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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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Xio Axelrod – FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – Romance Edition
Just the other day, a tweet caught my eye. I don’t remember the person who tweeted it, but she asked if all romance readers had come to the genre via their moms and grandmas, borrowing (or sometimes stealing) their old Harlequins at a young age. For many, this is the norm, but I was surprised to see how many people were like me. People who came to romance late in life.
How late was it for me you ask? I didn’t read my first romance novel until 2013, after I’d kinda sorta written one. I mean, I’ve always loved a good love story, but I didn’t actively seek to read romance in my literature. I grew up reading Anne Rice and Ray Bradbury. I buried my nose in Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare and (don’t laugh) Euripides. I was a nerd for the classics, but I was always drawn to the stories that had wonderfully angsty romantic arcs. I just didn’t realize it.
By the time a friend convinced me to “do something” with my accidental contemporary romance, I’d developed a pretty warped sense of what constituted a romance. It was something grandmothers read. Something cheesy or poorly written and clearly not for me. When my friend told me I’d written a romance, I was insulted.
Then I read one.
Yeah…so… I was wrong. (It doesn’t happen often, lol.) And I felt cheated because I’d been led to believe that romances were inferior to other genres, to the genres I’d grown up reading. I’d avoided the genre like it was covered in boils. I missed out on a lot, people. A. Lot.
Let’s just say that, since 2013, I’ve made up for all that lost reading enjoyment. Not only have I published ten romances of my own, I’ve devoured hundreds of gorgeous, funny, sexy, sweet, hot, angsty – did I mention sexy? – well-written, complex, simple and everything in between, romance novels by people from all walks of life. Books that depict people from all walks of life, from hockey players to war veterans to FBI agents to chefs. People from a myriad of backgrounds, those who looked like me and those who didn’t. Those who loved like me and those who didn’t.
For me, the magic of romance is two-fold. You’re transported instantly into the lives of people who are on the cusp of self-discovery, and you get to watch them fall in love. It is magic! There’s no other word for it. I love the anticipation of turning the page to the next chapter, and I love the heartbreak of reading that last line knowing there’s no more to come. Give me a good book hangover and I am a happy camper.
And don’t even get me started on audiobooks. I’m looking at my Audible account, which I opened in December 2015. Want to take a wild guess as to how many titles I’ve listened to in just under four years? 258. (My poor wallet!)
Well, as they say – better late than never. Romance has me firmly under its spell.
If you’re curious about my work, check out Camden. Expat, Scottish twins work as “fixers” for the rich and infamous. When they inadvertently ruin the life of a young pop star, Camden decides he’s had enough and walks away. When the pop star, Yara, shows up at Camden’s new pub after faking her own death, she demands that he make things right by her. Of course, they fall in love, it’s a romance! Music plus intrigue and snarky Scots, what more could you want? Or, if you’re looking for something a little angsty, check out Fast Forward where an Ivy league professor, Ian, is re-introduced to the Norwegian rock star, Jessen, that broke his teenaged heart. These men have some serious chemistry, but will they find their way back to each other with seven years of heartache between them?
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It’s so freaking hard to choose just three because I love so very many but here are a few who I wish would get more praise heaped upon them than they’ve had. They’re all incredible storytellers.
L. Penelope – lpenelope.com – @Amazon
Leslye is one of the best when it comes to worldbuilding. Honestly, she should teach a class. (And I believe she does.) A good book to start with would be A Song of Blood and Stone from her Earthsinger Chronicles series. Her prose is sumptuous.
(Agreed! SoB&S is a #100DaysOfGreatBooks choice – here. ~ Bobbi)
La Quette – www.laquette.com – @Amazon
The best word I can think of to describe La Quette’s writing is real. These are real people with real emotions dealing with real issues. The passion, the angst, the frustrations, and the joy – all of it – so very real. Check out her Queens of Kings series.
Roan Parrish – www.roanparrish.com – @Amazon
Roan writes the kind of books you want to read again and again. And again. Her characters become part of your family. You laugh with them, grieve with them, and love with them. If you’re looking for a short read, The Remaking of Corbin Wale is one of my all-time favourite novellas.
For something more meaty, read her Middle of Somewhere series which has one of the best antagonist-to-hero redemption arcs I’ve ever read.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
I grew up in the music industry and began recording and performing at a very early age. Performance has therefore always been a part of my life. But it wasn’t until I began to write and perform my own songs that I really felt that magic that most performers talk about when you ask them. One truly magical moment was the first time I sang in front of an audience in Portugal. My band and I were tired but happy to be there. I was getting sick. (I actually lost my voice during the show!) But I was determined to give the audience a good show. We did a nice mix of covers that they would recognize and a number of my original songs. To my surprise, they were very familiar with my songs and actually sang along with me. I think I may have cried. It was an amazing moment.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
I recently read a book called Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I’d had a complimentary copy of the book sitting on my shelf for a month or so before I picked it up, and only then after I saw a tweet mentioning it. The premise sounded fantastical – the First Son of the United States falls in love with a Prince, the second in line to the throne of England – and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
It happened to be the right book at the right time. Not only is it filled with hope and promise, the prose is arresting at times. I hadn’t laughed out loud and cried out loud so much because of a book in quite some time. I finished my paper copy and downloaded the audio (which is a magical performance all its own) and listened to it in two sittings.
When I need inspiration, I turn to those films, TV shows, books, song and albums that spark my imagination. The ones that inspire me and light my fire now matter how many times I consume them. Red, White, and Royal Blue is one of those books for me now.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
As I mentioned above, I often look to my favourite pieces of media for inspiration. One show has inspired me more than any other, of late. And anyone who has ever met me or followed me on social media can tell you about my obsession with the international web series SKAM.
One afternoon, shortly after the end of a season of the original Norwegian series, I was so energized by what I’d seen that I opened up a new Word document and started typing. Two days and 27,000 words later, I’d written my novella, Fast Forward. I didn’t even know I could write that fast! But that’s the magic of inspiration.
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 always seem to write about self-discovery, particularly in my LGBTQ romances. I love the idea that we are never done, never finished learning about ourselves. To learn is to grow and I like to think we are all always growing.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
I return again and again to those creative pieces that have blown my mind in one way or another. Whether it’s the incredible realism in books by a writer like Kennedy Ryan, the grounded, present, sometimes uncomfortable performance by an actor like Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name, or the quirky, experimental and yet somehow retro music by an artist like Janelle Monae, the mere act of consuming art inspires me to create.
DRAWING – 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 4 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 9/05/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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Xio Axelrod is a USA Today Bestselling author of love stories, contemporary romance and (what she likes to call) strange, twisted tales. Xio grew up in the music industry and began recording at a young age. When she isn’t writing stories, she can be found in the studio, writing songs, or performing on international stages (under a different, not-so-secret name of course). She lives in Philadelphia with one full-time husband and several part-time cats.
Discover all of Xio’s books:
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