Friday, December 20, 2013

Renunion Romances

The Reunion Romance is one of my favorite tropes in the genre. The thrill of a new relationship is unbeatable, but I love the simmering chemistry that comes with people finding each other again. Maybe that's why my own upcoming release is a reunion romance, and so are some of my all-time favorite books. Today on The Firebirds, Kat Cantrell and I discuss what makes reunion romances so powerful. Drop by and share your own favorites!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Damsel in Distress: The Guy Reading a Thriller on the Train is Clearly Going to Murder Me

(Note: I recently read *another* opinion piece on romance novels that was poorly informed. The author has since apologized, for which I truly think he deserves a great deal of credit, but in his apology, he claims that he finds modern women reading romance novels to be counterintuitive. This statement, along with his blanket assessment of the quality of romance novels, reveals more about his ignorance of the genre than anything else. Fortunately, ignorance is a solvable problem. Here’s my response. It won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the original piece.)

The other day, I was riding the train to work, and I saw a young man sitting in the seat in front of me. He was well-dressed and carrying a leather briefcase, and he had neatly combed brown hair and a close shave, so I naturally assumed he must have a well-paying job and a higher-than-average intellect. He was also very attractive—the kind of man I might have wanted to marry someday. He was reading something on an electronic device, and I decided it wouldn’t be an egregious invasion of his privacy if I craned over his shoulder to see what it was. I expected him to be perusing the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, or perhaps The Economist. Imagine my shock when I found he was reading a thriller!

I could tell it was a thriller by the staccato prose and the vivid descriptions of torture and gruesome killings. Clearly this man must be dissatisfied with the mundanity of his white-collar life. Clearly he must yearn for simpler, more violent solutions to the complex problems he must face every day. I suspected he wished he could pack a Glock in his suit coat and brutally murder everyone with whom he engaged in unfavorable contract negotiations. 

With a shock of dismay, I realized I knew many men just like him: good-looking, wealthy men with big stock portfolios and upwardly mobile careers that nonetheless liked to read about the hyper-sexualized spy-slash-good-cop heroes and casual violence one so often finds in thrillers. This man must long for a relationship with one of the beautiful-yet-needy damsels in distress those heroes were perpetually rescuing.

Any hope I had of starting a relationship with the stranger perished. How could he ever appreciate someone like me—someone with a job and the ability to think for myself? It was like my mother always said. No man was ever going to fall in love with me while I insisted on wearing pantsuits to work. As I sat back in my seat, consumed with hopelessness, another, more disturbing thought occurred to me. What if he had noticed me looking over his shoulder—would he be angry? Would he respond with the kind of violence he so clearly valued reading? He no longer seemed like the placid sort of man I might have a relationship with—he seemed dangerous.

My own destination was many stops away, but I decided to get off at the next one, just to be safe. The train came to a stop, the brakes squealing, and I pulled myself out of my seat, resolutely looking away from the man’s e-reader. To my terror, he stood up, too. Should I leave? Stay? As I vacillated, the man turned. He saw me. He smiled, and I could only manage a weak nod in return. This was it. He was going to bash my head in on the back of the hideous red plastic seat—

—but no. He was only offering his seat to an elderly gentleman who’d just boarded the train. I sat back down and returned to my romance novel, which featured a vampire huntress staking blood-sucking villains in Victorian England—and falling in love with one of her prey. Sexy stuff, and the vampire hero seemed to appreciate strong women. Too bad it was only a novel.

(For the record, I think romance novels serve as far more than “escapism,” but I’ve already written about that here. And in case you missed my point, I think the way people are portrayed in works of fiction—any fiction—is important. Also, thrillers are awesome. But making blanket assumptions about whole groups of people based on their reading habits, especially while also making highly generalized judgements about the books in question? That's just plain silly.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lovely News: I'm a nominee in the GraveTells Readers Choice Awards!

Anchored and I are up for awards!!

You’ll have to forgive me while I freak out a little. This is the first time I’ve been nominated for something like this.

Back in March, I self-published Anchored as a kind of experiment. It’s set in the same world as my full-length novels, and I wanted to see how folks liked it. I didn’t do a whole lot of promotion, but DaVinicKittie over at GraveTells News & Reviews happened to pick it up.

Now, I’m up for Most Promising New Author in the GraveTells Readers Choice Awards, and Anchored was nominated for Favorite Novella. Plus, Carina Press, which will be publishing Twisted Miracles (the first book in my new urban fantasy series), is up for Favorite Publisher!

Y’all, saying I’m the underdog in this fight is a little like saying a sparrow is the underdog against a hurricane. You should see the amazingly talented folks in my categories. I’m bowled over with astonishment to even be on these lists. It’s very humbling.

If you have read my little book and liked it, and want to drop by the voting and give me a little nudge, I would be proud to have your vote.

You can read my GraveTells spotlight here, and you can vote for me and Anchored here. The Favorite Novella category is near the top, and the New Author category is near the bottom, but don't scroll too fast! I’ve found a lot of new authors through GraveTells, and many of them are on these lists. For example, Lindsay J. Pryor is up for Most Original Story Universe and Most Sensual Vampire, and I can assure you those are well-deserved nominations. I adore her Blackthorn series (very very sexy paranormal romance). So, even if you don’t want to vote, drop by and check out the nominees, because there are some great new books to discover.

Happy Holidays, all. :)

The Power of Stories

Lately, I've been thinking quite a lot about how we use stories to communicate. There's a reason politicians like to trot out everyday folks on the campaign trail and talk about Mrs. Smith's personal story of loss or success. There's a reason so much of the Bible consists of parables. Stories are the most powerful way we can use language. 

I'm talking about a pretty mundane example of this today on Here Be Magic--one where my toddler stops screaming so much once he hears a story about a kid with similar problems. But if you're only going to read one post this week about the power of story, you should read my friend and fellow writer Amber Belldene's. She published this amazing Sermon on Romance yesterday, and it's a beautiful and articulate statement of what it means to be a storyteller. 

Have a great week, everyone, and I hope whatever stories you're reading, they speak to you in whatever way you need them to.