I’M DELIGHTED TO SHARE with you that The Walled Garden recently won several lovely awards!

I was beyond excited to find out it was the gold winner in the Romance category of the 2022 Foreword Indies Book Awards, as well as a gold winner in the 2023 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in General Fiction/Novel (70,000-100,000 words).

In addition, the book was a winner in the Romance category and a finalist in the Women’s Fiction category of the 2023 International Book Awards. It was also a finalist in the Romance category of the 2023 National Indie Excellence Awards.

I’d like to say another huge THANK YOU to my loyal readers and reviewers—it makes me so happy to see The Walled Garden going out in the world and finding its people! 🙂

The romance novelist with her gold medal from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards

There’s just one thing that surprises me: if you had told me during the fifteen or so years I spent working on The Walled Garden that what I was writing was a romance novel, I would have gone, huh?

When entering the book in contests, the genre classification question is always the hardest choice for me to make. It’s an important question, and it can also be an expensive one since many contests charge for each category entered. So, you quickly discover that you can’t enter every category—you need to hone in on the one(s) that fit your story best. Though I consider myself a romantic, and though a romance was always part of Lucy’s story in The Walled Garden, I have to say that I never once thought of myself as writing a “romance novel.”

Partly, I think it was because of my old association of “romance novels” with bodice-ripper type covers featuring handsome, well-muscled men embracing beautiful women in stunning gowns which somehow always featured shocking amounts of cleavage.

But since publishing The Walled Garden, and given the books I’ve most enjoyed reading these last few years, I’ve come to believe this may have been a failure of imagination on my part.

To be sure, the whole genre classification thing is a strange can of worms. It doesn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal, but what genre your book is deemed to fall into actually affects a lot of important things about how the book is marketed and sold, how it’s categorized on retail booksellers’ websites, and where it’s actually shelved in bookstores and libraries.

Maybe some of the hang-up in my own mind was the idea that books categorized as romance novels somehow fell into a “less than” category, i.e. less important than books categorized as literary fiction. But when you think about it, what’s more important in literature—or in life—than relationships, especially finding that important person you might want to spend your life with?

I came across an interview with authors Curtis Sittenfeld and Marian Keyes in the UK Guardian recently about why people want to read about people falling in love. “It really seems that people want to read about people falling in love and being good to each other. Because the world is so sharp and pointy, we need something nicer,” said Keyes.

Sittenfeld agreed. “I feel exactly like you—for the reader’s sake, but also for our own sake—just in terms of choosing the world that we exist in while we’re writing. It’s hard to voluntarily walk into the darkness as a writer right now.”

These ideas really resonated with me. It takes me so long to write a novel that I would never voluntarily choose to spend years writing about a fictional world of darkness. Besides, I’m a romantic and an optimist, and I want to—and need to—believe in hope and the possibility of happy endings.

“Just because something is positive or uplifting doesn’t mean it doesn’t have depth and seriousness,” said Keyes. “ . . . if there is a love story, it doesn’t mean silliness or disconnection from real life.”

I couldn’t agree more.

So, did I set out to become a romance novelist? No. I set out to write the book of my heart and try to get it published so that other people could enjoy it too. But now I find that I am a writer of romance, I’ve realized that I’m proud to be part of this lovely community, and if that’s my new author identity, I’m ready to live into it!

I’ve left posting so late this month that if I don’t hit Publish soon, I’ll have missed June and the chance to share some of my favorite lines of June-inspired poetry with you:

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,

Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.

I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,

Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.


Robert Herrick

The Argument of his Book

I have no idea what a hock-cart is, but as a June bride (and a lover of cake!), I’ve always loved these happy, summery lines.

Blessings on your summer!


Featured image: Annie Spratt on Unsplash.com 

Author photo: Kurt Maass