Making A Splash

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Riding Out The Storm

We have Hurricane Irene to blame for my blog today.  I can’t think of anything else!  I’m still without power after losing it Sunday morning, so I’m sitting at my in-laws while I write tonight, grateful for a house with electricity.

Maybe I should have been more prepared.  But who worries about a hurricane in northern NY?  Blizzards… now that I take seriously.  But hurricanes are Florida’s bane, not mine.  So you can imagine my surprise to see my tree house topple out of a tree.  It blew, tumbleweed-style, across the lawn, coming to rest in our brook.  Before it was done, it ran into a group of poplars, and they all went down like dominoes.  I’m not sure it was the force of the tree house that did it.  I think there was wind at work there, too.

So… wow.  I felt like Dorothy in Oz watching the destruction.  And I saw the whole thing happen since the howl of the wind made me look outside right before all hell broke loose.  I figured that would be the end of it, however.  I’d already made up my mind that it was okay since my boys had probably outgrown the tree house, even if it was a fun base for Nerf wars or paintball.

Little did I know the hurricane show was only just the beginning.  Next to go down was another poplar.  Then, to my shock, the biggest tree in our yard came down- a huge box elder that sat in the front yard, a tree that used to frame our house perfectly.  It was our “photo-op” tree, the one that served as a backdrop to the first day of Kindergarten photos.  More recently, it was the background for prom pictures.  Sniff. 

I’ll miss that tree!  I’ve always looked for mature landscaping in any house we’ve bought or rented.  And that tree not only had a beautiful shape, it also had a picture-perfect swing hanging from one branch.  The chain was super long it, and if you sat on the wooden seat, you could wait for your company, overlooking the driveway.  Or you could see how high you could get if you pumped your legs hard enough.  Every now and then I touched the leaves with my toes.  I’m not much of an outdoorsy girl, but I sure enjoyed nature from my swing.

After the big tree fell, I was starting to think I’d seen enough damage and was about done with Irene.  But she had yet to land her biggest blow.  She knocked down a locust tree onto the power line going into our house, yanking the cord out of the wall and ensuring our electricity wouldn’t be coming on any time soon.

What a spectacular mess!  I’m counting my blessings today that all those falling trees didn’t cause more damage to the house.  I couldn’t get any of the family vehicles out of the garages today, but my husband and his friend sawed a path so we could use our driveway again.  Family and friends all offered help.  The boys’ friends were out in full force, carrying branches and making a pile of debris for the mother of all bonfires this fall. 

I hope Irene was kinder to you than she was to me.  And if not, I hope you’re finding the help of friends and neighbors as you dry out and reclaim your homes.  Good luck and don’t forget to change your flashlight batteries before the next storm!  I know for my part, I’m buying a generator. 

***tell me how you made out in the storm or share with me your own worst storm experience.  I’ve got  an advance copy of… so fitting… RIDING OUT THE STORM for one random poster.


Romance Novel Love

Today is my wedding anniversary.  I thought it would be a good blog topic since it is, in fact, a celebration of a happily-ever-after.

I’m very proud of my marriage.  Not because it’s perfect.  I know some people are blessed with meeting people who feel like soul mates right away, spouses who “complete” them and with whom they never argue. 

This is not my marriage.  I think those folks with perfect marriages are fortunate and I wish them well.  But I secretly feel more proud of the marriage that I’ve got- one forged in fire and honed by relentless hammering by opposing views.

You see, I’ve got a romance novel marriage.  People unfamiliar with our genre think that a “romance” is all hearts and flowers. That I write about the joys of great sex and exotic dates, picnics in the countryside and dancing until dawn.  Whereas readers of the genre know that the exotic dates often end in tense disagreements and the countryside picnics only lead to the revelations of backstories so painful that they make relationships challenging.  And while there is absolutely great sex, it always complicates an already difficult union.

Facebook has a status for these relationships.  “It’s Complicated.”  But it wouldn’t be a romance novel is there weren’t complications.  My marriage has been full of them – conflicts, disagreements, challenges, demands and a few hurled epithets. 

Yet romance novel characters work through the complications.  They battle them and lose, but they go back and battle them again until they find a way through the difficulties.  I love romance novels for just that reason.  They aren’t about escapism for me.  They aren’t about finding a soul mate so perfect for you that you don’t need to change.  Romance novels are about finding ways to let love grow.  The search for common ground that lets each partner be a strong individual while being part of a strong partnership. That feels real and relatable to me. I know that relationship because I have one!

Why, some folks might wonder, would you want a relationship filled with conflict?  Well, I’m not sure that’s what I set out to find.  But in a complicated world filled with complex decisions, we don’t often find smooth sailing with anyone in our lives – parents, siblings, friends or dates.  And a spouse spends more time with you than anyone else in your life.  Conflict is inevitable.  I’m a modern woman with extensive professional goals in addition to my personal ones.  I have high expectations (it’s the Virgo in me!) and too often, I think that I’m right (you see how I don’t say I’m always right?  Marriage taught me that.).  How many people could live with me and love me, year in and year out, even when I’m not at my best?  Even when I’m at worst?

That’s where the compromise and the love comes in.  Romance novels taught me about this long before I met my husband.  But it wasn’t until I met him that I began to want to make those compromises for the sake of the brass ring.  No, not the wedding ring.  The real prize.  The hug at the end of a wretched day.  The joke that makes you laugh right at a moment when tensions were running high.  A hand held while you watch your son take his first steps.  Score his first touchdown.  Drive his first car.

Those moments are so precious.  All the more so for having come through the fire to share them together.  I know that a happily ever after isn’t happy every day.  For me, it’s a wonderful state of grace that you earn through commitment and hard work.  Dedication and loyalty.  And yes, a few arguments to clear the air.  Those obstacles make the precious moments all the sweeter.  I’m so grateful I’ve had the chance to hold the hand of the one I love for seventeen years while we share them. 

***You can see what I learned from romance novels.  What about you? Maybe you thought ton was a unit of measurement until you read a Regency.  Or perhaps you learned all about military aircraft from your favorite romantic suspense authors.  What has romance taught you? I’ve got an advance copy of my September Blaze, MAKING A SPLASH for a random poster.


Addicted to Books


Hello.  My name is Joanne Rock and I’m a bookaholic. 

I may as well admit it up front.  I’m pretty sure I’m among friends who share my addiction here.  It’s a self-indulgence and an obsession – both the writing and the reading – and it gets in the way of other things I should be doing some times.  But in many ways, books maintain my sanity and they’re cheaper than the alternatives, I hear.  So they are a craving I don’t plan to give up.

For my first Writerspace blog as a new Writerspace author, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself.  Sort of a getting-to-know-you blog.  And as I thought about how to frame my story in 500 words or less, I thought bookaholic pretty much summed it up.

Reading has been a pathway to so much learning and self-discovery for me.  I discovered my love of all things medieval through historical romances and a lovely John Keats poem.  Checking out towering stacks from the library as a pre-teen filled those awkward years with purpose as I read about anything and everything that caught my fancy.  For a farmer’s daughter in a small town, I chose books on wine making and ballet, art and Greek Gods.  Books were my dose of culture, my touchstone to another lifestyle and another world.

Soon, I began reading incessantly.  I got a Master’s in Literature.  I read romances whenever I wasn’t reading books that pertained to my studies.  But the more I read books, the more I realized I’d never get enough of them.  Although, perhaps, I could capture an even more meaningful experience of stories if I wasn’t just reading books.  How about if I wrote one?

That epiphany brought me to the other side of the fence and presented me with a fascinating puzzle.  How could I ever write a story that would entertain others half as well as I’d been entertained by the authors I loved? 

It’s been a long journey since those first tries.  Whenever I got tired of trying to figure out how to write a good book, of course, I could always return to my first love.  Reading.  Thank goodness for that, because it still provided my favorite escape while also fulfilling a new role of inspiring me.

Even now, I spend much of my time either reading or writing.  The reading is still the bigger pleasure, but the writing has been my way of understanding books on a whole new level.  Writing is also my way of giving back.  After all, I’ve enjoyed the musings of thousands of writers over the years.  I like to think my books are a way of sharing a favorite past time.  I hope my stories will provide someone else with an escape.  A fun diversion.  A few carefree hours lost to everything but the story.

**I’ve introduced myself.  Now, I’d love to meet you!  Say hello and let me know one of your favorite books of all time – a Harry Potter book?  First romance you ever read? Jane Eyre?  I’d love to know!  I’ve got a copy of my latest Blaze, Highly Charged to share with one random poster.

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