Why Write Romance? Part II
In response to the comment I received on yesterday's blog... If you take a close look at current romance novels (from this century), you will find that the stories run the gamut from rosy fairy tales to gritty, realistic stories that could've been taken from real life... and everything in between. For instance, in the first Scottish historical I wrote, set in the early 1600s, the heroine has a very hard life. She was an English earl's daughter who fell from grace by becoming pregnant six years ago and was abandoned to poverty in the Scottish Highlands by her family. She had little choice but to marry a poor man who turned out abusive. Fortunately for her, he was killed in battle. She has an illegitimate son to raise, whom she loves more than anything, and she wants the best for him. A short while after the story begins, she loses her home (fire), her only friend (murdered) and has to run for her life. She struggles long and hard to get what she wants. She deserves the love of a good man who will treat her right and respect her. She deserves her happy ending.

My reasons for writing romance are to make readers feel uplifted and inspired, to give them a few minutes or hours of happiness away from their everyday lives. To show them that even though they may be down, they can drag themselves out of that pit if they try hard enough, if they want it badly enough. They can take control of their lives and go after what they want just as my romance heroines do. I want to make people laugh or cry because they're touched by my characters and their triumph when they win in the end.

The movie Walk the Line was taken from real life, but it could've just as easily been adapted from a romance novel. The structure, characters and events are very similar to romances I've read. I haven’t read any romances where everything was perfect, nor would I want to.

Romance novels are entertainment, just like other genres of fiction, TV shows or movies. If they are not entertaining, if they are like hum-drum everyday life, no one would want to read them. People see romances as less valuable because they are not "realistic." Mysteries, science fiction and fantasy, action and adventure books/movies are not realistic either, yet they are not discredited nor disfavored because of it. Jurassic Park, Star Wars, James Bond, King Kong, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman...are these real? No. Are the characters larger than life? Do we love them? Yes. They are entertainment and a lot of fun just as romance novels are.
Why write romance?
It's all about the happy ending. Romance as a genre of fiction is a very uplifting one. Everyone wants to fall in love, live with their loved one and keep that special love their whole lives, don't they? Even men. And that "happy ending" is not really an ending at all. It's the beginning of the rest of their lives. The beginning of many happy years together. We all know the divorce rate is high, but despite that bleak reality, we as humans need to have hope. We need to believe the ideal is possible. And even if a person's life is depressing, for the time they're reading a romance they again hold that hope and belief close to their heart. Romance is about an ideal we all want--unconditional love and acceptance.

This is the reason I don't understand why romance is looked down upon by certain types of people. Mostly I think this happens because they don't understand romance. There are good and bad books in every genre and you can't judge the whole of any genre by the bad books. Look at the top-selling, award-winning books of that type if you want to understand the appeal of it. Some people say romance is formulaic. Guess what, all popular fiction and most movies (especially top-grossing ones) are formulaic. Most of them follow the three act play structure, an ancient method of storytelling. The only difference is, in a romance, the main journey is emotional, the development of a relationship against all odds.

Many movies out today are romances at heart. Not just romantic comedies. But many big name, award-winning movies like Walk the Line and Memoirs of a Geisha have romance and enduring love at their heart. I love discovering movies like this.

In addition, romance is empowering to women. All women deserve to be treated well by the men in our lives. We deserve respect and love. We deserve to have our dreams come true. We deserve our own "happy endings."
Spring Fever

This time of year I often become garden and plant obsessed. Okay, not so much lately, but for a couple days I was. I'd talked to a friend who also gardens and listened to her describe changes she was making to her garden. This made me want to get out there and dig in the dirt. I know it doesn't sound romantic in the least or even fun. But it is, despite the hard work and how exhausted I feel afterward. The visualization of the finished landscape inspires me. If I want a certain area to look like the image in my head in a few months or next year, I have to make changes now.



We've been working in our pond area, so I expanded on this, moving hostas, sedum, arum and ivy around the pond. We installed a new UV filter for our pond to clear the water and increased the height of our little waterfall. My husband also installed a lamp light on a post. A couple months ago I reported we'd cleaned the pond. Now the waterlilies are covering most of the surface and blooming. It's really starting to look romantic and pretty out there. This is especially important to me because the window of my office looks out onto the pond. In the summer, I open my window and listen to the water splashing from the waterfall and fountain.
New Sales & Links

I've sold a new short story, "Good Enough to be a Daddy?" to True Experience magazine for their summer issue. This is my first sale to them and this mag comes out about 4 times a year. In this secret baby story, a bad boy discovers he's fathered a child and he wonders if his ex-girlfriend will think he's daddy material. This is my first male point of view story. My short story, "Imprisoned By Love", is out this month in True Confessions.


Cool Links

Do you ever get a rejection from an editor or agent and say, "someday you'll regret rejecting me?" We all have those fantasies or at least I do. :-) Here is link to an agent's blog where she talks about the ones that got away and how she feels about them. (You will need to copy and paste these addys into your browser in two parts.)

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2006/05/
one-that-got-awayand-i-regret-it-part.html


Are you ready to jump into the sea of marketing and self-promotion? Here's a list of the gazillion things an author should do before his/her book is released.

http://www.bluemooncommunications.com/
white_papers/message_points.htm
Five Lessons
I don't know where this originated but it came through one of my email groups. Five touching stories, mostly about helping others. Another lesson here for writers... it doesn't take much space to evoke emotion. And for romance writers, it's all about the emotion, not just romantic emotions but the whole spectrum.

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady. During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count towardour quiz grade. Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello." I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached..It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others." Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve. In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it." Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied. The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.. You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path. In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand! Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts... Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it, if it will save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the little boy had misunderstoodthe doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.
Trip

I recently went to Cleveland, Ohio, with my husband. He had business training and workshops there. I spent most of my time writing in our hotel room, which was very nice. My husband is a huge basketball fan. Going to the NBA playoff game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards was a thrill for him.
















This beautiful waterfall was out back of a fantastic restaurant where we ate in a village outside Cleveland.

Trip continued
This was my first time traveling through West Virginia and Ohio. It is a really beautiful area. Everything was so lush and green.

Are you a Splenda fan?
I was. (Yes, past tense.) About a month or so ago I discovered flavored water. I've always tried to drink a lot of water and for it to have a fruity sweet flavor with no calories was a definite bonus. I've never been able to drink diet drinks with aspartame because it gives me headaches. And I've been off regular soda for years because I have a negative food allergy to corn syrup. So without research, I started drinking the flavored water and yogurt smoothies sweetened with Splenda (sucralose). Since they are no calorie and I want to lose some weight I thought this was fantastic. I was going to get the powdered Splenda to put in my coffee and other things but decided to do some research first to see if it actually helped with weight loss. This is what I found:

http://www.splendaexposed.com/

http://www.womentowomen.com/nutritionandweightloss/splenda.asp

http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/100/105877.htm?pagenumber=1

http://low-carb.us/splendasafety.html

http://suewidemark.com/splenda.htm


I don't know whether the negative reports are urban legend or the truth. You must make your own decision. But I am now officially off Splenda. I can't say whether I had any of the negative symptoms or side effects mentioned by others since I only used it a little over a month. Whether you choose to use it or not, it's important to have all the facts. Do your research. Pay attention to how your body feels.

I raise my glass of plain, unflavored, unsweetened water to your health.
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