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…never to forget your anniversary.

it won't go well for you

it won’t go well for you

Three things I’m grateful for:

  1. Sfogliatelle from Remo Borrachini’s bakery, and a hot cup of Lavazza coffee.
  2. Ski equipment experts who give you good advice at the ski swap.
  3. A husband who tries to do my hair when my arm is trashed.
cast by Swedish ER, hair by Jay

cast by Swedish ER, hair by Jay

What are you grateful for today?

I get a lot of e-mail via my web site. My readers are so funny, genuine, sincere and romantic. Like this one, from K.:

…I am a widow and my boyfriend (age 73) is also widowed..we both live in ______…we have been seeing each other for the past few months and just got back from Hawaii where every night he read to me from your books…how wonderful…he is now reading (to himself because we don’t live together) your new novel.  Hope one of your stories will get him to marry me!! 

How much do I love this woman? He should marry her immediately.

Win a trip to Willow Lake! I’m not kidding. Check it out here: http://www.eharlequin.com/swinvitation.html?swid=100006

Win a trip to Willow Lake!

NoveList logoNoveList logoNoveList is a service you can find at your local library. It’s a reading recommendation database most libraries subscribe to. You can enter the name of an author you like, and NoveList will recommend similar authors. It’s called a “Read-alike” page. You can access it from your library’s web site. Here’s the entry for yrs truly. I really like Lynne Welch’s insightful analysis. Thank you, Lynne, wherever you are!  NoveList logo

Susan Wiggs
by Lynne Welch


Genre: Contemporary Romances
Historical Romances
Women’s Lives and Relationships

Susan Wiggs tackles the tough issues, and she has the awards to prove it. Wiggs, winner of both the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award and the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, lives on an island in Puget Sound (Washington) settled by hardy immigrants who lived close to the land and appreciated its value, and many of her stories reflect that nature-centric culture in some way. Her special focus is a woman’s journey to self-awareness, usually within the context of a romance or at the very least, with a romantic subplot. Poignant and tender, her stories focus more on the sexual tension between characters than on its explicit physical resolution, and she describes any personality quirks sympathetically, inviting the reader to join her in gently laughing at the characters’ foibles and follies.

Her protagonists are invariably intelligent, socially awkward, emotionally vulnerable women with a strong core, self-reliant to a fault because they have never been able to depend on anyone else for their security, whether financial, physical, or emotional. By contrast, their male foils — and often nemeses, at least in the beginning — may be bad boys or pillars of the community, but all have generally grown up to be strong, self-confident men who enjoy the women in their lives even while they expect them to fall in line with their plans and their timetables. Wiggs employs character to good effect in building high-stakes conflict within the confines of these relationship dramas. Her readers care deeply about her characters, and Wiggs takes both readers and characters on an emotional roller-coaster ride as the novel develops. Although the storyline centers on the woman’s journey to growth and personal fulfillment, Wiggs enriches the experience by chronicling the perspectives of other male and female characters during pivotal scenes as well.

Setting varies across time and place as well as genre, but is generally limited to the United States in her more recent work. Her Contemporary Romance Lakeshore Chronicles series is set in a fictional small town of the New York Catskills region, while the Historical Romances which form the Calhoun Chronicles and the Chicago Fire series are set in pre-Civil War Virginia and late nineteenth-century Chicago, respectively. Others, such as her contemporary fiction stand-alone title The Ocean Between Us, are focused on Women’s Lives and Relationships and set in the Pacific Northwest. Whatever the location, setting plays an important role and is evocatively described in lush, vivid terminology, creating a world of color, sensation, smell and taste for the reader’s enjoyment.

Pacing is leisurely, as befits these explorations of self-awareness by the protagonists. In many cases, the issue they face is one of having been carried along unresisting on a tide of family and career obligations for too long without stopping to draw breath, and now they are faced with a turning point which offers them a choice. Then the conflict arises because they are not in the habit of examining their own motivations and expectations: Wiggs’s heroines are caught without a plan and must pause to re-group. Description of the interior landscape while the characters mentally thrash out their dilemmas is vivid as well, adding depth and extra dimension to these tales.

The Lakeshore Chronicles, starting with Summer at Willow Lake, are a good introduction to Wiggs’s work for any reader. Avalon, NY, is a former resort for the rich, and the Bellamy family’s long-vacant summer home is now being readied for a Golden Anniversary party. During the course of renovations, daughter Olivia and former bad boy Connor, now the contractor in charge of the project, meet again for the first time in years and, of course, immediately clash. This series has several older heroines struggling with their place in the world to interest readers who enjoy relationship dramas centered around Women’s Lives and Relationships, and the skillful melding of past and present may also intrigue readers of both Contemporary and Historical Romances.

Read-alikes:

Debbie Macomber is another author who writes Contemporary Romances and relationship dramas focused on women’s issues, with a very strong appreciation for the world around her as one of life’s blessings. Her long-running, immensely popular Cedar Cove Contemporary Romance series is set in a fictional small coastal town in Washington State, and each title in the series builds on previous installments but focuses on the lives and loves of mature residents. Start with 16 Lighthouse Road to read them in order. Readers who prefer more emphasis on Women’s Lives and Relationships may want to consider her Blosssom Street series, starting with The Shop on Blossom Street, in which Lydia Hoffman opens her yarn shop in Seattle and starts by teaching a class on How To Knit A Baby Blanket to three women.

Sherryl Woods writes stories of Women’s Lives and Relationships as well as Contemporary Romances centered on family life. She has a gift for capturing the ambiance of Southern living through her multi-faceted characters and her multi-dimensional storylines, all couched in a leisurely, evocative narration deeply appreciative of the loveliness afforded by the culture and landscape of the South. Suggest the Sweet Magnolias series for a heart-warming peek at the lives of three friends, all of whom have grown up together in the same small South Carolina town and now, as they approach 40, are blindsided by changes which will affect not only their own but their families’ and friends’ lives as well. In Stealing Home, the first in the trilogy, Maddie Townsend discovers that her husband has been cheating on her for years, and she’s the last to know. But kicking him out results in her children exhibiting behavioral problems, and when her oldest son starts skipping baseball practice and failing his classes, she finds herself turning to his coach for more than one reason.

Award winning author Deborah Smith is another author who writes Southern-set romantic novels of Women’s Lives and Relationships, but her stories focus on the proud people of Appalachia, their history-rich culture, and the mountains shaping their characters. Both Sweet Hush and The Crossroads Cafe would make good suggestions for fans of Wiggs. In the humorous, easygoing story of Sweet Hush, Hush McGillan lost her husband a long time ago, and now with her children grown she is ready for a second love. By contrast, the emotionally riveting Crossroads Cafe introduces Cathryn and Thomas, both grieving recent losses. Cathryn’s cousin Delta, along with various other supporting characters, uses tactics ranging from the pathetic (requiring their support), to the strident (annoying them into making an effort) to prod them into living and loving again.

JoAnn Ross is well known for her Romantic Suspense, but she also writes emotional tales of Women’s Lives and Relationships. Homeplace and its sequel, Far Harbor, are set in the picturesque, unspoiled small town of Coldwater Cove, Washington. Sheriff Jack O’Halloran and corporate attorney Raine Cantrell tangle for the first time over the fate of her grandmother Ida’s three foster children when Ida ends up in the hospital with dizzy spells. Together with her free-spirited New Age mother Lilith and half-sister Savannah Townsend, Raine must propitiate the judge and welfare worker, while riding herd on three teenagers not predisposed to trust any adult, and dealing with Jack’s unsubtle attempts to involve her in a relationship. A romantic subplot featuring Lilith and Cooper Ryan, the forester who arrests her for indecent exposure when she and her coven celebrate Beltane by dancing around a fire in an old-forest area of the Olympic National Park, adds another layer of complexity to the storyline.

Jerri Corgiat‘s O’Malley sisters series provide another good match for readers who enjoy the women’s emotional journeys in which Wiggs specializes. From the first pages of Sing Me Home, when Corgiat introduces the entertaining, exasperating antics of the O’Malley family and the small town laid-back atmosphere of Cordelia, nestled in the picturesque Missouri Ozarks, the reader is steeped in the mystique of the country-rock music scene, contrasted with the down home practicality of a family trying hard just to make ends meet. Jonathan Van Castle is used to being recognized, admired, and pursued, and it’s a real let-down when Lily isn’t at all impressed. But between his estranged children and her meddling family — not to mention his best friend Zeke, the bass player in his band — he soon realizes that Lily has what he wants most: true love, a home, and a family. Lily, on the other hand, is not yet ready to re-enter life, preferring to sequester herself in her late husband’s bookstore in an attempt to carry on his dream, and this story details her journey to self-awareness and a new level of maturity.

Lynne Welch is an Ohio librarian specializing in Readers’ Advisory and Electronic Reference Services.

Sometimes fiction is the best revenge. Please enjoy this video and guest post from one of my favorite writers, Sheila Roberts:

Writing as Revenge by Sheila Roberts

I think the best book ideas come from a real life experiences. And some of the most irritating experiences can provide the best material. If I hadn’t been irritated with my husband, I never would have come up with the idea for my new book On Strike for Christmas about a group of friends who go on strike to gain more appreciation over the holidays–with near disastrous results.
On Strike for Christmas     My  husband was grumbling about having to spend yet another holiday with my big, loud family and I had just had it. What was his problem, anyway? He’d been doing this for years. Now that I think about it, maybe that was his problem. The poor man spends more time with his in-laws than his own family. But when I made my threat I wasn’t thinking so rationally. “I’m going to put you in a book,” I threatened.
     He just laughed.
     Until I actually did it. And once I got rolling I’d give him regular reports. “Your nickname is now Bob Humbug.”
     “Ha! I like it.”
     The members of my critique group liked it, too, although they began to wonder about one of the couples in the book, Bob and Joy, who were modeled after my husband and myself. I even began to wonder myself – not about Bob and Joy, but about Sheila and her husband – when we’d discuss the book and I’d hear comments like, “This marriage is in serious trouble.”
     I’d think, It is? Oh, no! We’ve been married for years and we’re in trouble and we don’t even know it!
     Fortunately, I was eventually able to sort fact from fiction.  My husband had his own identity crisis once he had a chance to see an early copy of the book. Suddenly it wasn’t quite so funny being the prototype for a naughty husband. He returned one afternoon from his work commute, holding the book and looking like the personification of Elvis’s “Blue Christmas”. “Am I really that bad?” he asked.author Sheila Robert
     It was my golden opportunity to say, “Yes! That’s why you’re in a book, you big turkey.” But I didn’t have the heart. My Bob Humbug is really a sweet guy with a very tender heart, and he looked so darned sad I simply couldn’t do it. He had obviously learned his lesson, so I assured him that fiction often requires some over the top writing. (And there is plenty of that in this story.)
     Still, he took the underlying message to heart, and now, like Scrooge, he’s a changed man. And he’s given the story an enthusiastic thumbs up. He’s even planning on making guest appearances at my book signings. So there’ll be no Christmas strike at our house this year, just a lot of fun as we celebrate both the holidays (with my family, of course!) and the release of my first novel with St. Martin’s Press.

Publishers Weekly loves this book as much as Debbie Macomber and I do. From the PW review:

Roberts’s sweetly vengeful dig at do-nothing husbands follows a smalltown knitting club of wives who are sick and tired of toiling over elaborate Christmas preparations that their husbands don’t appreciate. As they go on strike, the women try to stay in solidarity, while the husbands plan retaliation at the hardware store. Roberts revels in detailing the husbands’ awkward, often disastrous handling of tasks their wives habitually do for Christmas (taking the kids to see Santa, planning the party, doing up the house). By the end of this gently feminist sendup, each side learns to be grateful for the other’s efforts.

I didn’t know them, but their story has a kind of happy ending: 

 

Kathleen Florence Kane Rogers, age 94, and Bruce Harris Rogers, age 93, died peacefully in their home on Friday June 15. They were residents of Bainbridge Island since 2003.

Kathleen was born July 12, 1912, in Vancouver, B.C., the only child of Northern Irish parents Emily Kane and Daniel Long Hanna. She grew up in Victoria B.C. and moved to Tacoma, Washington as a teenager. She attended the University of Washington and then Cornish School as an art history major.

Bruce was born October 16, 1913 in Toronto, Kansas to Clarence and Minnie Rogers, both school teachers. The family moved to Seattle in 1927. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1930 and the University of Washington Law School in 1937.

They were married in 1937 in Seattle, moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and then to Portland Oregon. They returned to Seattle where they lived with their family for 40 years on the shores of Haller Lake. After retirement they moved to Edmonds where Kathleen became an active member of the Friends of the Edmonds Library and the Historical Society where she served as a docent for many years.

They leave two sons, Michael of Bainbridge and John of Silverdale, 6 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren. Kathleen and Bruce recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary surrounded by family and friends.

At their request there will be no services; a family memorial gathering will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Bainbridge Library or Helpline House.

My favorite part of the blog is the comments. Take a gander at this super-romantic story from Terri Farrell, a long-distance friend and fellow writer. Scroll down to the bottom of this post. Terri, you are one lucky woman.

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