I need to be around readers, especially those who love the Romance genre as much as I do. It is easy to trivialize what I do. Reading for pleasure in a world full of problems? Ha!

But then I connect with readers who value feeding the imagination, who believe reading makes their individual worlds better . . . and I feel my spirit lighten as well.

I met such a crowd of readers at the Durham County Library in an autumn golden Durham, NC. Fifty of us got together for the “Fall Into Romance” one day funshop (as opposed to workshop) organized by the librarians. I was joined by a firecracker of a writer, Farrah Rochon. Farrah’s series about football players had the attendees who had read them begging for information on when the next book was coming out. Plus, the excellent, excellent Carla Neggers was also speaking on Romantic Suspense. She was funny and wise. Also on the program was Sarah Frantz, editor at Riptide Publishing and former president of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance

And then there was me. I spoke on the “Five Things About Life I have Learned Writing Romance Novels.” Not a pithy title.

The crowd enjoyed asking questions, but I was the end of the day and they were growing tired. Time to go home. This was the first time I’d given this talk and I couldn’t gauge whether or not I was making sense or being useful until–

–At the end of my presentation a woman pulled me aside. She was around my age and she had the biggest smile. She was almost giddy. “I’m going to tell him,” she confided. “I heard what you said about speaking up and saying instead of just thinking. There is a man who I know likes me. He takes me to dinner but we never say anything about ourselves. But when you said that a person needs to speak up, I realized it is time I tell him how I feel.”

How brave is that?

My heart swelled in that moment. I write Romance because I truly do believe in the power of meaningful, loving relationships. I also know how much courage it takes to speak first, to say the words out loud. I have no doubt she is doing the right thing and will be met with love in return.

So, here they are—the five things I’ve learned:

  1. Life is meant to be an adventure. Yes, every single day.
  2. Trust your instincts. Be genuine to yourself.
  3. Love is better as a verb than when it is used as a noun.
  4. It isn’t easy to speak up, but it is the only way to live.
  5. Love is commitment.

PS–A BIG thank  you to Jennifer Lohmann and the other librarians for organizing this event.  The library was busy that day.  They had a YA author speaking as well.  I love active libraries.

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