Why I Read, Write & Love Romance

cheryl_stjohn_logo.jpgWhy do you write romance?

This is a question authors are asked countless times. It’s the sister question to, “When are you doing to write a real book?” My answer to that one is, “When they stop paying me so well to write these fake ones.”

So why do I write romance?  Quite simply, because I love to read romance. I write romance for the same reason I’ve read romance for years: I love the genre. I love losing myself in the challenges and trials of two characters who are destined to be together.

I guess I want to believe that there’s somebody for everyone and that under the right circumstances and with a bit of that magic we call romance, happily-ever-afters are within our reach.

Before you scoff and call me a Pollyanna, I assure you I’m enough in tune with reality to lock my doors and warn my children of strangers. I watch the news and I see the state of our world. But what do we have if we don’t have hope?

Romance is all about hope.

stamps.jpgSeveral years ago after the release of one of my early books, SAINT OR SINNER, I  opened the most memorable letter I’ve ever received from a reader. She told me how much she’d enjoyed my book, how she identified with the characters and how she’d cried for the heroine. Like the character in my story, she’d been stalked and beaten by someone who should have loved her. Unlike my character however, the reader has permanent nerve damage to her arm.

mm.jpgHer story touched me so deeply that it made me cry. Her true-life account forced me to consider what I was doing. I sat at my desk thinking how shallow my work is. I mean, I make all this stuff up! I order my story people’s lives about and manipulate them to suit my plots — but it’s all fiction. While I sit in my comfortable office with every convenience at my fingertips, sipping cup after cup of coffee and tea, and munching M&Ms, out there in the real world people are experiencing devastating hurts and losses and traumas. In that light, what I do seemed so inconsequential.

That thinking lasted about — oh — ten minutes. And then I realized why this young woman had been touched so profoundly by my story. She said she hoped that some day she would meet a man like Joshua McBride, a man who would love her the same way Joshua loved Addie. She had hope.

Romance is about hope. In my current work in progress, my heroine doesn’t hold any hope for love in her life.  The mistakes of her past threaten everything she holds dear.  When she falls in love with the hero, it’s bittersweet because it can’t last.  But love….  And don’t we all count on the “but love” factor?  Because love will find a way.

We invest our time in the characters in these stories because we know that no matter what dilemmas befall them, no matter what obstacles they face or which conflicts arise, in the end love will conquer all; good will win over evil; and a happily-ever-after will prevail.

saint_or_sinner_millsboon_cheryl_stjohn.jpgEach of us hopes there is a special someone out there, a special man or woman who will love us unconditionally and fill that place created in our heart just for them. Romance brings our hopes to life. Through these stories of love and commitment, we experience the fulfillment of the human dream.

What better reason do we need to love romance? And what better reason do I need to write it? 

If you don’t have Saint or Sinner, mention it in your comment.  I’ll draw one name and send that person a copy.

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43 thoughts on “Why I Read, Write & Love Romance”

  1. Good Morning Cheryl

    My husband and I met 20 years ago on a blind date. I was 21 and he was my first real date and I his. When we met it was as if I had known him my whole life. We met in October and married that following November. His and My family thought it was fast but to us it was like finally coming home.

    I am not saying it isn’t rough, two people regardless of married, siblings, parents, etc. who live together will have tough times.

    Have a Blessed Day

  2. hello Cheryl!

    Please do not ever think of your work as shallow…it’s not!

    Romance novels give people hope, I think! They give hope that there is a way to overcome troubles and hope that there are good men out there, even if they have not yet been found!

    Love is a very excruciating feeling sometimes..it’s not always fun, easy and romantic…sometimes it’s depressing, dark and downright dangerous….and it’s my opinion that romance authors show this in their books!

    Keep up the great writing Cheryl..oh and I do not have a copy of SAINT OR SINNER!!!

  3. Why do I write romance…simple…I love, LOVE!There is nothing better than picking up a good romance, identifying with the characters, noting how many of those wonderful qualities my husband has, remembering all those warm and fuzzy feelings, and falling in love all over again.

    As romance writers we must come to understand that we offer something special, something positive to our readers. We offer them hope, love, laughter, tears, possible solutions to their problems or maybe just a chance to say: “Hey, my life isn‘t so bad. I know this is fiction but most fiction is based on truth. If these characters can overcome such obstacles how much more can I overcome? ”

    Even if the reader is only looking for a few hours of pure pleasure, it’s okay. They deserve it and we give it to them.

    We are little rays of light in a sometimes dark and ugly world, so KEEP WRITING, Ladies!

    Sorry this is so long but you asked 🙂

    I do NOT have a copy of Saint or Sinner either.

    PamT

  4. Morning Cheryl! Your blog had me on the verge of tears this morning. It was beautifully worded and I think you said what all of us feel about writing- about love- and about writing about love. ;o)

    I read and write for the same reasons. It’s all about knowing that even when love is lost, it can be found again, as long as there is hope.

    You might come back to find it where you left it. Or it might not be the same as it was before. Perhaps it will come in a new face and a new heart that needs another heart full of love to make it whole or two hearts that are missing their other halves. And that holds true whether that be for the first time, or the 2nd time around.

    If I’d given up on hope and love, I wouldn’t have my wonderful husband. That’s not to say that he’s easy to live with (LOL), but I’d had my heart broken a few times before he came into my life. And when I met him, I was just about ready to give up hope. I didn’t think anything would come of it, but that was 7 years ago, and we’ve been together ever since. We’ve seen a lot of rough patches and we’ve both had to learn and grow as we go, but in a way, it’s still the HEA.:o)

    (I don’t have Saint or Sinner.)

  5. When I was young–oh awhile ago–I wouldn’t touch a romance with a ten foot pole. My mom read them all the time (in fact Dad used them as a gauge–when mom needed a little more attention she cried more over her romances. Smart man) I was a fantasy reader–and probably prety snobby about it. Then night shifts in a nursing home led me to their library and I discovered an amazing thing–the early futuristics. Uh oh. I was hooked.

    When I started seriously writing, I discovered that my fantasy had an awful lot of romance. And I loved the HEA ending. I needed it. Life wasn’t so good, but the lives I created overcame the down times and danger. The changes in my characters’ lives didn’t mirror mine (darn it all) but together we worked it out.

    I, too, believe there is someone special and perfect for everyone–I just hope what I had wasn’t it. LOL And I hope my tales bring hope and happiness to readers. That’s the most important HEA for me!

    oh, and like others, I’m not a Saint or Sinner owner…

  6. I read romance because of the uplifting feeling I get while reading of an endearing heroine and her sexy hero on their journey to a HEA. It just makes me feel good. 🙂

  7. Hi Cheryl:

    I remember when you wrote Saint or Sinner! I also remember thinking, I can’t believe I’m friends with someone who can write like this! I do have that book and many of your earlier books and I pull them out every so often and re-read them. I think one of my very favorites is Rain Shadow although I can’t tell you why exactly.

    I LOVE romance books. They take me away from myself for a little while and I become completely engrossed in the lives of the characters. I’m usually very disappointed when the book ends. I want to follow them just a little longer and peak into their lives.

    Keep up the great writing!

  8. Like *lizzie’s mom, my mother read romance all the time. (Unfortunately my dad wasn’t as perceptive 🙂

    Most people who commented seemed to like the ‘HEA’. I think that’s also the reason writing romance is such a challenge. Everybody knows how it ends, but you still have to make it a surprise! How much more difficult could that be?

  9. That is such a great post, I hope she finally did find a man to love her for her. I don’t have Saint or sinner, It sounds like a really good book.

  10. Sherry, yours is indeed a very romantic tale. And you are exactly right. Marriage doesn’t guarantee no ups and downs. Loving someone for years and years is a commitment and oft times a decision. When two people make that decision together, they can work out the difficuties.

    My oldest daughter also got married very quickly, in fact she brought him home to meet us and three weeks later called to tell me they were getting married and wanted the wedding in two months! It was another of those instances where they knew it was meant to be and each had met the person they were waiting for. They’ve been married sixteen years strong.

  11. Pam, I love your perspective. And I have heard from many readers over the years that have told me my story was something they needed to read at that point in their lives or that it helped them through a particularly rough time. Those are the letters that keep us going…and in all honesty, those are the people I think of when I’m writing.

    In fact I have several pictures that readers have sent me tacked up around my workspace, and I glance at them every so often to remember my audience is made up of real women with real lives, and they’re looking for an uplifting read and encouragement.

    Many of my stories have dealt with serious issues, like rape and abuse and even the death of a child, all of which are not subjects be be treated lightly. I work hard to deliver a story that is true to a woman’s emotions and the adversities we face in real life, while showing that there’s always a way to work through those difficult things. It’s not that those parts of our life were easy, or that they should be glossed over, but those hurts are in our past. We learn from them, we grow, and we move forward.

    Your name’s in the fish bowl!

  12. Hi Cheryl, I read romances in HS/college for escape and encouragement and after college, then “got bored” with them. While working at Hallmark Customer Service, a friend reintroduced me (slow summers could read a novel in 3 days while ‘working’) so I’ve been reading for 14 yrs. Getting more selective in my keepers. I remember when I first picked up Rain Shadow, discovered S & S and successive TREASURES by you!
    Good luck to all as I am NOT in need of S & S.

    PS I’m going to Iowa to visit 2 sisters & Dad so won’t have access til Sun night to catch up with you all.

  13. Taryn, I, too believe in second chances. What a testament to the human spirit that you were open to love again. So glad you found Mr. Right!

    Your name is in the fish bowl!

  14. I write romance because that’s what I love to read.
    I’ve written a few other types of books in my pre-published days, but I always found romance creeping into my work, even when I was going for something else.
    No, life isn’t a romance novel. I wouldn’t want it to be. I’ve got a good friend who is fond of saying, “Pray for a boring life, because when things get exciting it’s almost always because something bad is happening.”
    I think there’s a lot of truth in that.
    Life is everyday stuff and it should be. But we don’t read books to be transported to…the place we already are.
    We want to get away. And that is, for me: Conflict so profound it can only be overcome by True Love.

  15. *lizzie, you’re in the fish bowl. How’s the water? LOL

    My mom read romances for as long as I can remember, too. Hundreds of those like the Janet Daileys and Emilie Lorings with the white covers. She always read with a leather sleeve over the cover, too. I was a true crime and horror reader, if you can stand that. Then I kind of crossed over to gothics, Nora Lofts and Catherine Cookson. Romance! and then….One Day….in the store I discovered LaVyrle Spencer, Lisa Gregory and Sylvie Summerfield. Anyone remember all those savage ectacy Indian stoies? oh my. Romance AND sex. Who, baby! Well, then I was a goner and read every romance I could get my hands on.

    Smooches!

  16. Thanks, Betsy. I can’t believe I have a friend who can string crochet tablecloths. I mean, seriously.

    Sherri, you’re right about finding new ways to make the happy-ever-after fresh.

    Hey, Rebekah! Your name’s in the fish bowl!

    Thanks for stopping by, Lucky Lou. Have a great weekend.

    Great perspectives, Mary! Smooches!

  17. P.s. Click on the SoS cover to see that hero a little bigger. Oh my. But I had to wonder what my chaste heroine was doing with bare shoulders. And hello? Sunburn?

  18. Wonderful blog, Cheryl. It helped me understand why I keep writing these little books, too. (And as a presently single woman getting along in years…yeah, I still have that hope, too!)
    🙂

  19. I love reading romances with happy endings. If I wan’t to read a story with an unhappy ending, I can always pick up a biography -or a newspaper.
    I don’t have a copy of Saint or Sinner.

  20. Cheryl, you hit the nail on the head, lady! Romance satisfies a hunger and does give us hope when everything around us is falling apart. It’s not shallow. When I first began writing, I realized that writers have a huge responsibility on our shoulders. We really can lift up a reader. We can make her or him see life a little differently. And we can transport them from a boring existance to a world that’s exciting and fun. I never, ever want to let down my readers or shirk my responsibility.

    I, too, have been deeply touched by readers’ letters. They’re so special. Some make me cry like a baby and others make my heart sing.

    Good luck with your newest story. I know without a doubt it’ll be a keeper! 🙂

  21. Thanks, Elizabeth! We must be romantics at heart to do what we do, right?

    Minna, your name’s in the fishy bowl!

    I hear ya, Mary. That’s the M&B version of the cover and I just love it. The US cover had The Porch Swing on it. If you’ve read the book, The Porch Swing is significant. My sweet editor had reservations about a love scene in a public place – LOL – but I assured her they were miles from anyone looking on.

    Thank you for the good wishes and vote of confidence, Linda. FYI, people: Linda is every bit as sweet and encouraging behind the scenes as she is here on the boards.

  22. Hi Cheryl, great post. I read romance because I love the hero’s journey…and happy endings. I would love to be in the running for Saint or Sinner. Romance is not shallow LOL. Love makes the world go round…and my own hero’s love keeps me sane!

  23. Hi Cheryl

    Wonderful story! And what an amazing feeling it must have been to know you’d touched that woman so deeply. I remember a lot of romance authors were feeling “shallow” after 9/11 but we all soon realized exactly what you’ve spoken about here. Romance novels give us all hope for the HEA and we can all use a little bit of hope in our lives, can’t we? 🙂

    Cheers!

  24. Thanks, Tanya. Your name is in the fish bowl!

    I remember that time, too, Laura. And then there was a concern over a drop of sales, but it didn’t happen. People needed their books as much as or more than ever.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Hi Cheryl: What another wonderful post! I love romantic stories and I think we are all much better, compasionate, caring,nonselfish people for being open to love and passion. I read other genres as well, mostly western poetry and nonfiction books on the Civil War but romance is my favorite. Losing myself in a romance novel helps me deal with the “craziness” in my life and really I think my relationship with my husband is so much better because I can “get away into a book” and then come back to him (if that makes any sense). Anyway, don’t enter me in the drawing for Saint or Sinner-I won Pam’s drawing yesterday and thought it would be better to give someone else a chance, although I love all of your writings.
    Thanks again for another great post.

  26. Hello Cheryl… Like Lucky Lou, I started reading in High School. My Grandma read romance all the time, and she gave me a few to start me. I remember her saying once, “I don’t think this one has to much sex, so it should be o.k.”..LOL I don’t write nor do I try, not my thing, but I must say keep on ladies as with out you I would not be able to go to the store on the last week or so of the month and embarrass my oldest daughter when I squeal when I see that a book that I have been wanting and I know is supposed to be out is, and they have it. She goes to another isle!!! LOL
    Reading romance makes me feel all the emotions, makes me feel like a lady, a woman, makes me feel empowered, and makes me feel that life is possible. I know like you said Cheryl, silly, but we all have to have our own thing, and I guess reading romance is mine.
    Rock on romance writers and readers!!!!!!!1
    Amy L.

  27. p.s. I DO NOT have Saint or Sinner, but would love to. Forgot to mention that above. SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Amy L.

  28. Romance is … Romance! Romance gives us someplace
    to go, no matter what the situation, or what the
    mood, in which we find ourselves. Romance shelters
    and nurtures us, protects us and, yes, educates us.
    You do us a great service through your words.

    I do not have Saint or Sinner.

    Pat Cochran

  29. I truly enjoy your novels… Romance novels in general give me a release. Reading is my favorite thing to do. Even if the characters have a lot of challenges to deal with, it still opens up many many worlds to see into. The feelings that jump out of novels are amazing and I am one who loves the whole falling in love and fairytale aspects of romance!!! Thank you for writing such great stories!!! *I do not have Saint or Sinner*

  30. Thank you so much, Amy! Your excitement for our books is awesome and quite encouraging. Your name is in the fish bowl!

    Well said, Pat. Thanks, and your name is in the fish bowl!

    Colleen, “a story is feelings” is a quote by a great writing teacher, Dwight Swain, and I swear by it. Often, we don’t remember exactly what a book was about, but we remember how it made us feel. YOU have joined the names in the fish bowl.

    And Estella – SMOOCHES! Your name is in the fish bowl.

    I wish I had a box of them, so I could send all of you a copy.

  31. What an amazong story… and so touching about that reader having hope.

    I guess we all read romance to have a bit of escpism in our lives and as you said it is always to nice dream and have hope taht one day we will find true love 🙂

    I also don’t have Saint or Sinner… but I guess everyone is a bit of both 🙂

  32. Cheryl, I loved your post today, and am glad you had the chance to hear such wonderful feedback from one of your readers. I do read romances for the hope and for the HEAs, and I treasure them for those. I know other genres can be moving, insightful, incredible, but none of them satisfy me as consistently as romance 🙂 You can be proud to write books that bring your readers joy!

    I do have some of your books, but not Saint or Sinner.

  33. Cheryl, I too think there’s someone for everyone given the right circumstances they can find each other. I’m so glad that reader sent you that letter because you know I wish I could sit down and write but I’m not gifted in that way I was meant to read what the gifted ones can write LOL no but seriously you know you probably needed to read that letter at that time for some reason I know I have read things that have profoundly moved me and even though it’s fiction the reader can identify things about either themselves or what they wish for. I have the upmost respect for writters not just because I love to read what they write but they are able to touch peoples lives. I can only imagine what all you authors have to go threw to bring the life a story that have come from things you put together I have a excellent imagination , enormouse ideas but i don’t have the gift to bring things together to be complete . Enjoyed your post!

  34. I loved this post! I love reading romance because it does make me feel more positive about life. What authors do is so important. You allow your readers to escape for a little while into another world.

    I don’t have Saint or Sinner.

  35. Thanks, Nathalie, Fedora and Cherie! Your names are in the fish bowl.

    Lori, we writers wouldn’t be employed if not for our faithful readers, so we appreciate all of you. Thanks for your kind words.

  36. I know there’s someone fo each of us out there. Some of us are fortunate enough to meet that person at just the right time, and others have to wait for what feels like forever.

    What a touching story, too. I do try to let authors know when a book has really touched me deeply, but I often forget to write that note, or just never get around to it. I’m glad she wrote to you.

    I’m working my way through your backlist – but Saint or Sinner isn’t one I own yet…

  37. I was married for 30 yrs in an abusive marriage,i waited for the last child to graduate before I left,my books took me to a safe place where he couldnt hurt me,now im remarried to a wonderful man who I met on line an we have been married for 5 yrs,are in the process of adopting a 16 yr old foster daughter,so there is life after abuse an trauma,i have scars from that life but this life is sooooooooooooooo happy now,I still enjoy reading but not for escape for pleasure,thanks Vickie

  38. I love,love,love to read romance books! My favorite genre is historical. It is the most relaxing way for me to relieve the stress and problems I may have from day to day. I have been asked by several people in my life when am I going to read “real” books i.e. biographies, actual historical books etc.. These are real books to me and have no desire to read anything else. I do not have Saint or Sinner. Thank you.

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