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Posts Tagged ‘romance’

I don’t expect my husband to do anything for me for Valentine’s Day. And not in that “I say I don’t expect it but really I’m lying” way of which women are sometimes accused, but for real. And he knows full well that when I said “Happy Valentine’s Day” this morning, that was the extent of the effort I put into the holiday for him. We’re on the same page where today is concerned. There are other days that are much more important to us and lots of everyday days where I’d rather be treated to something special than on a day dictated by societal pressure.

That being said, I am a romantic, and I write about love and romance and all that good stuff, and I do like all the romance-related stuff that turns up around this time of year, so I thought I’d share some of the romance-related things I’ve encountered recently. In some cases, I’ve no idea where I first saw the link, so apologies if I miss mentioning you.

Susanna Kearsley gives us some of her favourite romantic reads here. I haven’t read Random Harvest, but I’m a sucker for Goodbye, Mr. Chips by the same author, so will have to give it a try.

How Hollywood says I love you (thanks to Wendy Hartley for retweeting the link from… someone else, whoever you are.)

Looking for a good romance read? Joanna Bourne is one of the best, so no surprise her latest did so well in the All About Romance readers’ poll. http://jobourne.blogspot.com/2012/02/hoo-boy-black-hawk-is-best-romance-at.html

One take on the top 10 kisses in literature here. Some of them I wouldn’t have picked, but it’s an interesting list. (Via Nephele Tempest, I think.)

And finally, I’ll leave you with a song.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Choosing Happy

My name is Kathy, and I read romance. I read other stuff, too, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on the love story part of my insatiable reading habit.

I’ve never picked up a traditional Harlequin category romance, I must admit, though I’m sure there are lots of great ones out there. Very short novels, as so many of those are, have never attracted me. But longer romances like Nora Roberts’s trilogies, contemporary romances by the likes of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Susan Wiggs, regencies by Mary Balogh and others, and women’s fiction that isn’t technically romance but often still has a strong romance element, like those by Kate Harrison and Cathy Kelly and many others, these are all books I enjoy. It’s what I write – more the romantic women’s fiction end than straight romance – and it makes me happy to read it.

For me, there is something to be said for sinking into a joyful story, for coming out the other end of conflict and possible loss and ending with something good. I like romantic gestures and love and seeing people connect, whether in the real world or in fiction.

I happened across this lovely bit below in the Mary Balogh book I just finished the other day, from the main character’s thoughts in Seducing an Angel, and it sums up why I like to read happy books, watch movies that leave me feeling good, write what I write and surround myself with people I love who bring joy to my life. I’m think I’m going to adopt this as my philosophy of life. Something to pin on the bulletin board beside the computer, don’t you think?

“The world was a wonderful place, and if it was true that there was no such thing as happily ever after, then at least sometimes there was happiness pure and unalloyed, and one ought to grasp it with both hands and carry it forward to make the hard times more bearable.”

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Yesterday, I had a great meeting with kc dyer, SiWC webmaster Dale McGladdery, and a guy we’ll call “Chris” who will be bringing us a fabulous Saturday Night Owl event at SiWC. (Hmmm…. Could that be a clue? Those of you playing along with our mystery on the SiWC blog might think so, but I’m not saying either way.)

Anyway, in separate conversations, both men asked me what I write. I answered, as I usually do, “Women’s fiction.” Both were utterly confused, if the blank looks on their faces were any indication. One asked me if that was a euphemism for chick lit. It isn’t. My last MS could most accurately be called chick lit, if half a dozen people wouldn’t immediately leap in to point out that “chick lit is dead”. But ignoring that, sure, the last book qualifies for what people think of when they hear the term. But I also have a couple of partially-written romances tucked away, and the book I’m working on now, the one that leads me to use the slightly vague “women’s fiction” is… a book. It’s fiction. There’s a romance in it. Two, actually. Maybe even three or four, if you count existing marriages and a possible date for a minor character. But it’s not a romance in the traditional sense.

What it is is fiction written by a woman for a primarily female audience. And so I call it women’s fiction, and that’s how I’d pitch it in a query letter. Except that the men who’ve read bits of it for me have loved it, too. Clear as mud? This book would probably go on the fiction shelf at my local bookstore, the same shelf as every other book that doesn’t clearly fit into a defined genre like mystery, romance, or fantasy. There’s a huge variety of types of books on the fiction shelf.

So I got thinking about the existence of the term. You almost never hear someone talk about “men’s fiction” even though there are lots of types of books that appeal more to men than women, generally speaking. So why women’s fiction? I know what I mean when I say it. I know who my intended audience is. They’re fans of other women who write fiction about women and mostly for women. So I guess women’s fiction really is as good a term as any, even if it makes men go blank when I mention it.

Before I could get too wrapped up in definitions and labels, as interesting as the topic is to me, I came across something local blogger Steffani Cameron said awhile ago: “For all of history, arts and passion are born because of what makes our hearts swell and break. Wars and uprisings and cultural revolutions wage because of matters of the heart.” That reminded me of a keynote speech agent Donald Maass gave a few years ago at SiWC, in which he talked about firing up our writing by tapping in to our passions. With characteristic straightforwardness, he asked the audience, “What makes you hard? What makes you wet?” and then told us to put it in our books. Good advice, no?

So how about I forget about the label for the moment? There’ll be time enough to define that when I’m ready to pitch this thing. In the meantime, Don’s and Steff’s words have reminded me to write with passion, whatever it is I’m writing.

I love people, the way they think, the way their lives unfold, how they interact and how they love, why they get into the situations they get into and what they do next. I love happy endings and exploring the bumps and detours along the way and wandering down the ‘what if’ paths of human relationships. That’s what I write. I’ll be hiding out in my word processing program this afternoon if you need me.

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