Romance and non-romance readers unite – is there a happy medium?

Gather round romance and non-romance readers and writers. Or gather around. Do it in a circular fashion, circle before you get here, or just come and sit down anywhere.

Now, scooch in a little closer.  I’m not a complete monster. I’m only halfway there.

Originally I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to talk about  the deep psychological reasons behind why  I can’t read romance and why others can.   I’ve found great reading friends over the past three years and I know that our romance buttons need to be pushed in different ways. Some of us need a manual, but others can enjoy the book for what it is, and leave out with the nitpicking. This is one of those times where I think to say less is to say more.  I have a habit of coming across a little cynical.

I was an obsessive reader before I started writing. When I found there were adult versions of  Young Adult Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, I went a little crazy. Er, crazier. The supernatural without angst? Isn’t this one of their super powers that allows them to hook so many readers? Bring on the twenty books I ordered from the library. Bring on the flushed cheeks when I was served by a man at the counter and I used my husbands library card. He didn’t have to say, ” Are these for your husband?” But he did.

So my eyes were opened – widely. I have romance, sex and alpha men, and I didn’t know what to make of them. What I found though, is that there were romance aspects that stopped me from reading the more romance-skewed books. The romance seemed too extreme, too unrealistic. I was proclaiming, “Why is she so special!” “That wouldn’t happen!” I read to escape, but I found I was escaping less.

I ran to Urban Fantasy, clutching my pearls. I wanted more tension, a slower-burn romance, an exciting protagonist, a greater connection, a less protective male and less sex.

Would romance writers lose their market if they compromised these elements? When I throw a book because a woman looked at a man’s biceps thirty times while they were in a dire situation, is there someone out there dichotomous to me who throws the book when she only looked at them twice?

Is there a way to keep all of us happy? Is there a happy medium? Well, you’d have to find a happy medium first, and if they are happy, they’ve probably finally worked out the lottery numbers and won’t want to work anymore.

*braces herself*

 

 

 

 

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Looking at review pressure points in a different light.

I never had a review blog, but I did write normal reviews on goodreads and was quite vocal. I don’t review anymore because I guess on this side of the writing, I’ve changed my perspective.

From my experience with reviewing, there are a number of pressure points that can boil blood.  This is my take now that I’m behind the wheel. These might be Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance pressure points, but some are relevant to all genres. This list isn’t exhaustive.

TSTL – Too stupid to live.

Well I changed this one to ‘ too stubborn to listen’  for Mae, my protagonist.  This is when you feel the character is making reckless and uninformed decisions, endangering their safety. Characters do some pretty stupid things. When you write, you need to take them on a journey or they’re all just sitting around in an impenetrable box shooting the breeze. And although the breeze might turn quite rancid after awhile as they start sharing breath, the story would be more interesting if you get them out there into the action. I think the key here is growth.

Growth

Okay, this one hasn’t changed for me. I love growth. I love to watch a sitcom where one minute you are shaking your fist at an idiot, and the next you are crying because they figured out that no-one tolerates a selfish hater. I can be easily manipulated by good writing. Where it happens is important to me though. I like characters to grow within the book. I won’t wait 2-3 books.

Love triangles

Sometimes they just appear. They don’t bother me anymore because what I thought was contrived, is sometimes a coincidence, and sometimes there’s more than one member of the opposite sex hanging around that’s single.  What does bug me though, is when the protagonist manipulates her loyal subjects who in turn morph into sulking morons when they don’t get attention. But I don’t review anymore. So I’ll shush.

Cliffhangers

I thought these only existed to entice the reader to continue the series. What I’ve realised is that you write until you feel the story is ready to end.

Mary-Sue

This one still confuses me but I love it when people rant about it. I think this is when a protagonist is deemed uninteresting,  but the love interest runs around like a headless looney to be with her anyway. Or is it when ten headless loonies want to be with her? Or do they whine about how boring they are – I don’t even have to infer it – but they suddenly become the most interesting person to the most amazing person and there is no reason? Is it when you feel the writer wishes they were the protagonist?

I can probably tolerate anyone as long as they don’t have loads of adoring fans who pass out with awe when they walk past. And I have to see that romantic connection. I get it when she’s sassy, and he’s sassy and together they are the Sassinators, but when there is only a physical attraction and there is loads of whine involved, I’m out. Wine involved? Count me back in.

Okay, I just did some research. This needs its own post. Could be fun.

Interesting Protagonist.

This is probably more of a pressure point for UF and PNR since most of it is written in first person pov. There is nowhere to hide. I used to wonder, “Why don’t writers make the protag interesting? A real fire-cracker?” They may not want to, they may want the story to shine, they may not think they are uninteresting. Also, I read a book with an over the top  fire-cracker once and wow that was exhausting. Maybe not to the writer though. *shrugs*

What are your reviewing pressure points and have they changed? Did you change your perspective on reviewing when you started to write?

*deletes goodreads reviews*

YA,NA and Adult: Blurring the lines

I’m going to be making some huge generalisations here. I’m in the final stages of my second to last edit and I have to take some leaps. Forgive me if I fall into a big hole in the process. I’ll roll over and expose my belly later, but I don’t have the time right now.

I should probably note here that I’m a huge Urban Fantasy fan ( with Urban Fantasy there’s a paranormal aspect, but the romance normally takes a back seat. If romance was driving, it would be called Paranormal Romance.) and my comments about contemporary romances are probably ill-informed and basic. But considering it takes up a large part of the NA market, and this is where my book fits age-wise, I have to acknowledge it’s existence.

Hi, NA Contemporary Romance *waves sheepishly*.  I’m Urban Fantasy, new to the block. No, please keep your pants on, this is just an informal introduction.

The year New Adult  was born ( protag aged between 18-25 I believe) , I contemplated writing a book. It was certainly  before the age group was accepted as its own category,  but I didn’t know it existed at the time.  I don’t know if I shied away from writing New Adult because of this, or because I wasn’t ready period. Redundant statement really.

I heard NA was born because some authors were being handed back their manuscripts and told: make the characters younger, tone down the sex and lets get some YA love out of the market. People wanted to write about emotions, the exciting time where you leave your parents to experiment life.  I believe it started with books like Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. Still pretty tame for NA really. The setting was university, but the sex didn’t dominate. I don’t know what happened though – over the next few years NA contemporary romance seems to have become very erotic.  I could proclaim myself a prude with my desire to shy away from reads that are heavily erotic. I don’t know if this is it though. And I’m not saying they don’t have great story lines that hook you in- I almost stayed up all night reading Beautiful Disaster. I guess I’m confused as to why the NA that’s selling well seems erotically skewed. Is this because there are no other NA genres available to this age group? Why can’t we have NA that reads like YA, but with older characters? Oh, but less angsty than YA.

When you take out the angst, you can almost argue it becomes more adult in nature. But considering a lot of my content and humour could be considered juvenile to adult readers,  this isn’t exactly where I sit either.  My character doesn’t tolerate boundaries, so I’ll be damned if I shove her somewhere she doesn’t want to go.

I’m blurring the lines. My book isn’t angsty, it isn’t romancey, it isn’t adult, it isn’t not erotic. Am I doomed? Will romance forever be kicking the back of my seat saying, “Let me drive. I can do this so much better, and I’ll do it better nude?”

When you’re writing, do you consider what appeals to your market, or like me, do you write what appeals to you, and hope that it will resonate with the right readers who can be of any age.