17 September 2010

Historicals Set in Germany

A couple of days ago I discussed Irene Goodman's contention that a 28K historical romance set in Germany won't sell. No matter what. Although I believe Goodman was referring to print pubs, I'd like to mention that Debra Glass, who writes historical ER, will be releasing Twice the Novice, which features a Bavarian count on October 15th.

Bavaria is in Germany.

Not sure of word count, but I suspect it's a novella, which means it runs less than 30K. Just saying' . . .

Since I'm on the subject of historical ER, I'll mention that I just read Debra's Alabama-set Civil War romance, Rebel Rose. I adore the cover. And the book's great, too, with a MeOW-worthy hero and a great sense of place. [Just FYI, Debra's an Ellora's Cave author. So am I, though I don't know her personally.]

I'm so glad that some of the best writers in the ER genre--Glass and Samantha Kane--write historicals.

15 September 2010

Interview with Kaily Hart and the Writing Process

I just had the chance to talk about writing and publishing with Kaily Hart. Kaily is published with Ellora's Cave and her first pub, a contemporary quickie called Picture This, has been receiving great reviews. Way to go, Kaily!

I had a lot of fun answering Kaily's questions because she's as interested in the process of writing as I am. It's fascinating to discover just how many ways there are to write. Some writers start at the beginning and write through to the end. Some (like me) are all over the place. Some plot and outline. Some just sit down and let the characters and story take them for a ride.

I think it's important to realize that there's no one right way to write. (There is, however, a right way to spell and construct sentences!) Don't feel as though you have to outline if it's a struggle. And don't feel that you have to just sit down and "create" if you feel that you need to work out a plot first.

Do experiment. Give yourself the freedom to try new ways of getting words on a page. Don't be constrained by the way you were taught in a workshop or an English class. But don't mistake my advice as a recommendation to spell creatively or to make up your own grammar rules. I've had students tell me that their bad grammar was their personal writing style. That's utter nonsense. There's a difference between the writing process and the writing product. The way you write is up to you, but the prose product has to adhere to certain rules.

If you feel that such rules cramp your "style," then by all means, break them. Just don't expect anyone to read or publish what you write.

12 September 2010

Redefining "Commercial" in Romance

I'm a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and I just got the September issue of the member newsletter, Romance Writers Report. There's an interesting article by Irene Goodman, a prominent agent, on "Common Mistakes by New Authors."

An entire section of the article is devoted to "Uncommercial Subjects," with Goodman advising aspiring authors to focus on subjects that are saleable. One line, in particular, caught my attention: "A 28,000-word historical romance set in Germany is not going to sell, no matter what" (p. 20).

I assume Goodman is referring to traditional tree-book publishing out of New York, because nowhere in her article does she even mention e-publishing, which is where a 28K historical romance set in Germany would not only get a read by an editor, but might very well sell.

E-publishing is redefining "commercial." Shorter length books set in time periods and locations that New York publishers spurn are being published successfully. For example, Carina Press recently released a historical romance set in Austria called Song of Seduction by Carrie Lofty. The same publisher has a  shorter M/M medieval romance and a book featuring a sixteenth-century Native heroine living in the Sonoran Desert.

While I can't comment on how well these books are selling, they are being published. By a division of Harlequin, no less. Goodman's essay indicates a lack of awareness of the rapidly shifting landscape of publishing that I find troublesome in an industry newsletter intended to represent "the voice of romance fiction."

Of course, Goodman is entitled to her opinion. As a very successful and respected agent, she's more than earned the right to comment on the industry. Nevertheless, I couldn't disagree with her more. And I hope aspiring authors won't be discouraged by her words, because I'm convinced that a well-written 28K historical romance set in Germany can sell.

08 September 2010

Review: Warrior, by Zoe Archer

Romance! A swoon-worthy hero! In Mongolia! With magic! And authentic cultural detail!

(Did I mention that this book takes place in Mongolia?)

Warrior is a Victorian-era romance with a big dose of magic and an even bigger dose of creativity. I'm not usually a fan of romance mixed with magic, unless it's set in a fantasy world. But Archer made me suspend my disbelief and enjoy every minute of it.

Being a shallow cover slut, I was initially drawn to the book by the amazing manly-man with the requisite firearm. The fact that it's set in Mongolia (a romance! set in Mongolia!) was extra-bonus goodness.

Happily, the setting is much more than window-dressing. Archer has done her homework and included convincing cultural detail in her story that goes far beyond "and, oh yes, this is romance set in an exotic locale." Even better, her Mongolian tribesmen function as real secondary characters, rather than as cardboard indigenous people with quaint customs.

This is true action-adventure romance. Our H/H are "on the road" (well, the steppe, and the Gobi Desert) throughout the entire book. The heroine is self-sufficient with nary a TSTL moment in some 300+ digital pages. The hero is deliciously jealous and protective, but never truly prevents the heroine from doing what she needs to do.

Plus, Warrior has one of the most delightful sex scenes (at an oasis no less!) that I've read in a long time.

I am looking forward to the next three books in the series and hope that Archer maintains the momentum she built with Warrior. As an archaeologist, I admit to a bit of trepidation concerning the second book, Scoundrel--the hero poses atop some Greek ruins with a shovel. I am crossing my fingers there's no looting by the good guys involved--that's worse than secret baby plots as far as I'm concerned. Book 3 is set in the wilds of Canada--yet another unusual locale for romance. And Book 4 features a hero of African descent.

Have I mentioned how proud I am be a romance reader?

05 September 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion

Now this was a very pleasant surprise--a new review for Not Quite a Lady, which was released in April. Donna calls it a "must read for 2010." (Thanks Donna!)

The review is especially appreciated since Fall has arrived in Southeast Alaska--it's cool, rainy and all the birds are heading south. Plus, it's time for me to go back to the "real world" and start the fall semester.

In other good news, I had the chance to talk science fiction romance with the lovely ladies of the SFR Brigade who work tirelessly to promote the genre and its authors. I've read some great SFR lately, with Hope's Folly at the top of my recommended reads list. You can read my review at Goodreads.