Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Road To Romance

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Next Tuesday I'm excited to be a guest speaker at the Solano County Library in Fairfield, California as part of their Summer Reading Program for Adults. The librarians asked me to talk about my experiences as a romance reader and writer and I thought I'd give you all a sneak peek at part of what I plan to say.

My mother is the one chiefly responsible for setting me on the winding path that eventually became my road to romance. She loved to read the great old gothic romances by Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Mary Stewart.

Back in the day (all right, I'll admit it, I'm a child of the 60s) you could very definitely tell a book by its cover. If the cover had a house with only a single lighted window, it was a gothic! My mom always had a paperback or two lying around the house. She often traded them with her friends.

As a bored young teen, I started picking them up and reading them and--WONDER OF WONDERS!--I liked them! (In fact I liked them so much, that I wound up naming my son after a character in Mary Stewart's The Moonspinners!)

I say 'wonder of wonders' because in those days I was an avid science fiction/fantasy reader and an all-out LOTR fanatic! I read everything from Piers Anthony to Roger Zelazny and anything in between. In fact it was a fantasy novel first published in the late 1970s that convinced me I should try my hand at writing my own novel. That book was The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks and it was a complete homage to Tolkien.

I LOVED IT! I also decided that if some lawyer from Chicago could do it, I could too (ah, the blissful ignorance of youth). So I made my very first attempt at writing a novel. I wrote the first draft in long hand and typed the revised copy on a portable manual typewriter.

Yes indeed, it was a terrible trial and so was the story! After a few rejections (can't believe I actually had the nerve to send it out) it went into a very large box under the bed and somehow through various moves and a divorce became lost forever. Thank goodness and may it Rest In Peace!

Meanwhile, my rocky road to romance continued. In the 80s I discovered and devoured most of the 'bodice rippers' of the day -- Rosemary Rogers, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Patricia Matthews (remember her?). But contemporary romances pretty much left me cold and fantasy continued to be my genre of choice...

Until one day in 1992 when I was browsing the SciFi/Fantasy section of my local bookstore and I pulled out a book that had somehow been misshelved. I mean, one look at the cover (front and back) and I knew that in spite of its very odd title, Outlander, that this was a romance. My BFF's birthday was fast approaching and I knew she liked to read romances so I bought the book to give to her. Of course, I just couldn't resist reading the first chapter...

...And the rest, as they say, IS HISTORY! I couldn't stop, and finished Outlander in a 3 day reading binge. By the time I gave it to my BFF wrapped in pretty flowered paper with a bright shiny bow (to distract from the slightly cracked spine), I'd already stopped at the library and checked out the sequel, Dragonfly In Amber. And when I finished it, I ran to the bookstore and bought every time-travel romance in sight. Finally, when I grew impatient waiting for Diana Gabaldon to finish the third Jamie and Claire book, Voyager, I decided to write my very own time-travel romance.

This second effort wasn't nearly as bad as my previous sword & sorcery attempt. In fact, an editor at Leisure books actually requested the full manuscript, but didn't buy it. But I also knew I had a lot to learn and started reading a lot of 'how-to' books and taking online classes. I also kept reading romance! By now, I'm happy to say I was firmly on that road.

Eventually, I joined RWA and attended some regional conferences. I also kept reading and writing, and decided to go back to my 'roots' and give romantic suspense a try. My first completed romantic suspense manuscript finaled in the 2006 Golden Heart (sound familiar?). And in 75 more days, that book will be released as The Treasures of Venice! Just goes to prove that happy endings happen in real life too!

Now you all know a little of my story of my road to romance, so it is your turn to share yours! Who helped set you on your own road to romance? What are some of the books you remember most along the way?

Please share and at the end of the day, Aunty will pick one commenter to receive either an autographed copy of
The Wild Sight (which just WON Best First Book in the More Than Magic Contest!) , or an IOU for an autographed copy of The Treasures of Venice when it is released on September 1st.


Jane said...


Jane said...

Hi Aunty Cindy,
Thanks for sharing your story with us. I was introduced to romance by my cousin's best friend. They're about eight years older than me. My cousin's friend was an avid romance fan. She had boxes and boxes of books and one day she lent my cousin and I some Julie Garwood books. "The Bride" was my first romance and I was hooked. I read through Julie's backlist and then the friend lent me all her Jude Deveraux books. Her Velvet series remains one of my all time favorites.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats Jane!

You've nabbed the GR for the second time in a few days!

I LOVED Julie Garwood's "The Bride" and Jude Deveraux's "Knight In Shining Armor" is one of my favorite time travels.

HURRAY for your cousin's BF for starting you on your road and thereby giving US all a great reader!


Lynz Pickles said...

Congrats on the win, Loucinda! And thanks for writing an engrossing post - it's always so interesting for me to read about how an author ended up realizing that they wanted to write romances, and seeing the path they took to get there.

I've always loved reading about romance. When I was little, I loved fairy tales - and really, who doesn't? - and as I got older, I got drawn into retellings of them. I still snatch up every one I can find. I can't remember a time when I didn't read stories with romance in them.

But I didn't branch out into the romance genre - okay, to be more specific, into books with sex in them - until I was thirteen. I was camping with my parents, something which gave me an excuse to read as many books as I possibly could since there were rarely any people my age for me to socialize with (yay!). I was at my mom's friend's house and I read the first few pages of Judith McNaught's A Kingdom of Dreams. I thought it sounded interesting, and I wanted to borrow it, but she wouldn't let me. Not because of the fact that it has sex in it, mind you, but because she wasn't done with it yet. Instead, she let me borrow Julie Garwood's The Clayborne Brides, a collection of three books about the Clayborne brothers. Once I started reading it, I couldn't stop. I held on to the book for nearly five years - my mother's friend never noticed it was missing - and re-read it time and again.

I went through a stage where I read a lot of contemporary chick lit when I was about fifteen - Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic series and the like - but soon got sick of annoying heroines and a distinct lack of HEAs. At some point after that I stumbled onto my first Harlequin romance, and the rest, as they say is history. Literally, really, since soon after that first Harlequin, I read His Lady Mistress by Elizabeth Rolls and got hooked on Regencies and other historicals.

I remembered that it was A Kingdom of Dreams which caught my eye in the first place for many years, but I only remembered the content, not the title or the author's name. So you can imagine how ecstatic I was earlier this year when I finally discovered the book that had been haunting me for so long!

flchen1 said...

Hi, AC! The Wild Sight was fabulous (congrats on the award! Well deserved!), and I'm looking forward to Treasures of Venice!

Hmm... my romance journey? I don't remember the first romance I read--it was definitely some YA one, like Marjorie Sharmat's How to Meet a Gorgeous Guy or one of Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High titles or Silhouette's First Love books... I read a ton of those. Ooh, or it may have been one of Beverly Cleary's--Fifteen? Then in high school, a geometry classmate lent me my first grown-up romance--I haven't the faintest idea what it was now, but boy, I was hooked. I read through all the books at our library (mainly categories), but didn't do much reading for fun during college. The book that re-hooked me was Jenny Crusie's Crazy for You. Her books never fail to make me laugh, and that's a good thing :) And in the past year or two since stumbling into the Lair, I've been reading the wonderful Bandita books and constantly adding to the TBR between all of you talented writers and the guests you bring :D Pretty soon I won't be able to see the sun for the books ;)

Congrats on the GR, Jane!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Lynz!

Thanx for the kudos and glad you liked the post. I hope they like the rest of my little speech.

SCORE TWO for Julie Garwood! Didn't they make a Hallmark movie out of her Clayborne book "For The Roses?" Seems like it wasn't very much like the book... Or I could be mis-remembering. It's late and I've had a loong week already. :-P

Don't think I've ever read "A Kingdom of Dreams" but I hope it didn't disappoint you after waiting so long to read it.

I remember reading "Briget Jones' Diary" and laffing my head off. But like you, a half-dozen chick lit books later and the whiney self-centered heroines started to get on my last nerve... Unlike YOU, I'm a crotchety old lady, after all!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx a BUNCH, Fedora!

I'm glad you enjoyed TWS and hope you are equally pleased with TToV!

Hey, *I* read Beverly Cleary and I'm a LOT older than you! Goes to show that good story-telling and fun books never go out of style. Oh, and I about fainted when my son was in junior high and they were assigned "Tiger Eyes" by Judy Blume to read! I LOVED that book.

And nobody does comedy better than Jenny Crusie! I can never decide which of her books is my favorite... "Faking It" "Bet Me" "Crazy for You" Impossible to chose!

I sooo glad you've found so many good books here between us Banditas and our guests. And your TBR pile sounds about average to me. :-P Who needs the sun as long as you have a reading lamp?!?!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Sorry Everyone, but I'm nodding off over the keyboard. I'm off the catch a few minutes of Letterman and then nighty-night.

Catch up with you tomorrow! Keep the road to romance stories going!


PinkPeony said...

Hi Loucinda! Congrats, Jane. :)

I was twelve when I wrote my first story on a typewriter. It was a romance about two summer camp counselors. I didn't know I was writing romance at the time as I knew nothing about genres.
I read a lot of Beverly Cleary books too..Jean and Johnny, The Luckiest Girl, Fifteen but I guess at the time, I didn't consider them romance books. I read a few Harlequin romances in my teens but I wasn't into them..I read the John Jake's series and Gwen Bristow books. I think Bridget Jone's Diary was the seminal chick-lit book. My chick lit binge didn't last very long. Um...I agree, the whiney and vacuos heroines got on my nerves! My first real historical romance was Always, by Judith McNaught. And now, there are five giant storage bins of romance books in the garage and they're all over the house. I'm hooked!

And Loucinda, I might attend your talk on Tuesday if my schedule allows.

Eva S said...

Hi Aunty Cindy,
thanks for the great post! My road to romance is very much like yours (I'm a child of the 60s too), with Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart and some Netta Muskett and Barbara Cartland. My mother was an avid reader and worked at the library, she always had books at home!
Then I found all the fantasy books, I loved Shannara too! And David Edding's books! For many years I read only fantasy...
Later I found these wonderful historicals, Juliet Garwood, Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Some of their books are still on my reread shelf...

Pissenlit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janga said...

I started reading romances with my mother's books too. She had a large supply of Emilie Loring and Grace Livingston Hill books. Starting when I was ten, I read them all along with Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and books by Elswyth Thane and Elizabeth Cadell and D. E. Stevenson.

But I think the reading I did even earlier--books by Louisa May Alcott, E. M. Montgomery, Maud Hart Lovelace, and Laura Ingalls Wilder prepared me to fall in love with romance.

Helen said...

Congrats Jane have fun with him

Aunty Cindy lovely post I owe my love of romance novels to my Mum she gave me Rosemary Roger's Sweet Savage Love to read and I have never looked back I read all of Kathleen Woodiwiis, Johanna Lindsy Shirlee Busbee, Judith McNaught and I too Jane love Jude Deveraux's The Velvet series I still have them and will always love them and of course who can forget Julie Garwood. So many wonderful authors and never enough time for me to read.

I wish Mum was still here with me because she would love all of the new authors I have discovered but I always kinda feel that she is with me everytime I read a book and her dog Tootsie sits with me.

Aunty Cindy huge congrats on the win for TWS and so well deserved it is an awesome book and I am so looking foward to TTOV and only 75 days to go YAY.

I gotta say I live in a suburb of Fairfield here in Sydney I wish it was the same Fairfield I would be there with bells on to listen to your talk.

I am so glad you had your books published Love your stories.

Have Fun

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I can't remember the very first romance but the first "bodice ripper" was The Flame and the Flower. Growing up I read Louisa May Alcot, Bronte sisters and of course Jane Austen.

Caren Crane said...

Jane, congratulations! Make that birdie behave, will you? I'm sure you're the woman for the job!

AC, I love this topic. The first romances I ever read were a gift. My recently-divorced mother worked pulling book orders at Ingram in Nashville. She would bring books home at birthdays and holidays. Stuff I would never have picked up for myself, but she thought was perfect for me. I have her entirely to blame for my love of fantasy and romance.

For Christmas when I was 12 (or I may have been 11, can't recall) she gave me 2 Harlequin Romances. They were all European and exotic settings then. I was confused and thought they must be for my next-older sister. Uh, no. They were for me. Man, did she ever regret that one! Of course, they did nothing besides kiss in those. Then, of course, I found Presents. *g*

My first fantasy was The Forgotten Beasts Of Eld, which happens to have a lovely witch/human romance as well. *sigh* Patricia McKillip hooked me!

Margay said...

I can't remember how I started reading romances because when I was a teen, I was reading books like The Diary of Anne Frank, Go Ask Alice (my older sister made me read that one), Lisa Bright and Dark, and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. But then I discovered the Harlequins and the Silhouettes and my love of romance novels began. My favorites back then were by Jude Devereux, Julie Garwood, Amanda Quick - these are the authors that stood out to me the most.

limecello said...

My road to romance? I led myself there, actually. I "knew" about the genre- but not much. Actually, what really got me started, was historical romances. I only read classics - and ran out/got burnt out by reading too many Thomas Hardy novels in a row. (So depressing) But I wanted stories set in that time period, and something light - so I browsed the library and read through the romance section.
I haven't looked back since. :)

Congrats on the GR, Jane!

Deb Marlowe said...

Congrats Jane! What are you and the bird going to do today?

Love sharing your journey, AC! I was big into fantasy back in the day too. Read all the Xanth books, now my eldest is staring on them! I read all the Shannara books too! Loved the Prydain series and the romance between Eilonwy and Taran. Little House, Little Women, the romance was always my favorite part!

My grandmother started me on Harlequin romances. I lost myself for hours in those--and then I found The Flame and The Flower--and I've never looked back since!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Aunty Cindy, your mom had the same reading list I did... how well I know that house with the one lighted window! ;)

But my tastes veered darker as well...

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, AC! I have to say my road to romance was paved with Janet Dailey Harlequin Presents & Iris Johanssen Loveswepts. Lots of sheiks & angry alpha males. Lots of 70s 'stache action, & plenty of redheads for some reason.

Now I'm feeling all nostalgic. I'm going to go see if I can find a Janet Dailey...

Susan Sey said...

Hey, congrats on the Wild Sight's tearing up the contest circuit! Well deserved!

Blodeuedd said...

I honestly can't say, I found a harlequin at home, but mum hasn't read a book like ever, so no idea where it came from. But then I was stuck and there was no going back

Suzanne Welsh said...

Ah Cindy, I love to see how people get along on the road to romance.

Every summer when we'd visit my grandparents, my mother's two sisters who were single and lived there would let me take home a bag of books. Now Mom and my aunts censored what I was allowed to bring home, since I was all of 12. Grace Livingston Hill, Barbara Cartland, Phyllis Whitney, any Harlequin romances that they deemed age appropriate.

But when I was 13 I managed to sneak in a book called THE DARKHORSE TAVERN by Janet Louise Roberts. This story was the first book I read where people actually had sex in it. It took place during the American Revolutionary War. It had a strong alpha hero, a spunky heroine, a dastardly stepfather and an equally devious redcoat officer.

I read this one over, and over, and over until it fell apart. But the story has always stayed with me. A few years ago, I managed to find a fairly gently used copy on an antique and out of print book site! So now I have my own copy on my book shelves. I read it through when I got it, and yes, the story is still just as good!

Then of course there was the Woodiwiss period, followed by the Patricia Matthews period, followed by the Julie Garwood fangirl period.... And the rest is history!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Cindy, great story of your road to romance writing!

Congratulations on the rooster, Jane!

I started my road to romance reading and writing the summer of ninth grade when I discovered Gone with the Wind. I was glued to my bed, lying on my tummy, reading that book every minute of every day. My father was fond of saying, "Get your nose out of that book and . . ." Fill in the blanks!

Barbara Monajem said...

The road to romance for me started with Georgette Heyer... then Mary Stewart... and mystery writers such as Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. When I first started writing, I thought I'd write mysteries... but realized fairly soon that the part of my favorite mysteries that I really cared about was the love story. Forensics, pfft. Clues, meh. LOL. So although my stories still have mystery, the main focus is always, always the romance.

terrio said...

What a great story. Or travel log, should I say? LOL!

I wish I could remember why or how I picked up my first romance. No one in my household read books, but we had a ton of kids books. I went through some condensed classics (Little Women, Hound of the Baskervilles, Wizard of Oz) when I was around 9. Then moved onto the Encyclopedia Brown books by age 12.

Sometime after that, I found some Harlequin YA romances and I was hooked for life. Moved onto the adult version around 14 or 15 and the rest, as you and *they* say, is history.

I tried writing one way back in '92, a western about a poker playing heroine and her gunslinging, poker playing hero, but didn't get far. I was young and life was too distracting.

Enter the Eloisa James Bulletin Board (Bon Bons Rule!) and the Avon Fanlit contest and the route to writing Romance was open again. We'll see how it all turns out.

catslady said...

I started reading the same books you did in my older teens and then Kathleen Woodiwiss came on the scene and I was totally hooked. I have to admit that more than a year ago I went out and bought the Outlander series but I haven't started them yet (I know). I know once I start I won't be able to start and I keep saying I'll just read this one other book first lol.

Pissenlit said...

My road to romance? Mainly through movies and tv with romance-y bits in other genre books. That is, until I hit on urban fantasy which led off into paranormal romance which then was a hop, skip and a jump to other romance genres.

What stood out on the road?
Fairy tales(Disney-fied and not), Hilary Knight's Cinderella, Howard Pyle's King Stork, Robin Hood movies(yay Errol Flynn!), Scott's Ivanhoe, Austen's Pride & Prejudice(reread a bazillion times), other works by Austen, Tennyson's Victorian ballad, The Lady of Shalott, King Arthur stories, Patricia C. Wrede's Mairelon the Magician duology(comfort read!), Julie E. Czerneda's Trade Pact trilogy, Edmund Blair Leighton, probably others I can't think of because I haven't had enough caffeine yet...

Donna MacMeans said...

Yay - Congrats to Jane on the early posting!

AC - I'm another that Diana Gabaldon brought into the fold. Now I know she says Outlander isn't a romance - but it clearly is. When I saw all the romance awards on the first couple of pages, I'd figured I was a fool not to read that genre. So I went back for more and was hooked.

Lynz - I read Whitney, my Love and loved it and then, eventually, found Kingdom of Dreams - loved that one as well.

I remember hunting down all the Julie Garwoods, Catherine Coulters(historicals), Jude Devereaux, Susan Elizabeth Philips (Fancy Pants was my fav), and Johanna Lindseys that I could find. They had the magic - no doubt.

Treethyme said...

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Jane. Aunt Cindy, you had me at the Moonspinners cover -- it's gorgeous! My copy is a later, boring cover, as is my cover for Outlander. I'm going to have to search used book stores for those cool covers.

Like you, I was (and am still) a Mary Stewart fan. I also loved Dorothy Eden, Susan Howatch, Anya Seton, Velda Johnston, the mysteries (not the regencies) of Georgette Heyer, Helen MacInnes, Victoria Holt, Kathleen Woodiwiss and so on. Unlike you, I leaned toward mysteries rather than fantasy and adventure. I dabbled in sci-fi (Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heilein) but was big on mystery. Agatha Christie hooked me and never let go. It took me years to realize my favorite mysteries had a strong romance, and then I began dabbling in that genre. Now I'm hooked on mystery and romance.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning everyone!

Yes, it's still morning here on the Left Coast. Let's see if I can be a bit more coherent than I was last night (doubtful). :-P

Pink, I remember reading both "Luckiest Girl" and "Fifteen"! Wow, those books must be OLD! HA! I probably read the first editions (like the covers on the post for Sword of Shannara and Outlander are the same ones I have).

OOOOO! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you could make it to my library talk! The library is right off the I-80 freeway, easy to find and they will be serving REFRESHMENTS!

HOPE to see you there!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

YAY Eva!
Thank you for admitting you too are a child of the 60s, and how fascinating that we read so many of the same things at the same time! And LUCKY YOU that your mom worked in a library! Duchesse Jeanne's dad was also a librarian, which I happen to think is the KEWLEST!


Minna said...

Barbara Cartland's and Caroline Cortney's were some of the first romance books I read -my mom prefered historicals, and she still does. I still read historicals, but these days I read more suspence and fantasy. And I just can't stand Cartland's books anymore! I think I remember the first romance book I read in English. It was a part of Code Name: Danger series by Merline Lovelace.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

My 5th grade teacher read "Little House on The Prairie" aloud to out class and I think ALL the girls (and maybe even a few of the boys) rushed out and read the rest of the series. Of course, yours truly was at the head of the line in the library!

Also around 9th grade I read Pride & Prejudice and Wuthering Heights 'just for fun.' My friends all thought I was CRAZY! Hmmm... maybe they were correct. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thank you so much for your endorsement of TWS! It just 'blows my mind' (talk about a 60s phrase) to think about having readers in far away places like Oz!

I WISH I could also speak at the Fairfield library near you! Maybe someday...


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Wasn't "The Flame and the Flower" AMAZING?!?! Of course the historicals written in that era had a lot more 'purple prose' than they do now. But those books were a HUGE revelation for me and obviously a lot of other readers too!


Anonymous said...

I come from a family of readers my parents where always reading but how I got into romance was stealing some of my older sisters books (that I was not allowed to be reading at the time) Whenever she was gone I would go into her room and read a few chapters at a time. but then when I was a little older I found harlequin and fell in love with other types of romances... like historical, fantasy.... I got addicted.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

How KEWL that your mother worked at Ingram! Of course it was probably grueling work, but you and your sibs got all those FUN books as presents.

I read and loved Patricia McKillip too! And Anne McCaffrey, and Ursula LeGuin... Those were MY kind of fantasies as a teen.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

"I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" was on the required reading list of the very first psychology class I ever took! GREAT book!

And Amanda Quick has been one of my fave historical writers for years! Loved her "M" series, "Mischief" "Mistress" etc.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thomas Hardy, Lime?

NO WONDER you got burned out! Glad you moved on to lighter fare and are now a staunch defender and reader on the road to romance!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh Darn! Look at the time, and I have an appointment at the hairdresser, which means I need to run off for a little while. :-(

I'll be back later today with newly sheered locks for the big library talk!

Meanwhile, keep those stories coming. I'm loving 'em!


Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jane, chooky chooky chooky lurve comin' your way, babe! Congratulations!

I love stories about how people started reading romance. Cindy, yours was similar to mine in a lot of ways - I loved gothics and devoured Mary Stewart like she was chocolate. I still think she wrote setting like nobody else. You could practically touch those wonderful exotic places she set her stories in, they were so vivid on the page. Brilliant writing.

As I've told people before, my mum was a romance reader and she was desperate to shut me up one day when I was about eight. So she shoved a Mills and Boon into my hands. I've never looked back since!

Anna Campbell said...

Cindy, good luck for the library talk. They'll love you! And congrats on the More than Magic award! Well deserved!

Helen, I have exactly that same feeling when I read a book I love. Sometimes I'm almost on the verge of passing the book on to my mum before I remember she's not here any more. I'm always grateful to her for introducing me to romance reading.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Alexandra, the margaritas lured you back into the lair! Loved your visit this week!

Barbara, I read a lot of mystery too and like you, it only gradually impinged on me that what I liked was the romantic subplot. I still think Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane is one of the best romance stories I've ever read and I love how it was spread over several books so you saw how they changed and great towards each other.

Margay said...

AC, should I be worried that I was reading this book when I was about 15 or 16? I always wanted to take a psychology class in school, but never got in. I'm thinking of going back to school for it.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I'm BACK everyone! Did you miss me? Just a little?

Now if only *I* could get my hair to look like this... Oh well, as my hairdresser says, "NO! Then you wouldn't need me!" :-)

Deb, I LURVED Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books too! And HOORAY for your Grandmother for giving you those Harlequins! Bet she'd have never guessed what a great romance reader AND writer you'd become!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Alex!
Glad you could pop back by for a visit!

I'm not sure WHAT inspired those covers with the house with one lighted window, but I can't say I'm sorry they've been replaced with half-nekkid hunks! OOPS! Did Aunty say that out loud?!?!

Pat Cochran said...

My early favorites: Holt, Stewart, Heyer, Cartland, Woodiwiss, Steele,
then I moved up to Betty Neels & the Mills & Boon authors. I moved up to the Presents authors and have made an enjoyable life reading every romance I can get into my hot,little hands. One author I have enjoyed but not yet mentioned by anyone is Shirley
Wolford who wrote with her husband.
She began writing romances after he
passed away. Sad to hear, she
passed away early this year.

Pat Cochran

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Smoov!

Now that you mention it, there did seem to be a lot of red-headed heroines back in the 'good old days.' Wonder what THAT was indicative of? Something significant that went right over my lil head, I'm sure! :-P

Thanx for the kudos! Our Duchesse place in MTM too! And Kirsten is also tearing up the contest circuit. WTG!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Blodeuedd!

SCORE another one for Harlequin! My mom never read them, but my best friend's mom used to take two grocery bags FULL of 'em to the UBS every weekend. Harlequin has always had a loyal following it seems.

Glad you didn't go back!


Caren Crane said...

I know lots of people tout Georgette Heyer as one of their first and true loves. Everyone here knows that I adore Regency romance, right? Well, I have NEVER read a Georgette Heyer. I know!!

I got my first taste of the Regency from Barbara Cartland. I have to say, the photo of her on her throne-like chair with her little white dog always made me grin. The librarians would roll their eyes at my 13-yr-old self as I checked out another stack of Barbara Cartlands! *g*

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Suz,
Why am I NOT surprised that you were a precocious 13 year old?!?! ;-)

And that is SO KEWL about you finding a copy of "Darkhorse Tavern" sounds like a great story! I'd love to see some new books set during the Revolutionary War.

Oh, and I was NOT about to bring up your Julie G. fangirl moment. NOPE! Not me! My lips are sealed...


MsHellion said...

Hmmm. Probably my sister. We were big readers in my family, due to my mom. My sister, 15 years my senior, read a lot and when I'd spend the weekends at her house, I'd bring my Valley High sweet romances with me.

But I'm a big history nut and she read these bodice rippers all the time.

My first real-blown bodice ripper was First Love, Wild Love by Janelle Taylor. I think the Texas Ranger was named Colt--and her name was Callie. And he mistook her for a prostitute and their first love scene is one of those mid-80s "forced seduction" scenes that only the most brave could ever pull off now in a novel. *LOL* (Of course, they were totally de-rigour then.) I was completely in love with this book. I still have it. It's fragile the cover has fallen off. I think the last page has also fallen off.

My second favorite book was "Autumn Dove" which was about a half-breed and a heroine going west by wagon train. I still have that one too. *LOL*

What sucked me into the Regency era though was Julie Garwood's historicals. She was the master and I totally wanted to be her when I grew up. Her or Jude Deveraux. (Favorite Jude book, "The Raider"...and my favorite Julie Garwood is "Guardian Angel.")

Great story, Aunt Cindy!!

MsHellion said...

P.S. I read the Janelle Taylor book when I was 13. *LOL* An old 13 though...almost 14.

Caren Crane said...

Deb, I'm so envious that one of your kids got into the Xanth books. I ate those things like bon bons in junior high and high school. I got rid of all of them (yes, I had the WHOLE COLLECTION, too!) when my oldest was a baby. I needed the space and the books had to go. *sigh* I wish I had them back!

Caren Crane said...

Ms Hellion, I think I read that book too! My next older sister was a big fan of the "Sweet Savage Love" type historical. They really WERE bodice rippers! I enjoyed them too, although there were a lot of words for a 14-yr-old. *g* Those sort of spoiled me for "sweet" romances. No wonder my girls love those Twilight books so much. They have sex! *head slap* It all makes sense now!

Caren Crane said...

Chekru, I had the same experience: steal racy books from older sister. I think a lot of us were turned onto the "steamy" side of romance by older sisters and cousins. And those books some peoples' mothers hid under the couch cushions! *g*

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Jo-Mama!

I got the "Get your nose outta that book!" a lot too. ;-) I read GWTW over Christmas vacation my junior year in high school and I LURVED every page of it!


Estella said...

I picked up romance books on my own. I started out reading Barbara Cartland and went on to Bertrice Small, Nora Roberts, Stella Cameron, etc.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Barbara M!

I'm one of those rare readers who has not read Georgette Heyer. I know, I know... (Aunty hangs head in shame)

I'm with you. My romantic suspenses are heavier on the romance than the suspense. That's the way I like to read 'em so that's the way I write 'em! ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Terrio!

SCORE another for Harlequin! So glad you found those YAs and became an awesome romance reader and writer!

As soon as you finish your classes this month, we'll give you a week or two THEN I'm getting out the crop to get you working on that book!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Don't worry Catslady,

I understand why you are hesitant to start the Outlander books. They are HUGE and they are ADDICTIVE! But you won't be sorry. Jamie Fraser truly is a hero TO DIE FOR!!!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Wow Pissenlit!

That's a great list with or without caffeine! I remember reading "The Lady of Shallot" either my first or second year of college and thought it was soooo romantic!

Did you ever see the old movie version of P&P with (I think) Greer Garson? The costumes were SUMPTUOUS! And the Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood was shot here in Nor Cal outside the city of Chico.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

YAY! Score another for Outlander! I think when it was originally published, booksellers didn't know quite how to categorize it. It's definitely a romance IMO, but a lot of readers don't want to categorize it that way, because "romance" isn't taken seriously. :-P


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


That was my favorite of "The Moonspinners" covers, but alas, not the one on my copy.

I read some Asimov and Bradbury too, and Robert Heinlein's "Stranger In a Strange Land" had a cult following when I was in high school. I GROK!Or was that gork?!?!


Treethyme said...

Stranger in a Strange Land, Island by Aldous Huxley (and Brave New World), anything by Ayn Rand -- all of those were big when I was in high school.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I read a few Barbara Cartland romances as a young teen, but I didn't care for them either. My 14 year old self just could not understand why an 18 or 19 year old would find a 30+ year old man attractive! LOL!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

SCORE another reader for Harlequin! And LOL on stealing your older sister's books. Sounds like something my sister would have done, except she wasn't much of a reader. DEFINITELY not like I was!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You are sooo right about Mary Stewart's settings! I know they transported me to some wonderful and exotic (to me) places and she heavily influenced my writing today in that I strive to make my settings like another character in my books.

Mary Stewart's books ARE like fine chocolate, to be savored slowly...


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

No worries, Margay!

Realistically (and spoken from the perspective of my very advanced age) there's not a big difference between a 16 yr old and an 18 yr old (my age when I took my first psych class). Books like "Rose Garden" and a couple of others you named certainly gave my naive eyes an opening! And I mean that in a good way.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I haven't heard of Shirley Wolford, so thanks for mentioning her. What a shame she is not longer with us writing great stories.

Phyllis Whitney passed away a couple of years ago at 102. She published her last book when she was 93! Now THAT is what I aspire to!

And HOORAY for Harlequin for bringing you into the fold as a GREAT romance reader!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OH GOOD! Now I don't feel so bad. I'm not the only one who hasn't read Heyer. And LOL! How well I remember that piccie of Barbara C. and her lil white dog. In some ways the woman was a walking, talking cliche, but in others she was AMAZING!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

ROFLOL, Hellion!
An "old" 13?!?! Why am I not the least bit surprised?!?! And getting your advanced education at that age certainly hasn't harmed you!

And yes, those "forced seductions" in the 80s were pretty risque... AHEM! Not the way Aunty prefers her sex scenes now.

So SCORE ONE GREAT reader thanx to Janelle Taylor!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

ROFLOL about mom's hiding certain books under the couch cushions! My BFF's mom (who read all the Harlequins) hid her racy ones in the laundry. She knew none of the other family members would go in there!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Wasn't Bertrice Small's Skye O'Malley series GREAT FUN?!?! Glad she helped put you on the road to romance and being a GREAT reader!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

My 10th grade English teacher wanted to teach "Brave New World" but the principal told her NO because it was "too racy." So of course all her students ran out and read it anyway! :-P Maybe that was her intent all along...


Nancy said...

Jane, congrats on taking home the rooster! Have fun with him.

Cindy, you know I loved The Wild Sight. I can't wait to visit Venice with your characters.

I have very fond memories of the late Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles. I wish he had lived long enough to finish them.

My journey to romance probably started with fairy tales. I've always loved romantic (HEA) stories. In junior high, I discovered Janet Lambert's books about the Parrishes and Jordans and Lenora Mattingly Weber's Beany Malone. I always loved boom, but I always loved romance,too.

I also read a lot of Mary Stewart, and I LOVE her Arthurian trilogy. I think Disney made The Moon Spinners into a TV movie with Hayley Mills. I vaguely remember it.

Renee said...

Aunty Cindy, I swear I'm not stalking you. I just loved The Wild Sight so much that when I saw you were giving an IOR of Venice away, I had to come over.

Catherine Coulter, Victoria Alexander and Hannah Howell are my biggest influences. And I hope to one day list the names of those who have encouraged me along the way in the front of my book.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Nancy!
How is/was the beach?!?!

I knew you'd read 9 Princes in Amber and loved them too. Yes, a shame he didn't get to 'finish' the series.

Yes, Disney made a movie of The Moonspinners with Hayley Mills, I googled and it shows 1964 as the original release date. I vaguely remember seeing it, but years later when it was on the Disney TV show. Wasn't much like the book, as I recall, but Hayley was a cute and spunky heroine.

I read Beany Malone!!! WOW! I'd forgotten all about those stories until you brought them up. They were such fun with her unconventional family! Remember her sister Mary Fred?!?!

Thanx for that brief foray down memory lane,

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Renee, Sweetie, YOU can stalk me any time! MWAH!

I ADORE Victoria Alexander, both her writing and her personality! She gave a wonderfully hilarious speech at RWA National last year.

It is a great feeling to be able to thank people in your published works! You'll notice I listed a lot of people in my Acknowledgments in TWS and I'm sure you'll recognize even more names in on the Acknowledgments page of TToV. ;-)


Beth said...

I started on my road to romance as a preteen when I would read the Teen romances (if I remember correctly, they were sort of like category romances but...for teens *g*)

Then, when I was around 16, my BFF's mom got me hooked on Harlequin/Silhouette books. As a new mother, I discovered Historicals. My very first historical romance was The Magic of You by Johanna Lindsey! Loved it!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Beth,
Another convert from Harlequin! And just think, NOW you write for them! How kewl is that? YOU could be the author starting readers down their very own road to romance!


Amy S. said...

My aunt gave me my first romance book when I was 13, I've been reading them ever since. Johanna Lindsey is one of my fave authors. Heather Graham's Civil wars series, and Elizabeth Lowell's Only series.

Nancy said...

Fedora and AC, I read that Beverly Cleary book, the YA romance--set in the Pacific Northwest, right? Or am I confused?

We read Beverly Cleary to the boy. He loved Ramona especially, which we feared boded ill, but he just liked to read about her, not emulate her.

For which we were grateful!

Joan said...

Chiming in late even though I got off on TIME at the hospital today!

Hmmmm...when did I start reading romance?

Along about age 12/13 like many of you. I vaguely remember a Phyllis A Whitney and a book called "Jassy".

Oh, and a friend gave me a Thomas Hardy book as a present...I STILL remember the morose cover.

Kathleen of course and Jude Deverauex. Jude is from my hometown and I remember going to the B. Dalton's at Jefferson Mall and one of the clerks was her mother!

Really thought I was hitting the big time when I read "Sweet Savage Love" by Rosemary Rogers. Remember something about the hero in a cage...and became oddly intrigued with that :-)

Pissenlit said...

I came across the Lady of Shalott in high school when my English class group had to do a presentation on the Victorian era. I picked it as the poem we had to recite(turns out it was our teacher's fave poem...heh heh). It's been my favourite ever since!

Yep, I've seen the Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier version of P&P! Loved it! The costumes really were fab! I didn't know The Adventures of Robin Hood(best RH version EVER!) was shot there! Neat!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Amy S.
I'm glad Johanna Lindsay's Fabio covers didn't mark you for life! LOL! Some of them were pretty cheesy, even at the time. :-P Luckily, the stories were GREAT and totally made up for all the cheese on the cover.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I don't remember where the Beverly Cleary teen books were set! ACK! Old-timers disease! And the Ramona books were waaay after my time so I've never read them.

I'm sorry I didn't read more stories aloud to my son. He did love the Hobbit, though.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Joanie!!!
(Aunty waves madly!) BIG thanx for stopping by after a loong day at the DDJ!

HOORAY for another Phyllis Whitney fan! And how KEWL that you met Jude D's Mom!

I remember the first time I read Sweet Savage Love. When I came to the first sex scene (pretty early on as I recall) my eyes nearly bugged outta my head! I think I was in college and I called my sister the next day and said, "you HAVE to read this!"

The only other book I remember having that reaction to was Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying." OMG!!! She used the "F" word! ALL OVER THE PLACE! LOL!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

KEWL about it turning out to be your teacher's fave poem. So can you still recite it?

I remember we had to recite "If" by Kipling and I can still remember MOST of it. Only now, I actually understand what most of it means! :-P


Caffey said...

Hi Aunty Cindy!
I remember as a teen when I used to visit my mom's bedroom each night and she would talk to me about her different romance books, mostly series books (But too I knew, and read, alot of those thick historicals behind in the shelves). I treasured those evenings and got to go back to my room and read that night and the next day I would be back talking about the book and picking another! I too would bring her books from the library. We loved Victoria Holt's Gothic romances! I kept a checklist to make sure I read every one of them (I don't know if I ever read Mary Stewart before so I must go see if any re-released recently usually that helps me to know where to start with hers). As I got older and married, I loved when I could beat my mom to the store on different holiday times and pick up all (I mean ALL) of the series books for her. She read them all each month. And she loved when I did that and after she read, she gave to me and I read. Often we would then donate them to the nursing homes because they loved those smaller stories too. I moved away a few hours drive but we still shared our love for romance books each time I could visit. When she was ill, I was at a conference and kept thinking about her, so I left the conference and drove a few hours and laid in bed with her and she asked me to read one of her books with her. I did that and will never forget that special love we had with each other. I know she's proud of me with the love I still have for romance books. Cathie

Pissenlit said...

AC - KEWL about it turning out to be your teacher's fave poem. So can you still recite it?

Gosh, no. Perhaps parts of it but definitely not in its entirety. I also can't keep the two versions straight.