Readers, Writers and Protagonists Setting Healthy Boundaries

Warning: This post makes references to violence and sexual assault. If you'd rather skip this post, we completely understand.  Note: Much of what I share in this post I've learned from taking empowerment self-defense and martial arts classes at an organization called El HaLev. Learn more by reading or watching "Beauty Bites Beast" by Ellen Snortland. Melina Kantor ~ By Melina Kantor It seems to happen more often than not. I'm getting into a book, grateful for some much needed down time, and then. . . The hero shows up unexpectedly and unwanted someplace where the heroine feels safe. Maybe it's her home. Maybe it's her workplace. Maybe it's a coffee shop where she goes to unwind. The heroine asks him to go away. He doesn't leave. And then a few lines later, he's kissing her. Worse, the heroine finds this romantic. And I'm not talking about erotica, romantic suspense, adventurous paranormal romance, science fiction or even dark romance. I'm talking about my favorite genre - contemporary romance. The most recent book I've read with this scenario has a pink cover with cupcakes on it. Nothing bad is supposed to happen in a book with cupcakes on it. Right? In my opinion, which I admit might be unpopular, behavior like this is completely and totally unacceptable and belongs in one of David Schwimmer's videos on sexual harassment, not a romance novel. Am I being over sensitive? It's fine if you think so and I might not convince you otherwise. Just please consider this. As romance writers, our audiences include: Think that last one is the exception and not the rule? I wish it were. Sadly:
That is a huge percentage of our readers, and I believe that it's important to be aware that a woman who has experienced certain types of trauma (or any woman, for that matter) might see certain gestures, like showing up outside a woman's window while she sleeps and blasting a love song, or a sudden, surprise kiss that comes out of absolutely nowhere, as more intrusive than romantic. [caption id="attachment_7904" align="alignright" width="336"]Riley and Ben kiss Ben, who Riley has had a crush on since childhood, kisses her by surprise. Look at her hands. Does she look happy or comfortable? (Photo Credit: Baby Daddy, ABC Family/Free Form)[/caption] The good news is that we, as authors of contemporary romance, have a great opportunity to write protagonists who set healthy boundaries and serve as comforting role models. Even better, we have the honor of providing women with tools they can use to keep themselves emotionally and physically safe. But how do we, and the characters we bring to life, figure out and set healthy boundaries? The answer to that is all about assertiveness. Before we talk about what assertiveness is, let's talk about what it is not

The Passive Protagonist

We all need to be safe before we can thrive.

~ Ellen Snortland

The passive protagonist allows her boundaries to be crossed. Love and War and Snow is possibly my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls. It's so cozy and delightful. [caption id="attachment_7888" align="alignright" width="234"]Max and Lorelai Photo Credit: IMDB[/caption] Except for the part where Lorelai puts up a boundary, which literally involves her front door, and then proceeds to let Max, a man she hasn't known long, trample all over it, much like the guy in the song, "Baby it's Cold Outside."
LORELAI: See, I have really strict rules about dating. I keep my personal life totally separate from my life with Rory. You know, I never want her to feel unsettled or like her life could just shift at any moment.
That could not be more clear, yet max and starts to push:
MAX: What if I promised you that if you let me in, all I'm expecting is a cup of coffee, that's it. Nothing weird or funny. Unless, of course, you're into weird and funny. . . LORELAI: Max!
And then he pushes even more:
MAX: At some point in your life you're gonna have to decide that some guy is worth opening that front door for. I am just volunteering.
Here's Lorelai's passive response:
[Lorelai opens the front door and starts to walk inside. She turns back to him.] LORELAI: Would you like some coffee? [Max smiles and follows her inside]
The next morning, Rory is not exactly thrilled when she finds Max, her teacher, asleep on her couch. At best, Max's behavior is severe chutzpah. At worst, behavior like Max's could, in some cases, be a precursor to date rape. Either way, in this situation, Lorelai is not safe emotionally or physically. So how could she, or the relationship possibly thrive (even with the help of a thousand yellow daisies - which were a problem in themselves)?

The Aggressive Protagonist

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.
The aggressive Protagonist crosses other people's boundaries. For example (language alert):
  No doubt Sally had a right to be angry. And she was dealing with Harry, so there was no real threat of physical danger. In real life though, and by extension our books, a slap like that, with swearing to top it off, could escalate the situation and put Sally in danger. (And imagine if Harry had slapped Sally. Not cool.) Here are two more classic scenes that we all love but should not use as examples for our own protagonists:
  Hilarious, right? Not to mention entertaining. The problem? Julia's rant was filled with things Ray Don could argue with or even just comment on, which could make the challenge of staying at the table and pushing Julia's buttons more appealing. The rant creates a game that has the potential to become dangerous. And by being insulting, she's crossing his boundaries when all she needs to do is put up her own.
  Again, classic and fabulous. The problem is that a door slam, like Sally's slap, has the potential to escalate the conflict. A door slam is aggressive and, as you can see, does not prevent Stan from returning. So what should Sally, Julia, and Dorothy have done? To answer that, let's talk about what assertiveness is.

The Assertive Protagonist

"No" is a complete sentence. ~ Anne Lamott
The assertive protagonist does not allow her boundaries to be crossed. I hope it goes without saying, but assertive does NOT mean bitchy. More importantly, leather jackets, combat boots, or even the ability to fight don't necessarily mean much (and can even turn readers off). What matters is that our readers connect and identify with protagonists who set and protect their boundaries, regardless of their personalities or body types. The examples of boundary crossing that we've talked about so far could have been taken care of with two simple words: "Go away!" ("Back off!" and "NO!" work too.) Or by simply just walking away. And when "go away" or the more polite "please leave" don't work, the phrases can be repeated until the boundary crosser gives up. They work because:
  1. There's no way to misunderstand, misinterpret, argue or contradict those statements.
  2. They aren't accusatory.
  3. They are clear.
  4. They don't present a challenge.
  5. They show that the encounter is over, thus ending the power trip and thrill.
Remember that volume is important, but it's possible to be loud and firm without hysteria or yelling. Here's another Gilmore Girls example in which Chris crosses Lorelai's boundaries by forcing his way into Lorelai's childhood home. The problem isn't the argument itself. The problem is that Lorelai engages him by arguing, which is why he doesn't leave. But look at how Emily solves the problem: Here are some more examples of assertiveness for you (notice that there's no need to turn to Wonder Woman or Supergirl, as wonderful as they are, as examples):
 

Creating an Assertive Protagonist

Your protagonist can be sweet as pie, polite and soft spoken, and extremely kind, yet remain assertive. When we create character profiles, many of us spend time figuring out things like what our protagonist carries around in her purse. But we can also do exercises to help us figure out what gives our protagonist confidence, and what she values about herself. Why not start now? Exercise 1: On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being relaxed and feeling completely safe, 5 being completely freaked out and uncomfortable, how okay is your protagonist with the following scenarios (feel free to leave a comment with additional scenarios):
  • A man she's just met tells her that her smile is sexy.
  • A coworker, either male or female, returns from a trip and greets her with a hug.
  • A guy she's been on three dates with shows up at her house without calling first to drop off an earring that fell off in his car.
  • A guy she's been going out with calls her every night and texts her at least 3 times a day.
There are no right or wrong answers here. Your protagonist gets to decide what's okay, without providing one word of justification or feeling even one ounce of guilt. Exercise 2:
  • Write a scene in which your protagonist sets a boundary.
-- and / or --
  • Write a romantic scene in which your hero respects a boundary set by your heroine.

Consent is Romantic

We don't need surprise unwanted visits, kisses or sexual advances to add romance to our novels. One of the most romantic things a hero can do is be aware of your heroine's boundaries, which can be even more romantic than knowing her favorite type of chocolate or coffee. A true hero understands when a woman needs a night to be home alone, do her laundry and order take out, and that some nights, a woman might want to watch her favorite show with him but not talk and not touch. See? How sweet, not to mention hot, is this?
 

New comic! SWEET! Tag someone with the sweetest moves! www.lunarbaboon.com

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So. I think the time has come to raise a glass and make a toast. Here's to our safety, the safety of our protagonists, and the safety of our readers. Here's to true, boundary-filled, love! To those things, we can all shout, "YES!"

*What are some of the boundaries you set for your characters (or for yourself)? Please share in the comments!

* If you'd like to continue talking about boundary setting, I strongly encourage you to join the group Women Setting Healthy Boundaries, which is run by one of my fabulous self-defense teachers. You'll love the videos she posts every week, and I promise you'll be inspired. *

Melina writes contemporary romance with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. She loves to travel, especially to her family’s village in Crete, and turn her adventures into research for her novels.  In July of 2012, she moved from New York to Jerusalem with her adorable but sneaky cocker spaniel. Her family now includes an incredibly sweet yet troubled rescue puppy. Melina likes the color pink, baking, daffodils, teaching girls to code, running her small business, learning to use power tools, practicing self-defense, Krav Maga and karate, and breaking cinder blocks with her fist. All three of the protagonists in the trilogy she's currently working on study empowerment self-defense. You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com.

Metamorphosis: Romance Trash-Talker to Romance Reader-Writer

How I fell into the lustful and loving arms of Contemporary Romance Novels…

rissa~ By Rissa Brahm Note: This post originally appeared here. Confession! Only a year and a half ago I was a full-fledged trash-talking anti-romance-novel snob! A total Judgy Judy bitch (!in my mind, not out loud!) toward anyone reading or writing “that smut, that waste-of time crap with the mushy happy endings!” And now? Now, not only can I not get through my towering (virtual Kindle) pile of to-be-reads (my go-to genre is of course hot contemporary) but I’ve run my fingers and wrists ragged having completed three novels of my debut series! And my head and heart continue to spin on—far beyond books four and five of my Paradise South series. There are just so many more stories and characters and conflicts to write! It all started with my mother, and it pretty much runs a full circle, which you’ll see in a bit. So, I was a curious little girl…but I was a “good” little girl, too. Danielle Steel novels stared at me from my mom’s book shelf… butnever did I dare open one. That would be disgusting of me! No one spoke to me about sex and my folks’ relationship had been very…well, hands-off. I mean, I wasn’t supposed to do anything I’d be “ashamed to tell my dad about.” The fact that mom nor dad ever spoke to me about intercourse, love, intimacy, or anything else likely tucked behind those crazy-and-explicit Danielle Steel covers… Needless to say, I kinda got the shame-laced message loud and clear.

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Now I realize that I most definitely wanted to peek, to open, to indulge, to fulfill my curiosity! I’ve learned about myself as a woman—as a sexual, feeling being—through reading and writing romance (more on this another time.) But the point is, as I got older, my romance-novel-snobbery deepened and surfaced—all at the same time. I’d been an English/Creative Writing major in college. Literature—that was “of my level.” And I would someday write that—literature! Until I left school early to enter the wonderful world of small business—the family business. My husband’s side was in hospitality: restaurants, hotels, even RV Resorts, and being my father’s daughter (he’s a CPA/Attorney/Computer programmer, F.F. Sakes), I took immediate control of the financial and administrative reins. The part in me that dreamed of writing “literary” fiction (however horrendous my dribble was then LOL) got back-burnered. After twenty years of being a small woman in a “big-man’s corporate world,” the recession of 2008 hit. The economic downturn slammed the family business in the face and the gut—then stomped on its foot for good measure. After tying up loose ends, by 2014, I found myself jobless. Here comes the gorgeous glittering golden lining! Jobless and without a college degree, what the hell to do? I started freelancing—more admin. stuff that I was tremendous at but that I totally flippin’ despised. I cringed through it until my mother suggested that perhaps I try beta reading/proofreading fiction, and romance novels seemed to be the most prevalent fiction out there. “For at least a little side money,” she’d said. “Ick, romance?” But really, who the hell was I to be on a high horse? I listened to my mother, for once, thank GOD!

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First I had to get a few romances under my belt because how can you beta read romance if you don’t read it—or any genre anymore since because the family business had taken me 24/7/365. Anyway, Jane Austin’s Pride & Prejudice (“forced” on me in high school, already) became my baby step into the genre. Still reluctant and haughty-as-hell about the whole thing, “At least P&P isliterature,” I’d said to myself. Plus, I admitted in my head, I held the teensiest interest regarding my possible change in perspective of the story after two decades and a marriage and kid later. Result—the re-read of Pride & Prejudice thrilled me! It had the HEA I remembered but I didn’t cringe! The HEA had been earned, Elizabeth’s strength and voice remained intact, and symbiosis had been reached! And, OMG, Mr. Darcey—enough said! (Sidebar: tall, silent types happen to be among my favorite heroes.) Anyway, the hooks were in me. I moved onto contemporary romance recommendations. Those that hit me: Jojo Moyes, Me Before You (no HEA, more a love story, but I was great with that), then the HFN sequel After You . I followed those with some hotter stuff: Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, Jasinda Wilder’s Falling series, Laura Kaye’s novella Hearts in Darkness, Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss series; Laurelin Paige, Megan Hart, Maya Banks, Colleen Hoover and on and on (and that’s a lot of reading for the damn-slow reader that I am, by the way!) But after a bunch of books under my belt, I felt ready-ish and actually excited to take on a few beta projects. Not only did I love beta reading for unpublished romance writers—I loved critiquing them, breaking them down, contriving in my head deeper conflicts to be had and twists to be added—but, low and behold, my own stories started swirling around my head. My own stories? Yes—my own plots and arcs with my own strong female characters who had things to learn and identities to figure out before being open to/ready for the love and lust of and with another. Shit, I wanted to write! And I wanted to write romance!?! I said screw it and began. From October 2014 to now I have been writing FT and now my debut 5-book series is 80% done and I’m busting my ass to finish for scheduled incremental roll-out starting this spring. A transformation has been made—from a condescending and conceited romance-novel caterpillar to a gratified, thankful, and proud romance reading-and-writing butterfly (one that’s just unfolding its wings!) Thanks mom, thanks inspirational romance authors, and thanks future readers! Here’s to spreading some fluttering feelings and hot sparks to more and more romance trash-talkers and haters (like the former-me) throughout the world ;-)! Have you had to defend your love for romance? How did it go down? And, has reading romance taught/changed/widened your perspectives on women’s sexuality? If so, how? What books stand out to you?

Contemporary romance author Rissa Brahm grew up in New York and has since lived in all four corners of the United States, and beyond. The beautiful paradise of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico—the core setting of her soul-deep & sensual debut series, Paradise South—is Rissa’s most recent and beloved home.

When not chained-by-choice to her MacBook, she is embarking on outdoor adventures with her husband and little girl, eating amazing Indian food with something chocolate for dessert; reading good, hot scorchers in bed; biking, long walks, and yoga; zoning out to killer music from across the decades and the globe; and getting lost only to discover a new exciting route home again.

Tempting Isabel, Book 1 of the Paradise South series, launches May 24, 2016, followed by Taking Jana, and Catching Preeya in June and July. To learn more about Rissa and her romances, visit her website or shout out to her on Facebook or Twitter

Check out Rissa's giveaway

Writing Contemporary [REPOST]

ProfessionalPic~ By Victoria Pinder I was describing the plots of my two books due out the week of my wedding, (God has a funny sense of humor sometimes), and my friend laughed at one part of the plot and said ‘you watched soaps once.’ My answer is yes I did. I was once a huge Days of Our Lives fan. I cheered when Carrie finally slapped Sami for all her evil deeds, but once upon a time, I liked Sami and Lucas too. I wanted to be Hope and marry a man like Bo Brady who loved her, despite everything. And the villains were just fun. Vivian dancing on Carly’s grave after she buried her alive was twisted and fun. A few years back I was almost pulled back into my soap, when Nicole and EJ were married and that couple was just fun. But the show acted like evil manipulative Sami was the soap queen who did no wrong, and I wasn’t interested. But at some point, contemporary romance writers should all watch soap operas or the prime time soap operas that are prevalent these days. Dallas, 90210, Revenge, almost all shows, all have the elements of a good story. Historicals are light, fluffy fun where we read about ball gowns and the ton and finding a husband, and I love to read them. Yet contemporaries have this ability to creep into our hearts because we can relate to the characters in a different way. A contemporary has todays look and feel, but personally I don’t want to read in a romance about some city’s skid row. My books take place in Paris, the nice parts of Miami, or upcoming the political world of Boston and Cape Cod, and a cruise ship. Chaperoning Paris is about a cancer survivor falls in love with his high school girlfriend who aborted their child and left town. (This could never be historical as she’d be stoned, and her mother forced the teenage’s decisions.) It’s at the heart of the story a reunion romance where love can’t be denied. It’s so different from Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush which is a fun read where Penelope has a gold digging mother, and Penelope never wants to fall for any rich man. Jay was her high school crush, and he needs a date. Penelope is perfect for his plans, and despite their differences they fall in love. The one I’m working on now is jet setting around. So we still have this element of here but different. Yet the characters get to act like how we might react. In a historical, the goal for the female is either to find a husband or avoid a certain man for a husband. It’s why I gravitate towards contemporary and those delicious soap opera moments. If I want my heroine to be able to slap someone like Carrie slapped Sami, then Sami better well deserve it. Carrie took a lot of the manipulation because she was good and honest and wouldn’t believe her own sister would drug the boyfriend so she could marry him. Carrie needed the light to be shown at her for her to march into the manipulator’s wedding to the ‘baby daddy’ only to find out her sister lied about who the father was too. Sami deserved the slap, and in writing contemporary if the heroine needs to slap someone, the lesson is better make sure the reader wants her to take the swing. What else I learned from soaps and the Bo, Hope, Billie triangle is that no one needs to be a villain. If the characters are human, then no one is pure evil. Bo thought Hope dead. He moved on. Hope returned with no memory of who she was. Yet the love broke through, and Bo was conflicted. Stick to his new wife, or follow his heart. In not cheating, but in longing, Bo made the perfect hero in a triangle. His honor was the problem. And ultimately the new wife walked because she saw how tortured Bo was over the whole thing. The lesson for the writer in this is our greatest strengths are also the biggest weaknesses. Honor is a sexy thing for a man to have in this day and age. Men don’t get out and come to the door on the date, so Bo had this larger than life quality of romance and honor that men just don’t always show. And on the prime times, the settings are key. No one is living in the back alley, or maybe there is one but she’s about to be swept into the glittery world of the rich. Even a rancher story is about an established rancher with no money issues. Perhaps there are books that don’t fit this mold, but I don’t read them. (I’d love to be told of a romance that isn’t someone financially stable without the worry of money.) In Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush, Penelope returns home to Miami, but she’s not heading into Hialeah or Overtown or Calle Ocho to live. Heck she might be unsaid looking for a place in Kendall, but even that is too middle of the road for her. No, she’s about to move into Coconut Grove, hang out in Coral Gables, and of course go to a party on South Beach. These are the rich sections of town, where the millionaires and billionaires of the world own property. And that party on South Beach takes out the realism of pretentiousness that permeates the air that locals go to, and it’s all about the mystique of the Miami tourists see. We’re not discussing the face eating zombie druggie that made national news (though I do have a friend who writes vampire tales and that might fit into her Miami vampire. I’m unsure.) But for romance, ensure that people want to visit and see the places we write about. If the story includes a bit of gothic or mystery, the scare is always acceptable. But even then I’ve not read a romance where it’s the poor violent section of town that you’d avoid. So my advice to any contemporary romance writer is to pay attention to the soaps, even the prime time ones. Takes not on the love story arches that made the show memorable. Ignore the horrible stories that turned you off. But if you are interested in the transformation story that a character went through or the tenacity in business that someone has… take notes. What is it really about the character or the setting. If in the future, I write a hero that has honor such as Bo Brady, it’s not suddenly fan fiction with new names. Now if you steal all the characters and situations, then you have a bigger issue. But for one snippet of a human characteristics, you’re fine. Contemporaries allows us to write what we love. We have today’s world and rules where we don’t have to search for a husband. This makes writing and reading contemporaries delicious. And pay attention to the stories you’re drawn to as a reader because it helps when you write what you love. So I own up entirely to once loving the fun Days Of Our Lives in the past, and I’m hoping that post Alison Sweeney’s departure, who knows, I might get back into the show. Perhaps not. New life with the new husband is dawning, and life is an adventure waiting for all of us.)
Victoria Pinder grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She’s worked in engineering, after passing many tests proving how easy Math came to her. Then hating her life at the age of twenty four, she decided to go to law school. Four years later, after passing the bar and practicing very little, she realized that she hates the practice of law. She refused to one day turn 50 and realize she had nothing but her career and hours at a desk. After realizing she needed change, she became a high school teacher. Teaching is rewarding, but writing is a passion.
 
During all this time, she always wrote stories to entertain herself or calm down. Her parents are practical minded people demanding a job, and Victoria spent too many years living other people’s dreams, but when she sat down to see what skill she had that matched what she enjoyed doing, writing became so obvious. The middle school year book when someone wrote in it that one day she’d be a writer made sense when she turned thirty.
 
Besides her full time job of teaching, in 2013 and 2014, she sold on her own sold books to three different publishers. The Zoastra Affair, Chaperoning Paris, Borrowing the Doctor, and Electing Love will be published from Soul mate Publishing. Mything the Throne will be published with Double Dragon Ebooks. Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush will be published with Jupiter Press.
 
Now she is represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency and she hopes to continue selling her novels that she writes. Moving up to the next level from hard work and determination is rewarding, and partnerships bring new opportunities.
 
Also she’s the Vice President of Programs for the Florida Romance Writers. She’s gone to multiple conferences and intends to continue. She learns and meets so many people at conferences. Her website is www.victoriapinder.com, and she’ll continue to grow my web presence. She is working hard on other projects and found the time to plan her wedding this year.
 
Before writing, her father had taken her to many star trek conventions and on her own she grew up as the only girl in the 90s at the comic book store. Science Fiction was her first love, but contemporary romance was her second. She’s sticking with contemporaries for the near future.
 
Member of Florida Romance Writers, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA, Celtic Hearts and Savvy Authors.
Visit Victoria online at:
Website:  http://www.victoriapinder.com Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Pinder-also-writing-as-Greta-Buckle/294685373900979 Twitter:    http://twitter.com/victoriapinder Tumblr:    victoriapinder.tumblr.com Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/victoriapinder/ Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=200859737&trk=hb_tab_pro_top Google+: https://plus.google.com/105161432419802350109/posts/p/pub  
 

Writing of Love

Marilyn Brant--author photo~ By Marilyn Brant  Note: This post originally appeared here Because February is the “Month of Love,” after all, I thought I’d talk about something related to it. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently… Since I’m a writer who enjoys shifting between genres, I’ve found it interesting that I’ll sometimes get questions on one of the genres I write that I don’t get on the others. For example, no one yet has ever asked me why I like writing mysteries. They’ve never wanted to know if my coming-of-age mystery The Road to You is based on any of my real-life experiences or how I learned about firearms and explosives or if I’ve ever killed someone. (For the record, I haven’t.) Likewise, the readers of my contemporary women’s fiction books have never asked me why I’ve written several novels in that genre. They’ve asked me to explain what women’s fiction isexactly, but never about my motivations for writing the stories themselves. Romance, however, has been an entirely different experience. At least once every month or so, I’ll run into somebody (online or off) who’ll express his/her curiosity about why I’ve chosen to write several books in this genre. Their theories vary from editorial pressure (i.e., “You have to have sex in your books, don’t you? The editors make you do it because sex sells…”) to personal wish fulfillment (i.e., “It’s fun to write about sex, isn’t it? You can make your characters do all kinds of, um, interesting things that would be exciting to try out in real life, like, you know, the things those Fifty Shades of Grey characters do…”) to lack of narrative ideas (i.e., “It’s got to beeasy to write about romance, right? And, hey, if you need any other story ideas, I just heard some juicy gossip about_____, and, let me tell you, my love life is pretty wild…”) Don’t get me wrong, I’m always open to fresh stories ideas . But I’ve never written romance because I figured it would be a simple task or that it would give me a reason to get a voyeuristic play-by-play on the intimacies of other people’s love lives. Never in my entire publishing career have I been forced into writing a sex scene. And, on the flip side, I’ve never shied away from writing one if I felt the characters and the plot of a particular book warranted it. I’ve written novels with quite a number of sex scenes (According to Jane), just a few of them (On Any Given Sundae), and none at all (Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match). The type of story and the behavior of the characters themselves are what determine whether it’s going to be a sweet tale or a steamy one. And, yes, while writing romance can definitely be “fun,” it’s not merely what the characters do in the bedroom that makes it so. I write romance because I adore love stories. Because the very act of two people “falling in love” is something I consider miraculous and one of life’s greatest gifts. I write romance because, while sad and tragic things do happen in our everyday world, sometimes incredibly wonderful things happen as well. The joy of two people meeting, learning about each other and themselves and, ultimately, discovering that there’s no one else they want to spend their lives with more than this other person…well, in my opinion, that’s real-life magic. And, c’mon, what’s not to love about writing stories like that?! Do you have a favorite romance novel? One you simply loved reading (or, perhaps, writing)? I’d love to hear about it! Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. 

Interview / Q&A With Kensington Editor Peter Senftleben

The Contemporary Romance Writers Chapter is thrilled to have Peter Senftleben, Associate Editor at Kensington Books, here today to share his expertise on contemporary romance! Please pull up a chair and get a pen and paper, because you’re going to want to take notes on the awesome and useful advice Peter has laid out here for writers at all levels. Afterward, stick around for Q&A with Peter. Post your questions as a comment and he'll be available to answer.   

ABOUT PETER

Peter 2015Peter Senftleben is an associate editor at Kensington Books, where he is managing his own varied and distinguished list.  He joined Kensington in 2006 after sharpening his editorial skills and red pencil while working at literary agencies.  A graduate of Tulane University with a degree in chemical engineering and math (yes, math), Peter occasionally indulges the numbers side of his brain with a challenging Sudoku puzzle or by baking, but he can more often be seen watching trashy television shows. Peter is currently acquiring many types of fiction; his interests include: mysteries, thrillers, psychological suspense, literary commercial fiction, all subgenres of romance at all heat levels, gay fiction, horror, and new adult.  Peter is often drawn to quirky, offbeat projects with distinctive voices, stunning writing, realistic characters, and stories that will make him LOL (literally), cry in public, scare the bejeezus out of him, or engage him so deeply that he skips meals.  He does not want to see anything with terrorists of any kind. Follow Peter on Twitter

 

INTERVIEW

by Abigail Owen   CR: What do you think a great contemporary romance must have? PS: For me, it’s not that different from other romance subgenres. I want characters who have great chemistry, whom I like and want to see together, and who face realistic obstacles, either internally or externally. I still see a lot of romances where the things keeping the main couple apart feel forced and/or easily overcome, and that doesn’t make for a very interesting story to me. I’m also a sucker for sharp banter, but that depends on the tone of the book. I love when I’m nearing the end of a romance and I start to believe that there’s no way this couple will end up together—even though I know they will; if you can make their black moments so deep and dark that I question a happy ending, it makes the resolution so much sweeter. CR: What influences your decision to read a submission most (ex. topic, a great query letter, synopsis, it varies)? PS: The query letter is still very important because I just don’t have the time to read even a few pages of every submission I get. (Some agents and editors differ on this, so make sure to check submission guidelines!) For contemporary romance especially, I hope to see some sort of hook in the query that will set it apart from all of the others that are already on the shelf, on my list, or about to come out. I also like to get a sense of the voice, if possible, and the conflict(s) the characters will face. CR: What are the most common mistakes you see in submissions? PS: Most often, the mistakes are technical: head hopping, tense switching, grammar. I also see a lot of stories that have no real conflict, or the stakes are so low that it feels like there’s no conflict. And that leads to a boring read, which no one wants. Another frequent issue is stilted dialogue, which is especially noticeable in contemporaries. CR: Is there anything about a story itself likely to turn you off on a manuscript, even if the mechanics are quite good? PS: For a romance, there are a lot of clichés or overused plot devices. It’s one thing to consciously, purposefully tackle a trope from another angle, but it’s another if I can predict everything about it. That’s a sign of an author who hasn’t read widely in the genre, which is very important in setting oneself apart. Outside of that, there are things that are simply distasteful (on the page rape, child abuse, that kind of thing) and will turn me off. (Coincidentally, that might also be connected to not being well-read and knowing what flies and what doesn’t.) I have personal taste quirks, too, like alphahole heroes; I understand how readers can like them, but they’re not for me. Ditto anything religious and preachy; Christian and inspirational romance is a huge category, but that’s not what I enjoy. CR: What is a typical day in the life of editor, Peter Senftleben? PS: Email, email, email, Twitter, email, meeting, sign off on stuff, email, Twitter, email. LOL Seriously, there’s really no typical day. A lot of it is spent doing whatever needs to be done to meet the next deadline: write an art sheet, fill out a title information sheet, put a manuscript into production, review revisions, look at copyedited manuscripts, tweak cover copy, provide information to other departments. Most of the day is answering emails from agents and authors—managing everything that’s going on—and meeting in-house about different aspects of the books. Today I got to choose a model for a cover photo shoot. There is almost NO actual editing, or even reading, done in the office unless I’m lucky and have some free time. So I read submissions on the subway to and from work, often for a little bit at home at night, and edit at home on the weekend. CR: Do contests and/or conferences result in a lot of contracts for you? Or is it about the same as standard submissions via email? PS: No, unfortunately, they don’t. I’ve only signed four authors I’ve met at conferences, in the eight years I’ve been going. I always hope to find more, though! I haven’t done the math, but comparing in-person pitches to unsolicited queries, it might be a similar percentage. CR: What are the best and worst parts of your job? PS: The best part for me is working with writers to make their work even better. I get immense satisfaction from helping authors polish their books. The worst is seeing books that I absolutely love either get bad reviews or not sell well. It can be very frustrating when an account carries so few copies of a book that it’s nearly impossible for readers to even find it. CR: Before acquisition, how important is a writer’s platform to you? To publishing houses? PS: For fiction, it’s not that important. Of course, it helps if an author is a known name or has some expertise in an aspect of what she writes, but I’m not going to turn down a great project simply because an author is new and doesn’t have an established audience already. There’s plenty of time between acquisition and publication to cultivate an online presence. It’s much more important with non-fiction, though. CR: What is on your wish list of story types to acquire at the moment? PS: I’ve been on a suspense/thriller/mystery kick lately. I’m also interested in more romantic suspense, too. I really want to see more romances, either contemporary or historical, in a unique setting. Contemps with non-white characters would be great, too, as would more LGBT romance—but I’m very picky about the portrayal of any minority characters. CR / PS: Goofy Speed Round (Try to limit each answer to 1 word only.):
  • What turns you on? Wordplay :-)
  • What turns you off? A lot!
  • What is your favorite word? Please
  • What is your least favorite word? P***y (the synonym for cat)
  • What sound or noise do you love? Rain (or the ocean)
  • What sound or noise do you hate? Loud talkers
  • What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Pastry chef
  • What profession other than yours would you NOT like to attempt? Sky dive instructor
  • What is your favorite swear word? All of them strung together!
  • What is your favorite food? Lasagna, pizza, sesame chicken, nachos, cheese, chocolate. Not all strung together.
  Thank you so much for stopping by Peter, we really appreciate it and hope you'll come back soon! Now, let's bring on the Q&A. Writers, post your questions for Peter as a comment and he'll be available to answer.   

Choices – Creamer, Cookies & Genre [Repost]

debraelise_headshot2~ By Debra Elise Some days there’s just too many damn choices. Which brand of creamer, salsa or cookies do I buy today? Well, I guess the last one isn’t that much of a hardship to endure, but my point is, some days I don’t want to have to choose <insert childish whine>. I just want to walk into my local Freddy’s and quickly pick up ten or so items on my list and get on with my day without debating the merits of Brank K vs. Brand W. So, in our hum-drum daily existence (but I really hope your day isn’t hum-drum, we are romance writers after all. We can scale tall mountains in a single edit, and juggle a blog-hop worthy of a top score on DWTS). However, in our daily lives we need to make constant choices our mothers and grandmothers never had to deal with. Need milk? Simple, drive to the store (or go into the barn), walk up to the milk display (grab the squirter thingies), grab a carton (fill the bucket), pay (pat Bessie on the rump) and leave. See? Easy. But alas, nowadays we stand in front of the cold-case freezing our tootsies off and try to decide, “Hmm today do I want…” Local? The national brand that for once is on sale? Oh, don’t forget lactose-free, almond, soy and my favorite-chocolate. And what if you want something spicy? Don’t get me started on the choices in the salsa aisle. Pah-A-lese. It make my head hurt. I think I feel an aneurism coming on. Or maybe I just need a nap.

What has all this silly stuff on dairy products or cookies have to do with writing romance you ask? Great question. My answer—choices. As first a reader then a writer, we have a plethora (l just love that word) of decisions to make. At first, it seems like you’re in the cookie aisle and you want some of those delicious and sweet vanilla wafers, but then oooh, that chocolate chip and caramel sexy delight catches your eye. And now, just like cookies, no longer are romance writers pigeonholed into writing one or two familiar tropes or in just one genre. No, now when we map out a new book, or in the case of some of us, fly by the seat of the pants, we joyfully listen to the characters in our heads knowing whatever we come up with there will be an audience clamoring for it. No longer worrying about an industry that once only bought simple, cut and dried plots with no deviation from the norm.

Today’s author can choose from historical, fantasy, steam-punk, paranormal and hot to inspirational. Even better, we can now create a genre mash-up, writing a wonderful scramble of hot sex set in the Amish country while Aliens produce a mind-control-infused rainstorm. No? Ok, not the best plot, but hey—it could happen.

Back to choices. Did you, when you first began to write, have that question in the back of your mind “What do I want to write?” Oh, maybe it wasn’t with your first book or the second, because yes, you knew you wanted to write a regency, or a small town redemption story, but somewhere along the journey I think we all run up against this question. Or, maybe not. Maybe you’re one of those fortunate few who roll out of bed every day knowing exactly what you want to write. Well, bless your heart. <Sigh> Jealous much? Yah, actually I am because I thought I was one of you, but found out I was quite possibly wrong (What? It could happen). Now here I am baring my soul to all of you nice ladies and must confess I love all genres, but utterly fell in love with paranormal a few years ago thanks to the novels of Showalter, Grant and Zanetti. But could I write one? Should I? Of course, I thought. So I did.

It was exciting and frustrating beyond belief, but in the end, when I wrote The End, I was so freaking excited I didn’t care that it was crap. I also didn’t anticipate I would be reluctant to go back and fix the crap. I went full steam into submission land and received several rejections, fairly quickly I might add. No weeks or months of biting my nails. Just polite and to the point emails, “we’re not interested” a week or two later. Okay, no prob. I can deal. I realize I’m not Nora. And to be honest, I actually was excited to receive them. They were the badges of honor I needed to join the ranks of my fellow writing peeps.

Carry On and Write Again, I say. So I did some soul searching, market research and talked to a trusted writer gal-pal and decided my heart was aching to write a contemporary. Set in my home town. With hot sex and witty dialogue and tortured characters. Light-bulb! I could actually feel the difference in me as I was explaining the story to her. I was nowhere near as excited when I had talked about the first book.

You know, the truth always sneaks up on you—I don’t have to write what I love to read. Duh! Sure, I can always go back to dreaming up a nasty daemon who I secretly want to grab me, throw me up against a wall and rub his hot, hard, body all over mine and…oh, sorry-ahem. So, how about those dragon-shifters? As I was saying, I can still dream up a story where she’s heroically rescued by her fated lover from the clutches of the aforementioned villain. But now, now I’ve given myself permission to use my voice and my talent to create a world and a love story that grabs my reader and keeps them enthralled. In the genre that is calling me…contemporary. I want for my readers what happens when I read my favorite authors, no matter the genre. And that is to become lost in the words, if only for a few hours. Leaving them bereft when the book is done because they had become so connected with the characters I dreamed up.

Maybe someday I’ll revisit my paranormal, but now, today I’ve made my choice. Coffemate vanilla creamer, and dark chocolate encased wafer with toffee crumble please. And my second novel? Well, it just so happens Mr. Bad-Boy meets Ms. In-Control and BAM!*fireworks*–both in my head and on the page. Magic.

Debra Elise is a stay-at-home wife and mother who began writing romance novels almost two years ago. Currently unpublished, she recently earned her PRO status from RWA for her paranormal novel HEART OF THE BRETHREN. Diving into contemporary romance, she is happily working on her second book, a baseball romance. Married to super-supportive Master Chief, and momma to Rooster and Wild child—two monkeys who keep her on her toes when not writing sarcastic & steamy dialogue. Debloooves coffee, wine and chocolate—so she must me a writer, right?

Find Debra on Facebook and Twitter

From Historical to Contemporary

NancyNancy Henderson If someone had told me I’d be writing contemporary romance one day, I would have said they were crazy.  I’m a historical romance author.  I don’t even read contemporary romance.  Surely they were off their rockers. Then I read one. I was bored.  I had nothing to read, and my mother tossed the book to me.  “It’s really good,” she said.  “You should learn to write them.”  (Mom does not like history.) I regret to say I don’t remember the author, but I believe it was a Harlequin Super Romance.  I was skeptical. I was a romance snob.  How could contemporaries possibly hold my interest when there were no pirates, soldiers, or hunky Indians like were in the pages of my beloved historical romances? Boy was I wrong.  I found romance, hunky heroes, and just as interesting plotlines as the historicals.  So what if there were no battle scenes?  There were cut throat business tycoons and small down disasters.  I devoured the novel.  Then I bought some more and devoured those.  Then something strange happened. I wanted to write one. And come on.  How hard could it be?  I had done so much required research when writing historicals.  A contemporary must be a piece of cake. So I wrote the draft.  Then I let it sit for a month. Then I went back to it and revised.  Easy. I bragged of my accomplishment to my most devoted fan:  my mom.  She asked to read it for which I had no problem handing it over.  Now mom has been reading contemporary romance since the mid 1950s.  She knows the formula blindfolded. I thought she’d have the manuscript back to me in a few weeks.  She returned it the next day—TONS of mark ups.  You would have thought she’d been an editor.  She even used a red pen.  I’m surprised to say that her critique was as thorough and calculated as any editor I’ve ever hired.  I told her she should really do this for a living.  She just shrugged and said she’s a diehard reader.  She knows what she likes. I’ve since revised my first contemporary romance based on Mom’s valuable input.  She was right, dead on with all her suggestions, and her advice made the story stronger and the characters believable.  The best part was the learning experience.  Writing is just hard, no matter whan genre you’re writing.  There is no easy path. My journey into contemporary romance was a learning experience that I will never forget. Oh, and I plan to keep writing (and reading) them because despite the challenge, they’re a lot of fun! Nancy Henderson is multi published in historical and paranormal romance.  She hopes to be published in contemporary romance in the near future.  Oh, and she also writes humorous books about cats and her life being “owned” by them.  Visit her website at:  http://www.always-a-story.com or her blog at:  http://www.always-a-story.com/blog

Choices – Creamer, Cookies & Genre

debraelise_headshot2~ By Debra Elise Some days there’s just too many damn choices. Which brand of creamer, salsa or cookies do I buy today? Well, I guess the last one isn’t that much of a hardship to endure, but my point is, some days I don’t want to have to choose <insert childish whine>. I just want to walk into my local Freddy’s and quickly pick up ten or so items on my list and get on with my day without debating the merits of Brank K vs. Brand W. So, in our hum-drum daily existence (but I really hope your day isn’t hum-drum, we are romance writers after all. We can scale tall mountains in a single edit, and juggle a blog-hop worthy of a top score on DWTS). However, in our daily lives we need to make constant choices our mothers and grandmothers never had to deal with. Need milk? Simple, drive to the store (or go into the barn), walk up to the milk display (grab the squirter thingies), grab a carton (fill the bucket), pay (pat Bessie on the rump) and leave. See? Easy. But alas, nowadays we stand in front of the cold-case freezing our tootsies off and try to decide, “Hmm today do I want…” Local? The national brand that for once is on sale? Oh, don’t forget lactose-free, almond, soy and my favorite-chocolate. And what if you want something spicy? Don’t get me started on the choices in the salsa aisle. Pah-A-lese. It make my head hurt. I think I feel an aneurism coming on. Or maybe I just need a nap.

What has all this silly stuff on dairy products or cookies have to do with writing romance you ask? Great question. My answer—choices. As first a reader then a writer, we have a plethora (l just love that word) of decisions to make. At first, it seems like you’re in the cookie aisle and you want some of those delicious and sweet vanilla wafers, but then oooh, that chocolate chip and caramel sexy delight catches your eye. And now, just like cookies, no longer are romance writers pigeonholed into writing one or two familiar tropes or in just one genre. No, now when we map out a new book, or in the case of some of us, fly by the seat of the pants, we joyfully listen to the characters in our heads knowing whatever we come up with there will be an audience clamoring for it. No longer worrying about an industry that once only bought simple, cut and dried plots with no deviation from the norm.

Today’s author can choose from historical, fantasy, steam-punk, paranormal and hot to inspirational. Even better, we can now create a genre mash-up, writing a wonderful scramble of hot sex set in the Amish country while Aliens produce a mind-control-infused rainstorm. No? Ok, not the best plot, but hey—it could happen.

Back to choices. Did you, when you first began to write, have that question in the back of your mind “What do I want to write?” Oh, maybe it wasn’t with your first book or the second, because yes, you knew you wanted to write a regency, or a small town redemption story, but somewhere along the journey I think we all run up against this question. Or, maybe not. Maybe you’re one of those fortunate few who roll out of bed every day knowing exactly what you want to write. Well, bless your heart. <Sigh> Jealous much? Yah, actually I am because I thought I was one of you, but found out I was quite possibly wrong (What? It could happen). Now here I am baring my soul to all of you nice ladies and must confess I love all genres, but utterly fell in love with paranormal a few years ago thanks to the novels of Showalter, Grant and Zanetti. But could I write one? Should I? Of course, I thought. So I did.

It was exciting and frustrating beyond belief, but in the end, when I wrote The End, I was so freaking excited I didn’t care that it was crap. I also didn’t anticipate I would be reluctant to go back and fix the crap. I went full steam into submission land and received several rejections, fairly quickly I might add. No weeks or months of biting my nails. Just polite and to the point emails, “we’re not interested” a week or two later. Okay, no prob. I can deal. I realize I’m not Nora. And to be honest, I actually was excited to receive them. They were the badges of honor I needed to join the ranks of my fellow writing peeps.

Carry On and Write Again, I say. So I did some soul searching, market research and talked to a trusted writer gal-pal and decided my heart was aching to write a contemporary. Set in my home town. With hot sex and witty dialogue and tortured characters. Light-bulb! I could actually feel the difference in me as I was explaining the story to her. I was nowhere near as excited when I had talked about the first book.

You know, the truth always sneaks up on you—I don’t have to write what I love to read. Duh! Sure, I can always go back to dreaming up a nasty daemon who I secretly want to grab me, throw me up against a wall and rub his hot, hard, body all over mine and…oh, sorry-ahem. So, how about those dragon-shifters? As I was saying, I can still dream up a story where she’s heroically rescued by her fated lover from the clutches of the aforementioned villain. But now, now I’ve given myself permission to use my voice and my talent to create a world and a love story that grabs my reader and keeps them enthralled. In the genre that is calling me...contemporary. I want for my readers what happens when I read my favorite authors, no matter the genre. And that is to become lost in the words, if only for a few hours. Leaving them bereft when the book is done because they had become so connected with the characters I dreamed up.

Maybe someday I’ll revisit my paranormal, but now, today I’ve made my choice. Coffemate vanilla creamer, and dark chocolate encased wafer with toffee crumble please. And my second novel? Well, it just so happens Mr. Bad-Boy meets Ms. In-Control and BAM!*fireworks*--both in my head and on the page. Magic.

Debra Elise is a stay-at-home wife and mother who began writing romance novels almost two years ago. Currently unpublished, she recently earned her PRO status from RWA for her paranormal novel HEART OF THE BRETHREN. Diving into contemporary romance, she is happily working on her second book, a baseball romance. Married to super-supportive Master Chief, and momma to Rooster and Wild child—two monkeys who keep her on her toes when not writing sarcastic & steamy dialogue. Debloooves coffee, wine and chocolate—so she must me a writer, right?

Find Debra on Facebook and Twitter

Writing Contemporary

ProfessionalPic~ By Victoria Pinder I was describing the plots of my two books due out the week of my wedding, (God has a funny sense of humor sometimes), and my friend laughed at one part of the plot and said ‘you watched soaps once.’ My answer is yes I did. I was once a huge Days of Our Lives fan. I cheered when Carrie finally slapped Sami for all her evil deeds, but once upon a time, I liked Sami and Lucas too. I wanted to be Hope and marry a man like Bo Brady who loved her, despite everything. And the villains were just fun. Vivian dancing on Carly’s grave after she buried her alive was twisted and fun. A few years back I was almost pulled back into my soap, when Nicole and EJ were married and that couple was just fun. But the show acted like evil manipulative Sami was the soap queen who did no wrong, and I wasn’t interested. But at some point, contemporary romance writers should all watch soap operas or the prime time soap operas that are prevalent these days. Dallas, 90210, Revenge, almost all shows, all have the elements of a good story. Historicals are light, fluffy fun where we read about ball gowns and the ton and finding a husband, and I love to read them. Yet contemporaries have this ability to creep into our hearts because we can relate to the characters in a different way. A contemporary has todays look and feel, but personally I don’t want to read in a romance about some city’s skid row. My books take place in Paris, the nice parts of Miami, or upcoming the political world of Boston and Cape Cod, and a cruise ship. Chaperoning Paris is about a cancer survivor falls in love with his high school girlfriend who aborted their child and left town. (This could never be historical as she’d be stoned, and her mother forced the teenage’s decisions.) It’s at the heart of the story a reunion romance where love can’t be denied. It’s so different from Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush which is a fun read where Penelope has a gold digging mother, and Penelope never wants to fall for any rich man. Jay was her high school crush, and he needs a date. Penelope is perfect for his plans, and despite their differences they fall in love. The one I’m working on now is jet setting around. So we still have this element of here but different. Yet the characters get to act like how we might react. In a historical, the goal for the female is either to find a husband or avoid a certain man for a husband. It’s why I gravitate towards contemporary and those delicious soap opera moments. If I want my heroine to be able to slap someone like Carrie slapped Sami, then Sami better well deserve it. Carrie took a lot of the manipulation because she was good and honest and wouldn’t believe her own sister would drug the boyfriend so she could marry him. Carrie needed the light to be shown at her for her to march into the manipulator’s wedding to the ‘baby daddy’ only to find out her sister lied about who the father was too. Sami deserved the slap, and in writing contemporary if the heroine needs to slap someone, the lesson is better make sure the reader wants her to take the swing. What else I learned from soaps and the Bo, Hope, Billie triangle is that no one needs to be a villain. If the characters are human, then no one is pure evil. Bo thought Hope dead. He moved on. Hope returned with no memory of who she was. Yet the love broke through, and Bo was conflicted. Stick to his new wife, or follow his heart. In not cheating, but in longing, Bo made the perfect hero in a triangle. His honor was the problem. And ultimately the new wife walked because she saw how tortured Bo was over the whole thing. The lesson for the writer in this is our greatest strengths are also the biggest weaknesses. Honor is a sexy thing for a man to have in this day and age. Men don’t get out and come to the door on the date, so Bo had this larger than life quality of romance and honor that men just don’t always show. And on the prime times, the settings are key. No one is living in the back alley, or maybe there is one but she’s about to be swept into the glittery world of the rich. Even a rancher story is about an established rancher with no money issues. Perhaps there are books that don’t fit this mold, but I don’t read them. (I’d love to be told of a romance that isn’t someone financially stable without the worry of money.) In Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush, Penelope returns home to Miami, but she’s not heading into Hialeah or Overtown or Calle Ocho to live. Heck she might be unsaid looking for a place in Kendall, but even that is too middle of the road for her. No, she’s about to move into Coconut Grove, hang out in Coral Gables, and of course go to a party on South Beach. These are the rich sections of town, where the millionaires and billionaires of the world own property. And that party on South Beach takes out the realism of pretentiousness that permeates the air that locals go to, and it’s all about the mystique of the Miami tourists see. We’re not discussing the face eating zombie druggie that made national news (though I do have a friend who writes vampire tales and that might fit into her Miami vampire. I’m unsure.) But for romance, ensure that people want to visit and see the places we write about. If the story includes a bit of gothic or mystery, the scare is always acceptable. But even then I’ve not read a romance where it’s the poor violent section of town that you’d avoid. So my advice to any contemporary romance writer is to pay attention to the soaps, even the prime time ones. Takes not on the love story arches that made the show memorable. Ignore the horrible stories that turned you off. But if you are interested in the transformation story that a character went through or the tenacity in business that someone has… take notes. What is it really about the character or the setting. If in the future, I write a hero that has honor such as Bo Brady, it’s not suddenly fan fiction with new names. Now if you steal all the characters and situations, then you have a bigger issue. But for one snippet of a human characteristics, you’re fine. Contemporaries allows us to write what we love. We have today’s world and rules where we don’t have to search for a husband. This makes writing and reading contemporaries delicious. And pay attention to the stories you’re drawn to as a reader because it helps when you write what you love. So I own up entirely to once loving the fun Days Of Our Lives in the past, and I’m hoping that post Alison Sweeney’s departure, who knows, I might get back into the show. Perhaps not. New life with the new husband is dawning, and life is an adventure waiting for all of us.)
Victoria Pinder grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She’s worked in engineering, after passing many tests proving how easy Math came to her. Then hating her life at the age of twenty four, she decided to go to law school. Four years later, after passing the bar and practicing very little, she realized that she hates the practice of law. She refused to one day turn 50 and realize she had nothing but her career and hours at a desk. After realizing she needed change, she became a high school teacher. Teaching is rewarding, but writing is a passion.
 
During all this time, she always wrote stories to entertain herself or calm down. Her parents are practical minded people demanding a job, and Victoria spent too many years living other people’s dreams, but when she sat down to see what skill she had that matched what she enjoyed doing, writing became so obvious. The middle school year book when someone wrote in it that one day she’d be a writer made sense when she turned thirty.
 
Besides her full time job of teaching, in 2013 and 2014, she sold on her own sold books to three different publishers. The Zoastra Affair, Chaperoning Paris, Borrowing the Doctor, and Electing Love will be published from Soul mate Publishing. Mything the Throne will be published with Double Dragon Ebooks. Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush will be published with Jupiter Press.
 
Now she is represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency and she hopes to continue selling her novels that she writes. Moving up to the next level from hard work and determination is rewarding, and partnerships bring new opportunities.
 
Also she’s the Vice President of Programs for the Florida Romance Writers. She’s gone to multiple conferences and intends to continue. She learns and meets so many people at conferences. Her website is www.victoriapinder.com, and she’ll continue to grow my web presence. She is working hard on other projects and found the time to plan her wedding this year.
 
Before writing, her father had taken her to many star trek conventions and on her own she grew up as the only girl in the 90s at the comic book store. Science Fiction was her first love, but contemporary romance was her second. She’s sticking with contemporaries for the near future.
 
Member of Florida Romance Writers, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA, Celtic Hearts and Savvy Authors.
Visit Victoria online at:
Authors Website:  http://www.victoriapinder.com Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Pinder-also-writing-as-Greta-Buckle/294685373900979 Twitter:    http://twitter.com/victoriapinder Tumblr:    victoriapinder.tumblr.com Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/victoriapinder/ Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=200859737&trk=hb_tab_pro_top Google+https://plus.google.com/105161432419802350109/posts/p/pub  
 

A Message From Our Chapter President

K_FarrisWelcome to the Contemporary Romance Writers' Blog! 

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Contemporary Romance Writers (CRW) was formerly the Chick Lit Writers Chapter. Earlier this year, we had the opportunity reinvent the chapter. The membership decided to re-brand and expand our focus to Contemporary Romance and all the sub-genres that fall under it. The last few months have been exciting as the chapter has grown.   Some of our goals for the blog are to:
  •  present relevant and informative content about writing and the romance publishing industry
  • be a source of up to date information related to romance writing
  • provide opportunities for discussion and learning
If you would like to know about our Chick Lit Roots or more about the chapter, you can check out our About page. We've also brought over the posts from the Chick Lit blog for readers to check out. Also, if you'd like to write a guest post for the blog, you can find our guidelines in the sidebar on the right. Thank you for visiting our blog and we hope you come back. ~ Kimberly Farris, Chapter President

Stay tuned for our next post coming next Wednesday!