Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Read a Romance Month

August is Read-a-Romance-Month, and I'm excited to be participating in my chapter's celebration this year. In fact, the theme for this year is CELEBRATE ROMANCE.

Summer really is the perfect time to celebrate romance. The days are longer, the weather is warm, there's no end to the romantic possibilities around us: a stroll along the shore of the lake with the waves gently lapping at our feet, having lunch or dinner at an outdoor café and soaking up the sunshine, a hike through lush green forest and rippling prairie, touring a winery and sipping a glass out on the deck overlooking the vineyard, or taking a long weekend getaway to a nearby small town and wandering through the shops on Main Street. Each moment made even more perfect by sharing it with the one you love.

Summer is the perfect time for reading romance, too. Like I said, the days are longer and lazier, and there's nothing better than whiling away the time with a favorite book and a glass of homemade peach iced tea. My favorite reading spot of choice is curled up on our front porch settee.

I'm an avid reader, and although I sometimes branch out into other genres, romance has always been and will always be my favorite. Even back in the day when I headed straight for the yellow-covered Nancy Drew books on the library shelf, my favorite parts were when Nancy spent time with Ned. In the cozy mysteries I read now-a-days, a touch of romance is a must. I started reading 'real' romance in high school. I joined the Harlequin American book club, and every month four new shiny silver books were delivered right to my doorstep. I think it took me less than a week to devour them all...and then it would be an impatient wait until the next month.

I am fortunate to have my own library in my house, and the majority of books in it are romance. There's just something about being able to explore other peoples' lives and emotions and 'visit' other places, plus have the guarantee of a happy ending that's infinitely appealing. Historical, contemporary, paranormal, I read them all. My favorite historicals are set during the Civil War or anything having to do with pirates, my favorite contemporaries to read (and write) are set in small, cozy towns, and vampires are my go-to paranormal reads.

Nope. There's nothing better than celebrating romance, whether real-life or fiction, any time of the year.

As part of this year's celebration, we've been asked to answer three questions. So here goes...

Describe the most daring, adventurous, or inspiring thing you ever did.
Hmn? I have to say, I'm not much of a risk taker, so for me, adventure is pretty tame. Back in college, I had the opportunity to take a three week trip to England. I'd never been out of the country before or away from my family for that long. (College was only an hour and half away, so that didn't really count.) No one I knew aside from the professor leading the trip was going, but I signed up to go anyway. It was exciting, it was amazing, it was wonderful. We toured castles and attended plays and visited museums...all in a setting unlike anything on this side of the pond. I enjoyed it so much that a few years later, a friend and I took a ten day trip to France and Spain. Now for some people, world travel is no big deal, but for me it's quite adventurous.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.
Like I mentioned above, I started reading romance in high school. It wasn't long before I decided I wanted to write one some day. I even made a few (sad) attempts in high school and college. But, for the most part, like many dreams, the desire to write a romance remained just that for a long while. Then one New Year's Eve night out at the bar where my soon-to-be hubby and I hung out, a friend mentioned a writers' group she belonged to. We got to chatting, and she invited me along. I joined my local RWA chapter, took advantage of our critique sessions, and got connected. When I decided to get really serious, a friend recommended The Wild Rose Press, and the rest, as they say, is history. This month I released my eighth title with them.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)
One of my all-time favorite romances is Mariah by Sandra Canfield. My copy is completely dog-eared and tattered because I've read it so many times. I fell in love with this book the first time I read it. I still have to be careful when I write because passages from this book are so ingrained in my mind. It's the first in the Calloway Corners series, which was released by Harlequin Superromance in 1988. The series follows four sisters in small-town Louisiana. Because of this book, when I sat down to write my first real romance (I don't really count those ones from high school), I decided to make it the first in a series. I'm proud to say, the third book in my own three-book series was published earlier this year. My dream definitely came true. And I have to say, a lot of it is due to Mariah.

In addition to hunting down your own copy of Mariah, I'm recommending the following authors for summer romance reading:
Julie Ann Walker
Paula Martin
Jennifer Wilck

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!

Debra St. John

My latest release:
Family Secrets from The Wild Rose Press. Also available for Kindle.


  1. Thanks for recommending me, Debra! I also loved Harlequin's when I was in high school and probably devoured them as quickly as you did. Enjoy the rest of your summer and your reading!

  2. Glad to do it, Jennifer!

    I bet there are lots of us out there who cut our romance reading teeth at Harlequin. :)

  3. I confess to also begin romance reading through Harlequin! Since then, I've branched out all over the place. I also enjoy cozies better than other type of mysteries.

  4. Cozies are my favorites too. I can't do gristly blood and gore.

  5. Love your library picture. I was given my first romance at age 15 by my grandmother. It was a Harlequin.