Friday, January 28, 2011

Nourishing Our Own Love Story

My guest is bestselling author, Syrie James. After a successful career as a screenwriter, Syrie decided to follow her passion and write books. She writes both contemporary and historical fiction.

We all lead such busy lives today whether we work outside the home or not. Juggling family, work, writing, and time with our spouse isn't easy. How do we keep it fresh and the romance alive?

Syrie offers some suggestions she's utilized in her long marriage.

I have love on the brain. All the books I write are love stories, and there's a reason for it: I love writing about love. I know many of you share that same passion. But with Valentine's Day coming up, I'm reminded that the characters in our books shouldn't be the only ones experiencing romance and passion in their lives. We authors have to care for and nourish our own love stories and keep them alive and flourishing in the real world.

I know, I know. It's not easy to keep romance going when you're writing around the clock, doing Q&As and blogs to promote your new book, finishing the polish draft of your next book, updating your website, and sending out a reader newsletter—while at the same time juggling personal and family events. (That's a description of the last two months of my life.) Is there time for love and romance in this madness? There has to be! You must make time for it.

One of my favorite quotes is "Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be." (Robert Browning.) This perfectly describes my marriage. My husband Bill and I met in college when I was 19 years old and became engaged 3 weeks later. The attraction was so instantaneous and intense that I couldn't imagine living another day without him. I took 26 units my last quarter so I could graduate early (I know, insane), which lowered my perfect 4.0 GPA to something less because with all those classes, the best I could manage was B's. I didn't care; I was insanely happy; I was getting married to the love of my life!

I left behind friends and family to begin a new life with Bill in southern California—a life that was sometimes difficult and complicated but was always nurtured by our mutual love and respect for each other. We (literally) grew up together, navigating the challenges of building careers and a home while raising a family. Every day of the journey has been a great adventure.

I feel blessed that the adventure is still continuing, and gets better every day. My husband and I love each other dearly. We have two talented, terrific sons who recently married lovely young women who we adore, and we are fortunate to have them all living in our same neighborhood. We make time to get together for some kind of family event at least twice a month, sometimes every week. Bill and I just celebrated our 35th anniversary with a special dinner that our kids cooked themselves. With everyone crowded in the kitchen, chatting and teasing, it was an afternoon/evening to remember!

But Bill and I both work very hard, putting in long hours, and are often exhausted at the end of the day. (Sound familiar?) Are we doing all that we can and should to nurture our marriage? I'll say this: we really try!

Here are my suggestions for keeping the romance going in your relationship:
· Say "I love you" to your significant other every single day.
· Call each other in the middle of the day to say hi (even if it's just for two minutes.)
· Say "thank you" when your partner does nice something for you (even if it's just taking out the trash.)
· Find little ways to express your appreciation for each other. (Notes? Flowers? Make his favorite breakfast the night before and have it waiting in the fridge for him?)
· Make time to really talk and listen to each other. (That period of intense, initial communication and discovery between new lovers is something I find thrilling, and I put great emphasis on it in all my novels. I call it "falling in love through conversation." But the conversation has to continue! And I don't mean talking about the bills that are due or the latest problem with the house, the dog, or the kids. Share the ups and downs of your work days. Expose your innermost thoughts, worries, dreams, and frustrations. Discuss the movie you just saw or the book/article you just read. Gossip. Laugh. Flirt. Talking keeps you close.)
· Do something fun together on a regular basis. (What did you love doing when you first met? What activities do wish you had time for today? A movie, concert, or play? Hiking or sailing? Whatever. Just do it!)
· Go out to dinner, just the two of you, at least once a month. (The restaurant doesn't have to be expensive. It's the fun of being together, with someone else cooking and doing the dishes, that counts.)
· Do the grocery shopping together. (Bill and I have done this for 35 years straight. Even in the busiest week in the world, you have to buy groceries. It gives you time to chat while walking down the aisles. Together, you're less likely to forget something. And it's so nice to have a strong masculine companion to lift all those heavy bags into and out of the car!)
· Take at least one vacation a year that's just for the two of you. (One of our favorite vacations is our week at a Timeshare by the beach, where we do nothing but eat, read, play Scrabble, and take long walks by the sea. And with all that quiet and relaxation, there's time for … ahem.)
· Make time for YOU at least once a week. (I'm talking about personal, alone time. Take a bubble bath. Read a good book. Take a walk and appreciate the beauty of nature. When you feel relaxed and rejuvenated, you'll be a better and more responsive partner.)
· Have Date Night once a week. (Take-out dinner in front of the TV with a movie? Dinner for two with that all important time to talk?)
· Take a walk together around the block together at the end of your work day.
· Eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. (When you feel fit, you feel better about yourselves.)
· Make time for family. (A happy family helps make a happy marriage.)

This isn't a complete list (and I admit I'm a slacker on the "exercise regularly" part) but try it out and see if it works for you as well as it does for us.

What do YOU do to keep the romance going in your marriage? Please share your thoughts, ideas, and comments!


When Nicole Whitcomb's car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger. Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension. Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secret—or secrets—is he hiding?

Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running from—but Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her— a profoundly meaningful experience that is destined to change their lives forever.

As the sexual tension between them builds, however, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns her host's terrifying secret, there is nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and Michael may be the only one who can save her life.ExcerptReviews


Syrie James is the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of Nocturne, Dracula, My Love, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel 2008, Library Journal) and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë (Great Group Read 2009, Women's National Book Association.) Recently hailed by Los Angeles Magazine as "the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings," Syrie's books have been translated into 15 languages. Syrie's next novel, a YA paranormal romance she co-wrote with her son Ryan, will be published by HarperTeen in early 2012.

Syrie is also a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, RWA, and the Jane Austen Society of North America. After a successful career in Hollywood in which she sold nineteen screenplays and teleplays in a variety of genres, Syrie followed her passion and wrote a novel. Syrie was thrilled when The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen sold at auction after a two-day bidding war to HarperCollins and became a bestseller.

Syrie's name (pronounced "Sear-ee"; rhymes with Dearie) was inspired by a character in a radio show her mother listened to as a little girl. Having no idea how to spell it, her mom made it up. Syrie enjoys writing both contemporary and historical fiction, preferring smart, independent heroines and heroes who are dashing, charismatic, intelligent, well-read, good-hearted, and highly accomplished.

Syrie writes full-time and maintains her own website. When she's not working, her favorite pursuits include spending time with her husband and family, reading, movies, the theater, traveling, great food, board games, photography, and the out of doors. One of her greatest challenges is finding time for all those things—but she's determined to achieve the perfect balance!

Syrie welcomes visitors and messages at her website where you will find TV interviews, reviews, and a list of her books. Follow her on Facebook, on Twitter @Syriejames, and at


~Sia McKye~ said...

Syrie, welcome to Over Coffee. I'm so glad you could visit!

I like your list. :-) We do some of them. We discovered back a bit, that we needed to talk about other things rather than bills and kids. It helps as does time alone together.

I was looking around your website. I enjoyed the TV interview regarding Dracula, My Love and how you came to write it. Compliments on your website.

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi, Syrie! I'm glad you write what you love. I've heard so many times write what you know. I believe it doesn't mean test the boundaries, but I do believe if you stray from what you do know, your voice will not be stronge and it will be lost in something you might not be passionate about.

My DH and I take a weekend for ourselves in a remote cabin about 2 hours from our home. It's generally in the spring when I am knee deep in a new novel or edits:)

Talli Roland said...

These are fantastic, Syrie - thank you!

I love doing weekend trips with my husband to just get away from it all.

VA said...

Being another SoCal person, the ideas on your list of activities are very similar. My husband is a uber-type A personality. Even vegging he's thinking new ideas. Just getting him to slow down and be "here" in the moment is the trick. Once we do that, then we get to connect. He travels a lot, but no matter what country he's in he always calls to say "Hi." and you're right--it makes all the difference.

I think we need to put a dedicated "us" vacation on the list. Great ideas. Saying "I love you" everyday to each important person is key.

Off to check out the website. Thanks Sia, for another fabulous intro.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia, Hi Syrie,

Great post. Thanks for sharing! Cheers~

Jo said...

We have just clocked up 38 years so must be doing something right.