Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fan Girl

This past month, I've been busy attending conferences. And at these conferences, I was able to get my fan girl fix. Although I attended as a published author, I was just a fan girl for those authors whose work I adore.

For years before I ever dreamt that I could actually string together enough words coherently to write a book, I was a voracious reader (as most writers are). One of my favorites from way back is Tami Hoag. How many nights did she keep me up far past my bedtime? How many mornings did I awaken to the alarm clock with sleep deprived bloodshot eyes? And finally at a Novelists, Inc. conference, I was actually in the same room with her! It was all I could do to keep from embarrassing myself by jumping up and down. And the greatest thing is, she was as fascinating in person as her books are. Meeting her made my conference.

At Bouchercon I was in the midst of so many wonderful mystery and suspense authors ... well, it just boggled the mind. I can now say I've been privilaged to listen to greats like Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Joseph Finder, and Sue Grafton. Now if a person doesn't come home jazzed about writing after that, they don't have a writer's bone in their body. Needless to say, I'm jazzed and off to work on my next novel.

And for those of you out there who are writers seeking publication, next week I'm going to start posting and sharing some tools for the trade. Check back!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Respect for Romance?

This is something of a thorn in my side, so bear with me.

Popular culture is filled with romance. It's everywhere. Advertizing campaigns are centered around sex appeal. TV shows like Gray's Anatomy, Castle, and many more thrive on the romantic plot elements. We keep watching them, in part, for the sexual tension.

Music is emotion based -- and yes, most is centered on the romantic conflict.

Movies, whether billed as romances or not, often include a romantic element. Why? Because we like them. We can relate. And it's a good way to better understand ourselves.

And I rarely see someone roll their eyes in dismissive generality at music, or movies, or TV for that matter.

Why then is it that any book shelved in the romance section of a bookstore gets the social snub? Most often the people who criticize "those books" haven't read "those books". Just as with all genre fiction, there is a wide gamet of material out there. And I admit, there are books that are "all about sex." But those are pretty clear about that fact in the packaging and the title -- so if that's what you're looking for you can find it. Let's stop generalizing the romance genre. Let's view each book for it's own content and entertainment value.

I can't tell you how many people have said to me, "I never read a romance until [insert: event, received gift, urging from a friend, here]. I had no idea! Now I'm hooked."

There are hundreds of fabulous books, deep books, inspiring books, amazingly well-written books sitting on those romance shelves. Be brave and pick one up and give it a try.

But beware, romance novels can be addictive. And if you're allergic to an upbeat and fulfilling ending, you might just want to keep your nose in the air and walk right on past the romance aisle.