Why do you read Romance?
Myself, I have a fundamental interest in how two people with totally different objectives, backgrounds, lifestyles, personalities--you get the picture--can come together and make a relationship work. The higher the conflict and the stakes the better. Maybe this is why I love reading and writing enemies-to-lovers stories. The harder they fall the bigger the emotional payoff for me as a reader.
Some people read Romance for the sex, or so I've been told. As an author and reader, I've delved into my fair share of the steamier stuff. I'm going to admit here and now that this was usually, though not always, at a publisher's insistence. My favorite scenes to read and to write are the first kiss and before. Sexual tension and anticipation on the page is far more interesting and laden with potential for me than the act itself.
Sure, the sexy stuff can be fun, but I usually skim the intimate scenes. I've read so many books in the genre that there's only so much an author can do to surprise me. Shock isn't really my thing as a reader or a writer. I've tried it, and it comes off as fake and shallow because I don't believe in it.
About the sex though? Since Romance is written predominantly for and by women, I absolutely don't discount the sex positivity that the genre has offered its readers. We've gotten better at writing sex and respecting women's bodies since the 1980s bodice ripper (of which I was a giant fan in its day), but the fact that we opened that dialogue with ourselves and explored the question of our right to feel pleasure is a genuinely good thing. Romance is a place to carry out that dialogue, and to experiment as well as evolve our understanding of its merits.
In the pages of a Romance I saw my first female heroes fight for and win positions equal to men. I watched them triumph over real life struggles that I have since faced in my own career in a male dominated profession. They say our psyches tell the stories, whether in our dreams or on the page, that we most need to work through . I read Romance for comfort and for confidence.
The Romance genre is a place where women and relationships triumph over the forces that try to tear them apart. The pages of a Romance are full of adversity, yes, but they are also full of hope. Romance is the genre of the optimist. Or, in our sometimes too-dark world, it's the genre of those who wish to hang onto the belief that a happy ending is theoretically possible.
Romance is the place where I go, too, to be transported and to escape. The genre is a balm for the disappointments of the real world and a vacation from life. We can tell a Romance against the backdrop of other genres: urban fantasy, paranormal, the contemporary, science fiction, fantasy, or history. The Romance can be imbued with art, politics, and the first subtle shot across the bow of a social movement. Our spoonful of sugar in the telling is the Romance--and oh what a lovely medicine it is.
Romance has a tall order to fill. To be a good read it must transport, entertain, uplift, inspire, impress, and tell a damned good story about a conflict that both emulates and steps outside of our everyday existence. Writing all of this is about as difficult as scoring all 10s during an Olympics gymnastics routine. Especially when you consider that the only given formula about achieving this feat is that the relationship must triumph.
Yes, there are shallow books in the Romance genre. There are shallow books in any genre. The reason Romance gets a bad rap is because of misogyny, both internalized and externalized. No one ever scoffs at a Western. Of course, not all books or genres are for all people. Undoubtedly, some people will simply prefer a CIA Thriller, sans relationship entanglements, to a Romance. It's the biting, sarcastic, wink-wink-nudge-nudge commentary that calls into question the socio-political prejudices of the critic.
You don't have to enjoy Romance in order to believe that it cultivates readers who are strong, intelligent, creative, empathetic, and brave. Their entertainment reflects these traits. If anyone ever tells you differently, and they will, they've either never read a Romance or they don't like or understand its readers. In which case, is it really worth engaging them at all? You could be doing better things. Like reading.
Tell me about your favorite reasons to read Romance? What was your first read? What drew you to the genre and what keeps you coming back for more?
Have you noticed how much women-led film and television seems to be changing and taking off lately? The Crown, Victoria, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to name a few.
What has struck me about these shows and films versus some of the others that have come before is the way they address women's history and women's power. Positively, unflinchingly, and without shying away from the problems that women had to surmount in order to achieve their dreams.
I mention The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in particular because their historical context enhances rather than detracts from the determination and unique strengths of both of their protagonists. Also, they're both female creative types, and I'm nothing if not a sucker for stories about people trying to make it in a creative profession.
Both Miriam (Midge) Maisel and Juliet Ashton experience relationship difficulties, are confronted by male power structures, and limited by the social strictures of their day. Yet, to use a modern phrase, they persisted. So many other shows that feature women protagonists showcase how the women only truly succeeds after she realizes she's a bitch, or she realizes she really wants a husband and children--that elusive relationship that will finally supplant the empty career that she'd used as a surrogate for the Romantic Thing she thought she couldn't have.
For example, let's take films like The Proposal or Bridget Jones. I adore both of these movies, but I hadn't realized before being exposed to the richly drawn Midge and Juliet how much less layered and alive these other films are. Sandra Bullock (again, love her) in The Proposal has to find fulfillment by realizing her career isn't everything and that being driven and hard (e.g. man-like) is the barrier to her ultimate happiness. While Midge realizes the opposite--that being the perfect wife to her husband, while something she actually enjoys, doesn't have to be all there is to who she is. Her happiness is not dependent upon her husband.
I won't spoiler these shows for you, but I wondered if you'd noticed the change in tone and inflection of these newer films and shows too. It's not just me, is it?
For my own part, I'm also viewing my own female characters through a different lens. It's as if someone has shown me a whole new row of colors in the crayon box that I hadn't realized existed. It's strange that I didn't see them before--surreal even. I mean, they were right there in front of me all along. We're not talking about revolutionary concepts, but rather the revolutionary application of those concepts in a way that women aren't made to apologize for.
Do you have other shows or movies that you'd like to share? I am on the prowl now for super well told and strongly drawn women-centric film and television!
Coloring outside the lines since 1969,
Maybe it's the heat or maybe it's those umbrella drinks, but summer can make us do crazy things. The rushing tide, the moonlight, and a gallon jug of sangria inevitably leads to one place...
You know what I'm talking about. Hard, fast, and short. The kind of breathless experience we whisper about over a cup of coffee to our best friend in our favorite cafe. Wide eyed, they listen, leaning forward to catch each salacious detail.
"That sounds so good."
"It was!" You lick the foam off your upper lip, memory's soft-focus cushioning the moment. "I can't wait until the next book comes out."
You didn't know we were talking about books? Roll back. Yes. Books and book boyfriends. Summer reads in particular. Those page turners and burners. Hot, quick, and sensual. You stay up all night to read them because you have the delicious luxury of nowhere to be the next day.
These stories might be printed on paper and bound with dogeared covers, but they linger in memory like the taste of coffee-tinged kisses on your tongue. You might forget the title and the author, but you never, ever forget the hero. Usually, there's one or two scenes in particular that roll over you like a thundering tide.
Have you ever read a book where one scene catches your eye and your breath? You read that same scene, or even the entire book, over and over again, while the world recedes around you? That's what I'm talking about.
My first summer love, and my first Book Boyfriend Moment (TM) was with Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. You know that scene, when Mr. Rochester steps from the drawing room while Jane is tying her shoe on the stair and he asks her to return to the party? He's looking at her as a woman for perhaps the first time--really seeing her. While the whole employer / employee thing is, in retrospect, a little creepy, it was fiction and I was happy to play along. I was, admittedly, about fifteen, but that was The Moment when I knew beyond a doubt that Mr. Rochester would forever be my first Summer Love.
While I returned to the pages of Jane Eyre again and again over my life, that first moment of romantic discovery held a special place for me. I've had other moments of summer passion since--with Eric and B.G. in Emma Holly's Strange Attractions, the assassin Valek in Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study, and with Raynard in Kim Dare's avian-shifter masterpiece Duck! to name a few.
Summer isn't the only time for book boyfriends, but it is a time when those relaxed nights and oceanside days allow us to sink into reading without the push and pull of normal, every day life. As summer comes to a close and we're tugged willy nilly back into the chaos of school, work, and family, let's take a moment to share those Summer Book Boyfriend Moments that will sustain us through the rest of the year.
So, who was your first summer book love, and who did you romance on the page during these hot August nights? Share in the comments. We won't kiss and tell!
Best book? Worst title? It happens...
This book. Oh, this book.
I labored over it, loved it, nurtured it, and sent it out into the world. The problem was, I gave it a name guaranteed to get it bullied on the playground. I never thought about how confusing a double entendre like Public Relations might be. General reaction was, "Why would I want to read a book about the PR industry?" Which is TOTALLY not what the book is about.
It's too late now to re-title it, but I'm really glad it has a new cover that does it justice, because maybe (just maybe) now some folks will get a chance to see my baby shine.
The goal I had when I started was to write a richly layered book about two truly lost people who find love and their better selves through each other. It was my answer, if you will to THAT BOOK. You know the one.
I know a mother isn't supposed to have favorites, but if I had to choose one, this would be among the contenders. So, go forth and fly Peter and Georgia!
Bon voyage for the second time!
Please give a warm welcome to Liam Livings, author extraordinaire who has been kind enough to answer my questions about his newest release, Adventures in Dating...in Heels, (Kev, Book 1).
I've rarely come across such a wonderfully poignant story premise and character, and had to ask Liam what inspired him to write about Kev. He was kind enough to record his answers in the video blogs below.
Kev Harrison is a teenager, looking for a boyfriend and friends who will accept his cross-dressing. Only thing is, he lives in a small village near Salisbury, England, and it's the nineties.
Tony Collins is Kev's best friend, a Goth with a passion for fashion and anything to do with the Human League. He stands as the voice or reason while Kev muddles his way through coming out, career choices, and dating...in heels.
About Liam Livings
Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film - and he's been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing 'research'.
One evening, flicking through the channels, he stumbled across the film, Saving Private Ryan, and it took twenty minutes of not seeing Goldie Hawn in an army uniform, before he realised it wasn't actually the film, Private Benjamin.
He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.
You can find out more about Liam on his web site, and visit with him on Twitter and Facebook.
For the first time in several years, the Hollywood series is once again available in its entirety!
Not only that, but I know how you can get the first book for FREE!
Readers like Z. A. Maxfield have found book one, No Apologies, a "Highly emotional, sexy romance with vivid characters and an engaging plot."
Don't tell, but my personal favorites are split between No Apologies and Acting Out. If you haven't explored Kit and Jeremy's story about a love that catapults two actors into uncharted (and deliciously warm) Hollywood waters, then you're in for a treat!
Haven't read No Apologies yet and want to get started on the series? Well, here's the perfect opportunity! You can pick up a FREE copy for a limited time!
How? It's easy, and fun!
Just join my Seekrit Clubhouse, where I'll be letting members know how to snag a copy of No Apologies. But don't delay, because I'll be offering details on this exclusive deal to everyone who joins the Group in the month of August 2018 only!
Already read the series and want MORE? So glad you brought that up!
I'll also be hosting other events, including previews of draft chapters of Taste the Dark and other new works to
Please join today so you don't miss out! I can't wait to see you there!
Welcome! This is the inaugural post of my Authors Helping Authors series!
How many of you have had copies of your work made available for illegal download? Most of you, right? It's a constant source of frustration to authors. Or at least to this author who spends upwards of 9 months to a year writing a novel and shovels out boatloads of cash to get it in front of readers only to have it available for free an hour later. I'd honestly stopped looking for those nasty links, because it simply became too discouraging.
Well, I think...finally...there is a solution in Blasty!
Author, Kim Dare, mentioned the site to me yesterday. Curious, I went out to investigate. I tried the free version, and within 30 minutes paid for the full version. Since then, I've had over 700 illegally posted copies of my work discovered and DMCA takedown notices submitted. In less than 24 hours.
Seriously. Over 700! In less than 24 hours!
I'm never going to do justice to describing how Blasty works, so I'm providing the link to their YouTube video. While the Chrome add on is a tiny bit glitchy, it does work well for the most part. The Web interface itself was flawless. It only took me a few minutes to upload all of my backlist and start the takedown process. Automatically.
While I was sleeping, this brilliant app found over 300 pirated copies available for illegal download that are now being purged not only from the sites where they're posted, but also from search engines that will no longer serve the links.
Takedowns go to Bing, Yahoo, Google, and the infringing site. This is a total of over 2,800 takedown notices!
I couldn't have sent these out and kept on top of them (which Blasty does 24/7 with their Auto-Blast service) if I devoted my entire waking life to this task. I just banked so many writing hours with this tool, I'm seriously overwhelmed with gratitude.
Even more lovely? The app allows you to upload your entire Amazon author list, to name just one method, with little more than a few clicks. No joke!
The company offers an affiliate program where, if I posted the link (and you signed up), I could get my subscription price lowered or forgiven entirely. I'm not doing that, because I want you to believe me when I say "WOW!" There's nothing in this for me. Just one author trying to help other authors get more books written for awesome readers.
For those of you who have followed my shenanigans for a while, you know that I've been actively publishing in the Romance genre since 2009/2010 when Sheet Music placed 2nd in a Passionate Ink contest.
Since that time, I've published 10 novels and novellas, completed a Master's degree, moved to Boston, moved to Georgia, moved back to Boston, and had two major surgeries. It has been, shall we say, a wild ride. While much of this has been rewarding, there has been a lot of heartbreak and hard stuff as well.
Last year, I found myself at a crossroads, totally drained and not a little depressed. Physically, I had worn myself down to the point of utter nothingness. My brain, predictably, was struggling with the hormonal after effects of a hysterectomy. It's safe to say I ran out of cope.
Add to this the struggles I had with writing, rewriting, and editing both Surrender the Dark and Taste the Dark, and I had a complete failure of self-confidence and will. When Random House decided to cancel the series and asked me to come up with another concept for them due in part to poor sales and in part to my inability to face Akito's emotionally difficult story, I had nothing left to give.
Failure is a funny thing. It teaches you a lot, but in the middle of the experience you can often only see despair and a sense of creative annihilation. In the midst of that despair, I convinced myself that nobody wanted to hear from me and I was going to go away. For good. Never to set pen to paper again. (All of you authors out there can laugh at me now.)
If you look at my social media stats, you'll see that I certainly *thought* I was serious about not coming back to writing. It was a broken, dark time. (And *shakes fist at Akito* Taste the Dark didn't make this any easier!) Ultimately, when my job called me back to Boston from Georgia, I deleted everything I could of my author life and walked away. That, it would seem, was that.
Then, an amazing thing happened about 3 months ago...
I started to get fan mail. Letters and comments and support from people I'd never talked to before, who I didn't know, but who somehow I had managed to touch with the creative spark I thought was dead. They fed that spark back to me and reignited something within me.
That something was hope. The greatest gift one human can give to another.
For those of you who think you have nothing to offer--that your reviews and letters and social media posts fall into a void that we authors never see or hear or consider--I can tell you that you have a hell of a lot of power and influence. Many, many times for good (and a few heart rending times, for bad), you affect us in profound ways.
So, what I'm doing now, with the help of some amazing friends (both new and old), is paving a new path forward. I'm rolling up my sleeves and reformatting my existing backlist, and sticking my toes in the creative wellspring you've un-dammed. Thank you for reaching out, and for sticking around while I get my *bleep* back together.
Follow me on social media and I will follow back. Each little click is a point of light in the darkness. I know it sounds corny, but knowing you're there is something that keeps me going.
As E.M. Forster said in the flyleaf to Howard's End, "Only connect..."
Thank you for connecting. It has truly made all the difference.
The rights to the Hollywood series have reverted to me. I debated quietly slipping the new covers and layouts into the e-tailers without fanfare, but they turned out so beautifully that I was too impatient to wait.
Many thanks to cover designer, Kris Norris, for taking such good care with these books. I couldn't have imagined anything better or more lovely.
Full Disclosure, Outtakes, and Numbers Game have only been available in Audible format for quite a while. That will all change very soon. If you're looking for these in the online stores, I'm working on formatting the books as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, and without further ado, here is a preview of the full series!
Welcome to my new online home!
Take off your shoes, put up your feet, and stay a while. I can't wait to share great new content with you over the coming weeks and months. I'm preparing free reads and some spiffy new logos to help you navigate my backlist.
I've been on hiatus, completing projects for my other life. While I jump back into authoring and turn the page on some new stories for you, take a look around and let me know what you think of the new site design.
Many thanks to Bronwyn Green and Paige Prince, who have been keeping me sane over the past six months, as well as offering me their insight on marketing, book formatting, covers, and the like. What would I do without this amazing sisterhood?
These are the musings of a cynical romantic. Heroes on the page may be closer than they appear.