Happy Ever After

HEA…one of the basic requirements of romance writing. If the characters don’t end up happily united, with the implication they will stay that way for the rest of their lives, it ain’t a romance novel. It may be an excellent book — I’ve read many moving stories that do not end up with the hero and heroine together, but it’s a different genre.

Why do we so desperately want the hero and heroine to find their Happy Ever After in our favorite romances? My theory is that this is part of the fantasy involved in the genre. Compared to staying together, the wonderful and improbably gallant adventures featured in romances are cake. You have to outwit a drug lord? No biggie. Your sweetie has just come down with the Black Plague and you have to nurse him back to health? Easy peasy. I’ve been married 24 years, so I think I can speak with experience here.

Try tactfully changing the conversation before your oblivious spouse tells your uptight boss that story of how he and his friends mooned their college library while spelling out ‘Merry Christmas’ on their butts. Or coming to terms with the fact that your disinterest in housekeeping drives your honey up the wall. And no fictional plague victim has ever decided to ‘help’ his nurse by reorganizing the kitchen while she was out for an evening.

On the other hand, romances end fairly early in the lives of their characters, while skin is unlined and libidos are strong. We don’t get to see them enjoy the little discoveries that keep a relationship fresh. And after 24 years, some things are better than ever. We both have more lines in our faces than we like, and we might fall asleep on the couch instead of making out on it. But once we’ve rested up, my husband and I get to slip between the sheets with someone who’s had years to find out just we like.

Let’s just say a good time is guaranteed 🙂

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How did I get here?

Seriously, how did I get here? ‘Here’ being a pre-published author, terrified at the idea of strange people reading my books. (Okay, yeah, I’m kinda strange myself, but I’m used to me.)

Nearly two years ago, I was trying to recharge myself creatively and took an acting class. I was there to see if I wanted to go back onstage at our local community theaters. Another student was there because she writes screenplays, and had been told that she needed to take an acting class before writing for actors. (Excellent advice, by the way!)

She and I got to talking and she told me about a weekly writer’s group she belonged to. The writers included poets, novelists, short story writers, screenwriters, and the genres covered the writing map: thriller, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult.

Something went ‘click’. Moments of ‘click’ happen very rarely in my life, and I’ve learned the hard way not to ignore them. I’d written bits of stories, along with some truly awful poetry, starting in my teens. I wondered if I could do more than that. So I went. And I’ve gone ever since. When it was my turn to write, I started with historical romance. It is my favorite genre, followed closely by fantasy and science fiction. Most of my previous writing attempts had been placed in past eras.

I abandoned my first story because I couldn’t get the characters to DO anything. Then a wonderful heroine appeared in my imagination, and the book now titled To be Seduced was conceived.

After a year, I was having a wonderful time writing Richard and Bethany’s story! I loved my characters and my work was well received by our critique group, including the men. But I wondered how it would hold up outside that trusted circle. So when I saw a first chapter contest offered by the East Texas Writers Guild that promised a critique of every entry, for a very reasonable fee, I thought ‘why not?’ That the judges of the finalists were all editors and agents looked pretty cool too, but there was no way my entry would get that far.

Wrong. My entry finaled. This thrilled me to pieces, because the judge for the historical romance section of the contest was Hilary Sares of Kensington Publishing. I couldn’t say much to my family, as they tend to regard my writing as yet one more weird thing I do. But the idea that a New York editor was reading my stuff resulted in numerous happy dances in the privacy of my living room. I ended up winning my category, and Hilary requested my manuscript. Eventually Kensington offered to buy it, and it is now in the good hands of Peter Senftleben.

I am pretty sure that if I turned my experience into a synopsis for a future book, it would be rejected by any respectable agent or editor. I can’t blame them. Stuff like this doesn’t happen.

Except it did.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to Ann Stephens Romance. I’m a romance writer — my first book is coming out in 2010, from Kensington Books. In To be Seduced, handsome Cavalier Richard Harcourt returns to England with King Charles II only to find his estate ruined.

A marriage of convenience…
Destitute and desperate, he sets his sights on Puritan heiress Bethany Dallison. As the lady is all but promised to another, he resorts to kidnapping, knowing her mother and friends would rather see her wed than face ruin. But he doesn’t count on a bride with a cool head and a passionate heart!

…Or connivance?
Bethany has her own reasons for marrying Richard, most of them held in the care of her father’s banker. With her fortune in trust until she weds, she enters into marriage with Richard in hopes of gaining a measure of independence. Unfortunately, she discovers her groom has a disastrous effect on her senses…and her emotions.

Join me on the exhilarating ride as I prepare for publication. I hope to update this blog at least monthly in between writing and real life!

Sexy Historical Romantic Comedy

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