From Rosalie Lario: “I have been an avid reader of romance since I sneaked my first romance book at the age of thirteen. Yummy heroes and whirlwind adventures? I was instantly hooked! After graduating cum laude from law school, I became an attorney and practiced law for five years. But all the while I continued to read for relaxation. Nothing has ever been more effective at calming the stress than a well-told story of adventure and romance. When I was at home with my first child, I decided to indulge in my long-time dream of actually penning a romance of my own. I didn’t know if I could do it, but I was determined to try. Yes, that first manuscript was less than stellar, but it didn’t matter. Once again I was hooked. I’ve gotten more than one snide comment over the years about my love of romances comments like why would you read that trash? Honestly, I think it’s mostly said out of ignorance. In my experience, those who deride romance the most tend to be people who’ve never even read one. I’ve read many romances, and on the whole I would say they are well-crafted stories with strong, intelligent plots and satisfying emotional entanglements. I challenge naysayers to give romance a shot. It’s not for dummies!”
From multi-published author Cindy Spencer Pape: “I have a BS/MS in biology, specifically animal behavior. I interned at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. I worked as an educator for the Philadelphia Zoo, curator of zoology at the Central Michigan University Museum, I’ve been on the science faculty at Mid Michigan Community College and I’ve been a naturalist for the Howell (Michigan) Nature Center. I’ve done a stint as township clerk and I’ve worked as a short and long-term substitute teacher and high school math tutor, including SAT prep.” Cindy writes romance in many genres – paranormal, western, contemporary, historical, erotic, sensual, gay, and menage. Cindy is published with Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Total E-Bound, The Wild Rose Press, and Resplendence.
From Leslie Richardson, aka Tymber Dalton, Tessa Monroe, and Macy Largo: “I am a classically trained writer. By that I mean I knew 20+ years ago when I was in school that I wanted to be a writer. I spent that time studying the art and craft of writing, reading voraciously, working as a writer of nonfiction, editing – you get the picture. When I was in junior high and high school, romance books were Harlequin bodice rippers. I tried one, hated it for lack of plot and cardboard characters, and from that point on, I was one of the detractors of romance books.
“I swore I’d never write romance and erotica. But I stumbled across Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson in the bookstore – not shelved in the romance section – and after it hooked me, I learned it was classified as paranormal romance. Wow, really? Hmmm. I wrote like that already. Many of my unpublished stories had some sort of romantic element in them…but they weren’t those old bodice rippers. I wondered, what gives?
“What gives is that in those 20+ years romance and erotica had undergone a huge metamorphosis. People wanted plot, not just hot. They wanted characters they could care about even when they weren’t doing the nasty and having wild monkey sex! Okay…cool!
“I majored in English in college, with a minor in creative writing. I had to drop out before graduation due to family circumstances, but I am not an uneducated person. I write stories I’d enjoy reading, characters I’d like to read about. I try to be as realistic as possible. Some readers enjoy this approach, some just want hot monkey sex. That’s fine because there’s a flavor for everyone.
“People read romance and erotica as a diversion. It doesn’t matter what their educational level is or what they do for a living. Reading romance doesn’t make them stupid. My reading interests range from Jen Cole and Rick R. Reed, to Stephen King, James Lee Burke and Tim Dorsey, to Hemingway and Shakespeare. And everything in between! I read what interests me. I write what interests me – romance and erotica, horror, mysteries and YA.
“You don’t have to have a reading list full of high-brow titles to be a smart person. Don’t the smartest people broaden their horizons and view the world around them in its entirety? They certainly don’t limit themselves or exclude certain genres just because they think it’s beneath them.
“Do I like all romance out there? No. But does any mainstream reader like every choice laid before them? Of course not.
“Writing isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am. I am a writer. I wrote before I was fortunate to be able to make a living at it, and I’d keep doing it as a hobby even if I couldn’t get paid for it. I want to have fun with what I’m doing. So if someone thinks that puts me or my readers beneath them, I’d challenge them to prove to me why – beyond their personal disdain for the genre. Prove it. Put your money where your mouth is. Because quite honestly, romance readers probably have a heck of a lot more fun in their lives. I’d be willing to bet they’re less judgmental and probably more open-minded about reading choices.”
From Katalina Leon: “For a number of reasons, my early education was very spotty. I was dyslexic at a time when no one recognized or diagnosed dyslexia in girls. My brother was given help in school, I was not – I was considered lazy. The school’s solution was to stick me into a large utility closet with a desk and force me to work harder – to memorize everything.
“I dreaded being labeled stupid and I often was. My handwriting and spelling resembled chicken scratch – and still does – but I found my hand could control a paintbrush or drawing pencil perfectly, so I taught myself what I could and set my sights on becoming an artist. It was the only avenue open to me at the time.
“By the age of fourteen, I virtually dropped out of school to care for my terminally ill mother. Soon after my older sister had a child and returned to work, so I had my mother and my nephew to care for. I dodged truant officers for a couple of years until I could have myself legally emancipated as an adult. All during this time, I read voraciously. I found odd positions to sit in – hanging my head upside-down off a bunk bed – where I could concentrate and read for hours. I read many subjects, trying my best to supplement my education.
“What does this have to do with romance? Everything. During this time, I denied myself the pleasure of reading a romance novel because I heard some catty women talking about how stupid they were. Being labeled stupid yet again was the last thing I needed, so I didn’t touch a romance novel until I was thirty.
“I bought a hot book with Fabio on the cover. Blushing, I almost ran from the bookstore in shame, but I read it, and a whole new world opened up. I realized I loved romance novels. These books touched me, healed me, on a level no other form of literature had ever reached. These were books by women for women about women, and something clicked. I dreamed about writing my own stories. Four years ago, I mustered the courage to teach myself to type and I began to write for the first time, ever. I was shocked at how many words I had within, waiting to pour out on the page.
“My education is on-going. I did get help from a tutor and returned to community college as an adult. I love working with children and being a mentor to young adults because I know how easy it is to slip through the cracks. Our school system often overlooks smart, talented people because of superficial problems.
“In my view, romance novels are the feminine version of the mythical heroic journey. I’m hooked. I love romance and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the collective story.”
Comments from yesterday’s post that deserve repeating – from Mia Watts: “Jessica’s role as a teacher, feminist, and supporter of romance, I find most gratifying. Perhaps it’s because of the regularly received barbs about my writing being “porn”, or the insipid little chuckles when I reveal what I do for a living. It’s amazing to me that people can be so harsh and judgmental over an industry and genre that thrives on warming the hearts of readers. We have fun doing what we do. We enjoy making readers happy. Hell, I like making ME happy, too.
“The criticism never stops. I know that it probably never will. You know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see one of those naysayers sit down and create a solid, well-woven plot, that others want to read. My guess is they can’t. I’m not saying their words are about jealousy, just ignorance. Close-minded people closed the door a long time ago. It’s not my job to convince them they’re wrong. However, it IS my job to write the best damn story I can to entertain whomever is knocking on my door for more.”
And Rebecca Goings: “I think romance is getting bigger these days because there’s so much *more* than “contemporary” and “historical” now. Women who love to read literary fiction, who enjoyed the thin, romantic subplots within can now turn the volume to “11″ with today’s romance novels.
“Romance authors nowadays (I believe because of eBooks) are more open to the weird, strange, and exciting plot lines. You no longer have to read about falling for your neighbor or the English rake. Sure, those plots are still readily available. But these days, we have the paranormal, the fantasies, the urban fantasies, historicals that go beyond England, more prevalent time travels, futuristics.
“Romance is thriving because of all it’s sub-genres.”