—in half of the allotted time. Then, I proudly turned in my reading sheet and collected my bag of goodies, feeling every bit like a little girl being given presents on her birthday. I even grinned at the librarian behind the desk and said, “I’m so excited! I feel like I’m seven,” when she handed me my tote filled with library treasures.
She laughed (probably because I’m a lot older than seven), but she didn’t contradict me. I suspect that’s because she already knows what you and I and everyone who loves books innately understands: The gift of reading *is* the prize. Being spellbound by a story creates a powerful enchantment and, once bitten by the reading bug, it’s nearly impossible to recover. Not that we’d want to… Everything surrounding my town’s summer library program or our month-long romance celebration here is crazy fun, but it’s like the sparkly gift wrap and the pretty red ribbons on a package. Like the lovely bows and the festive confetti. It helps make the party extra special. But being captivated by a fictional world and taking part in a literary dialogue between mutual creators—a conversation a writer begins and a reader responds to—that *is* the magic.
And for those of us who adore romance novels in particular, falling in love with an author’s writing style or a well-described story setting or an intricately crafted character is not only magical, it’s the happily ever after between writer and reader that both are seeking. Having often been in the shoes of each, I can say without hesitation that the author in me wants nothing more than for my novels to find their way into the hands of their perfect readers, and that the reader in me wants only to discover those writers who’ve penned stories where I can both lose and find myself. The combination is pure alchemy. So, here’s to a very happy RARM, friends! I wish you the joy of reading not only during the month of August but all year ‘round.
And I’d love to know about your own library experiences. Have you been there recently…or not really? Do you attend any of the library programs/book clubs? When you visit, what do you hope to find: New releases? Reference materials? DVDs? Activities? Something else?
Thanks for inviting me to visit today! 🙂
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In the earlier days of my writing career, I had the great pleasure of blogging on a site called “Magical Musings” with these three wonderful ladies and talented writers. I highly recommend their stories, which cross many romantic subgenres!!
Check out their websites & Amazon pages:
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
I had a really strong case of wanderlust as a child—some of which I blame on The Sound of Music movie because I just couldn’t get the Austrian & Swiss Alps out of my head. Seriously, I wanted to climb a mountain and twirl around and sing, “The hills are aliiiiiiive!” at the top of my lungs. Getting to finally travel to Europe with my husband (pre-parenthood) and be surrounded by those beautiful mountains was sheer magic. (On my website, I have photos from this Grand European Adventure, which inspired my novel, A Summer in Europe, and about halfway down the page there’s a picture of us in Salzburg/Eagle’s Nest. You can see those gorgeous Alps! (Check them out here.)
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
In 3rd grade, when I first read Escape to Witch Mountain, I was SO hooked! Given that the kids in the novel had paranormal gifts, like ESP, there were magical elements throughout, but it was Alexander Key’s storytelling that really cast a spell on me. I couldn’t put the book down. Literally. I carried it around with me. I thought about the two protagonists—Tony and Tia—all the time and wondered what it would be like to be from another planet, to have these extrasensory skills, and to only have each other to rely on because they thought everyone in their family and from their home planet was dead… I very much enjoyed the 1975 Disney film, which had come out earlier, but it was the book that haunted me, and it’s still a sentimental childhood favorite.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
The moment I finished drafting my very first novel was memorable and magical to me. Just being able to say I’d finally reached “the end” on a book I wrote myself was incredible. Until then, I didn’t know for sure if I could do it. It was very late at night, like 3:15am, on a weekday, and my husband was asleep because he had to go to work the next morning. Our son (who was a toddler at the time—now he’s halfway through college) was also asleep, so it was a tremendously quiet moment of triumph and celebration, but it was a HUGE one for me. I’ll never forget that amazing feeling of accomplishment. The original draft of that very first book was an utter disaster, however, but I didn’t know it then, LOL. It took me many more drafts (including a complete rewrite of the story) and a dozen published novels before I finally figured out how to fix the issues that plagued me early on and make it a publishable book. Fifteen years after that magical moment, The One That I Want was finally released as part of my Mirabelle Harbor series, and I couldn’t be more proud of the finished book!
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?
In my debut novel, According to Jane, I had the ghost of an author (none other than Jane Austen herself!) giving dating advice to a woman for 20 years. I’m a huge Austen fan, so I loved getting to play around with the internal monologue of the main character and turn it into a dialogue between my protagonist, Ellie, and my favorite author, Jane. There was lots of room for humor with that premise and, for me, it provided just enough of a paranormal touch that I could enjoy this element of fantasy while still keeping a lot of the story grounded in reality and in what I hoped would be recognizable/relatable experiences.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
Music. Every time and always. I go for walks and listen to music. I make soundtracks for my books that reflect the subtext of the story. Sometimes—as with all of the stories in the Mirabelle Harbor series—the book titles are famous songs and the storylines reflect some of the lyrics. For my romantic novella, Going For It, I even wrote an original country song because the heroine of that story was writing a song herself and I needed to know what the final lyrics would be. It was a lot of fun and reminded me of how much I enjoyed coming up with lyrics and melodies in my youth. I studied viola as a child, piano as a teen, and guitar as a college student. Sadly, I never played any of those instruments as well as my dream self would have wanted. (Ever heard a shrieking cat? That’s like me on the viola.) But whenever I need to slip into a state of flow and access a different part of my mind, I’ll either listen to music or pick up an instrument…until the storyline returns to me and I can write freely again.
Drawing – Marilyn is generously giving away a copy of The One That I Want (open to anyone who can accept an e-book gift.)
To enter, leave a comment below. Open until August 18, 2019 11:59 PM EST.
All comments will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 2 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 8/21/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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Marilyn Brant is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy. and mystery. She’s written over 20 novels and novellas to date. Her debut book, According to Jane, won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award (2007), and she was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. Most recently, she completed the “Mirabelle Harbor” series—sexy contemporary romances set in the northern Chicago suburbs on the sparkling shores of Lake Michigan—and one of her short stories, “When Life Imitates Art,” was included in the Romance Writers of America’s anthology, Second Chances. Marilyn loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato.
Discover all of Marilyn’s books:
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