Let’s Talk About Publishing

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Flickr Creative Common, mediamolecule

I write a lot about the business of digital publishing for my day job. With some regularity, I find myself writing about the wonderful world of self-publishing and railing against the gatekeepers–otherwise known as editors and publishers. But the non-work me still wants an editor to say, “Yes, this is good. I will take it to my boss, fight for it, and put my company’s massive resources behind publishing and marketing it.” More importantly, I kind of want to walk into a store and find my book on a shelf. Continue reading

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To Outline or Not To Outline

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Torley, Flickr Creative Commons

Part of the appeal of this project for me was learning to write in a more structured way. I usually just wing it, but not this time… To that end, I keep Googling things like “how to write a romance novel.” One of the top answers to that question comes from the PBS POV documentary Guilty Publishers. Romance novelist Gill Sanderson gives some tips on how to write a romance, and there seems to be a lot of outlining involved.

Considering I’ve already written a couple of chapters, I don’t think I can follow Gill’s advice to the letter, but I can take a step back and follow that first little piece of advice:

  • Write a hundred-word outline of your story. You can think about it for a week, but writing it will only take an afternoon. Establish hero and heroine, names (important!), jobs, characters. Set the time and place. Are you going to write sweet, passionate, mysterious, religious, supernatural? Decide. Last and most important, what is the problem that is keeping your hero and heroine apart?

So here it goes: Continue reading

Why Don’t Romance Readers Like Sassy Heroines?

Roadside Pictures, Flickr Creative Commons

Roadside Pictures, Flickr Creative Commons

I’m not crazy about the word “sassy.” It’s best used to describe the best-friend of the leading lady in a rom-com. It’s pretty patronizing in any other context. As it turns out, romance readers aren’t particularly fond of the word either, but for other reasons. According to myRWA “sassy heroines” are tenth on the top 10 list of popular romance tropes. It’s hard to say how many tropes didn’t make it onto the list at all, but I was still sad to see “sassy” ladies were so far down on the list.

“Strong hero/heroine” came in at number six. I assume the “strong hero” part is what people are responding to based on the relative unpopularity of “sassy” heroines. At the top of the list was “friends to lovers” followed by “soulmate/fate.”

Romance novels are, arguably, as escapist as any fantasy novel. So I suppose I can understand why so many readers are responding to the tropes that, sadly, probably don’t resemble their lives. How many readers are out there pining for their soulmate, who obviously isn’t the lump on the couch who won’t pick up his socks? A lot, I would guess. How many are dreaming about being sassier? Not many.

But I don’t know if I can write a female character who isn’t sassy/strong…so you’re just gonna have to deal with it.

A Romance Noob

I have no business writing a romance novel. I couldn’t tell you when the last time I read one was. There are, however, a couple of things I can say with relative certainty. The last romance novel I read was probably Danielle Steel and, by most standards, I was too young to be reading it. So, when I decided to undertake this project one thing became clear. I needed to read at least one romance novel before I started writing (and that probably wouldn’t be enough).

IMG_0420When my local library had its last book sale I decided to pick up a romance during my scavenger hunt. You can’t really go wrong when you’re paying 50 cents for a book, but I ended up with Redeeming the Rancher by Deb Kastner. I have to be honest, though: I basically chose it for the cover. Horses. Ranchers. Beautiful settings. What’s not to love?

I can’t imagine myself writing a historical romance. I don’t want to have to learn about Regency costumes along with everything else I’m going to have to adjust to during this process. So I figured a contemporary romance set in America would be a good first foray into the genre.

I’m in the middle of finally reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, which is a rather hefty book–and another library book sale score. It’s clear that I am going to have to make time to dig into Redeeming the Rancher, but if there’s one thing I know about romances, it’s that they are quick reads. I’ve got a train trip ahead of me, and I can’t foresee lugging The Interestings along so maybe the rancher and I will have to get acquainted on the rails.