Thursday, September 15, 2011

Falling in Love for Keeps by Grace Burrowes

I am really good at falling in love. Before I was born, I fell in love with horses, and the condition has never abated. When I was seven, I fell in love with baking and that has been a lifelong joy too.

Somewhere between those two milestones, I fell in love with words and with reading. We had no TV until I was well into the school years. For my parents, this meant part of the bedtime ritual was reading a story to the four younger children. (The older three were probably reading to themselves.) The specific stories have faded, though I recall the sound of my father’s voice as he made great drama out of children’s stories.

By the time I was ten, I had fallen in love with the piano, a love that generalized to music and to some specific repertoire (Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Brubeck).

And then…. And then I found romance novels. All it took was The Wolf and the Dove, and I was gone.

I notice two characteristics about how I’m passionate. The first distinguishing feature when I am impassioned is that all other reality falls away. I’m in the zone—such as a confirmed endomorph (polite term for Utter Spud) is able to understand that term. For example, the taste of brownie batter made with melted chocolate and cocoa absorbs me. Is it dark enough? Does it need half a pinch of salt to anchor the flavor? Can the butter (do not use the m-word in my kitchen) shine through?

I can watch horses swish flies for longer than you can talk with your best friend on the phone while putting off the house chores.

I practiced the piano at least four hours a day for years, and that doesn’t include all the hours I spent messing around at the keyboard, listening to music, teaching piano, accompanying ballet classes, and earning a degree in music history.

And all of that time, in the kitchen, at the horse barn, in the practice studio, flew.

The second characteristic of me enthralled is that I have a sense that this is who I am. Whether anybody hears me play, I am a musician. Whether anybody reads my books, I am writer (though I would rather a lot of people were clamoring to read them). Those passions have become aspects of my identity, not just activities with which I fill time.

And here’s an insight I didn’t get until I started writing romance. The people I’ve fallen in love with were the ones who could appreciate me for my passions, not despite them. They delighted in my affection for words, my appreciation for music, my affinity for the horse and my occasional baking sprees. A fellow who supports me in my passions and allows me to support him in his (and of course, he must have a few) has swain potential. As for all of those other guys… I am too busy writing, baking, riding, or popping over to the UK on research trips to even notice such pale ciphers.

What about you? How do you reconcile the significant others and the personal passions? Uneasy balance, natural synergy, give and take?

To one of our commenters, I will give an ARC of my November release, “The Virtuoso,” a tale of passion and love.

27 comments:

  1. I also fell in love with the written word at a very young age. I remember my mom taking me to the library twice a week, and taking books with me on family vacations. Now, as an adult, one of our spare bedrooms is a library, filled with shelves of books. Though I love my husband dearly, he has had to deal with my other love for our whole married life. I am so looking forward to reading the Virtuoso's story. I'm still swooning when "he" replied to a post I made on a previous blog. Sigh! (bonnieblue at wowway dot com)

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  2. Great post, Grace! I lived with my blind grandmother and grew up listening to stories on her "talking book". That led to a love for stories and reading. Bless Husband's heart, he learned early in our marriage that if I picked up a book I did not put it down until it was finished. That's probably why he was able to fall right into the role of a writer's husband so well. When I start a book I have tunnel vision and worry with it until its finished. It takes a special person to live with a writer (and wear cool T-shirts to book signings)!There should be a holiday to honor them, don't you think?

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  3. Lovely post, Grace! My joy beyond writing romance is reading it! I love falling in love over and over again with characters that I want to see get together and stay together!

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  4. Anon, I found this on the computer when I woke up this morning:

    Please inform the dear lady who remarked on the approaching publication of "The Virtuoso" that what makes ME swoon is the notion of many a fair maid watching a ducal son fall head over arse for the woman of his dreams. And I have always had a soft spot for ladies with an appreciation for the written word. The most perspicacious gentlemen seem to share my predilection in this regard....
    I remain yours to command (unless Ellen is in the same county),
    Lord Valentine Windham

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  5. Carolyn, I expect a woman who will not give up on a book is also a woman who will not give up on her occasionally stubborn cowboy (regardless of what the T-shirt says about the cowboy being the inspiration for pages 238-249). I've learned to gnosh on a book more as I get older, but when my keepers have a new release, I go into my Grace-cave and that's that.

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  6. And the research, Terry, is that you are getting some of the brain chemistry benefit of that happily ever after befalling you personally each time you read. No wonder romance sales are weathering the recession in fairly good health.

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  7. anonymous (aka bonnieblue)September 16, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    Ah, Ms. Grace, now I feel another swoon coming on. A post from Lord Valentine (a most discerning gentleman, indeed) makes my heart flutter.
    (bonnieblue at wowway dot com)

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  8. I have been an advid reader since i was in the third grade. I grew up with books. They are my safe haven for when i am having a bad day.
    angelbiker82@gmail.com

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  9. It's definitely something we all have in common. Reading has been my escape since I was young. It is the only thing that really calms my nerves and makes me forget what needs forgotten. My husband says one day he will come home and find me buried beneath one of my many piles of books lol. My other passion is cats...He has indulged me in that too while I care for strays and ferals. In return he goes and does his "manly" activities lol.

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  10. Angel, I've considered renaming my keeper shelves my "literary fairy godmothers" shelves. When I've had bad days, bad weeks, bad years, bad jobs, bad relationships, bad health, they've always been there, comfort and joy at bargain prices that I can read over and over again.

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  11. Lovely insight about you, Grace, though I had to smile. I can't imagine I'd ever be content watching a horse's tail swat flies, or baking/cooking either. However, I do have your love of books, stories, and words, and for years I've said when I retire, if I retire, I'm going to take paino lessons because I love music, too.
    Amelia

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  12. Catslady, I know cold weather is coming because just this week I've been seeing some of my outdoor kitties in odd places--the kitchen counter, on top of the piano. I LOVE the way their fur gets even more luxurious as fall begins.

    Good thing your fellow has his priorities straight, and good thing he has manly endeavors to keep him from getting jealous of any other fine specimens who spend the night on your bed.

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  13. Writing is my passion. I think my husband has learned to tolerate all the times it takes me away from him. Lord valentine sounds wonderful!

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  14. Amelia, to each his Dulcinea (or her Wulfgar). I don't think it matters what our passions are (provided they are legal and passions rather than obsessions), what matters is that we pay enough attention to what makes us happy that we can identify them and enjoy them. This is not what we're taught in school, but it's a lesson we ignore at the peril of the life we're meant to live, says moi.

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  15. Natural synergy. My beloved is an outdoorsman and though I enjoy hiking I am no mountaineer, though I enjoy wandering in snow I do not ski. However, I love cooking, baking and reading so I indulge myself in that when he is on longer trips or shushing down a mountainside. Then I have a lovely meal and snacks ready for him at home and I can read, too.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

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  16. Shana, we're very pleased that you pursue your passion so wholeheartedly. I just finished "Lord and Lady Spy" and my, what a wonderful read! I do hope Adrian has a cousin somewhere, a bachelor with aspirations in the diplomatic service? A friend from the old days in France? A nemesis who turned out to be a good guy? You getting my drift here?

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  17. Lil, I was in double harness with a distance runner for a few years. The guy won ultras, and I made the mistake of "taking up running." Oh, ye gods and little fishes... But he loved the bread I baked, loved my fascination with words, and was beyond patient with my body issues. And talk about endurance... Somebody fetch my hartshorn, please.

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  19. I find I don't fall in love easily but I do get attached easily. That is why when I do fall, it's deep and passionate. Books are one of these. I read with a passion and can never get enough. I want more stories even if my reading list will never be completed. Thankfully I come from a family of book lovers, and I remember going to the libraries (we visited more than one!) 2-3 times a week. Coming home with an armful of books is what we deemed a successful trip. Now that I'm older, that passion hasn't waned. It's a lifelong commitment that I will glad sucumb to.

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  20. Fabulous post! I will have to say I didn't get my love of books until i was a young teen, and then I read Gone with the Wind and fell in love with books. Have been reading ever since. I think my husband even know that my books are second in life he has to be first.

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  21. Oh..reading is a joy...what I love 9at least when I was working) was getting a customer into a new author. When they came back and said.."oh my that was so good is there more." I felt on top of the world.

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  22. Na, by my lights, you grew up in a wealthy family. Going to the libraries (note the plural!) two or three times a week suggests everybody had time to read and nobody was allowed to go hungry for books. The only thing I like better than reading a good story is to be in the presence of a good storyteller--and libraries often provide those too.

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  23. Virginia, Man, when Rhett finally, finally (this is one place it's acceptable to use the word finally) kissed Scarlett on page 836 my little thirteen-year-old heart went pitty-pat. And to think the only person Margaret Mitchell would show the MS to was her husband, who had to sneak it to somebody who knew an agent.... Maybe I should put GWTW on my winter reading list, starting on page 836 this time.

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  24. Leslie, there is nothing I like more, as an author and voracious reader, than to walk into a book store and ask a bookseller, "If I like Loretta Chase/Jennifer/Ashley, Shana Galen, who else would you recommend?" and get a LONG answer.

    I know the person providing the long answer is as happy to enlighten me as I am to have new authors on my keeper list.

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  25. Grace-I just wanted to tell you that I think you are a brilliant writer. Melodic. Captivating. Just...lovely.

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  26. For me, I believe it's a natural synergy. "The people I’ve fallen in love with were the ones who could appreciate me for my passions, not despite them." Very insightful!

    Great post!

    yadkny@hotmail.com

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  27. LOVED this post. Captivating in itself! I hate that I missed the chance for the giveaway!

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