Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bringing Romance to Life

by Joanne Rock

I'm looking forward to a new release from Harlequin Superromance this Thursday. Dances Under the Harvest Moon is my third book in my Heartache, TN series, and writing this one brought me as much joy as the first two in the series. Some of that, I realized recently, had to do with the beautiful titles for these stories. Call me crazy... how can a title shape my whole experience writing an eighty-thousand word story? But for me, it really does. Allow me to explain.
My October release

I find it hard to work on a story without a title. It doesn't matter if it's not the title that goes on the cover in the end. I need a working title before I can begin a single word of a synopsis or chapter. While I certainly have book ideas that begin with characters, plot concepts, conflicts, or themes, I never really have a story take shape in my head until I've attached some kind of title to the idea. Only then does a book really start to grow for me.

With the first Heartache, TN book, I really felt from the start that I wasn't just creating a story. I was creating a world. It seemed important for a small town romance that I be intimately acquainted with the town. For me, that meant collecting photos, creating a map and sketching out some of the town's key figures. But the town itself wasn't the story world. That didn't really crystallize for me until we called this one Promises Under the Peach Tree.

Such an evocative title! Now the world wasn't just a place... it was a place with heart. A place I could breath in and feel the grass under my feet. Not only did Heartache become real for me, it became a place I enjoyed visiting each time I returned to the manuscript. I knew these people. They were friends.

With each return to Heartache, the titles have helped solidify moods and feelings. Nights Under the Tennessee Stars brought to mind drive in movies, midnight tailgating parties and drinks on the back porch. And this most recent story, Dances Under the Harvest Moon, well that just oozes romance! Hearing the title and seeing that book cover takes me to a romantic dance in the moonlight. Anyone else a fan of the Neil Young song Harvest Moon?

Like any romance reader knows, of course, a romance book is not just full of moonlit dances. We read romance to see how real characters combat the same kinds of conflicts we face in our lives, and to root for love to conquer all. But it makes me happy to give my characters those beautiful moments in the course of their journey that help make the battle for love all the more worthwhile. And in this book, a slow dance in the driveway helped remind me why this was a romance worth fighting for.

We all need our own moonlit dances, or nights under the stars or peach tree promises to get us through our own romances, I think. Those memories within our relationships pull us through real life battles and make us smile through hard times. It never hurts to think up your title-- to give yourself that memory or the lens through which to view your love-- and let it shape how you think about your romance. Our words mean so much. They shape how we think and articulate how we feel. Use yours kindly and christen your own romance with something to make you smile, too.
A giveaway for you!

***When you need a good, happy memory to make you smile, do you envision a shared romantic memory or a shared laugh? The times I love my husband the most are when he makes me smile at the moments when I'm discouraged. When he's at his best, he can tease a smile from my worst mood, and that's a special gift! Share with me this week and I'll give one random poster a little everyday romance to make YOU smile! A copy of Promises Under the Peach Tree and some decadent bath products to bring back the scent of warm summer days.


Liz Flaherty said...

I love titles, too, and I love yours. I must admit most of mine don't stick and usually half the story is written before the header contains more than the protagonists' first names.

Diana Tidlund said...

I love your books and titles and usually can remember em quick.... and I read certain books to go with my mood... as for hubby.... I usually remember with love especially since my strokes and how much he showed he loves me ever since..

Bube said...

Shared laugh,when simply in every moment that memory manages to elicit a smile on your face :)
The cover and title are wonderful,plus sounds super great :)

Christy said...

I've read Promises, so you don't have to enter me, but I love to catch your posts and share stories! Definitely the moments of laughter are the most memorable for me. Like yours, my husband has a knack for making me laugh through tough times. He helps me not to take everything so seriously. He's a perfect balance for me. Now I need to catch up with Nights and Dances! So many books, so little time! Congrats on another great title!

traveler said...

Wonderful cover and title. A shared memory of the enjoyable and memorable family vacations which give me a smile and more.

petite said...

My husband takes away the seriousness of things and manages to lift my mood. Your post was lovely and the cover and book most captivating and special.

penney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julia BookReader said...

My husband and I relationship is based on laughs, we just have to look at each other and laugh like crazy! I love this giveaway! Thanks for the chance <3

Barbara T. said...

I was reminded recently of when hubby and I were dating. He visited me while I was sick and read me to sleep and then left.

dstoutholcomb said...

memories of special things/times are great reminders of why we've been married for almost 23 years! they're uplifting as is he.


Mary Preston said...

Romance is all about the little things. The big gestures can be a lot of fun, but a cup of tea first thing in the morning can have more meaning - for an example.

Carol L. said...

I loved Nights Under The Tennessee Stars with Remy & Erin. Looking forward to reading the others for sure. When raising our 7 children there were times when I'd get a little overwhelmed and hubby would lead me to the bedroom and tell me to just lay down and relax & he'd take over. Pile the kids in the car and go for dinner and tell them it was mommy's special time out. :). He was very aware and thoughtful.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Laney4 said...

I just envision my wedding day. I start with how I was dancing around the living room at my parents' place, getting all excited. Then I think about how my older sis (by 10 years) was insistent that she use the curling iron on my short hair (and I hated it but put up with it, knowing my veil would hide a bit of it). Next is getting in my dad's car and turning on the radio, only to hear someone singing, "Going to the chapel and we're gonna get married." Talk about coincidence (although, really, a Saturday afternoon in mid summer is the perfect time for it). Then came Dad parking far away from the church doors, not realizing that there was a saved parking spot for us. Next, is the best part of my memory: walking in that front door, hearing the music, watching everyone go up the aisle ahead of me, and then it was my turn, and all I saw was my now husband of 34 years sweating buckets in his light blue penguin suit, full of love in his eyes. Now that, my dears, is the best memory a girl could have (at least for me). It was my own HEA. And, by the way, as we came out the front doors of the church after the wedding, everyone seemed to throw confetti (as it was allowed back in those days). I threw my head from side to side to get rid of the confetti, and out fell all the curls my sister had painstakingly put in my hair - and I was deliriously happy from that point on.

Joanne Rock said...

What amazing stories!!! Carol... seven! I'll bet there were days you really needed that break. Barbara T., you're the prize winner for the thread! Congratulations to you. All you need to do is email me at with a mailing addy and I'll put the gift in the mail to you asap! Thank you so much for visiting with me during a deadline week. The posts made me smile during a busy week!!