Friday, September 18, 2009

Mind Candy

By Robin Kaye

My youngest daughter was born with a very rare genetic disorder (she’s one in a million in more ways than just one.) It took us over a month for her to be diagnosed. My husband and I spent the first three years of Isabelle’s life trying desperately to keep her alive. During that time, it seemed as if there wasn’t a week that went by when we weren’t rushing her to the hospital with pneumonia, 106 degree fever, or seizures. She had five operations between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. Between Isabelle and my other two children (a 4-year-old and 18 month-old), I don’t think I slept a full night in all that time.

Before Isabelle was born, I read everything I could get my hands on and I admit to being somewhat of a literary snob. I had eclectic tastes, but I always made it a point to read all of the Oprah books. After I had Izzy, I realized that the Oprah books were, more often than not, depressing. My life was depressing enough. I didn’t need to read about the nasty realities of life while slogging through it.

I remember one inordinately hellish day at the hospital when a nurse I had become close to gave me a book by Bill Cosby. I spent the night sitting by Isabelle’s crib, reading and chuckling. After that night, I searched out every funny book I could get my hands on. Reading comedies kept me relatively sane during Izzy’s first trying years.

Now I write Romantic Comedy. When I started writing, everyone told me that “Romantic Comedies don’t sell”. I was told to call my books Contemporary Romance. What I didn’t understand was why? Who doesn’t like to laugh? Especially during times like these?

If, when you read my book, you laugh a time or two and spend how ever many hours it takes you to read it without once thinking of the bad economy or whether or not you’ll be able to pay the electric bill, I’ve done my job. If you think about my characters with a smile on your face long after you’ve read “The End,” I’ve done my job. If you can sit in a hospital room reading, and my book serves as a mental escape from the torture of seeing someone you love suffer without being able to do a damn thing about it, I’ve done my job.

When I write, I’m not trying to make you think deep thoughts or encourage you to change the world. I don’t envision thousands of students studying my every word. I don’t set out to pen the great American novel. When I write I have one purpose: I write to entertain you. Human beings need to laugh. It creates endorphins that make us feel better. Some call it mind candy and maybe they’re right. But who doesn’t need something sweet every now and again?

Oh, and I’m very happy to say Isabelle is now a happy and relatively healthy 12-year-old. Last year when she was given a personality test that is supposed to tell her what careers would suit her personality, the top four were stand-up comic, writer, artist, or television/movie producer. I guess all that laughter rubbed off on her.

As a reader, why do you read? What do you look for in a book? And if you’re a writer, why do you write?


  1. Robin
    I am so glad Isabelle is doing so well, I loved Romeo Romeo I laughed so much it was a fantastic read and I have Too Hot To Handle on the TBR pile and am looking forward to reading it.

    I read books to take my mind of everything that is going on and for the wonderul enjoyment they give me, they take me to places I have never been back in time forward in time. I have had some wonderful adventures over the years and I thank all of you authors that write the stories the keep me happy.

    Have Fun

  2. I can attest that Izzy is adorable and every bit the precocious 12-year-old!

    I write what I like to read. Simple as all that!

  3. Wow, Robin, what a story. I'm glad Izzy is doing great! I find that humor has gotten me through a lot of really rough times too. Reading is pure pleasure--escaping to another world, seeing the conflict, but then the resolution, must have HEA. Yesterday, I dealt with a lot of wonderful, smiley people, had fun joking about this and that, but we had a slew of people who'd been hit by an ugly stick too. Maybe they needed some cheer in their life too. But unfortunately some I think exist to make other people as miserable as they are. Sad, really. Give me a good laugh anytime! :) Life is too short!

  4. Good morning, everyone!

    Helen~ Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy Too Hot to Handle. I'm with you. I feel as if I've traveled all over the world without ever stepping off my front porch. The power of words to allow you to experience whole new worlds never ceases to amaze me.

    Marie~ LOL - Izzy wasn't so adorable that day she ran away from home! For a kid the doctors said would never walk, she had no problem running a full two miles before we caught up with her. -shakes head- She not only walks, she dances and runs away.

    Terry~ Having a special needs kid has taught me so much. One of the things I learned is to avoid negative people. Life is definitely too short.

  5. Robin, this post was really touching. I can really relate to what you're saying. My family has had a slew of health challenges over the past year and reading has been a great comfort -- particularly books that make you smile and even laugh. You go, girl! And I'm glad to hear your daughter is doing well.

  6. Robin, thank you so much for sharing that! You're absolutely right, when we feel like crying is when we need most to laugh. You and Izzy were very fortunate to have had a nurse who cared for the both of you the way she did. Otherwise the world might not have been as fortunate to get to hear *your* comedic voice now! Isn't it amazing the way things fall together sometimes?

    Hugs to you and Izzy! Keep up the great work!

  7. I love a good romantic comedy. FOr the same reason, I like silly sitcoms on TV. SOmehow dark police shows and angst in the evening just aren't how I want to unwind most days. I want to be entertained. I used to watch Deal or No Deal and called it mindless comfort tv, like comfort food, that let me turn off my brain after a busy day. Keep writing your mind candy, Robin! We need it!
    Beth C

  8. Robin--Your post was wonderful. So glad you and Isabelle and your family are doing well.

    You have a natural comedic voice and I'm glad you brought it to your books for us to enjoy.

    Best of luck--Adele

  9. I love to laugh and the sound of your chuckles at her bedside probably had a beneficial effect on Isabelle, too. We nurses all love a good laugh, and so do our patients. Keep writing the comedies, Robin. There's quite enough tragedy in this world without having to read about it!

  10. This is an inspiring post. We have to be so strong in our day to day life and I can't imagine do all that I do with the addition of a special needs child. I'm glad to hear she is well and I hope she continues to be an inspiration in your life.
    Looking forward to Too Hot To Handle. If it's anything like Romeo, Romeo, I'm sure to love it. :)

  11. Hi Robin,
    That's wonderful to hear that Isabelle is doing so well. She's blessed many times over, more so to have you as her mom.
    As a reader and a writer, my focus is on characters that move you, that have a message to fight against adversity and yes, regardless the odds dreams do come true. To me, the greater the story challenge, the greater the story reward. I'm with you, I love positive messages and hope instilled in my books and yes, laughter. :)
    Take care and I wish you continued success on all avenues!
    God bless,

    Romance Edged With Danger

  12. Robin,

    I feel like I'm about to repeat Helen. Howeever, I'm glad Izzy is doing well. I loved Romeo Romeo and Too Hot to Handle is on my TBR pile.

    I like to laugh. I also like to read history.

  13. Hi Robin,
    That's an incredible story about Isabelle. So glad she survived to drive you crazy. She's 12, so the best is yet to come.
    Yes, comedy helps us through a lot of life's challenges including agent rejections and editor passes. So keep it up. We need you.

  14. Hey, doll. Your gift for humor is quite the God send. Wish I had it, but to each his or her own gifts. Yours is priceless.

    I'm so pleased Izzy has become the precocious you lady she was meant to be, and you the successful writer you deserve to be.


  15. Libby, I hope your family is doing well, too. I've been reading your book and I'm really enjoying it. Talk about a funny read!

    Carla~ Thanks, it is amazing the way the world works. I've met the most amazing people because of Izzy. Physical therapist, her teachers, the doctors and nurses and everyone involved with The Shriners Hospital for Children. What a blessing.

    Adele~ Thanks for stopping by! I love the new book cover, btw!

    Cheryl~ Izzy definitely has the best sense of humor of all the kids. I'm the parent who has to go to meet with Izzy's teachers and apologize in advance for what she'll say. She's still learning the boundaries of humor and she more often than not steps way over. The problem is she's so funny, the teachers let her get away with it.

    Kim~ Thanks for dropping by! Izzy really is an inspiration. She's my hero.

    Diana~ Thanks so much for the kind words but in my book Izzy takes all the credit. I'll never forget when she was about three, we were doing our physical therapy sessions (we did a total of three hours a day) , she was working so hard to climb the stairs and she was worn out and sweating. I stopped her and said she'd had enough. She turned to me and patted my cheek and said "It's okay, Mama. I'll do better tomorrow."

    Hi Walt~ I'm do glad you stopped by. I can't wait to read yours. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you'll be published soon.

  16. Robin,

    You really know how to pull the heartstrings! Your daughter is blessed to have you for a mom. I'm sure all that laughing you did by her beside helped give her a reason to live so she could hear more of that wonderful sound.

    I write what I love to read--romance.


  17. Diane~ Thanks so much for stopping by. Izzy does drive me crazy and yes, it's a great thing she's here to do it. She just got home from school and gave me a big hug. I'm feeling particularly blessed today. It's so easy to forget how far we've all come.

    Pat~ You are one of the funniest people I've ever met, get out of here. You're also an amazing writer. Loved your blog at today. I need to get over there and leave a comment! I can't wait to see you in NJ. Laura, Deborah and I are all going and Romeo, Romeo is up for the Golden Leaf. You better get your singing voice in shape...

  18. Amelia~ I keep telling Izzy how lucky she is, and I get the pre-teen eye-roll. But then she pats me on the cheek (she's still doing that) and says "I love you, Mama." But the way she says it, I take it to mean that she loves me in spite of everything.

  19. I'm so glad she's well, and I can see Oprah books might have been a little heavy. My family complain that I'll read almost anything, but I like different books at different times - even at different times of day. Sometimes I just want to curl up and mope and read through to some kind of hope. Others I want to laugh and relax. Others I want to dream. I read books 'cause I can't help it, just like I can't help writing.

  20. Robin, your post touched my heart deeply. A cousin of mine lost gave birth to a still born baby girl about three years ago, this after having tried for 10 years. Her and her husband were supposedly both infertile. The baby had trisomy 18. That same year another cousin found out she was pregnant at four months they discovered the baby had a disease that no baby had ever survived outside the womb with. During this time the first cousin got pregnant again, and had a healthy baby boy. The second, they battle and battled-specialists performed surgery in utero. The baby had cysts interwoven amongst all her organs. Squeezing her heart, and suffocating her lungs. Several times they went in and drained the fluids. She spent the first year of her life in ICU, she just turned two, the cysts aren't filling up with fluids and she had her trach removed a few months ago. For the first time her parents were able to hear her giggle, which was after they heard her baby sister's. :)

    Mind candy is the bomb, and God created people like you for a reason. Anyone who sets out to bring more laughter into the world is absolutely worth supporting.

    Robin, thank God that your little girl is healthy and vibrant. He's got a special plan for her, even if it means being a blessing to others.

  21. Sheila~ I'm right there with you, girlfriend. I can't stop reading and I certainly can't stop writing, either. I guess if we have to be addicted to something, reading and writing aren't too bad. I just wish I could get addicted to exercise too.!

    Renee~ One of my best friends had a Trisomy 18 baby, she lived well over a year and when they lost her, it just broke my heart. I'll keep your cousin's little one in my thoughts and prayers. Special needs kids come with gifts that make the trials and fear worth it.

    Izzy has TAR syndrome - Thrombocytopenia Absent Radius. She has a low platelet count and she's missing the radius bones (the bone that runs from under the thumb to the elbow). When she was born, her hands turned in so badly, it was difficult washing between her thumbs and forearms. Most babies who are not diagnosed in utero (and given platelets before a c-section) die during the birth process. The pressure on the skull going through the birth canal usually causes them to bleed into their brains and they're born brain dead. The fact that Izzy's platelets where high enough to survive a natural birth was a miracle. After she was diagnosed, my OBGYN called and spent five minutes saying nothing but "We were so lucky" over and over again.

    Her forearms are about 1/3 shorter than a normal kid's, we've had her hands centralized over the ulna so they're pointing the right way. She has unexplained low muscle tone which effects everything from her lungs (the diaphragm doesn't work that well), bladder, vision and just about everything else.

    Most TAR syndrome kids have knee and hip problems and are usually wheel chair bound. So far, her knees and hips look great. She gets around well, she won a gold medal in the 50-yard dash in the Special Olympics. She has some balance problems so she doesn't feel comfortable going up and down steps in school with three hundred other kids, but has no problem handling them when she's not in a crowded situation. She's going to have her left forearm lengthened in the next year or two so that both arms will be the same length. They'll always be short, but equal will definitely help.

    Hugs to you and yours Renee.

  22. Hi Robin-

    Izzy certainly is one in a million, and I'm so glad I've been able to meet her!

    As a reader, I look for an escape, but I also like to learn something in the mix. As a writer, well, I just have to get it out on paper!

    Have a great weekend,

  23. I feel the same way. I used to be a book snob. I went through a death in my family and I just couldn't read the acclaimed books that are loved by critics anymore. I couldn't take the fatalism when things in my life were so sad.
    That was when I discovered romance and I am sooo happy I did. I like knowing that every book has a HEA.

  24. I love your books and look forward to the next one.

    I read contemps and love the funny ones as well as the ones that arent.

    Dont care for paranormal, vamp and the like. Am really picky. LOL..There are a lot of authors I love, so there are many books to choose from. I am happy Isabell is doing well.

  25. Love hearing your story about Izzy's personality test. Apple, meet Tree. :)

  26. I'm so glad your daughter is doing well, and how cool that she might follow in her mom's humorous footsteps.

    I read to be entertained. I write to entertain, and you expressed what most, if not all, romance genre authors feel. I want my HEA. I don't mind laughing or tearing up a bit along the way, just as long as the HEA is there.

  27. Danielle~

    Izzy still talks about the day she went to Sourcebooks. She was upset with me in June when I went back without her. She wanted to see you and Dominique again.

    Mari~ It's amazing how many literary snobs have said the very same thing to me. The HEA is wonderful. The knowledge that it will end happily doesn't stop me from wondering if the H/H will ever get to the HEA. I guess that just shows how great romance writers are at keeping the suspension of disbelief alive and well.

    Pat L. - I'm so thrilled you enjoy my books. I doubt I'll ever tire of hearing it. One of the great things about Romance is that there are so many sub-genres. No matter what your taste, there's a romance to fill the bill.

    Judi~ LOL. Don't I know it! Izzy is like mini-me. She looks exactly like me--chins and all and has a v. similar personality. She's snarkier than I am and like I said before, she's still learning the boundaries of humor so she'll say exactly what I'm thinking but refuse to say. She's on the receiving end of many lectures about thinking before opening ones mouth.

    Marie-Nicole~ Thanks for stopping by. I'm the same way, I don't care how much you torture me to get to the HEA as long as it's there. If there is laughter, tears or both before it, all the better.

  28. So sorry I have been too busy to read this as it was posted. But maybe that was meant to be as just yesterday I was chatting with some friends about the difference between serious Oprah-type novels (Jodi Picouli was mentioned) or even some "classic" literature that is so depressing and heavy, compared to the fun, happy, or even downright "fluffy" attitude of romance novels. I was once one of those snobs too, and I do still like a "serious" novel now and again. But more and more I am recognizing the joy in laughing, smiling, and an assured HEA.

    Glad Izzy made it through her traumas, and that the difficult times helped you to find your niche, Robin. I know that I for one am happier for it.