Friday, July 10, 2009

Celeste O. Norfleet GuestBlog: T.G.I.(Still Believe)F.

From Michelle: Celeste O. Norfleet doesn't just write sexy, heartfelt romances like "Sultry Storm," (how can u not love a series called Mother Nature Matchmaker?) and September's "When It Feels So Right." She also pens down-to-earth young adult novels for Kimani's TRU line that sell like hotcakes. Please welcome Celeste this morning with your warmest "TGI (still believe in HEA) F" Bella buongiorno...
From Celeste: Hello Bellas! I’m thrilled to be here today, thanks so much for the invite. Michelle, you’re the BEST!

One upon a time there lived a young girl who listened each night as her mother read her fairy tales from around the world. She sat snuggly in her pajamas, eyes wide in wonder listening as each story unfurled. There were kings and castles, queens and fairy godmothers, princesses and of course princes. Fraught with evil and debauchery, the stories would send her on a wondrous journey to make believe lands far, far away, to places where anything was possible.

That young girl was me many, many years ago. I loved stories with happy ends. They were comforting and reassured me that everything would always be alright. Later, as a teen and young adult, I learned otherwise. Life didn’t have the happily ever after endings I loved so much. So, I put away the childhood fantasies for what I thought was the reality of life. After all, there was no such thing as happily ever after and my childhood stories were all just that, stories. College, employment, mortgage, they all impacted my take on maturity and adulthood. In other words, I grew up.

A few years later, while at home with my two young children, I picked up a romance novel and my love of happily ever after was renewed. I realized that it was never really gone. It just sort of fell asleep for a while. Later, I started writing my own happily ever after stories, but with my own touch of reality. The characters reflect the people I see and the places I’ve

Now, thanks to romance, I'm back to being that hopeful person I once was. I’m older and wiser, but still filled with the childlike dream of happily ever after. Does it really exist? I don’t know. I
do know that we each get the opportunity to find our own happily ever after. Mine was in the eyes of my Prince Charming, Charles, then later in the eyes of my children. They are my …"and she lived happily ever after."

So Bellas, here’s my question, are you ever too old for happily ever after? Have you found your …and they lived happily ever after?

Click here to check out deets 'bout "Heart to Heart" (H2H) the new all-romance blog I'll be kicking off July 15 at RWA nationals for!


Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas, and welcome, Celeste! I've really been looking forward to your visit, because I find it very cool that you write both for romance crowds as well as the young adult crew. I'd love for you to tell us a bit about the young adult book today, please. One of our Bellas the other day had a question because a book she was given at her library as a YA had a bit more 'adult' content than she'd expected. This Bella is really comfy w/sensual content, but wasn't comfy w/her daughter having it yet. What are YA book? Is there a way to know what sensual content one's getting in a YA? Hope you don't mind givin us a mini course. :)

Now, bout that HEA... when I was younger, growing up, I definitely thought hea meant Prince Charming. As I grew older -- and it probably took my being married to realize it -- I realized that HEA expectations aren't just unrealitic for women (the stereotypical 'feminist' view of 'relying on a guy to make us happy' as if we're wrong to want to enjoy connection with men. I say stereotypical, because this isn't true feminist view, but a kind of caricature), but they're unfair to men and boys. They actually don't leave room for guys to be vulnerable, only allow guys to be perfect achievers, problem solvers, overbearing, alpha perfectionists. So guys end up feeling like they never get it right and they're miserable, too.

I wonder if romance readers might not be happier in their relationships -- or at least work harder -- because they understand clearly that HEAs happen in books and real-life happiness is hard work and takes partnership and compromise and, without a doubt, as you say, Celeste, lots and lots of hope. So, Hopeful EA in real life and Happily EA in romance. yeah. I likes that.

Becke Davis said...

I'm all about the happy ending. I love it in books (and I become very snarky when I don't get it), and I've found it in real life (although, hopefully I'm not at the "ending" yet!).

I've been married nearly forty years and, believe me, it's work. It's also fun and soooo nice to live with someone you are excited to see every day. That is not to say I don't often feel like throwing things at him.

I remember when we'd been married about a year and I was furious about something he said or did (no idea what it was). I felt a tremendous urge to throw something at him, and yet, part of my mind was still clicking away rationally.

My first thought was, "Okay, I'm really, really angry but I don't actually want to HURT him -- I just want to make a point. So if I throw something, it better be something soft." (We were in the kitchen at the time.)

My second thought was, "If I actually throw something, it better not be messy or I will have to clean it up." Which nixed my first idea: eggs.

I'd like to tell you that the rational part of my brain took over and I discussed my frustration rationally. Well, I could do that, but it wouldn't be the truth.

What I actually did was grab a stick of butter (in the wrapper) and lob it at him. As I recall, he caught it, and the stupidity of it hit us both at the same time, causing us to crack up laughing.

Of course, some fights are more serious, and some marriages don't have happy endings. It bothers me sometimes that our society puts so much focus on the wedding and so little on the "ever after."

I think that's one reason I enjoy romances that are about second chances, because we don't always do it right the first time around.

Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Celeste! I love the image of you in your snuggly pj's, listening to your mom reading stories.

Toshika said...

I love happy endings also and I'm a big fan of romance novels. You could say that I'm just getting my feet wet because I've only been reading them for a couple of years now but I know now that my flame for romance will never die out.

I met my Prince while attending college and here I am after sixteen years (13 of them in marriage so far...)together. I can say that I enjoy being in love and feel that he must have the same feeling for me to treat me so well.

Although we are an unlikely pair. Nearly polar opposites we treasure the kisses on the cheek and the holding of hands and endless hugs.

Thanks so much for the wonderful post and a platform to appreciate that Happily Ever After does exist in the real world. I can hardly wait for your next release Celeste! Best wishes for your continued success and your happily ever after.

Unknown said...

Golly, I hope not! Thanks for a great post. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Stacy~ said...

Hi Celeste. Lovely to have you here. Been a busy day so I'm doing a quick drive-by.

As for the HEA, I don't think you're ever too old for it, and sometimes it's worth waiting for. Well, I'm going to assume so since I'm still waiting LOL. Plus, I think it changes as you get older, and your expectations become more realistic, which means there's less room for disappointment in the end.

Have a great weekend, all!

Tiona said...

Hey, Bellas! Welcome, Celeste!
Me, I'm with Stacy and still waiting for my Prince. Or, maybe he's waiting for me.
Yes, relationships are hard work, as any relationship is, especially a married couple. But I do believe they exist. I see them all the time. But it seems the only ones that DO work are those couples that are willing to work hard at it. Go team!
Have a great weekend, everyone! Going to get some more romance novels from my Granny!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bellas
Thanks you so much for the warm welcome. I had such a great time writing my HEA post. It brought back wonderful memories of not only me with my mom, but also me with my daughter. I remember one conversation in particular…
Years ago I sat with my daughter, Jennifer, reading those same stories. After finishing a story she looked up at me and asked, “…and what happens next?” I told her that it was the end of the story. Unfazed she asked again, “I know, but what happens next after the happily ever after part?” As any good mother would answer, I told her that what happened next is that she goes to sleep and has sweet dreams. That was twelve years ago. My young daughter is now sixteen years old. We’ve since had “that” talk plus general conversations about life. She’s well adjusted and happy and I have no doubt that she will also find her happily ever after in time.
Becke and Toshika – I totally agree, marriage takes constant work and when it works it’s so well worth it. Charles and I have been married for 23 years and we’re still lovin’ every minute.
Stacy and PrincessBumblebee – I completely agree, you’re never too old for HEA.
Michelle – great questions about YA fiction. You’re absolutely right, I’ve seen and even purchased books for Jennifer that were way too mature for her. It’s disconcerting to say the least. She’s read some and others she’s just set aside. My Kimani TRU books lean less to romance and more to life lessons. I write what I’d like my daughter to read.
I once heard that romance is a dream – marriage is work. Any thoughts?

~ Celeste

Anonymous said...

Re: YA Books
You mentioned a Bella receiving a YA library book that was a bit more mature than she expected. I definitely see her point.
Here’s my take on YA books… YA novels rage from preteen to teen. I basically write for teen 13 – 17 year olds and of course adults. My books are topical and real with no sex at all. There is the first kiss, but nothing more physically engaging than that. I do show situations where my teen character must decide directions for their lives. I write subtle morality lessons. There are books out that delve more fully into more adult appropriate material. Personally I don’t agree. I write YA for teens and adults. I write romance for adults – it’s that simple. Unfortunately I haven’t seen stickers on books to warn of adult content in YA.
I’ve written three YA novels. Pushing Pause and Fast Forward are part of a YA series. The third I wrote with my teenage daughter, Jennifer. It’s called She Said, She Said (released by Kimani TRU April 2008) and it’s about a mother and daughter relationship. I wrote the mother’s part and Jennifer wrote the daughter’s part. Writing with my then 14 year old was truly an experience that I will never forget. There was crying and pouting and things tossed (sadly all from me), but in the end, She Said, She Said is an honest and heartfelt story about relationships and family and a summer journey into growing up and letting go. ~ Celeste

Anonymous said...

A good friend of mine is 63, her husband died of cancer 6 years ago and she just told me there is a new man in her life! She's so happy. It's not that you ever forget your first husband...your first love...but you can fall in love again.

amy kennedy said...

Celeste, I bow down to you - writing a book with a fourteen (at the time) year old daughter? That took courage.

I think it's so important to always believe in a happily ever after, but also, just like everyone else said, it takes a lot of work. Every day.

Celeste, my daughter was playing dress-up one day (20 years ago) and I said, 'what are you doing?'
'getting married,' she said. 'well, who are you marrying?' I asked. 'no one. myself.' and she flounced away. I always loved that. I felt as if she knew she needed her own hea before she could have it with someone else.

Anonymous said...

Hi Celeste,
Just stopping by to give you a shout out. I love comment about love and finding your soul mate. I like you believe in happy ending and with all romance that is what I look for.

For me it the most relaxing part of my life to get a good book and sit down to read and all the while reading the book I am feeling all of the emotions that the authors are going through as they are writing the book.

Now you know me love to see the characters so in love that they can't stand to be away from each other a long period of time.

Take care and keep writing those great book.


amy kennedy said...

Louise, I agree - that's the most relaxing part of my day too. That, and when every one else goes to bed. Thank you very much. Then I can actually relax and read.

Portia Da Costa said...

Thank you for a wise and wonderful post, and for the comments too, also wise.

I'll never stop wanting to read about happily ever afters! I recognise that in real life relationships can be challenging, and require a lot of work and compromise [married nearly 33 years here!] but with the right man, the work is worthwhile and richly rewarded. :)

Shelia Goss said...

Celeste & Michelle, I don't think you're ever too old for your happily ever after. I've met a man who could have come straight out of a romance novel--flaws and all. The verdict is still out however whether it's going to be happily ever after. It is happily right now :)

Renee Williams said...

I don't believe you're ever too old for happily ever after. Romance novels will always be my favorite genre. Even if I never experience happily ever after (it's up in the air right now), I will always believe in it.