It’s “JUST” a Romance

I have a confession, when I decided to take down my lawyer shingle and write, one of the reasons I chose romance was that I thought it would be easy. After all, there’s a formula: boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, they live happily ever after. Two books later, and well into my third book, I’ve learned my lesson.  Writing romance isn’t formulaic or easy. For those who’ve never tried it, though, that phrase “it’s just a romance” sometimes tumbles too easily from their lips.

Recently, I attended a conference, and sat on a panel with several other writers from a variety of other genres. I expected a little push-back from the literary and old-school folks, but the level of resentment and disdain startled me, and the audience. The romance industry is undeniably the juggernaut of the publishing world.  It accounted for over $1.4 billion in sales in 2013 according to the Romance Writers of America. That’s more than 3 times the sales in literary fiction. Enough to get the hackles up of someone who wants to write the next great American novel.

Why should anyone, whether literary or sci-fi or thriller writer, be threatened? There’s not a finite amount of reading that can occur in the universe. A romance lover can also buy a classic or a mystery or a high fantasy. Many do, including me. I routinely rotate my nightly reading between all genres and non-fiction. And many don’t. My mother read every single Harlequin romance written for probably a 30-year time span, until her deteriorating vision moved her to audio books. Whether she was reading the latest romance or Moby Dick didn’t matter squat to a 5-year old girl. My mom read. And loved it with an unquenchable passion. She turned that book-addiction over to both my sister and me, both of us becoming avid readers and writers of romance.

So, if I don’t write romance because it’s easy, why do I? The same reason I think every other romance writer does: because a great love story is transforming. Maybe not everyone dreams of finding a soul mate, but most people do. A romance raises our spirits and reminds us of love’s transforming power over men and women, as individuals and as a couple. It brings happiness to many people’s lives who have little else to celebrate. And, I hope that in my erotic romance novels, that women see not only the power of love, but the impact that a fully realized sex life can have.

So when someone accuses me of writing “just romance,” I tell them, “Hell, yeah, and proud of it!”

Why do you read romance? How much do you read? Do you write romance? If, so, why?


Fifty Shades of Wine?

Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James has partnered to create a new collection of wines inspired by her best-selling books. “Wine plays an important role in Fifty Shades of Grey, adding to the sensuality that pervades a number of scenes,” said E L James. “I’ve always had a penchant for good wine, so combining two of my passions to blend Red Satin and White Silk was a natural extension of the series. I hope my readers curl up with a glass as they enjoy the romance between Anastasia and Christian.”  Read more:

Is there Ever a Case for Censorship?

The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens has been home to a statue called Accept or Reject by Chinese sculptor Yu Chang since the fall of 2011. It’s a bronze, mostly nude, headless sculpture of a woman taking a photograph of herself. In 2012, a local mother began a petition drive to remove the sculpture.  She thought it was inappropriate for a place children frequented, and that it promoted “sexting.” What do you think?  See one article here.

What’s your idea of a heat-o-metre?

chart color0001Penguin Books Australia’s romance e-book imprint has just introduced a heat-o-metre to its website, rating ebook titles from sweet to spicy and hot.   How do you feel about rating the romance books you read?  Good idea or bad? What icons would you use for a rating system? This illustration is by Matt Golding. 

Click link below to read more::


Romancing the Video

According to the Romance Writers of America more than 74 million people read romance novels each year, with women accounting for 91% of this massive audience. Silicon Sisters, a Canadian developer of video games for women, is bringing this well-loved genre to life in a tantalizing new way with Everlove: Rose, an interactive romance novel for iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, and other Android and Apple devices. Silicon Sisters Interactive is the first female owned and run video game studio in Canada.


Too Classy for Romance?

How do you feel about classics like Jane Austen’s books repackaged as erotica romance?  The rewriting of Austen’s classics by various authors has been going on for years, but only recently have the characters found themselves hot and steamy in a 21stCentury ebook way.

Jane Eyre Laid Bare by Eve Sinclair is “the classic novel with an erotic twist.” The back cover assures you that “this is not your mother’s Jane Eyre.”  And, Pride/Prejudice: A Novel of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and Their Forbidden Lovers by Ann Herendeen, is touted as “the book Jane Austen would have written, if only she’d had the nerve!”

The list goes on with Wuthering Nights, the impassioned tale of Heathcliff and Catherine with a bondage imagery made popular by Fifty Shades of Greywhile Mr. Darcy’s Bite capitalizes on the success of the trendy vampire romances.

You know, for our great-grandmothers, the original Jane Eyre was certainly considered scandalous in its Victorian time period, but will the new versions be a societal no-no?  The conservative website, Aleteia, weighed in with this point:  “It’s a shame, really – young people who have never been exposed to these classics outside of a classroom might now take up the initiative to read them only if they come with the promise of sexual escapades scrawled across the back cover,” wrote a blogger.

As one publisher of the spiced-up Austen novels said, “We recognize it’s a bold move that may have a polarizing effect on readers but we’re keeping the works as close to the original classics as possible.  It’s not our intention to rewrite or distort them but to create a whole new experience, enhancing the novels by adding deeper relationships, character development, and the ‘missing’ scenes for readers to enjoy.”

What do you think?