Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!
If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!
Writing Romance: Agony or Ecstasy
Whoever said writing romance was fun? Well, just about everyone who’s ever done it. Maybe I should say anyone who’s actually gotten to the end of the first manuscript. There are countless things to enjoy about writing romance novels: you get to create characters who ultimately have all of the traits you respect and wish you had (honor, bravery, kindness, passion, valor, devotion); you get to travel with those characters to anywhere in the world, known or imagined; you get to research topics that fascinate and sometimes frighten you, learning more about your world and the world of others in the process; you get to touch other people intimately, through the unique experience of shared words; you get to educate, inspire, entertain, and challenge; and you get to do it all (sometimes) from the comfort of your own home and maybe even while in your pajamas (giving a shout out to Bev Jenkins who noted in Love Between the Covers, the documentary about romance fiction, that yes indeed, writing in one’s pajamas is a perk). With hard work you get to earn money. So if it’s that much fun, why isn’t everyone doing it?
Well, there are a lot of things not to love about writing romance, not the least of which is the dreaded “blank screen.” You know, when you sit down at your computer or if you’re one of those troglodytes that still writes everything out longhand first (of which there are many talented authors) :o), the blank page, and nothing happens. Where to start? The first step can be paralyzing if you think about it too hard. One of the splendors of any art is the marriage of craft and creativity, and in those moments, looking at that blank screen/page, it’s best to let creativity take the lead. If you don’t know where you’re going, take a step and start writing. Yes, it’s a jump into freefall, and it’s a risk, but it’s one of the great joys of writing romance as well—when the characters begin to take form page after page, when the key moments of intimacy—the first meeting, the first look, the first touch, the first kiss, the first love scene—become more than story constructs and become living breathing moments unique to the world and the characters you have created. Those make the freefall worth it.
But back to what isn’t so much fun—that would probably be the middle of the book, when you’ve worked your butt off creating dynamic, multidimensional characters, put them in memorable settings, presented them with seemingly overwhelming conflicts and captivating challenges, and now the landscape looks as flat and barren as a desert, no life in sight. The dreaded sagging middle. Usually for a few days you wander listlessly around, muttering and mumbling to those unfortunate enough to be in your company, before you suddenly realize that the middle of the book is actually one of the high points, a key turning point, when the stakes go up and the challenges increase and just by exposing your characters’ deepest needs and fears and desires, you’ve upped the tension. A new game is on, and you start again and the freefall feels just as sweet.
And of course there’s the thrill of the finale, bringing it all together, of reaching the I love you and Yes, I will
take this journey into life with you, and you write The End and it’s done. And then it’s not so fun anymore, because after the edits and the edits and the edits and the wondering what will happen when you send this labor of love and sweat out into the world and what will people think of it? Will they understand your characters the way you did, will they love them the way you did? Will they buy the damn book so you can write another one?
When I tell people that writing romance is my job, I mean it in the best possible way—it’s more than a job, it is a labor of love, yes, but be not mistaken—writing a romance novel is work. The best kind of work—the kind that makes you feel good about your own self-worth, your own abilities, and gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride. Now and then it even puts a meal or two on the table.
What could be better than that?
On the heels of the Golden Crown Literary Society annual lesbian fiction conference followed directly by the Romance Writers of America national conference, fourteen days of immersion in the community of authors and readers and publishing professionals who know what there is to love (and occasionally hate) about writing romance, I am reminded once again why I couldn’t have a better job.
How Sweet It is & Kiss the Girls (Soho Loft series): romances where friends share the ups and downs of falling in love
A Royal Romance & Heart of the Pack: from a Princess and the Commoner contemporary romance to the leader of the Pack (paranormal romance)
Questions for the Author:
Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.
Just about every morning when I walk around the farm in the quiet and solitude, letting the animals out, watching their uncomplicated existence unfold. These are the moments that make me want to write about the inexplicable wonder of life, and that always takes me to writing romance.
Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?
Radclyffe is generously giving away 5 e-books from her backlist, winner’s choice, one each to three US readers and two international readers.
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the *Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST August 17, 2016. ***International friends, be sure to include your country in your comment so we know to include you in the international drawing. Good luck!
(*You don’t have to like the FB page, but we do recommend it. It’s easier to contact you if you win. Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.)
Radclyffe is a best-selling romance author and LGBTQ publisher. She has written over fifty romance novels, dozens of short stories, and edited numerous anthologies.
The 2014 Dr. James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Award recipient, she is the president of Bold Strokes Books, founded in 2004, an independent LGBTQI publishing companies.
Buy Radclyffe’s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!