This month was supposed to be all about Romance on my blog, and yet we've had another mass school shooting in the US, and in Canada, we've had two murderers of two Indigenous young people get off scott free through legal loopholes, and it's hard to write about frilly, lovey-dovey stuff right now.
So, I give you a totally gratuitous picture of our dogs; Valour on the left and Apollo on the right. Because with the heartache of the school killings and the court cases, I just can't bring myself to chat about romantic love as though there's nothing bad going on in the world.
If you're a dog lover you know they give you unconditional love. They're yours forever and all they ask is to be taken care of and be part of your life. And as pet owners we take on the responsibility of providing food, shelter, and comfort/care for them for life.
Humans are generally not well equipped in the "unconditional love" department. We're not brought up to give that kind of love by our parents, teachers and society, and as people we usually fail at giving it.
In fact, I've been at a wedding where the vows were "as long as we both shall love...", instead of "as long as we both shall live...". Well, that's a marriage doomed to failure! Because I think God designed us this way, but humans don't usually get past the "unconditional love" test without a certain amount of grit, determination, and sheer perseverance and stubbornness.
We know in our heads that love is a feeling, and feelings come and go. Feelings can also be recreated given the proper motivation and desire. But the WILL to love and keep on doing the right thing even when you don't feel like it, is where the heart of the matter falls. It's our WILL to be loving, to keep loving someone who's fallen sick, who's being unloving, who's grieving, who's failed at work, who's failed us, that is the true test of love.
Yes, most romance novels cover the romantic relationship of falling in love, and the "happily-ever-after" of the decision to start a life together and/or get married is at the end of the book. We read them by the score (and we also write them!) because we want to read about a couple overcoming adversity for the HOPE of being together through thick and thin. For the HOPE of happiness and a life together worth living. And in writing their stories we are reminded that perseverance, commitment, and yes, stubbornness are requirements for true love.
We CAN find the will to change, to love unconditionally, to persevere. We can bring HOPE to our communities, to our families, to our children. There is HOPE because God designed us to love ourselves and our neighbors. And He spelled out who our neighbor is just in case we couldn't figure it out on our own = Everyone else.
LAURIE: Patti Jo Moore, I'm so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book, A Seaside Romance, and your writing journey. First of all, can you tell us a bit about the book and what inspired you to write this story?
Thank you, Laurie. I'm thrilled to be visiting your wonderful blog today - and this is my very first interview as a published author! A Seaside Romance is the story of a young woman trying to put her painful past behind her as she moves from her home in South Georgia to Florida to assist her aunt in running a gift shop. She meets a handsome businessman who also has pain in his past, and a relationship develops. But they are both guarding their hearts, so there are concerns and doubts (including a very tense scene toward the end). But I love happy endings, so this story has one!
I was inspired to write this story after visiting the Florida panhandle area for a "girlfriends" trip with my four best friends. I kept thinking about the gorgeous beach and water, and what a great setting it would be for a romance. This story formed in my mind, so I began writing it. The more I wrote, the more I loved the characters.
LAURIE: And I understand this is just the first book you have coming out with Forget-Me-Not Romances?
Yes, I was blessed to sign a 3-book contract, so this book is the first in my "Emerald Coast Romances" series. Book 2 will be An Unexpected Romance, and Book 3 will be In Tune With Romance. All three stories are set in the same fictional town on the Florida panhandle coast, but feature different main characters.
LAURIE: What was the process for getting together with Forget-Me-Not Romances?
I'd heard of the Forget-Me-Not Romances and began reading them. When I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2016, on my first night there I encountered three different authors who suggested I talk to the Forget-Me-Not publisher. I wondered then if the Lord was nudging me toward that line. Later at the conference one of the authors introduced me to the publisher and she was very encouraging. I didn't actually send her one of my stories until the Fall of 2017, and was thrilled when she offered me a contract in late November!
LAURIE: Have you always written romances or did you write in other genres as well?
I've only written romances (both contemporary and historical) but I plan on writing some children's books too. Historical romance is my very favorite genre to read, so I've got some ideas brewing for more of those also.
LAURIE: Are there any authors who've influenced you in your writing? Do you have any particular favorite authors?
I have so many favorite authors! But my very favorite authors are Tamera Alexander, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Deborah Raney, Sharlene MacLaren, and Tina Radcliffe. I love their style of writing and am blessed to call each of these ladies a friend.
LAURIE: How long has it taken you to get published?
Close to eight years. Due to severe back/spinal issues I had to retire from my kindergarten teaching job, so I saw this as the Lord opening the door for my writing. But when I had four major surgeries (within 8 days!) I had to put my writing on hold and focus on recovering. Then both my daughters had big weddings a year apart, and I was super busy with those. So, in 2012 I really began focusing again on my writing and learning all I could to make my stories stronger.
LAURIE: What advice would you give yourself back when you first started out, knowing now what you didn't know then?
I'd tell myself that my stories MUST have more conflict! The first writing I did hardly contained any conflict at all - which most likely is due to the fact I'd worked with young children and wanted everyone to "get along".
LAURIE: What hobbies do you like to do when you're not writing? And is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about you and your work?
I love working on my needlepoint, playing my piano, reading, and I also have several ministry project I enjoy. I especially love spending time with family and friends - including my sweet grand baby who was born last July. I'm also a "Cat Mom" to lots of sweet, pampered kitties.
I hope my readers will enjoy my first book and future stories I write. When people ask me what I write, I tell them "Sweet Southern Stories" that feature a faith message (but don't preach). I'd also like to add that I love connecting with readers and have a Facebook page at Author Patti Jo Moore.
LAURIE: And finally, what's your perfect idea of a Valentine's Day date?
Enjoying a yummy steak dinner and then visiting a book store!
LAURIE: Thank you, Patti Jo, for visiting today. And everyone who leaves a comment will be entered in to a draw for TWO copies of Patti Jo's book A SEASIDE ROMANCE...so, tell us readers, what's YOUR idea of the perfect Valentine's Day date?
When we were "young marrieds" my husband commuted to work out of town and I stayed home with our two special needs kiddos. Our address was RR#2 and I had no car at the time, so back in this Pleistocene era before the internet and cell phones, my only social interactions took place by telephone.The landline kind, that hung on your kitchen wall.
My father-in-law, God bless him, used to phone me at lunch time once in a while, "just to check in" and see how I was doing during the day, and one day - the day AFTER Valentine's Day - he got more than he bargained for, poor man.
"Paul completely forgot Valentine's Day!" I wailed, "I didn't get a card or anything!" Tears, drama, hiccups.
"Valentine's Day? It was Valentine's Day?" said my father-in-law. "I guess I didn't get Mum anything either, then."
"WHAT?" I started to realize where my beloved might have gotten his forgetful genes from, "how can you possibly forget Valentine's Day? There's decorations all over the mall he eats lunch at every DAY!" (I was quite dramatic, as I recall) "It's on the radio, there's chocolate boxes on display in every grocery store - how can any man forget Valentine's Day???"
"Now, Laurie," my father-in-law put on his best "I'm about to teach you a valuable lesson on marriage" voice, "that stuff is great when you're dating or engaged but it has nothing to do with being married. Paul loves you and you shouldn't need a card to prove it to you."
I don't exactly remember how the rest of the conversation went but I know there was more "lesson-chatting". And certainly, that was early on in our marriage and we've been married thirty years now. I've come to realize there ARE more important things than Valentine's cards. (In fact, Paul's given me many beautiful cards over the years.)
Which made me think this week, of all the "unromantic" things he's done - some of them many, many times - which have proven to be more loving and romantic than any dozen roses, or chocolates, or Valentine cards could ever be.
I know I've matured since we got married and so has he, thank goodness! And I treasure the cards he's given me, signed "Longrifle" as well as just "Paul". But I'm happy to say that the "unromantic" gestures mean even more to me than the big romantic splurges because they mean he's paying attention to me on a day to day basis. He's being kind, he's being thoughtful. And he can still surprise me!
All of those things are the "glue" that hold a marriage together. They're the characteristics of a true hero - the kind of romance hero we love to write in our books. The quiet guy who faithfully does the right thing, day in and day out. Who perseveres, who does the morally right but difficult thing, who doesn't give in to temptation. That's the "Warrior" archetype.
What "unromantic" things does your Guy do for you in your relationship? What are the little things you cherish about him? Please share!
Speaking of Valentine's Day, we're going to have Patti Jo Moore here to dish with us about her new release, there'll be a giveaway, and you can ask her whatever you desire about her writer journey and her book! Save the date!
It's February so we're going to be talking about Romance all month here on my blog and I thought I'd start off by sharing my personal love of THE most romantic movie of all time here...unequivocably, absolutely, stay-with-you-for-life romantically movie...
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
It was 1992 and Daniel Day-Lewis strode onto the screen as the adopted son of the last two Mohicans who were trying to stay out of the French/English/Indian war tearing apart Colonial American in 1757. They rescue two English girls and try to take them across country to their father who commands an English fort and keep them out of enemy Indian hands. Magwa has sworn to kill the eldest daughter because her father has killed his son.
It's the frontier and things happen quickly - so does falling in love under life and death scenarios. And the famous waterfall scene, where the lovers have to part - who can forget Day-Lewis's famous line? "Stay alive! Do whatever it takes, but stay Alive! I will find you!" And Cora, believing him, we can see her trust written all over her face, nods as he presses his forehead to hers, then jumps out and over the waterfall in order to save himself and rescue her another day. The girls are taken into enemy Indian custody, and Day-Lewis and his brother Uncas regroup to rescue them further on the trail.
That scene is etched into every woman's brain who ever saw the movie, I'm convinced of it. Powerful, raw emotion in the acting and in the script writing. As a method actor, Day-Lewis was a master of the pause, the lightest of facial expressions to portray emotion. Every woman in the theatre wanted to be Cora and have him find her again.
At the time we'd been married four years and had our first child. I loved the movie so much we went to see it again.
My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law were teasing us at Sunday lunch because paying to see a movie twice seemed to be a bit of overkill to them. And my husband was teasing me about being so over-the-moon with a fictional character. (Outlander was years away from coming to screen!)
So, I asked him, "You say you love me, but would you jump over a waterfall for me?"
And I think he said something like, "Are you serious?"
Of course, I was deadly serious. Wedding vow serious. So, I asked him again. And everyone in the kitchen was looking at him.
He looked at me and said "Yes, I would. I really think I would." Which was reassuring, of course, but think about it. How many times do we think about actually doing a heroic, personal living sacrifice for our beloved? Back in the 1700's, 1800's, and early 1900's, those things happened. Life and death situations were common place and a man or woman's character was clearly displayed by how they reacted to such a situation.
These days, we read about heroes and heroines doing these things in our romance fiction but could we really do the same for our spouses in real life? Could we sacrifice ourselves by letting them survive if we couldn't in a house fire? Or getting them and the kids out of a car in an accident even if it means we're going to die? Do we even think in terms of these things these days?
I'm betting we don't...
In the years since, my husband has signed his birthday and anniversary cards to me as "Longrifle" because that was Day-Lewis's character's nickname in the movie. We've never forgotten that conversation. And when we saw "Titanic", the whole subject came up again. Personal life and death sacrifice for a loved one. Could we leave the other behind in a lifeboat?
"Titanic"'s moral quandary really bothered me until we took a cruise in 2003. The first thing they do when they get you on board is get you to your muster stations, with life jackets and put you through a lifeboat drill. Which was comforting! But I knew standing there on the deck, holding hands with my husband, that my children would be well looked after and that there was no way I'd get in a life boat and leave my husband behind. I was able to put that dilemma to bed in my mind and enjoy the cruise.
Does romantic fiction involve life and death scenarios for you? Do you enjoy the basic elements of passion based on such raw emotion? Have you ever dreamed of a hero who would face death to come back for you, no matter what it cost him?
Please share what movies you love that evoke these kinds of
storylines and what makes it an all-time romance movie for you.
Who's the ultimate romantic movie hero for you?
I'm a military wife who's raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. We've lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When I'm not writing, I can be found spinning, knitting, and hanging out with my dogs.