Monday, November 8, 2010

What Makes Romance Awesome: Guest Post By Author Roni Loren!

So. Romance. Don't even think about denying you like it. :D

Romance rocks, folks. Whether it's front and center or a subplot, it keeps you turning those pages to see if the hero/heroine will nab that main squeeze or not. *crosses fingers* A lot of people say music is the universal language, and I'm all for that theory, but love has to be the sidekick. Why else did you pay to see TITANIC? (don't even think about denying you've seen it!!)

That, among other reasons based on the overall awesomeness of our guest blogger, is why author Roni Loren is talking to us today about... what else?

Romance. *le sigh*

Take it away, Roni!

What Makes Romance Awesome

First, thanks so much for inviting me to guest blog over here! Anyplace called Operation Awesome is a place I'm excited to hang out. :)

So, I've been asked to talk about what makes romance awesome. Well, wow, that's a big topic.

First, let me start by saying I didn't start off planning to be a romance writer. Growing up, I mostly read YA, suspense, and horror. But it wasn't because I didn't want to read romance, I just honestly was unaware of its existence. My mom read suspense and thrillers, so I never really was exposed to the genre. However, anytime I ran across a book that had a romantic subplot in it--I devoured it. So I think my attraction to the genre was always there. I even attempted to write a YA romance at fifteen (without realizing that's what it was).

So when I started writing seriously two years ago, I automatically went to a love story. That first book, which I now lovingly refer to as my "practice novel", was a YA paranormal romance. I had a ton of fun writing it and learned a lot, but had beta readers complaining that my romance plot was "too hot" for YA. Oops.

All right, I love a good make-out scene, what can I say? But it got me to thinking--maybe I needed to play to what I liked best and what seemed to be my strength. So, after my first novel died a slow form rejection death, I decided--hey, what the heck, I'll give this adult romance thing a go. Well, I fell in love. THIS was my genre. Two books later, I signed with an agent and now have a two-book deal with Berkley. Yay! So romance has turned out to be a very awesome thing for me.

But who cares if it's awesome for me, why could it be awesome for you? Well, let's see....

First let's define the genre (From RWA website):

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
An Emotionally-Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love. 
Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction. 

What Makes Romance Awesome

1. Happy Ending Guaranteed
I'm a big proponent of the happy ending and a romance novel guarantees that. Yes, I know, in real life things don't always end happily, but that is exactly why I want my happy ending in a book. Life is tough enough already, reading for me is about escape and fantasy. I don't want to be depressed after finishing a book.

2. There is something for everyone.
There are so many subgenres of romance that anyone can find something they like: paranormal, contemporary, historical, romantic comedy, futuristic/sci-fi, steampunk, fantasy, you name it.

3. You can choose how sexy you want your story.
Just like the subgenres, there are heat levels. If you blush at the sexy stuff or maybe it doesn't jive with your religious beliefs, you can go for sweet, inspirational romance where there is nothing more than a kiss. Or, if you're like me and love to throw the bedroom doors open on those characters, you can go all the way to no-holds-barred erotic romance (which by the way is what I write.) There's also everything in between those two ends of the spectrum.

4. Romance is a best-selling genre even in a bad economy.
Even with the economic downturn, the romance genre is going strong. Romance readers are VORACIOUS readers. It's not uncommon for romance readers to devour a couple of books a week.

5. The support for writers in the romance community is ridiculously awesome.
The Romance Writers of America is a highly active organization. The local chapter and national chapters are so focused on supporting writers and educating them. It's really amazing. I went to the RWA National conference this year and I was stunned at how unbelievable the resources and my fellow writers are.

6. Publishing options are vast.
Romance was one of the front runners in the ebook industry, doing it way before a lot of other genres. Therefore, there are tons of epubs looking for romance--especially if you write the sexier stuff. Also, if you prefer shorter form instead of full length novels, you can try your hand at category romance (55k-65k), which are primarily published through Harlequin's many imprints.

7. It's fun (and hard!) to write.
There are people who look down their nose at romance--it's formulaic, it's girl porn, it's easy to write. *snort* This gets my feathers all ruffled. First, if someone thinks it's easy, I tell them to try their hand at one. Secondly, the only thing that's formulaic is that it has to have a happy ending--everything else is fair game. And don't even get me started on the girl porn argument. As an erotic romance author who spent months working on my characters, their motivations, and their backstories to create a full, rich story, I'm not even going to go there.

And most of all what makes romance awesome is that it makes your readers feel good. Romances might make you cry, laugh, get angry, scared, or worried, but you know, at the end of the day, you're going to get that warm, fuzzy feeling that a happy ending brings. The feeling that all can be right in the world sometimes and that people who are meant to be together can find each other. Because as everyone realizes at some point in their life, there is nothing more powerful than love.

So, what do you think? Are you a romance reader or writer? Why or why not? What makes romance awesome to you?

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. After earning a master’s degree in social work from LSU, she worked in a mental hospital, counseled birthmothers as an adoption coordinator, and did management recruiting in her PJs. But she always returned to writing. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars concerts. Her debut novel, EXPOSURE THERAPY, will be published by Berkley Heat in early 2012. 


Rachel Harris said...

Awesome post. Romances are so much fun to read and write, and you are right--there are so many levels to the industry. You can make it as sweet or as sexy as you are comfortable with. Who doesn't love a good romance? I limked to this post today on my blog

Rachel Harris said...

Um, yeah, LINKED to it today. woops

Amparo Ortiz said...

Thanks, Rachel!!

Have to agree with Roni regarding the hotness factor of books. As writers, it's totally up to you. As readers, same thing... but I do believe one must always step outside their comfort zone. That's the only way we'll ever frowned writers.

Thanks again, Roni!!

Amparo Ortiz said...

*only way we'll ever learn* Sorry :D

Kell Andrews said...

I love seeing windows into other genres. One reason I write MG is because I don't have to worry about writing sexy scenes *blush*

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Thank you for this awesome post, Roni! My first books were hard to categorize, as well. I think it's common to think you're writing in one genre only to find out later you were actually writing a middle grade steampunk with supernatural elements. Hee hee. Maybe not THAT common.

I'm so glad you found your calling in romance. I'm a sucker for romance and can't read a book or watch a film without at least SOME romance. Happy endings are a must!

Amparo, I'm loving this genre series! I wish I'd stumbled upon something like this when I was first trying to find my place genre-wise as a writer. So, so helpful!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Awesome post, Roni! I'm still figuring out where I best fit as a writer. I think I'm shifting from PB to chapter books. Too bad chapter books are such a tough market!! LOL. :-)

Angi Morgan said...

As always, you write a great blog, Roni! I turned back to romance reading for the Happily Ever After. I like that the Hero always gets his girl, but it also guarantees character growth. Both protagonists have to grow and change in order to be complete for their partner. I really like that.


Kimberly said...

Wow, great post! That has a lot of awesome info. Thanks!

Tara McClendon said...

Great post. I love romance because of the happy endings. :]

Keisha Martin Romance Writer said...

Great post Roni, Yes I love to read romance that is steamy and any genre I write will always have a romance but I tend to make my reader suffer for the happy ending yeah its cruel but when my characters get together woo hoo the fire works, therefore I am hoping to make my paranormal ya romance a tad steamy.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Awesome Roni! Romance is definitely a fun genre-I think the happy ending part is why it stays strong even in a bad economy!

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Great post. IMO, sexual tension is the best kind of tension to write. I can't imagine doing a book without it.

And...though it wasn't respected in Jane Austin's day and still sometimes isn't today, Romance is important because picking a mate is still the most important decision anyone makes in their lifetime.

Jenn said...

I personally love romance! Who doesn't love a hero that makes you swoon and a spunky heroine that makes you cheer for them? Hats off to the people that write the steamy romances though. I've tried it before and it was harder than pulling teeth lol

Unknown said...

Great post! Romance is always going to sell well, we all need our dose of hunk'n'hope ;)

Anonymous said...

Great post, Roni! Thans for sharing your thoughts about romance--sounds like a lot of fun to write! :D Congrats on your book deals!

DawnB said...

Great post, Roni. Romance is awesome. Love that chemistry between the hero and heroine, and I'm sucker for a happy ending.

Tahlia said...

Good post Roni, it's helpful to have the genre parameters explained. I guess my WIP falls into the romance category, though I never set out to write a romance. The subplots and underlying themes are as important as the romance though, so I guess it crosses genre a bit.

Like you, I want a happy ending in my reading. Hell, life is full enough of misery. Who wants to be left with more of it at the end of a book.

E. Arroyo said...

I love romance. I too love the chemestry and sometimes conflict within the characters. It's great. Great post!

Heather said...

Excellent post Roni! You're absolutely right on every point! Romance rocks.

Roni Loren said...

Thanks so much for having me and thanks for all the comments! It's great to hear how many people love romance like I do. :)

Sasha Barin said...

I love romance books. I've been reading EVERYTHING I could get my hands on since I was six or so. Find me a teen boy whose first favorite books were Gone With The Wind, Jane Eyre and Angelique/Marquise of Angels. Seriously. History, Romance, SciFi/Fantasy, I just ate it all, and still do. For romance, the characters got to be right (I can't stand whiny/completely helpless ones), and I could go with either "yay" or "nay" ending, to be honest, as long as the ending's right and not a complete downer AKA "Everyone Dies".
I have nothing but respect for writers of every sort, but romance especially - the community's just lovely. I am in the process of setting up a little venture as cover artist for e-books, and I really can't wait to work on covers for romance books. No, it doesn't have anything to do with me taking photos of nude women... and men... Ahem.
Anyhow, one question I have is: I'd like to find GOOD romance written by a male writer. I know Angelique cycle which I like was co-written by a male writer, but what about something contemporary? It's got to be a little different? I'm very curious about everyone's opinions - and I know "good" is relative, but still!

Sasha Barin said...

Aaand I didn't look at the date of this post!