Fiesta of Firsts: When I First Knew I Wanted to Write Romance


Welcome to week five in our Fiesta of Firsts celebration and my week to host the soiree. If you are just joining the par-taay, then let me bring you up to speed. Each year RWA has a published writing contest called the RITA’s. Finalists are chosen in different categories. And there is an award for First Book. It’s cool because you can only be nominated for First Book once and it pulls from all the genres- from contemporary, historical, erotic, paranormal, YA, romantic suspense, and inspirational. This year some of the RITA first book finalists decided to get to know each other a little better. And we wanted to share that experience with you. So each week one of us is asking about a ‘First’ and the other nominees are chiming in.

GIVEAWAY ALERT! I will be choosing one lucky winner from those who comment on my blog this week to win a digital copy of Mind Sweeper (or another of my books if you already have Mind Sweeper. I’m all about flexibility).

EVEN BIGGER GIVEWAY ALERT!! At the bottom of the post, you can enter a rafflecopter giveaway that includes a copy of EACH first book and a copy of one of our favorite books. Do the math, my friends, that’s 14 books all for you! So make sure to enter the giveway below!!!

If you have missed the other posts so far, you can check them out here:

This Week’s First!

Now on to this week’s first! The question I asked this week was…drumroll…When did you FIRST know you wanted to write romance? Or if you can’t exactly remember the romance part, then when did you first know your wanted to write?

Let the fun begin…

Alyssa Alexander

alyssaalyssa smugglerI had to think long and hard about this one, and I finally realized I don’t have an answer. I don’t remember a time I didn’t want to write–at least, not since elementary school. By middle school I was already trying to write my first book. It was romance, mystery and paranormal all rolled into one. (Ghosts, a love story, a villain–the works!) So writing was never a “choice”, nor was romance as my chosen genre. It was just was. I read romance, I dreamed of romance, and when it came time to put pen to paper, I never thought about what I would write. The result was romance twined with mystery and suspense. I guess I never strayed from those middle school roots!

You can visit Alyssa HERE

Clara Kensie

vbgptfqmpqpkghtlI’ve always enjoyed writing, but being an author was never something I set out to do as a career. I read a lot, though, and some characters I loved so much that I never wanted the book to end. But all books end, even if they are seven-book series like Harry Potter.

A few years ago, I realized that the only way that I’d never have to say goodbye to a character would be to write a book myself. I could develop characters I love, and write and write and write their stories. I could then spend years with my characters, instead of just a few days. A perfect plan, right? I brainstormed a list of all of my favorite elements to include in my book:

– Young adult – Realistic heroine – not perfect, but relatable – Devoted hero – mysterious and *hot* – Sweet but strong romance – Dark plot – Danger – Scary villain – Huge, jaw-dropping, didn’t-see-it-coming plot twists

I had a vague idea that it would be cool if the characters had secret identities. And that’s as far as it went. I was stuck.

A few weeks later on a cloudy November day, I was pulling out of a parking spot at the grocery store when I was hit with a “what if:” *What if there was a teenage girl who was the only member of her family without a psychic power? And what if they moved around from place to place because they were being hunted by a killer—and that killer had psychic powers too? And what if that girl met a boy…”*

It went on from there. I went home and wrote the story, being sure to include my brainstormed list of favorite elements. It took me only a few weeks to write, but between revising on my own and then with my publisher (Harlequin Teen), and then repeating the process by adding a sequel, I’ve been able to spend years with the characters I love so much. I’m thrilled that others are reading the RUN TO YOU series now, and loving the characters as much as I do.

You can visit Clara HERE

Sonali Dev

wzsvdkpgfkbmstrcWhile I was a voracious reader growing up, unlike a lot of romance writers, I discovered the romance genre a little late. Funny thing is I always ended up zeroing in on the love stories within the mainstream fiction and literary fiction I was reading. In retrospect, I was searching for the romance genre and I finally found it quite by accident. I was sick and asked the hubby to pick up something for me to read at the library and he brought home Catherine Coulter’s Rosehaven because it was sitting next to the checkout counter. I stayed up all night reading, unable to stop until I was done. Amazingly enough, my first thought was, “Wow! reading this feels exactly like watching a Bollywood film!” And I was hooked. I consumed every romance I could find after that and then wrote a fan fiction style Bollywood Film script based on some romances I had really enjoyed. When I had finished that script I knew that I was going to be writing love stories that meshed together Bollywood films and romance novels. And the rest as they say is backstory.

You can visit Sonali HERE

Elia Winters

dmsrrnynqmzzptrhI didn’t set out to be a romance novelist. I’d a lot of other genres: sci-fi, fantasy, YA, horror, and general fiction, but none of those books really came together. I’d actually written erotica as a teenager (shhh), little short scenes that graduated from “fade to black” to full-on sex as I grew more comfortable in my erotic writing chops, but I never thought about making that my career. I wanted to write novels, and I didn’t really care what genre they were. It wasn’t until my 10-year anniversary participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that I decided to write a novel just for me, indulging all my kinks and fantasies. Ironically, when I finished this “just for me” book, I realized that it was the best book I’d written so far, and I wanted to publish it. That book was *Purely Professional,* the book now up for two RITA awards. Of course, publishing this book meant going public with my kink, which was a huge step, and committing (at least for a while) to erotic romance. Now, three books later, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Romance is a wonderful genre to write, a triumph of my feminist ideas and sex-positive attitude, all wrapped up in a happily ever after.

 You can visit Elia HERE

 Patience Griffin

tkwrgtyyfnpzwlkyI fell in love with happily-ever-afters at the same time I fell in love with audiobooks during many long, long hours of commuting. I remember the exact moment when I thought.I want to do this. I want to write stories that end well instead of tragically or open-ended. I had recently listened to Julie Garwood’s book, The Wedding. I couldn’t get enough of the story, so I bought a copy. I was lying on the couch savoring every written word when it hit me-the fiction writing bug. I turned to PhD (my husband) and said, “I can do this. I can write a book.” His response back to me was, “Of course you can.” And as they say, the rest is history.

You can visit Patience HERE

Natalie Meg Evans

mvhyvqmrrqlsvkppI believe it was when I picked up Georgette Heyer’s ‘These Old Shades’ and got lost in a romance set in the late 18th century. I had just moved to London from a small, Midlands town and was lodging with my step-grandmother in the western suburbs. It wasn’t going too well. She, I think, was finding it hard having her home invaded by a willful 18-year-old. I was out of my depth, trying to find work in the big city. Gran had envisaged cosy fireside chats in the evening and I wanted to be out, pursuing my twin passions – being an actress and a nightclub owl. This was the early 1980’s when the London club scene was fizzing! But we did find that we had a love of Georgette Heyer in common, and she had a shelf-full. I’ve always though GH should be prescribed by doctors as an antidote to worry because of her power to transport the reader out of ‘real’ life into a dashing, sensuous world. At the time, I was writing serious, issue-laden stories. Georgette cured me of that! These days I allow reality into my work, but never forget that readers love stories that grip the senses, the emotions and above all, the heart.

You can visit Natalie Meg HERE

AE Jones

mnyxpdtfrdnjvpcvI have always wanted to tell stories. As a child I was addicted to TV and would rework the endings of shows in my head to ‘make them better’. My first manuscript was a very sweet, cozy mystery. And then my next manuscript was a mystery that wasn’t as cozy. But still, I wasn’t satisfied. I was a late convert to romances. I picked up my first one about seven years ago and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. The book was Lover Awakened by JR Ward. I wanted to write about relationships. And paranormal. I so love paranormal thanks to Joss Whedon (remember recovering TV addict here). So a paranormal author was born. And since I couldn’t give up my mysteries, I mashed them together. Why the heck not? Let the hero and heroine solve the who-done-it, and get a little somethin’ somethin’ with a side order of fangs and fur! A trifecta of goodness as far as I was concerned.

This Week’s Spotlight: Mind Sweeper

rdnjvpcvAn angel, a demon and a vampire walk into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s just another day in the life of Kyle McKinley.

Kyle was born with the ability to erase memories, and the inability to keep her opinions to herself. She and her teammates – a vampire who looks like a sexy pirate with fangs, and a Shamat demon with a penchant for Italian pastries – provide supernatural damage control when humans see too much. Today’s problem? A sword-wielding angel and a demon had a supernatural smackdown during happy hour in a Cleveland bar, leaving behind a headless vampire and a dozen human witnesses.

This latest supernatural slip-up is attracting all kinds of attention. So much attention that the police step in, and Kyle has to deal with Joe Dalton, a know-it-all human with the sexiest turquoise eyes she has ever seen. Kyle has no room in her life for yet another human who will treat her like a freak. However, Dalton definitely makes her naughty parts sit up and take notice, and it’s more than mutual. But before they can act on their attraction, they must join forces to solve a dangerous puzzle. And when they uncover the truth, the apocalyptic ripple effect forces Kyle to make a choice. Learn to trust again, or risk losing everyone she cares about, including Dalton.

EXCERPT    AMAZON      iTunes    BN     Kobo


1) Leave a comment over the next week (Friday, July 3rd – Thursday July 9th) below telling us what you think about our romance revelations and you will be entered to win a copy of Mind Sweeper (or another book in my series, your choice).

2) RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY! Win a Basket of Books from the First Book Nominees! Enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

39 thoughts on “Fiesta of Firsts: When I First Knew I Wanted to Write Romance

Add yours

  1. Enjoyed reading how you all got started. And, yes, Sonali’s line “and rest as the say is backstory” made me laugh as well 🙂 Wishing you all a happy Friday and good luck in the RITAs!

    1. I find it fascinating that we all arrived at (more or less) the same place, but with such different paths.

    1. I’m glad we all did as well. These ladies are fabulous, and I’ve been so excited to get to know them!

  2. Lots of fun! It’s so different for everyone isn’t it? I particularly related to the one where she was always looking for romance novels, but never really knew it till she read one. I was always a sucker for romance in TV, movies, books (even Lord of the Rings!) and a voracious reader but never read a “real” romance until I was nearly 40. Now I’m hooked (and writing them myself.)

    1. I think many of us got into romance when we were “too young” to be reading it. I’m glad the YA genre has become so expansive in the years since, but I think I’d still have been sneaking my mom’s romance novels anyway. 🙂

  3. This was fantastic, ladies! So fun to see how everyone’s winding path eventually led to romance. 🙂 I think I knew I wanted to write love stories, when as I reader, I’d sit there chanting: KISS-KISS-KISSSSSS!

    1. Darcy –
      Thanks for dropping by! It’s too funny you said this because I grew up reading mysteries and I would get so irritated that it would take 5 books before the heroine and snarky copy would FINALLY kiss. I mean, come on… I should have known then to pick up the romances!

    2. That’s hilarious! I used to do the same thing with characters on my favorite TV shows. It was fitting that my gateway to romance was through fanfiction, which were all those inappropriate scenes I was writing as a teenager. Thanks for commenting!

  4. I think the readers are the lucky ones that you all found your way to the romance genre! Hooray! It’s wonderful getting to know all of you before Nationals so I can cheer for EVERYONE!

    1. Bonnie-
      Thanks so much. You’re right it has been great fun getting to know the other finalists. It will make finally meeting them even better!

  5. Hi Ladies,

    “…a side order of fangs and fur…” I almost spit tea all over my keyboard!

    I loved all the reasons you chose romance (or romance chose you)!!!

    Di R

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