The Magic of the Internet

(December 22, 1998)

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What has the AARList given to all of its members? While this seems like a simple question, the answer for many of us is anything but straightforward and brief. Rather, the answer lies in the complexity of our minds, hearts, and souls, for there is where the romance reader lives and breathes in all of us.

When I volunteered to write this piece, I began my search by asking the list members to express their feelings on the subject. As typical with our group, many did not hesitate a heartbeat to share their views and personal reflections. After reading the engaging, funny, and often-poignant words many penned (or rather typed), I discovered that similar sentiments echoed across the words and the transfer of electrons we call the Internet. In short, the technology of the Internet has worked its magic for we romance readers and formed a community in which we can all feel welcome and where we can visit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For many of us, the list has formed camaraderie between readers who no longer have to feel alone in our obsessive love for reading romance. We have formed friendships across the miles and around the corner, and found that quirks and habits still reveal themselves through the words we type. The list has offered us the opportunity to hear from authors from a reader's perspective while providing insight to the world of publishing. To paraphrase a member, we have discovered "soul friends" who share our passion for romance.

The list has provided a wonderful opportunity to broaden our exposure to the romance genre. All of us have expanded our reading to include new authors, different time periods, and works that vary from the traditional. We have increased our piles of books to be read, lengthened our lists of books to be bought, and definitely lightened the load in our wallets . . . but always with a smile and a shrug from our spouses and significant others.

Through on-line discussions, we have agreed over techniques, lamented over covers, argued about story lines, and enjoyed the banter that often turns to hilarity. We have commiserated over storage problems, laughed over our secret reading habits, and helped the book junkie track down that elusive title. Information abounds on the list, and we are always amazed by the wealth of knowledge and insight provided by the members. It helps many save money, time, and energy when selecting books, especially when living on a budget.

But the magic of the list has extended beyond the romance genre. Some of us have been inspired to learn more about computers and the Internet, even to the point of becoming Webmasters in our spare time. Others have discovered new web sites with interesting information. And still more have taken up reviewing books and writing essays and articles, thereby contributing to the quality and usefulness of the Internet.

But most importantly, we have all been enriched by our experiences. Some have found on-line blessings that have kept them smiling during personal trials and difficulties. We have found a bright beacon of friendship, an electronic sanctuary that is accessible early in the morning, during a hectic day at work or home, or late at night when the brave front we use disappears and we are at our most vulnerable.

I think Jan Siberry, an active list member, said it best:

Where else can heroes by part of my day?
Where else can I "see" the workings of a favorite author?
Where else can I join the thrill of the chase for a long-sought book?
Or share the joy of a newfound book?
Where else can a geeky kid who used to hide her romance books let her thoughts ramble through a discussion on settings? dialogue? characters?

Who else would understand that I need a "happy ever after?"

Join the list and experience the magic!

--Beverly Kuhn

Beverly maintains a romance web site at http://pages.ivillage.com/btkuhn/Romance.html

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