I love so many types of romance novels that I didn’t believe I had a favorite romance trope. There are too many to choose from including: Friends to Lovers, Soul Mate/Fated Love, Second Chance at Love/Reunited Lovers, Love Triangle, Sexy Billionaire, Secret Baby, Enemies to Lovers, Fake Romance/Marriage of Convenience, Sassy Heroine, Opposites Attract, Forbidden Love, etc.
To make things more complicated, most authors—including myself—use two or more tropes in one book!
Since I was asked to choose one, I have to admit that my all-time, favorite trope is Forbidden Love aka Star-Crossed Lovers. I have a lot of reasons for my choice, but they all stem back to one book: Wuthering Heights.
When I found that book in High School, I read it in one sitting. I remember sitting on the couch, during a snow storm, with a cup of hot chocolate. It’s hard to explain the emotional and physical changes I went through while reading that book. But I do know that when I sat down I was a fifteen-year-old girl. When I got up, I was a young woman. Wuthering Heights showed me that books could carry far more emotions in a far more satisfying manner than I’d ever realized.
I then went on to find other books with that same type of emotional resonance, and came up with a too-short list. Not long after that, with the help of a friendly librarian, I discovered Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. While that was more of an enemies-to-friends/marriage-of-convenience book, it became a full-blown Star-Crossed Lovers story at the black moment. That was my first true romance novel and from that moment I was hooked.
What is it about this trope that draws me close every time I write a new book?
Every day I see or hear something that makes me think “What if…?” and asking those questions leads me to an idea for a scene, description, or even an entire book! I’m blessed to be working with a young man with Asperger’s who dreams of publishing a book. His creativity and excitement inspire me greatly. When I’m writing, I’m transported to a different time or place and get to live vicariously through my characters. How can I not be inspired when I can be anyone, anywhere, at any time?
What Are the Top Five Things That Inspire Me?
Like most of us who read or write romance, Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart. There have been those holidays when I spent them with a significant other, and some where I spent the day watching my children open candy hearts or going out to dinner with family to celebrate love. I always enjoy a day filled with the joy of romance, and there are some books and films that encompass that joy for me more than others.
So, what 5 books and movies are on my must-have list for Valentine’s Day?
Thanks for letting me share some fun books and movies to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
He slowly saunters to a chair and sits with legs spread, his gun within easy reach. I’d like to see his silvery gray eyes, but the brim of his Stetson hides them. I’ve heard they’re quite startling. Some have called them quicksilver. There’s an air of danger about him that I find very attractive. I’ve always been drawn to bad boys.
My heart is racing like a herd of wild horses.
Anyway, in my crazy job list, I’ve worked as a bingo caller/activities director for dementia patients, a phlebotomist (aka a real life vampire), an adjunct English and business professor, and a professional bellydancer (and instructor) all before settling on romance author. Sound kooky enough?
So how does my experience as a dancer have anything to do with my writing? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Here’s 4 ways being a professional bellydancer prepares you to be a romance author:
1. You’re used to performing in front of large crowds of people
Sure, when you write a book you’re not technically standing in front of an audience, but if you plan to publish that book, you might as well be. In time, that book will reach readers and that’s when the performance really begins. Every time I sit down to write a new book in my Seven Range Shifter series, where the sexy heroes are cowboys by day, wolf shifters by night, I try to keep that performance aspect (aka what my readers would love to see in mind). It’s that mentality of performing for your audience of readers that helped create some of my favorite moments in my newest release, book 3 in the Seven Range Shifter series, Wicked Cowboy Wolf. Like an adorable teacup pig by the name of Tucker who I just know readers are going to love (and who, by the way, is real and owned by my mother).
2. You’ve learned to accept criticism with grace.
Not everyone is going to love your books, the same way everyone is not going to love every dance you do, every costume you wear, every prop you add to your performance, every song you choose—and you learn that that’s okay. Your books (or your performance art) shouldn’t be for everyone. You find your audience. Not everyone will love the idea of cowboy wolves or paranormal romance with a western twist, though I certainly do, but if you’re the type of reader who loves dark, sexy paranormal romances ala JR Ward with a hint of occasional witty banter, and you don’t mind a western twist being thrown in, you might love my cowboy wolves too ;-)
3. You know how to be devoted to constantly bettering your craft.
I strive for every book to be better than my last, just like a performer is constantly working to maintain, hone, and perfect dance skills. I used to spend hours practicing certain moves for my bellydance performances, now its hours perfecting my craft and writing skills via workshops, podcasts, tutorials, etc.
4. You’re used to people looking down on or not approving of what you do.
Just as we romance readers have all heard that our genre is little more than bodice-ripping guilty pleasures (newsflash: it’s not- it’s smart, feminist fiction written by, for, and about women), bellydancers hear all the time that they are little more than glorified strippers (newsflash: they’re not, it’s a legitimate dance form deep rooted in Middle Eastern culture, and legitimate dancers keep their clothes on at all times). Haters might hate, no matter whether you’re a romance author or a bellydancer, but we here at Romance Reads know that when you can find your own personal happily-ever-after, whether it be in the pages of a steamy romance novel like Wicked Cowboy Wolf, or on the performance stage at Ali Baba House of Kabobs, you deserve that little bit of happiness for yourself.
Dance on and read on, Romancelandia!
Hi, I’m Teri Anne Stanley, and I’m addicted to soup.
Is there anything better on a frigid winter day than hot homemade soup? Is there anything worse than waiting for homemade soup to be…soup?
I’ve found a compromise between less-than-satisfying stuff from a can and takes-all-day stuff with a ton of chopping and waiting. This still takes an hour or so for the flavors to meld, but you don’t have to wait foreverrrrrr, and it’s seriously easy to prep.
Spicy (or not) Sausage Vegetable Soup
2 pounds of spicy breakfast sausage (or the regular mild kind, if you prefer)
1 big can of V-8
2 cans of beef broth
3-4 12 oz bags of frozen vegetables…whatever you prefer. I usually use a bag of mixed corn, peas, green beans, carrots, and then a couple of bags of other stuff…more green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, some other mixtures…
Get a big ol’ soup pot out and fire up the stove.
Start with the sausage—break it into bit-sized bits as it cooks.
Dump in the whole danged can of V-8 (get another can if you plan to drink Bloody Marys while the soup gets going).
Add the broth, bay leaf, a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce, and the veggies.
Cook on medium heat until it begins to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 45-60 minutes (although, of course, it never gets worse if it cooks longer). If it’s too thick, you can always add more broth—and if you want to add more veggies, go right ahead!
All About My Dogs by Mara Wells
My mom was a dog breeder—rottweilers and pugs during my childhood––so I’ve pretty much always had dogs around me. Right now, I live with two dogs—a poodle-mix named Houdini Beauregarde and a chihuahua-mix named Sheba Reba Rita Peanut. Both are rescues. I met Houdini at a restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale where his foster mom had brought him to socialize. He was such a gentleman that he stole my heart. Our Australian Shepherd had passed away two years prior, and my husband and I had agreed not to get another dog because the pain of losing her had been so awful. Houdini changed our minds and has brought much joy to our lives.
Sheba came to us as a foster. I was doing a favor for a rescue organization. Sheba was scheduled to be put down on Friday, and the person who wanted to rescue her couldn’t get to the Miami area until Monday. My job was to pick up Sheba at the shelter and keep her for the weekend until the rescue volunteer could pick her up. Monday turned into Wednesday, and Wednesday turned into a week and a week turned into forever because we decided to adopt her ourselves.
Although they got off to a rough start, Houdini and Sheba are now the very best of friends. Sheba takes her job of lizard patrol very seriously, and Houdini acts as her back-up barker for all security related activities. They both love snuggling and eating carrots, not necessarily in that order.
The poodle, LouLou, in Cold Nose, Warm Heart is of course inspired by Houdini, but LouLou is her own dog. Although LouLou has Houdini’s sweetness and Sheba’s love of licking people, her adventurous nature that sends her roaming from home is all her own.
Lady, the black Lab, is LouLou’s best dog friend in Cold Nose, Warm Heart and will appear in future books as well. Lady is the grand dame of the neighborhood, beloved by canines and humans alike. She enjoys head pats and being told how good she is.
My favorite HEA? My own, of course!
Unlike the characters in WHITEOUT, I didn’t have to cross the frozen tundra or fight off bad guys for my happily ever after, but I did have to work for it.
The night I met Le Husband, I was pretty sure he was The One. He let me trim his beard at a dinner party, I skipped home at 4 am, told my mom about him the next day, and broke it off with my then-boyfriend. Instalove is real.
Things went quickly from there—we went on a date, we kissed…and then nothing. He was late for the next date, cancelled the one after. I know, I know, unacceptable behavior from a romance hero. BUT… I decided he was worth pursuing. So I did a weird thing. I sent him a postcard, asking him to dinner at my place. He could RSVP by text only. He showed up that night--on time!—had a bowl of my famous First Date Soup (curried sweet potato) and we’ve been together ever since.
Today, my HEA is living on the coast of France with my 6 foot five French artist husband and our two kids. I followed my heart and it paid off, big time.
Beyond my own, my favorite HEAs are the ones you have to fight for, the ones that drag you down before lifting you to such great heights that you hardly remember the depths. I want HEAs that happen because the characters WANT them, fight for them tooth and nail, not because it’s easy to wind up together.
Here are a few of my favorite, hard-won Happily Ever Afters:
Sandra Brown, Chill Factor. Sandra Brown is an absolute master at making readers think there’s no way the love story will work. And, somehow, it does. Somehow, the guy you’re the most afraid of, the one person who couldn’t possibly wind up being the good guy in the end…IS the good guy. Her HEAs are hard won and hard to believe and, always absolutely perfect.
Karen Rose’s No One Left to Tell is a harrowing, non-stop, edge-of-your seat read. The ending left me blinking and breathless and ready to move on to the next story.
Every book in Katie Ruggle’s Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue Series features lovers who fight hard for their HEA. I’ve never rooted so hard for a heroine to get her hero in the end and never been so happy when she does.
Rebecca Zanetti’s HIDDEN gives us a cast of characters so vivid, so real and eccentric, that we can’t help but swoon when they finally get theirs in the end.
2020 Covers: January—June
Happy 2020 Romance Read-ers! Who wants to see covers for all of our books releasing between January and June? Keep scrolling to see what is coming at you in the first half of 2020.
Stay tuned for a second round of incredible 2020 covers for the second half of the year!