Author Liora Blake dishes on what it meant to come into her own as a writer–a romance writer, no less (gasp!). Keep reading below and don’t forget to download a copy of TRUE NORTH, the first sizzling installment in Liora’s True series, today, available exclusively from Pocket Star!

I, Liora Blake, am a romance writer.

There. I said it.

Why the need for this kind of announcement? Especially from someone who has three romance novels slated for release this year?

Because writing romance was never part of my plan.

For most of my life, I was one of those people. The people who mocked genre fiction, especially romance. I was only interested in reading Serious Books I Thought Other People Would Be Impressed By—hereafter referred to as SBITOPWBIB for simplicity’s sake. Obviously.

As a writer, I certainly wanted to create my own SBITOPWBIB and toiled away on solemnly depressing novels that were exhausting to write. I polished and honed every gloomy word but had very little interest from agents or publishers.

Still, I was determined to keep trying and booked a few sessions with a writing coach in the hope she could offer some insights. In our second session, she explained that if being a published author was my goal, I needed to work on the craft of storytelling. Then she challenged me to start reading genre fiction—mysteries, thrillers, romance—just so I could see how those authors compelled readers to keep turning the page.

Reluctantly, I did as she instructed. The mysteries were pretty good, the thrillers weren’t my thing, but the romances…gah. Set the hook, because it wasn’t long before I was chasing romance plot bunnies about my in my mind. When I gave in and started to write, the strangest thing happened: I had fun. I liked it. It made me grin and giggle to write swoony scenes—and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that.

Then I remembered all the other distinctly different things I enjoy. While I happily consume kale, quinoa, and steel cut oats on a routine basis, I also sometimes slather Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter on potato chips and eat cream cheese frosting straight from the jar. I listen to NPR constantly. But, I love bad reality TV, too. Specifically, I’m a sucker for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Kyle Richards is my spirit housewife. Sometimes I wish it was Yolanda because she’s so classy. Maybe Brandi because she’s so effing…tall).

After that, I decided to own it. My SBITOPWBIB side and my romance loving side. All of it. Which is something romance novels do quite well, right? They often remind us people aren’t always as they appear. That awkward gal with the meek voice might be a dominant wild cat after dark if you say just the right things to her. The stubborn alpha who grunts more than he speaks likely has a soft nougaty caramel coated center, you just have to dig a little deeper than his washboard abs.

So, here’s to being whatever we want to be—on the page and in the world. Raise your glass. Let’s be all the things.