How Do We Define Romance?

stormwalker How do we define romance? On a romance blog, one might as well ask what is life. It’s one of those broad, overarching topics susceptible to endless debate. We see authors offering endless variations from the most conventional to the most edgy and subversive. And yet, at the end of the day, we expect our lead couple to end up happily ever after – or at least happy for now. Though I still get irked with market restrictions from time to time, I have appreciated in recent years that we’ve been seeing a market full of change, choices, and great authors. And then I went to RWA 2012 in Anaheim.

The Elimination of Novels with Strong Romantic Elements as a RITA category

At the general meeting in Anaheim, Romance Writers of America(RWA) announced that it had decided upon a plan to reconfigure the RITA awards. Continue reading

Romance Heroines and Exercise

ICPI’ll admit it’s not easy staying in shape, and at times I seem to be fighting a losing battle. In the middle of the winter, curling up with a good book is much more appealing than going out for a long walk on a sub-zero day. But on most days I do try. In nice weather I go for a lot of walks; in colder or rainy weather I’ll return to the treadmills in the fitness center where I live. I attend yoga classes off-and-on, or do some yoga at home, to work on my balance and flexibility.  And I even have a few free weights to do some strength training. Perhaps it’s my own efforts in this regard, but lately I’ve been longing to read about contemporary romance heroines who squeeze in a bit of exercise into their lives.

I’m specifically interested in contemporary romance heroines, because, let’s face, it, reading that a Regency era heroine has a fitness room or that she regularly hikes up her skirts and jogs just wouldn’t be appropriate. And most paranormal or urban fantasy heroines either seem to regularly stay in shape to survive, or have very specific natural abilities and powers that endow them with extra strength and speed. But what about your average contemporary romance heroine? And by average, I mean a non-athlete heroine who manages to fit in a bit of exercising into her regular routine.

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Talking about YA and Women’s Fiction

impossible Sometimes behind the scenes some of us at AAR like to compare notes on books we’ve read or urge our friends to read some of the books we’ve enjoyed the most. Leigh and Maggie started chatting about their shared love of YA and of women’s fiction recently and this is what they had to say about it:

Leigh:The series of blogs on diversity lately had me wondering about why I am drawn to a certain type of book. While I enjoy contemporary romances, I am also drawn to Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction. Continue reading

Copyediting Boobos

pencilThey can be of the hysterically funny variety or they can drive you nuts.  Yep, I’m talking about copyediting errors.

Poor Susan Andersen.  Earlier this year in the pages of her reprinted book Baby, I’m Yours, there was this doozy:

“He stiffened for a moment but then she felt his muscles loosen as he shitted on the ground.”

Ummm, that’s supposed to be shifted.

The author handled it very well, posting on Facebook and everywhere she could to reach out to readers and let them know about this unintentional error.  But, honestly, I had a good laugh – and, hopefully, the author did too.  Eventually.

More common are the sloppy errors that let you know that a book wasn’t copyedited at all or, on the other hand, was copyedited by an idiot.  Either way, it’s irritating as hell.

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Romance Author Booksignings: August and Beyond

This month while looking for author booksignings I noticed that a number of authors are going to appear at book festivals around the country over the next few months. I became intrigued and starting searching for book festivals, as well as single-author signings, over the next few months. While many of the book festivals I checked out seem to mainly feature literary authors (not that there’s anything wrong with that), a few also have one or more romance authors, as well as many popular mystery authors.  A quick search revealed the following festivals over the next few months:

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Speaking of Audiobooks: The Best In Romance Audio Publishing

vectorstock_10162If you’ve been an audiobook enthusiast for long, you know that the industry exploded with the availability of digital downloads.  As a result, the number of romance releases increased sharply and the selection only gets better with each passing month.  As one of those enthusiasts and a fan of romance, I pay close attention to those audio publishers who historically have offered a significant selection of romance audio and continue to do so.  You know, those publishers who take the time to choose quality narrators for their titles as well as discover those authors that make romance listeners sit up and take notice.  Here’s to giving a shout-out to those publishers who are doing a particularly fine job of it.

Before we start, I’ll add a disclaimer – I’m using numbers from Audible.  I’m aware that there are audiobooks from years ago in audio cassette or CD format that have yet to hit the digital download market.  But since we’re discussing the move in the romance audio industry over the past few years, I feel the Audible numbers are adequate for this discussion.

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Melting Pot Challenge: India and Indian Characters

Haunting Jasmine When I first began reading romance, India was a popular setting for books. A lot of the books had to do with English characters of the British Raj falling in love, such as Mary Putney’s excellent Veils of Silk. Others were sweeping historical sagas detailing the occupation of India like The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. The descriptions of the lush, hot land beguiled me as a reader. I became an armchair traveler, visiting exotic temples, cool palaces filled with tinkling fountains and of course, devouring information on the Kama Sutra.

When the Regency domination of historicals began, exotic books were dropped in favor of glittering ballrooms. India became a casualty of the Napoleonic Wars. And perhaps evolving attitudes toward colonialism have made the British Raj look a little less romantic as well. Continue reading

What I Read on My Summer Vacation

I am one of the most regimented readers I know. I follow the same pattern every month: I read three books for review, read my book club book, and use whatever’s left of the month to read whatever I want to read. It sounds rigid, but I’m an order muppet, and this schedule nearly always suits me. In fact, I believe I’ve only taken a month off from reviewing twice in fourteen years. Last month was one of those. With various stresses in my life, I’d had little free reading time over the last several months, and I decided I needed a mental health break. So I allowed myself a month full of the heady freedom most adults experience all the time, and spent July reading whatever struck my fancy. Here’s what I read (mostly) for fun and just for me:
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TBR Challenge 2012 – Steaming Up the Place

dirty The TBR Challenge theme for August is hot, steamy reads. In a sense, the book I chose, Megan Hart’s Dirty, published by Harlequin Spice in 2007, fits the bill. The story contains plentiful sex scenes, and they certainly are steamy. However, that’s not what stands out most about this book. This story contains some of the most intense plotting and interesting characters I’ve read in ages, and it tackles issues not often encountered in romance of any subgenre. I don’t know why I let this book sit in my TBR so long, but it was an amazing find, and I’d give it an A-, Desert Island Keeper status.

Part of the story’s intensity comes from its narration. The heroine, Elle Kavanaugh, tells her story, and the twists and turns of her complex mind by turns draw sympathy, interest, and sometimes frustration from the reader. Continue reading

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor to Be a TV Movie

sean_faris_1296940989Lisa Kleypas has finally made the announcement, which means I am free to reveal the news I’ve been sitting on for months.  Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor will be an ABC and a Hallmark channel movie this year called Christmas with Holly.  Better still, unlike some other past “movie deals,” we know it’s the real thing because the movie is already shooting up in Canada for airing this holiday season.

Here’s the Hallmark press release:

Filming begins this week in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia on the newest Hallmark Hall of Fame production, Christmas with Holly.  It will premiere on ABC in December, 2012, with encore presentations on the Hallmark Channel.

“I’ve been holding on to my old dreams.  But I realize I need to make room for new ones.”  So says Maggie Conway, played by Eloise Mumford (The River, Lone Star), in the film.  She’s decided to move on in life after being left at the altar months earlier.

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