Posted On June 23, 2017 by Print This Post

Plan: Read by Suzanne Brockmann

We’ve all heard the advice that it’s best not to read while writing, in case we somehow accidentally absorb details from our reading materials into our own writing. New York Times Best-Selling Author SUZANNE BROCKMANN joins us today with her own take on this topic.

Note: Fans of Suzanne’s beloved Troubleshooters series will be excited to know that, after a brief hiatus, the series returns with book #19. Lieutenant Peter Greene’s story, SOME KIND OF HERO, hits the bookshelves on July 11. I love that the heroine of this story, Shayla Whitman, is a romance writer.

Now, please welcome Suzanne Brockmann!

It’s been hard to write romance while living in this giant dumpster fire that is 2017. It seems as if all of America has been given a permission slip to hate whoever is viewed as “other.” And that ugliness already has a body count that’s destined to grow larger. (Our fellow citizens of color have been aware of that body count for all of their lives, but those of us who are white and/or privileged are experiencing shock as that hate is, perhaps for the first time in our sheltered lives, oozing into our neighborhoods, too.)

 

Sometimes I have days when I simply can’t write—when I’m drawn to Twitter so I can watch, in seeming real time, the latest attacks on what I’d thought were unbreakable American values—truth, honesty, equality, honor… It’s hard to pull away, but I try to remember to set the timer on my phone. Ten minutes on Twitter, (okay, fifteen… twenty…?) then break free.

 

How about I read a book? How about I read a romance, instead instead of staring, transfixed at the train-wreck?

 

I fell into a bad habit over the past twenty-five years of my romance writing career—I created a rule that said I could not read fiction while writing my own book. And since I was always writing, I stopped reading everything that wasn’t non-fiction.

 

Because of that, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

 

Part of my self-care (not just as a writer, but as a person) is to READ MORE. In fact, I’ve changed my rule to I must read fiction to feed and protect my writing.

 

Rather than lying on my office sofa, gritting my teeth as I refresh my Twitter feed, I can counter any and all hate by reaching for love in the form of a hope-affirming romance novel.

 

Lately, as I’ve embraced Plan Read, I’ve been reaching for #OwnVoices authors. Authors of color and LGBTQ authors. Authors who are disabled. Authors who allow me to take a journey toward hope and love with characters whose lives are different from my own—different, but still so basically the same, since what we all long for the most is connection, comprised of respect and that beautiful gift, love.

 

Love is love is love is love. Love is a gift. Love survives the darkest night. Love gives us strength.

 

These basic romance themes are important to remember—and to hold in our hearts even while we shiver with despair and fear. Love is stronger than fear. Love is stronger than hate. Love always wins.

 

LOVE WILL WIN.

 

As romance authors, our words have impact. Our stories provide support and solace. Our books have the power to change hearts and minds.

 

So, write! (And I’m shouting that at me as well as you!) We must gather our strength and write write write write!

 

Write stories of love and hope as if our lives depend upon it—because they do.

 

Here’s the mantra that I’m using to move myself toward writing:

 

When I write, I fight.

 

And on the days when writing is too hard—I’ll read. (To paraphrase the brilliant Hamilton soundtrack, which is another source of comfort for me, I’ll read my way out. In my case, out of those sometimes regular, sometimes random but always dark roller coaster dips into despair…) Again, because when I read, I remember why we need to write.

 

Somewhere, right now, someone is teaching a child that she should fear and hate people of color, or people who are Muslim, or people who are gay, or that she should scorn and deride women who are intelligent, ambitious, kickass leaders.

 

Someday, that child will be a young woman, and maybe—oh, how I hope!—she’ll pick up a romance novel, and our words, our stories, and our inclusive, equality-minded characters will convince her that those “truths” she was taught are wrong. That love outshines hate—always and forever.

 

When we write, we fight.

 

One last thing:

 

As well as reading, supporting, and advocating for #OwnVoices authors, I believe it’s important to include characters who represent all of America’s vastly diverse citizenry in my own romance novels.

 

For decades now, I’ve written books set in the world in which I want to live—a world where people are respected and treated equally, where love, truth, and honor (and intelligence and science!) are highly valued. Where differences are seen not as something to fear, but instead as a rich resource—where differences are embraced in a celebration and creative explosion of gorgeously diverse art, beautiful music and passionate dancing, amazing, poetry, delicious spices, and brilliant new ideas.

 

Some months ago, I wrote a thread on Twitter about how I approach writing characters who are different from me. (ie anyone who is not white, female, born in 1960, grew up in New York and Connecticut, ie almost all of my many hundreds of characters!)

 

Here’s that thread:

 

Writing chars not EXACTLY like you is easy: LISTEN & empathize.

 

But our society trains white people to ignore or discount nonwhite voices, and we train male people to ignore or discount female voices.

 

So when you listen, you must first dig through all of the myths & lies told by people in power. Dig past stereotypes & find true voices.

 

Then LISTEN. Don’t argue or dispute, LISTEN. Understand why & how what you hear is this voice’s truth, even though it may not be your own truth.

 

Sit with that different truth, and imagine that different life. Empathize. Imagine it’s you. Your own truth may start to shift & grow.

 

If that’s uncomfortable, stay silent & keep listening. Learn to LISTEN, learn to FEEL, learn to view the world through a wider lens.

 

And when you finally start to think of that someone else as “we” instead of “them,” you’re finally ready to write.

 

Whether my char is a Navy SEAL (and I’m REALLY not!), or my char doesn’t share my exact backstory/race/orientation/culture/gender…

 

…I always think of my characters as “we.” After listening, I know we have far more in common than not, & I’m ready to tell our story.

 

If you hear yourself say “I can’t write _____”, learn to LISTEN & push back against any discomfort that listening creates.

 

LISTEN. Keep listening until the whole world becomes “we.”

 

(Except for Nazis. They can ALWAYS be the bad guys in your book.) /THREAD

 

 

***

Let’s talk both self-care and #OwnVoices authors. What do you do to take care of and protect your sensitive, fragile inner-writer? And who are your favorite #OwnVoices authors?

 

(I recently posted my summer TBR list, including many #OwnVoices authors, over at BN! The books on my list include those written by Alexis Hall, Farrah Rochon, Alyssa Cole, Heidi Heilig, James Kirkwood, Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, Louise Gornall, Angie Thomas… And of course I always recommend #OwnVoices author Jason T. Gaffney, AKA my son, who writes laugh-out-loud-funny rom-coms for my new Suzanne Brockmann Presents line of m/m category romance novellas. His latest book, Fixing Frank, is available now!)

 

***

Bio:

Ed Gaffney, Suzanne Brockmann and Jason Gaffney

Suzanne Brockmann is the RITA-award winning, New York Times bestselling author of over fifty-five novels, including her Troubleshooters series about Navy SEAL heroes and the women—and sometimes men—who win their hearts. In addition to writing books, Suz has co-produced several feature-length indie movies, the rom-com The Perfect Wedding, and the upcoming thriller Russian Doll. She also edits a line of m/m category romantic comedy novellas called Suzanne Brockmann Presents, the latest of which, Fixing Frank, is available now. Suz’s next Troubleshooters novel, Some Kind of Hero, featuring a Navy SEAL hero and a romance novelist heroine, will be out in hardcover and ebook from Ballantine Books and in audio from Blackstone Audio on July 11th.

 

Website: www.SuzanneBrockmann.com

e-Newsletter: www.tinyletter.com/SuzanneBrockmann

BookBub (hot deals & new releases): https://www.bookbub.com/authors/suzanne-brockmann

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/32638.Suzanne_Brockmann

Twitter: www.twitter.com/SuzBrockmann

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SuzanneBrockmannBooks

SOME KIND OF HERO

The Troubleshooters return in the latest thriller from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann! Some Kind of Hero showcases Brockmann’s signature white-knuckle suspense, romantic twists, and sexy Navy SEALs.

Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Greene. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe—until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.

Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller—or to meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes—and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having a child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.

Still, working alongside Pete has its own perils—like letting the heat between them rise out of control. Intimate emotions could mean dangerous, even deadly, consequences for their mission. No matter what, they must be on top of their game, and playing for keeps . . . or else Pete’s daughter may be gone for good.

 

FIXING FRANK

 

Suzanne Brockmann Presents a new series of category romance novellas set in Southern California, written by Jason T. Gaffney with Ed Gaffney. Short, spicy, and funny, the California Comedy series puts the comedy in rom-com.

 

First grade teacher Terry O’Dell is thrilled when he’s chosen as a contestant on Fixing Our Future, a popular reality web series where the winner raises money for charity. A few weeks of light-hearted challenges and fun competition is exactly the kind of distraction he needs to get over his breakup with his fiancé. But when Terry learns that handsome landscaper Frank Vacca is another contestant on the show, his excitement turns to dread. Because Terry’s ex ran off with Frank’s ex. It’s only a matter of time before their embarrassing personal history is exploited by the show’s producers, in hopes of going viral with on-camera tears and maybe a table flip or two.

 

But Frank is not the kind of guy who waits for life to happen to him, and he decides to fight fire with fire. When their secret is exposed, he impulsively declares that he and Terry are better than ever, because they, too, have hooked up—in fact, they’re engaged. Already popular, the pair instantly becomes internet royalty. Of course it’s all a sham, and only a matter of time before the truth comes crashing down. But then, Frank and Terry—long at odds and constantly arguing—actually begin to fall for each other. And that’s when things really start to go wrong…

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24 Responses to “Plan: Read by Suzanne Brockmann”

  1. This post really hit home with me because I’ve found that I avoid romance when I’m feeling depressed. Instead, I’ll read mysteries or dark, dark suspense. I love the puzzle-solving involved in reading mysteries but if I live too much on the dark side, it gets harder to pull myself back into the light.

    Reading romance, on the other hand, leaves me with a warm, happy feeling that can lift me out of the doldrums for days after I finish the book.

    I enjoy reading romances by authors from different backgrounds than my own because it opens my mind to a bigger world.

    Thanks, Suzanne, for reminding us of the importance of reading. I have a plaque on my bookshelf that says, “Life is short. Read fast.” I live by that credo! 🙂

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 23, 2017, 3:08 am
    • What are you reading right now, Becke?

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | June 23, 2017, 9:10 am
      • I recently finished a wonderful, hard to describe book called MR. PENUMBRA’S 24 HOUR BOOKSHOP. It’s not a mystery as such, but it is very mysterious. One of my favorite books of the year is DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch – another book that is hard to describe.

        Next up in my mystery TBR pile are THE MAGPIE MURDERS, MIDNIGHT IN THE BRIGHT IDEA BOOKSTORE and Molly MacRae’s PLAID AND PLAGIARISM. My daughter and I both like PINTIP DUNN’s books, and we’re picking up books from her backlist as well as watching for new ones.

        I’ve read so many great romances it’s hard to pin down favorites, but I’d have to include Sally Thorne’s THE HATING GAME and Julie Anne Long’s HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON, both of which made me laugh. And also Kristan Higgins’ ON SECOND THOUGHT – I’ve read that one two or three times already.

        I’m fascinated with books about the history of Chicago, and I’ve had fun poking around in THE THIRD COAST: When Chicago Built the American Dream.

        And since I’m a fairly new fan of historical romance, I’m discovering authors I had missed. Currently I’m reading my way through Julia Quinn’s books.

        One of my absolute favorite books of the year is a highly anticipated upcoming release. I had the opportunity to read it prior to publication, and I’m looking forward to reading it again when it comes out this summer. It’s called SOME KIND OF HERO – the author is a longtime favorite of mine! 😉 Whenever I think of that book, Lionel Ritchie’s song “Hello” runs through my head. I LOVED it!

        And, uh, yes, you could say I’m a bookaholic. It’s a hard life, but somebody has to do it…

        Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 23, 2017, 11:47 am
        • Yes, Lionel’s HELLO as opposed to Adele’s! 🙂

          This list looks awesome!

          A really fun historical (with a hero of color!!) that I absolutely LOVED was Theresa Romain’s Secrets of A Scandalous Heiress. SO GOOD!

          And if you haven’t read it yet, Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE is a must-read for the entire world!!

          You must also try Heidi Heilig’s THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE. Soooooo good!

          Now that I’ve started reading again, I can’t stop!! (YAY!)

          Posted by Suz Brockmann | June 23, 2017, 2:34 pm
          • I took the train to my dad’s house yesterday, where my sisters and brothers and I started packing up his things, cleaning out the fridge, etc. He hadn’t been home in over a month.

            Anyway, I brought THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE to read on the train. I love it! I’m about halfway done. 🙂

            Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 27, 2017, 11:57 am
  2. Hi, Becke and everyone!

    Thanks for hosting my visit to Romance U!

    This post is timely (for me!), because I’ve been having some truly dark days lately, and I need to be reminded to give myself permission to step back and catch my breath.

    For a long time now, I’ve been trying to meditate daily, to include that as part of my daily self-care — to make it as essential a daily “must do” as brushing and flossing my teeth!

    Books and teachings by Sharon Salzberg (LovingKindness) and Sameet Kumar (Mindfulness for Prolonged Grief) have really resonated with me, and I’ve also benefited enormously from using the Headspace app. (It has a free 30 day trial, so I tried it, and damn! It helped me prioritize and set aside a brief (10 mins!) time first thing each morning to meditate — to take a moment to pause and breathe before launching forth into the madness of the day. (Headspace app guy also has a really charming Australian accent, which doesn’t hurt!!)

    I’ve found that combining “must do” self care really works for me. For example, I do one particular yoga stretch that my back truly needs me to do daily for those 10 mins I meditate each morning.

    I’ve also started slow-walking on the treadmill at my local gym. I’m talking SUPER slow. (I badly injured my foot back in 2010, and my body and balance is still suffering, even all these years later.) So I slow-walk, focusing on my balance, with carefully controlled movement, while I read on my ereader. And I do that every other day, for at least 30 mins. So even if I have super-busy, no-read days, I know I’ll get at least 30 mins of self-care reading in tomorrow!

    (Right now I’m reading Louise Gornoll’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, a YA about a girl with OCD and agoraphobia, who still manages to connect with the cute new boy-next-door.)

    — Suz

    Posted by Suz Brockmann | June 23, 2017, 9:03 am
    • Thanks for the recommendations! (I bet you’re regretting asking what I’ve been reading. Apologies for the book-length response!) I’m so sorry your foot is still bothering you. I remember you giving a workshop (was it in Columbus, OH?) right after you injured your foot. Feel better soon!

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 23, 2017, 11:49 am
      • Becke,

        That injury has become a lifelong issue. It doesn’t hurt anymore (much) but entire left side is so much weaker than my right, and my balance got completely messed with. So after the injury, as I learned to walk again, I didn’t learn right, and continued favoring my right side, which screws with my back, right…?

        So the super-slow walking on the treadmill allows me to work on balance and placement of my spine. I do the “think like a ballerina” thing, imagining a string coming out of the top of my head so I’m lined up correctly. It’s really helping. Plus it’s much easier to read while walking slowly!! 🙂

        Posted by Suz Brockmann | June 23, 2017, 2:37 pm
  3. Reading this piece was a lovely way to start my day. Thank you for posting these thoughts!

    Posted by Ava Hayden | June 23, 2017, 10:59 am
  4. Thanks, Suzanne. I needed that! And welcome back! I’ve missed the Troubleshooters.

    Cheers, Faith

    Posted by Faith Freewoman | June 23, 2017, 11:31 am
  5. Suzanne, thank you SO much for posting this. I actually teared up as I read it (and when’s the last time a writing blog did that to me? Never, that’s when), because you are so inside my head it’s scary.

    I’m printing this out for myself and putting it up where I can see it as I work. Because, like you, I sit on the couch and can’t look away from the train wreck that is Twitter (and Facebook) news/argument/fighting, and I’m growing more and more distressed and fearful by the day at what we’re becoming. I don’t write as much as I should, and I haven’t been reading at all. It’s the scariest time I’ve been through in my 59 years, because the people we always relied on to fix things like this aren’t there for us anymore. We’re adrift and on our own. But…

    WHEN WE WRITE, WE FIGHT.

    And when we read, we fight, too. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share your mantra. Thank you for the reminder, Suzanne.

    Posted by Linda Fletcher | June 23, 2017, 11:55 am
    • Linda,

      Please share freely!

      There’s a lot we can do with phone calls and visits to MOCs (members of congress), but we need to give ourselves the self-care we need to stay strong.

      And that’s where reading comes in, for me.

      This is a marathon length relay race, but there are enough of us in this to give ourselves the time we need to keep from burning up in a fiery ball of panic and fear!

      I’ve heard it described like this: Imagine we’re all in a group, and we’re singing, just “AH!” maybe in three part harmony, or maybe just in unison. And we have to keep holding that note for twenty minutes.

      Well, there’s no way any one person could sing an extended note for twenty minutes, but in a group, we can hold it out that long. It’s called “staggered breathing.” I take a breath then join in singing, then you take a breath while I’m still holding the note, and so on and on.

      This is how we’re going to win this thing — and be ready for weeks like this past one where we absolutely need to call our MoCs every single day.

      Sending you hugs — and try setting the timer on your phone when you go onto social media. When it sounds, it’s time to put it down. (Hard to do, I know!)

      hugs,
      suz

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | June 23, 2017, 2:45 pm
  6. Dark mysteries are rarely my first choice, but sometimes I need to read one to give me perspective and to remind me of things worth fighting for. I thought I’d read all of Tess Gerritsen’s mysteries, until I came across PLAYING WITH FIRE. It’s dark and scary and unforgettable.

    https://www.amazon.com/Playing-Fire-Novel-Tess-Gerritsen/dp/1101884363

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 23, 2017, 1:02 pm
  7. Afternoon Suz!

    I have always NOT followed the advice of don’t read what you’re writing…lol…stubborn that way…but by golly sometimes I find an idea for my book while I’m reading a different one. Not plagiarizing, but I think it just gets my brain into the right “frame of mind” and the next thing I know i’ve tossed the book aside and I’m writing furiously on my own.

    Of course, maybe that’s just my brain.=)

    Just had a lady in the restaurant the other day reading one of your books…=) I told her she’d have to stop by and read your post today – I hope she did!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Peters | June 23, 2017, 2:33 pm
    • Carrie,

      There’s no hard and fast rule for writing — it’s GOTTA be whatever works FOR YOU!!

      I think my “don’t read while writing” rule came from needing to treat myself like the two-year-old I can often be. When I find a good book, I cannot put it down. CANNOT. Which means the writing doesn’t get done.

      And then I moved into this phase where I stopped taking vacations, and was just writing 24/7/12 — and that was very VERY unhealthy.

      I’ve read more this year than I have in about ten years, and it’s bringing me back to life!!

      Say HEY! to the restaurant book lady for me, if she ever returns! 🙂

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | June 23, 2017, 2:53 pm
  8. Thank you for being a real ally. I’m a Muslim romance writer trying to get published, and I really appreciate writers like you that are trying to elevate marginalized voices, and are willing to listen and be open to understanding that your world view is not universal. Listening is the key here, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Acknowledge your privilege, and accept that you can be better. Muslims are going through a hell of a lot of crap in the real world now, let us have love in the romance community.

    I had a warm fuzzy feeling reading your post– you made my day.

    Posted by Farah | June 23, 2017, 4:13 pm
    • Thanks so much for joining us, Farah! Are there any books you’d like to recommend, books that “spoke” to you? If you do get published, please come back and share your good news with us!

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 23, 2017, 10:34 pm
    • Thanks, Farah.

      And welcome. Keep writing — there’s a need for your stories!!

      It’s funny, because it’s so obvious to me that romance novels have always been COMPLETELY about overcoming fear and prejudice to open one’s heart (and arms) to the so-called “other.” I mean, that’s the whole concept behind those classic gothics, right?

      Young woman goes to work for (stern older scary rich) man, and he’s the ultimate “other,” so strange and different (masculine) and he usually has some unproven murder hanging over his head, so he’s potentially dangerous, too. But she takes a risk — and her spunk and courage proves she’s worthy of winning her HEA. And as she begins to get to know him, she realizes her fear is groundless — they are more alike than they are different!! — and she wins that HEA of a life filled with LOVE.

      So why do some members of the romance community fail to see that this theme also applies to all “strangers?” And that a stranger becomes a friend with a little time and not all that much effort…?

      In an industry that focuses on stories of love, too many people are filled with (and ruled by) fear, and that’s a shame.

      I think (sadly) that humans are wired one of two basic ways: Those who greet the stranger at the gate with a welcome, in hopes of gaining a friend and learning something new and wonderful, and those who kill the stranger at the gate without a single word, fearful of the danger they might bring (could be a killer, could have the plague), and fearful even of making a friend because that means having to share food/women/medicine.

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | June 24, 2017, 9:15 am
  9. Suze – Thanks so much for this awesome post and for hanging out with us today. Have a wonderful weekend – happy reading!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 23, 2017, 11:14 pm

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