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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 Tif Marcelo will also be on the page.)
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Tif Marcelo – Libraries & Romance: Finding My Place
I am a lover of books today because of a very impressionable time in my life as a young girl. My parents were emigrants and both worked out of the home, which made me a latch-key kid. But instead of coming straight home, I would stop by at my public library, only four blocks away from my house. It became my refuge, and I used to unload my backpack with a deep sigh, excited for all that I would be able to read and learn.
Back then, it was a simple sign up to get a library card, unlike today which is an entirely complicated transaction, and I treated mine like a precious jewel. For all the things I misplaced, I knew exactly where my library card was at all times. I kept it in the front most pocket of my backpack, with my bus card and house keys, a true testament to how much I used it.
During the school year, I was modest in my borrowing, and the library was my living room, where the books were like caretakers who taught me a lesson or two. I passed the time cruising the aisles, even the nonfiction stacks where I flipped through cookbooks.
The summertime was another story. I’d trudge down the hill to the library with my little brothers and fill my arms up with books to the maximum loan allowance, then lumber my way back up the hill, where I would take the following days to read through my stash, stacked neatly next to my bed for easy reach. Over time, I read through their picture and chapter book selection, and waded through their meager choices for YA, before heading over to the adult fiction section.
And where did I land first? In the romance aisle.
This was my magical moment.
I was mesmerized by the sheer amount of same-sized books, lined up in a row. Book covers of couples, pages filled with sometimes fantastical stories, all couched in romantic love. I was captivated.
This library and these books changed my life. There, and within
pages, I belonged.
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These authors come from a Filipino background and bring such a wealth of culture and love, both romantic and familial, on to the pages.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
Between my sophomore and junior of year of high school, I took the opportunity to visit the Philippines on my own. I was a very independent teenager, and I was struggling with my identity as a Filipino-American, so I travelled on my own, and for three months I visited my relatives throughout the country. It was eye-opening; the experience broadened me like no other. Because I wasn’t with my parents, nor did I stay around the usual tourist spots, I was exposed to the everyday life of my extended family. I even attended school with children of family friends, learned to speak some conversational Tagalog in that short time.
It was during this trip when I began to understand who I was. I learned to love the Philippines as part of me, and I brought this feeling and devotion back to the United States with me, where I began to feel more comfortable in my own skin. And I will always remember that trip as the one that changed me to be a better, more confident person.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
I read the THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS by Isabel Allende when I was a sophomore in high school and it took my breath away. It transported me like no other book had done in the past. Its magic realism elements enhanced my reading life because it inspired me to see beyond the obvious, and read and search for what was in between the lines. Since then, I have read every book by this author, and I have loved them all.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
In 2015 I had been writing and querying for so many years, and I was starting to give up. I was writing young adult fiction then, and struggled moving on to my next project to keep myself busy as I navigated the query trenches. My husband was deployed, and the doubts and the stress was starting to seep in. I was in a reading slump, so I dove into a Netflix binge. I stumbled onto The Chef, a movie about a man who had lost his love as a restaurant chef, only to find it as a mobile restaurateur. I stayed up past my bedtime to watch this movie, riveted. It was as if a spark had been lit inside me, and I couldn’t get the movie out of my head, how culture mixed with food, and how love can be found within it. Except I couldn’t reconcile writing this book for the young adult audience. What came next was a leap of faith, and that was to age up my characters, and bring this concept home, to my own culture. From that came True North, which would eventually be NORTH TO YOU, the book that snagged me both my agent and my publisher and became my debut novel.
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?
Though I don’t have magical aspects to my books, I do feel that family is magic. I see family as the heart of my books, whether these are of blood relation to my main characters, or their chosen family. It’s a quiet but prominent driving force in my plot and character arcs, because it’s these relationships that my main characters rely on and struggle with.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
Creativity truly is magic! At times I come upon sentences I’d forgotten that I’d written. Other times, I wonder how the heck I got that specific idea to begin with. And every once in a while I get a note from a reader who loved my book. I try to take these little things and stuff them in my mind’s pockets to conjure them later, when I struggle or doubt. This, and my four kids, who are my accountability, keep me going!
DRAWING – Tif 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 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.
One unique comment per person 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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Tif believes in and writes about heart-eyes romance, the strength of families, and the endurance of friendship. A veteran Army Nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Administration, she is a craft enthusiast and food-lover. As a military spouse, her sense of adventure shows in some of her free-spirited characters. Tif currently lives in the DC area with her own real life military hero and four children. She writes romance and contemporary women’s fiction, all with a promised happily ever after. The Journey to the Heart series and THE KEY TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER are out now, and ONCE UPON A SUNSET is forthcoming March 3, 2020.
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