Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nickel Nasties Series #19: Where I've Been by Von Rupert

Welcome to the Nickel Nasties series! In celebration of my first scathing Amazon review for A Ranger's Tale (1 in 58 ain't bad), I've decided to devote February to the stories that garner so much stereotype and ridicule, but still comprise one of the world's best-selling genres: ROMANCE! I hope you'll enjoy this series. Please leave comments for the wonderful contributors. And...don't forget to check out their books!

Where I've Been

Von Rupert

Trapped in a smoky Buick, my parents arguing at every light, I escaped into the books piled beside me on the duct-taped backseat.  While my dad drove us to Cleveland or Baltimore or Kmart a stack of romances transported me to London, New York, and Rome.  While my parents fought over speed limits, money, and ghosts from the past I fell in love with ranchers, moguls, artists, and happy endings. 
I was twelve.  The books were called sweet romances, rich in romance, light on sex.   My grandmother pulled them out for me, a few at a time, from a huge box she stored in her bedroom closet. Over the years, they had accumulated around her house like stray Barbie doll shoes and Lego bricks, left behind by the six granddaughters who had come before me. 
How many Spring and Summer afternoons did she and I spend on opposite ends of her front porch swing, each of us lost in a romance book--me escaping my youth, dreaming of where I was going, her escaping old age, remembering where she had been?  
Not nearly enough.
They lasted until the crocheted afghans tucked around our shoulders couldn’t protect us from the biting autumn air.   We were forced into our houses, me to my schoolwork, and her to reality.  They lasted until the fictional worlds couldn’t protect my grandmother from the Alzheimer’s that stalked her body like a vicious hunter.  She died the summer I turned sixteen. 
Two years later, I packed my clothes and crates of books and sped away to college. I changed my major three times before I found my direction in the English Department, falling in love with the cranky, white haired professors at the same time as I lost my heart to the classics.   I naively believed I could have both, my first love and my new love. 
I was wrong.  My professors scorned romance books and the students who read them. Eventually, I abandoned my collection in an empty closet at my parents’ house.  I cried when I returned to my dorm room without them.
This vintage Harlequin Silhouette collection
is on sale NOW at eBay!
Nearly ten years would pass before I shook off the influence of college, and embraced romances again.  I had given birth to my first baby, and was trapped in the darkness of Postpartum Depression.   One morning, yearning for my grandmother, I secured my daughter in her car seat and traveled back to my hometown.  I believed if I could read those books again, the ones my grandmother had touched, I would recover. 
But abandoned books end up in abandoned sheds with abandoned toasters, abandoned dishes, abandoned toys, and field mice. They become nature’s gray confetti, mildewed dust, rodent beds.  I couldn’t salvage a single book.
In desperation I guess, my husband won an auction on ebay, one hundred used Harlequin and Silhouette books from The 1980s.   I devoured each one, hardly sleeping, wrapped in Granny’s rainbow afghan, rocking in her favorite chair,  that first bewildering baby cuddled against my tender breasts.
Chapter followed chapter, book followed book, happy ending followed happy ending, my darkness slowly lifting as I remembered where I had been.


Von Rupert is a wife, mom, writer, and podcast producer.   She mentors other writers at  Some day she’ll finish writing the stack of romance books she’s started over the years.  Her flash fiction stories have appeared at


  1. Hi Von, loved your post. I also devoured those Harlequin books when my kids were young. I know I read a gazillion of them. Your husband sounds like a smart man.

    I love your writing, Von, and I know you will finish writing those books.

    Lots of luck to a good friend and fellow mentor. Long live good romance books!

  2. Thanks, Leo! I still love those Harlequins. They are great comfort food for the soul.

    Congrats on your romance book! I can't wait to read it in its final version. I'm sure you made lots of changes since I read it.

  3. What a wonderful story & what a wonderful gift your grandmother gave you. Pray that someday (a long time from now) you'll get to sit on the opposite side of God's front porch swing with your grandmother and share those same Romance Books with each other!

    1. Thank you, Vamp Writer--what a lovely thought! I'm so glad you enjoyed my post. Those truly were special times.

      I remember one time my grandmother ran across a romance book that was VERY racy. She wouldn't let me read it. She said, "I'm going to give it to the goodwill as soon as I finish reading it." LOL!

  4. Wasn't it your grandmother who led you into the garden of forbidden fruit known as the romance genre? If she helped you get into the reading of it, I wonder how much of her heart-signal is in your writing of it.

    I don't really know, but if you can feel her when you read romance, then I suppose that feeling her while writing it might do a lot to help you finish the writing in an inspired way.

    Maybe the door between her life and yours swings both ways.

    /shades of Amy Tan

  5. Your post touched me so much because it could have been me you were writing about, but for a few differences.

    How I can remember that smoky car, the arguing, the little Harlequins on my grandmother's end table, and her death from Alzheimer's when I was 14.

    The only differences is that I studied biology in college and my husband didn't buy me any books after our first baby was born. But, I'm so glad I finally picked up my love of writing and reading again. It's like I rediscovered me again :)


***NOTICE*** Thanks to a spam bot infestation, every comment must now be subjected to a full-body search. If you pass, you can skip the anal probing...maybe.