On being a reader of romance

I’m a reader of romance. I also love crime novels, and for a while I read every book I could find that had vampires in it, I even had a spreadsheet (if you want gritty killing machine vampires, I recommend the David Wellington series, 13 Bullets). But really, when I do have time to read these days, more often than not I’ll be picking up a romance. I’m a sucker for a love story with lots of sex and a happy ending.

I started reading Mills & Boon/Harlequin romances when I was 15, much to my mother’s despair (because ‘trashy’ romance novels are not ‘real’ books apparently). I never really stopped reading them, but over the years I have developed a taste for the raunchier ones, as one does (Desire series, anyone?). In the same way my taste for them has evolved, so have my views on gender roles and feminism. I remember starting a Mills & Boon book a couple of years ago that I could not keep reading, the emotionally abusive undercurrent in that book was too strong for me.

I’ve also grown tired of the usual tropes. Here are a couple that really get my goat:

  • The powerful billionaire with tragic past falls for a woman with a menial job and makes her see that he is the one for her, no matter how many times she refuses him. He knows her better than she knows herself and usually coerces her into a relationship/sex/marriage under threat. I once read one where the guy, who’d just found the woman again, 6 years after walking out on her, and finding out she’d had twins, threatened to get full custody (fully expecting to get it too, because of who he was and his inflated bank account) if she didn’t marry him on the spot.
  • The whole first time sex thing, especially the ones where the man can feel that the woman is a virgin, or he’s already half inside her when he feels a barrier that he has to push through… Basic human biology, people, the hymen is NOT halfway up the vaginal canal!!

The trend at the moment seems to be tattooed bikers who are in a motorcycle gang. Or cowboys. I have nothing against either, in fact, I just read 2 Mills & Boon Dare books by 2 different authors featuring a tattooed guy who’s in a MC and enjoyed both of them immensely. And I guess it’s a good idea to be writing to the market, because then you’ll get sales.

And as much as I love a good sexy romance with graphic sex scenes that make the reader all hot and bother, I can still enjoy a fun romance with no graphic sex (I aim to own (and read) every book Trisha Ashley has ever written, and I’m getting there).

I’ve been writing and I’ve been thinking about getting an actual book out so I went looking at the specs for submission for Mills & Boon/Harlequin Dare and this is what they’re after:

Sexy. Passionate. Bold.

Harlequin Dare stories push the boundaries of sexual explicitness while keeping the focus on the developing romantic relationship. Come meet the sexiest men alive!

Key Elements

  • The heat level is explicit and graphic. The hero and heroine have a powerful sexual and emotional connection.
  •  We’re looking for authors who have a distinct, memorable voice and write stories with a high level of sexual tension as well as graphic sex. 
  •  We want to read the ultimate alpha hero of all of your sexual fantasies! While billionaires, CEOs and other successful, affluent men are welcome, we are also open to grittier heroes and anti-heroes.
  •  Heroines are empowered, fun and fearless women who don’t necessarily need a man in their lives—having a man is her choice…and her pleasure! Bold heroines are a key hook for this series and their independence is as important as the character traits of the alpha heroes.
  •  Stories must be contemporary. Readers should be swept away by sexual fantasy, even as the characters deal with real world obstacles and challenges in the face of their love.
  •  The setting can either be metropolitan (Paris, London, New York, L.A., Sydney, Rome) or exotic (the Amalfi Coast, Hawaii, the Caribbean). The setting alone doesn’t make the story sexy but it certainly helps!
  •  We are open to 3rd person or 1st person point of view. There should be a balance of POV between the hero and heroine.
  •  A word count of 50,000 means stories must be fast-paced and plot-driven.

We are open to many different story types, though we are not currently considering law enforcement (police, FBI, etc.), western-themed, military, sports, small-town romances, paranormal or historicals.

These are sexy contemporary romances and we’re not accepting erotica or erotic romance. We are not interested in BDSM (light bondage is acceptable), ménage, age play, bestiality, incest or rape. Each manuscript will be evaluated on how the subject matter is handled.

I read it a few times and I don’t feel that anything I write fits their bill. Here’s the bit that comes after the story types bit. While I absolutely cannot get behind bestiality or incest or rape, I have written stuff with polyamorous characters and I understand that is a different, more specialised market.

However I’m still confused by the sexy contemporary romance vs erotica/erotic romance part. Where does one draw the line? How much hot monkey sex must the characters have to put you in the erotica category as opposed to the sexy romance one? I guess it’s one of those things I could just google. But you know what? I am pretty sure I already have and I read an article or two and left as confused as I was before I’d read them.

Oh well.

I’ll just keep writing what I write, if I ever get my mojo back (it’s been a stressful term with lots of school work and the next 2 weeks are going to be the worst).

 

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I suck at blogging

Once again it’s been months since I posted something I wrote.

Sure, I reblogged a couple of posts I deemed important but nothing I wrote since the last chapter of Selina and Donovan.

Art school has been taking all my brain power this year. Here is my ‘Like Wallpaper’ painting, each panel is 180cm high and 60cm wide. The silhouettes are  my kids in various poses. ^_^

This semester is worse than the first one and I find that I am not enjoying it much. Art history is a very demanding class, brain-draining speaking. We’re also experimenting with drawing machines in art lab, so I’ve been taping felt pens to a hand mixer and doing marks on paper, also, shooting my son’s NERF guns with ink on the darts…

I have still found little bits of time here and there to write, mainly a new story I’ve been working on, with a couple who just had a baby. They are getting ready for a big move and Kayla has yet to tell her mother… This little bit is rather self-explanatory…

***

After checking on Maya who, for once, was out to it in her bassinet Kayla went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. She left her mug on the bench when she heard a knock on the door.

She weaved her way through the boxes of assorted kitchen stuff and other possessions they would not be taking with them and made it to the front door as whoever was on the other side knocked impatiently again.

“I’m here,” she said as she opened the door. “Please stop knocking or you’ll wa–Mum!” She felt quite a shock when she realised just who the impatient person was.

“Well? Aren’t you going to let me in?” her mother, Ruth, fired at her before she pushed past Kayla and walked into the house.

Kayla closed the front door and took a deep breath then followed the woman she hadn’t seen in a couple of months. She caught up to her mother in the lounge.

“Would you like a hot drink, Mum?” she asked as she kept walking to the kitchen. She knew from experience they would be having heated words, and she needed to gather her composure.

“Coffee, black, no sugar.”

Like your soul, then…

“Why don’t you come sit down in the kitchen?” Kayla called out, silently adding, while we still have a table and chairs.

Ruth walked in, her eyes moving from box to box, before taking a seat at the table.

Kayla put her mother’s coffee in front of her then sat down with her tea. She didn’t bother getting biscuits out, the last thing she needed was her mother telling her she needed to lose weight, not eat junk food.

She thanked her lucky stars that by some miracle Maya was still asleep and took a sip of her tea to give herself more time to come up with a reason not to have told her about the move yet, other than “you’re bitter and bitchy and you hate my baby daddy and you don’t even know him”.
“So, Mum… How are you? Haven’t you seen you in ages! Keeping busy?”

“Not as busy as you, clearly! What’s the meaning of all this?” Ruth gestured at the chaos. “Please tell me you finally realised he’s no good for you and you’re moving out. If you ask nicely I might let you stay at my house with your bastard child.”

***

I better get back to my art history timeline because it’s due tomorrow and she wants 4 entries per era (invention/event, design work, fashion garment, art work), from 800 BC to 300 AD and it’s HARD!

 

When technology fucks you over

We moved house last week (on the Saturday).

So I saved my open documents (on OpenOffice) and then I shut down my computer. We didn’t have the internet until Wednesday, I didn’t turn my laptop back on until Thursday morning, because we were busy with other things.

Tonight I decided to open the document that has chapter 3 of the story of Wade and Celia.

I was faced with 8 pages of ####################.

The file is corrupted because, according to the internet after I googled my issue when I tried to open the file, I didn’t wait 10 minutes for OpenOffice to do its thing before I shut down my laptop.

I’ve lost a whole chapter because I’d taken it down from GoogleDocs and not backed it up on anything (or sent the file to my wife).

FML

Sad anniversary + update

Ten years is a long time.

And yet, sometimes, it feels like it was just yesterday that I lost my baby girl.

While she was actually born on 17th August, the 16th is often the worst day for me.

It happened that way this year. The sun shining helped with my atrocious mood, as did having lunch with my wife. ❤

A very dear friend came over this afternoon and gave me this wonderful, beautiful, thoughtful present she made.

dragonfly flower

I am working on the last chapter of Selina and Donovan’s story, slowly, as the last few chapters were rather draining. I’m also 4500 words into something new, a collaboration of sorts with my wife on a thing she’s writing (she’s writing about one character and I’ve started writing about another one from the same story). It’s very exciting.

Getting there

I am working on part 9 of Selina and Donovan’s story, I promise!

But at the moment life is getting in the way. Next week is the last week of term for me, my wife is in the middle of exam week and it’s rather stressful.

And you know, I’ll sit down to write down drunken sex and the 9yo will sit at the laptop next to mine…

Add to that we need to find another place to live as the people who own our house are putting it on the market. Finding a rental when you have 4 kids and a bunch of pets is mission impossible.

Part 9 is on the way, it’s a flashback to when it all started, then we’re back on track to the big showdown with the stick insect. ^_^