Saturday, September 28, 2013

Romance Writers find Romantic Hair at the 2013 Victoria Women’s Show

The 2013 Victoria Women’s Show was not only promoting happy and healthy living but also, unbeknownst to them, that of the romance reader persuasion.

I was there to help staff the booth for the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America, promoting not only our chapter but the romance fiction genre and its authors, as well. We gave away over 300 romance novels, the majority of them written by our own local authors. Prizes, candies, bookmarks and information about our chapter were distributed, and many conversations were had with the passing curious – what do we do, how do we do it, and why?

Because we love the romance genre, we love a good story, and we love to write, was our answer.

And in talking with readers, especially those we were trying to tempt with one of our novels, they all said the same thing when it came to discussing what they look for in a book: ‘It has to be a good story.’

How true!

And what fuels a good story is imagination.

Setting, along with how characters look, dress and act, all play a part in the world the writer is trying to create and the world the reader is trying to escape to.

And on that day I, along with a fellow writer, would get to pretend - to imagine - we were a character right out of a historical romance novel - by having our hair done into a romantic up-do.

When not chatting with prospective romance readers at our booth, I was planning what to do at the show after my shift. Would I seek-out the local firefighters who were promoting their calendar (yum), or would I stalk soap opera star, Michael....from the Young and the Restless during his guest appearance? Both were perfect inspiration for romance fiction!

Aromatherapy oil scents wafted around me from nearby booths while I plotted who I would stalk first, when around the corner came Jacqui Nelson, historical fiction author, sporting an up-do to end all up-do’s. With her hair pinned up in a swirl of curl, all she would have to do would be to put on a dress reminiscent of the era of her current novella, Adella's Enemy (August 2013) and she might as well have been on the cover of her own book!

I had only just seen her 45 minutes before, her hair down like mine, and suddenly – a changed woman! After my oogling and fawning over her ‘do,’ she, along with Jodie Esch (Little White Lies – April 2013), told me – no URGED me – to go to the booth by the Richard Mar Hair Academy. They were giving away free up-do’s during the show as part of their promotion, and within twenty minutes a prospective client could have her hair flipped up, twirled around and curled to perfection with a sure hand and nimble bobby-pinning fingers.

My writer-friends didn’t just urge me to go get my hair stylishly coiffed, they all but kicked me out of our booth!

So waving farewell to not only my writing colleagues, I made my way to the Richard Mar booth.

I was excited and nervous - yet skeptical. My hair, thicker and straighter than my friend Jacqui’s, could never be twisted and turned into a ‘do’ as elegant as hers.

I perched in the chair and my stylist, Niki, got to work. I was sure she would throw up her hands in despair, “I can’t do a THING with this girl’s hair!”

20 minutes later Niki asked for the camera I held in prayer in my sweaty hands. After a final squirt of hairspray here, and a bobby-pin adjustment there (I would later count 51 bobby-pins), she snapped a photo and handed me my camera.

I looked and the screen and.....

....started crying.


I had no idea my hair could look like that! How did she do that!?! And with MY hair? I had never had my hair done like that – ever. I felt more royal than any princess; more glamorous than any Academy-award-winning starlet.

I got myself under control. No sense ruining my ‘look’ with blotchy, blood-shot eyes. With a hug and a few photos with Niki, off I went, carefully making my way through the crowds. I was eager to get back to our booth and show the girls my hair.

And when I say carefully, I mean CAREFULLY. I was afraid to turn my head, sure one false move would send the bobby pins flying, the curls unraveling. I wished I had a neck brace, however unflattering, to ensure my head stay perfectly still. I worried someone, or something, would snag my precious ‘do.’ Maybe a dog-cone would have been best. I was the recipient of admiring glances along the way, although by then, many others had had their hair done, as well. But no amount of admiration would quell my worries..

Needless to say, the hair survived the short trek to our booth. My writerly friends ‘oohed and aahed’ over my do, and Jacqui and I posed like the starlets we were for photos. And yes, Jacqui DID say she felt like one of her characters from her historical novel.

My hair survived the rest of the day and through to the next morning – I wore a kerchief around my head when I went to bed. My family of men were supportive, doing and saying all the right things – one said I looked like Princess Leia but better, and the other helped stage multiple photo-shoots of my hair so I could forever preserve the moment on film. The show was a success for our chapter and its authors, and for two of us, we looked and felt like the heroines in our stories.
Jacqui Nelson and I with our new hair.

Featured in photo, left to right Jacqui Nelson, Jodie Esch, Bonnie Edwards, Lee McKenzie

Featured in photo, left to right Susan Lyons, Me, Leanne Ihmels, Jacqui Nelson, Jodie Esch

Special shout out and thanks go to the staff at Richard Mar Advanced School of Hairdressing. Find them at 1675 Douglas Street in Victoria, BC, or visit their website at

For more information about the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America, visit


  1. Lisa, you're so right that it was great fun chatting with readers and giving away books. I loved standing behind the booth watching people go past and seeing how they reacted. Eyes would skim, see rows of romance novels, and... Well, of course some people turned away and walked on. Other women's eyes lit and they moved toward us as if drawn by a magnet. When they learned we were actually writers and we were giving away books, they were so thrilled. And then we got to talk about books, romance, the joy of reading. Several people told me they'd never met a real live author before, and they were so excited when I autographed a book to them. Such a delightful time. And yes, your hair, and Jacqui's, did look fantastic. I almost regretted having short, practical locks.

    1. You're right, Susan - it was a great people watching event, gauging people's reactions, watching their interest pique once we start chatting - great learning experience! Great time chatting with you, as well! Our hair-do's were just an added treat! Thank you so much for stopping by! Lisa

  2. Great post, Lisa. I love participating in the women's show and this was our best year yet. You and Jacqui always look stunning, but I loved the new do's. The two of you could have posed as cover models for a sumptuous historical romance novel!

    1. Yes, I do agree with you, Lee, it was a very successful event, indeed! Thank you for making it happen! The hair was an added 'treat'! Thank you for taking the time to visit! Take care, Lisa

  3. The Women's Show booth was alot of fun and it was exciting to speak with interested readers. Having hair-make-overs added energy to our small group and no doubt helped to attract people. They had to find out about the excitement. I'm glad LIsa that you were able to preserve your 'hair' for a second day.

    1. Hi Jodie - yes, although a tad 'squashed,' my hair did last for another day! It was a great day for everyone, especially the chapter, and so glad we got to have a quick visit. Thanks for kicking me out of the booth! :) Thanks for reading! Lisa

  4. I'm sorry I missed the event just for the chance to see you heroines with your new styles...wonderful glimpse you've given here Lisa!

    1. Hi Mimi - so glad you visited here! Maybe next time you can be at the women's show - it's a great day, hair-do's or not. Looking forward to seeing you soon!!! Thanks for reading! Lisa

  5. Hello my Womens-Show-Hair-Up-Do, buddy :) Thrilled that, after being a fan of your blog for so long, I finally got to share an adventure with you. Looking forward to volunteering with you (and all the other romance writers) at next year's Womens Show. Fingers crossed that the Richard Mar Hair Academy will be there as well!

    1. Hello Up-do buddy!!! Thank you so much for stopping by!!! Yes, it was a memorable thrill, and even better because I was able to share it with you! Thanks for reading, and hope the hair is doing okay! Lisa