Unusual Romance: The Curious Position of Writing the "Weird Stuff."

Warning: Long Post!!!

(Picture courtesy of the Feebleminds website at

For years now I've been WARA's resident oddball. I write romance, but I write it in subgenres and categories that aren't the usual. Off-the-wall stuff such as fantasy, futuristic and paranormal romance, erotic romance and fan fiction. Different, huh?

Nina's already talked about the tribulations of writing the "weird stuff" and about the roots and significance of fantasy, futuristic and paranormal fiction. The only thing I would add to her statements is that, for market considerations, an FF&P romance has to have an even balance between the romance and the other genre. All the elements of romance, hero, heroine, sexual tension, and most importantly the HEA, have to be present.

Many novels today are featuring FF&P elements with a strong female protagonist and a heavily romantic subplot. However, to be considered an FF&P romance the emphasis has to remain on the romance aspect of the story. The definition of what constitutes an FF&P romance is fluid, but for most houses the statement I made above is an accurate one.

Which leads me to address my other forms of weirdness. I write erotic romance. Erotic romance, along with chick-lit and women's fiction, garners about 2.9% of the sales in the romance market. Small, but significant.

Erotic romance, like FF&P, has a fluid definition that can vary from house to house. A basic definition of it is a love story imbued with a highly sexual content. There has to be an emphasis on the romance, and it has to be balance with the sexual content. Most erotic romances allow exploration of more controversial elements, such as multiple partners, role-playing, bondage/sadomasochism, etc.

To write erotic romance, sex scenes have to be plotted. They must move the character toward a goal, bring the character into conflict with opposing forces or strengthen or change a character's motivation. You can't just take a story and "sex it up." The sex has to be a part of the character's fictional journey. A good reference work for writing Erotic Romance is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent. There is also a special interest chapter of The Romance Writer's of America for the erotic romance subgenre called Passionate Ink.

While I have yet to be professionally published in this subgenre, I am gaining experience with it in another fashion. The erotic romance writing I've done has been in the realm of "fan fiction." Fan fiction is writing in the story world of a movie, TV show, book, video game, etc. It cannot be done for profit, only for the love of the characters involved. Like writing everywhere, it runs the gamut from really bad to excellent.

Fan fiction is controversial, and many people do not consider it "real writing" because it is not original work. Some authors and creators don't like it because they feel it infringes on their creation. Despite efforts to curtail it, fan fiction continues and has grown in numbers over the years. Most authors now consider it to be a sincere form of flattery.

Fan fiction is a place where writers can test the waters. It allows a beginning writer to experiment with plot and characters without pressure. They can learn by using settings and characters that are familiar and comfortable. Its main goal is to tell an interesting story and to keep the characters as close to those of the original work as possible. The stories are posted on websites, and other fans of the work are encouraged to give feedback.

For me fan fiction is an opportunity to try out new techniques, like adding sexual elements to a familiar story, and to play. I use it to write about fictional people I've become fond of and to write without the strain of deadlines or editors. If you are interested in this type of writing, check out FanFiction.net at

I've maundered on enough now. Aren't you all glad I went last? :-)!


Writing stories about “people” who live in my head isn’t new. I’ve been doing it since I was old enough to put words together. By the time I was nineteen, I was writing reams (literally) of pages about those people. It wasn’t until many years later, when my oldest daughter was in middle school, that I gave serious thought to writing. And I wanted to write for children, specifically middle readers and young adults. Life took a different turn not long after that when my daughter was diagnosed with depression, and writing went by the wayside. But it didn’t stay there. My best friend re-introduced me to romance, and after reading literally hundreds of romance novels, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at it.

It was more than fun. It was almost obsessive. But it took several years to learn the craft and the business, and I’m still learning, even after publishing six books with Harlequin/Silhouette and two more scheduled to be released, one in August this year and the other in January 2010. All of those books are “series” or “category” books.

What’s a series book?

According to RWA (Romance Writers of America),

“Series romances normally have a number on the spine, (ex. # 435 in the Harlequin Superromance or Silhouette Intimate Moments) and are released once a month.”

Series romance is often shorter, ranging from 50,000 to 75,000 words. At present, Harlequin/Silhouette is the only publisher to offer series romance and currently has sixteen different series lines, each with its own special “flavor”. The spectrum runs from Inspirational Romance to the more traditional to Paranormal Romance to the more erotic, so there’s something for every reader and especially every writer!

I truly enjoy writing for Harlequin American Romance, a part of the Home and Hearth theme from Harlequin Enterprises. It encompasses everything I hold dear, with the focus on home, family, community (especially small towns) and the very best of LOVE.

And isn’t love what it’s all about?

Why Romance?

I can’t count how many times I have heard comments or questions about why I read (and write) romance books. “Can’t you find anything of more value” or my favorite “couldn’t you find a good book to read?” It got worse when I was working on my Master’s Thesis in a private Christian College on Marketing and promoting Romance authors and the Romance book industry. The scholars I was surrounded by wanted me to do something that had more of a positive impact on society.

I could go on and on about gender bias, but I in truth that has little to do with anything. In truth it is more about lack of awareness. I could go on about the marketing numbers, and the average age and educational level of the romance reader (Women over 35 with at least a Bachelor’s degree) interestingly enough, in today’s struggling economy where people are tightening their belts and cutting extra’s, the romance book industry is still showing growth. Readership is increasing, to the point that even men are now picking up books by Authors like Nora Roberts and Christine Feehan. Even the Best seller lists are being taken over by Romance Authors (now almost 50% of the books listed are from the romance shelves) .

Romance books reach out to each of us, giving everyone something to look for, Mystery, Suspense, Action, even the closet Fantasy and Sci-Fi fanatics can find something they love. No matter where you turn, there is bad news.. War over seas, crime rates increasing, reports of abuse and crimes against women and children on the rise. Companies closing down, and people losing the roofs over their heads. Where else can you find a great escape, and be guaranteed that the end is going to be happy?

Grinning like a Blogger

Does anyone else secretly grin when they admit they are a blogger? Doesn’t it sound like we should be strapping on work boots, sporting red flannel beneath our denim overalls and hoisting axes over our shoulders while we head high into the timbers? Anyone know any good lumberjack songs?

Hmmm. Me either. I’ll have to ask my husband. Men know these things.

Okay. Just another weird observation. As you might have guessed, I have a lot of these. Most authors will admit to having voices in their heads. To a writer, this is a good thing. It means your characters are doing their appointed jobs and leading you down that long and winding path to the end of your manuscript. This is a normal, even welcoming experience. Needless to say, the voices that occupy my mind tend to sound like Lucy and Ethel, or Martin and Lewis. And on days when I’ve had too much caffeine, I have The Three Stooges performing in full regalia. I can only imagine what a cat scan of my brain would look like. (grin)

Romantic comedies have always relied on slapstick or physical comedy. Not cover to cover craziness but just enough hurled at your hero and heroine to get them into and out of a sticky situation. Good comedy is a mixture of subtle and the not-so-subtle because no matter what, you never want to make it easy for your characters. If you think about it, writing a scene is like building a house of cards. The comedic tension increases as the scene grows on the pages of your manuscript. And you, as the lucky writer, get to decide when to knock it down.

So romantic comedy writers rejoice. Sing your lumberjack songs. Build your house of cards. As long as our characters keep tap dancing in our heads, we'll keep slipping them banana peels.



I should have mentioned that if you are a writer, an aspiring writer or just curious about writing then WARA is a great place to be. Feel free to check us out at:


Or come and visit at our next meeting on, May 3rd, at 4pm, Derby Recreation Center.

Ok, now I'm done! Thanks for stopping by.


Genre. Say what???

Hello friends, both old and new!

As a newbie in the writing world, words like “genre” were escorted by the panic fairies directly to the folder in my brain marked HELP! When I first connected with WARA, just five short months ago, I learned so many new things so fast that at times it was a little overwhelming. But, I always received a kind and informative answer, no matter how stupid I thought my questions were. Someone was, and is, always willing to help.

I grew from a complete greenhorn who only acquired the Internet after joining to: Being part of an email loop and website; writing a blog; entering the Right Hook contest; learning how to add the “creep factor” to my stories as well as the romantic sizzle and pop. Plus so many little details I thought my brain might actually explode at one point! Lucky for me it didn’t but it might have made an interesting story. Ummm, I’ll have to tuck that away in my idea file but how would I work it into a romance? Oops, bunny trail, I must get back to the program at hand.

Let’s see, I’m supposed to be talking about genres. I had to do a little research to make sure I didn’t catch “foot in mouth disease” and this is the result:

Genre: A particular type or kind of work such as art or literature which make it easy for others to recognize.

In other words, if you like Romance novels then you can skip over the science fiction genre and go straight for the books marked, Romance. Unless you like some love and kisses to go along with your (aha!) brain exploding science fiction, which is then called a sub-genre. (I think!) Do you feel educated now? Good, that’s one of the main ideas behind WARA; educating, supporting and tamping down the panic when a “newbie” has a meltdown over doing something new! You know, like blogging, but don’t tell them I told you!!
(Oh, never mind. After at least a dozen emails, I’m sure they figured it out!)

Happy Reading. Romance, of course!


Whew! Am I done yet?

Why Romance? (Penny Rader)

The romance genre has been my favorite since my pre-teens. It was my escape, my haven when I was a young mom and step-mom. When I decided to give writing a try, romance was the most logical choice for me.

Why do I read and write romance?

* The HEA (Happily Ever After)
* The emotion, the connection between the hero and heroine
* The love, the healing, the renewal, the hope, the redemption
* The empowerment of women
* To laugh
* To cry
* To laugh through my tears
* To lose myself in someone else’s world
* To see how other people work through the difficulties life throws their way.

Who are some of my favorite authors? Some of my favorite books?

* Morning Side of Dawn by Justine Davis
* Jackson Rule by Dinah McCall
* Annie and the Outlaw by Sharon Sala
* Miss Emmaline and the Archangel by Rachel Lee
* Diamonds and Dreams by Rebecca Paisley
* Season for Miracles by Marilyn Pappano
* Maggie Shayne’s "Texas Brand" series

I seem to be especially fond of characters who are wounded in some way, whether it’s emotional or physical. And women in jeopardy stories will have me on the edge of my seat or scrunched down against my pillows, flipping pages as quickly as I can. If the woman in jeopardy is pregnant or a mom and the hero loves the baby and/or kids as though they were his own, well, that puddle right there is me. (Not sure that last part came out the way I meant.)

Currently, my faves are the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr (I just love the characters and the town) and J.D. Robb’s In Death series. I know, the J.D. Robb books aren’t shelved in romance, but they’re written by Nora Roberts and I love watching the relationship between Eve Dallas and gorgeous Roarke grow and develop. I’ve kicked myself numerous times for waiting so long to read this series. It’s futuristic. I don’t usually read futuristic because I don’t usually “get it.” I definitely “get” these books. They’re set 50 or so years in the future and I have no problem figuring out what’s going on.

That’s a bit about what I like to read. Why do you read romance? Who are your favorite authors? Care to share any favorite titles?

The Critique Partner

I have been a member of the Wichita Area Romance Authors for over eleven years now and I have attended meetings, listened to guest speakers, presented programs and held office positions. The friendships that have developed, the respect and admiration for the members continue to deepen as the years pass.

The purpose of the writing group is to learn the craft, to complete a manuscript, seek an agent, and hope for publication. I have watched as several members have accomplished these goals and wonder, “Why can’t I seem to complete my novel?” “Do I even know what genre or sub genre I want to write?”

One afternoon, while checking my email, a friend from the past contacted me and asked a simple question: “Would you like to form a critique partnership?”
Critique? As in meet one on one, once or twice a month, discuss our writing and constructively criticize it? No way. The thought that someone would read my work and then sit face to face with me and tear it apart was not appealing. I balked at the idea.
I did not respond to the email at first. I pondered the pros and cons. I researched the functions of a critique partner or a group, for that matter. Why should I join this? I already belonged to WARA. What was the need? However, my interest was piqued, my friend was very persuasive and I decided to try it.

What it IS:

A. Honest. Your partner will read your work (and vice versa) and ask open
ended questions to help develop a plot line, a character, conflict and
the resolution (and much more!) Your partner should be helpful.
B. Comfortable. You want to make sure you are at ease with your partner.
You should be able to discuss concerns and leave with a sense of
all questions answered or ideas to ponder.
C. Confidential. Trust is key. Your story is not shared with the world
until you are ready.

It is NOT:

A. Judgmental. Your partner does not try to change your story in any
way. She or he plays the part of listener, coach and cheerleader
all rolled into one.
B. Uncomfortable. If you partner with someone that does not seem to
understand your style or criticizes in a non-constructive way, you
need to find another partner. You should be at ease.
C. The Final Say. You do not need to agree with your partner’s tips or
comments. You can agree to disagree. If your partner becomes
upset, then maybe it’s time to find a new partner.
D. Unreliable. You need to be committed and stick with the schedule as much
as possible. It’s understandable that there will be times that meetings must
be cancelled, but don’t make it a habit. Someone is depending on you.

If you find yourself in a slump, and you have never contemplated the critique partner or a group (a bit of advice – keep it small, three or four max!), maybe it’s time to try something new. Of course, finding someone is a whole other topic!

I began meeting once a month, but now, it’s changed to twice per month. I still attend my WARA monthly meeting as well. I thought at first it would be too much, but surprisingly, it has rejuvenated my love for composing stories.

I’ve discovered my two genres: suspense and paranormal. I’ve also come to the realization that the young adult field and the adult lines are my passion and I CAN write in both worlds.
It’s been the best decision of my life!

So, ask away!


It's all about the ROMANCE!

Sorry for the late posting, but my internet has been out.
Caution: Long Post.

Historical, comtemporary, suspense, erotica, or inspirational, our genre is multifaceted, but underneath it’s all about the romance.
Girl meet guy. Sparks fly. My oh my. LOVE.
That’s what we adore about a romance novels. So let’s talk a little about how we make that spark ignite. I like to use the Five Stages of Love in my plot grid because I know both characters will move through all these stages sometime in my story, but they rarely happen for both of them at the same time.

Stage 1. ATTRACTION - a positive response to a person beyond friendship. This can further be broken down into two areas: (a) physical attraction & (b) emotional attraction.a.

Physical Attraction – the first stage of attraction, when something about a person’s physical appearance elicits a physical response in the observer. You notice that he or she has a great body, a pretty face, or a sweet tush. A spike in endorphin levels results in a heightened awareness of that person. How they smell, how they smile, how they walk.

b. Emotional Attraction - develops next if circumstances are right. After being drawn to a person physically, you find you have things in common -- hobbies, ideologies, career, education, or some other common ground – this is when the emotional attraction starts to form.Emotional attraction can also occur before a physical attraction does not. (Friends become Lovers) In this case, the bond may even be stronger between the two since no preconceived notions based on physical appearance has occurred.

Stage 2. ROMANCE - essentially an act of trying to influence or gain favor of another by lavishing attention or gifts upon them. There are two type of romance: (a) selfish romance & (b) selfless romance.
(a) Selfish Romance - occurs when you do romantic acts solely for the purpose of gaining something for yourself -- like to get gifts, to gain sexual favors, or to impress someone else.
(b) Selfless Romance - occurs when you do romantic acts for the enjoyment and pleasure of your partner. You receive your enjoyment and pleasure through their happiness.Selfish romance will quickly die out. Selfless romance will endure. Our characters always find that out.

Stage 3. PASSION - a burning desire for another person, which has grown to an intensity that can't be ignored. This is often where an emotional relationship turns into a physical relationship. The passion stage is very important. It's a plateau. From here, the relationship will fork into two roads. The couple must decide which path to take. The relationship will either burn itself out or will move onto the next stage.

Stage 4. INTIMACY - a close association with another person of the deepest nature. You share you thoughts, your feelings, your dreams. In true intimacy, there is nothing that you cannot tell this person (though our characters often hesitate because of their own deep seated fears). Intimacy can be expressed as physical or as emotional, but there must always be an emotional component. Since I write inspirational novels, there is no physical intimacy in my books therefore the emotional intimacy must be heightened. Intimacy is not a finite place. It’s a developing process that never ends. Your reader has to believe these people will stay in love for the long haul.

Stage 5. COMMITMENT - a pledge to remain true to your mate throughout good and bad times. Commitment is easy when times are good. Commitment can be extremely difficult when times are bad. It doesn’t have to be marriage, but most (not all) romance readers want to see that on the horizon.

So how do you add romance to your work?I love to learn new things.

More Romance Genres & Sub-genres

We've had some great discussions in the past two weeks! Because we haven't covered romance genres & sub-genres completely, we're going to continue the discussion on them until the end of the month.

If there are any questions, or if anyone has something to add, whether a WARA member or a visitor, please feel free to comment! We're all here to learn and have fun.

Mystery Suspense. It’s the Thrill. It’s the Adventure.

I’ve completed two novels, Inspirational Romance and Mystery Suspense and have written several books in different stages, with plans to finish. At present I’m writing a second Mystery Suspense.

Mysteries have five categories. They are: Police Procedural, Private Investigator, Historical, Professional and Amateur Sleuth. My Mystery is written with a Female Private Investigator leading the story.

Story ideas develop from reading newspapers, watching local and national news. Television shows and movies enrich my stories for subplots, dialogue, character traits, etc. Brainstorming and plotting creates a believable story, capturing my interest or the Thrill, as I call it.

Usually the story appears before me as a movie in my head. I begin typing many scenes as they are happening. First chapter should introduce the Villain, the Victim and the Detective. Keeping the reader hooked, wanting to read more. Suspense builds surprises with descriptive points to further the story along.

Mystery websites, author’s links and self-help books are great for research. One of my favorites is
http://www.mysterywriters.org/ that has many other links to go check out. Finding pictures makes characters and places come to life. Giving me the advantage to feel like I’ve been there, when I can’t have the opportunity to travel.

Writing an excellent story begins with a first draft, then write, write, rewrite, rewrite. The story will begin to take shape in a real mystery suspense setting. Everyone will want to read it. I’ve shared a few writing techniques I use when creating my mysteries. There’s so much more to writing and completing a novel, this leaves room for further conversation in a later blog.

I believe if you want to publish you will. It’s not all being talented in the craft. Persistence, determination and thinking like a professional are the key to success. Critique partners have played a vital role in my writing career. Discussion about my book with my fellow writers has been encouragement for my novel to be the best it can be.

- Sharon

For the Love of Small Presses

It's my turn to share some words of wisdom related to writing in the romance genre. If only I had some... What I do have is twenty-five years experience of trying to figure out how to pull words together into something at least partially enjoyable by a reader. Believe me (and my critique partners), I've come a long way in honing my skills and I hope to go even farther as I continue trudging my way in and around the world of publishing.

Speaking of publishing, I want to talk a little about the smaller presses, which is where I've, fortunately, found my home as a published author. I've published 21 novellas and novels so far with one specific on-line publisher in the last five years, and I added a second publisher last year. From personal experience I can say that if you establish an agreeable relationship with your small press publisher, you can have almost unlimited opportunities for driving yourself nuts...I mean for publishing. It can be stressful, exciting, mindboggling, scary. But I love my chosen field of writing and my chosen publshers. That doesn't mean I won't pursue attemtping to publish with more small presses. I tend to like being crazy.

My main publisher, Blushing Books, is a "specialty" publisher in the romance genres, somewhere in the fetish lines and at the top of that particular market. Many of the other small ebook publishers are also publishing these lines, actually far more out-there than I write. This royalty paying publisher started mainly with on-line downloads and has progressed to ebooks, Kindle downloads, and trade paperbacks.

I decided to branch out last year and had my first erotic romance short story published with Red Rose Publishing (http://redrosepublishing.com/). We've begun a relationship and I will have a second longer erotic story published later this year with them. Red Rose is a full service, royalty paying electronic and Print-On-Demand book publisher that welcomes all romance genres and sub-generes, whether erotic or mainstream romance in lengths from 1,000-60,000 words and higher. They also publish mainstream fiction.

The Wild Rose Press (http://thewildrosepress.com/) is another royalty paying growing electroinc publisher of most romance sub-genres. They publish works from 7,500-100,000 words. Another of our WARA members will soon have her first book relased by them, but she can blow her own horn later.

Whiskey Creek Press (http://whiskeycreekpress.com/) is a royalty paying publisher of fiction and non-fiction. They publish ebook and traditional trade paperback formats. They accept submissions in all fiction genres with word lengths from 50,000-100,000 words. One of our former WARA members publishes with this small press.

New Concepts Publishing (http://newconceptspublishing.com/) is a royalty paying, ebook publisher of only romantic fiction in most sub-genres. They do not accept sweet romances. They publish short stories of 10,000 words on up to epic novels of 100,000 plus words.

One of the biggest of the small presses is Elloras Cave (http://www.ellorascave.com/). They are a royalty paying publisher of ebooks and trade paperbacks. They publish a wide variety of sub-genres of erotic romance from short stories up to 15,000 words on up to super plus novels of 100,000 plus words. For writers more interested in mainstream romance in a variety of sub-genres, Elloras Cave started a sdie company a few years ago, Cerridwen Press (http://www.jasminejade.com/).

There are many more small presses for writers to try out, but I attempted to list the main ones that I am familiar with.

Oops! A couple of Sci-fi things I forgot to mention.

Just when I thought I was on top of everything (I wrote my blogger thingy TWO days in advance--just to make sure I had one on time...), I woke up this morning and realized I had left a couple of really essential items out!  (Ok, confession: I do my best thinking when I'm asleep). 

Point number 1:  Science fiction/fantasy of the last century (it is fun to say that) the 1900's, has embodied thinking that embraces racial (by way of using the other worldly, alien, and or critter) inclusiveness in society and relationships.

Point number 2:  It explores and tests societal rules and opinions.  Not only does it hold up a mirror to how different aspects of how humans operate in our societies, it offers new ways to think about ourselves and our relationships.

Point number 3:  It makes us think about how we define humanity.

 Romance has entered the science fiction/fantasy/futuristic arena long ago with Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan series.  The relationship of Tarzan to his ape mother and to Jane so captured the world’s imagination that we’ve never been the same.  There were many Tarzan books that explored what it means to be human and how close to animals we really are.  Burroughs explored pretty thoroughly how civilized behavior isn’t so civilized sometimes.  Tarzan also visited other worldscapes in an Alice through the Looking Glass, kind of way.  Burroughs went on to write more series work, John Carter of Mars and one that escapes me at this moment about Venus.

Today’s Sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic romances carry on these fine traditional points.  It also gives writers a chance to be different—like the alien character whose urine smells like cinnamon and the poor female homeowner whose downstairs bathroom the alien keeps using….



To Future or Not, a Bloodsucking Dilemma

If it’s the 10th, it’s my turn to blog.  Welcome readers and blogerites.  This is my first time so you can expect a little awkwardness.  Maybe you won’t find it, but it’s there.  A lot like writing my first novel—a long and smelly proposition….

So, there I was, not a writer, (I hated writing) but someone with a story to tell, a story that had its beginnings when I was immersed as a young teenager in the science fiction section of our rural county library.  The section covered one whole wall—I read it all.  Then, there were the other books from at home, the ones that came first, Tarzan, Robinson Crusoe, The Black Knight; books left over from grandma’s attempts to get her children to read the classics—all hundred of them for whatever they were charging then.  Then came romance, old Harlequin books with dynamic men and womanly women having adventures in foreign countries.  Many of those old books were written by obviously English writers and I didn’t care.  The foreignness was part of the appeal.  Those English writers got around.  They wrote about Spain, Italy, and South American countries.  My eyes burned up the pages.  Then I discovered Regencys.  Ah, my heart.  Manly men with swords.  The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer earned me an A on an oral book report as well as the scorn of my fellow classmates.  I was supposed to talk for three minutes—fifteen minutes later the bell caught me mid-sentence and a classroom full of teenagers ran for their lives.

So much for the beginning.  Now to the end.  I wrote a story.  It ended up a novel.  I was such a novice I didn’t know how long a novel was so I called a publishing company to ask.  Their answer: it depends.  Imagine the conversation that followed as I pressed them for concrete details.  The conversation resembled a comedy club act.  However, I now know the answer to that question if you need it.

Writing that novel was absolutely the most addicting fun.  Some days I didn’t want to go anywhere but to the computer.  I’m sure that if I’d not had people who pulled me back into real life occasionally, that I’d have been found, a dried up smelly relic, sometime in the murky future.

Here’s the real problem.  I wrote another novel.  The first one was a futuristic, survival romance.  (See why I told you what I read?)  The second novel was set in the same location, futuristic and survival romance.  There are over twenty more story lines set in the same location.  But, being a futuristic world, someone was supposed to know or should have kept track of the special stuff.  You know, like what a knockert is.  A hitsnake?  How high can a camine jump? By the way, is the first gate to the Proving zone in the east, or the last step located in Randar in the west?  Fine, so a bunnyhop is obviously a rabbit.  But what is a whorlcat and what are its attributes?  How about that flower that Tory sipped sweet nectar from?  Where was that again?  Yup, the second novel was pretty dicey, but I can see the writing on the wall.  I should have been writing the special things, people, society, animal, places, down as I went in some sort of information keeper.  I didn’t.

Second novel finished.  I guess I expected divine intervention.  I didn’t keep anything on the second novel either but coped by making up mostly new stuff for the second novel.  Do you see I just compounded the problem?  In my own defense I have to say I didn’t know I was going to be a writer or that anyone would want to read what I wrote.  I did, they did, now I’m really facing a problem.  Novel number three.  So, I coped again, I switched genres. I’m writing a historical.  By the way, I can see the same problem developing there too.

So what’s this whole long post about?  Caution.  You’ll want to think not only about your characters and about the joy of world crafting but of determining a way of handling the storage and recollection of details.  Details, which may be needed again for the next story.  I’m running out of genres….

Where does your story fit in the Science Fiction, Futuristic, Fantasy, and all the rest of the not-so-easily-pigeonholed variety pack?  Science Fiction has more scientific world crafting.  It relies on the intellect of science.

Futuristic is far enough in the future that society or people are changed substantially enough to not be what we’d expect to see next year.  The time may also be far in the future.

Fantasy stories are crafted with myth being integral in their world.  The myth factor can involve fanciful creatures or everyday ones.  However, fantastical abilities are essential.  These fantastical abilities may or may not be very nice.  Creatures/characters may have many different degrees of humanity or not be human at all.

One overlying fact is true of all of these types of stories, whether from Jules Verne’s’ science fiction classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to The Huntress, a sexy alien erotica sizzler by Barbara Karmazin, the qualities that excite us are the ones we identify with emotionally as humans.  In a true alien story, we wouldn’t know their toes from our ears.  In fiction that appeals to us, it is the human qualities we inject into those alien places that have us attending fantasy fairs dressed as our favorite sprites hoping to excite a little vampire action or hoping to ride on the Star Ship Galactica.


Peeking in at a great bit of information and fun…



All Times Are a Stage aka Historical Romance

”His cloak, held by a leather thong, had fallen off his shoulders when he had tumbled into the coach, revealing a full sleeved white shirt open at the throat, plain leather riding breeches and the knee-high jackboots common to men of the road. Tightly coiled tension accented with undertones of determination and danger emanated from the lean figure.”

Today the gentleman described above would garner stares (perhaps admiring in nature) and most would think him bound for a masque ball--sorry, make that costume party. It’s one of the dangers/joys of immersing yourself in a story be you writer or reader. I’ve been listening to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and have to watch myself to keep from speaking at times with a Scottish brogue.

This graphic shows three figures in modes of dress common circa 1809. They would be very comfortable in my books. I’ve had nine “sweet”* Georgian (1700-1798) and regency (roughly 1800-1825) books published. *Sweet” regencies are stories that contain sexual tension and kissing but no other sexual content. They disappeared from the marketplace in 2006 but they now flourish in the eBook market. I am currently working on a Napoleonic spy mystery/romance series.
Why did I choose to write historical romance? I think I do so because of a love of history (attested to by my minor in American History) and a fondness for word play combined with years of reading historical fiction topped by the discovery of Georgette Heyer, the earliest writer of and oft regarded queen of Regency Romance. Then there are those characters in my head that are happy only occupying the past.

Why should you write historical romance? Perhaps some of the above and also because historical romance ranks second in all sales of romance. In 2007 Romance Writers of America (RWA) (http://www.rwanational.org/cs/the_romance_genre/romance_literature_statistics) stated that historical romance was 16% of the romance market. In 2008 it was 17% and holding strong, especially regency set historical romance.

RWA describes Historical Romance as “Romance novels set in any time period prior to 1945, and taking place in any location.” Settings in historical romance can range from the Dark Ages to ancient civilizations; from the Middle Ages to Regency England; from the Civil War to the Wild West or World War I or II and many more. These romances can cross with other genres. To name a few--inspirational, mystery, or paranormal such as the regency paranormal The Marriage Spell by Mary Jo Pultney. But one thing is true for all historical novels--through accurate detail they take the reader to a specific time and place in history.

Some authors use actual persons, places, and events amidst their fictional ones. Some use only the fictional--characters, places, and events of their invention. Knowledge of the every day life of the time and place (together the make the setting) of the historical romance as well as the language and jargon in use then is very important. Once a setting has been chosen and the plot set--or even before this--research begins. Just how much to learn about your setting requires a delicate balance. Too little makes the book unreal, even laughable--substitute rebooks for jackboots in my opening paragraph) but too much research can lead one to either get lost in the delight of fact finding (odd but true for some of us) and never write the book or turn the book into a litany of facts which detract from and turns off the reader.

In writing historical romances you share your love of historical periods, educating and entertaining. I just finished reading Reflections in the Nile by J. Suzanne Frank and now know more about ancient Egypt than any history textbook could induce me to remember as well as having enjoyed a fascinating romance. The best way to decide if this is your niche and which period of history your characters will inhabit is to read a variety of periods. When you find one that peoples your mind with characters and plots read a lot of books in that period. It’s a great way to absorb some of the ambiance and helps you to learn the market--but that is for another post. Many years ago I read over 200 regencies in six weeks. As I tossed the last one back into the box I thought, “I can write something better than some of these.” I sold my first historical romance two years later. So start reading . . .

Tickle Their Funny Bones

Let me jump right in to the blogging pool, feet first, and tell you how excited I am to finally be a bona-fide blogger. I can only imagine how proud my family must be, I say, sniffing and wiping a tiny tear. Okay, now that’s out of the way and you are comfortably parked in front of your computer, lets get started.

I write contemporary romantic comedies that tend to be a bit wordy. I like to play with words the way children like to finger paint—mixing and matching until it works on paper. I love the way words roll off my tongue and sound almost lyrical when I read my chapters to my critique partners. And if those two wonderful women fall off the couch laughing, all the better. Score one for this comedy writer’s warped soul.

To me, writing the funny stuff comes pretty natural. Not sure why, perhaps it’s the oddly optimistic way I see the world or that I’m able to draw inspiration from the crazy cast of characters in my life. In my opinion, there are three ways to incorporate humor into your manuscript. The first is a system of layering on the absurdities. Building the crescendo. The reader keeps turning pages, faster and faster because she knows the funny bone pay-off is coming. She not only expects to bust a gut laughing but she’s disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

The second way to incite a giggle is with word choice. Think punch line. Bu-dump bump at its best. This really funny sentence comes out of left field and knocks her socks off when she least expects it. As a writer, you get to experiment with words, pairing and rearranging until they pack the most punch.

The third kind of humor is derived from raw, human nature and stems from the best and worst times in our lives. Laughter after tears. Getting the giggles at the most inappropriate time. Or as I like to refer to it, there-isn’t-anything-I-can-do-about-it-so-I-may-as-well-laugh-as-to-cry. These are pent-up emotions begging for release and as a writer we have to ability to provide that for our characters and readers.

Two rules: Read your stuff out loud and see if garners a chuckle from someone other than your faithful, furry companion(man or beast). And the second most important thing is to never make fun of anyone with your comedy. It’s not cool to be mean.

Disclaimer: No actual critique partners were hurt by falling off the furniture.

So tell me, who do you read when you need a humor fix?


Reese Mobley

Inspirational Romance. What is it?

My name is Pat and I write inspirational romance and inspirational romantic suspense for Steeple Hill Books under the pen name of Patricia Davids. I have eight published novels with two more scheduled for release this year and three under contract for next year. Sounds like I might be an expect on inspirational romance, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not, but I do have a little insight I’m willing to share.

If you’re thinking of writing for the inspirational market you have a lot of opportunities that weren’t present even a few years ago. The market is expanding rapidly even in these tough economic times and encompasses numerous genres. So what makes it a story inspirational? It is not the lack of sex or bible quotes.

Having a character who is a Christian, using Christian phrases and/or scriptures will not automatically make your story fit into the inspirational market.

One or more of your characters’ Christian beliefs must form a fundamental part of the story. If you are writing a police drama, your character’s profession will dictate how he or she responds to the conflict in your story. With inspirational romances, the character’s Christian beliefs dictate how he or she will react in much the same way.

Are you getting the picture?

So what type of stories are inspirational publishers looking for?

Here is a list from the American Christian Fiction Writers website.

Contemporary Romance (includes romantic comedy)
• Historical Romance
• Romantic Suspense
• Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Allegory
• Historical Fiction (not romance)
• Young Adult
• Contemporary Fiction
• Women’s Fiction
• Suspense/Thriller/Mystery

ACFW is a great resource for researching the market and they have a good contest for unpublished authors. You can visit their site at


Do you have questions or comments about inspirational romance? Here's your chance to ask an almost expert.



So you want to write a romance…

One of the first things a writer needs to know is what s/he is writing. Fiction is broken down into genres (types), one of which is romance. That seems simple, but romance has its own genres and sub-genres, so let’s take a look at them.

What genre of romance do you write or want to write?


Welcome to Bits & Bytes: Romance…the Writer’s Way, the official blog of WARA - Wichita Area Romance Authors!

Yes, we write romance—in all shapes and forms. If you’re interested in writing romance, are already writing, are a published romance author, or if you’re a reader who has always wondered what it’s like to write the most popular type of fiction, then please join us as we discuss the business and the art of romance writing.

If you'd like to know more about WARA, links to our website are on the left.