Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Golden Rose Achievment

I WON! I won I  won  I  won  I  won . I. WON!
(Does that word look weird to anyone else now? No? Alrighty, moving on then.)

*clears throat*

Hello, friends! If you haven't already guessed, I recently found out

I placed first in the Contemporary Series category
of the RCRW Golden Rose Contest

that I entered a few months back. It was the first real contest I'd ever entered so I'm absolutely ecstatic! On top of that, the literary agent who judged the final round has asked to see my full manuscript. Yay me!

It looks like this is a great omen for
how I predict my 2012 year to go.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Power of Projection (or, Stuff I Want to Happen in 2012)

The end of yet another year approaches, and so begins the timeless act of making promises to oneself for the new year. Things we will do better to improve our quality of life and of those around us.

This year I'm going to do something to improve my chances of having a spectacular 2012. I'm going to harness the power of projection by writing about the coming year as though it's already happened. I'm going to carve my goals, wishes, and things I wouldn't mind happening into The Cosmos (otherwise known as the interwebz where anything posted remains in the universe forever and the rules of "take backs" and "do-overs" do not exist), thereby practically ensuring my complete success.

So, without further ado, here is what happened to me in 2012...

Early in the year my dream agent contacted me and asked for a full based on a query I sent her with some sample chapters. After I sent off the full DESIRES OF THE SOUL manuscript, it only took a few days before she contacted me asking if we could speak on the phone.

I had a lovely conversation with her regarding my manuscript. She said it still needed some work, but that she felt passionately about the story and wanted to work with me to build my career. Before we hung up my dream agent offered me representation, to which I accepted enthusiastically (consequently getting me kicked out of the library for interrupting Story Time for Tots with my shouts of "YES YES YES!" while jumping around like a deranged kangaroo).

About this time I discovered a miracle pill that transforms all food into fat-burning, muscle-toning energy. As a result of taking that pill only once I quickly acquired the body I had at seventeen and haven't gained a pound since.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blasts From the Past (or, Books From My Youth)

Last week my good friend and contemporary romance author, Ruthie Knox, rediscovered the first romance novel she'd ever read thanks to an interview promoting her debut novel, RIDE WITH ME (release date Feb 2012).

Via Twitter, Ruthie regaled us with snippets of the cheesy eighties dialogue and summarized the diabolically complex conflict (hero was vaguely a ladies' man in the past and the heroine has a flawless moral compass which keeps her life firmly on the correct and inexplicably boring path of goodness, hence the implied severe sarcasm with the adjective "complex"). From her tweets, Ruthie, our friend Cara McKenna, and I created a drinking game (every time heroine gets "warm, fuzzy feeling" DRINK) and made plans to send it to each other through the mail at major turning points in our lives, creating our very own Sisterhood of the Traveling Eighties Romance Novel. And although we won't follow through on either of those fun ideas, it was a riot of a tweet thread.

Ironically enough, when I went home for the Thanksgiving week, my mom pulled out a box of books from my youth. It was so fun to go through them all with my kids and reminisce about the plots and characters that started my love of reading (and eventually writing). I didn't find any of my romance novels in there--those would come a few years later I think--but I had a ton of Christopher Pike books, a good chunk of R.L. Stine books, and a smattering of random YA paperbacks, including a few Choose Your Own Adventures which I eagerly gave to my ten-year-old son hoping to convince him to hop on the "reading is fun bandwagon" his young Xbox brain is resisting so vehemently. ("Look! It's just like your video games where you get to choose what you're going to say and where you go next...except it's in your head! How awesome is that?" Seriously, why don't they make the CYOA books anymore? If we have to bring back the oh-so-wrong neon wardrobe of the eighties, why not those books? It only seems fair.) Also in that box? The only Stephen King book I've ever read, THE DARK HALF.

At any rate, my twelve-year-old daughter chose a small stack that interested her and I picked out a select few that I remember really loving (SIX MONTHS TO LIVE and I WANT TO LIVE by Lurlene McDaniel) and a couple that I didn't so much as remember but wanted to read again out of curiosity.

The first book I read was in the latter category, a YA called MOVING TOO FAST. It's a relatively small paperback which would probably be considered a novella by today's standards. Like Ruthie found with her book, this story had very minimal conflict. The plot went something like this:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Meet My Characters: Gabriel

Gabriel Russo*: hero of SOUL SEDUCTION

Age: 26, going on 46
Height: Tall enough (6' 6")
Weight: Enough to throw around (225)
Hair: Black, windblown & fingercombed, unshaven
Eyes: Girly blue (aquamarine)
Occupation: Mechanic/shop owner
Location: None of your business (Arizona desert)
Father: Dominic, vampire & Hunter for the Dark Race
Mother: Angelica, healer angel & pediatric oncologist
Sister: Jenni, empathic oracle & major pain in the ass

Gabriel is the only son of Dominic and Angelica, the couple who set the Prophecy of Souls in motion 26 years ago with Gabriel's birth. As the Chosen One of the prophecy, he's destined to prevent the mass destruction of mankind's souls. But ever since he was kidnapped at the age of eleven and watched people sacrifice their lives to save his, Gabriel repressed his natural powers and disappeared to the Arizona desert in his early twenties to avoid bringing the Devil's army to his family's door.
With only a stray dog as company, Gabriel pretends to be content fixing cars at his shop in Bum-Fuck Nowhere and ignoring the human population as much as possible.
That is until a wildcat of a woman shows up with her pet puma and refuses to be cowed by his surly attitude and blatant brush-offs. Until he discovers that Ava could be the catalyst to bring about the final battle he's been avoiding, and no amount of denial will save him from his destiny, or her love.

So, what do you think of my current main man? Hunky, right?!

*Pictures are of model/actor Marco Dapper and courtesy of Google Images

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Prefer My Books Nice-n-Steamy

Now, that said, do I love the sex scenes? Hell, yes, I do! Done right, those scenes are absolutely smoking and full of emotion–yes, I said EMOTION. Sex scenes in a romance novel aren’t like reading the assembly instructions for furniture, for chrissakes! (Making sure there was an ample amount of lubrication, he lined up Bolt A with Hole B and inserted it completely until the Nuts at the other end were flush against the opening…)

The characters not only go through a myriad of physical sensations, but emotional ones as well: insecurity, fear, confidence, madness, frustration, elation, revelations, and so many more. And I’ve never read a sex scene that hasn’t altered—either for good or bad—the relationship in some way.

Let’s face it; a couple’s sexual relationship is a HUGE factor in their lives. You can be the Cleavers outside of the bedroom, but if you’re not compatible in the bedroom, you’ll soon turn into the Clintons. And, unless you’ve taken a vow of lifelong abstinence, EVERYONE has sex. So why pretend like it doesn’t happen? Why gloss over what happens between a couple sexually? There are certainly plenty of romances that are of a lighter variety and keep the heated moments “behind closed doors” so to speak. But I hate not knowing what happens in those moments. Was it hot and heavy? Slow and easy? Two minutes or two hours? Did one of them hold back or was it no holds barred?

I once read an interview with one of my all-time favorite authors, Gena Showalter. She told of an early experience she had at one of her book signings, where a woman walked up to the counter and commented with a look of disdain on her face that Gena’s books were those “trashy novels.” Gena’s great response was…

“What’s so trashy about love and monogamy?”

Indeed!  Why are the books categorized as ROMANCE considered by a large majority of the public to be “trashy”? For that matter, why is pornographic material considered to be so taboo? Go into an adult book store (which, for the record, I’m not sure why the word “book” is in there, because I don’t believe I’ve ever actually seen any books in those stores) and the wide variety of items is insane. You can get something as innocently cheeky as penis- or boob-shaped pasta to things you didn’t even have the imagination to conjure up as possibilities in the bedroom. But does that mean that any of it is wrong and shameful? No. It means that there’s a variety of things out there no matter what might float your boat. As long as it’s involving consenting adults there shouldn’t be anything considered wrong with it.

The same goes for what we write or read in our romance novels. Whether the sex is missionary and sweet or upside-down and nasty, it’s a vital part of a relationship.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Top 10 Things I Learned from Writing a Book: #8 Sometimes you must kill that which you love

So I’ve finished my first novel, Desires of the Soul, and it’s caused me to reflect on the things I’ve learned. Naturally, I want to share them with all of you. Maybe you’ve learned the same things; maybe you were lucky enough to already possess this wisdom. Either way, for the next couple of months, I’ll be posting a new lesson-learned every week (or so). I hope you’ll check back each week and weigh in with thoughts or lessons of your own. So without further ado, here is…

#8. Sometimes you must kill that which you love

It’s called “killing your darlings” in the literary world. You can write the most kickass chapter ever with clever phrases, amazing descriptions and phenomenal chemistry…but that doesn’t mean it belongs in your book.

After I finished one of my drafts, I sent it off to my three beta readers for some good ole crit-love. They all came back with a common theme:

The first three chapters are great (*puffs chest out in pride*), but not necessary for the story...(*dagger to the heart…*) Axe ‘em. (*…aaannd twist!*)

I did the whole, “Really? Huh. I’ll look it over and give that some serious thought.”

But what I was screaming in my head was, “Are you effing kidding me?!?! Do you have any idea how much I love those chapters? How will people know what their relationship was like before he was turned into a vampire? How are they supposed to see how viciously he struggled against them to spare the woman he loves the same fate? Not to mention how his turning actually helped his subsequent brilliant escape. It’s just not possible. So put. Down. The crack pipe.”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

If All the World had a CP...

I know, I know...I've slacked on my Top 10 list. I promise I'll get back to that soon, but a thought occurred to me the other day that I'd like to share.  So here goes.

I currently have 4 acting CPs (Crit Partners) for my WIP, Soul Seduction.  I will fully admit that I'm probably making things a tad harder than I should by having 4 because the more diverse feedback you receive, the more confusing it can be as to what actions to take with their suggested changes.  However, there's no way I'd ever want to drop any of them because they all bring different talents to the table, and amazingly enough, their comments never conflict with one another.  I'm so grateful to each of them for their insight and unconditional support.

But, the specific incident that brought me to this topic is my one CP, Ella.  That's not really her name, by the way--it's Lea Ann (pronounced as Lee Ann)--but my fingers didn't like typing her full name, so I switched to LA, but saying those letters together sounded awkward, so then I changed the A to the short sound and when spoken (or thought), it becomes Ella.  But I usual. (sorry!)

So Ella is reading my first novel, Desires of the Soul.  I should also point out that she gets paid to edit fiction for publishing companies.  But when I gave her DotS, I thought, "Go ahead and read it, honey, and tell me if there are any slow parts or parts you think I could cut to get my word count down."  Because I have edited the CRAP out of that book, I figured she'd be more or less just reading for enjoyment with a comment here and there about repeated words or unnecessary sentences.

I certainly did NOT expect her to come back with comments like:
  • Why is she acting this way?
  • I don't understand his motivation.
  • Why is she letting him get away with that?
  • I feel like she's not reacting strongly enough here.
When I got the couple of chapters back that said all that, my first reaction was, "WHAT?!?!"

Then when I stopped hyperventilating and read my chapter with a fresh mind, I said, "Holy f&$%, she's right."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wee-Bit Wednesday: Desert Walker Edition

One of my regular posts, uh, back when I posted regularly, was what I called Wee-Bit Wednesdays. This was my take on the Teaser Tuesdays that everyone in the blogosphere did at the time. Same premise, different day. [side note: now some people do WIP Wednesdays, like my phenomenally talented friend, Ruthie Knox - check her out too!]

Now that I once again have WIPs (two to be exact) I want to bring this back as an opportunity to show you guys what I'm working on and bring you along on my journey as I attempt my second and third books in the Prophecy of Souls trilogy.

(Also, I'm hoping to draw you into my web deep enough that you'll put on the velour sweat suits, drink the kool-aid and eventually purchase my books when they're published. But, you know, semantics.)

So, to kick off this awesome weekly (or bi-weekly, or bi-monthly...okay, really the only guarantee is that it will always be on a Wednesday...which Wednesdays will be a fun surprise, much like finding the center of a tootsie pop) here is a Wee-Bit from the final book of the trilogy, Soul Seduction.


Gabriel took several long pulls of his cold beer, not even taking the time to enjoy the taste, just needing it to quench his thirst and give him the false sense of hydration. Looking out at the dusty highway and stretch of desert beyond, he wondered how his family was doing back in Chicago. How long had it been since he’d called? Six months? Nine? He reached down with one hand and absently scratched Czar’s head as he tried to remember. Well, however long it had been, it’d been a while ago. He should probably call. They didn’t have his number or his address. Their only regular proof of life was the unmarked package he had to ship them once a month. His mom was probably having fits and ranting about stress wrinkles, which was impossible, considering she’d stopped aging twenty-six years ago before he’d even been born.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rejections are No BFD

Typically speaking, I don’t have a thick skin. Look at me the wrong way and I’ll instantly run through a gamut of offenses I might be guilty of to cause just such a glance. In all reality, the person might just have a piece of dust in their eye and the twitchy-narrowing-eye-thingy wasn’t a display of loathing, but simply an attempt to eradicate the microscopic dust bunny.

While writing my first book, I often worried about the inevitability of rejection. Not only are writers rejected 9 out of 10 times [note: not a real statistic; I’m just guessing], but also more often than not, they’re form rejections, so we don’t even know the reason behind it. This is the same as that “Wrong Look” I just mentioned. It tells us there’s a problem in the agent’s eyes (pun intended), but it doesn’t tell us what the problem is.

There are lots of posts and articles and probably carvings on bathroom stalls with advice on how to deal with rejection as a writer. After all, every writer–whether you’re Stephen King or the literary equivalent of William Hung–gets rejected.

And that, my friends, is the single most important lesson I want you to remember.

It happens to EVERYONE!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top 10 Things I Learned from Writing a Book: #9 Trim the fat & get to the good stuff

So I’ve finished my first novel, Desires of the Soul, and it’s caused me to reflect on the things I’ve learned. Naturally, I want to share them with all of you. Maybe you’ve learned the same things; maybe you were lucky enough to already possess this wisdom. Either way, for the next couple of months, I’ll be posting a new lesson-learned every week (or so). I hope you’ll check back and weigh in with thoughts or lessons of your own. So without further ado, here is...

#9. Trim the fat & get to the good stuff

This is something I still have a hard time with.  For those who have read my previous post I wish I was an under-achiever, you know that I’m not the writer who fleshes out the book and then fills it in with details later.  I’m also not the writer who can be described as “succinct” in her writing.

Nope, I’m long-winded, an embellisher, a detailed digresser.  The practice of “short and sweet”
completely escapes me.

But if we wax poetic about what our main character had for breakfast and how it was prepared, we’re slowing our pace down and getting away from what’s truly important in the scene.  So unless those pancakes trigger a vital memory or are the cause of his food poisoning, skip it.  Take it out.  You don’t need it.

I’ll give you an example from my first chapter of how I trimmed the fat and changed an entire paragraph into one simple sentence…

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top 10 Things I Learned from Writing a Book: #10 Fiction writing is a whole different animal

So I’ve finished my first novel, Desires of the Soul, and it’s caused me to reflect on the things I’ve learned. Naturally, I want to share them with all of you. Maybe you’ve learned the same things; maybe you were lucky enough to already possess this wisdom. Either way, for the next couple of months, I’ll be posting a new lesson-learned every week. I hope you’ll check back and weigh in with thoughts or lessons of your own. So without further ado, here is...

#10. Fiction writing is a whole different animal

As it turns out, spinning witty tales of my life via email is completely different from writing exceptional fiction. Who knew? When I started out, I sure as hell didn’t.

Friends and family often commented on how much they enjoyed reading my tales, or how funny they were, or that I should be a writer. [Aside: In all honesty, the only time I'm funny and witty is when I'm writing. If you were to speak to me in person you'd think Paul Rudd used me as a character study for his role in I Love You, Man.] I loved their reactions—after all, why try to be entertaining if no one appreciates it—but I never took their off-handed career advice seriously. To me, it was just another way for them to say, “Hey, that was great!”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yes, But How Does He Smell?

Hola!  Notice anything different?  Go ahead and take a second to think about, it's not my, I haven't waxed my eyebrows (recently)... It's all the extras on the blog, sillies!  Check out the "follow me" options on the right: twitter, facebook, email.  Awesome, right?  I know, so go ahead and click on them...yeah, right, I'll wait.  Did you also notice the additional couple of pages at the top?  I now have my future projects listed (in case you were dying to know what my Muse has in store for me) and a very lengthy essay that answers all of your hard-hitting questions about moi!  You. Are. Welcome!  *lol*

Okay, enough of that nonsense.

Today's guest (I'll write my own post soon, I promise!) is my writing friend, Ruthie Knox. I met her through a mutally entered contest where, after reading her entry, I shamelessly wrote an entire essay in the comments section on how much I loved her writing and gave her my email address in hopes she'd contact me to talk shop.

Fortunately for me she wasn't put off by my mild stalker behavior and we've been corresponding ever since. I've read a couple of her finished manuscripts and, believe me when I tell you, she is an absolute genius when it comes to contemporary romance. Not only did she sign with her dream agent in under four days, but said agent is in the process of pitching her books in AS IS condition. (I know, right?!)

I asked Ruthie to share one of her writing tips with us and she definitely did not disappoint...

Yes, But How Does He Smell?

There’s this scene in When Harry Met Sally where Harry and Sally are strolling in Central Park and talking about fantasies. Sally confesses to Harry she’s had this recurring dream ever since she was twelve, but it’s too embarrassing to tell him about. Then she tells him.

“Okay, there’s this guy,” she admits.

“What’s he look like?” Harry wants to know.

“I don’t know, he’s just kind of faceless,” she says.

“Faceless guy. Okay, then what?”

“He rips off my clothes.”

“Then what happens?”

“That’s it.”

Harry is flabbergasted. “That’s it? A faceless guy rips off your clothes, and that’s the sex fantasy you’ve been having since you were twelve. Exactly the same.”

“Sometimes I vary it a little.”

“Which part?”

“What I’m wearing.”

*insert rimshot here*

I love this scene. I love it because Harry finds the dream fantasy so disappointing, and I love it because Sally doesn’t.

I love it because it perfectly captures the way real-life fantasies often consist of very little -- just one detail, one image or action that makes us go Unh, or Ooh, or whatever internal brain-noise you make when you see something or read something or think something that revs your engine.

And I love it because it also perfectly captures that when you have an audience, just describing the Unh moment will never cut it. The scene reminds me that as a writer of erotic romance, I not only have to provide the Unh moment, I also have to furnish the rest of the fantasy, or Harry will be disappointed.

The mechanics of writing sex scenes, or at least sexy ones, have been on my mind lately as I’ve been revising an 800-word sex scene from my second manuscript into a 2,700-word one. I tend to write short and then layer up later on. The dialogue comes first, and the actions, but when I’m deep in the first draft I have a hard time remembering to consider what the characters are thinking, and even more so what they are experiencing -- the sights, sounds, smells, tastes. My writing brain wants to skitter right over those details, because thinking them up, those just-so descriptions, is really hard work. And yet those are the details that so often matter in a novel. Those are the details that make the reader go Unh.

Take smell. In romance novels, smell is sexy. Women like the way men smell, and vice versa. So how do you write it? How does your hero smell?

He smells good.

Well, yeah. But nobody’s going to go Unh over that line.

He smells fantastic.

Keep trying.

Here’s where a lot of authors default to cologne, aftershave, or perfume:

She caught the scent of his cologne, and it made her pulse race.

The light scent of her perfume drove him wild.

Okay, fine, we’re getting somewhere, but not anywhere especially original or interesting. What does his cologne smell like? As a reader, I refuse to be titillated by such vague description, so as an author I try to do better.

Also, here’s where I confess that I can’t stand any artificial scents, so I find references to cologne and perfume and aftershave mildly repulsive. I’m constitutionally incapable of writing heroes and heroines who repulse me, so I have to seek alternative smells.

There are two directions to go from here: get more specific, or find an analogy/simile/synecdoche to do the work for you.

Getting more specific requires thought, but it can be worth the trouble. You can try pinpointing actual, recognizable scents from the fragrance panoply. Sandalwood (not my favorite, but very popular). Lemons. Mint. Pine. Wintergreen. Whatever floats your boat, really.

I think it works better, though, to look for smells that link to your character. What does your hero do? What is he like? Would it make a difference to how he smells? Karen Foley has a novel for Harlequin Blaze, Flyboy, in which the hero is an Air Force jet pilot. He comes home from work reeking of jet fuel, and the heroine practically passes out with lust. I loved that detail. It made me go Unh. It made me want to find a jet-fuel-smelling man and sniff him.

It also reminds me that smells don’t have to be exotic to be sexy. The smell of sawdust from fresh-cut lumber is one of my favorites. Find me a hero who smells like sawdust, piney and resinous, and I will melt for the guy. You can make him a handyman or a lumberyard foreman or a construction worker or whatever you want. Just make him smell good. (And give him a toolbelt while you’re at it.)

Also, you don’t always have to tell the truth. Ranchers probably smell like sweat and animals, dirt and manure. But if you want to get my attention, find me a rancher who smells like leather work gloves and rust. Sage crushed under a boot heel. Sun-warmed denim. Paint me a picture of the way he smells that tells me who he is, what he is, and why the heroine wants him.

Or give me somebody more ordinary. Give me an office guy in a suit who smells like coffee and clean cotton, like photocopier toner and the peppermints he keeps in a jar on his desk. Give me a painter who smells like linseed oil and turpentine. Now I’m paying attention.

You can even get fancy if you want to, take the reader on a little sense journey. I wrote this the other day:

He smelled like his soap, spicy and exotic, bringing to mind peppercorns and trade voyages and the mysteries of the East. But beneath that he smelled like a man, like himself, and she buried her nose in the crook of his neck and inhaled, wanting to taste him on the back of her tongue. Wanting to memorize this indelible marker of who he was.

I’m not claiming it’s poetry--it’s actually still a little sneaky and vague--but at least it’s not “He smelled great.” At least it’s not “He rips off my clothes.”

Of course, smell is just one sense. We’ve got a bunch of other ones. Guidelines for writing a good sexy scene often say you have to bring as many senses into the scene as possible, and it’s great advice. But I try to take it one step further and submit my descriptions to the Harry test. If Harry is disappointed, I figure my (future, theoretical) readers will be too.

Ruthie Knox figured out how to walk and read at the same time in the second grade, and she hasn’t looked up since. She spent her formative years hiding romance novels in her bedroom closet to avoid the merciless teasing of her brothers and imagining scenarios in which someone who looked remarkably like Daniel Day Lewis recognized her well-hidden sex appeal and rescued her from middle-class Midwestern obscurity. After graduating from Grinnell College with an English and history double major, she earned a Ph.D. in modern British history that she’s put to remarkably little use. These days, she writes contemporary romance in which witty, down-to-earth characters find each other irresistible in their pajamas, though she freely admits this has yet to happen to her. Perhaps she needs more exciting pajamas. Ruthie abhors an epilogue and insists a decent romance requires at least three good sex scenes. You can find her at

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Debunking the "Smut Book" Stereotype

In my carefree college days, I was part of a group of girls affectionately known as The Smut Club. We devoured romance novels one after another, swapping them back and forth and swooning over the latest alpha-male’s romantic overtures, while sipping coffee shop mochas we could barely afford.

Little did I know that the popular term “Smut Book” I had bandied about in my younger years would make my older-self cringe with a tight smile to hold my tongue in a cage of clenched teeth.

On occasion, I’ve tried defending my beloved genre to those with the preconceived notion that all romance books are the female adaptation of Playboy for the literary inclined. More often than not, their response was a fair imitation of John Cleese’s character, Arthur Nudge, in Monty Python’s Flying Circus (“Oh, riiight! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more!”).

I have to say, I really resent that some people (even some of my friends and family members) have the misconception that people who write – or, for that matter, read – romance novels aren’t as intelligent, well-read, clever or talented as writers in other genres. It’s totally ridiculous and completely unfounded.

Romance novels have the same basic parts as every other novel: external conflicts (man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. nature, etc.) and internal conflict (man vs. himself). The one ingredient romance novels have that set them apart from other genres is the importance of the relationship and love that builds between the main characters. It’s the foundation of the story and it’s that relationship journey that I crave and the main reason I’m so fond of (read: addicted to) the romance genre.

Notice, if you will, that I said relationship journey. Not SEX! (Although, I will freely admit that I thoroughly enjoy the knock-my-socks-off sex scenes too. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a little sex-icing on my relationship-cake!)

Through the author’s words, experiencing the characters’ ups and downs, their moments of struggle and moments of abandon – both individually and together – all while dealing with the external obstacles keeping them from their end goal is absolutely amazing. In these books, love conquers all, and isn’t that a wonderful notion? Obviously, we know there’s going to be a Happily Ever After, but how they get there is the real thrill. The journey is what makes that HEA so very worth it.

Referring to a romance novel as a “Smut Book” implies that the only thing between those covers is scene after scene of steamy exploits that put the Kama Sutra to shame. You’re deliberately discrediting the other hundreds of pages that aren’t sexual in nature.

In my book, Desires of the Soul, three “sex scenes” take up less than thirty pages of the double-spaced, 400+ manuscript pages. So what do you suppose makes up the rest of those pages? It certainly isn’t foreplay, people. (Even the best heroes aren’t that good!) No, those other pages are filled with exciting things like plot, sub-plot, character development, story arcs, world building, foreshadowing, conflict and more.

It’s not easy to create rules and consistencies for a made-up world, create characters with complex pasts and unique personalities, then give those characters goals, only to then throw obstacles in their path big enough to make the culmination of reaching those goals worth it.

Creating all of those aspects, and then tying them all together into a page-turning story that keeps the reader up late into the night, is the challenge that every writer faces no matter the genre.

So, to anyone who has made the innocent (or not so innocent for some) mistake of using terms like “trash novel” or “smut book,” please consider using the proper and respectful name of “romance novel.” To call it anything else is degrading to the talent, research, and ingenuity it took the author to write said book.

Remember, just because several of the scenes between a book’s covers are set between the sheets and worthy of a post-coital cigarette, doesn’t mean the book is any less amazing or relevant than the latest Stephen King or J.K. Rowling novel.

Until next time, happy reading!