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Writing adds to woman’s story




Colleen Admirand dealt with plenty of frustrations over the years, trying to get her first books published.

At times, the New Jersey resident even considered giving up the craft.

“Then I’d wake up and these characters would be talking in my head, and I’d say, ‘All right. I’ll tell your story,’ ” said the romance novelist, who writes as C.H. Admirand.

Her persistence—and that of her characters—has certainly paid off. Admirand has published 10 books so far and has several more in the pipeline.

She’ll discuss her career and some of her works at an April 25 Book and Author Luncheon sponsored by the Friends of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Tickets are $25, and all proceeds support programs and services at the library.

Joan Leavitt, who helped organize the event, said she hopes it will grow into an annual luncheon.

“It’s a fun event and a really nice day out,” said Leavitt, whose former Friends of the Library group in New Jersey used to host similar luncheons.

In fact, Leavitt worked with Admirand years ago and invited her to speak here.

Admirand, 54, said her seventh-grade English teacher helped her discover her love of writing, and that passion stuck with her into adulthood.

She worked a number of secretarial jobs and raised three children, but in the evenings, she’d often set aside time to write.

“I just had these ideas and they just needed to be put down on paper,” she said. “Then I thought maybe I should do something with it.”

So she sent a note to historical romance novelist Elaine Barbieri, who also lived in northern New Jersey. Barbieri responded by sending Admirand a flier for an upcoming romance writers conference.

“I hadn’t been out of the house without my children in forever,” recalled Admirand. “But I went and I realized, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

That was in 1995. Four years later, she had her first work published, a short story that ran in “The Dancing Rose Anthology.”

Two years after that, Avalon published her first novel, “The Marshal’s Destiny,” the first of four Irish Westerns she’d write. She even incorporated a photo of her great-grandmother on the book’s cover.

Admirand—who writes under the name C.H. because her sister-in-law’s first name is also Colleen—draws on her family’s Irish heritage for much of her inspiration.

Her characters are often named for her ancestors, and her tales are populated with Mulcahys and Garahans, Flahertys and O’Tooles.

Her Purcell ancestors’ motto was “Aut Vincam, Aut Periam,” or “I will either conquer or perish,” she said.

“I try to make sure my heroines have a little bit of that,” she said.

The strong women and broad-shouldered men in her novels endure their share of conflicts, but there’s always the promise of a happy ending—something she loves about romance writing.

“I’m sorry, but I live a ‘real’ life and I need to be uplifted and taken away, like the Calgon bath commercial,” she said, laughing.

She’s also a firm believer in love at first sight, having experienced that with her husband, Dave, at the age of 17. The couple has been married 33 years and recently welcomed their first grandson.

Though her works are fiction, she added, the characters experience real emotions: love, faith, trust, betrayal.

“You know you’re going to have happily ever after and hopefully you won’t get raked over the coals getting there,” she said. “There’s always hope in a romance.”

“Jesse,” the last book in her “Secret Life of Cowboys” trilogy, is due in July. And “A Wedding in Apple Grove,” the first in her “Small Town USA Trilogy,” is expected on shelves in November.

She promises that last one will include her recipe for buttered pecan pie.

That’s virtually a guarantee of a happy ending.


The Book and Author Luncheon, featuring romance novelist C.H. Admirand, takes place April 25 from noon to 2 p.m., at the Riverside Center Dinner Theater, 95 Riverside Parkway in southern Stafford County.

Tickets cost $25 and are available at any branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. All proceeds from the event, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, support library programs.

For more information about Friends of the Library, visit

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428