Saturday, October 31, 2009


Yesterday, I heard an interview with Anne Rice. Her change of career path is a familiar story to anyone who reads books. From creating a world filled with the darkness of the soul, Anne moved, almost on a dime, to writing books with a strong Christian theme. Her work now celebrates light and goodness.

Her explanation is simple. She was praying and was overcome with the conviction she should be using her talent for God. Those were convicting words for me. Not the first time I've been convicted, though. Since I started writing romance, I've wondered if it was the right place for a woman who professes to be a Christian (though a terribly flawed one).

I've justified myself for a long time. I truly believe romance, for all the earthy content, is the most moral of all genre literature. For all the trying to "expand" the genre, romance is still the place where the stories end with marriage, children, forever. A pretty good thing to promote, I think.

Yet, it's gotten harder over the years to write like I did at first. Like all newbies, I modeled my writing after the writers I admire: Kathleen Woodiwiss, Dorothy Garlock, Julie Garwood. Their books were full of "earthiness," so mine were too, though not as well-done. I've tried to grow as a writer, to become more sophisticated and nuanced. It's hard to work, though, when it seems all anybody wants are "hotter" stories. And even though I've gone along to a degree, it's not comfortable. And I'm left with questions.

Do I continue to write in the secular vein or do I take my mother's advice and start writing "Christian" books? I know what that term means, but I'm not sure I like it. It feels exclusionary. Of course, Christians are told to be in the world but not part of the world. And if we are "in the world," aren't we experiencing exactly the same things as non-Christians? Shouldn't Christian writers be exploring those things? Even when it's not pretty?

So can a Christian woman write traditional romance, sex and all, and remain constant in her faith? Is there a line between traditional romances and those where you have to use the "words" and get them in the sack by page 20, sometimes three or four at a time? Or is romance just as "tacky" (as most romance writers have been told from time to time) as erotic works? Most important, what does God think? My aunt, the best Christian example I've ever known, once told my mother that the Bible has as much lust and sex than romance books. Seems like God isn't worried about exploring the earthier side of life.

Can you tell I'm still self-justifying?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

My mother taught me to love reading. She has been my biggest fan, even though at this point in her life, she has left behind the Lindsey's and Bertrice Small's she used to read for more spiritual fare, and wants me to move in the same direction. Which might be in my future if romance continues in the line it's been going. Another blog...

Mama was very young when I was born. That's the way things were in rural North Carolina in the mid-50's. Girls got married and started their families. Their young husbands worked hard in factories or on farms. All in all, it was a good life, but times changed. My mother, who only got her GED in her 50's, never questioned my drive to get a college education. She never questioned that I was capable of doing anything that I wanted to. Even when my dream was med school, I never heard "You can't do that." More importantly, when that dream gave way to others, she never criticized me for giving up.

My mother is not an educated woman, but she's probably one of the smartest people I know. There is nothing she could not have done with her life, so I'm even more grateful that she devoted that life to me and my sister and our father.

I sent her flowers for Mother's Day, but that's a teeny thing to do as thanks for such a gift as she has given me.

Thank you, Mama. I love you!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How Ozzy Saved my Sanity

No, not that Ozzy. This Ozzy is my baby, my 5-year-old Lhasa Apso. Honestly, he's the best dog I've ever had and that's saying something. He has even won over my husband--an otherwise perfect man--who didn't want a dog and is fervently looking forward to the day when there are no non-humans living in our house. "My goal is zero," he says. But, what husband/father/significant other has not wished that at one time or another after the promises of "we'll take care of the dog/cat/ferret (especially the ferret-but that's another blog)" have been forgotten? I have to say, in my defense, I do most of the Ozzy-care. And my husband was the one who let Ozzy start sleeping on our bed. I had him all trained to sleep in his crate. But I digress.

How did Ozzy save my sanity? I had a bout a few years ago with depression. Not enough to be debilitating, but I just didn't find much joy in anything. Except Ozzy. When I would get down, all I'd have to do was look at him. He's got the most wonderful eyes, deep brown and human-looking. A little spurt of happiness would well up in my heart and sometimes I would be brought to tears of joy and gratitude that God had brought him into my life. Lhasas' tails curl really tight and left to themselves, flower in a silky fur. When Ozzy chases a toy, his favorite game, his tail is like a pennant flying out behind him. He bounces as he runs, and when he gets to his toy too quickly, his front feet stop him, while his back legs bounce up off the ground. Yeah, he's cute.

He sticks with me, laying on his little cushion in my office while I work. He'll come over and sit at my feet, looking up at me with those wonderful eyes, patiently waiting for a scratch. He is a little demanding for his treats, and he's learned how to open the pantry door. "Come on, girl, come on. Get me a treat. That's a girl."

Pets are probably the nicest thing God ever did for us...second to saving us, that is. Thank you, Lord, for Ozzy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gray Sunday and I'm not writing

I've been told I'm a good writer. I actually do enjoy writing. Heck, I've won awards and my good reviews are way more numerous than the bad ones. My editors love me, my readers love me. So why am I not writing?
I could blame the new schedule I'm on--working full-time after 16 years part-time, but that's no good. Part of the deal was that I would use the extra time to write. My too-supportive husband believed me. Ha!
I could blame Spider Solitaire. Yeah, that's it. You know, I took the games off my old computer and found that it didn't make any difference. I still didn't write like I could have.
So, what does a writer do when she isn't writing? No, I don't mean how do I fill the time--that's not a problem, believe me. I'd love suggestions on this, but probably the best advice comes from the great Nora, I paraphrase: Put your butt in the chair and write. She also had better words of wisdom: I can fix a bad page, but I can't fix a blank one.
Well, there you go. All the writing advice you need in two pithy sentences.
Maybe I should take that advice and get to work!
Or should I go and water my plants?