Thursday, June 6, 2013

Today's Special - - Virginia Kantra

It's always a great day when Virginia Kantra comes to visit.   Not only does she write some of my favorite contemporary romance characters but she's also a genuinely lovely person whose smile lights up any room.  Her current Dare Island series, set on an island off the North Carolina coast, evokes a sense of warmth, emotional complexity and strong family unity that has me enjoying each visit while already anticipating the next.  The pages of a Virginia Kantra book always offer a happy place for me to linger. Please welcome Virginia as she blogs about finding your happy place.  

Finding Your Happy Place – Virginia Kantra

Last week when I changed my profile pic on Facebook, the talented Judith Arnold commented, "You look relaxed and happy – not like a writer at all."

I laughed, but there is this notion that writers are depressed or angry alcoholics drifting around the house in their bathrobes. (In contrast to the stereotype of romance writers as pink silk-clad matrons with a lap dog, rather than a lap top, a boa, and—these days--a pair of handcuffs.)  In truth, of course, writers have to deal with the same stresses that all women face--messy houses and messy lives, broken nails and broken promises, worries about our parents, our children, and our world.

That's why we love romance. In our stories, the heroine always triumphs.  Good wins. Love conquers all.

But it can be hard to write about hope and faith and courage and happy endings when your own life is not following the storyline you set out for it. Friend and mentor Suzanne Brockmann and I were talking about this a couple of years ago when I intoned, "We must find the Happy Place."

See that beach behind me in the photo? That's my happy place. I’ve been in love with the North Carolina coast

since my husband took me there on vacation years and years ago. His dad was stationed at Camp Lejeune, like Meg's dad in Carolina Girl. We went there with our kids, and we still sneak away every chance we get.

That's the setting for the Dare Island stories, and one of the joys of writing this series is the feeling of coming home. My first stories (the MacNeill brothers' books, now available for Kindle and Nook) were family-centered romance also set in North Carolina. These are stories about the ways we help each other through tough times, neighbor to neighbor, families pulling together.

Writing about the Fletchers of Dare Island evokes that same sense of joy and escape, warmth and memories for me.

Because the real search for the "happy place" is about more than setting. It's our longing for a place to belong. For roots. For family. And for love.


Raleigh-Durham Airport the Tuesday before Thanksgiving was crowded with comings and goings, the usual business travelers almost lost in a sea of students with backpacks and ear buds, soldiers with duffles, young families with strollers. Mothers kissing daughters, fathers hugging sons, old friends and young lovers going into each other’s arms, reconnecting with relief and joy.

All going somewhere, Meg thought. Not in control of every step of the journey, but hopeful about their destinations.

Like her.

She wheeled her bag into the terminal, determined to hit Starbucks before she hit the road.
And there he was, in almost the same place. Part of the landscape of her heart, her signpost home.


--from Carolina Girl

What's your happy place?

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  1. My happy place is where I am, in WV with the hills and the trees and the rivers. The only difference between where I am at this moment and where my heart truly lies is I would want to be a little closer to the country. I do live in the middle of a town right now and I prefer farther out where the houses aren't quite so close. Other than that, I am good to go!

    1. Isn't it nice to be in the middle of your happy place every day?

  2. Carolina Girl is my book for today. It's been waiting on my Kindle since the early a. m. Tuesday.

    I love my hometown, but really so long as people I love are close by and I have a steady supply of books, I'm in a happy place.

    1. Hope you enjoy it, Janga. I loved returning to Dare Island for another visit with the Fletchers!

  3. Hello and welcome, Virginia! Congrats on your new release!

    My happy place is wherever my sweet family is, and usually that's right here at home. Oh, and like Janga mentioned, a steady supply of books is great, too! :)

    1. I think we'd probably all agree on that steady supply of books, Andrea.

  4. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. I love this series and so enjoyed the first book and I know I am going to enjoy this one just as much.
    As for my happy place, it is in my own little corner of the world. When things are getting our of control or I have been away from home a few days. I know that I can be to my little corner of the world and all will be peaceful..

    1. How lovely to have that peaceful corner of the world to call your own. :)

  5. My happy place is reading a good book at the beach with my family around me.

  6. For me it's the end of the day, curled up in bed with purring cats (a snoring husband lol) and a good book! I've heard great things about this story!!

  7. My happy place is inside the covers of a good book...and this one sounds just perfect :)

    Marcy Shuler

  8. I still say you look relaxed and happy in that beautiful photo! So glad you have a happy place to go to. Beaches cheer and soothe me, too. One of my happy places is the boardwalk-lined beach in Spring Lake, New Jersey, which suffered serious damage from Hurricane Sandy. But word is, the beach and boardwalk have been restored, and I'll be going back there again this summer.

  9. Hi Virginia! I live in North Carolina and I think it's a pretty cool place. (I might be a little bias) While I love the coast my happy place is the Great Smokey Mountains. (sigh!) I think it's great your book is set in NC. I always love to see it as a book setting.

    Wanda Barefoot

  10. I like my house - I did an addition a few years ago & have big windows that look over the backyard.
    I also love the beaches outside of Charleston SC - I'll be going back there with family this August after not getting there since my Mom died - I hope we don't get impacted with the hurricane season which is predicted to be a big one.

    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  11. Since vacation is not an option at this point, we have a nearby beach with a boardwalk. It is very peaceful. Also, reading is my happy place!

  12. My happy place is usually anywhere my husband and I manage to escape to.I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York. We had a camp on a small lake up in the mountains. Spending time up there was heaven. Sitting quietly on the dock, canoeing out in the reeds, hiking through the woods, or just sitting on the open area at the top of the nearby mountain gave such a sense of peace. Luckily, my husband likes much the same thing so it is easy to get away to a happy place together.

  13. Wyoming. Was just there last month, and the sense of being able to breathe deeper and more freely was terrific. I recapture that feeling when I write about it, too. ... Even if I'm killing off people :-)