Love Is... By Lindsay Detwiler
A puddle of tears soaking into his hoodie when your world is falling apart.
A pair of hands tugging you tighter, holding you together so the pieces don’t shatter.
A homecooked meal on a weekday, nothing fancy, just the two of you sharing food and sharing chores and sharing in your day.
A look across the room that says he’s got your back, no matter what, even when the throngs of people around you are closing in.
A meeting of the minds in an almost magical way that allows you to share in a wordless inside joke.
A midnight kiss on the cheek when he thinks you’re sleeping, when no one’s watching, just because he feels the need to express his love.
A patched heart, sewn together with his words and careful gestures, that is strong enough to outlast any of the past’s destructive events.
A playful scream when he tickles you in the kitchen, flour smeared on your cheek as you wiggle away, angry at the annoyance but secretly relishing in the simple laughter.
A hugged pillow, squeezed against your chest, when the rift between you feels ever growing, when you question if it’s all going to work out.
An awareness that even on his worst day, he is the calm in the storm that is life, the presence that keeps you grounded, and the hand you crave to touch.
An apology, an acceptance, a step towards him because you are magnetized to the man who lights you up, even though he’s not perfect.
An undeniable chemistry, whether you’re wearing leather and lace or stained, holey cotton.
A feeling of acceptance, of knowledge, on a level no one else can understand.
A knowledge that whether life is wild, untamable, monotonous, horrifying, unbearable, or calm, he will be there, cheering you on in chasing your goals and picking you up when you shatter to the ground.
Love is two of you against the world, pulling together even when you feel like pulling apart. It’s a commitment to the sentiment that you will raise each other up when your arms are shaking from the exertion.
Love is, against all odds, unstoppable, unquenchable, and sometimes unfathomable.
Yet, above all, love is what sets the heart on fire and sparks us to life, opening our eyes to who we really are and what we can become together.
Every Love Story Is Spotlight-Worthy
Over the past three and a half years of my writing journey, I've been fortunate to meet so many people in person and online. I've had so many wonderful women join me in celebrating real, genuine love stories. Along the way, I've come to realize that so many of us don't realize one thing: Every single one of our love stories is magical and novel-worthy.
That's not to say our relationships are perfect. Far from it. If you know my husband and me, you know we fight a lot. We are often caught in the grocery store in a heated battle about snacks or ribs or something equally as ridiculous. We struggle with adulting, and we sometimes have different visions for our lives.
Our life is also far from glamorous. Most weeks, we spend our evenings watching Netflix, playing video games, and eating the simplest foods we can microwave because we're just too lazy to cook anything. Date nights usually involve staying in or hanging with our mastiff, Henry. Candles, rose petals, and fancy getaways just aren't in the cards for us right now.
When I started writing love stories, I knew I wanted to see my own love story in the pages of books. I wanted to read about realistic couples who went on simple dates, who dealt with budget issues, and who didn't always have glamorous lifestyles. Sure, it's fun to read about the alphas who can whisk away their women to one-of-a-kind adventures. But for some of us, that's just not reality. I wanted to write love stories that showcase reality... and prove that love of all kinds can be beautiful.
Along the way, so many of you have joined in my vision and shared stories of your own journey to love. The thing I've come to learn is this: So many of us have similar love stories, similar experiences with married life, and similar struggles.
So while it can be easy to discount your own love story and fret about how it pales in comparison to the sexy heroines and heros of romance novels, I think the message is that you have to celebrate your own reality. You have to embrace the journey you are on when it comes to love, no matter what stage you are at.
Whether you're still searching for "the one" or you've found him or her, I think we all need to realize that every single love story is beautiful. It's worth celebrating. It isn't about the size of the ring, the glamour of the dates, or the perfect moments you collect. Sometimes what makes a love story magical are the struggles, the trials, and the fact that even when things are falling apart around you, one look from your person makes you feel like it's all going to be okay. It's about how you love each other even when you're both sweaty and your makeups melting from a broken air conditioner and 100 degree weather. The beauty of love happens in all of the little moments that don't make it onto the big screen in Hollywood--the simple dinners, the memories, the inside jokes, the play.
I am so glad you are all here to share in your journeys to love, no matter what that looks like. I'm so glad we have a place we can be candid about what love and marriage look like.
Most of all, I'm so thankful that I'm not alone in believing that all love stories are beautiful, noteworthy, and magical in their own way.
I hope this week you can think about the magic of your own journey to love, no matter what that looks like. I'd love to hear about your own love, too, so feel free to hit comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.
Bigger Isn't Always Better When It Comes to Love
He got down on one knee at King's, our favorite restaurant at the time.
We'd gone there for late-night breakfast dates. We'd gone there after prom, on random Saturdays, on lunch dates.
And so, on a Friday, he got down on one knee in the middle of King's while we ate dinner. There was no fanfare, no clapping, no flashiness.
It was just me and the boy I met at the art table, in the middle of a sleepy restaurant, thinking about forever.
I said yes, and he slid the ring on my finger. We continued on with our date because in reality, nothing had changed. We were still the same people we were before he got on one knee. We were still the couple who argued over stupid things, who laughed at the same jokes, who could know what each other was thinking with a single look.
We were still the couple who had been through ninth grade social, two proms, graduation, first dates, first dances, and first kisses.
Yet, we were also different. Because in that moment, we realized that the boy and the girl who met at the art table would grow up to be a married couple who chased their dreams together, who built a life together. With that ring, the next phase of our love story began, the simple, genuine love has led us where we are today.
Every proposal story, big, small, embarrassing, or even disastrous, is special in its own way.
I'd love to hear about your proposal... or about your dream proposal. Comment below and let us know how your next phase of your love story began.
If you love talking about simple, genuine love, be sure to connect with me on Facebook where we chat romance, fashion, makeup and more.
How Keith Urban Inspired This Sweet Romance
First, let me say this: I’m a huge fan of Keith Urban. The Australian accent, the tattoos, and that sexy voice--I’m in love.
But I never realized my love for the guitar-playing Australian would lead to this.
It was the summer of 2017, and I’d been playing Keith Urban’s latest CD on repeat in my car (yes, I’m old school and still love CDS). For some reason, it was song 12 that started haunting me.
The song, “That Could Still Be Us,” was this super moody song about a couple who broke up but was still longing for each other. I don’t know why, but the song just hit me. It made me feel something.
Let’s be clear--the song really shouldn’t have connected with me. I’ve been with my husband since we were twelve. I’ve never really been through a breakup. I don’t know what it’s like to deal with the emotions of leaving someone you still love. But Keith Urban made me feel like I did.
Suddenly, I was thinking about life in our small town. What if my husband and I after all this time called it quits? How would we separate our lives--not just our belongings, but our emotions and identity? Sometimes when you’re with someone for so long, your lives meld into one. How would we separate them again? And how would it be to live in this tiny town where everything would remind me of our life together?
I couldn’t get the song or the idea out of my head.
And that’s where Still Us was born. I knew I wanted to write a book that captured that emotion. I started imagining this couple who had been together for years but break up… only to realize they can’t get over each other, no matter how hard they try.
I already had two character names I was saving. I’d come up with the names Luke and Lila while still feeling loopy after wisdom teeth surgery (boy, that’s another story for you… it includes me putting my hood up and running into the pharmacy to look at school supplies while my husband was getting my meds). Suddenly, I had the story that Luke and Lila would fit in.
I knew I also wanted to capture humor because that’s my favorite kind of book--one that can make you angsty and make you laugh. I imagined Lila, a twentysomething vet with student debt, having to move back in with her family after the breakup. It’s Lila’s sometimes crazy family that helps bring the comic relief to a book that would otherwise be quite heavy--Grandma Claire is a character you’re not going to soon forget, especially the scene with her blind cat in the casino.
So it started with my love for Keith Urban, a song that moved me, and a storyline that haunted me. That’s where Still Us came from.
What do you think? Have you ever had a song that just wouldn’t let go of you? Hit reply and tell me about it. I’d love to hear from you.
My two most popular sweet romances, Remember When and Inked Hearts, are #free for a limited time!
Remember When is a romantic drama about a married couple trying to survive a car wreck in the middle of a blizzard. As Jessica and Todd fight to survive, they reflect on their love story. Will their love be enough to help them survive?
Inked Hearts was named a Romance Times Top Pick in October of 2017. This is book one in the Lines in the Sand series, set in Ocean City, Maryland. When Avery finds her marriage over and her life falling apart, she moves to the beach town of her dreams to start over. She makes one promise to herself: No man this time. She's living for herself.
But then she meets Jesse Pearce, the green-eyed, tattooed hunk who may just change her mind about the line she drew in the sand.
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All of my other titles are on sale this week only! Head to Amazon to browse all of my books.
The Powerful Netflix Romance You Need To See Now: 'Irreplaceable You'
Tissues. You will need lots and lots of tissues.
Let me preface by saying I'm not usually one to cry at movies (EXCEPTION: Marley & Me. That one killed me). But Irreplaceable You made me tear up, made me weepy, and made me so emotional. It's a true tear-jerker movie with beauty, emotion, and a whole lot of feels.
It is a tragic romance about the devastating effects of cancer. I know what you're thinking--because I thought it too--there are so many movies out there already about this topic. Fault in Our Stars, and A Walk to Remember, for example--how could anything beat those?
Nonetheless, Irreplaceable You does a good job at creating its own feel and story line. For one, the protagonists are in their early 30s and planning their wedding. The age of the protagonists alone created a new set of problems, emotions, and a different dynamic.
Abby, who is diagnosed with cancer, worries about what will happen to Sam once she dies. Will he be able to find joy again? Will he be able to find someone to share his life with again? Thus, she decides to spend her final months preparing for her death by scoping out the dating scene for Sam. Her hope is that she can find a replacement for herself so she can die at peace, knowing he'll be happy.
I know it sounds like an odd premise... and it made me a little uncomfortable at first. However, Abby's quirky personality was able to shine even during the most depressing moments. There are small moments that break up the depressing, heavy scenes and even made me laugh. Furthermore, Abby's sense of dark humor throughout the movie allowed the tension to ease at points and allowed me to appreciate her character even more.
The story is a tad cliche at points and is pretty predictable. However, I felt like the point wasn't to have some over-the-top plot or unexpected twist. The point was to capture the emotions of this tragedy while also showcasing the depth of a love story. The movie did just that and ripped my heart out in the process.
I think the fact that Abby and Sam were childhood sweethearts added a layer of depth to the story as well. They didn't meet during her diagnosis or shortly before or after. They had already lived so much of their love story and were looking forward to decades more when cancer ripped that from them. Their shared history makes it all that more difficult to accept, for the characters and the audience.
I liked that their history came through in their interactions. The memories conveyed, their roots, and their catch phrases made them feel so real as a couple.
At times, I did wish I could see more of Sam's character. I felt like he wasn't as open in the movie as Abby. Of course, she is the main focus, which could be why I felt like that. Still, I wish I could've seen more of his struggles with the diagnosis and the situation. Sometimes, it felt like he wasn't emotionally moved by what was happening like he should've been. I also don't know that the movie accurately depicted the true devastation, emotionally and physically, of cancer. The movie skipped over a lot of the heavy issues Abby would have been dealing with. I think this could have made it richer and more realistic.
I will say that this movie is very heavy, especially with the ending. It really makes you think about so much. Most of all, it made me think about time and how time with my husband is really the most important thing.
If you're looking for a romantic drama with all the feels, check out Irreplaceable You on Netflix... but be sure you have some waterproof mascara and some comfort foods ready to go.
Have you watched this yet? What did you think? Comment below and let me know if you have any other Netflix recommendations!
Sweet Love Prize Pack Up For Grabs
I love Valentine's Day.
Not the commercialized, Hallmark-y version. Not because I think it's the only day of the year you should celebrate your loved ones.
In truth, I love it for this simple reason: I love pink and sparkles....and the stores are filled with pink and sparkles.
Okay, so that is the main reason I love the holiday. An excuse to make adorable pink cookies (that, let's be real, are usually burnt and gross, but it's the thought, right?) and a reason to buy glitter... since I was a little girl, it's been right up my alley.
However, as I get older, I've come to realize that Valentine's Day IS important, even though it gets a lot of negative publicity.
Over the years, my husband and I have been through quite a few different versions of Valentine's Day. We've done the traditional roses/candy/cards Valentine's Day. We've done the going out to eat for a candlelit dinner celebration. Our first year of marriage, we did the "we're on a majorly tight budget" and spent only $5 on each other while cooking at home. We've done the "we've-been-married-a-while-now-let's-get-massages-instead" Valentine's Day. We've done the Netflix and pizza celebration.
We've changed our celebration for the day of love as we've changed, and I have good memories from all of them.
However, I've come to learn this over the years: Married or single, the beauty of Valentine's Day is simply the belief in the value of love.
I agree that the holiday has been over-commercialized, like so many things. Still, I think the power of the holiday is in the fact that we as a society still value love.
Love is something we often overlook in life. We get so busy making money, working on our careers, and just trying to keep up with life. We often forget to celebrate the most beautiful, most complex emotion around us.
And I'm not talking beautiful on the outside. As you know, I believe that it's the imperfect kind of love, the sometimes ugly-crying, messy versions that are the most beautiful.
But love is something that heightens our human experience, whether it be romantic love or any other type.
So this Valentine's Day, whether you're a proponent or an opponent of the holiday, I hope you'll take a minute to think about those you love in your life. I hope you'll take a moment to remember that the importance of the holiday is to take a moment and celebrate the emotion in all its forms in your own life.
I hope you remember that Valentine's Day isn't about how much money you spend or putting on a big show one day a year. It's about remembering all year long how powerful love can be... and how it can bring a richer, fuller experience to our lives.
Happy Valentine's Day, however you celebrate,
Head over to my Facebook Page to enter to win this awesome Valentine's Day Sweet Love Prize Pack!
Romance Writers: Here's How To Be Successful
I write sweet romance.
I’ve been a published romance author for almost three years now, but I’ve spent most of those years trying to shrug off this sentence, to run from it. I’ve tried to make my descriptions of what I write more sexy, more risqué, and I’ve sometimes tried to portray my work as something it just isn’t. I’ve spent countless hours trying to figure out how to sell my fade-to-black romance as something more marketable. I’ve attempted, at least mentally, to worm my way into the most popular segments of the genre only to find myself not quite fitting.
It’s not that I’m ashamed to write sweet romance. It’s just that for most of my career, I’ve found myself in a defensive position of my writing. It is through these defenses, however, that I’ve learned a lesson valuable to any writer, but especially to those in the romance genre.
Taking Heat For Not Turning Up the Heat
I didn’t start my writing journey determined to focus on sweet romance; it just sort of happened. When I put my fingers on those keys and drafted my first novel, sweet romance just flowed out.
I could attribute my sweet romance and lack of sex scenes to many things. Perhaps it was my love of Nicholas Sparks that encouraged me to write books focused on the emotional side of relationships. Maybe it’s that my introverted, conservative personality never allowed conversations about sex to be quite comfortable. Or maybe it’s partially the fact that as a high school teacher, I knew I didn’t want to have to blush knowing some of my students were reading those scenes.
Whatever psychoanalysis we want to attribute to the cause, I know the outcome is that my works are lacking in the hot sex-on-the-page sort of scenes.
It’s not that my characters are chaste or that I can’t appreciate the value of sex in romance. I truly do. I think we all have our preferences when it comes to spice in our novels, though, and I believe there’s a place for all types of heat levels in the romance genre.
Regardless, I’ve found myself “taking heat” for my notable lack of heat. Over the years, I’ve heard comments about the lack of sex in my books and the disappointment over the lack of physicality. The words “sweet romance” seem to incorrectly conjure images of cheesy, unrealistic scenes where everyone is constantly happy, and life is perfect. I’ve been accused of skipping crucial segments of the genre.
Again, I get that and appreciate the value of those comments. We each have our preferences and our tastes. These are the greatest gifts literature gives us—stories to fit everyone’s desires and the freedom to critique the stories that don’t speak to us. As an English teacher, I try to impress upon my students the idea that every single book has value, even if it doesn’t strike a chord with you.
Nonetheless, for so long, I’ve had a hard time appreciating the value of my own work. Daunted by a market that is seemingly owned by books with heat, I’ve questioned my writing. I’ve felt the “sex sells” society values creeping in on me. I’ve questioned what could happen if I just jumped the “no sex” hurdle. I’ve tried in my drafts to be sexier and more risqué. I’ve considered crossing that not-so-invisible divide within the genre.
And you know what? It didn’t feel right. At all.
It was with my last release, which is perhaps one of my sweetest romances, that I realized one important thing: Your own truth is the one you should value when it comes to your writing.
For me, that truth is that I am a sweet romance writer. I will never fit into the Fifty Shades kind of world in the romance genre, and that’s not a bad thing.
It is only when I had this epiphany that I realized my own value as a writer and the worth of my stories. It was when I came to terms with exactly who I am as a romance writer that I could better appreciate my successes and stop focusing on what I am not.
Write Your Story
It’s not just sweet romance that is marked by incorrect stigmas. At several book events recently, I’ve seen the other side of the spectrum. When I mention the word “romance,” I see a shriveling of the nose accompanied by one of the following statements:
Through these comments I realized: No matter what type of romance you write, spicy or sweet, you’re going to have critics. You will never suit everyone’s tastes.
And you know what? That’s perfectly okay.
As romance writers, we cannot measure success by what’s popular or what the market demands. We can’t base the heat level of our book on marketing trends or on variables like reader preference and opinions of strangers.
At the end of the day, we must learn to value our own instinct, our own passion, and our own voice. We must learn to be true to our stories and characters. We must write in the way we are called to write. We must tell the stories we yearn to tell in exactly the way we want to tell them.
It is only when we learn to listen to our own voices and let our guts be our guides that we can truly reach success in the genre.
So sweet or spicy, sex or not, learn to write the story that speaks to you, and the rest of this arduous but rewarding writing journey will lead you to the exact point you are supposed to be.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing, a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post, and a high school English Teacher. To celebrate sweet love, visit her on Facebook.
Genuine, Heartfelt Love Stories
Love isn't just about sex.
It's the one thing I learned from my favorite writer, Nicholas Sparks.
From the time I first opened one of his books in junior high, I realized how beautiful, magical, tragic, and complex love truly was. Watching two very diverse people with different struggles, backgrounds, and beliefs find their way to each other was magnetizing. I loved to see how they would meet, how they would overcome their hesitancy, and, most of all, how they would grow and change each other.
The power of the love story wasn't in the physical connection--although the first kiss scenes were always some of my favorites. The true power was in their emotional connection, their ability to overcome odds, and the ability to show that love could triumph even where it was thought to be forever lost.
Perhaps, without even knowing it, my love of Nicholas Sparks' books was preparing me for my own writing journey later on.
When I wrote Voice of Innocence, my first novel, I didn't plan on writing sweet romance--it just came naturally. It was where I thought the depth of the story was. It was where the emotional side of life was resting that I wanted to uncover. It wasn't necessarily an intentional choice to write on the sweeter side of the genre--it was simply what flowed from my pen sitting on my parents' deck that summer when I was twenty-one.
And each story follows the same path. I don't set out with the rigid rule for myself to keep my books clean. I don't set out to keep the focus on the emotional rather than the physical.
It's just what the characters and the stories decide.
In many ways, I think Nicholas Sparks is to blame. He showed me that the true depth of emotion was resting in the connection, in the sweet looks, in the inspiring gestures. Perhaps this is why when I write romance, I focus on the emotional connection, on the love that's experienced in everyday life, and on the love experienced outside of the bedroom walls.
My characters in my eight novels aren't celibate. They love and share and bond. They get into heated situations, and their sexual tension is certainly palpable in many scenes. They give in to lust and primal feelings. They are, after all, human. They are in love. Sex is a part of love.
It's just not the only part.
So although my characters experience their share of intimacy, my books focus on the other areas of intimacy--emotional connection, trust, friendship, laughter, empathy, and strength. They focus on the hardest times in life--loss of loved ones, disappointments, failures, and betrayal--and how love can help us overcome these times. They focus on all of the gritty, raw emotions that are part of the human experience.
My characters are real in their journeys, their words, and their choices. They get angry. They swear. They change their minds and get confused. They fail and make bad decisions. They doubt themselves and each other.
They are also real in their relationships. They aren't perfect, just like in real life. This has always been my goal with my writing.
And, most importantly, just like in real life, their relationships aren't just about sex. Their love stories are complex, weighty journeys filled with all sorts of emotions and connections. Just like in real life, their love stories are not defined by sexuality or physicality. They are defined by multifaceted aspects that contribute to who they are and what they change into.
Love, in the real world, isn't just about sex. Thus, I have always felt like it was my duty to show that romance can be real.... and can be about more than just one thing.
Romance that's real. Romance that's sweet.
That's my mission with my writing.
Feel free to join me on my mission to show that the romance genre can reflect real life... and be beautiful because of it.
If you need hot on the page sex, these books probably aren't for you
A bookworm at heart and a lover of the romance genre since junior high, I always dreamed of being an author. For me, though, being an author was a wild, crazy dream, one of those things you daydream about but never think will happen to you.
In my last year of college, I took a class called “The Literature of Health & Healing.” It changed everything. Suddenly, we were talking about bucket lists and dreams. I realized I had no reason to wait to chase my wildest dream--writing a novel. I went home, sat on my parents’ deck, and started writing what would become my first novel, a sweet contemporary romance set in a town very similar to my own.
Voice of Innocence is about a couple who are high school sweethearts when Corbin is wrongfully convicted of a crime. Told from their perspective decades later, it’s a tale filled with regrets, sorrow, and the idea that first love truly never fades away.
My husband, the man who also taught me what love looks like, is the one who encouraged me to send my first book to publishers. After a long journey, I found a publisher and got to see my wildest dream come true.
Now, my eighth novel just released with my amazing publisher I am proud to call home, Hot Tree Publishing. It’s been a wild and crazy journey, just as wild and crazy as my dream. I am so blessed that a small-town girl like me gets to live out my biggest dreams.
What are my books like? Sweet, genuine, and realistic. That’s how reviewers describe me. I’m in the romance genre, but my books aren’t only about love triangles and finding “the one.” They’re sometimes gritty and raw. They’re about impossible situations, frightening tragedies, and also some hilarious settings. I write both chick lit and romantic drama, so out of my eight novels, there’s a balance of humor and tears.
If you’re looking for hot sex on the page, these aren’t for you. My books focus on the emotional side of love--with a touch of spice thrown in. After all, everyone can appreciate some hot foreplay, smoldering kisses, and nice abs now and again, right? Still, my focus is on the buildup and the emotional side of romance. These tend to be books you can share with all of the women in your life--your mom, your grandma, your best friend--and not blush too much.
My books focus on realism. I want women to see themselves in my characters. I want their complexities, their confusions, and their struggles to feel so real that you forget you’re reading a book. I want you to see yourself, your best friend, your coworker in the strong, emotional characters of my books. I want you to see your own version of romance in the pages.
My characters aren’t perfect because I’m not perfect. None of us are. They change their minds, make mistakes, get lost, doubt themselves, and find joy in the simple things. They are raw and honest. They are complex.
Real romance. Genuine romance. Heartfelt romance. That’s what I’m focusing on.
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