Take Me Away!

Heart shape with pages of book

One of our foxes asked, “Why do you write romance? What prompted you to write in the romance genre?”

I guess I’ll answer the second question first. The short answer is that reading two lousy books prompted me to prove that I could do better. One had a premise so absurd there was no way to make the heroine believable or likeable. The other supposedly took place in Michigan, but it was obvious that the author had never been here. So I started writing. It took almost ten years, and I guess I’ll never have a definitive answer as to whether my book is better than the ones I tossed in the donate pile long ago, but at least I know I can write well enough to please some people.

As to why, it’s a bit of a story. Back when I was a busy working mom, I had difficulty sleeping. It may seem odd that someone working full time and raising two busy young daughters would have a hard time falling asleep, but as any detail-oriented mom will tell you, the minute my head hit my pillow, my mind started whirring with things I needed to remember or do the following day. Recitals, band concerts and team sports meant that dress clothes, uniforms needed to be cleaned, pressed and ready to take. Homework needed to be finished and checked (at least for one daughter, who tended to be rather lackadaisical about her grades). And then I had my own schoolwork to worry about. Had my plan book at school been filled out just in case I needed to call in? Did I have all my copies made? Had I remembered to send home permission slips for the class trip? Did I have clean clothes to wear?

One evening I spent time in my local library, next door to the church in which my younger daughter rehearsed for an upcoming concert along with other members junior high choir. I’d finished my schoolwork (or maybe I didn’t have it finished but simply needed a diversion) and wandered into the used book sale room. Books donated by library patrons were on sale for only 10 cents each. I decided to splurge and buy a half dozen of them. They were paperback romances, and I figured it might be nice to have something light to read while waiting for the kids.

I started reading one of my purchases while in the library, and to my surprise, I finished the book that evening. I went to bed only a few minutes later than usual, but I slept soundly. The next day I had so much more energy I sped through everything that needed to be done, and at the end of the day I settled into my recliner with another book. Two hours later, I had that book finished, and again I slept soundly. In the years between that discovery and the time I retired, I managed to read several bags of paperbacks. I made sure I visited the library’s semi-annual book sale so that I could replenish my supply. Eventually, I started reading on my tablet and laptop as digital books became more and more popular. I came to the conclusion that these shorter romances were the key to my well-being because they allowed me to escape my own worries by putting me into the lives of characters who often had problems much greater than mine, and by following their stories I was able to “live” through their journey to a satisfactory resolution.

As I mentioned, there were two books that prompted me to start writing my own stories. I don’t remember the names of the books, but one was about a young lady who believed she’d been born in Texas and was therefore destined to live and work as a wrangler on a ranch. My tolerance for her stupidity lasted about three chapters. The other was about a scientist who travels to the west end of Michigan’s upper peninsula, and when he was hurt he was flown to a small community hospital in the middle of the lower peninsula. Umm, no. The area may be remote, but they do have health care. And even if he’d needed a specialist, there are larger hospitals a lot closer in Wisconsin or Minnesota! A simple glance at a map would have shown how ridiculous that was. I wrote an indignant letter to the publisher (which I’m sure was never read) and started writing. I found a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and started attending meetings, but I wasn’t able to write much.

After I retired from full-time teaching, I was able to devote more time to writing. I completed and refined my novel about a samurai soldier looking for a new purpose in the years after the samurai class had been abolished. I found a publisher who appreciated the fact that there were no bedroom scenes, and I kept writing. There’s a relatively new market for sweet romances, and I’m honored to be part of this movement toward love stories that I don’t need to keep secret. I use a pen name, not because I’m afraid of people finding out that I write these books, but simply to separate my fiction from my non-fiction works.

As for why I continue to write romance, it’s because reading romance helped me cope during a difficult time in my life. No matter what my struggles were, they were nothing compared to what some of the characters in these books endured. Through it all, they stayed strong and persevered. In the end, they learned a valuable lesson about themselves, and in most cases they found someone special to help them fight their battles. The books took me through a struggle, but at the end the problem was solved. When all was well with the character, it seemed all was well in my world and I was able to let my own problems go. Who wouldn’t want to offer that gift to someone else?

About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
This entry was posted in author's life, blessings, careers, Dealing with stress, decisions, Patricia Kiyono, romance, The Author Life, Why I Write, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Take Me Away!

  1. Diane Burton says:

    I love your story, Patty. Similar to mine. I was a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids a year apart. I discovered romances and read voraciously because it took me away from diapers and crying kids. I don’t remember a specific book that made me want to write my own romance. I do remember the stories that rattled around in my mind, esp. at night. Giving those characters their own stories was therapeutic I love the choices writers have today–traditional publishing or independent.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Thanks for stopping in, Diane! I agree, it’s wonderful to have so many choices. And hopefully we’re helping other young moms (or dads!) find an escape from whatever they need to step away from.

      Like

  2. Nancy Gideon says:

    I’m always surprised that I write romance because it wasn’t what I started out reading. I DID read everything but loved suspense and paranormal. I think it was the big, lush historicals that caught my attention and inspired me to start my first in four completed manuscripts (by hand then manual typewriter, mind you!) from which I picked what I thought was the best. SWEET TEMPEST, a regency-set romance and then PIRATE’S CAPTIVE were both release in July of 1987! Almost 70 books later, I can safely say I HAVE written just about everything. Through all the industry ups and downs, I write because I have stories I can’t wait to tell . . . and would continue to do so if only for my own enjoyment.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      You certainly have written EVERYTHING, Nancy! And I’ve enjoyed a lot of what you’ve written – but not quite all 70 titles. Thanks so much for stopping in!

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  3. Jeff Salter says:

    Hmm. Lots of differences between your story and mine (which I hope I can unravel by Thursday)… but I really love these sentences from your final paragraph:
    “Through it all, they stayed strong and persevered. In the end, they learned a valuable lesson about themselves, and in most cases they found someone special to help them fight their battles. * * * at the end the problem was solved.”
    – – –
    Not only is that an excellent outline for fiction writing, but it also gives (or reinforces) a valuable life lesson for those of us who live in the “real” world.
    More on my contemplations, come Hound Day.

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  4. What a great post, Patty. I remember trying to deal with work stress by grabbing some mysteries from the library–and they were so dark and depressing, they made things worse! Romance is definitely a feel-good genre.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Yes, I can imagine a dark, hard-core mystery would make it worse! I do enjoy a good cozy mystery, though. I love following the steps toward solving the question of whodunit!

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  5. All of my life I had trouble falling asleep, even as a weakling, sick skinny little, kid; my mother played oral games with me.
    It should be obvious by now that I can’t stand it when writers have no idea what they are talking about, but do it anyway. Reading about an area with which you are familiar and having them get a great deal wrong drives me insane.
    Being a mom-grandmom is a job that is rewarding but not always intellectually fulfilling.
    I understand every word you have written!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pamelasthibodeaux says:

    Wow Patty! Your story sound a lot like mine. I remember reading a book set in “the little parish of Calcasieu” (where I reside) and how many times I threw that book up against the wall in disgust because, like you, it was OBVIOUS the author nor editors had ever been to Louisiana much less Calcasieu (pronounced Cal-ca-shoe) Parish!

    Great post.
    Good luck and God’s blessings
    PamT

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I know Calcasieu Parish well. Use to have friends in the Lake Charles library. I grew up in St. Tammany, also lived in Tangipahoa, Catahoula, and EBR. Finally, lived (for 26 yrs) in Bossier Par. while I worked in Caddo.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I’ve set stories in places I haven’t visited, but I try to connect with people who ARE familiar with the places and ask them to beta read – or at least answer lots of questions!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your books are wonderful. I am do glad that you came across those two books which prompted you to try your hand at writing.
    I remember long sleepless nights filled with books, though mine may have been caused by the books. I just couldn’t read enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ha! I can relate to reading the lousy books and deciding I could do better. I just wish the genre wasn’t still judged by the TSTL heroines and unbelievable premises. There are so many great books–like yours–available, but we still can’t shake the impressions of the past.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I agree, Marissa. We bear the stigma of a few who dominated the genre. I always hated the books that had a hero that was basically abusive – and then tried to explain it away by saying he was so in love he couldn’t bear to have her anywhere but at his side! No thanks!

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  9. Lucy Kubash says:

    My mom and I use to read the old gothics, sort of the precursor to category romance. When in junior high, I started writing what’s now called fan fiction (who knew it had a name?). Some girlfriends and I made up stories about our favorite TV heroes. I also started writing seriously when my kids were young and after I’d started reading Janet Dailey’s romances. She was one of my favorites. I love reading romance because it does take you away from everyday issues and troubles. Someone asked me once why I write romance (because it’s not like real life). My reply, “Because there’s too much real life in real life.” We all need a little fantasy, and I do love happy endings!

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  10. Alicia Dean says:

    Wow, great story. Let’s hear it for the healing properties of reading and writing romance! 🙂 Love the post!

    Like

  11. I love reading about your writing journey, Patty. You were really committed to your craft!

    I resisted reading romance novels even though my friend badgered me to try one. When I finally did, I enjoyed it so much, I read the full series. But I didn’t want her to “win.” So when I returned her books, I said, “These were good, but I could do this.” (Ah, hubris!!) She said, “Then do it!” So I had to write a romance novel. After much revision over *ahem* years, my debut novel was picked up by a publisher. I also write mysteries…but there’s always a romance in them. Who can resist a happy ending???

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes. There are a lot medical options near the Western Upper Peninsula; namely Marquette General Hospital, Chippewa War Memorial Hospital, a whole slew of providers in Green Bay, etc. I send HIPAA records request to them all the time for my job as a legal assistant.

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