Confession No. 1
I have always been an insatiable reader (nope, that's not my confession). Yet, for the majority of my life I could be classified as a selective book snob and closet hypocrite. I avoided reading mystery books, police procedurals, and pooh-poohed the entire romance genre as full of half-rate writers who couldn't make it in mainstream publishing.
As a teenager when friends were reading Harlequin romances and "bodice rippers" -- I was reading Shakespeare, Stoker, and Shelley. In fact, I didn't even become a Jane Austen fan until I was an adult. My first crush with Austen was her poke at Gothic romance Northanger Abbey. This was the catalyst that sent me off to Austen-land and I was utterly absorbed by her rich story plots and witty social insight.
I swear this is all going somewhere. Hang in there.
What is all the hub, bub? It's about my growing collection of books that in recent years has expanded to include paranormal romance. Egads! (You might exclaim.) My first dip into that genre was to prove to myself that the writing would be fluff and the authors would not be able to build the complex worlds I wanted to read about. I assumed the pages would be full of wanton sex and no substance. Not that I don't love me some good sex scenes. I just assumed, and wrongly, that the sex was for sex sake without moving the story forward. Sort of like the complaint some people make about violence in films. Was I ever wrong.
I can say, with confidence, as an academic in gender studies that the romance genre is not full of submissive women waiting for alpha males to sweep them off their feet. The stories are rich, complex, and have kick-ass female characters who are proactive. No one was more surprised than I was. There is something to be said for happily ever after or even, happy for now. Known in the romance community as HEA or HFN. Yeah, I know-- familiarity with the acronyms is a sure sign that I have been invested in reading these books voraciously.
Skipping along this yellow brick road of self discovery in reading adventures took me down an unexpected path. It started as a lark over morning coffee with college friends. We attended the same small liberal arts women's college, consider ourselves women of the world, we are diverse in age, and lifestyle choices. And there we were discussing the romance genre and how much space it takes up at the local Barnes and Noble. Along with all the other bookstores in bigger cities. And that is how we decided to become romance novel writers.
No, I haven't published any romance novels yet. My yellow brick road diverged as I meandered aimlessly for a while. Robert Frost warned us all about that diverging road. I decided to take the path less worn and discovered a fantabulous rainbow beyond the overgrowth. I am now many thousands of words into my first male/male romance novel. The response of my first readers has been more than positive. I have been receiving signs around me that reinforce I am going in the right direction.
For more insight into the romance book industry I highly recommend: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books