Celebrity Blogger Week: Amber Belldene

February 21, 2014
Tim Schenck

For the second day in a row, we're featuring a rookie during Celebrity Blogger Week. Amber Belldene is not your grandfather's Episcopal priest (unless your grandfather's Episcopal priest was also a romance writer), which is one of the reasons we're jazzed she's joined us for our pursuit of the Golden Halo.

Some of you have been wondering if there is a hazing process for new CBs. The official answer is that we do not condone hazing of any kind. Also the rumor that we require a Lent Madness tattoo is greatly exaggerated.

The Rev. Amber Belldene

The Rev. Amber Belldene

Amber Belldene is a romance writer and the alter ego of a vampire-loving Episcopal priest. She grew up on the Florida panhandle swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees, and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons — an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days. Amber believes stories are the best way to examine life’s truths, and she is passionate about the relationship between sexuality and spirituality — namely, that God made people with a desire for love, and that desire is the heart of every romance novel. Her paranormal romance series Blood Vine is now available from Omnific Publishing and her sexy contemporary novella One Sinful Night in São Paulo, about an Episcopal seminarian looking for love, is scheduled to release later this year. She loves wine, history, heirloom tomatoes and she lives with her husband and children in San Francisco. For more information about her books or to check out her blog go to www.amberbelldene.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmberBelldene or Facebook.

How has Lent Madness transformed your life?
So, I'm not going to lie. I haven't followed Lent Madness in the past, except second-hand through clergy buddies. But, I'm very excited to take part this year. We've hung the bracket poster up in the front office and I'm ready to be transformed!

2. Obviously being a Celebrity Blogger is your greatest lifetime achievement. What perks have you enjoyed as a result of your status?
Well, I've sold some romance novels, apparently, because when you look at my books on Amazon you see "People who bought this book also bought..." several books by Lent Madness Celebrity Bloggers. So, that's cool. I do realize racy romance novels are not everyone's cup of tea, but the more I talk with people who do read them about God, and holy longings, and sex, and spirituality, the more sure I am God has called me to this surprising pair of vocations. When I talk to readers and writers, I get to "preach" about incarnation and the goodness of creation, which includes us and our sexual desires, to an audience largely unfamiliar with the Episcopal Church. Many of them are excited to hear about a church that considers this to be a part of the Good News.

What do you hope the Lent Madness public will learn from the lives of the saints?amber
I love the idea of people engaging with the stories of Holy Women and Holy Men. These kind of examples inspire us to consider what faith has looked like throughout history, and what courage and sanctity look like in our modern context. Novelist-me thinks a lot about heroism, and what enables a person to devote their life to doing good or to take a risky stand on behalf of those in need. I love to teach Moses and then watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech, in which he talks about how he too has seen the Promised Land, and he's not afraid, even though he may not get there. It was almost immediately afterward that he was killed. The speech is so wonderful for asking people to consider what would they stand up for, no matter the risks and I think many of the live of the saints have that quality as well.
Someday, when you become the answer on Jeopardy, what will the question be?
"What early twenty-first century Episcopal priest shamelessly invited scandal by writing rated-R (okay, maybe X) romance novels and proclaiming sexuality is a path to experiencing divine love?"


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36 comments on “Celebrity Blogger Week: Amber Belldene”

  1. Great bio., Sharing the part about being an author with my daughter, because is an aspiring writer herself and I think she will find this interesting.

  2. I had to go buy your first book just because of this bio...and the line about an "Episcopalian seminarian looking for love." That description combined with the title seriously made my day.

    1. Aw! These comments are awesome!

      Shawna, thanks! So glad you liked the books!

      Christy--yay! That book isn't out yet. Hope to have a release date soon. But it's the first in a whole series about young women priests that I'm working on.

      Maria! Thanks. That costume was my mom and aunt (my entourage at a recent readers' convention) dressing me up like one of my book covers. They stole greenery from the Hilton's indoor plants.

      Glenis, that is awesome. I remember when I realized I could actually BE a writer. It was an awesomely inspiring and frightening moment! Best of luck to your daughter!

      Aleathia/Dolores. LOL. It sounds like we're on the same page 🙂

  3. " 'Someday, when you become the answer on Jeopardy, what will the question be?
    “What early twenty-first century Episcopal priest shamelessly invited scandal by writing rated-R (okay, maybe X) romance novels and proclaiming sexuality is a path to experiencing divine love?'”

    But will it preach? Always looking for good sermon ideas to keep people alert and wanting more! I'm retired, so getting fired really isn't an issue. Jail time is.

  4. Amber, my daughter loved your bio and immediately went to your site to read about your books. She just told me that she has a sample of the book on her Kindle now.

    1. Glenis, thanks for sharing! I hope she enjoys it.

      She's over 18, right? 😉

      People sometimes assume I'm writing books for Young Adults. (I think it's my Inner Youth Group leader). They are very much for adults.

    1. Thanks Alan, and LOL. I'm pretty sure the old Episcopal camp song about that was formative for me: "There are no Episcopalians down in hell... They’re all up above drinking beer and making love."

      Of course we know there are Christians who disagree and even hate the kinds of things I've been saying about God's love as a romance writer. But what has been really interesting is getting to talk to people who have no idea Christians with a broad, inclusive, incarnational theology exist. From women who are shamed by their families for reading romance novels to undergoing a forced exorcism for reading SciFi novels, they hear my message as good news.

      I'm proud of our church, and people have proven curious about it when they meet me, so that's cool.

  5. Yay! Thanks for having me back, and a minor correction:

    Prolific maybe, but best-selling?...Not yet!

    From your keyboard to God's ears! And of course, you Lent Madness readers can help with that! 😉

  6. As a semi-closet romance novel reader, it is liberating to know there are romance writing priests out there! I no longer need to hide my shameful secret! It's practically required reading now, right? 😉

  7. Well.......I thought I knew a whole bunch about sex and sin with my vivid imagination...we won't delve into real-life stuff. Rev.Amber, however, takes the cake! Welcome back repeater blogger and keep writing all those goose-bump novels. I notice that you're not immersing yourself in lots of breast-beating repentance issues for Lent and I appreciate this to the max. Welcome back for the umpteenth time and do consider preaching on vampires...double-dare ya !!!

  8. Hi Aleathia (Dolores!), Thanks for the welcome back. And nope. I'm not much for the breast beating. In fact, I think if we are going to do the hard work of self-examination and accepting God's unconditional love so that we can be empowered to love and serve others, we might also need chocolate and booze during Lent. And, I think it's fun to explore some of the church's toughest ethical issues within a steamy romance story!

    1. Yay! It's not just a novelty, but truly delicious and that cafe is right next to the YMCA where I work out, so I can tell myself it's a post gym reward, although it probably requires 8 hours on the elliptical to burn that baby off.

  9. Welcome back! Like the tattoo-and what you said about it. How inspiring. I look forward to reading your stuff as well.

  10. Your explanation about your favorite hymn, Ehst Wondrous Love is This? truly spoke to me this morning. And St Peter’s vision, leading to Cornelius’ conversion (yesterday’s saint!) has me thinking again about the upcoming Lent Madness’ first matchup: Peter became the Rock...he didn’t start out that way...so perhaps there’s hope for us “lower-case” saints today. Incidentally, I read your first book in one of your series last year and am hooked! Thank God for Amazon!

  11. To me, that verse of O Come All Ye Faithful always sounded like a poetic way of saying the eternal God was willing to be born. I didn't realize there had been heretics who specifically talked about wombs being icky, but I'm not surprised. Still, it has never, ever come across to me as saying anything about wombs generally or Mary's specifically except that God inhabited her womb to be born the same way all humans are.

    I'm curious - am I unusual? Do people often hear it as saying women are icky?

    1. I agree with your first sentence, Elaine. I never thought about it saying women are icky; I just thought it meant that Jesus was coming as a human baby. I like the verse.

  12. I read a novel set in Victorian England where the heroine was singing O Come one Christmas and the entire congregation fell silent on "womb." Except her, of course. The book seemed otherwise well researched, and it does seem likely that the Victorians who swathed the *legs* of their pianos would avoid saying such a low, dreadful word in public. Does anyone know?

  13. I am reminded that American Prayer Books have avoided the " not abhor the Virgin's womb" in the Te Deum " probably from the start. I looked at my 1869 copy.

  14. I agree with "What Wondrous Love is This?" I feel I'm already in heaven when I sing this! BTW, we weren't told at which parish Mother Belldene is. Please tell us!

  15. I never sing the line about abhorring the virgin's womb. Regardless of what it may have meant in some earlier time, it injects an unhealthy attitude about women's bodies into a hymn which is supposed to be celebrating the birth of Christ.