Why read wholesome romance? An author’s perspective

Most of my friends don’t read the romance genre, for whatever reason, so I’m not soaked with discussions on why we read it. I surprised myself by writing a romance with Waiting for Sparks, but I can say I love how it turned out. When I read this older post from 

Varena Denam, I liked her take on explaining why people enjoy reading wholesome romance.


It’s about hope.

My first books published were middle grade novels–The S.A.V.E. Squad–and each one of them also were stories of “I hope”. So I guess it doesn’t matter what genre I write in, I will have an underscore of hope. It’s kind of how I roll and reflects my worldview with God in it as Friend and Savior. Enjoy her brief article.

May the Fourth be with You

Summertime read – hammock optional

Let the Fourth be with You!


Here in the United States, July Fourth will soon arrive in varying shades of heat. It will be a long weekend of camping, cooking out, and friends and family. Some time also, I hope, spent in reflecting that we have the freedoms we do and the people who died to give them to us. Since my book Waiting for Sparks is set around July Fourth and tells how the town celebrates with its Jamboree, my small town doings are fresh in my mind.


When I was growing up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, our village had a Memorial Day parade, and as a younger kid, I rode my bike in the parade. Anyone else ever do that?


The day before, my sisters and friends would decorate our bikes in red, white, and blue crepe paper woven into the spokes, fluttering off the handlebars, off the seat, and anywhere else we could find room. Those with advanced technical skill used clothespins to attach playing cards or baseball cards on the spokes for that special sound effect.


The parade began at one end of town (or behind the school that was grades Kindergarten through 12th grade) and travelled up through Hudson Street, past the bunting-hung white bandstand where later in the summer, band concerts would be held, and end up at the town cemetery on the outskirts.


2015-06-15 15.06.14
Me on the 4-H float

Other years, I danced my way with the Florence LaPoint School of Dance or marched with my 4-H club in the green and white uniform and hat. (One year, I rode the float!) I found a photo the other day while repurposing my office. Hooray—just in time for this post.


We had marching bands in wool uniforms, a high-stepping drum majorette, melting mascara from the high school girls in the parade, old cars and waving dignitaries, and veterans marching in their respective military branch uniforms. Yes, many of them still fit into them!


Regardless of the country you live in, I hope you find celebrations to savor.

Oh, happy day! Waiting for Sparks is out in the world

My first women's fiction - out June first.
My first women’s fiction

A story idea from standing on the shore of Bear Lake in Utah is now a book to read and savor. If you like women who mess up and yet don’t give up–at least not forever–and heroes that miss it sometimes, then you will enjoy Waiting for Sparks. When Emma first walked into my mind, I saw her with so much inside her ready to come out. Sparks leaped into my head and I loved him instantly. Imperfect and so easy to look at, he wants more than his jet-setting life as a fireworks designer. Oh, and there’s a border collie in the story, too. What’s not to like?

Read the back cover copy below and see what you think. Once you’ve read it and liked it (see, I’m assuming you will), I’d love you to write a review SOMEWHERE.

And now, Waiting for Sparks

Sometimes love is right in front of you 

Emma Chambers wasn’t supposed to be spending July Fourth rescuing a handsome stranger and the holiday festival. New to town Doug “Sparks” Turner has an important job to do, yet it’s Emma who’s feeling the heat. No way the roving fireworks designer is the man she’s been waiting for, right?

Helping Emma makes Sparks long to name this his permanent home. Too bad Emma isn’t staying, especially given the life-changing secret she’s discovered. What Sparks is hiding could also keep him from earning Emma’s trust. Unless he can make her see that he’s a man worth taking a chance on.

Grandma takes a trip

Write as if you’re this character:

This wasn’t my idea in the first place. I don’t like being around people, especially family. But here I was, on my way to a small island in the Mediterranean. Did I mention that I am terrified of flying? So I spent my time on this 10-hour plane trip, saying empty greetings and pointless conversations to my many head-ache-causing relatives (and, of course, using the handy, white, paper bags in the pocket in front of me.)


So, what could have happened?

So, what could have happened because of what this guy already knows?

He pushed the squeaky door open, and glanced around, aware of the things that could have happened.


Twist & Jump

Read the statement below. Start writing with the first ideas you get. After that, ask questions. “What’s the first emotional mood I thought of with this?” Then, ask yourself, “Okay, what could the opposite of this mean?” “How could it affect my character for good?” “How could it affect my character for bad?”

Write a conversation, an interior monologue, a scene.

“They know I’ll be with them right until the very end.”

Character Quotation jump: Listen hard…

Select the character least likely to want to do what the quote below suggests. Ask them questions about why they are resistant to this? Who might they know who would do something like this. What do they think of them?

“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” –Anne Sexton

“It’s too hard”…the what, the how, the why

Note from the me: I think this blog that I guested over at Routines for Writers is valuable enough to repost on my site. I think you can read this and insert your own “hard” spots. Read on.

“It’s too hard.”

That sentence has come out of my mouth too many times over the summer. Probably beginning before summer, if I’m honest. It’s time to deal with it. Guest blogging for Kitty provides an opportunity to explore what I’m actually saying, why I say it, and so what anyway?

The premise: writing is hard

  • I don’t finish ______ (insert “scene,” “book,” “rewrite,”) because it’s hard.
  • Getting the scene to run free but not too free is hard.
  • Taking the critique is hard.
  • Dealing with the “no thanks” from an editor is hard.
  • Getting some buzz about my ms without a contract is hard.
  • Making myself sit down consistently when I’d rather ride my bike, learn to make vinegar, or play with my friends, is hard.


What if it IS hard?


And what if it simultaneously means being hard isn’t bad, evil, miserable, or impossible?

“Precise language,” if you please

With a nod to The Sound of Music, I started “at the very beginning; a very good place to start.” I reviewed the definition of “hard,” all the while thinking of The Giver by Lois Lowry and the community rule to use “precise language.”

HARD:  as listed on Dictionary.com :difficult to do or accomplish; fatiguing; troublesome: a hard task.
4. difficult or troublesome with respect to an action, situation, person, etc.: hard to please; a hard time.
5. difficult to deal with, manage, control, overcome, or understand: a hard problem.
6. involving a great deal of effort, energy, or persistence: hard labor; hard study.

That definition sounds like writing, doesn’t it? Synopses may be difficult to deal with, characters are hard to manage. It’s fatiguing to spend hours at the computer. It takes a great deal of effort, energy, or persistence to stay in my chair (whether inside, outside, by a lake, etc.) or to decide which of the myriad of techniques to use to solve the problem with my work in progress (wip.)

What if, however, I have replaced what the word means (denotation: simply what the word means) with my feelings associated with my experience of the word (connotation)? Relax, no English lesson follows. Keep reading.

“Pain is inevitable, misery is optional.”

No matter how hard (there’s that word again) I try, I can’t make the denotation of “hard” say “impossible,” “evil,” “miserable.” It isn’t there. So, as I continue to ruminate, “hard” does not have to be “bad.” Or miserable. That part is the connotation I’ve been applying to it. Hard/difficult/troublesome is what it is. Reaction—emotional loads to the word—is my choice. My habit.

In his book, The Feeling Good Handbook David Burns presents thought-provoking information and illustrations about why we keep doing what we’re doing. He states we keep habits because they work for us on some level, whether healthy or toxic. I think his ideas can be applied to calling writing “hard.” See if what’s written below resonates with you.

If it’s hard…

  • I don’t have to do it right now. I can do something that has a quicker “pleasure” return for my efforts. (Just about anything, including cleaning the linen closet, is a quicker return when I’m stuck on “hard.”)
  • then I have an excuse/rationalization why I haven’t moved forward and…
    • Finished a proposal
    • Refocused a novel as suggested by my agent
    • Finished a rough draft
    • Sent a proposal out
    • Written a query letter
    • Signed up for a conference where editors and agents will be
    • written anything!
    • I don’t have to write/finish this story because I really don’t want to write the story, I want to write/do (insert whatever) instead. (Refer to Excuse #1)

Notes to self

It’s fascinating when supporting ideas converge serendipitously from divergent sources. My sister is a member at the phenomenal Greenfield, MA, YMCA . Equally phenomenal at this facility is the nutritionist named Brian Wilson. Phone calls with my sister allow me to live Brian’s wisdom vicariously. Wisdom such as, “When faced with a choice (in my case, moving ahead in some way, any way, with my fiction writing), ask yourself: “Will doing this or NOT doing this move me toward the person I want to be? Or in the direction I see myself moving? Or the direction I want to see myself moving in?

For our purposes: will avoiding the “hard” part of my wip for weeks/months, move me in the direction of “finished” that I want? (If you’re not even sure you have direction, check out Put Your Dream to the Test, by John C. Maxwell and The Everyday Visionary by Jesse Duplantis. It’ll help you.)

On a recent mountain biking adventure with my husband, as I was pushing my bike up yet another deeply rock and rooted portion of what could barely be called a road, I was once more aware that life is a series of “bits.” As long as my bike is moving forward, bit by bit, I am moving forward. It doesn’t matter if I’m riding it, walking it, or pushing it. I’m still getting ahead. Of course, my goal is to ride more and push less. If I were to say, however, “it’s too hard,” and we stopped going, we would lose out on all the bits. We would miss the pungent smell of hot sage, the cobalt blue sky bannering over us, the beauty that is Utah. We would miss, as my husband says, feeling fully alive. Even when we’re trying to stay upright on a bad road.

Interesting. I just called it a “bad” road. In reality, it was—as you have astutely realized–a “hard” road. Difficult to ride, but no evil, misery optional. We opted for joy and moving forward. By bits.

While I now acknowledge that work is hard, I must equally embrace that “hard” is not bad. Nor is it impossible. But…and I’ll include you in this question. Why bother to begin the inevitable struggle to change?

The payoff is to transcend. To finish a book I—you?—have been working on for too long. To write fresh words past the first chapter/first 100 pages/draft I—you?—have avoided too many times. To break out into the fresh, cold water of a truly traveling stream instead of wallowing in the same stagnant side pools. Going forward!

So there it is. Yes, what I have been whining about is correct. Writing is hard. It simply is what it is. With all its transcendent potential.

What if…

  • What if you made a list of the “hard bits” in your current work in progress?
  • What if you then take that list and pick one thing?
  • What if you take that one thing and start to look at it in even smaller bits?
  • What if you work on that one bit today?

Time to transcend.

Kathleen Damp Wright caught, rather than sought, the moniker The What If Girl. She’s a fiction coach for beginning and multi-published writers, writes her own fiction, and blogs inconsistently on her website In addition, she gets to teach writing to fascinating junior and high school students in an educational co-op. Living in the Wasatch Mountains, she writes and plays and not always in that order. Follow her on Twitter.com also as The What If Girl and tweet her with your fiction questions. Leave a comment on her web site if you’re interested in her fiction coaching services.

Old-Time Radio Show Kicks It with Similes

The Philip Marlowe audio files (mp3) from the Internet Radio Archives are a hoot. The writing is sharp and the similes Raymond Chandler (writer of the novels) uses will help you ramp up your own brainstorming on how to characterize quickly…and with humor.

My husband and I are heading for bed early, turning off the visual media and listening to old-time radio, trying to guess “who dunnit.”

Another radio series with sharp writing: Candy Matson, Girl Detective.

A relaxing way to wake up your perhaps sleeping similes.