Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coming Soon: The Ruby Key

Available now for pre-order (thus saving you 10%!!!): The Ruby Key - part of the Crystal Key series.

 Caught between a group of exiles and her fate as protector of the ruby key, one woman will have to choose between the dork, the gentleman, and the loner. The fate of her world and those beyond depend on her making the right choice! Vicky Burkholder takes you back to Lemuria in The Ruby Key, Book 2 of her contemporary, paranormal romance series, The Crystal Keys.

Purchase here:
Liquid Silver Books

The box of black roses leaned against the back door to her bar when Phoebe Guilford arrived that morning. She sighed and picked them up to toss them in the dumpster, where she’d thrown all the other ones. They no longer bothered her. Now they were only an irritant. But this time was different.

As she picked up the box, she saw a crude drawing on the ground under the box. It was a rough representation of the pendant she wore around her neck—a triangle with a ruby at the center and surrounded by flames—drawn in some sort of black dust, like sand, but it didn’t blow away. It was a drawing she’d seen once before. Right before her boyfriend and Protector, Ryan, had been killed. Exactly one year ago today.

A chill ran over Phoebe as she froze, staring at the drawing. The image of Ryan being tossed in the air by a hit-and-run driver, dead before he hit the pavement, was seared into her memory. She’d gotten a box of the roses on the anniversary of his death every month since then. At first, there’d been one, then two, and so on. Another perfect rose added every month. With shaking hands, she opened the box. Twelve perfect, fresh, black roses tied with blood-red ribbon lay in the tissue. As before, there was no name, no florist’s designation, no card, nothing to tell her where they came from. And she’d bet her next week’s take that there were no fingerprints or other identifying marks anywhere either. She and her friends had tried every month for several months with no clue. And since two of them were investigators and the girls were all witches, that was saying a lot.

Phoebe pulled out her phone and took a picture of the flowers, then dumped the box in the trash. She refused to allow a bouquet of flowers to intimidate her. It wasn’t in her nature to be afraid. She was a witch and a Keeper of the ruby key. With her friends, she’d faced down an evil Brotherhood to keep the doorway to the magic realm safe. This…this was nothing.


They’d never found out who had killed Ryan. No one had seen anything, in town, in the middle of the day. Granted, it was a side street that was rarely traveled, but…Even the images they’d managed to retrieve from Ryan’s phone were barely more than a blur. A sleek, black luxury car that belonged to a man who’d died a year before Ryan in a horrific fire at his office building. A man who probably had a reason to want the Keepers and their Protectors dead, but ghosts didn’t drive cars. And the man’s daughter and her husband were long gone. There was nothing to link anyone to Ryan’s death.
Nothing except the symbol found burned into the hood of his car.

Instead of heading into her bar to work on accounts, Phoebe pulled on her helmet, jumped back on her bike, and headed out of town for the cemetery where Ryan was buried. She ignored the dark gray sedan pulling into the small parking lot, especially when it turned and followed her, like it did every time she went out.

A short time later, Phoebe knelt in the grass in front of Ryan’s gravestone and brushed away the dead leaves at the base, allowing the first blades of spring grass to unfold. She rocked back and forth, wrapping her arms around herself. An entire year had passed. Ryan’s grave was the same as all the other ones in the cemetery, grass-covered and flat.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” she cried, anger shaking her voice. “We were matched. You were my Protector. You weren’t supposed to die.” She slammed her fists on the marker, ignoring the pain. “I told you not to go out that day, that the omens were bad. I told you! You could have let Sam investigate that fire. I told you to let it go. That it felt wrong. But you wouldn’t listen. And look what happened.”

She glanced back at the man standing on the cemetery roadway between her bike and his car. He had on a worn black suit with a white shirt and requisite dark red “power” tie and drove a dark gray, safe sedan. Everything about him screamed cliché salesman, which he was. She also knew that secured in his trunk was a huge broadsword with a ruby embedded in the hilt. The stone was a twin to the one in the amulet around her neck.

“Look what you left me with, Ryan. A freaking insurance agent who can’t get his head out of his ass long enough to even try to be one of us. All he does is spout statistics at us and frown when I spark.” She lowered her head. “I hate you for dying on me. I hate the Powers That Be who say that dork is my Protector. And what kind of a name is Wynton for a Protector? Not even Wyn, but Wynton. Wynton Alsworth Collins the Third. Seriously?”

Her rage built until it was like a storm inside her. She glared at the cloudless sky and a bolt of lightning shot down, striking the ground near the entrance to the cemetery. Another bolt sheared the top off a tree. Another struck an old mausoleum at the top of the hill. The ground rumbled, shaking trees and gravestones alike. A thin wisp of dust spiraled up from the crypt as the wind whipped through the cemetery. Phoebe rose from the ground, ignoring the gusting winds and clouds that now scudded across the darkening sky. She needed to rein in her temper.

Phoebe heard Wynton coming to her, but she didn’t care. She glared back at the gravestone. “All I can say is you’d better have a damn good reason for dying, Ryan, or I’m going to kick you to all the way to Hell and back when I see you again.”

Before Wynton reached her, she strapped on her helmet and strode toward her bike, passing him on the way.

“Where are you going?” he called to her. “We need to get out of here before any more lightning strikes. It’s unsafe out here in the open. And you should sit in my car.”

In answer, a tiny bolt of lightning struck less than a yard away from him, sending him scurrying to his car. Phoebe brought the engine of her bike to life and roared off.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Thank you to Misty Simon ( and Barrie Summy ( for including me in this.

Basically, we are to introduce you to a character in one of our novels, either published or in progress. I’m going to blog about Phoebe, owner of Enchanted, a bar, and Keeper of the ruby key.

1.      What is the name of your character? Phoebe Guilford

2.      Is she fictional or a historic person? Fictional

3.      When and where is the story set? In the fictional town of Littleton, Pennsylvania, a small town in the middle of nowhere, about two hours outside of Philadelphia, with some very interesting residents. It is a contemporary time period.

4.      What should we know about her? Phoebe is the Keeper of the ruby key. Oh, and she’s a witch. There are four keys that are needed to open the door to a realm where magic is real. The Keepers protect the doorway, and the realm, from those who would take it over. Phoebe is tall, leggy, with short blonde hair. She owns a bar, Enchanted, and rides a motor cycle. Her power is with fire and lightning. She can spark a fire by snapping her fingers or call down lightning from a clear sky – which is not necessarily a good thing as sometimes her temper gets the better of her.

5.      What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? When her protector and lover, Ryan, was killed by a hit-and-run driver, the Powers That Be saddled her with a dork for a protector - Wynton. She not only wants nothing to do with him, but she wants nothing to do with any protector. Then Zack arrives. With his Nordic good looks and love of fast bikes, he spikes her interest in living again. That is, until she finds out he’s her new Protector. Then there’s Edward. Tall, dark, handsome, British accent – who wouldn’t fall for him? Except he’s not exactly without his faults either, one of them being he wants to control the keys and the realm of magic.

6.      What is the personal goal of the character? Her goal is to help protect the doorway against all threats, and to learn to live and love again.

7.      Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? The book is called “The Ruby Key” and is the second in the Crystal Keys series.

8.      When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published? The book will be available in the beginning of November from Liquid Silver Press.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


So excited to see the cover of my new book so I wanted to share it with you as well. Coming in November from Liquid Silver Books:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Guest Post: Kerry Vail

Kerry Adrienne is back with another novel that'll keep you up way past your bedtime.
Rocco Lazzaro meets the a new age, yoga instructor Devin in SCULPTOR’S DESIRE, the second novel Kerry Adrienne’s sizzling Gallant Gentlemen’s Guild series, out on August 27th. 2014  from Ellora’s Cave.
Purchase here: Ellora's Cave
Rocco Lazzaro is on a mission to find the perfect male body to sculpt. His inability to find “the one” has affected his creativity and he’s frustrated by his failure. With a Guild charity auction coming up, he’s expected to provide high quality sculptures, but the pieces he creates feel soulless.

When Devin, a yoga instructor, approaches him and offers to help, Rocco can’t quit thinking about the red-hot ginger. Devin’s New Age beliefs push Rocco away—he can’t deal with reality, much less mysticism. No auras and rainbows for Rocco—just stone and chisel and hammer.

But Devin is persistent. He knows he’s supposed to help Rocco find his muse—and he’ll stop at nothing to show him that the line between art and skin is very thin and a true muse can provide inspiration in many ways.

Also in the Gallant Gentlemen’s Guild series: ARTIST’S TOUCH by Kerry Adrienne! On sale for just .99 cents from August 25th – August 31st, 2014.

About Kerry Adrienne:
Kerry loves history and spends large amounts of time wondering about people who lived and walked on Earth in the past. She’s a mom to three daughters, six cats, and various small animals, including a panther chameleon.

In addition to writing, she’s a college instructor, artist, costumer, and editor. Her new love is her Mini Cooper Convertible, Sheldon, and they have already gone on many adventures.


Rocco clutched the purple fliers and stared out at the busy park from his seat. He’d posted enough of the papers for the day, not that it mattered. He’d never had luck distributing them before—the responses had never lived up to his expectations. He set his backpack on the ground and leaned back against the wooden bench. Why bother? Not like the perfect man was going to walk up, pick up the flier and actually respond. Not in this lifetime.
He lowered the sunglasses over his eyes. The late afternoon sunlight didn’t thread through the full-summer trees in this part of Central Park, but his shades allowed him to “bulge watch” as the throngs of tourists and New Yorkers paid homage at the mosaic shrine to John Lennon. The circular black and white medallion with “Imagine” scripted across its center was a place of reverence. Disciples had outlined the medallion with a peace sign made of fresh-cut flowers, and tourists took turns posing and taking pictures in front of the makeshift altar.
Rocco scanned the visitors. The place was a people-watcher’s dream, and for a Monday, the crowd was huge. Summer in the city always brought the tourists in droves of asinine clothing and hats and noise. Still, he had hope he’d find the one he was looking for.
The man who’d make his dreams come true.
He set the fliers on the bench beside him, then picked up one purple sheet and folded it into a fan, carefully creasing each fold. He tried to breathe out the hot air, but no doubt about it, the June day was steaming. New York was a sweltering change from the Adirondack cabin where he’d spent most of his time in the last month. Still, he was happy to be back in the city—his second home. The cabin was great as a quiet place to work, even though it was small, but its remoteness made it impossible to people-watch and gain inspiration.
Rocco crimped the last crease. His apartment in one of the Guild’s brownstones felt like home away from home. The Guild’s large studio provided the best space he’d ever had to work—tons of light and plenty of quiet. And his guildmates were like brothers, always ready to support each other through any artistic struggle, though he supposed they too were growing tired of his search for a perfect man. No one had actually voiced it, but he felt a distinct difference in the tone of the conversation when he brought the search up in conversation. With the upcoming charity auction in October, most of the artists would be working overtime and even less inclined to listen to his plight.
He fanned himself with the folded flier. Nothing to see at the moment. Not a single possibility in the groups of people gathered in the small courtyard. He scanned the area. The top edge of the Dakota Apartments peeked over the trees and Rocco glanced over the rows of tightly curtained windows. He’d never been inside the lavish building, though he knew several Guild members had been to private parties there. Rocco had been invited many times but had always declined. Wealth and showmanship weren’t his thing. He preferred the simple life where nature set the style, not John Varvatos and Marc Jacobs.
Strawberry Fields was a prime tourist spot. Too bad today’s mob held few specimens worthy of a glance, much less a stare. I’d think the simple math odds would warrant at least a couple prospects. Add in summer shorts, and there should be at least a good bulge or two…
He glanced at the stack of fliers—about fifty of them left. He’d put up as many papers as he could around the park over the last hour. Who was he kidding? After years of searching, he might as well give up on finding the ideal male. He set the fan on the bench and shoved the stack of fliers into the front pocket of his backpack and zipped it up.
He’d held several open calls with no luck. Something inside him pushed him to keep looking, keep trying, no matter how many times he failed. The same something kept him awake at night and tore apart his thoughts during the day. He’d find what he was looking for and he wouldn’t stop until he did, no matter what it took. It didn’t matter if it cost him his friends, his guildmates, his sanity. That was art, wasn’t it?
“May I sit here?”
The soft, lilting voice wove through Rocco’s thoughts and he paused. He looked up and his breath caught in his throat when he saw where the voice originated. Broad shoulders and a flat abdomen encased in a perfectly tight white T-shirt. Tall, but not overly so. Blue jean shorts, snug. Red cropped hair that glistened gold at the tips and fell over in a lock of bangs. Rocco gazed from top to bottom and licked his dry lips.
Red, white, blue, and all American.
“May I?” the man repeated.
“Sure.” Rocco fumbled with his pack and slid over to make room on the wooden park bench, pushing his folded fan behind him and out of the way so the stranger could sit down.
“Thanks,” the man said, dropping onto the bench.
No, thank you. But not so close. The vibrations of the man sitting raced through the wood of the bench into wood between Rocco’s legs. He swallowed hard, pushing back the anxiety. “No problem,” he said, half-whispering. He peeked then gazed down again. Finally, someone worth looking at. Only the man was so freaking near, Rocco felt as if he could feel the heat emanating from the man’s hotness.
Too close. No comfort.
The man scooted back on the bench and stretched out his legs. “Long day. I’m exhausted. Didn’t expect there to still be such a crowd here this time of day.” He blew out a long breath and closed his eyes.
Despite the heat, a shiver raced through Rocco and he eyed the fluid line of the man’s form. If he’d had a sketchpad, he’d do a quick gesture drawing of the long stroke of torso and limbs.
Not knowing what to say, Rocco turned away. A group of noisy teens descended on the mosaic like a swarm of bees, laughing and shouting and taking photos of themselves in stupid poses. Rocco blinked away the distraction and looked back to the man sitting beside him.
Not bad. “Yeah.” Hell, not bad at all. “It’s crowded.” He squeezed his thighs together to control his body’s reaction. Why couldn’t the man have chosen to sit on the other side of the path where Rocco could observe without having to talk?
“Such a loud crowd, at that.” The man opened his eyes and peered at the teen spectacle then shook his head. “They need to relax. Chill. You’d think they’d never been outside before.”
Rocco nodded and followed his gaze. A teen had picked up one of the flowers from the medallion and was tossing it into the air and catching it. “Tourists. New York can’t live with them, or without them.”
“Tourist?” The man asked. “Aren’t you? I can’t place that accent, so I assumed you were. Where are you from?”
“Italy.” Rocco sat up straight, trying to not be obvious in staring at the man’s muscular legs. He must be some kind of athlete. Was this man a candidate or had the hour of staring at subpar specimens clouded Rocco’s judgment? “Well, born in Italy, but I’ve lived in the city for several years. Many, actually. I consider myself a New Yorker now.”
“Ah, so Italian with some city dialect. Not a tourist. What’s your name?”
Rocco flipped his sunglasses up onto his head. “Rocco Lazzaro. Not a tourist.” He forced a smile. Meeting new people in person wasn’t something he was used to doing.
“But very Italian, I see. Nice to meet you, Rocco.” The man held his hand out. “I’m Devin Johansson. Also not a tourist. I live on the East Side.”
Rocco took Devin’s hand in his own and shook it firmly, aware that his own hand was clammy with anxiety. “Good to meet you too, Devin.”
Devin clamped down on Rocco’s fingers and held on. “Oh. You have working hands,” he whispered. He pulled Rocco’s hand closer and rubbed Rocco’s palm with long, soft fingers. “And your aura shows great creativity.” He looked up. “What is it you do?”
The teens moved on down the park path, giggling and talking loudly as they went. Rocco glanced over at them, trying to still the shudder that played along his arm as Devin rubbed his hand. A calm, warm feeling flowed up through his arm and into his chest. Even in the summer heat, the warmth felt good. Too good. Wait, what did he say? What the hell?
“My what? My aura?” Rocco yanked his hand away, immediately aware of the loss of warmth. Great. The first good-looking guy he’d met this week was a fruit loop New-Ager. The city grew all types, but this was one type Rocco tried to avoid. These dopes talked too much and thought too much about weird things instead of reality.
Devin leaned back and clasped his hands behind his head. He stared up into the trees, smiling. “Yeah, I can tell you are creative by your aura. So, what is it you do?”
Rocco scowled. “I’m a sculptor.” He wasn’t sure why he was telling Devin, or why he was even talking to the man in the first place. Am I that desperate? Do I look like a pity case? He straightened his sunglasses on top of his head and smoothed back his hair.
“I knew it.” Devin looked at Rocco, his eyes sparkling. “You work with your hands, I can tell. Your hands hold lots of kindness and feeling and warmth. I knew you were an artist of some kind.”
Rocco made eye contact. He nearly sighed aloud at the deep green in Devin’s gaze. A perfect offset to his red-gold hair and pale skin, which, oddly enough, seemed devoid of the freckles that redheads often sported. If Rocco were a painter, Devin would be a divine palette to experiment with.
“Good g-guess.” Rocco looked away. Something about intense men always caused him to lose his confidence, like maybe the men were peering into the innermost part of him and not running away. Like the fruit loop cast a spell.
“No, it’s really obvious.” Devin chuckled. “If you’re sensitive to reading people, you’re rarely wrong. It happens, but not often.” A look of doubt crossed his face and was gone in an instant.
A warm breeze pushed through the park, sweeping a few dry leaves across the trail in a crackle and rustling Rocco’s hair. He smoothed it down and settled the glasses back on his head.
How am I supposed to respond to that? Rocco fidgeted. Is he trying to get me to ask him something? “Well, okay. It’s obvious I’m an artist.” He had to get the conversation away from himself. Now. Not only was it uncomfortable, but Devin was in his personal space. “So what do you do, Devin? Besides tell people about their auras?” Magician? Fortuneteller? Horse Whisperer? He hoped Devin would notice the skepticism in his tone and lay off the hoodoo talk. Seeing colors around people? He’d heard of it before, sure. It was about as stupid as believing ancient aliens built the pyramids.
If Devin felt made fun of, he didn’t show it. “I’m a yoga instructor and meditation coach,” he said. “I meet clients here in the park and we embrace the movement of the sun and the moon and the seasons of nature. Here’s my card.” He pulled a neat stack of cards out of his shorts pocket and slid one off the top.
Rocco took the dark blue card. Embossed in gold lettering:
Devin Johansson, owner of City Dreams. Yoga, meditation, and spiritual healing—on my schedule or yours.
And quack. Rocco scooted forward on the bench. “Meditation, huh? Like being still for a really long time and breathing and not thinking?” He raised his eyebrows. This was going to be interesting.
“Yeah, I do group meditation classes on the Great Lawn on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at seven. Free. You should join us. We had a great crowd today. Summer sessions are always well attended.”
“Thank you, but I don’t meditate. I sleep. That’s being still enough for me.” Rocco rubbed his palms on his jeans. “I do try and breathe every day though.” He held back a smirk. Something about being uncomfortable made him sarcastic, a smartass. He knew it but just couldn’t help himself. He looked out over the park. Why was he even embarrassed?
A noisy group of tourists wearing matching lime green T-shirts circled the medallion. Their guide spoke loudly about John Lennon and the crowd ooohed and ahhed. One woman sobbed.
Maybe Strawberry Fields wasn’t the best choice today. Too many weirdoes congregating. He should’ve checked the planetary alignment or star charts before he came because something was amiss. He smiled at his own cleverness.
“Well, maybe you should consider trying meditation. Your aura looks pretty blocked.” Devin scooted closer and lowered his voice. “Maybe I can help you find what you’re looking for. If you’ll let me.”
Rocco cleared his throat and stared at the woman crying, unable to look Devin in the eye. Was the fruit loop coming on to him? Rocco certainly wasn’t looking for a quick fuck, though there were plenty of opportunities in Central Park. So he’d heard, anyway. But if he wanted a quickie, the last place he’d pick was a dirty bathroom or out in public behind a butterfly bush just off the path. Being stung in the ass wasn’t worth it.
“Well, think about it,” Devin pushed. “I’d love to help you out. It’s what I do. I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, but maybe I can help you. Us meeting here today wasn’t by chance.”
The hell it wasn’t. “Thanks. I’ll check out your website later.” When I have nothing else to do.
“Great. Please do.” Devin slid even closer until his leg brushed Rocco’s. “I don’t bite, Rocco. I help people.”
Rocco’s heart thudded and he yanked his leg away. How one man had gotten to him so quickly then left him scattered just as quickly was frightening. He had to get out of the park and back to the safety of what he knew. His work. His privacy. His studio.
The Guild auction was only a few months away and Rocco hadn’t even begun to sculpt his main piece. At this rate, he’d have to work in clay only. He shoved the card into the small front part of his backpack and zipped the pocket closed. “I gotta get back to work. Nice chatting with you, Devin.”
“Maybe I’ll see you around another time.” Devin closed his eyes. “I’m in the park most days for one thing or another. Just call me. I’ll meet you here any time you want. One-on-one assistance, if you prefer.”

Monday, August 18, 2014

What draws you to a book?

I've been in on a lot of discussions lately about what draws a person to a book. Is it the cover art? The blurb? The title? The author name? The subject? Something else?

I honestly believe it's a combination of all of the above. When I'm wandering through a bookstore, the cover art is obviously the first thing to catch my eye. Even if I'm looking for a specific author that I know where to go to find, other books may draw me in with the cover art. And I might stop and pick one up.

Once I've picked it up, I check out the title. Even with an amazing cover, "Following the history of libraries" would probably not be something I'd go for. So I'd look at the blurb on the back. I get very irritated with books that have no blurb. Or the blurb may be only about the author's other books. I want to know about *this* book, not his or her other ones. At least, not yet. If you want to give me that info, put it inside, but give me a back blurb. A back blurb should be short and to the point. It should be intriguing enough to get me to actually open the book and look at a page or two. Some places get you with leading questions, other publishers don't do this. That doesn't matter to me. Tell me who the main characters are, what they want, and why they can't have it. (Ever heard of Goal/Motivation/Conflict?).

So far, all this stuff is on the publisher (unless it's self-pubbed). If I've gotten this far, I'll open the book and read the first page. This is where the author has to pull me in. If you don't catch me in the first page or two, that's it. I'll put the book down and move on - unless it's an author I know well and know that the story will get significantly better by page ten or so.

Do I look at reviews? Rarely. An amazing review has never gotten me to purchase a book, nor has a bad one gotten me to ignore one. A review is just someone's opinion. A few years ago, there was a book out that was getting amazing reviews. One of my good friends read it and gushed all about this book and how good it was. She even mailed me a copy so we could read it together (she lived across the country). I sat down to read the book... and hated it. I tried very hard to love the book. I really did. But I hated it. It was made into a movie. I watched the movie to see if that would make me like the book. It didn't. Though it had two really good actors in the lead parts, I hated it almost more than I disliked the movie. I thought it was me, but in talking with other friends, I found out I wasn't the only one who disliked this book. So reviews? They don't do it for me.

So... cover art, title, blurb, first two pages - these are the things that get me to pick up a book and read it. What about you? What gets you to read a book?


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I'm in the paper!

Donna Walker, a journalist for the Lancaster paper recently did a story on romance writers and readers - and interviewed me for the feature (it was in the Sunday paper). I've posted the link and the article below.

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2014 6:30 am | Updated: 9:47 am, Fri Jul 18, 2014.
If you like love stories with happy endings, one literary genre will never let you down: romance.
You have the assurance of the 34 members of Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers who meet monthly to talk about writing and publishing romance novels.
“This is not a hobby thing,’’ as one CPRW member put it. All the members are focused on developing and advancing writing careers. And all eschew the stigma that labels their genre as “trashy.’’
They especially despise the term “bodice ripper,’’ a derogatory term left over from the 1970s and used by people who don’t understand romances, says Vicky Burkholder, a Lititz author and editor who has published 13 books.
The elements of a good romance are the same as those of any good novel: an intriguing story told through strong writing focused on character, plot and technique.
Romance subgenres span the spectrum. You’ll find mystery romance, science-fiction romance, historical romance, inspirational romance, romantic suspense and so on.
CPRW members such as Burkholder, Cera duBois, Victoria Smith and Anson Barber have written paranormal romances; Misty Simon and Karen Rose Smith, contemporary romances, for example.
Smith, of Hanover, also penned the Caprice DeLuca mystery series, which has “a touch of romance,” in her words. And she has set her soon-to-be-released Daisy Swanson’s Tea Garden series in Lancaster County.
Romances “can be set anywhere, ‘anywhen’ and have varying levels of heat, from sweet (holding hands) to extremely hot (graphic sex),’’ Burkholder explains.
To give readers a clue about which category a book falls into, a loosely established rating scale uses adjectives such as “sweet’’ at one end, moving through “warm,’’ “sensual,’’ “spicy’’ and “hot’’ to “scorching’’ and “burning’’ at the other end.
(CPRW member Megan Hart, of Lebanon, a New York Times best-selling author, writes in the “hot’’ category.)
Not all romances are traditional love stories between one man and one woman; some involve two or more men and/or women.
Andrew Grey, of Carlisle, the only male member of CPRW, writes contemporary gay romances and has more than 80 published titles.
A popular genre
In 2012, Romance Writers of America commissioned Bowker Market Research to conduct a survey on the genre.
It showed romance novels held the largest portion of the publishing market, generating $1.438 billion in sales. Books in the romance category held the top spot on best-seller lists, with women making up 91 percent of buyers.
West Lampeter Township resident Stephanie Riekers reads all kinds of literature, but she reaches for romance when she needs to decompress.
“I like happy endings,’’ she said. “In our daily lives, there’s struggle. [A romance novel] is a nice getaway. It emulates, ultimately, what I would like life to be.’’
Riekers became hooked on romance in high school after reading Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.’’ She loved Austen’s style, her strong female characters and the way couples worked through conflict in their relationships.
Riekers also classifies Shakespeare’s comedies as romances, such as “Much Ado About Nothing’’ and “The Taming of the Shrew.’’ They are the type of novel she goes for — with “hysterically funny dialogue’’ and “witty banter.’’
That’s just the kind of novel one Lancaster County resident writes under the pen name Delynn Royer. She also wrote as Donna Grove.
“Even a serious story can have funny moments,’’ she says. “The humor comes out of the situation and the characters and how they’re interacting.’’
Royer just published her fifth book, “It Had to Be You,’’ a historical mystery set in the 1920s. Her inspiration came from Myrna Loy and William Powell, whose interaction in the “Thin Man’’ movies inspired her to create her own “snooping couple.’’
Her advice for aspiring romance writers is: “Write for yourself, what you’re inspired to write.’’ That’s what she does.
“I have to make sure I’m entertaining myself first,’’ she says.
Pseudonyms and subgenres
Some romance writers appear to entertain themselves by switching among subgenres. That’s one reason pseudonyms are common.
Different pen names make it easy for readers to distinguish the different types of books written by the same person.
Best-selling author Nora Roberts is known for classic contemporary romances, J.D. Robb for romantic suspense novels. All the books are written by the woman born Eleanor Marie Robertson.
Another reason for pen names is a desire to be discreet.
“For some people, especially erotic writers, if their bosses knew what they wrote, they’d be fired,’’ says Burkholder, who adds that she knows of a case in which this happened.
Romance writers also might receive Internet messages that are “jarring,’’ akin to cyberassault. A pseudonym gives a measure of protection to their real identity, online and elsewhere.
Whatever the concern in regard to their careers, the writers can find support through CPRW.
Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers meets 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the first Saturday of the month at Joseph T. Simpson Public Library, 16 N. Walnut St., Mechanicsburg. Visit for details.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Space Dreams

Forty-five years ago this weekend, man landed on the moon. I was on a camping trip with my family, staying in a small cabin at the Jersey shore. We had had rain the entire time we were there. It was cold, wet, and miserable. But the night they landed, the rain stopped. The manager of the campground brought a tiny black and white portable television out to a picnic table in the middle of the "yard" area (along with multiple extension cords) and all of us there gathered around and watched history being made. It was an amazing time.

The next day, it started raining again, flooding the campground and my folks packed us up and we headed home a few days early.

I don't remember much else about that trip other than the rain and watching the little TV in the dark.

But what a memory.

I have always been curious about space. What's out there. Are there others? Are they like us?

So you can understand why I write what I do. Science fiction has always drawn me and adding a little romance to it? What could be wrong with that. :)

Those first men who stepped onto another world lived the dream thousands of us do.  I will never make it to space, but I can not only get there in my writing, but go beyond the worlds we know. Whatever I can dream, I can make happen. And that's always a good thing.

Never quit dreaming. It is our dreams that make things happen.