Category: Writing

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?

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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.

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If I hadn’t started writing during my commute, I don’t think I would have finished a single novel.

I mentioned my problems with procrastination in my post, My origin story, Part 2: Becoming a romance writer. It was only when I linked writing with the ingrained habit of commuting that I was able to sustain a writing habit.

That’s why I’m a huge advocate of writing while commuting — for those who can incorporate it into their lives.

So, partly to encourage others to try writing during their commute, and partly as an homage to my lost commute, I’ve created this 2-part video series on commuter writing.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my “career” as a writer (it’s probably telling that I put that in quotation marks), probably because I’ve been dipping my toe in some new things this past year — joining RWA, launching a website, submitting my first query to an agent, getting my first rejection, etc.

There are plenty of options for writers today, and so much advice floating around. I’ve found it distressing at times, comparing myself to others who seem to have it all together, and wondering if a socially-anxious, introvert like me has what it takes to find readers.

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When I started reading romance novels, oh, more than thirty years ago now, it seemed like they were all M/F stories, told solely from the female point of view.

But, somewhere along the way, readers decided they liked the idea of getting some insight into the male perspective, and the tide turned in favour of dual POV.

Nowadays, depending on the sub-genre you’re working in, either single or dual POV can be acceptable. I’d say the vast majority of romances are written from dual perspectives, but that doesn’t mean single POV is dead.

So, if anything goes, how do writers choose which approach to use? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? And, is dual POV actually better than single POV??

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A tag cloud of romance tropes

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of romance novels marketed by their primary trope, like:

  • Love with the Despised Stranger, a Marriage of Convenience romance, or
  • Babies Happen!, an Accidental Pregnancy romance

I can’t decide if I think this is brilliant marketing or a terrible shame.

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bubble

I don’t know about you, but I kind of like writing in a bubble.

Not literally! I mean, a bubble where my writing is beautiful and perfect and only my opinion matters.

Writers must, I think, start out in a bubble. But, at some point, you’re going to want to get some feedback.

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I loved books, as a kid. The first book I remember loving was The Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren. After I read it and we returned it, whenever we visited the library, I would walk by the shelf where it was housed, feeling like it was this special, secret gem, this thing no one else knew about or understood.

I felt the same way about the Harper Hall books by Anne McCaffrey. I was fairly young when I read them (maybe grade 5), and to me they were these fantastical things.

That love is what planted the writing seed for me. I wanted to write something that made people feel that way.

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When I tell people I write romance novels, as I occasionally do, they always ask, “Are you published?”

When I say, “No,” they seem to lose all interest.

I get it. If someone told me they’d written a novel, I’d definitely wonder if it was published. And if it wasn’t, I’d probably assume it wasn’t that great.

Not that being published means a book is good, necessarily. ‘Good’ is, of course, subjective. But, if a book has made it through a publishing process, that’s at least some arbiter of its quality. Even if a book is self-published, you have to go to some trouble to do that, so I’d assume its quality might likely be higher than a book sitting solely on the author’s computer.

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