While many of you are aware of “copywriting boobos”, I tend to be more aware of descriptive information. I want it to seep into my subconscious setting the scene, showing me the action but not be a part of the story. I think of adjectives and adverbs as the structure or foundation of a novel. You know that it there and it makes an impression but it doesn’t scream out at you.
I am not saying that stark and unadorned writing doesn’t have its place, but adjectives and adverbs are wonderful things when used correctly. They take you from, “See Leigh run,” to “See exhausted but unwavering Leigh stagger wheezily to the finish line.” They change a simple black and white thought by adding vibrant color to it(albeit sometimes purple color), and crafting an image that comes alive in our mind. And having stories come alive is of critical importance.
A report was just released that revealed that in Washington, DC, the childhood poverty rate is higher than that of Mexico. In Washington, DC, my former home and our nation’s capital, more than 30% of children are growing up in impoverished families. Thirty percent.
This is not meant to be a political blog (though how sad is it that just stating childhood poverty rates can become a political debate?). Rather, I present this information as a reality that many of us don’t want to face: some Americans are poor. But reading romance novels – particularly contemporary ones — won’t let you in on that fact.
I’m not talking just the richest of the rich that are far too common in romance novels — the Roarkes, the movie stars, the billionaire bosses — but also the extremely healthy upper-middle-class that it seems almost everyone in romance novels belongs to. No one is living paycheck to paycheck. No one is working two jobs to make ends meet. No one has eschewed vacations in favor of paying school loans.
Maybe it’s the brogue. Or the green eyes so many of them seem to have. Perhaps it is the passionate, artistic nature. The Irish, after all, are credited with being great poets and musicians. It could be the magic – the Island is equated with all manner of faeries and myths. Perhaps it is their imports- men who look like Colin Farell, Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan all have the look of a good romance rogue. Whatever it is, there is nothing quite like an Irish hero, is there? With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I felt it was time to pay tribute to lads of the Emerald Isle. Here are my favorites, in no particular order:
Reading Maggie’s blog about the unique backgrounds of individuals now writing romance novels caused me to think about writing as a career and how some authors are able to make a success of it for years and even decades, while others fall off the map. Think of all the authors that you loved who no longer have a current contract. (The ease of self- publishing eBooks has given me hope that they will be back.) Some are able to carve out a very comfortable and in a few cases, even wealthy, lifestyle, but then there are many others who have to keep their day jobs. Ability, commitment, hard work, and a bit of luck all have a hand in an author’s longevity. And I think one other element helps authors as well: a perception or aptitude to keep their books unique but familiar.
Sometimes I take away more from a beloved romance novel than the love story, or fond memories of the hero and heroine. Sometimes other aspects of the book not only stick with me, they actually influence my life.
Art glass is something I never thought about, let alone collected, until I read one of my favorite romances of all time, Nora Roberts’ Born in Fire.
The heroine Maggie Concannon is a glass artist. Her work comes to the attention of wealthy gallery owner Rogan Sweeney. He wants to show her work in one of his galleries, and when she fails to respond to his inquiries, he goes in search of her in her rural home. Rogan first encounters Maggie – mid work – in her small studio behind her home. She barks at him to close the door, and then immediately turns back to her art:
I know that for the readers that just love holding the actual paper book in their hands, it is going to take a lot to convince them to change to eBooks. But this week, a recurring dilemma of mine brought home one reason I love them.
An AAR reader mentioned wanting to read an out of print book, but the least expensive copy available is selling for $40.00. As I read the message board post, I realized that I had read the book. Continue reading
While I am in no way an expert on the male psyche, I do have brothers and I worked in a male dominated profession for over ten years so I have had plenty of exposure to their logic, conversation, and ways of interacting with each other. After reading a book with very authentic male dialogue, I then read a passage in another book, where a male character tells a friend that his wife is his life. Now don’t get me wrong, because honestly that is a lovely sentiment. But none of the men that I have been around would say that about their wife to me or any of their other friends in normal day to day conversation. That statement just seems like a crying in my beer, she left me country song.
Series romances with contemporary settings appear to be going strong. Harlequin releases plenty of them every month and readers (including me) eagerly snatch them up. However, single title contemporaries are a little harder to find. Anyone who reads romance sites and blogs or who spends any time at all following romance readers on Twitter has seen plenty of moaning about the dearth of single title contemporaries. I started to wonder why this is, and that in turn has made me wonder if contemporaries might not be a more narrowly defined subgenre than one might think at first glance.
At first glance, the contemporary landscape appears wide open. The choice of settings is almost endless and so too the choice of character types. After all, a book can feature cowboys in Texas, a shop owner in Paris, or archeologists in the Middle East and so long as it’s set in the here and now, we can call it contemporary. The possibilities for the imagination at this point almost boggle the mind. Then comes the plotting – and that’s where things get sticky.
As I was reflecting this week on elements that unify us as readers, it occurred to me that many of my reading colleagues are also fellow animal lovers. I live in a house filled with rescued cats and dogs, which is by turns delightful and frustrating. Delightful because life doesn’t get much better than snuggling with a book and a kitty in my lap. Frustrating in that many of my books are now missing covers courtesy of a certain coonhound who has an affinity for ripping them off when my back is turned.
Since I am such a sucker for animals I almost always find it a bonus when a good romance features a furry companion. Especially if the author is adept at creating a unique personality to where the pet becomes an actual character in the story.
Without further ado, here are a few of my favorites:
A week or two ago, while flipping channels, I delightedly discovered that I got the Lifetime Movie Network. I don’t usually watch Lifetime movies, but the particular film playing caught my attention: Nora Roberts’ Blue Smoke.
I’ve heard of the Nora Roberts Lifetime movies, but never had the opportunity to watch them. As my roommate and I — and her confused but game boyfriend — watched the movie, I got really into it. It wasn’t any cinematic masterpiece, but it was decently composed, the male lead was cute, and there were enough fires and explosions to keep us all — roommate’s boyfriend included — interested. (We’ll disregard the ill-advised shirtless carpentry on Bo’s part.)