Thursday, January 26, 2006

Romance Defenders on the Internet


“… the critics don't matter, the readers do; we don't write to please establishments, we write to reach women. And by writing good books, we counteract decades of pessimism with narratives of realistic optimism…”
What a GREAT quote!
In looking around to see just what people say on the internet in defense of romance as a genre I came across an article by Jennifer Cruisie. A name I had of course heard of. It’s an article that makes for very interesting reading and probably covers the romance genre as a whole more than category/short contemporary alone. But there are still parts I can read in there that make absolute sense to me. A couple of which I have here and the entire article you can read at the link above.
She talks in part about modern day women and the pre-conceptions/mis-conceptions that are attached to them. Now I’m a modern day woman. I’m an independent, free-thinking, hopefully open-minded, modern day woman. And I am of course eternally grateful for all the generations of women who went before me and fought for me to be those things. But the one thing I think we did manage to do along the way was, to a certain extent, make it way more difficult for men and for love. Maybe that’s why we still like to pick up a good romance? Even if we are women fortunate enough to have found it in real life.
Just talk to any career girl anywhere in the world and she’ll tell you how tough it is on the dating scene these days. And yet we all still want to believe its out there, that we can meet someone who doesn’t necessarily complete us, but who could compliment our lives and encourage us. Reading a good romance can help us to continue believing its possible, right? We can be alone on a Friday or a Saturday night, wear our comfiest jammies, eat ice-cream and lose ourselves in a good romance for a few hours so that we come out the other side saying ‘yeah, wouldn’t it be nice?’ And maybe we still believe just that little bit more…
Mind you. Maybe we come out the other end thinking, ‘Yeah right, like that’ll ever happen to me’ and we eat MORE ice-cream…
But either way, we think about it. Those little gray cells get a bit of an exercise and the heart gets going. And that’s GOTTA be a good thing. Good fiction in any form is escapism after all. If we pick anything up from it that we can carry into real life to help us along then all the better.
It’s the readers we seek to engage and to entertain. And in the words of the talented Ms. Cruisie:
“We entertain, we enlighten, we empower, and in the end we influence far more people than any of our critics ever will. As much fun as it might be to bring the critics to their knees, we really don't need to. In every way that matters, we've already won.”
It’s up to each and every reader to decide if we do at the end of the day. The sales are what tell the story without a shadow of a doubt. And millions of women world-wide can’t be wrong…
So girls, are you with me on this?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pink Heart Shippers



Yes, we’re revisiting the Shippers… ‘Cos I’ve had a wee bit more time to think about this and it really is SO close to category romance…

We’ve already talked about what a ‘Shipper’ is and how it works. But what we can maybe go into a little more detail about is the number of subjects and therefore ‘categories’ that it falls into…

Shippers follow many different shows. They quite often take varying different characters as couples from those shows. Whichever couple they feel should ultimately be together in the end. But what I maybe didn’t mention is that the writers then split their stories down into categories somewhat like publishers do. There are adventure categories that take up on the shows plot lines, there are mysteries, paranormals, erotic, in fact for practically every genre of category romance there is on the marketplace there is a Shipper category to match! Which to me, means that they are indeed a strong validation that category/short contemporary romance is very much alive and kicking… ‘Cos imitation is one of the greatest forms of a compliment, right?

Now yes, it has to be said that there is Shipper work out there that isn’t all that good. We could stand and quite honestly say that there is the very occasional piece of work out there that we, as readers, may think the same thing of in book form. But that’s all personal opinion. And what we must keep in mind is that the majority of Shippers are amateurs, writing something because they enjoy it and because they enjoy the show they write about. I happen to think that the main thing is that they DO write, and that people READ what they write. And that’s what really matters at the end of the day. So I for one am grateful for their existence and for their dedication.

So, if you find yourself with nothing to do for a little while, spend some time and Google a few of your favorite TV Shows and see if any of the fan sites have FANFIC categories on their sites. Then see if you can find any Shippers… You’ll see what I mean. They like a good romance as much as the rest of us!!!

Acting my Age - That'll be the day

You Are 26 Years Old


20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Inductees.... Ta-Da!!!






The Pink Heart Hall Of Fame

Okay so far we have the following entrants into the Pink Heart Hall Of Fame… If you can think of any others then yell for your pink heart and make your nomination! Say it loud gals… say it LOUD!

Chick-flicks:

Serendipity
While You Were Sleeping
It Happened One Night
The Wedding Date
Sleepless in Seattle
You Got Mail
Pretty Woman
Runaway Bride
Animal Attraction
The Wedding Singer
Wimbledon

Shipper-Shows:

The X-Files
Battlestar Galactica
Without a Trace
Stargate SG1
Dark Angel
Third Watch

The Greats Who Wrote Romance:

Jane Austin
The Bronte Sisters
Shakespeare
Thomas Hardy

And so we have the initial inductees… the rest is entirely up to you!

And I'm a D20



I am a d20


Take the quiz at dicepool.com



Hee-hee! Have a go at this! It's very funny!!! I'd like all the people on my sevens list to do it too!!! T-A-G!

I got tagged!

7 things I cannot do:
1. Jump big giant fences on my horses
2. Heights. Big time. I get sick as a pig. So no ferris wheels, bungee jumping, abseiling, hang-gliding or sky-diving for me. Ever. Far as I’m concerned if we were meant to jump from great heights God would never have invented gravity…
3. Find ‘Little Britain’ funny
4. Say something good might happen without crossing my fingers.
5. Make the first advances to a guy I like
6. Use a public toilet without wiping the seat first.
7. Walk past a crooked picture without wanting to straighten it

7 things to do before I die:
1. Learn how to fly a helicopter (which contradicts the height thing but I’m a girl and contradictions in personality are in the handbook…)
2. Tour America in a camper van
3. Ride on a cattle round-up with real live cowboys
4. Learn to ski
5. Travel the world and meet all the author friends I’ve only ever talked to online.
6. Be the correct weight for my height
7. Have a love affair that touches my soul

7 things that attract me to men:
1. Sense of humor that matches up to mine
2. Tall – any height that means I can wear heels without feeling like amazon woman
3. Dark eyes
4. Strength of character
5. Ambition – not just the monetary kind but the kind that means they’re always interested in new things
6. Determination – because I’m terribly good at walking away
7. Youthful thinking – cos being silly sometimes shouldn’t end when you turn thirty!!!

7 things I say most often:
1. Seriously
2. Does anyone know where I left…? (insert; keys, shoes, cup of coffee, letter I meant to post, nail file, back up disc, remote control…)
3. Shut up! (in the nice modern way when I don’t believe something).
4. I’d love to – but…
5. You know what I mean
6. Or something along those lines (at the end of every synopsis I try to explain to my poor editor)
7. Stand! (to my horse who never does)

7 Books or Series I love:
1. The ‘Kay Scarpetta’ series by Patricia Cornwell
2. The Anne Of Green Gables books
3. Anything that Lori Foster writes ‘cos I want to meet a guy like that one day! Seriously.
4. “Emma” by Jane Austin
5. The series that tells Darcy’s side of Pride and Prejudice by Pamela Aidan
6. “Enlightened Equitation” by Heather Moffatt
7. Those teeny books you get with funny quotes about cats

7 movies I can watch over and over:
1. Pride and Prejudice
2. The Village (beautifully shot!)
3. While You Were Sleeping
4. The Princess Bride (the sarcasm is to die for)
5. Stargate (what can I say, I’m a sci-fi nut)
6. An old David Niven Film where he’s a Second World War Pilot and he lives when he shouldn’t have ‘cos an angel misses him in the fog. Shot half in colour/half in black and white and if anyone can find me the title or a copy I’d be deeply grateful…
7. Bridget Jones’s Diary (anyone who has ever worn big pants will understand why…)

7 people I want to join in (tag, you're it):
1. Nicola Marsh – Aussie writer of fantabulous chick-lit flavored romance
2 Lori Foster – ‘cos wouldn’t it be great to have one of my heroines join in…
3. Fiona Harper – newest signing to the Romance line!!!
4. Donna Alward – a great friend who any day now will be a name to remember!
5. Natasha Oakley - wonderful English author I drink wine with in London
6. Liz Fielding - the nicest most talented lady you could hope to meet!
7. Ally Blake – sparkling, vivacious, too-good-looking-for-her-own-good author who got me into this in the first place! Can you tag right on back??

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pink Heart-ers The Third




Arguments for the defense: Part Three.

Classical Literature aka: Romance that its socially acceptable for us to let people know we read... …

A good friend of mine and fellow Pink Heart-er (hello Donna!) brought to my attention an interesting article at http://www.E:\Romance Novels Get Bad Rep.htm and it makes some very valid points!

The main one which caught my eye (and there were a few) being the subject of books that are accepted amongst the literary society and those that arent (i.e. Short/contemporary romances). Those include works by Jane Austin, but then we all knew those were romances didnt we? The Bronte sisters, yes, also a given. But there are romances all over the place in classic literature unless my interpretation and my love of romance reading have been leading me astray. Thomas Hardy, William Shakespeare, add as many in here as you like and please do! As the song goes,love is all around and theres just no avoiding the fact that whatever else may come and go in society from generation to generation, peoples need for romance endures!

We live in a busy world now, where time is a precious commodity, where women are juggling careers with their families in ways they havent done since the last great war. So the need for a shorter book to still satisfy their need for escapism, to feed their need to believe in great romances has become all the more imcertainly(Well certianly for people like me with disatrous love lives it is!)
Any of the people who are trying year after year to be published in the romance genre will tell you its not as easy as a walk in the park! The books, as the article above states, are about relationships and the trials and tribulations involved in maintaining them. And not only that, they are about how people grow and learn from their experiences of falling in love, about how their past may shape their future and about how there still is the possibility of a happily ever after for everyone. I mean, cmon, what character in a pantomime is going to stand up and say bah to that kind of noble cause and not be thrown off the stage??

I think the thing we need to remember about critics is that by very nature of their title, they are there to poke holes in things. And Id far rather make my way through my life looking for good rather than looking for bad. But maybe thats just me…

So, for the Pink Heart Hall Of Fame… I give you the subject of Classical Literature to support the cause that romance IS valid reading...…

Monday, January 9, 2006

Pink Heart Society part deux...



Arguments for the defense: Part Two.

Shippers. ‘What’ I hear you cry? What on earth is a ‘Shipper’? Well, if you don’t know I shall enlighten you, ‘cos I’m one…

A Shipper is an internet term for a ‘Relation-shipper’. It’s someone who’s a fan of a TV series who picks up on a potential romantic relationship between two of the characters and forms their own interpretations of how that relationship builds. It’s huge on the Internet. For me it was ‘The X-Files’. I loved the show, can remember distinctly when it was first shown on the BBC over here and as a fan of the ‘science fiction’ genre I was hooked from the get-go. I loved the story lines but I always wanted to see something happen between Mulder and Scully. When I first tried looking for sneaky peaks of episodes before they hit my side of the world I found several sites where Mulder and Scully shippers were writing their own stories, often set ‘off screen’, with a lot of them very intricately woven into the Show’s own plots. And in the end, the Shippers got their way. (Much to the disgust of some it must be said.)

Now we have shows as diverse as ‘Without A Trace’ and ‘Battlestar Gallactica’ where the Shippers are out in force. And basically, guess what? They’re romance fans. And there’s loads of them! They take the characters they know and they build a set of conflicts on top of conflicts that already exist in the shows and they work their way through those conflicts to a happy ending. Which is a form of… category romance… isn’t it?

So, are you a Shipper too? And are you a Shipper who reads category romance? Or are you or do you know of a Shipper who hasn’t tried reading category romance?

Now accepting nominations for the Pink Heart Hall of Fame for TV Shows that attract Shippers…

Now I've been asked a bit just what the Pink Heart Society is... Its nothing official or fancy... Its just a way to show folks that you're proud to be a fan of series/catagory romance. Stand up and be counted kinda thing. In my furtive imagination I see this little guy winging his way across the Internet like a virus... winging his way sneakily onto book marks in shops and libraries... we'd be like a secret society... Masons-ish almost in that we'd all know who we are... And when someone asks what it means we can explain and spread the word! LOL. C'mon gang... don't be shy... This little chap can go on a blog, on a website... on the bottom of your e-mails...

Friday, January 6, 2006

In defence of the Pink Heart Society


For you wearers of the Pink Heart…

Arguments for the defense: Part One.

So, are you a fan of chick-flicks? I am. From Sleepless In Seattle to You Got Mail, from Pretty Woman to Runaway Bride, from The Wedding Singer to The Wedding Date, I’m a fan of them all! And what are they if not screen versions of category romances? They may not always please the film critics but they still lift plenty at the box office, they still regularly get picked up from the local video store. And yet they still don’t take the kind of ribbing category romance does. How come? Mmm?

Each of them can be taken down to similar building blocks as a good category romance. They have a hero and a heroine, some secondary characters, a strong conflict, an emotional build up and a happy ending. When it comes to the DVD’s ‘extras’ I’ve become a little obsessed. I love to hear the behind the scenes interviews from Directors and Authors about why they put together a particular scene or what their characters would and wouldn’t do. And I’m especially fascinated with the parts about deleted scenes and why they felt they did or didn’t work. It’s a good learning process, not just for film-makers, but for writers. Because it’s exactly what we have to do as writers. We need to decide why our characters would do the things they do, we need to ‘get inside their heads’ just like an actor playing the role would and we especially need to be able to see when a particular scene holds merit for the overall story or quite simply isn’t needed. It’s almost a study guide when you think about it…

Now, if I could just put it all together…

So did you have a ‘chick-flick’ that you particularly enjoyed that I haven’t listed in the Pink Heart Hall of Fame? Was there ever a romance you read that you thought would make a great film, that you could almost see playing like a film in your mind as you read? Nominations now being taken…

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Pink Hearts and Other procrastinations....


I’ve been thinking some more about this campaign idea… Yes, some of us will think up all kinds of things when we hit that ‘saggy middle’ in a book…

One of the things I come up against when I’m asked ‘what I do’ is the ‘old fashioned’, media generated and very unfair, I think, impression of the genre. I read a lot of other authors work and I think to describe it as ‘old fashioned and dated’ is terribly unfair! So while avoiding my saggy middle I wondered how do we get around that? And the simplest solution I could come up with was, yet again, to tell your friends about it! Word of mouth is still as strong a recommendation these days as it was before the Internet came into being. And how can we modern thinking, democratic women quickly dismiss something without actually having read any of it?

We’re not looking to write Pulitzer Prize winning material, well heaven knows I’m most certainly not! But, for me, if someone can buy a book and forget about the troubles of everyday life while they read it then that has to be a good thing, doesn’t it? If it leaves you with a smile on your face and a good feeling inside then that’s as much of a reward as I would certainly ever ask for.

What do you get from reading a romance? What made you go out and pick one up off the shelf? And did you then say to anyone ‘that’s a good book, here have a read’ when you were done?

Are you ready to display your pink heart with pride????

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Pink Hearts & other subjects



HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!




This month’s release in the UK & Ireland is THE WEDDING SURPRISE. I do hope you’ll look out for it. It’s a story about two people who might never have met if it hadn’t been for a reality TV show. They come from very different backgrounds, have their own reasons for doing the show (neither of which the other knows) and all they have to do is convince friends and family they are in love and getting married… And isn’t the cover sweet? I found out recently that the art work is now being painted specifically for the books and I have to say that I, for one, love the results!

Meanwhile…I wonder if everyone had as long a think over New Year’s resolutions as I did? A fabulous writer for Harlequin Mills & Boon recently talked about how resolutions should be more realistic so we can keep them. And she’s so right! If I made resolutions to eat chocolate when I shouldn’t and avoid dusting then I would stand a pretty darn good chance of keeping them… But I’ve decided to be a good girl and do something pro-active this year. With a little help from some of my new friends I might stand a chance of keeping to it…

I’ve been so lucky to get regular e-mails from people all over the world who have read my books and been encouraged to tell me they did. And this last year I have received several from people here in Ireland who are writing romance and trying to get their first real break. So where are our support networks I wonder?

I started out researching where to send my work like so many people across the globe do; by looking on the Internet. I got lucky. I tripped across the eharlequin site and found a wealth of information and supportive ‘cyber-hands’ to hold mine while I made the journey to getting published. But the one thing that many of my new friends talked to me about was groups like the RNA and RWA and local groups that helped them along. Yet when I sold my first book and went in search of such groups here in Ireland I couldn’t find any. Why is that I wonder?

‘I read romance’ or more specifically ‘I read category/series romance’ seems almost as embarrassing a thing to say these days as confessing to being a cross-dresser might have been in the 1940’s. The genre is constantly run down by people who see it as a lesser form of writing and of reading. People who believe that a shorter format automatically means lesser writing and a weak plot. Yet these ‘lesser’ books still sell millions of copies world-wide! I have read category romance since my teens and have never had a problem reading them in public or passing them onto friends when I find one I particularly enjoyed just as I would with more ‘mainstream’ books that critics would see as more acceptable reading. And I am still in my thirties, I still go clubbing and play sports and have a varied group of ‘Sex in the City’ type friends. So when I discovered that even my own country seems to have problems with supporting people who choose to write for category romance I have to say I was, disappointed.

Or maybe I just haven’t found the groups that read, study or aspire to write the kind of books I love to read and write. Are they out there? And do any of you who are lucky enough to have those kinds of groups nearby have tales of when you just couldn’t have done without them? I’d love to hear about them and I’d especially love to hear from anyone in Ireland who is trying to break into the category romance genre so that I can get you all together…

To that end my first resolution to be pro-active has led to the setting up of a group on Yahoo for Irish based readers and writers of romance. I do hope you’ll come out of the woodwork and join so we can encourage each other! E-mail me or leave a message here if you'd like to sign up....

And my message for today; if you read category romance and you enjoy reading it is this; be proud to say so! And not just to your friends who already love the genre… spread the word! We authors, of course, love to hear from you. We are, by nature of our profession, solitary creatures, and particularly those of us that still find it hard to envisage our work a world away, love to know that you’re happy to have spent a few hours with characters that invariably become very real to us. Like children in a sense. Dear-y me, this is almost sounding like an ‘adopt an author’ campaign, isn’t it? I guess what I’m trying to say, in my long drawn out way, is that there are so many amazing books out there that we have all read and enjoyed and for every person that tries to run down what we enjoy… there should be ten of us to say well, actually, we love it!

Maybe we should even start some kind of a campaign to let all those critics know we are a force to be reckoned with? A pink heart would be the obvious choice I guess…Oh dear, now the promotions gal in me is designing logos! HELP!!