Tag Archive | romance novels

It Chose Me

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase, “I didn’t choose it, it chose me.” That phrase applies to me and paranormal writing. I grew up reading romance novels—the old school romances with covers that depicted revealing bodices for heroines and exposed chests for heroes. Fast forward to adulthood and my love for reading romance novels continued. So it was quite natural that when I decided to become a novelist, I turned to the romance genre. I wrote three romances and then something unexpected happened…my next love story went dark. Yikes! What happened? I’m trucking along writing about love and eternal bliss and then a stalker, death and violence inserts itself into one of my stories. That story introduced a change.

Oh, I still believed in love, happiness, and all that sugar and spice stuff, but those dark elements forced me to acknowledge the influence that murder mysteries, thrillers, horror and science fiction had had on me as well. I had read just as many Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books as I had romance novels, and that horror/thriller/mystery genre had risen up, demanding to be represented.

So in 1999, I shelved the romance stories I had been developing and turned to paranormal writing. Well not completely. I decided I would write a paranormal then write a romance; write a paranormal, then write a romance. A rotation, you see, but my intuitive creative self said, “no, no, no,” and to prove it meant what it said I started having personal encounters (yes, plural) with spirits. I had my first run-in in 2000 with a spirit. Then in 2011, I had my second spiritual visit and since then I have seen an angel and have been visited by a deceased relative. Needless to say, many of my writings are now devoted to the paranormal genre. Such as my most recent book titled, Lyrical Darkness. I am honored to be one of ten paranormal writers featured in this collection of short stories that are based on dark song lyrics.

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I’m curious about you though. What has chosen you? Have you been chosen to take your writing more seriously and work toward publication? Have you received the call to join a book club? Have you felt the urge to sculpt, draw, paint? Maybe thoughts about pursuing a voiceover, design or music career? If so, have you answered the call or turned your back to it? If it chose you and you’re being stubborn, let me reiterate that there’s no escape. Make it easy on yourself and go with it. And always remember, it chose you; hence, all the support you’ll ever need is yours just by asking.

Honor the choosing!

In Memory of “Sweet” Francis Ray

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On Tuesday, July 2, Dallas-based romance author Francis Ray passed away. I was shocked when I heard the news and saddened. Even now (several days later) as I’m typing this I still can’t believe she’s gone. Yet even in the midst of my disbelief and gloom, I am still able to smile because of the beautiful memories that are exploding in my head. I was blessed to hang out with Francis for many years and it’s the times and experiences that we shared that reside front and center now.

Francis and I met in the early 1990s. She was already a member of North Texas Romance Writers of America when I stumbled upon and joined the group. From our first meeting, we clicked. Maybe because we were the only two black members at the time. Maybe because we both loved writing and reading. Or maybe because we shared a strong commitment to write about black people in love. Regardless, we clicked and I was privileged to watch (from the front row) her writing career coast, accelerate, then skyrocket.

I remember her writing career started with short stories for women’s and confessional magazines. Her stories featured white characters. Then, she moved into full-length novels with black characters. I remember her disappointment when a white editor told her she would buy her novel if she changed the characters to white. Francis said no and a few years later sold that same book, and yes, the characters remained black. I remember her excitement when she learned one of her novels would be turned into a movie. I attended the movie screening and if I was walking on cloud nine that night then she was floating in heaven. I also recall her being so emotionally impacted by a story she wrote on domestic violence that she started a fund to financially support women (and men) who desired an escape from abuse.

By the time God called her home, Francis had churned out an amazing 54 “sweet” romance novels. Sweet romances are defined as those that feature heroines with high moral values and limited life/sexual experiences. Sweet romances are usually light on sub plots but heavy on the main plot, that of boy and girl meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Francis was the queen of sweet romances and readers couldn’t get enough of them. Thousands of fans worldwide devoured her books, planting her solidly on both the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists. Not bad for a school nurse from the small town of Richland/Corsicana (Texas).

In recent years, I didn’t get to see or talk to Francis much. Our paths diverged but the memories haven’t and for that I am grateful. Thank you, dear Francis for the sweet memories. May you rest in sweet love.