Welcome Guest – Chelley Kitzmiller!

chelley kitzmillerTHE WAY WE WERE—A LOOK INTO ROMANCE READERS’ AND WRITERS’ PAST

And book giveaway!!!

Do you remember the first romance novel you read? I do. I remember it well because I was absolutely enthralled with it. I had no idea books like that existed because I was not a reader and more than that I hated history and the book was a historical romance — Sweet Savage Love.

No matter what age you are, if you love romance novels, you should read Sweet Savage Love and know that it is historically accurate (as far as I can tell) and that it paved the way for today’s romance novels along with Kathleen Woodiwiss’s novels.

Take a trip with me down romance novel memory lane and see how much you remember.

1.  Once upon a time, romance novels were only written in one point of view—the heroine’s. 1970’s.

2.  Barbara Cartland was the undisputed queen of romance with heroines who were virgins to the end and beyond. 1970’s.

3.  A newly formed organization called Romance Writers of America was advertised in the back of a Janet Dailey book and a first conference in Texas was held. Early 1980’s.

4.  Janet Daily stole the crown from Barbara Cartland with her contemporary romances, one set in every state in the Union. Late 1980’s.

5.  The second RWA conference was held on board the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, and the aspiring writers met with the editors in the area of the ship known as the Shark Tank. We all thought that was very appropriate. Early 1980’s.

6.  The romance novel industry was all the buzz in all the major newspapers and magazines and the term Bodice Ripper romances was born. Throughout the 1980’s.

7.  Editors announced they would accept books with two points of view; this opened a whole new world for romance writers. Late 1980’s.

8.  April 16, 1986 The Love Train carried 30+ bestselling authors on a whistle stop tour across the U.S. to New York for the Romantic Times Conference. The event was covered by Time, Newsweek, Playgirl, the BBC, UPI, AP and every major paper and TV station in the U.S.

9.  The movie rights for Sweet Savage Love were sold, but the movie was never made doggoneit!

Old-time-photo 10. A book signing in Virginia City Nevada drew a number of authors. The Old Time photo was taken during that book signing event. From left to right: Rita Gallager, me, Barbara Kelly, Rita Clay Estrada, Janet Dailey. We had a wonderful time together. So sad that two of these wonderful writers are gone.

After finding Sweet Savage Love, I went hunting for more and found very little. There were gothics and nurse novels, even a few Westerns but not much more. I devoured everything I could find but it just wasn’t enough. That must have been when I decided to write my own. Little did I know what a struggle that would be. I lacked a lot of things that a writer needs: a good vocabulary, punctuation skills, knowledge of sentence construction and a whole lot more. And, of course, there were no conferences back then and no books devoted to the subject of writing romances. What was an aspiring writer to do?

Back to Sweet Savage Love with a handful of colored highlighter pens, one color for dialogue, one for tag lines, one for description, etc. I circled sections that really “got” me and analyzed why they “got” me. And along the way I discovered something interesting – that the book was full of historical events and characters and that they were interesting, not boring. That realization prompted me to make it my goal to give my readers (if I ever got published) painless history lessons.

ChelleyKitzMiller_ElDorado200

Click cover to order

It took me ten years to write my first book El Dorado (formerly Touch The Dawn) and during those ten years I saved every newspaper and magazine article that focused on the romance industry. You can read those articles on my website (www.chelleykitzmiller.com)  under the “History” tab. They are in chronological order.

It was in 2009 that my plans to be a prolific romance writer got side-tracked by a new love—saving cats and dogs. I began Have a Heart Humane Society in Tehachapi, CA and now the rescue has over 30 volunteers. Our focus is on raising money to spay or neuter as many cats and dogs as we can—to make Tehachapi the first no-kill community in Kern County. I am always looking for ways to raise money for the animals (we are a non-profit 501c3).

Click cover to order

Click cover to order

So, what does this have to do with reading and writing? It occurred to me that I could use my writing to help raise money for our rescued pets. That said, I hope you that as soon as you finish reading this, you’ll type in Amazon.com (using Amazon Smiles for Have a Heart Humane Society, of course) and order the following three titles. Sedona Sunrise, a contemporary romance short story about a burnt-out doctor who finds peace and purpose with an innkeeper. A Family Affaire, a time-travel romance short story about a young woman who fulfills a romantic family tradition on her 21st birthday in an old Southern mansion. And Oscar Goes Camping, a non-fiction text/photo book that pokes fun at campers and RV’ers told through my Yorkie’s point of view.

Oscar Goes Camping Cover

Click cover to order

All three are available through Amazon.com on kindle and “Oscar Goes Camping” is also available in trade paperback. The short stories are $.99 each and “Oscar” is $3.99 in an ebook. 100% of the sale goes to help the Have a Heart pets, who you can view on our facebook page or on Pinterest. We are a financially transparent rescue, which you can confirm at Guidestar.com.

Touched by a fury angelComing this April or May is yet another fundraiser book, “Touched By A Furry Angel”, an anthology of approximately 40 pet stories, photos and childrens’ drawings written by some of my volunteers and by a host of Tehachapi pet owners. I wrote three of the stories – my most memorable and touching rescues (nothing to make you cringe, I promise). The book is being published by Deb Smith, a best-selling author who is also a publisher. She is contributing her expertise to make this book happen. It will be both a Ebook and a trade paperback.

And so there you have it. I have two loves: writing and pets. It’s especially nice when I get to combine the two. You can contact me anytime at ckitzmiller@bak.rr.com or haveaheart@bak.rr.com. I would love to hear from you.

Chelley is giving away a print copy of El Dorado to one lucky commenter.

Tell us about the first romance novel you ever read or about your favorite pet.

Every one who leaves a comment will be entered to win!

Guest Blogger

34 Comments

  1. Oh wow! The first romance novel I ever read were the entire collection of Janet Daley books. I had kept the entire collection until I moved from California to Indiana and they all got lost in the move. Sad. I do remember reading Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss and it to was lost in my move.

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    1. Cindy, you can probably find all those old favorites if you haunt some used bookstores. When you think back, don’t you cherish those innocent times? I do. I was so clueless and loved every moment of it. Be sure to visit my website–those old articles are hysterical. The press had a field day with all of us.

  2. The first romance story I ever read was FORGIVING by LaVyrle Spencer. It featured a woman, Sarah who headed West to take over her dad’s newspaper when he died and to find her sister. It also featured a marshal, Noah who tries to keep the peace and runs into the feisty, independent Sarah.

    I found it at a pool bookcase on a trip to Florida. It started my love affair with all romance books.

    1. I miss LaVyrle as do many other readers. I know she quit writing after her daughter passed. So tragic. LaVyrle is a great writer. My favorite of her’s was Separate Beds. So, like me, one book started you on a new adventure. And what a wonderful ride!

  3. Oh, my, we’re going back, back, back. When I first started writing, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as the romance genre. I think Gone With The Wind which I read when I was 13 was my first introduction to a book with history that wasn’t boring and that opened up a whole new world.

    I read Sweet Savage Love, but as you said, the pot was pretty empty at the time. Then I discovered Janet Daily. I think I wrote three books before I knew that an organization like RWA existed. I attended my first conference and was scared to death and didn’t know a soul. The highlight of that conference was when Janet Daily sat next to me and ordered us both champagne and strawberries. She was very kind and encouraging.

    1. Dear dear Margaret, you haven’t forgotten our first encounter, have you? I was running a Valentine’s Day contest in the Los Angeles Daily News and you entered. You wrote something like Why I love my Valentine in 25 words or less. The Los Angeles chapter of RWA selected your entry, but I forgot what you won. Who knew that years later we would launch a line together and camp together?

      1. For that essay I won a free romantic weekend at a fancy hotel. My hubby and I also had our picture on the front page of the newspaper in living color!

        You and I didn’t know each other then and it was years later that I found out you were one of the judges!

  4. The first romance I ever read was The Flame and a The Flower.

    1. Oh yes, I loved that book too. Gosh, I need to go back and reread it. It has such wonderful detail. Another great author lost to us.

    2. Hi Melanie–Seems like a lot of us on P&P read the greats!
      I hope you’re still finding those gems. I had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen once, interviewing her. She was very interesting and outspoken–so outspoken that I left not knowing what to write about her! But I finally figured it out and did my article.

  5. Great post today. I don’t remember the name of the first romance that I read or who wrote it. It was one of my mother’s books that I found in a closet where she put them after reading them. I was in high school and it was back in the 80s. I remember it was set in Hawaii. It set off a desire to travel to this exotic place I had read about. I also remember the heroine had red hair and she wore a green silk dress in one scene. For my homemaking class project, I made a green silk dress because I couldn’t get the one from the book out of my head.

    1. Janine, isn’t it funny how certain books can affect our lives? That dress made you feel good and so you wanted to recreate that feeling. I hope you saved it. I saved my first copy of Sweet Savage Love with all the colored highlighter markings and look back and think–wow! I still think “highlighting” is a great way to learn to write.

  6. I think I still have the very first romance book I ever read. But I can’t recall the name! It sure did strike my fancy to all romance books. As for pets, a naughty dachshund and a spoiled kitty reside here. Thanks for sharing your history with us!

    1. I just adopted out a little Doxie named Gus to a couple in Hollywood. What a cutie he was. And could he jump.

  7. Hi Chelley! Great to have you back. We’re so happy you came to chat. What an interesting blog. It’s nice to see how you came to writing and publishing. I joined RWA in 1993 and the organization was still fairly new. I can’t imagine how those trailblazers felt. I’m sure excitement that their vision was taking off. I, for one, am very glad for their drive to create such an important organization.

    I love that picture of you with all those greats! That is a treasure for sure.

    Since animals are important to you it’s no wonder you’ve taken on such a worthy cause. Your dogs are just precious. It’s no question who rules the roost at your house. LOL

    Thanks for coming!

    1. Hi Linda,
      You fillies always give such a warm welcome. I love that photo too and was in a state of shock when Janet passed.
      I had some really good times with her.

      The thing is, once you start to rescue pets, you can’t stop because you know what a difference you are making. Lots of people make differences in many different ways, but it isn’t always easy to see that difference until later. With rescue, it is immediate and often comes in the form of doggie kisses–the best kind of kisses!

  8. My favorite pet is my wonderful companion Bogie, who is a sage and a philosopher. He is wise, sensitive and smart. Swift too. What a delightful sweetheart whom I got from lap-dog rescue and adore. He is 15 ponds and looks like a mini German Shepherd but his coloring is black and gold. Your photo is sweet.

    1. Hi Ellie, Bogie sound like a love. Congrats of getting a rescue dog. Someday all those nasty old puppy mills will be gone and rescue dogs will rule.

      Happy reading. Chelley

  9. The first romance novel I ever read was some book written by Caroline Courtney.

    1. Hi Minna, I am not familiar with that author. I hope her book was a good experience for you–well, it must have been since you’re posting here. I hope you’ll go to my website and sign up for my newsletter. Thank you for posting
      Chelley

  10. I remember my first ever romance novel since I have been reading for a very long time, but I do know that it resonated with me greatly. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier since I loved British novels. I still read avidly and love all romance novels which are emotional and memorable.

    1. There’s nothing like a good romance novel to sit and read on a rainy day – or snowy. Please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter. Thank you for your comment.

  11. The first romance book I read was Peyton Place (that ages me). Since them there has been no stopping me.

    1. Peyton Place! Egads! I remember how my husband and I would get together with the neighbors and watch it on TV, but I never thought of it as a romance. So, welcome to the “dated” club–birds of a feather!
      Please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter.
      Thank you for visiting.

  12. Thanks for sharing with us today! The first romance that really caught my attention and got me hooked on reading was Catherine Coulter’s The Sherbrooke Bride.
    As for fav pet… I have had a few over the years, but none compared to my dog Misty and my bird Oscar… they were my best friends when I was growing up.

    1. Catherine is a very interesting woman. I embarrassed myself in front of her once and have always prayed that she forgot my name. Yikes! Open mouth, insert foot!

      I had a Misty, a Collie, and I currently have an Oscar, a dog, a Yorkie. And, of course, there’s my book about him Oscar Goes Camping. Oscar is very very old and I won’t have him much longer, but I will always cherish the years I have had. He’s been a good dog. Please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter. Thank you for posting.

  13. My dog, Guido, a Maltese, is a joy. Easygoing, small and cuddly and most of all devoted. I enjoyed your wonderful post and feature.

    1. We have a permanent foster dog named Guido; he’s a little long haired Chihuahua, who came from a hoarder. I’m glad you liked the post; I was hoping to pull on some heartstrings and pull out some of those favorite memories.
      Please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter. I have two, one about our rescue and one about my writing.
      Thank you for commenting today. Good luck on the drawing.

  14. Romance warms my heart and soothes my soul. I have been reading romance ever since my mother introduced me to the books. When I would have plenty of tine during the summer I would bicycle over to the public library and the bookshelves were a treasure trove and the first one I read was Anne of Green Gables. I was enthralled and captivated and read the entire series in hardcover since that was all that existed at that time. I was hooked.

    1. Dear Pearl,
      It sounds like you are a devoted fan and that reading is your passion as it was mine. I don’t get time to read anymore because of the rescue and I miss it terribly. My only reading material is on how-to stuff, like how to promote my books! Yuk! And all this internet techy stuff is driving me crazy; I feel like an idiot because I just don’t get it. So, lucky you that you can indulge yourself with doses of romance. Please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter. Thank you for posting today and good luck in the drawing.

  15. welcome,,love the little cuties sitting in your lap,,we love small dogs too,,enjoyed reading the post,thanks for coming

    1. Thank you, Vicky, it’s always nice to visit and chat with readers. Chelley

  16. My first romance novel would have been Gone With the Wind. I have read the book several times since then. It was the book that got me started reading.

    1. My daughter is doing an essay on Gone With The Wind, which made me wonder if that book was written today, would it be popular? I say this because back when I first read it, I really didn’t think of Scarlett as being incredibly selfish and self-serving. Today’s romance readers might have a real problem with that kind of heroine. My daughter made it clear how selfish Scarlett was in ways I never thought of back then. So, why did I love Scarlett and the book so much? Rhett?

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