Every romance author (and reader) knows – it’s all about the HEA. The Happily Ever After. In an ever increasingly cynical world, where most of the real-life stories we read and hear about have anything but a happy ending, it’s no wonder the romance genre is so popular. We want to escape the disappointments of the real world, lose ourselves in a story that, we know, will end on a positive note, with the antagonist thwarted, the people involved safe and sound, and yes, the main characters riding into the cliched sunset toward romantic, if not wedded, bliss.

Romance Writers of America defines the romance genre thus:

“Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love. “

Those of us in romance (aspiring or published author of, or consumer of) know those elements are required. The ending has to satisfy and wrap up those romantic loose ends, either with the classic “Happily Ever After” or HEA, or the “Happy For Now” or HFN that’s increasingly found in contemporary romances and women’s/chick lit.

But that’s in fiction. Real life doesn’t work that way.

Does it?

Photograph by Kain's Photography

Photograph by Kain’s Photography

Five years ago today, I got my HEA. My very own romantic hero and I walked down the aisle, exchanged vows and rings, and went off to enjoy everything that’s suppose to come after “and they lived Happily Ever After”. The road to wedded bliss followed the general expectations of that central love story. We both had our hang ups and jaded views of love and romance, for various reasons. We had to learn to trust and confide in each other, how to communicate respectfully and effectively, overcome obstacles and conflicts, both internal and external, before we could enjoy our happy ending.

And that’s the end, right?

Well, as we all know, real life doesn’t usually end with the HEA. If we want to be honest and fair, even though it’s never shown, we have to imagine the HEAs of our favorite romance novels aren’t really the end either. Relationships are constantly in need of review, repair, and reflection. No HEA is every truly set in stone, even if books make us want to believe so. The thing is, people expect their HEAs to be the end, that they will never have to put another ounce of effort into keeping the HEA happy.

But it does take work. If you forget to nurture your relationship, even after the HEA, it’s going to fall apart eventually. Here’s my take on it – the Central Love Story that got you to your HEA needs to remain the Central Love Story after the HEA. There will continue to be challenges and conflict – family crises, financial matters, career aspirations and goals – that will make it hard to keep the happy in your HEA. Sometimes you have to learn to communicate all over again. Sometimes one or both of you will have to make sacrifices in order to allow the other person to grow and achieve success. Both people in the HEA need to feel like a vital, successful part of the Central Love Story. You’re in it together.

My hero and I have definitely had to deal with our share of challenges and conflict. Sometimes we handled them with grace, and other times we forgot how to approach them in a way that would keep our Central Love Story completely  healthy. But we never forgot the Central Love Story, or the need for a Happily Ever After.

Even though we’re five years into our HEA, I bet the rest of the story is going to be a fantastic, satisfying read.

Photograph by Kains Photography

Photograph by Kain’s Photography

The last couple months have flown by, and there have been several days when it felt like I had no time to breathe. The end is in sight, at least in terms of school – only nine days left until summer vacation, and we’re all feeling it.

Looking ahead to the end of the school year brings to mind what, exactly, I hope to accomplish writing-wise in July. The past two summers, I’ve utilized JulNoWriMo, which resulted in the birth of the chick lit romance and the growth of the historical romance. But this July, I have a bit of a laundry list of threads in need of tying, and time is rather of the essence.

So here’s the list of things I hope to complete before the end of July:

  1. Finish the historical romance. Right now, it’s standing at about 95k, more than I anticipated or intended, but I’m very close to the end. Once it’s done, I can let it sit for a while before I start trimming and revising.
  2. I hired a copy editor in April to give the chick lit romance the once-over, but other than a cursory glance, I haven’t had any time to sit with the MS and work through her suggestions. So that’s on the list.
  3. Catch up on critiques I owe to critique partners.
  4. Work through some of the preliminary planning of a new historical romance idea I came up with a couple months back and sort of brainstormed a bit last weekend at the CNYRW mini conference with Susan Meier.

Beyond those four items, I would like to send the chick lit romance out to a few agents and editors, start testing the waters with it. If it happens, bonus, but if not, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I also plan to catch up on some reading, watch some movies, and generally just relax as much as possible.

Especially since there are Big Important Things happening in August that will take up most of my time and energy, and rightly so.

A lot of projects have been getting derailed lately, mostly by real life. I’m finally on the upward swing toward summer vacation (there are 34 school days left, not that I’m counting), and now that we’ve made it past state testing and parent conferences and report cards, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

But, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean a whole lot of writing has been going on.

Don’t get me wrong. I managed close to 8k new words on the historical romance during the April “Book in a Week” challenge, which brought me within three chapters of the end. My chick lit romance is currently in the hands of a copy editor, who’s giving the MS a thorough once-over before I start sending out queries. And an online critique partner is doggedly slogging through the historical Magnum Opus Part 1 a few chapters at a time.

I guess I feel like I haven’t been particularly productive. Add in the fact that our master bathroom is under renovation, which means much of the house is under renovation dust, and toss in a hearty helping of “I don’t have the energy to get off the couch most nights”, and you can imagine how it feels like I’m just treading water right now.

The end is in sight. I think the historical romance will be wrapped up, at least the rough draft, by the end of June. I’m shooting for the end of May, but I won’t be surprised or disappointed if that deadline whooshes past. If I can get all my current projects ship-shape and moving in the right direction toward possible publication (submissions, queries, maybe starting to really look into indie-publishing options) by the end of July, I’ll feel very accomplished.

This has been a tiring year. A great year, and I’ve been so blessed with all that’s happened in the past several months. But I’m ready for a little break. My plans for July involve chilling on my couch, watching back-seasons of Game of Thrones and a variety of other stuff.

Because, come August, I will be busier than ever.

I’m a long-time user of Microsoft products. I’ll admit it. And to be honest, the main reason is because of necessity. The computers in my high school had Windows 95. All the campus-owned computers at my college ran Windows 98 or XP. The computers at work run Windows XP (though we’re now slowly upgrading to Windows 7). All of our personal computers have run a Windows operating system of one generation or another.

And with that came the productivity software. When I purchased my first computer for college in 1999, we dropped the dollars to have it come with whatever version of Office was current at the time. I purchased MS Office 2003 when I upgraded my computer for grad school. And the hubs and I gladly reused that Office 2003 license on our home computer when my grad school machine finally gave in to The Blue Screen of Death.

In the past couple years, however, we’ve avoided anything related to MS Office on our home computers. Our desktop needed a major reinstall of Windows about a year ago, due to some freak registry error I couldn’t comprehend, and we just barely managed to save the contents of our hard drive (including thousands of vacation photos, the value of which cannot be priced). We decided not to bother reinstalling Office 2003 and went with OpenOffice instead.

I had made the decision to do the same for my Acer netbook. Yes, the one that nearly died six months after purchasing it, and which the hubs resuscitated.

For a really long time, this seemed to be a good decision regarding our productivity software. I mean, free is always the best price, and I don’t do a lot of fancy stuff with Word or Excel or anything like that. Plus, since I use WriteWayPro as my writing software, all I really needed a word processing program for was to format drafts in their entirety and work on stuff from, well, work.

We’ve batted around the idea of biting the bullet and purchasing MS Office again for quite a while. For one thing, just about every file I transfer to and from work requires some fixing on either end, because we upgraded to Office 2010. And despite OpenOffice being “compatible”, it really isn’t. The formatting is off 99% of the time.

And as for writing – well, OpenOffice has decided it no longer knows how to recognize American English, despite the US dictionary extension being installed. I can’t do a true spell check if the program thinks every word is spelled wrong. And the formatting issues irritate me too. It’s just really getting to a point where OpenOffice has outlived its usefulness.

Microsoft has its ups and downs. I think we’d be hard pressed to find a productivity suite anywhere that does everything just as its supposed to, with no bugs. The bigger headache now is that you can’t even buy a multi-machine license anymore, unless you want to “subscribe” to Office 365 – for $99 a pop every year. I get that the point is so you can get the latest updates every time you renew. But really, Microsoft? You’re that short on funds that you have to make your productivity software a subscription? I can’t even just buy Word?

Greedy bastards.

You do not play fair.

Join us for some Blarney and bits and pieces of the Emerald Isle.

Sign up now through March 17, 2014


Welcome to the Bit O’ Irish mini blog hop.

Rules: bloggers must post something Irish, even if it is vacation pics taken while on the Isle. Participants may join in any day before St. Patrick’s Day. Please make sure to visit fellow hoppers. If you would like to add something to the  main giveaway, please notify me with a comment. All participants are welcome to add their own giveaways on their site. Erin Go Bragh!


I never knew I had any Irish heritage until 11th grade, when I was assigned a family tree project for my AP U.S. History class. Low and behold, my paternal grandmother’s branch of the tree had more than a little bit of Irish! Granted, the family lines that heralded from Ireland settled in Canada before coming here, but it was still a delightful revelation to know I didn’t have to pretend to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day – I really am part Irish!

Celebrating this holiday – one which really originated in the United States as more than a religious observance – isn’t something I’ve ever done to any great extent. I wear green. I listen to some Irish reels and may sometimes be heard singing things like “Danny Boy.” A chocolate Irish stout cake may have made an appearance in my kitchen last year. It’s interesting to note that since the 1970s, a celebration, which began to recognize Irish-American culture during the 19th and early 20th centuries, has taken its place in Ireland itself.

Hopefully, somebody’s still giving St. Patrick his due…

Interested in more St. Patrick’s Day history? Check out:

Georgia Public Broadcasting – The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day

National Geographic – Saint Patrick’s Day 2014: Facts, Myths, & Traditions

History.com – History of St. Patrick’s Day



We will be spotlighting Jill Bisker’s inspirational story Within Reach and giving away a variety of ebooks and two $5 Amazon gift card.

 withinreachfinal copy

Within Reach is the story of Emma, a woman coming to terms with her mother’s increasing dementia and the everyday challenges associated with it.  Inexplicably, she finds herself ‘re-living’ specific events from her past.  She soon wonders if her own sanity is slipping, and only her mother can help find the key.

About The Author

small author copy 

 Jill Bisker lives in Stillwater, MN with her husband and a calico cat named Senora, and a grown son who is in college. She believes in empowering women to be strong enough to protect themselves, while still soft enough to be loving and compassionate. Her work includes paranormal mystery, traditional high fantasy, as well as contemporary and humorous fantasy and an everyday living blog. Once a dedicated stay at home Mom, Jill now writes full-time.

Connect with Jill:

Facebook Page:     https://www.facebook.com/authorjillbisker

Pinterest Page:  http://www.pinterest.com/jillbisker/

Website/Blog: www.jillbisker.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JillBisker

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/102225571446174386202

Email: jkatbisker@gmail.com


Join in the Blarney. Click on the Pot of Gold below for a chance to win cash prizes great reads.

pot of gold


Choose from the following ebooks:

      Within Reach

      By Jill Bisker

      withinreachfinal copy


Merry Christmas, Henry

By Aubrey Wynne

Contemporary Romance

Henry small cover  shortstoryr 


Craving Vengeance and Covert Exposure

By Valerie Clarizio

Romantic Suspense

cravingvengeancevjc covertexposurevjc 


By Mary Kate Brogan 
(Romance set in 1950′s Ireland)


Symphony of Light and Winter      Imposter’s Kiss

By Renea Mason

Paranormal Romance

symphonyoflightandwinter_byreneamason-800x1200     TheImpostorsKiss_ByReneaMason-200x300 copy

Muir Bhreatan

by K.E. Shade

Historical Romance

muirbhreatan_600x900 copy

Click below to add your link. Remember to stop by these blogs for more luck o’ the Irish:


Note: When you add your link, you can copy and paste the thumbnails to your page and the links will be all done for you. Less work and more time for green beer and corned beef with cabbage.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 569 other followers

%d bloggers like this: