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MY UNROMANTIC HEART

February 15, 2020 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , , , , , , ,

By the time you read this it will be the day after Valentine’s Day, and I spent yesterday agonizing about what to write.

This angst over Valentine’s Day and romance is not unfounded.  My first book was a romance.  In Passion’s Defense was about a defense lawyer falling in love with a prosecutor during a gruesome trial.  That should have been my first clue that perhaps mayhem rather than meet ups was my cup of tea.  But I was slow on the uptake, and I wrote eight category romances. I think they are pretty darn good and they got better with each one. I wrote my heart out for Harlequin but I couldn’t seem to color in the lines, so I started writing women’s fiction. The editorial freedom, the more intricate plot lines, and the emphasis on plot rather than relationship helped me thrive. Dreams, Seasons, Vanities were just some of my titles. I wrote a lot of women’s fiction, but still I hadn’t hit my comfort zone as a writer. Then two things happened that sealed my fate.

First, the incredible RWA bookseller—Michelle Thorne—delicately informed me that my idea of romance was the hero chucking the heroine on the arm and giving her a smile. She was right. I was not a sexy writer in the years when other authors were pushing the envelope. My editor at Kensington was more direct. He said ‘You have to stop killing people before they get in bed!’. In essence he fired me from romance. I was devastated. Later I realized this was the silver lining in my very dark cloud.

When I started writing thrillers I found my passion and isn’t passion what love is all about? Still, without the learning curve of the romance genre, without the editors and readers, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to break up with women’s fiction as it was defined all those years ago and move on to my literary partner for life.

That doesn’t mean I left romance behind completely. Every book I write is based on relationships, but the emphasis of stories is little different from the classic romance novel.  And then there’s my mom. One day she asked if I could write a book-without-bodies. I wrote three. On my mother’s ninetieth birthday, I presented her with a trilogy of sweet, romantic comedies: The Day Bailey Devlin’s Horoscope Came True, The Day Bailey Devlin Picked Up a Penny and the Day Bailey Devlin’s Ship Came in. These books encompassed every thing I love about romance: humor, honesty, confusion, honor, and affection for not just one man but all the men in Bailey’s life.  Young or old, they be a lover or father or friend, it was all about love. I will always be most proud of, be in love with, the Bailey Devlin Trilogy because it reflects my definition of romance. 

Today I put those three books in a boxed set and I hope when a reader finishes the stories, her (his) heart will be fuller, there might be a tear in her eye, she will have laughed out loud and then  will turn around and pass all that feeling on to someone she loves.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day.

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The Unromantic Romantic

February 15, 2018 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , , , , ,

Early in my career, when I was writing romance and women’s fiction, a bookseller, who I greatly admired, commented that my idea of romance was a chuck on a man’s  shoulder. The other authors gathered in her store for a book signing laughed – and so did I. She was right in context of the romance genre. I was never comfortable writing love scenes or covering my ‘author lens’ with gauze. I didn’t care for characters having long involved conversations about their relationships. It never occurred to me to have brooding heroes or pining heroines. I was less interested in cupid, than I was in the arrow he shot and, I suppose, that is why I write thrillers now.

However, that does not mean I am unromantic. Why? Because in each of my books I take great care with character relationships, character’s moral core, their willingness to take chances and their curiosity about their mysterious world. To convince myself I was correct in believing these attributes to be romantic, I looked up the definition. Here you go, straight from Meriam/Webster:

Romantic: marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious or idealized.

In other words, romance for one heart might carry an emotional connotation that leads to a sexual encounter or a committed relationship. For my heart, romance is embodied in how characters react to challenge. As a thriller writer I want my reader to feel the romance of suspense, of mystery, of the idealization of a hero who will walk through fire to make things right.

I find John McClane in Die Hard, Indiana Jones in any of the Indiana Jones movies, romantic and yet you never see them in sexual situations. The focus of these movies is on action within a mysterious world. The romantic in me sighs over their heroics, my heart beats faster at their commitment to justice and the place of honor in which they put women while also treating them as equals in adventure.

Whether you are an author or are a reader, do not pigeonhole the idea of romance. If you do, you will be limiting your talent and your reading enjoyment.

This Valentine’s Day, I hope cupid brought you candies and flowers. In the next year, I wish you a different kind of romance; the kind that take you to exotic, mysterious and adventurous places in your imagination.

XOXO,

The unromantic romantic

USA Today and Amazon bestselling author, Rebecca Forster is the author of over 38 novels including the acclaimed The Witness Series and her new Finn O’Brien Thriller series. She is married to a Superior Court judge and is mother to two sons.

Find Rebecca here:

Website: http://rebeccaforster.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaForster4/

Twitter: @Rebecca_Forster (https://twitter.com/Rebecca_Forster)

Subscribe and get my 2-book starter library: http://rebeccaforster.com/thriller-subscribers/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rebecca-forster

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POKING DEAD THINGS: Confessions of a Romantically Challenged Author

February 15, 2011 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , , , , ,

Rebecca Forster

A dear friend sent me a T-shirt for Christmas that declares, “I love poetry, long walks on the beach and poking dead things with a stick”.

I adore that shirt beyond reason because it so totally captures my outlook on romance. Poetry is okay if it rhythms, beach walks are good if it’s not too hot, but poking dead things with a stick rocks. Please do not take this literally*; realize this is a metaphor for my romantic soul.

All this brings me to the question of the (Valentine’s) day: why am I not romantic? More specifically, why the thought of poking things with a stick accompanied by the person I love is more romantic to me than walking on the beach in the moonlight with a poetry loving guy? Or even more precisely, as an author, why don’t I love writing about – well – love?

I began my career writing category romances. There were many things I liked about the genre – a clearly defined format, brilliant marketing, loyal and supportive readers – yet, when I tried to write sex scenes, I embarrassed myself (not to mention my mother). Worse, I agonized over whether I was doing it right. Good lord, I’d been married for years and had two children, you’d think I would know how to write about ‘IT’.

I tried writing more delicately about romance only to find myself disinterested. I never cared for whispered sweet nothings. I have a wee bit of trouble hearing and there’s nothing worse then asking to have a sweet nothing repeated. Longing looks make me nervous. I once dated a guy who liked to stare into my eyes and all I could think of was that game ‘blink’. I remember that guy didn’t blink and it freaked me out. Long walks are fine but inevitably I find myself hungry and cranky if the walk lasts too long.
How, I wondered, could my incredibly talented romance author friends pen multiple books a year, revel in the challenge of making characters fall in love again and again while I struggled to get my characters to their first kiss? Romances did not come trippingly off my tongue, I had no idea how to build delicious tension, my heart was challenged and therein was the problem. As much as I admired true romance writers, as much as I wanted to be one of them, my heart was different.
The final blow came when I was fired from romance writing by an editor who suggested I was cut out for something different. “You cannot,” he told me, “kill everyone before you get them into bed.”
He was right. I preferred a good murder, a fabulous stalking, an excellent mystery, an angst filled story. But did that preclude writing about romance? I think not. I believe every story needs to have a compelling relationship as part of the mix. So how could I satisfy my romantic heart and my thriller soul? The answer was simple. Romance writers had defined their romanticism; I had not defined mine.

For me, fictional romantic relationships were a means to an end and not an end in and of themselves. My characters fell in love so that the plot stakes would be higher. If you love someone and had to choose their life or yours then that made for great suspense but it also was the ultimate in romance.**
What turns me on as a reader is the same thing that excites me as a writer and intrigues me as a woman. I want to be invested in people with a sense of purpose, people who show their mettle in situations bigger than themselves. That kind of story sets my romantic nerves atinglin’. This take on romantic entanglements wasn’t bad it was just different than my romance-writing counterparts.
Once I gave myself permission to side-step the bedroom, I became a more fluid writer, character relationships grew from the plot and my storytelling took on a new spark. Now, when my characters fall in love it is because they have poked and prodded one another, talked through problems, worked together and, yes, poked dead things with a stick together. It is their inquisitiveness about the world around them, not their exclusive curiosity about one another that define my romantic parameters. Strangely, I find I write more realistic relationships now that I am comfortable with my own rules.

So, I confess, I will always find a body on the beach more exciting than a walk in the moonlight. I will always appreciate the quirky gift over a dozen roses; I will anticipate with bated breath the first kiss of two people who are caught in the crossfire more than two people headed for the bedroom.
The nice thing is that I know there are others out there who think like I do. There are honest-to-God-stick-carrying- dead-thing-poking- curiosity-seeking folk who will fall in love with the way I see love. When we pass our poetry-spouting- hand-holding- dreamy-eyed romantic counterparts on the beach they will smile, we will raise our sticks in greeting and all of us will be romantically satisfied in our own, very special, very unique way.
So, to all you writers, musicians, artists, husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends this Valentine’s day, poke something, walk somewhere, kiss the one you love or watch their back. However you decide to romance that someone special it will be perfect.
*Okay, literally. I do poke dead things with sticks when I find them but I don’t find them very often.

**Currently I am reviewing my romance and women’s fiction novels and find that, indeed, I had a glimmer of a romance writer in me. Dreams, Seasons, and my mother’s favorite, Rainbow’s End even brought a tear to my eye and I think a good cry is always romantic.

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e-maginings: Romantic Realism

May 24, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as ,

by Linda McLaughlin

I really enjoyed listening to Bob Mayer, last month’s speaker. He had a fantastic workshop, chock full of writing tips and techniques. I appreciate the great handouts, too, since he talked faster than I can write.

One of the many things he said that struck me as interesting was that romance, barring any paranormal or suspense element, is the most realistic genre. He said it’s because romance is about real life and it has to be really well written to be believable.

Now a statement like that will have the literary types reaching for the smelling salts. Or the bottle of whiskey. Romance realistic? When 50% of marriages end in divorce? To that I’d like to point out that the other 50% of marriages are successful, at least in terms of longevity. In any human endeaver, 50-50 odds are pretty good. What are the chances of winning the lottery? According to one internet site, buying one lottery ticket means your chances of winning Mega Millions are one in 135,145,920.

What are the odds of selling a book to a major NY publishing house for a six-figure deal? I’m not sure, but they’ve got to in one in who-knows-how-many thousands territory. A lot better than winning the lottery but still not good. Compared to that, finding a compatible marriage partner seems like a slam dunk! I’ll put my money on romance any day. How about you?

Linda

PS After the meeting, I went home and bought a copy of Agnes and the Hitman, romantic suspense by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer for my Kindle. I finished it last night and recommend it. The characters are great, the story is exciting and I laughed out loud on more than one occasion. It may not be not realistic, but it’s a great read.

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Linda McLaughlin
writes historical and Regency romance for Amber Quill Press. As Lyndi Lamont she pens erotic romance for Amber Heat and Amber Allure, the erotic imprints of AQP. Her personal blog can be found at http://flightsafancy.blogspot.com/.

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