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NorthCountry's Harlequin diva keeping love alive

PERU - Though Valentine's Day has passed this year, romance is still alive year-round thanks to one North Country woman.

Joanne T. Rock has written more than 50 Harlequin romance novels, receiving several awards. Rock began her romance novel career more than 15 years ago after the birth of her first son. The idea was to keep herself "mentally engaged through the hours of Sesame Street," she said.

Throughout the years, Rock has created many different characters entangled in many different plots, with the main theme centering on romance and passion.

"I am passionate about the message of affirmation, the value of monogamy, that love conquers all in my novels," she said.

However, it's not just about love and candles, said Rock. Her novels have real life conflicts, problems, and takes hard work from the characters to build that relationship back up and to make it work, the fight to the happily ever after, she said.

"My messages are important to hear. They make the reader feel good, me feel good," said Rock, who holds a master's degree in English and teaches at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh when she isn't writing her romance novels. "The way you live and embrace what your passionate about is living passionately ... My characters live the same way I do. It's where I get my inspiration."

Rock explained how her characters in her novels come from her own life. Her husband, Dean, is a hero in all her novels in some form or another. His voice is usually used in her contemporary novels because he speaks with "trendy, hip lingo." He loves baseball, where the idea for "Sliding Into Home," a four-part mini-series, came from. Sports interests are in her home daily between her sons and her husband. She also gets characters from her friends, neighbors and strangers.

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