Books: on Romance

April 29, 2010 § 11 Comments

I was never going to read one. You could have taken all my other books, kidnapped my beagle (believe me, you’d give him back after 10 minutes) or snatched away my precious bookmark collection. But I was never going to read one. Not a single one. I am now compelled otherwise. I am, in fact, reading a romance novel. One of Ms. Smith’s.

I recently attended the Missouri Writers Guild Annual Conference. It was in my own backyard; how could I not attend?  I was so ready for three days of workshops and classes that I would have been happy if no one had even showed up. I would have sat there, writing, looking around, having some of the free coffee or water that the Drury is good at providing, and gone back each day to do it again. Just because it was claimed, free, dedicated time.

Anyway, that’s not how it went. People showed up; there were lots of  workshop choices and then suddenly it was Sunday. Only thing left, after the happy hour and the mingling and the pitching and the workshopping and the tips and tricks and a dinner (with a radiant speaker, Catherine Rankovic), was the Sunday Master Class. We paid extra for this if we signed up. I had no clue what it would be like, a 3-hour workshop/class. And I had to choose one. Just one. Hmmm… I zigged and zagged. I hemmed and hawed. I tapped and tiptoed around the topic. And finally chose one and sent in my application.

I chose a 3-hour workshop class with Bobbi Smith.  I had to choose something and I wasn’t interested in screenplays or fantasy or scifi or beginning writing and getting one’s name out there. So I chose Bobbi and she’s a romance writer. But romance writers are successful which means they know stuff, right?

Well, lucky me (and my friend, Linda)!  Bobbi Smith was dynamite. She shared tips, she told the truth about stuff (I could just tell) about income and agents and best of all, talked writing process, timelines, and working her real life into the schedules it required.  She shared some rules, some (romance) industry standards, some anecdotes on how, what, why, where, how and a welath of writing things, all wrapped up in a nice tight format she had evolved for giving three-hour classes. She also involved us in her discussions, asking questions. She talked about hero types and heroines and who’s who in formula novels. Nothing wrong wtih seeing how they work their “romance” templeate, along with the actual act of writing and what it takes or pre-empts. She talked about the energy of the Romance Writers of America and they have fun but they’re serious about their stuff. And they know that what they do is for sheer entertainment.

Hats off, Bobbi. On the way home, I picked up one of your novels. It’s in my purse. And thanks for signing my notebook. Ha. Yeah, now that I ‘ve met her and “worked” with her for nearly half a day, yeah, I’m interested in reading her book (RELENTLESS, with a fine looking cowboy on the cover) and who knows…

PS  Romance has rules, like you have to meet the hero (troubled for some reason) right in the first few pages and the book has to end with a wedding. It’s not all about bodice ripping and how-many-ways-can-you-write-a-sex-scene, no, it’s about entertainment and escapism. 

Yah, we can use that.

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§ 11 Responses to Books: on Romance

  • mandy says:

    Sounds like a great session (and entire conference) that provided a lot of great insights. I used to swear that I wouldn’t read romance novels. Growing up that’s what my mom read (and still reads). Then one day out of boredom, I picked one up and realized that they weren’t so bad. I still dont usually admit to reading one though. =)

    • oh says:

      It’s good to “read around,” outside one’s usual territory, I think. Be eclectic. I went to a giant bookfair yesterday. I spotted a book by Katherine Woodeweis (sp?) and suddenly remembered that long ago, I read one of hers. So right there, on the spot, I purchased this Woodeweis – $1. And likely one evening or on summer vacation, it will be just the thing to read.

  • anne says:

    Feeling that shift in perspective is the best part of any conference — sounds like this was a great one. And you found a cowboy romance, too? I’m gonna have to check that one out!

    • oh says:

      Anne – I read the first few pages of RELENTLESS (not pictured, see next blog!) while in line at the bank. Wonderfully predictable and smoothly written. I like!

  • jeanie says:

    That sounds like a great session — I think it’s always good to take a new look at something we think we know. You’re right — these books as a genre sell a ton, so they must be doing something right! And it sounds like there was lots of good info for writing in general with the agent, marketing, etc. So, my next question — what romance is whipping around in your mind?!

    • oh says:

      Hey, Jeanie! mmm…that’s a good question…do I have a romance in me? A love story, yes, but I dunno. Seems like it would be fun to write one according to the “requirements” ….you got me thinking!

  • Arti says:

    I went to hear Yann Martel read from his newest novel two days ago. At the Q & A session, he said he’d read a Harlequin Romance (which originated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada BTW)… and told us that HR had enjoyed sales of several billion copies since it started. Who can ignore such a thriving business!

    • oh says:

      Arti – I so enjoyed your blog on Martel. I really must pick up Life of Pi. Egads, no, I haven’t read it yet! But now, having heard your account of him, I’m intrigued.

  • typehype says:

    The one romance novel I’ve read was borrowed from my brother’s girlfriend-later-to-be-wife on a long car ride we were all on (she works in marketing and devours romance novels to “escape” her job reality and decompress). I have to say, our boring road trip from Canada to Long Island went by pretty darn fast. Mainly because the hero of the novel was this smoking hot matador!

    • oh says:

      Ah, best use of book: on road trip where staring out the window for hours is better substituted by reading! A matador, eh? hmmmm…We had fun in Smith’s workshop talking about hero’s names and trying out a few.

  • Ruth says:

    How fun is that? I can see how these books would be addictive actually. Escaping into romance, which let’s face it, most of us do not have every day.

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