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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 Reese will also be on the page.)
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Reese Ryan – The Magic of Discovering New People and New Worlds
I had an active imagination as a child. This should surprise no one, as it’s probably true for most authors. Although I did fine in social situations, I was an introvert who was perfectly content to live inside my own head. (Also, no shocker.) There was plenty to keep me preoccupied in my little inner city neighborhood. But I seldom ventured outside of it, except for the occasional bus trip downtown or to a suburban mall.
There was the annual family reunion trip, but not a lot of other travel. For millions of people whose experience is similar, this can leave one with a very narrow view of life. And for some, it leads to a crippling mistrust and/or fear of anyone who looks or speaks differently or has a culture or life experience different from their own. It can also lead to a devastating lack of empathy for anyone considered “other.” But even though one’s circumstances limit their view of the world, the magic of books can introduce them to new people and new worlds.
Exposure to new ideas and cultures was one of the things I found most appealing about the stories my parents read to me when I was very young. I quickly fell in love with the magic of stories and their ability to transport me to other worlds. To introduce me to characters who represented people I might never meet.
When our children are young, we often read them fictional books that serve as allegories, teaching them to share or to be kind to others. But books can have a powerful, transformative effect on adults, too. Genre fiction, like romance, may simply seem entertaining on the surface. But well-written fiction seeps into our subconscious. It makes us ask ourselves hard questions, re-examine our beliefs, and question the status quo. It can inspiring or serve as a warning, without being heavy-handed or climbing onto a soap box and pulling out a megaphone.
For instance, it may seem irresponsible for an adult to make a long, arduous trek with young children to an inhospitable country. But a book like Sent as the Viking’s Bride by Michelle Styles tells the story of a woman who did just that in a distant time period. What seemed imprudent at the outset we later learn is an act of bravery and extreme selflessness on the part of our heroine. Books like Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan tackle the tough subject of domestic abuse in a way that is heartbreakingly honest and quite difficult to read at times. But by the end, the reader understands why just leaving isn’t as simple as one might have believed. The Contingency Bid by Sherelle Green deals with a hero who has a learning disability. My title Playing with Desire delves into some of the challenges experienced by a single mother.
All of the books listed above are romances, meant to entertain. But whether it is obvious on the surface or not, they also teach us a lot about the world and people in it whose experience may be very different from our own. For some, existing in such a limited sphere might seem unthinkable. But for many, whether by choice of by chance, it is simply their reality. However, books…beautiful, magical books…have the power to introduce us to new ideas, new people, and new worlds. To show us how other people live. To gain insight into their lives, share in their celebrations, and truly empathize with their pain. And for that wonderful gift, I will always be grateful to the magic of books.
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There are so many incredible authors whose work I admire. So it was exceedingly difficult to whittle this list down to just three authors.
Naima Simone – naimasimone.com – @Amazon
Naima’s stories are full of angst, gut-wrenching emotional scenes, and love scenes that will melt your face off. She knows how to write the hell out of a forbidden romance and the tension will keep you on your toes throughout the story. Read Sin & Ink for starters.
Karen Booth – karenbooth.net – @Amazon
Karen writes fun, sexy, engaging stories populated by relatable characters, whether they are wealthy tastemakers or everyday Janes. I love so many of her books, but I’d recommend Secrets of a (Somewhat) Sunny Girl (romantic women’s fiction) or Tempted by Scandal (the first book in a tightly-woven, four-part quartet filled with scandal, backstabbing, treachery, and romance.)
Sherelle Green – sherellegreen.com – @Amazon
Sherelle’s stories are fun, fresh, and irreverent, with titles like #Blessed by Malakai and Single AF (Yes, it stands for exactly what you think it does.) She writes great, empathetic characters who get themselves into complicated situations. The language is strong, so pearl-clutchers need not apply. But if you give her stories a try, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy them as much as I do. The Contingency Bid, mentioned above, is a favorite of mine.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
We took a magical, eight-day trip to a Sandals property in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It’s a lovely island and we had so much fun. I set aside some of my fears and phobias to go on adventures like climbing Dunn’s River Falls and going horseback riding in the sea. It was a truly unforgettable experience.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen is the book that made me want to transition from a reader to a storyteller. I wanted to write stories that made people laugh and cry and want to shake the characters. I didn’t realize what an impact that book and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott had on me still, until I’d written several books of my own. I discovered that there is a little of Elizabeth Bennet and Jo March in every heroine I’ve ever written. And my affinity for writing family drama stems from my love of those two books.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
One of the most magical moments in my writing career was finally seeing one of my books on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. A dream come true for me, as it is for many other authors.
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’d written a few books already when a writing workshop at my local RWA chapter helped me realize that there are three themes that are consistently inherent in my work: family, forgiveness, and self-identity. It wasn’t something I was weaving in intentionally, at first. Yet, those themes kept recurring. I’ve since embraced them.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
Like many creatives, I vacillate between thinking a story I’ve written is total crap to thinking it’s brilliant. (Somewhere in between lies the truth.) But on days when I’m struggling, a reader’s comments about how much they’ve enjoyed one of my books or a reader listing me as one of their favorite authors (something that still blows my mind) reminds me of the great impact of storytelling and its ability to connect us. It forces me to get outside of my own head and let go of my insecurities, so I can get back to the work of creating.
DRAWING – Reese is hosting The Romance of Reading page, and her giveaways will take place there.
However, all 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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Reese Ryan writes red hot romance with captivating family drama, surprising secrets, and a posse of deliciously-flawed characters.
Past president of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, a panelist at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and recipient of the 2018 Donna Hill Breakout Author Award, Reese is an advocate for the romance genre and diversity in fiction.
Discover all of Reese’s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and text links connect to an affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!