Monday, May 23, 2011

Friends through the romance community

Hi all,

I have friends from Australia coming to visit! We'll host them for a week, and I'm so looking forward to seeing them again.

Does this tie in with our theme of hope? Oh, it most certainly does. I never would have met Rebecca if not for writing romance. We started with the same e-publisher many years ago. Liking her immediately through her posts on the author's forum, I started corresponding with her via email. I read one of her books and was impressed by her talent of handling vivid description without bogging down the pace.

I asked her to critique for me, because I was working on this skill. She did, and then allowed me to critique for her too. It was not only an honor, but a pleasure. Who wouldn't want an early peek at a wonderful story written by one of their favorite authors?

We critiqued for each other many times after that and still do on occasion. At one point, I wrote an Aussie heroine and a Rom hero who met on a cruise ship. She couldn't have been more perfect as a critiquer for that one. She has fond memories of her Rom grandparents.

Most recently, I sent her the book that will be coming out in August...the Vampire Next Door. There was something missing, and no one could put a finger on it. I sent it to her and she spotted the problem immediately. As soon as I knew what to fix, I happily revised.

You might not think an Aussie who writes YA and contemporary erotic romance would jive with an American who writes light paranormal romance, but we do...just like I jive with my local critique partner who writes historical romance. If not for the romance community, I wouldn't have met either of these wonderful women.

So, where does the hope come in? Well, in 2001 I lost my parents. I won't go into the traumatic events, just the aftermath. I quit my nursing job, because I felt like I needed to do something for me for a while. I took a job in a garden center. Taking care of plants was infinitely easier than taking care of people. Meanwhile, I began writing a novel. I just drifted along for a year, not knowing what I was doing, just knowing I had to do it. In Feb of 2002, I discovered Romance Writers of America. They gave me focus, taught me how to write a publishable manuscript, and guided me along the writer's journey.

I didn't know it then, but the family I lost made way for a whole new family. The romance community is a world-wide family I might never have heard of otherwise. I didn't read romance novels until my parents got sick. A fellow nurse stuck one in my hands and said, "Here. Read this." I didn't know it was a romance until I was well into the sequel! I just knew it was a well-written, wonderful, healthy escape when I needed it most.

I saw this nurse a few months ago and told her she changed my life. To my surprise, she said I'd changed hers too. What a remarkable world we live in when we allow ourselves to connect through something as affirming and hopeful as love.

So, I'm looking forward to seeing one of my best friends in the world--someone I'd never have known without joining and embracing the romance community. Do you have someone special you've met by sharing a love of the romance genre?


  1. Great blog, Ashlyn! I've met so many great friends through writing. One of my first critique partners is from Brisbane, we got very close, plotting on IM, talking on the phone and we met a few years ago. It was as if we'd known each other all our lives.

    I hope when you get together with your Ozzie friend you have as much fun as Suz and I did!

  2. It's great to be reminded of all the friends I've met through writing. Have fun with your guests!

  3. What a wonderful post, Ash. How exciting to be expecting your friend from down under and having a week-long visit ahead of you. ;)

    It's amazing how many lives romance novels touch. It is all about hope.

  4. I recall going to my first chapter retreat, and realizing I was braced for the ladies (and one guy) there to behave like a bunch of attorneys, but the vibe was so much nicer than that--so much more supportive and warm. The romance community really is a wonderful place--and I think you hit it on the head: We believe in love. It's as simple as that.

  5. Wonderful blog, Ashlyn! My two very best buddies in the world are also romance writers - I met both at RWA meetings - Joanne Rock, who writes for Blaze, and Stephanie Newton, who writes for Love Inspired Suspense. While we've lived in the same town at some point, we all live in different areas now. We make a point to visit often in person and on the phone. :)

  6. PS Wishing you a wonderful visit with your friend!!

  7. Sounds like you all know what I'm talking about! And, funny thing, Robin...these folks were from Brisbane too. Moved recently, but not too far.

    Isn't it great how a bunch of writers always seem to have something to talk about?

  8. That's awesome! It really is a small world.

  9. What an inspiring story, Ashlyn! And I love the new cover. I think this is the first time I've seen it.

  10. Ashlyn, you're too humble to realize the reason you made such an amazing Aussie friend is because you are an amazing friend yourself. ;-)

  11. I met my cp in a similar way, Ashlyn. Your post touched me.