This blog is about romance and writing, but also about my life as a romance writer.
But, I realized I haven’t posted anything about publishing my first book yet!
The book is called His Brother’s Mistress, and is about what happens when gorgeous CEO Matt Valetta finds Lucy Alberti living in his recently-deceased brother’s apartment in Rome, and assumes she was his mistress.
So here’s my story of publishing this book…
In March I wrote about how the relative status of heroes — alpha, beta, and gamma — affects romantic stories.
I suggested that romance writers tend to pair opposites, like alphas with betas, but that gamma heroines matched with gamma heroes make for more interesting stories.
So in this post, I’m going to put my theories to the test, and find examples of status pairings in romance movies, and see how they impact the story.
So let’s dive in!!
I’ve wondered a bit if the #MeToo movement has changed our vision of the romantic hero. I don’t think abusive men have ever been the norm in romance novels, but they’ve made their appearances. And the arrogant alpha male is certainly a common trope.
Our love affair with alpha males
I personally still like many alpha traits. I grew up reading Harlequin Presents, and they often featured larger than life heroes – think princes, sheikhs, CEOs, shipping magnates… So that still feels pretty standard for me when I think of romance novel heroes.
I try to avoid watching long form t.v. — by “long form” I mean any drama whose continuing story spans one, two, three, or more seasons (like Lost or Game of Thrones), vs. “episodic” shows, which contain a (largely) standalone story within each episode (like Law & Order or ER).
Long form shows have become very popular in recent years, as streaming services look to increase their hours viewed stats.
The problem is, it’s very hard for writers to offer an effective story arc if they don’t know how long their show will run. And even if they know how they want everything to pan out, with so many episodes to write, there’s gonna be some filler. So, you end up with endless and unending (ok, those are the same) plot. Complicated, often pointless (IMHO) plot.
So I avoid them, in general.
Remember the opening scene of Romancing the Stone? Remember Kathleen Turner as wildly successful romance novelist Joan Wilder, typing the final lines of her latest manuscript, and weeping at her own words?
Then she reels off that last page, bundles the pages together, and pops open a bottle of champagne (literally) before handing the book to her agent/editor.
Wow! She typed her last line, and she was done!!
Does that mean she didn’t write a draft? Does that mean she just wrote the whole novel from beginning to end, with no revisions??
Unfortunately, for most of us real-life writers, typing the last word of the story is far from the end.
Nope. For most of us, finishing a novel looks a lot different than it did for Joan.
When I was young, I read all of these Harlequin Presents romance novels set in all of these exotic locations — Italy! Greece! London! Sydney! Occasionally some other places!
How delicious to be a wealthy romantic novelist who could travel the world at her leisure, I thought. And, in her spare moments abroad, research future bestsellers.
Alas, at some point, I realized not all romance authors are Barbara Cartland. And many schlub away writing stories about places they haven’t yet had the chance to visit.
So what’s the trick to writing a location authentically, if you’ve never laid eyes on it? And is this even possible?
It’s summertime (where I live, anyway), so the ‘perfect’ time to watch a frothy, fluffy romance – like Netflix’s A Perfect Pairing, which is well-qualified as summertime viewing:
- It’s about wine and wineries (and sheep!)
- It stars a former Nickelodeon child actor, Victoria Justice – What is it about former child actors and light romance?
- It’s a Netflix Original – I would say most Netflix romances fall squarely into the ‘light’ category
Before I begin my critique, let me just clarify that I am in fact talking about the Netflix film, A Perfect Pairing, and not the Hallmark romance of the same name that also came out this year. Wouldn’t want anyone to be confused.
Romance readers (and viewers) have a love/hate relationship with the concept of instalove (a.k.a. love at first sight); some view it as supremely romantic, while others view it as shallow and unrealistic.
I agree that pure instalove — when the leads have no real interaction at all, yet they declare love and make commitments to one another — is hard to pull off.
Have you ever watched a romantic movie and at the end, when one character declares their love to the other, instead of swooning, you cringed and covered your eyes?
I have. Just the other day.
The movie? The Proposal.
Yes, the Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds film, circa 2009.
Actually, I first saw it years ago, and had vaguely negative feelings about it. But, I think that first viewing was on a plane or something, and I didn’t give it my full attention. So I thought I’d give it another shot.
I am a huge fan of Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game – the book, that is.
It’s one of the best romances I’ve ever read, mostly because it manages to sustain romantic tension from beginning to end – an extremely rare feat, in my experience.
The movie, on the other hand…