Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why I Love Romance...

by Donna MacMeans

I've been in conference mode all week. First with Accounting conferences (zzzzzzz), then - this weekend - the Central Ohio Fiction Writers conference with Suzanne Brockman as the keynote speaker.

Suzanne was great! She's a dynamic speaker and a wonderful teacher as well. As part of her presentation, she asked the 200 or so people in the audience to raise their hand if a romance ever made them laugh or smile.

I think every hand in the room went up. Mine did. Susan Elizabeth Philips never fails to get me smiling. Kristin Higgins, Susan Sey, Susan Heino, Lisa Cooke ...

Then Suzanne asked, "how many have read a romance that brought them to tears?" Again, the hands were raised. Now, I have to admit that while I may feel anxious over a particular romance, they rarely make me cry...but I remember tears tracing a path down my cheeks while I was reading an old Judith McNaught book. Jude Deveraux had me in tears over one of her medieval scenes as well. Newer romances haven't had that effect on me, but that might be the result of my reading choices. I'd rather laugh than cry.

Suzanne then asked, "how many have read a romance that brought them hope or solace during a particularly difficult time?" I was surprised by the number of hands raised, though mine was not one of them. I can't say I've had that particular experience. Reflecting on it, my life has been blessed (knock on wood) so I can't say I found a romance uplifting in the sense of giving hope. Of course, I've always assumed that given sufficient time, all difficulties will work out for the best in the long run. What-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger sort of philosophy.

So I thought I'd ask you the same questions. Have you read a book that made you laugh or cry? Have you read an uplifting romance that gave solace in a dark time? Spill some titles and share.

I won a basket of books at the conference. To be honest, I forgot I even dropped a raffle ticket in the bag (grin). So let me grab one - here we go - a copy of Sandra Hill's DESPERADO to someone leaving a comment.


Pissenlit said...

I tend to reread favourite books when I want solace but I have read a few books that made me laugh and/or cry...though, only two are coming to mind right now(haven't had caffeine). I cried while reading The Time Traveller's Wife and uh, I forget which one it was but the Star Wars book where they killed off Chewbacca...that made me sob. :P

Minna said...

Yes, to both questions. Well, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb has certainly some books that have made me laugh and cry. And I have some books favorites I read when I need solace.

Christie Kelley said...

Congrats on the GR, pissenlit!

I have read lots of books that made laugh but only a few that made me cry (I'm not much of a crier). Unfortunately, I can't remember any of the titles of those books.

gamistress66 said...

Donna -- I feel for you, the boring topics we attend for that precious cpe credit. It can be pretty hard sometimes to pay attention or even awake ;)

Sandra Hill's books always makes me laugh, even out loud at times. Hannah Howell & Lyndsay Sands (historical) books also make me laugh a fair bit. Also Sally Mackenzie, Loretta Chase .... hmmm I see a trend here. I think of lots of authors/books that make me smile &/or laugh but have trouble thinking of any books that made me cry (though I know there have been some w/ a scene or 2 that have). Don't think I've ever picked up a book in search of hope/solance but have many times for a general pick me up or laugh. Guess I'm with you in that I'd rather laugh than cry and my reading choices reflect that. If looking to be depressed, guess the acctg cpe will take care of that ;)

Donna MacMeans said...

They killed off Chewbacca!!!!!

Now you're going to make me cry. I envisioned him living to be gray and balding...all over (though, with Chewbacca the balding part would be hard to tell).

Congrats Pissenlit - you've got the GR.

Donna MacMeans said...

Minna -

Sad to say I'm not a big Nora Roberts/JD Robb reader, though I have read some of her books - mostly Nora books. The woman sure does know how to pull emotion, but I don't recall having the urge to laugh out loud at her stories. I can imagine she can pull tears, though. If you can believe and sympathize with the character, when they suffer you feel their pain. Nora does amazing characters.

Donna MacMeans said...

Christie - Good to hear I'm not alone. I generally don't cry at movies either - although I noticed that once I'd had children, my eyes would moist up enough to qualify. Maybe there's something in the hormones...

Nevertheless, cryinig is a sign that one is totally enmeshed in the character, a good sign that the author is a master at her craft. Someday, I'll stand proudly and say - I'm Donna MacMeans and I make people cry. (grin)

Donna MacMeans said...

LOL Gamistress - Actually, we were about ten minutes into a tax seminar when a man passed out and slumped over on the woman's shoulder next to him. Though there was a quick volunteer to perform CPR, the man was breathing and so CPR wasn't necessary. Apparently his blood pressure dropped and his body decided it was just time to get horizonal.

Now a hot steamy romance will make my body want to get horizonal - but without the passing out bit. Perhaps tax accounting works similarly for some men. Different strokes and all that (grin).

jo robertson said...

What a contrast in your two conferences, Donna. From snooze-fest to uplifting. Isn't Suzanne great?

I've been reading David Rosenfeld's Andy Carpenter series. While not romance, he does make me laugh.

A lot of nonfiction makes me feel hopeful because I see the struggles others have overcome and I know that most of us get through trials will surprising grace.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Jo -

Yes, the two conferences were definitely night and day. With the 2 day accounting conference, there was a mad stampede to exit as soon as it was over in spite of the enticement of an open bar and appetizers. With the romance convention, no one was anxious to leave and just wanted to stick around and savor the lingering ambiance. Gotta love romance - the books, the writers and especially the readers.

Louisa Cornell said...

Yay Pissenlit, the GR is coming to your house. He will make you laugh for sure. Well, he could make you cry too. Hide the chocolate, the booze and the keys to all vehicles.

I have read lots of romances that made me laugh. Mary Janice Davidson's Undead and Unwed and all the books that followed in the series have made me laugh out loud.

Stephanie Bond's books make me laugh too. In Deep Voodoo had me rolling.

A number of Julia Quinn's books have made me laugh. Brighter Than the Sun comes to mind. I can really relate to the accident prone heroine in that one.

There is a book coming out in May 2011 that will make everyone laugh. I've had the privilege of reading it in manuscript form. Demon Hunting in Dixie by Lexi George should come with a warning not to read it in public because you will laugh til you cry and can't breathe. (Smackdown at a funeral and weenie in a bag. Look for these scenes when the book comes out.)

Books that made me cry? Easy. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. When Christian goes into the Quaker meeting and declares his love for Maddie, struggling with the words and stammering as he fights to get past the damage a stroke has done to his speech I tear up every single time.

Another is Simply Love by Mary Balogh. It never fails to touch my heart.

Dangerous to Love by Rexanne Bechnel.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Pissenlit, congrats on the chook!

Donna, sounds like you've been busy. And congratulations on winning the basket of books!

I've definitely read romances that have had all three effects on me. I have a couple of comfort reads I go to at times of trouble - the two that spring to mind are LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase and A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS by Eva Ibbotson. Both are a mixture of laughter and tears and are fabulous books!

Anna Sugden said...

Oooh what fun, Donna - I love hearing Suz talk - she's awesome.

Quite a few authors make me laugh - Sandra Hill, SEP, Julie James, Kristan Higgins, our own Susan Sey, Eloisa James, the fab Kathleen Long (I know she's better known for her RS, but Get Bunny Love and Cherry on Top are two of my fave romcoms), Kathleen Kane (aka Maureen Child) and Susan Mallery. Then there's this author called Donna MacMeans - she's made me laugh a time or two.

Suz's done it too - you only have to read Jules' romance with Robin - incredibly moving.

I'm a crier, I admit it. Less so with books than TV or movies, but some books have moved me to sniffle - not because they're necessarily sad, but more often because the HEA is so well-done. Susan Mallery and Kristan Higgins are awesome at that. Nora/JD Robb too.

I don't know that there are books I turn to for solace, but I do read for solace or watch favourite movies - usually classics like Cary Grant.

Anna Sugden said...

Oops - the comment about Suz was meant to go below the crying comment, though she has made me laugh too.

catslady said...

Oh, all of the above and I've always said the books I enjoy the most are the ones that make me laugh and cry (Julie Garwood for one). It means the author has gotten to me emotionally and that's a good thing.

Sheree said...

Thank you, Donna, for attending accounting conferences so the rest if us don't have to.

Sandra Hill's books make me laugh. My favorite line from THE VIKING TAKES A KNIGHT: "Spill your vast array of woman knowledge, oh, Viking God of Love." Who can read that with a straight face?

Jennifer Crusie's books are hilarious, too, especially some of the ones she wrote with Bob Mayer. Lots are great lines in WILD RIDE.

I haven't cried over a book for years so I don't remember the last book that did so.


Kim in Baltimore said...

Aloha! Oh, to be at the conference with you this weekend!

Sandra Hill's books make me laugh so hard that I start "crying"!

Off to Maui this week for fall break. May I borrow a Cabana Boy to accompany me to watch the sunrise atop of Haleakala? It might move us to tears (hubby and children have already stated that it won't move them to an early wake up).

Helen said...

Well done Pissenlit have fun with him


I say yes to both questions as well I have shed a few tears over the years and we must have read the same books Judith McNaught and Jude Deveraux and one book that had me really laughing was Janet Mullaney's Rules of Gentiality and there have been many more but it is 6-30am here in Sydney and our Labour Day holiday and I have to go to work and the brain hasn't quite woken up yet LOL.
I am not sure whether any books have given hope and solace but they do give me hours of reading pleasure amd lots of adventure in the past,present and future and take me away from the pressures and hum drum of life I don't think I could cope without my romance stories.

Have Fun

Donna MacMeans said...

Louisa -

Just the title "Demon Hunting in Dixie" had me smiling. I'll be watching for that one. You're right - I love Julia Quinn's books. She has the most amazingly unique characters.

I've never read Flowers from the Storm - though I've seen it often referred to here as a must-read. One of these days...

No one is mentioning books that inspired them and gave them hope during a difficult situation. A number of hands (not mine) went up in answer to that question. Anyone?

Donna MacMeans said...

Ahhh- Anna - so you go to guaranteed enjoyable reads when you need a lift. Maybe that's what Suzanne meant. I rarely read a book more than once (though I hoard the ones that I've read and loved just-in-case that changes). If that's what she meant, I'd put Diane Gabaldon's Outlander on the list. That's the only book that I thank I've read twice.

By the way, one of my good (and talented) historical writer friends won a critique from you that you so kindly donated. She is beside herself with joy. Thank you so much for the donation. Part of the proceeds from that conference go to benefit Ohio Libraries.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Donna, how cool on the crit! I look forward to seeing your friend's work. I've donated to the Ohio event the last few years - as you say, it's an excellent cause!

I still haven't read Outlander! Yeah, I know, howls of horror from all the historical types! ;-)

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna - I think I'm more likely to tear at a movie as well - why is that? Is it that you can actually see the pain in the actor's face? Or the music that that subtly tugs at your heart during the high moments of emotion? Or maybe because you can be immersed into the story at the theater without the annoying distractions that pop up while reading. Or maybe it's something in the popcorn (grin).

Thanks for the humor nod. I must admit, one of the hardest things I've ever done is sat beside my dh while he was reading The Education of Mrs. Brimley. He never smiled - never! He told me later he enjoyed the book and thought parts of it were humorous but by then I had aged several years in minutes - if you know what I mean. Men must relate to books differently than women.

Donna MacMeans said...

Catslady -

Definitely - it's that emotional connection. Getting you to laugh or cry is the ultimate compliment to a writer.

Yes, yes, yes on Julie Garwood. I think she's the one that made me fall hard for romance. Diane Gabaldon made me give it a try, but Julie Garwood sealed the deal. I really should dust off some of her books and give them a read.

Donna MacMeans said...

Sheree -

This basket that I won has several Sandra Hill books - I'll be smiling for days (grin).

Sounds like you're another who prefers to laugh.

Hmmm....Suzanne didn't ask how many people were scared out of their wits by a book. I can honestly say that Dean Koontz had that effect on me. I won't touch another one of his books. Maybe that's not such a good emotion to tug afterall.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kim - Oh to be heading to Maui for the fall break!!! I'm jealous.

I truly love that island - although I must admit I got tired of all the newlyweds holding their hands up to see their rings glitter in the sun (and to try to wrangle sighs of envy and congratulations from all around). I want to smack them. Let them return in twenty-five years and I'll be all over the congratulations thing (grin).

Another vote for Sandra Hill. I see I chose an appropriate prize for today's blog.

Donna MacMeans said...

Well said, Helen -

Perhaps reading romance is a sort of preventive maintenance so we don't need to be lifted from an emotionally draining experience. I'm going with that.

Hey don't forget that Janet Mullaney is guest blogging with us later in the month. I'm looking forward to it.

chey said...

Lots of books have made me laugh. A couple of the Anne of Green Gables books made me cry. One book (I can't remember the title) made me so scared I was shaking. I prefer the ones with a HEA.

Sheree said...

I just read what I wrote earlier. *shudders* Perhaps I shouldn't write anything before having coffee (at least nothing is misspelled).

Louisa Cornell said...

I completely forgot the comfort reads, Donna !

For that I go to Mary Balogh again.

A Perfect Jewel and Slightly Dangerous

Those are two of my well-worn comfort reads.

Another is Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

The Mysterious Miss M by Diane Gaston

Untouched by La Campbell

To Sir Phillip With Love by Julia Quinn

Donna MacMeans said...

Chey -

Oh yes, I can think of young adult type books that made me cry. Anne of Green Gables, Old Yellar, there's another that's flitting around on the tip of my memory... Funny that we do that to our young people. Kill off beloved animals and relatives - I guess to show them how difficult and heart-wrenching life can be (then maybe they'll realize how good they have it LOL).

I agree with you about the scary books. I won't make that mistake again. I couldn't sleep with an open window for weeks after reading Shadowfall. Scary stuff.

pjpuppymom said...

Congrats, Pissenlit!

Great blog, Donna! Romances have been my saving grace during many a dark time, especially during the five weeks my late dh was in a coma following cancer surgery. Some days, that book in my hands, with it's hope of a happy-ever-after, was the only thing that got me through.

I adore Sandra Hill's books! She never fails to make me laugh, usually out loud and with gusto. :)

It doesn't take much to kick-start my tear ducts and there are many books out there that have had them flowing. I just posted a review of Seduced by a Highlander by Paula Quinn, a book that went straight to my keeper shelf after an afternoon of laughter, tears and deep, happy sighs.

Donna MacMeans said...

Sheree -

LOL - if there was some sort of penalty for typos, I'd be a homeless writer. I suppose it would help if I actually proofread what I wrote in emails and replies, but my fingers just reach for that "send" key before my brain says wait...... I seriously need an editor to follow me around in my everyday life - fixing all those little punctuation and spelling errors. That'll be the day.

pjpuppymom said...

Comfort reads? Oops! I missed that!

My number one comfort read is Julie Garwood's Saving Grace. I've worn out three copies of the book over the years. ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, thanks muchly, Miss Cornell! I'm touched by your mention of Untouched! ;-)

Donna MacMeans said...

Louisa -

You know, I never made it to The Devil in Winter. I read It Happened One Autumn and remember the secondary characters that became the primary characters in Winter, but I never read that book. It might be somewhere in this ready to topple TBR pile.

La Campbell's Untouched is on my keeper shelf.

Donna MacMeans said...

PJ -

I hope I never have to experience the sort of situation you describe, but it's good to know that romance novels help pull us through the worse times as well as the good.

I remember reading Paula Quinn's debut novel a couple of years ago as part of a group that studied historical debuts. I remember as well that the RT reviewer managed to mistake her for Julia Quinn. Think there's a relation? I've have to watch for Seduced by a Highlander (love the title). If it comes with your endorsement, it has to be good.

Donna MacMeans said...

I think Saving Grace is one of our newly published Suz's favorites as well. I can honestly say that I tried my hand at writing romance as a result of that book. Some day I'll elaborate.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Miss Donna, thank you! Ditto with the Education of Mrs. Brimley!

pjpuppymom said...

I can honestly say that I tried my hand at writing romance as a result of that book. Some day I'll elaborate.

Donna, I'd love to hear that story!

Becke Davis said...

Donna - it was absolutely fabulous to see you, as always! This was my first time at a COFW conference, and I was VERY impressed.

I attendend workshops with Virginia Kantra and Suz Brockmann and left both eager to get back to work on my writing and revising. I wish I could have taken CJ Lyons' and Susan Crandall's workshops, too - I hear they were great!

I was in tears when Linda Keller got her award, and I'm just in awe of Suzanne Brockmann's brilliance. What a conference - I'm still buzzed with excitement from it!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Yes, I have laughed, cried, and have actually had a romance book get me through a couple of tough times. I agree with Gamemistress, Hannah Howell, Lynsay Sands, Nora Roberts, Mary Balogh, Donna MacMeans among others, have all brought me to laughter, tears and a general feeling of well being.

Becke Davis said...

I've laughed out loud at James Thurber books, and at an old favorite: Jerome K. Jerome's THREE MEN IN A BOAT.

Crying is less common, but I do remember one book that left me wiping my eyes: Marian Keyes' IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?

There were others, but those are the first ones that come to mind.

Another book that really got to me was Jodi Thomas'FINDING MARY BLAINE. And Patricia Gaffney's WILD AT HEART was pretty heart-wrenching, too.

Deanna said...

I recently read Eloisa James' "A Kiss At Midnight" and it made me laugh and cry.

Donna MacMeans said...

Becke -

It was a great conference, wasn't it - and it was great to see you again. I wish we would have had more time to talk - just the two of us. I was meeting with my agent and thus didn't make the morning workshops. I really wanted to attend Virginia Kantra's, but that just didn't work out. Some day maybe we can arrange to have them taped like they do at Naitonal, but we're not there yet.

I had tears at well at Linda Keller's presentation and her acceptance speech. She has been such a treasure to the romance genre and to educating booksellers about romance. I'm sorry to hear she's retiring, but for her own personal well being - I'm happy to hear she's retiring.

Donna MacMeans said...

Thank you so much Dianna for including me in that illustrious bunch. To know someone laughed or cried while reading my books is the ultimate compliment.

Donna MacMeans said...

Becke - Did you go see the James Thurber house while you were up here? I especially enjoy the statue of the unicorn with the accompanying short story which is in like a secret garden in front of the house. If you've missed it, the next WARM day you're up this way, I'll take you over to see it.

I remember Pat Gaffney's Wild at Heart - loved it. That is a good one. The title of "Is Anybody Out There?" is enough to make me cry. How sad is the sound of that! I'd probably never pick up the book because I'd be afraid I'd be an emotional wreck.

Yes, laughing is much safer.

Donna MacMeans said...

Daz - Is that the one with the beautiful cover of a soman in a blue dress shot from the back? Oh wait - I think I'm thinking of a Lisa Kleypas novel. It had a gypsy- gentleman hero.

I haven't read a lot of Eloisa James, sorry to say, but I did read Taming the Duke and loved it.

Your avatar makes me smile!

Unknown said...

Christie Craig's books always make me laugh! Gone With the Wind made me cry along with Nicholas Sparks book Dear John made me cry but most of his books will.

Becke Davis said...

Donna - even though I've lived in Ohio a long time now, I haven't been to Columbus very often, and I've never seen the Thurber house. I'd love to see it with you sometime! And, yes, when it's warm. It was SNOWING when we left today!

Do read that Marian Keyes book if you get the chance. It's definitely a keeper!

Donna MacMeans said...

Becke - Snow? No!

I missed it and I'm glad of it. It's only October 3rd for Pete's sake.

Yes, I'll have to track down the Marian Keyes book. Too many people whose opinions I admire have highly recommended it.

But if it makes me cry, it's all your fault (grin).

Donna MacMeans said...

Virginia -

I've never read a Nicholas Sparks's book - only seen the movies. I can't remember if I laughted or cried with I read Gone With the Wind. It was way, way too long ago. I still have my illustrated hardcover of that book. I'm not sure if I've read Christie Craig. Remember - i've come to romance rather late in life and am frantically trying to catch up on so many wonderful authors. What a problem to have (grin).

SiNn said...

i reread books all the time some are like visiting abest fav friend ive reread After the Night By Linda howard ver 300 times when ever i need comfort or just something that feels like home

Carol L. said...

I've read so many books lately it's hard to keep track sometimes. But a few tear jerkers for me were definitely Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, The Madness of Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley, Rainwater by Sandra pulls at my heart just thinking back to it...Butterfly Tattoo by Deidre Knight. Very emotional reads for me.And I loved every single page. :)
Carol L.

peachy_pam said...

I can't wait to read your upcoming book!