Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Romance Matters: To the Reader and the Writer

Janet here. Whether you're a writer or a reader I thought it would be fun to revisit a topic I examined a while back and discuss the importance of romance novels.

When new acquaintances learn I’m a writer, they often assume I pen children’s books, perhaps because once upon a time I taught first grade. When I say I write inspirational historical romances I’ve gotten that look, then a flimsy smile and sometimes they say some version of “Oh, you write those little books.”

I don’t think they're referring to the book's size.


I hate to admit this, but I might have reacted that same way when I only read NYT's bestselling novels. That is until a friend loaned me a romance novel and I was hooked. It took quite a few years for me to get around to writing a romance. I'm proud I both read and write it. Because romance matters.



Romance novels matter to those who read them


Readers like happy endings. I know because I’m a reader. A happy ending doesn’t make the story fluff, it makes it satisfying.

Romance novels are as varied as their authors. Romance novels are emotion-packed, humor-laced, fast-paced and often deal with difficult issues we all face daily. Romance novels uplift and entertain, even edify. With all the sad events in this world, isn't it a blessing to read stories with happy endings?


 Romance sells. Readers don’t put out hard cash over and over again without getting a return. 


The following stats are from the Romance Writers of America Web site:
  •  Estimated annual total sales value of romance in 2013: $1.08 billion (source: BookStats)
  • Romance novel share of the U.S. fiction market: 34% (source: Nielsen BookScan/PubTrack Digital 2015)
  •  What formats of romance fiction are selling? (source: Nielsen BookScan/PubTrack Digital 2015; figures do not include self-published romance e-book sales or Amazon-published e-books)
        E-books: 61%
        Mass-market paperback: 26%
        Trade paperback: 11%
        Hardcover: 1.4%

  •  Who is the romance book buyer? (source: Nielsen Books & Consumer Tracker)
        Female: 84%
        Male: 16%

  • Age of the romance book buyer: 30–44 years old (source: Nielsen Books & Consumers 2015)

 Romance novels matter to those who write them.
Nothing moves me as much as receiving emails, letters and reviews from readers who have said that a novel helped resolve a spiritual struggle they were having or got them through a hospitalization or long hours caring for a chronically ill loved one. 

Romance novels are not a "fill in the blanks" formula as critics sometimes claim. Anyone who's tried to write a romance novel knows that's laughable. The only formula is the novel's happy ending.

Through writing romance novels I’ve received these blessings: 

  •  Stimulating work. I get to create people.
  •  A release for my creativity.
  •  New friends, both writers and readers.
  •  A sense of who I am.
  •  Direction for my life.
 Through writing romance, I’ve learned to persevere.


Our God-given talent may be raw and need simmering with practice but we dare not waste it. It may be tied to God’s purpose for our lives.
 

Through writing romance, I’ve learned to control my emotions.


The ups and downs of publishing can keep writers reeling. Writers must accept change and go with the punches. Rejections, less than stellar reviews, so-so sale figures can take writers from a place of gratitude to jealousy and even worry. Each day before I write, I pray God will give me the calmness, wisdom and ability to write the book He wants me to write and someone to read.
 

Through writing romance I’ve learned to leave the outcome with Him.


Other than the words we put on the page and our efforts to promote, we can do little to control our success. All we can do is write the best books we know how. No small achievement.

What was the first romance novel you ever read? Why do you read them? Write them?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a $15 dollar Amazon gift card. Here’s hoping the winner uses the gift card to buy romance novel/s.


 I brought apple fritters and mixed fruit, coffee and tea. Let's chat romance novels.

Janet Dean grew up in a family who cherished the past and had a strong creative streak. Her father recounted fascinating stories, like his father before him. The tales they told instilled in Janet a love of history and the desire to write. Today Janet spins stories for Love Inspired Historical. She is a two-time Golden Heart finalist, a Genesis and a Carol finalist and a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novels are also Golden Quill, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Booksellers Best and Inspirational Readers Choice Award finalists. Visit Janet at her Website: www.janetdean.net

163 comments :

  1. We get Janet two days in a row...whohoo! :-)

    I don't remember the first romance novel I read, only that it was most likely a Harlequin and I was probably in my late teens to early adulthood. I didn't grow up in a Christian home, so my choice of romance books weren't Christian based. In fact, I had no idea they even existed! Then after giving my life to the Lord years later, I still craved the romance part but not according to the worldly view of what that entailed. So, I began to do research and found the Love Inspired & Heartsong presents line of novels, probably picked up from a yard sales/or book sales at the library. Well, to say the least, I was hooked from the get-go! Those were the pure kind of romance that didn't shame me for reading them, but still gave me that happy ending I so love. Romance the way God designed it to be between two people :-)

    That's the reason I like reading them, Godly based romance & the satisfying happily-ever-after :-)

    Thank you for the gift card chance, it will go to a good cause....feeding my hopeless romantic side, lol!

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    1. TRIXI, there weren't many inspirational romance novels back when. I read secular romances too. These days we're blessed with loads of fabulous Christian authors to read. As you said so beautifully, Godly based romance and the satisfying happily-ever-after. We LI authors thank you for feeding your hopeless romantic side on our books! :-)

      Janet

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  2. Coffee's ready!
    Coffee's ready!

    If Janet does double duty, seems double coffee is needed. :)

    I honestly don't remember the first romance novel I read.

    As a girl I read mysteries, like Nancy Drew. It wasn't until I was older that I added mysteries to my bookworminess.

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    1. HELEN, an espresso is exactly what I need this morning! Thank you!

      Bookworms thrive here in Seekerville's fertile soil! :-)

      Janet

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  3. Lenore Mattingly Weber in elementary school. Like fifth grade. Beanie Malone books. Set in the fifties and finally in book 3 or 4 she and Ambrose "Brose" got pinned.

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    1. TINA, a reader with a memory! Ah, the satisfaction of seeing the couple pinned. I checked out the books. Beanie Malone looks like a spunky heroine. Did the pinning take place in high school or college?

      Janet

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  4. I read Nancy Drew as a kid....and honestly, I was always disappointed when Ned Nickerson didn't show up. Then I got tired of waiting for the next one after I read them all and decided not to read anything else because it couldn't be better than Nancy.

    13th birthday I got "Whatever Tomorrow Brings" by Lori Wick. I hadn't read anything for years, but it was a present.....and now "Nothing could be better than historical Christian romance" I'm a very cliquish reader apparently. :)

    Why do I read/write. Well, I didn't think too much beyond I like them until after I started writing, and I think I read them because I'm a fairly emotionless person. If you knew my Myers Briggs, that's like my super power. :P so I vicariously got to emote by running through it with the h/h. Sort of like therapy. I guess I needed to up my therapy and start actually trying to produce it in written word.... and a romance writer was born!

    Who knows, I might have to up my therapy again and produce emotions in real life. hahahahahahaha

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    1. MELISSA, you're a hoot! Emotionless isn't possible for mommies. Though actually it might help. LOL Actually I think Christian romance novels are probably great therapy. They not only feed our love of all things romantic, but the characters show us how to get through tough stuff and find happiness. So glad you got the Lori Wick book for your 13th birthday!

      Janet

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  5. I have been reading romance novels for a very long time. I couldn't begin to guess at the first.

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    1. MARY, you've got longevity in the genre, a woman after my own heart. LaVyrle Spencer was my first secular romance author. Jeannette Oak my first inspie author. I do read outside of romance but happy endings always call me.

      Janet

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  6. I'm not sure of the title but it was by Janet Daley and in her Americana series where she wrote a story in each of the 50 states. I loved that series.

    I loved what you wrote Janet, "Our God-given talent may be raw and need simmering with practice but we dare not waste it. It may be tied to God’s purpose for our lives." Thank you for sharing.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. CINDY, setting a series in all 50 states is a great idea. Were you able to read all of them?

      When we write for God, even when He's our only reader, we have the privilege of blessing Him. Isn't that awesome?

      Janet

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  7. I remember reading all of the Babysitters Club books when I was 8 or 9. I read a lot of books as a child (classics, non-fiction, and popular fiction) but I didn't read my first romance novel until I was in my twenties. It was a Heartsong romance. I started thinking I could write a romance after reading Heartsongs. And I've been writing them ever since :-)

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    1. Another series I loved as a kid was Sweet Valley High.

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    2. PRESLAYSA, that call to write was lurking inside just waiting to grab you. :-)

      I checked out Sweet Valley High books. Looks like there was the potential for double trouble with twin heroines.

      Janet

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  8. I always loved that photo of you, Janet. As I've mentioned before, the people at our Walmart are never dressed as nice as you. :)
    Probably the first romance I read was Gone With the Wind. As for why I read/write romance...I've got to have a happy ending.

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    1. JILL, I loved Gone with the Wind! Oh, and Jane Eyre. Raising my coffee mug to happy endings!

      As to my outfit in that photo, we were on our way to dinner when we stopped at Walmart to see if my book was there and my DH snapped the photo.

      Janet

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  9. I am totally psyched over Janet: Take Two!!!!

    Janet, I love writing romance. I love reading romance. (I like reading other stuff, too, but the romance wins favor, hands down!) And we're clearly not alone, because romance sells!!!

    But I love writing romance with a faith thread, romance with a strong, solid basis in how hard it is to make good choices these days... A hundred years ago, church attendance, adherence to rules and society mores was the norm. Folks fit in by being good and trying to set a good example... When we see current entertainment, we can see how quickly that changed.

    Give me sweet romance. Give me Heartland or When Calls the Heart or Fixer Upper... Give me old time values, and Little House on the Prairie and Hallmark.

    Sure, I'm a prude, but this prude loves the very essence of romance. >SIGH<.... :) Thank you for this wonderful post... and the food!!!

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    1. RUTHY, inspirational romance is light and salt--not of Biblical proportions--but important in a world that needs it badly. I've been wanting to thank you for being a instrument of peace on Facebook.

      Janet

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    2. I feel the same way as you, Ruthy!

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    3. Hi Ruth:

      You wrote: "I love writing romance."


      I just finished reading your "The Pastor Takes a Wife", a novella, and my first reaction was that the story just sang out with love. My next reaction was that the author was having too much fun writing this book.

      That scene where the hero blasts the heroine for her 'sin' and then has to 'eat crow' for being such a hypocrite, is an instant Christian classic. That had to be a hoot to write!

      I think "The Pastor Takes a Wife" is a great example why one should never overlook a novella. Some of the best things come in small packages...as all romance fans know! : )

      Vince

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  10. Good morning, Janet!

    Writing has brought me closer to God, and it's allowed me to be creative. I've also met so many great people on this journey, and it's added more purpose to my life.

    I'm a romantic. You all know my husband is in SC right now and his name is Tim. A couple of weeks ago at work, one of the pharmacists said, "There's Tim." My heart leapt and I rushed to see my Tim. I was so disappointed to see another Tim, and the other employees pretty much laughed at me. The reason I share this is to let you know, my heart still leaps for my husband. It's okay to laugh at me.

    Thanks for sharing, Janet. Have a great day!

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    1. JACKIE, we writers have to cling to God to make it through all the obstacles and keep on keeping on.

      I'm not laughing that your heart still leaps for your husband. I'm applauding.

      Hugs, Janet

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    2. Jackie, I think that's wonderful!

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    3. Love it, Jackie! That's love...it never stops!
      :)

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  11. I read Grace Livingston Hill in high school. It wasn't until years later that I realized there was a whole inspirational romance market lol. I'm still trying to catch up.

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    1. SALLY, Grace Livingston Hill wrote over a 100 novels. Isn't that amazing? Not that she's alone with those numbers. catching up is hard to do, but we give it our best effort! :-)

      Janet

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    2. Wow! I had no idea Grace Livingston Hill wrote so many books. I'm going to look her up - I have a family member who has mentioned more than once that they liked her stories, saying they most remembered the ones set in far off places in castles, etc. Has a true Jane Eyre sound to it. :)

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  12. Ah, Jackie, that's so cute. And, Melissa, I feel you- I was an avid Nancy Drew fan myself, but I couldn't figure out where Ned was hiding.

    I'm not completely sure what my first romance novel was, but it might have been my mom's old Sunfire romance.

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    1. Boo, I was always so frustrated that Nancy and Ned didn't interact more.

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    2. BOO, I had to look up Sunfire romance novels. You all are opening my eyes to the number of books written for young adults.

      Janet

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    3. The run of Nancy Drew Case Files tended to have Ned/romance show up more often, they were my favorite. I wish I kept them, I just googled to make sure I was remembering the right line and my heart just sighed with nostalgia.

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  13. I would use giftcard for romance books.

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    1. CATHYANN, you sound like a romance addict, our kind of person.

      Janet

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  14. JANET!! Two days in a row, girlfriend -- you're taking over the world!! ;)

    I LOVE this subject because I think it taps into the human being's innate desire to be loved. And as Christian authors, it taps into God's desire to love us, hopefully channeling that amazing love (and grace) into our books.

    YOU SAID: "Through writing romance I’ve learned to leave the outcome with Him."

    I would have to say that is the #1 lesson I have learned as a writer, which is essential if we are going to following God's leading and love what we do.

    What was the first romance novel I ever read? Well, I don’t really remember the first romance I ever read, but I DO remember the first one that impacted my life. From the moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was hooked, and my “romance-writing career” began!

    Gone With the Wind inspired me to begin my own novel at the age of 12, a 150-page, single-spaced manuscript that actually became the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, some 40 years later.

    Does romance matter? Oh my goodness, YES!! Because God is Love, and there isn't human being alive that doesn't crave it (and Him, deep down, I believe) in his or her lives.

    Great post, Janet!

    Hugs,
    Julie


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    1. JULIE, you nailed it. Yes--God IS love. And you write it AND romance beautifully. xx

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    2. JULIE said: Does romance matter? Oh my goodness, YES!! Because God is Love, and there isn't human being alive that doesn't crave it (and Him, deep down, I believe) in his or her lives.

      JULIE, beautifully said and so true! We're blessed to write stories that bless our readers and honor God.

      I also wrote romance at 12, but suspect our stories were not one whit a like. :-)

      Hugs,
      Janet

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    3. Hi Janet:

      I guess I was a little sleepy but when I read "...I also wrote romance at 12..." I read this as 'I also wrote Romans 12...' so I went right to Romans 1:12, (as I always check out bible citations), and this was it:

      "that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith."

      Now could that be any more on topic than what you've written here?

      This is absolutely true.

      Vince

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    4. Thanks, CYNTHIA, SO appreciate your kind words, my friend, and one to these days, girl, we need to meet at Panera!!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    5. LOL, JANET, I do seem to vaguely remember that (of course everything is "vague" to me at this age!), but yes, I suspect you are correct -- we probably weren't "a whit" alike. ;) Thank God romance comes in all colors and flavors, eh?

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    6. LOL, VINCE ... even accidentally, you are a genius, my friend!!

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

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  15. Janet, every good story contains romance, not matter the genre. I lean toward suspense and historicals, but everyone knows the good guy always gets the girl.

    Since I'm married and haven't been looking for a spouse since I was 18, sometimes I have to remind myself not everyone is in a relationship. Then I ask what would they like to see? What would be their dream? If I was single at my age, what would sweep me off my feet? (Uh, job would get more points than hair at this stage...)

    Even John Wayne always got the girl. Yes, ROMANCE MATTERS!

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    1. CONNIE, excellent points! I'm impressed that you think of the reader and what kind of story might sweep a woman off her feet. I'm going to remember that!

      Besides romance, stories show characters overcome the odds and change and grow, which is satisfying.

      Janet

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  16. Hi Janet, Loved your post today. I love romance and have since I dove into my mother's romance novels when I was still a child. I skipped Nancy Drew and went right to romance. Gone With The Wind is one I remember most.

    I read somewhere that one of the reasons the romance genre sells so well is due to RWA because with its mission to network, help new budding authors and develop the craft, romance novels excel in quality, hence a large market. ACFW took the RWA model and established their group for the devopment of Christian authors and now look how that market has grown?
    Quality and paying it forward makes the difference.

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    1. SANDRA, RWA and ACFW do a great job, along with their smaller chapters. Add in the willingness of experienced writers to mentor newbies--that paying it forward that you mentioned--and there's endless opportunities to master craft.

      Janet

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  17. Janet, what a great post. I love all the redeeming aspects you shared about romance stories. They don't all have to be the ones whose covers make us blush. There are so many aspects of story that feed a reader's spirit. And those happily ever afters are very satisfying!

    Does romance matter? Yes. It offers hope to a reader, and so much more.

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    1. JEANNE, isn't it awesome to be part of feeding someone's spirit? I always pray my books will get into the right reader's hands.

      When we were expecting our children, I was awed to participate with God in creating a person. On a smaller scale, we get to do that with creating our books.

      Janet

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  18. Tina, I also loved the Beany Malone books. She was so human, not at all perfect, but she did what had to be done.
    Preslaysa, my KIDS had the Babysitter's Club! I think they're still in the basement somewhere. It was one of those series that got kids to read.
    Janet, a couple of thoughts on the actual post:
    People do think of paperback romances as "those little books," and I always tell them, "It's not your mother's Harlequin." Or your grandmother's. There is tremendous spiritual depth in today's genre Christian romances. Which brings me to my second point, why write romance? Or read and review it, if you're not a writer? Because the marital relationship is a reflection of our relationship with Christ on this earth. It's not "you and me," it's "you, me and Him."
    Kathy B.

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    1. KATHY B said: ...the marital relationship is a reflection of our relationship with Christ on this earth. It's not "you and me," it's "you, me and Him." Thanks for sharing that truth!

      Janet

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  19. I also write Christian romance because I learn something about myself. The Heroine in my current WIP is hyper-organized and walls herself off behind her lists, charts and clipboards because she's afraid of real commitment, and she's afraid of real commitment because she has a HUGE problem with unconditional love. As I go deeper with her, I'm going deeper with myself. It is a journey, people.
    I also like what Janet said about learning to control our emotions. Like the marital journey, the writing journey is a schooling for Life In Christ. And there is nothing we can control or "fix" about it, except for our own discipline.
    Back later,
    KB

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    1. KATHY B, the writer is on a journey with her characters and learns or maybe even heals right along with them. That's an absolutely awesome point and often we writers struggle to "bleed" on the page, as they say, when what we're writing about becomes very personal.

      Janet

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  20. JANET, you tugged my heartstrings today. ROMANCE... Ahhh! *happy sigh* :-)

    I think the first romances I read (as a pre-teen) were by Barbara Cartland. (I don't remember them being too risque, at least the ones I read, but when my mother found out, she made me return them to our little local library).

    Later, I discovered Debbie Macomber and I was forever hooked on the romance genre. LOVE her.

    I've read various kinds of romance (NOT the Fifty Shades of Polka Dots stuff... Is THAT even romance???), but I'm drawn to uplifting, homespun stories with committed relationships minus the seedy factor.

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    1. CYNTHIA, grinning at your protective mom. What was considered risque has changed a lot.

      Debbie Macomber's stories are warm and uplifting. As she is in person. She's spoken at ACFW conference and I've met her in person. She presented MYRA's Golden Heart award. Debbie's genuine and God is blessing her big-time!

      Janet

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    2. I didn't attend ACFW the year Debbie was speaking, but ohhh...how I wanted to. :-) What fun for MYRA! A BIG win and an exciting time for sure.

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  21. Love this, Janet! Nice to debunk some of the faulty assumptions about romance novels--and their writers and readers.

    Not sure I can remember the very first romance novel I ever read. The first one that comes to mind is a novel I read as a teenager, Jubilee Trail, by Gwen Bristow (just looked it up on Amazon to refresh my memory).

    Then as a young mom I discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss and several other secular romance authors--my version of "Calgon, take me away!"

    It was a long time before I knew there was such a thing as Christian romance fiction, but now that's the only kind I really like to read. Seeing what happens (or should ONLY happen) behind closed doors doesn't appeal. Plus the faith element makes the stories that much more meaningful and relatable.

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  22. The first romances I read when I was about 12 or 13 were Mary Stewart's gothics - Touch Not The Cat, Nine Coaches Waiting, My Brother Michael, etc. I remember the summer I was 13 we were at my grandparents cottage and I discovered an entire carton of Harlequin Presents in the sun porch and surreptitiously read them all in a week. The next year I discovered Daphne du Maurier and I've been reading romance and suspense novels ever since. I love reading romance, and inspirational romance because of the HEA but also because I'm looking for realistic characters with something to overcome, to learn, and ways they need to grow. And I write it to put my characters in those same places, and as someone else already said, I learn a lot about myself in the process. It's another way God blesses us with our writing! He reveals things to us that we need to learn ourselves. Please put me in the draw - wishing everyone a blessed day.

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  23. I read very little romance when I was young. As a young mother I probably went ten years without reading ANY book. I just never had a chance to settle into a chair! With the fourth child, a five year straggler. My three older ones were all in school (or soon they were) and I was nursing and I found I could hold a nursing, then sleeping baby and read at the same time....if I didn't have other children talking to me, climbing on me, asking me for food, attention, toys, whatever.

    And that's when it came roaring back, the reading. I've always been a big reader, all of my family was when we were young. All eight of us. I think we personally kept the local library circulation numbers shiny.
    Then not much reading in high school and college and young motherhood.

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  24. I remember reading Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley between classes in high school, and my chemistry teacher asked if I was reading a romance. I was scandalized--only moms read romance novels. "No, it's not a romance! It's fantasy! A fairy tale! Just Beauty and the Beast!"

    Oh, wait . . .

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    1. Rachel, it always amazes me how many of the great, best, funnest stories are romances.

      All the way back to Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, the Taming of the Shrew. Even Gone with the Wind because it ends badly but that ROMANCE! It's what we all wanted, Scarlet and Rhett to be together and find their Happily Ever After.

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  25. And when I went back to reading it was Mary Higgins Clark, Clive Cussler. Adventure, action. I loved it.

    Those books were what inspired me to write. I've heard people say they started writing because they read a book so lousy that they thought, "I can do better than this."

    That wasn't how it was for me. I read books so good that I kept wondering 'how did they do that? How did that drag me into that story? Take me to a different place? Hold me there and make it a roller coaster ride.'

    And I wanted to try it. Wanted to see if I could do that with a book.

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  26. MYRA, like you I didn't find Christian fiction early but then maybe I pre-date it. :-0

    wish more non-inspie readers would give our inspie stories a try. I think they'd be pleased with the depth.

    Janet

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  27. Love romance novels....Christian ones! I enjoy reading stories that are faith based; will certainly use the gift card for romance stories! Thanks for your giveaway and interesting post, Janet.

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    1. JACKIE S, thank you for your support of faith based romance novels.

      Janet

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  28. Welcome back again, Janet! Fun topic. I don't know if I can remember what my first romance novel would have been but I know my first inspirational romance was Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly series. I then went on to read all of her books. I think she led the way for inspirational fiction.

    Please enter me for the Amazon card.

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    1. SANDY, Jeanette Oke was a pioneer in Christian fiction. Bethany House published her first book in 1975 and she's written at least 75 books since, an impressive number. Do you think you've read all of them?

      Janet

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    2. Janet, I might not have read some of the more recent books she wrote with T. Davis Bunn but I have pretty much read most of her books. I think I might have a couple on my shelf I haven't read. (I am trying hard to catch up on reading all my books.)

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    3. SANDY, I've got a lot of books on my TBR pile, both on the nightstand and in my iPad. Catching up is hard to do. That's a song title for readers. :-)

      Janet

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  29. I don't particularly read books that are purely romance, I've read a few historical ones (even one contemporary and was shocked when there was 0% action whatsoever) mainly for my mom to help her review some books when she's get backed up.

    I like books in which the main plot is something else, with some romance on the side. But, don't get me wrong, the book absolutely must have romance, and a couple I can ship for. I will not read a book unless I know there will be a romance of some kind. I have always had to have a couple I could ship for, even when I was six years old and was watching Disney's The Little Einsteins I shipped for Leo and June.

    But no, as for predominately romances, no. Those tend to get a little too mushy for my liking. If the basis of the story seems interesting enough I'll give it a try, but I like having other things such as suspense, mystery, or action and adventure being the main plot of the book and the romance being the side. Those are the kinds of books I write as well.

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    1. NICKI, your love of suspense, mystery, action adventure stories is not surprising because from what you've shared here, I knew that's the kind of stories you write. And probably what kind of movies you watch.

      I don't want the romance to be the whole story either. I want a story with characters that have external goals they're working toward that cause conflict for them and require them to change and grow. Only then can they overcome the obstacles that have kept them from falling in love. Your characters are doing the same only their stakes are life and death.

      Janet

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    2. Things are always interesting when the stakes are life and death ;)

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  30. Hi Janet! While I read lots of genres, ROMANCE is my favorite. Like Preslaysa, I also read Sweet Valley High books.

    I love reading and writing romance for the same reason: the courtship! Courting is defined as paying special attention to someone to win their affection! Often times, going to GREAT lengths and risking misfortune! Just writing that puts a smile on my face.

    I think the reason why so many women love romance is because God made us with a longing to be pursued and cherished. There is something so mysterious about two people finding each other, committing to each other and accepting each other.


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    1. JOSEE, I couldn't agree more. I often marvel how God brings people together. One different little choice and they would never have met.

      Janet

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  31. Hi Janet:

    I guess technically my first romance was "Pride and Prejudice". I was forced to read this book in a high school English class and it was the only book I was forced to read in school that I loved. I went on to read the next four Austen books. Of course academics won't call these romances because they are 'literature' and romances are somewhat less than that!

    Here's an actual quote I loved from a new romance author. After an author told her mom that she had her first book, a romance, published her mother said: "That's nice honey, but when are you going to write a real book?"

    That woman needs to go back to mothering school!

    Many years later I read a Maureen Child Marine book because I liked the cover. Child's heroes are so alpha wonderful (honorable) that I just loved to vicariously spend time being them. I read all those books and then wrote Child asking why she stopped writing the series. She wrote back that she wanted to expand her work and seek new challenges. I was so surprised that she wrote me back!

    Many years after that I read my first Love Inspired book and it seemed perfect. I immediately subscribed to the large print LI series and for years read four books a month and got the 'meet' many LI authors. I've been pretty much happy with LI ever since.

    Vince

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    1. VINCE, you're blessed to read P&P in high school. We read poetry and short stories and one novel, Great Expectations. We had to dissect it, find all these underlying meanings. I didn't love the book. I wonder what I'd think of it now.

      That mother did need mothering school! When I told my mother that I was writing a romance novel, she said, "I hope I live long enough to see it published." Neither of my parents got to see my stories in print, but I'll never forget their belief in me.

      Thanks for your support of LI, Vince!

      Janet

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  32. Hi Janet! So good to see you here. :)

    Josee came close to what I was going to say about romance novels - it's a God thing.

    The foundation of marriage and romance is the relationship between Christ and the Church - His bride.

    So romance resonates deeply within us. We love the happy ending, the perfect hero, and the lasting, permanent romance.

    What can be better?

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    1. JAN, we do! Beautifully said. Thank you!

      Janet

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    2. Perfectly put, Jan! Interesting how every romance, secular or Christian, ends with an idea of permanence to the couple.

      The HERO is a huge part of the story. That's another reason I love writing romance: crafting the hero is so much fun!

      Delete
  33. LOve is all you need or it all you need is love. I read gone with the wind and was swept away...at 14

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    1. AK, you're one of many who read GWTW and fell in love with romance. Your quote is lyrics from a song. Good romance novels sing!

      Janet

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  34. I've always loved books, I still have a book I got for my birthday when I was seven and my first scholastic book, Helen Keller. The book fair was like a candy store to me, I had a lot of trouble choosing. My mom didn't drive so most of my books came from the school library, so there was a wide variety of stories, but not romance.

    Like Mary, there was a space of time when I was having children when there wasn't time to read, but then I joined a mail order book club and was back on track.
    The first historical I remember was probably in the 80's, Savannah, by Eugenia Price. I remember reading Lori Wick's books in the Christian market about that time too, but don't have a clue what my first romance was.

    The thing about romance that I think I'm drawn to, besides a good love story, is the fact that it's relational. I'm fascinated by the never-ending ways people are able to relate to each other, not just the hero/heroine, but all the characters, what motivates them, why they do the things they do, good and bad. It's the character study of human nature that pulls me into book after book.

    So this is a favorite topic of mine, why we read what we read and how we see ourselves and others in each of the stories. It's the equivalent of people watching from a bench, endless variety and limitless entertainment!

    Thanks for the interesting post Janet, love it and all the comments about the what and the why of everyone's choices!

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    1. Oh, I love what you said about relationship...I'm copying that paragraph so I have something to say to people who give me grief about my reading choices! Thanks, Tracey.

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    2. TRACEY, like KAV, I'm impressed by your insight that what draws you to a romance novel isn't just the love story, it's the relationships between all the characters. Story people become so real, reading a book is indeed like people watching. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Janet

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  35. Hi Janet:

    I should have added that there have been times when I've gone off the reservation and read 100 Regency books, all of Betty Neels books which all but one or two (very high priced and rare) I still have in my keeper pile, and almost all of Lucy Gordon books -- even her two Regencies which were god awful and mercifully written under a pen name.

    I'm a binge reader. If I find a writer I really like, I binge on all her books. I wonder how many other readers are like that?

    Vince

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    1. VINCE, I don't know but suspect quite a few readers binge on favorite authors. Some teens, maybe lots of people, binge on TV episodes, watching one after the other. I would've binged on LaVyrle Spencer if I hadn't read her books as they released.

      On your recommendation I bought a couple Betty Neal books at a used bookstore but haven't read them yet.

      I just Googled Lucy Gordon and heard about her and her husband's whirlwind romance. Fun!

      Thanks for sharing all these authors!

      Janet

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  36. This whole post blesses my romance loving heart. Love this bit -- "A happy ending doesn't make the story fluff, it makes it satisfying." YES!!!! I don't have an in-person romance loving kindred spirit reading buddy which is all kinds of sad but I love the friends I've made online.

    So my first romance...blissful sigh...Trixie Belden and Jim Frayne. Anyone remember Jim telling Trixie she was his girl? Be still my eleven-year-old heart!!!!!!! And when he noticed her new blue bathing suit that matched her eyes in Mystery on Cobbett Island. Thud!!!! Bwahahahaha!

    Then when I was in high school I discovered Gothic romances in the public library. Phyllis A. Whitney (I'd read her mysteries for children), Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart. And I was hooked. Oh -- and a book I found in a library used book sale -- Mrs. Mike, I think it was called. Must check and see if that is still in print. That was my first romance without a mystery.

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    1. KAV, I checked out Mrs. Mike and was awed by the tragedies this young woman endured. Not a typical romance, but she was a strong woman, a survivor. Thanks for sharing your favorite romances!

      Janet

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  37. Good morning, Janet! I love that photo of you - - you are SO pretty! :)
    What an excellent post - - so many nuggets in this (a few of them I'm jotting down to keep near my computer as I write).
    Many years ago ( when I was a teen) I read a few Barbara Cartland books and enjoyed them at the time. But it wasn't until 2006 that I "discovered" there was such a thing as Chrisian romance novels, and I was THRILLED. Of course before then I'd read Eugenia Price books, too, and loved those (I read those in the late 80s and early 90s - - thanks to my dear Mama). :)
    Thank you for sharing with us again (I enjoyed yesterday's post but didn't get a chance to read it until LATE last night!).
    And an "AMEN" especially to this line in your post today: With all the sad events in this world, isn't it a blessing to read stories with happy endings? :) YES!! So often I have to just turn off the TV news reports and take more time to read - - because those HEA endings are SO uplifting! :)
    I'm enjoying one of your apple fritters with coffee--YUM!!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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    1. P.S. *SIGH* I should've proofread...just saw I left out a "t" in the word CHRISTIAN.

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    2. PATTI JO, I sold my first romance novel in 2006 but it didn't release until 2008. Is that about the time you found Seekerville? I feel like we're old friends, like we've known each other for ages. Maybe that comes from our shared love of God and of reading and writing romance.

      Thank your for your sweet words.
      Hugs, Janet

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  38. I don't remember the exact romance book that I first read but I know it was a Phyliss Whitney book! As a young adult, I loved her books and would check them all out at the library! I loved romantic suspense! i didn't "discover" the other types of romance books until later! Now I enjoy all types of romance books - the variety is good for me! I've always adored history (wanted to be a history teacher!) so historical romance fits the bill for me and I still love romantic suspense AND just regular romance! Something for everyone!

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    1. VALRI, variety is the spice of life. Phyllis Whitney seems to have been a lot of readers' first author. She had a fabulous career and died in 2008 at 104.

      Janet

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  39. Hi Janet:

    Why do I read romances?


    For the same reason I eat comfort food, listen to my favorite music at quiet times, pet a friendly dog, sing in the shower, stop to savor a splendid sunset, breath in the scent of an ocean breeze, praise the creative work of a child, placing loose change in the Red Kettle at Christmas, smile approvingly at a student who is afraid to ask a question in class and giving a standing ovation at the end of a community playhouse production: it makes me feel good at the time it is happening and for a too short time afterwards.

    Vince

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    1. VINCE, your list of things you enjoy resonated with me. Many are the small things, the generous things that make us feel good and reveal the heart. The pleasure might not last long but the beauty of it is, they're simple to repeat time and time again.

      Janet

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  40. Oh my goodness, Janet. Reading this post and these comments is a trip down memory lane. The first books that I remember thinking of as romance genre were the Barbara Cartland books. I credit Barbara with opening my interest in so many things. Her heroines always went places and did such interesting things.

    But really, I guess my first romances (I don't include Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden because I read them for the mysteries, not the romance) would be Rosamond du Jardin's Pam and Penny Howard books. Double Date, Double Feature, Showboat Summer, Double Wedding. I don't remember her Tobey Heydon ones as well - just Practically Seventeen and Class Ring. And then Wedding in the Family. I definitely did not read them the years they were published, so they must have been around a long while.

    I was in college when Avon started releasing all those long historical romances. I started writing shortly after that because the books came out so much slower than I could read, that I had to make up my own story. I never even considered that I might sell one for the longest time.

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    1. CATE, Barbara Cartland wrote 700 romance novels. I knew she was prolific but I'm still amazed!

      As a young teen, I got most of my books out of a library truck so suspect the choices were limited. The 1950s covers of Rosamond du Jardin's books just make me smile. Such an innocent time.

      How many stories had you written by the time you sold your first book?

      Janet

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  41. Janet, I can't even remember the first romance novel I read. I subscribed to Harlequin/Silhouette when I was in college! I looked so forward to receiving those boxes of books each month! I don't even remember how I managed to read with all the studying I was doing. I think I ended up saving a lot of them for after I graduated. But I somehow managed to make time for some of them. :)

    Then I didn't have time for reading in graduate school. But I read once again after marriage. The first title that really sticks in my mind as one that blew me away and made me start to think about writing was A Knight In Shining Armor (Jude Deveraux). I haven't read comments yet, but I bet someone has already mentioned that one! :)

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    1. MISSY, I've always loved Jude's name. The first name is actually hers. She's a pretty woman. When I get to a bookstore next, I will look for some of these authors.

      When our children were little and took naps, I would watch soap operas. Years later I was amazed to learn that college students were into them. I suspect that craze is over.

      Janet

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  42. hi Janet
    I've always been a voracious reader, although I read more mysteries and science fiction before dabbling in romance. I believe Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly was my first romance novel. After that, whatever the Inspirational line was for Harlequin was before it became labeled as such is where I headed. My mom subscribed to them because of the Christian theme and figured I'd be reading romance anyway - so she made sure I got my hands on the good ones and not the "bodice rippers" ;)
    I notice that in every genre there's always a bit of romance there. Like someone else said, the good guy always gets the girl - perhaps not always the HEA... but he gets the girl.

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    1. DEBH, I'll have to see if I can find the HQ clean line that your mom made sure you read. I didn't realize it existed.

      Janet
      Janet

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  43. Amen and amen, Janet! Preach it, sistah! :-) But only for the Christian romance novels. The others? That's not romance.

    I can't remember the first romance novel I read, but I was in high school. I've always loved the King Arthur stories, and of course, they revolve around romance. Like DebH said, no matter the genre, there's always a bit of romance. Even in Stephen King. :-)

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    1. MEGHAN, do you read Stephen King? His stories scare me. Wouldn't matter if I told myself it's just a story, it's too real. But I've heard he's an excellent writer.

      Janet

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  44. The first romance I ever read was Lori Wicks Kensington Chronicles. I was hooked! Thanks for the giveaway

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    1. KATE, you're not the only Lori Wick fan! Thanks for sharing your first romance read.

      Janet

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  45. Is it bad that I have a hard time getting through a book without a romance in it? Thankfully even Charles Dickens included some in his works. :) I write inspirational historical romances, as well, and find it very satisfying. <3

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    1. ANGELA, yay, you're another Inspie historical romance writer. I love history so it was a natural for me. I'm guessing you do the same. What's your favorite era?

      Janet

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  46. Janet, this is a wonderful reminder that everyone is different. There are readers and the non-readers. Among readers, some prefer a particular kind of reading... magazine articles, or technical how-tos, autobiographies, etc. Then there are the fiction readers whose taste are all over the map.

    For some reason, I've always gravitated toward the books (and movies) that had a love interest and ended on a happy note. One of my earliest memories was

    I watched 3/4 of a movie the other day, and then turned it off before the ending when I realized (I think I read Wiki's description of the ending) one of the main characters was going to die and there was no happy ending. Nope. Obviously not for me as I can't even think of the name of the movie now.

    It.Is.Dead.To.Me. ha!

    And don't even get me started on all the girls who get killed off in the action flicks (James Bond, Bourne, etc.) just so Bond and Bourne can have a new love interest in the next movie. Grrrr!

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    1. PAM, yeah, the hunks have to remain single so we ladies can continue to live vicariously through the stories. I used to watch TV westerns and was glad none of the cowboys ever married, especially Little Joe Cartwright. :-)

      Sad endings are depressing, especially if you're not expecting it!

      Janet

      Janet

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  47. Honestly, I can't remember the first romance I read. I've read bunches! I love writing romance because I love creating those little tingling sensation moments. You know, the sparks you feel up and down your spine when your spouse wraps you in a warm embrace or just touches your cheek. Don't roll your eyes! Hopeless romantic here. LOL But I have enjoyed creating those innocent first kisses or touches that have been a part of my real Christian romance. And yes, I would probably use an Amazon card to buy more romances or a writing craft book. Shrug.

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    1. PAULA, wonder if our spouses would notice if we took notes during a kiss? ;-)

      Janet

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  48. Wonderful post, Janet!

    I remember reading AS YOU WISH by Robin Jones Gunn. I can still recall things about that book sixteen years later. :)

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  49. JBAUGH, to remember a book that long means it's had a huge impact on you. Kudos to Ms. Gunn!

    Janet

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  50. I grew up on many of the books people have mentioned. I loved Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, Edna Ferber, Daphne du Maurier, as well as all the Classics...seems there were lots of clean reads in those days.

    The first true romance I read was Shauna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was a mom with two little ones and had never read a story like that one. I read some of her other books, but then went back to suspense and mystery.

    I bought lots of Janet Oke books for my eldest daughter. She was an avid reader and needed a more advanced "Little House on the Prairie" series. Janet's books were perfect. Clean reads with love and faith. Eventually, I realized the inspirational genre had lots of great stories from which to choose. Lenora Worth and Margaret Daley were two of my favorite authors early on. They still are! :)

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    1. Shauna was my first Kathleen Woodiwiss romance, Debby! I was also a mom with two little ones then, and I remember getting swept away by the story--though I could not for the life of me tell you now what it was about.

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    2. We were reading at about the same time, Myra! :) I kept the book in my nightstand drawer. Didn't want even my hubby to know what I was reading! Scandalous!

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  51. DEBBY, thanks for the list of favorite authors back in the day and now.

    Lenora and Margaret are lovely women and excellent writers! Writing has brought so many blessings to our lives.

    Janet

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  52. It's difficult to remember, so I'll just say Sean Donavon by Lori Wick. I loved it and took off from there. Christian fiction romances are the best and I am so thankful for Janette Oke and all of those people who paved the way.

    nina4sm/at/gmail/dot/com

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    1. SYLVIA, I'm grateful to those writers too, giving us opportunities to read and write inspirational fiction. Thanks for joining us today!

      Janet

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  53. I also loved all the Holocaust stories...Exodus, Catch 22, The Wall, there were more, but I can't remember the titles right now.

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    1. DEBBY, you read a variety of books.

      I'm enjoying This is Us, the TV show of the parents and three triplets that leapfrogs between past and present. Romance is at the core of it. It's on tonight.

      Janet

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  54. First romance noval I read would have been Gone With the Wind and I was hooded on romance.

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    1. QUILT LADY, thanks for adding another vote for GWTW. Too bad Margaret Mitchel didn't write more! She was a very interesting southern woman.

      Janet

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  55. Thru my mid-years I was totally into personal development, non-fiction. And then, somehow, I picked up a book by Lori Wick - maybe it was given to me. I began reading every book of hers I could get hold of and then it just started spreading to other authors, mostly Christian romance.

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    1. DUSTY, non-fiction is great, but story rules, at least with me. Glad you found Christian romance for life's second half!

      Janet

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  56. Lori Wick has been mentioned by so many today. I need to read one of her stories!

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    1. DEBBY, I haven't read her either and thought the same thing.

      Janet

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  57. Terrific post, and so many good replies. I was 13 a long time ago. My mother shared her book club buys with me, and these are among those I still have on a shelf: Johnny Osage, Parrish, and Gone With the Wind.

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    1. LOREE, it's fun to see that the books you loved are still close at hand. Is Parrish a character?

      Janet

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  58. I don't remember the first romance that I ever read, but it was probably one from Silhouettes First Love line for teenagers. Does anyone remember those? Ahh, I my heart still goes pitter pat thinking about those sweet stories. :) I guess that is why I write romance as well. Those are the stories that stay with me the longest.

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    1. LORAINE, I don't remember them, though I do remember loving to read. Wish I had more titles and characters that had taken up residence in my heart like yours have.

      Janet

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  59. I don't remember the first romance that I read. I'm sure it was Christian fiction since that is all I read. I love those HEA's!

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

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    1. CARYL, HEAs rock!

      I'm curious about your first name. How do you pronounce it?

      Janet

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  60. Hmmm, probably the Angelique series my senior year in high school. Before that I read classics on the "college bound" list. A friend lent them to me, and I was hooked. The classics flew out the window. ;-)

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    1. BARBARA, the Angelique series had to be great if you didn't care if you were prepared for college! LOL

      Janet

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  61. This was so interesting - thank you, JANET! I read the old Harlequin books, waaay back when. I think they would be called clean reads now.

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  62. Janet, Thank you for the trip down memory lane. When I was young, my grandmother worked at Murphy's and would bring home discarded romance novels. I remember reading Anne Mather, Charlotte Lamb and other Harlequin romance writers and traveling the world. I read stories set in Australia, Greece and Great Britain and read about women who were nurses, sports psychiatrists, and artists. I loved them, and I still love romance novels.

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    1. TANYA, books expand our horizons in so many ways. Nice to have a grandmother who supplied them!

      Janet

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  63. Enjoyed reading the comments guys!

    I enjoyed the mystery books as a kid (Sugar Creek Gang, Mandie, Hardy Boys, Kay Tracey). Jennie McGrady had a bit of a Hallmark side but it was more like Nancy Drew/Ned - steady but didn't take over things. I think the Hallmark storylines entered in more from the happy, old comedies and westerns I watched than the books I read. Kilmeny of the Orchard stands out at one I read...it was free at my libraries book swap. :)

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    1. Westerns always has a happy Hallmark-y ending.

      Stand outs:
      Rim of the Canyon - Gene Autry visits a ghost town where the local schoolteacher spends her afternoons.

      Carson City Kid - Roy Rogers is searching for the guy that killed his brother and finds a sweetheart along the way.

      Song of the Gringo - Tex Ritter is an undercover Texas Ranger joining a band of outlaws and meets the pretty daughter of the ranch owner.

      The screwball comedies back then were equally as fun - you had true humor that was clean and funny, witty script writing, and often times mystery:

      The Ex-Mrs. Bradford - William Powell and his ex-wife (who happens to be an aspiring mystery writer) have a zany time as they solve the mysterious death of a jockey.

      Two O'clock Courage - Tom Conway is a man with a bloody gash on his head and no memory...Ann Rutherford is the taxi driver who almost ran over him stumbling around in the street. Who is he?


      His Lordship Goes to Press - an American journalist does a farming story - but she doesn't realize the 'farmer' is actually the rich landlord for the estate.

      :) Ok. That was fun. *sigh* lol. Hope when you are frittering/frivoling, you look one of these up! :)

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  64. That is cool that your dad told stories! I think of Paul Hutchens (Sugar Creek Gang). I read that he would write part of a story and then share it with his family/children who would give him their feedback and pointers. lol. I liked that.

    I know I am a story teller, but I'm still seeking the Lord on what I should do with that gifting. What type of book would I most enjoy writing? That's one of the reasons my Speedbo goal is a bit open ended on final result - words will be written, but the topic I plan to vary.

    And should I win the Amazon shopping spree Janet - rest assured that books will be bought. Our community writes so many books it's hard to keep up! :D

    Blessings!

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  65. LAURA, so true! Thanks for sharing.

    Janet

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  66. I believe the first romance novel I ever read was Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke. I was in the sixth grade and found it in the library of my Christian School. I was hooked!

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    1. KIMBERLY, Jeanette Oke has hooked a lot of readers! The TV movie was great too.

      Janet

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  67. One of the first ones I read was The Long Way Down by Robb White, about a girl who joins the circus to become a trapeze artist. The romance element is subtle and sweet but I loved to embellish in my mind :) Books with romance just make me happy! Thank you to all you wonderful authors who create the stories we read and love!
    (Please throw my name in the hat is it's not too late! You can never have too many books... at least that's what I tell my husband)

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    1. HEIDI, romance novels make me happy too! My DH loves to read as much as I do. Though he doesn't read much romance. Mainly just mine.

      Janet

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  68. The first romance book I ever read was With This Ring by Marian Wells. I was 14 when I found it in the school library. Totally changed my reading life! The book was actually published the year I was born (1984), but she will always be one of my favorite authors.
    I think it also set the stage for how I read, since it is actually the second book of the story, and I am bad to accidentally read books out of sequence. lol
    By the way, Janet...I just started reading The Bride Wore Spurs, and I'm loving it!! :)
    Thanks for the opportunity for the gift card--I would definitely buy more books with it if I win!

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    1. I realized I forgot to answer why I read romances...well, I love the happy ending! I also prefer historical Christian fiction. I'm a big history buff and love learning new things about different eras.
      Also, reading is my chance to escape from reality for a bit and live a different life. I think that's another reason I prefer historical. It's easier to immerse myself in a story if it is a totally different era/life from mine. My preferred time period for books is 1650-1880. If there are automobiles, it's too new. lol

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    2. HOLLY, thanks for sharing your first and favorite romance author and setting. I love Christian historical romances. Like you I want to be swept away into a different time.

      Janet

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  69. Love reading the comments. Great perspectives, Janet!

    It really is amazing, reading these statistics isn't it?

    Long live Seekerville!

    (Full disclosure, I don't typically read romance novels. In fact, the first one I remember reading was a Seeker novel I won!)

    :)

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    1. KC, I'll keep your dirty secret. LOL NOT.

      Janet

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  70. I got in big trouble for reading my first romance novel. It was a mainstream "sweet" novel. I was a teenager babysitting and the mom of the house had left her book in the living room. Usually I brought my own for after the kids were asleep but I hadn't that day so I read hers. She didn't mind but my mother did. I was only allowed to read certain books and that one wasn't on the list. Despite the trouble at home, I've loved romance novels ever since :)

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. PHYLLIS, I'm grinning at you getting into trouble for reading a sweet romance. You were quite the rebel. :-)

      Thanks for sharing!

      Janet

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  71. Thank you for your post. Sometimes it is nice to get away from the real world and surround yourself with a satisfying ending to a romance. I can't remember the name of the romance that I read, but I do remember what it was about. It was a teen romance about a girl overshawdowed by her older sister. Overcoming misunderstandings, she strengthens her relationship with her sister as well as getting together with the guy she is interested in. Romance can have a lasting impact in our lives.

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    1. CYNTHIA, books make a difference. I love that! Thanks for sharing.

      Janet

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  72. Grew up reading Cherry Ames, then progressed through Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and all the science fiction and westerns in the library. The first real romance I read was A Spirited Liaison by Carol McPhee.

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    1. HELEN, thanks for sharing the books you read as a kid and your first romance.

      Janet

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  73. The first romance novel (well, series) I ever read was the Zion Covenant series by Brock and Bodie Thoene. I'm not even sure if it strictly counts as a romance or if it's technically historical fiction but it was the romance between the two main characters that hooked me!

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    1. KARA, I looked up this husband and wife team. They've written like 70 books in multiple series. Must check out one of their books.

      Janet

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    2. I love the Thoenes! They're some of my earliest discoveries, too. Their stories are so well-researched and complex. LOVE.

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  74. Hi Janet, I so enjoyed this post about romances. The first romance that I remember reading was With This Ring by Emilie Loring. I know many people are asking "Who"??!! The bookmobile came to our elementary school every other week and this book was on it. Today Emilie Loring's books would be considered inspirational fiction or romantic suspense. There was always an underlying element of faith; a mystery to be solved and an attraction between the two main characters that couldn't be denied. The ending usually included a kiss and you just knew that they would be together! Emilie Loring was a prolific writerI with over 50 books and I read them all. I also read Phyllis Whitney's teen romances but Emilie Loring was my favorite as a teenager!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. CONNIE, our school also had a bookmobile. Fun to go back to those days. Emilie Loring had a great career as a novelist.

      Janet

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  75. The first romance I really remember reading and getting grabbed by was Janette Oke's "A Bride for Donnigan," back when I was about 12. I thought it was so cool that the love stories I always enjoyed could have Christian themes and characters.

    The first straight-up mass-market romance I ever read was "It Happened One Night" by Leslie Lafoy, back in 1997. Leslie was my history teacher my sophomore year of high school, and when she got published and quit teaching, I had to read her book to see what she'd been working on all that time!

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