Tag Archives: Romance

If You Can’t Follow Your Own Bliss, Follow Elizabeth Gundy’s

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If You Can’t Follow Your Own Bliss, Follow Elizabeth Gundy’s

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War on Women Extends to Their Fiction

The war on women seems to be invading their fiction. For the second time in a few weeks chick lit has come under attack.

A few weeks ago we picked up on a piece in The Awl  suggesting that romance is the lowest form of literature. Now, in Salon, we’re told that chick lit may be dead altogether. Coincidentally or otherwise, both charges were leveled by women.

“Less than a decade after commentators clucked at bookstore shelves lined with cartoon high-heels and pink cocktail glasses,” writes Laura Miller in this latest sally, “the only debate that the once-flourishing genre inspires now is over when to run its obituary.”

To Miller’s credit, she realizes it might be a good idea to define her terms. She seems to be referring to the spate of shopping-and-screwing novels published at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st. This variant reflected an overheated economy whose excesses were exemplified by glam fashionistas and their Masters of the Universe lovers. “As the first species of popular fiction to treat its heroines’ professional aspirations as seriously as their romantic prospects, chick lit flourished at a time when ambitious young women poured into a robust job market, seeking both love and success, often with a heaping serving of pricey commodities on the side.”

This trend, says Miller, “smells decidedly off in the face of 8.3 percent unemployment.” That may be true to a degree, but the mutual attractions and sexual tensions between gorgeous, ambitious women and alpha males are not ever going to give way to commonplace characters, shabby settings and humdrum sex.

No matter how you define them, the themes and formulas that have sustained popular women’s fiction for centuries have varied only slightly and will not vary in the foreseeable future. Romance continues to thrive as a genre and sustains the trade book publishing industry to the tune of 25% of its sales.  Survey the lists of such romance powerhouses as Harlequin or Kensington and you’ll see that chick lit is alive and well, thank you very much.

Perhaps Laura Miller is looking for love stories in all the wrong places?

Richard Curtis
Note to readers: Digital Book World has invited me to post my blogs initially on its website before releasing them on E-Reads, and this content is re-published with DBW’s permission. Click here to view the original posting.

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Romances Written “Just for Kicks”? Ask the Authors

You can say God is dead. You can say books are over. You can say bomb Iran. But when you say romance is the lowest form of literature, watch out.

Perhaps Maria Bustillos, writing in The Awl, doesn’t share the “widely reckoned” opinion that romance writing is “just a notch above the writing on Splenda packets”, but she doesn’t seem to be straining to rebut it, either.

Her critique, posted (intentionally we suspect) on Valentine’s Day, trivializes romance writers – and readers – in the guise of a serious analysis of the popularity of the genre. Though she purports to seriously delve into the psychology, philosophy and sociology of the phenomenon, she reveals her true hand when she writes “Everybody knows that they are written and read just for kicks.” The writers of romances “are in no way trying to win a Booker Prize,” Bustillos says. As for the readers, “One is supposed to be embarrassed to have a taste for it.”

“I have often wondered whether romance novels mightn’t generally serve the same purpose for women that pornography does for so many men,” she reflects. Fighting words for writers and readers.

The canard that popular literature is written by hacks for low-minded readers goes back as far as Greek and Roman times, and wherever it turns up, including its latest propagation in the hands of Ms. Bustillos, writers and readers need to speak out.

Several years ago we did. “The belletristic establishment regards the world of popular literature as a subculture,” we wrote, “but one could seriously argue that it is really the other way around. Very few ‘serious’ writers make enough money from their writing to support themselves without having to moonlight. Their audiences are often modest in size and elitist in taste. Their work is frequently inaccessible, intellectual, experimental, and sometimes incomprehensible.

“The lives of professional genre writers differ in many significant ways from those of their more literary brothers and sisters,” we argued, citing that among many virtues they are businesslike, disciplined, and sensitively attuned to their readership.

“It is vital for the writing establishment,”to realize that literature is far more than a ladder with junk at the bottom and art at the top. Rather, it is an ecosystem in which the esoteric and the popular commingle, fertilize one another, and interdepend. Principally, if it were not for the immense revenues generated by science fiction, romance, male action-adventure, and other types of popular fiction at which so many literary authors and critics look down their noses, there would be no money for publishers to risk on first novels, experimental fiction, and other types of serious but commercially marginal literary enterprises. Furthermore, from the aspect of the writing craft itself, there are many extremely important lessons for literati to learn from their genre comrades in arms, if only the former would take the trouble to study them.” (See The Two World of Literature: What Serious Writers Can Learn from Genre Comrades in Arms.)

Huffington Post blogger Pauline Millard has another view of chick lit. It has evolved into a more thoughtful and better written form of mainstream women’s literature. “In the past year,” Millard writes, “a different breed of chick lit has appeared with smarter writing and characters. It’s notable not just for the content, but also for what it says about women, and what they are willing to read in their leisure time.” (See Chick Lit Grows Up)

Join the debate. Read Romance Novels, The Last Great Bastion Of Underground Writing by Maria Bustillos.

Richard Curtis
Note to readers: Digital Book World has invited me to post my blogs initially on its website before releasing them on E-Reads, and this content is re-published with DBW’s permission. Click here to view the original posting.

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Author’s Limbaugh-Bashing Hashtag Sparks Big Pushback

Outraged author Jessica Scott created the #iamnotaslut hashtag

Jessica Scott, an officer in the US Army and author of Because of You, a military love story published by Ballantine’s Loveswept imprint, hit the roof when she heard Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic remarks in response to a female student’s testimony in Congress.  So Scott created the hashtag ‘I am not a slut’.

It “went viral,” according to an interview with Scott in Buzzfeed. #iamnotaslut’ generated a flurry of anti-Limbaugh tweets and may have been responsible for the suspension or cancellation of advertising for his radio show.

Read more about Scott’s outraged reaction.

And for more about Scott and her recently published novel, see A Star is Born.

Richard Curtis

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Romance Readers Poll Votes Jessica Scott “Best Debut Author of 2011”

An All About Romance readers poll named Jessica Scott the Best Debut Author of 2011.  Here’s why…

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When Random House decided to relaunch its Loveswept romance line it sought authors whose gifts matched the company’s ambitious vision. And one of the first authors snapped up by publisher Sue Grimshaw for Loveswept’s list of original e-books was Jessica Scott. Today Jessica debuts with Because of You, an unflinching portrayal of two wounded souls struggling with self-doubt and self-loathing to find companionship, trust and, finally, love. Scott knows her military: she’s a career army officer. Read her unique bio here.

The advance raves for Because of You read like a Hall of Fame roster of romance greats.

# “Jessica Scott is an exciting new voice in romantic fiction who bursts upon the scene with an unputdownable debut novel! ”
New York Times Bestselling Author Robyn Carr

# “Edgy and current—and a truly satisfying love story. Put this book, Jessica Scott’s, BECAUSE OF YOU, on your “must read” list.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Suzanne Brockmann

# “Jessica Scott writes with a soldier’s heart. Because Of You is touching, authentic and a fantastic read.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Cindy Gerard

# “Crackling with realism, sizzling with sexual tension, and pulsing with emotion, Jessica Scott has penned an unforgettable military romance that delivers heartache and hope on every page.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Roxanne St. Claire

# “Authentic, emotional, and edgy, Jessica Scott’s sweeping military romance is a vivid snapshot of love, war, grief and–above all–hope.” –
Allison Brennan, NYT Bestselling Author of If I Should Die

# “Because of You is a powerful debut – emotional, heartbreaking and uplifting all at once, it’s a romance not to be missed!”
New York Times Bestselling Author Stephanie Tyler

# “Jessica Scott has written a beautiful love story filled with heart, tender emotion, unflinching honesty and gritty realism. Because of You is a military romance you will never forget!”
New York Times Bestselling Author Christy Reece

Jessica Scott

# “Jessica Scott writes an intense story, packed with realism and emotion. BECAUSE OF YOU will tug at your heartstrings.”
New York Times Bestselling Author
Laura Griffin

# “In BECAUSE OF YOU, Jessica Scott presents a realistic and emotionally gripping tale of life in and around the military. A wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to read the next in this compelling series.”
USA Today Bestselling Author Julie Kenner

# “Watch out Navy SEALS, there’s a new hero in town and he’s wearing Army gray! Because of You is a beautifully crafted, wonderfully emotional debut.”
New York Times Bestselling Author JoAnn Ross

# “BECAUSE OF YOU is a tough and tender romance that proves the one thing worth fighting for will always be true love. Jessica Scott is a vibrant new voice in contemporary romance!”
New York Times Bestselling author of GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART Teresa Medeiros

# “BECAUSE OF YOU is powerful, timely and wonderfully executed. Jessica Scott should be on every reader’s list.”
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

# Because of You is emotionally heart-wrenching and makes you smile as the characters triumph.
Mandi Schreiner, Happy Ever After – Blog Reviewer, USA Today

# “Military romance just got a whole lot better — Because of You — by Jessica Scott, who has created something sumptuous.”
Anne Woodall, Romance At Random Reviewer

# “I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in her trilogy. I give BECAUSE OF YOU an A.”
E -The BookPushers

Below, a trailer for the book, and an interview with the scintillating author.

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Why You Need to Care About Semicolons

When you start dating someone you will naturally want to know if he or she uses drugs.  It’s less likely you’ll want to know if he or she uses semicolons – unless you believe that the answer will lead to marriage. We can’t recall if it started that way for Virginia and Leonard Woolf or Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but we know from a recent wedding announcement in New York Times that that’s how it started for Jennifer Miller and Jason Feifer.

“Both were blasting through the often less-than-literate listings of online dating sites,” writes Andrew L. Yarrow, “when Mr. Feifer’s e-mail message on OKCupid.com caught Ms. Miller’s eye for reasons less romantic than grammatical. ‘He used a semicolon correctly; that was reason enough to get a drink with him,’ the 31-year-old author of Inheriting the Holy Land recalled.”

The rest is history, as you will see if you care to read details of their wedding announcement.

So, if you’re entering into a relationship and suspect your love object is scrutinizing your emails for solecisms, you might want to refresh your understanding of this subtle point of grammar.

Melissa Donovan in WritingForward.com has this to say about it:

#The semicolon establishes a close connection between two sentences or independent clauses.
#A semicolon can replace conjunctions and or but.
Semicolons indicate a stronger separation than a comma but weaker than a period.
#A semicolon is often used in lists to separate items when some of the items in listed subsets require commas.
#The semicolon is always followed by a lower case letter with proper nouns being the only exception (proper nouns are always capitalized).
#Semicolon use can be applied to separate two clauses or sentences that are saying the same thing in different ways.
#As with other punctuation marks that denote the end of a clause or sentence, there is no space between the semicolon and the word preceding it; there should be a single space after the semicolon.

Example:
#I love music; however, I haven’t played my own guitar in several years.
#I’m fascinated by names and their meanings; Melissa means honey bee.
#There’s nothing like the gentle drum of water hitting against the window pane; I love the rain.

So, lovers, remember this: when you email your beloved, pay heed to those semicolons; they could save your relationship.

Richard Curtis

 

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A Star Is Born

When Random House decided to relaunch its Loveswept romance line it sought authors whose gifts matched the company’s ambitious vision. And one of the first authors snapped up by publisher Sue Grimshaw for Loveswept’s list of original e-books was Jessica Scott. Today Jessica debuts with Because of You, an unflinching portrayal of two wounded souls struggling with self-doubt and self-loathing to find companionship, trust and, finally, love. Scott knows her military: she’s a career army officer. Read her unique bio here.

The advance raves for Because of You read like a Hall of Fame roster of romance greats.

# “Jessica Scott is an exciting new voice in romantic fiction who bursts upon the scene with an unputdownable debut novel! ”
New York Times Bestselling Author Robyn Carr

# “Edgy and current—and a truly satisfying love story. Put this book, Jessica Scott’s, BECAUSE OF YOU, on your “must read” list.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Suzanne Brockmann

# “Jessica Scott writes with a soldier’s heart. Because Of You is touching, authentic and a fantastic read.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Cindy Gerard

# “Crackling with realism, sizzling with sexual tension, and pulsing with emotion, Jessica Scott has penned an unforgettable military romance that delivers heartache and hope on every page.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Roxanne St. Claire

# “Authentic, emotional, and edgy, Jessica Scott’s sweeping military romance is a vivid snapshot of love, war, grief and–above all–hope.” –
Allison Brennan, NYT Bestselling Author of If I Should Die

# “Because of You is a powerful debut – emotional, heartbreaking and uplifting all at once, it’s a romance not to be missed!”
New York Times Bestselling Author Stephanie Tyler

# “Jessica Scott has written a beautiful love story filled with heart, tender emotion, unflinching honesty and gritty realism. Because of You is a military romance you will never forget!”
New York Times Bestselling Author Christy Reece

Jessica Scott

# “Jessica Scott writes an intense story, packed with realism and emotion. BECAUSE OF YOU will tug at your heartstrings.”
New York Times Bestselling Author
Laura Griffin

# “In BECAUSE OF YOU, Jessica Scott presents a realistic and emotionally gripping tale of life in and around the military. A wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to read the next in this compelling series.”
USA Today Bestselling Author Julie Kenner

# “Watch out Navy SEALS, there’s a new hero in town and he’s wearing Army gray! Because of You is a beautifully crafted, wonderfully emotional debut.”
New York Times Bestselling Author JoAnn Ross

# “BECAUSE OF YOU is a tough and tender romance that proves the one thing worth fighting for will always be true love. Jessica Scott is a vibrant new voice in contemporary romance!”
New York Times Bestselling author of GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART Teresa Medeiros

# “BECAUSE OF YOU is powerful, timely and wonderfully executed. Jessica Scott should be on every reader’s list.”
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

# Because of You is emotionally heart-wrenching and makes you smile as the characters triumph.
Mandi Schreiner, Happy Ever After – Blog Reviewer, USA Today

# “Military romance just got a whole lot better — Because of You — by Jessica Scott, who has created something sumptuous.”
Anne Woodall, Romance At Random Reviewer

# “I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in her trilogy. I give BECAUSE OF YOU an A.”
E -The BookPushers

Below, a trailer for the book, and an interview with the scintillating author.

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Rip Her Bodice? Dude, You Wouldn’t Know Where to Begin

Sorry, m'dear. After removing your corset I'm exhausted

Guys who fantasize themselves heroes of steamy Victorian romances had better bone up on the protocol for removing their mistress’s garments.  By the time you strip her to the buff she will have fallen asleep and your stallion lust will have flagged to the consistency of a biscuit dipped in tepid tea. The afternoon quickie, known as a nooning in those days, must in truth have been a painful slowie, unfolding from afternoon to tea time before all was in readiness for a frolic as milord fumbled with milady’s hooks, eyes, buttons and bows.

The truth is, a Victorian lady’s clothes and underwear were more complex than the equation for the Higgs Boson and no easier to solve.  How do we know this?  Romance novelist Deanne Gist acquired a collection of Victorian couture and donned it, then considered what it would take for a lover to remove it with as much alacrity as romance writers impute to the ardent male of the time.  Her conclusion made her rethink her own sex scenes and will certainly make her colleagues re-imagine theirs.

“At the recent Romance Writers of America’s annual convention in New York,” reports Daisy Dumas of the Daily Mail, “period novelists watched Ms Gist squeeze herself, with help, into 12 layers of imitation Victorian garments. Starting in nothing but her ‘unmentionables,’ Ms Gist’s aim was to illustrate just how historically inaccurate many period novels are. Taking an hour to dress, it would have taken the same amount of time to undress – and help in the form of a ladies’ maid would have been absolutely necessary.”

Geist’s experiment in seductive couture can be seen in this video. You’ll readily see that if you imagine being thrown back to the Victorian era for the opportunity to assault milady’s virtues, you’d best bring your Blackberry with you to follow the instructions for disrobing her. The corset alone is harder to pick than a brass padlock.

Romance novelist buys full set of Victorian undergarments to understand what makes a bodice-ripper

Richard Curtis

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Romance Sweeps New York Off Its Feet

The great big City's a wondrous toy/Just made for a girl and boy...

It happens every summer, but not always in New York. But this year it’s the Big Apple’s turn to play host to thousands of authors and publishing professionals convening for Romance Writers of America’s annual conference, the 31st since the event was initiated. It will take place at the Marriott Marquis from Tuesday June 28th through Friday July 1st and culminate in the 2011 RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony emceed by Meg Cabot. Madeline Hunter will give the keynote address, and Sherrilyn Kenyon will be the Awards Luncheon speaker.

For details visit the RWA website conference page.

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The World’s Greatest Like Stories

Thanks to Facebook human communications are in danger of deteriorating into grunts. Lengthy and eloquent descriptions of our emotional states have been reduced to “Like” and “Dislike”.

Nowhere is this lapse into monosyllables more distressing than romance. Had Facebook existed in Edmund Rostand’s day, wouldn’t this outpouring of Cyrano de Bergerac to his beloved Roxanne – “And what is a kiss, specifically? A pledge properly sealed, a promise seasoned to taste, a vow stamped with the immediacy of a lip, a rosy circle drawn around the verb ‘to love’ – been reduced to…

Cyrano “likes” Roxanne?

Would Juliet have clicked “Like” after viewing Romeo’s countenance? Or would she have used the long form:

Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay’;
And I will take thy word. Yet, if thou swear’st,
Thou mayst prove false. At lovers’ perjuries,
They say Jove laughs. O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully.

And how about this passage?

What longing!
What fearing!
To see her,
what desire!
The crash that I heard
behind me
was Death’s
door closing:
now once more it stands
wide open,
the sun’s beams
have burst it open;
with wide open eyes
I had to emerge from Night
to seek her,
to see her;
to find her,
in her alone
to expire,
to vanish
has it been granted to Tristan.

Had Tristan simply indicated he “Likes” Isolde, Wagner’s opera would have been curtailed by about five hours.

If this post appeals to you click “Like”.  Or send me a comment of 250 words or more.

Richard Curtis

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