Simply Inflatable – and other romance titles

“What’re you reading now?” my husband asks. “Buggered by the Butler?”

Yeah, yeah. Everyone who reads romance knows the titles can earn them some raised eyebrows and a few sniggers.

They don’t embarrass me, and I’m happy to see some of my favorite authors having fun with them too. Sound quality’s not great on this, but how cool is it to see so many greats enjoying themselves?

And, it includes author Jill Shalvis, whose novel Simply Inflatable, er, Simply Irresistible I’m giving away this week!

Make sure you watch the outtakes at the end!

Can you think of any romance novel titles you could improve on?

Creating alternate endings

This is cross-posted at The Season.

Gone With the WindI hate Gone With The Wind. Hate it.

I know it’s supposed to be one the all-time greatest films, but I’ve seen it once and as God is my witness, I shall never watch it again.

I was 13 when I watched it. No one had spoiled the ending for me yet. My mom told me it was her favorite film, so we watched it together. After investing quite a bit of my heart in the story…after watching the characters’ painful struggle to grow…the film ended sadly?

Uh uh. Not for me, thanks.

The Romance Writers of America defines romance as having an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. Perhaps my aversion to sad endings is a sign that I’ve been conditioned by all the romance novels I’ve read. Maybe I’m just naturally someone who loves a happy ending. But in my mind, Rhett and Scarlett stay together in the end. It isn’t a perfect relationship, but they’re perfect for each other and they continue to have a passionate, tempestuous marriage.

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Guest post by Sara Megibow: being a feminist romance reader

Late one evening, when I’d just finished writing my post on being a feminist romance novelist, I was chatting with friends on Twitter when a tweet by agent Sara Megibow from the Nelson Agency popped up. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but she emphatically said that a woman can be a feminist and still love to read romance novels.

Since it was a subject that had been on my mind, I replied and soon we had a little conversation going. She’s very kindly agreed to share her thoughts here.

Sara MegibowIn my experience, here’s what happens:

Me, “I represent literary fiction” (true.)
Person, “OH, anyone I’ve read?”

Me, “I represent science fiction and fantasy novels” (true)
Person, “Hmmm…like the Hobbit?

Me, “I represent romance novels” (true)
Person, “Good grief, WHY? Aren’t they all just smut or porn?”

This conversation is about the same if I tell someone, “I read literary fiction”, “I read science fiction” and “I read romance.” My immediate reaction is always to feel hurt when someone says “WHY” – I mean whether I’m talking about my career or what I enjoy reading for pleasure, I say “romance” and someone says “blech.” I feel hurt. And mad. And then…defensive.

Over the years, I’ve come up with any number of responses to people when they give me heck. By now, I’ve narrowed my response down to one sentence, “I love romance novels because as a feminist with a women’s studies degree, I find the genre to be inherently pro-woman.” Now, THAT generates a great conversation! And, it’s true. The basic tenants of the genre – happy endings, healthy relationships and great sex are all pro-woman.

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Confessions of a feminist romance novelist

Tomorrow is the 100th International Women’s Day, and I’d like to talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while – the way novels written by, for, and about women are often dismissed as being harmful, demeaning or stupid.

The first female brain surgeon I ever came across was the heroine of a romance novel. I was twelve, and the idea of a woman being a brain surgeon was such a revelation that I remember it twenty years later.

Looking back, I have no idea why I thought women couldn’t be brain surgeons. I’d always had female pediatricians, dentists and orthodontists. I don’t recall my parents ever calling themselves feminists (the label being too tainted for them to feel comfortable with it), but they held the fundamental feminist beliefs in equality of treatment and opportunity. Likewise, my teachers never used the f-word, but when I was nine and George HW Bush ran for president the first time around, my teacher pointed out that only one classmate had used the phrase “he or she” in their essay “What would make a perfect President?”

It wasn’t me.

Whether I was lacking imagination or hard-wired by evolution to see myself in a certain role, I don’t know. What I do know is that the romance genre—which first introduced me to women smashing through glass ceilings—is often maligned as being anti-feminist, backward, and even harmful to women. The truth is much more complex.

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Do you want your fiction realistic, or real?

View of Prague castle and St Vitus Cathedral from Charles BridgeI met my husband in one of the world’s most romantic cities – Prague (Czech Republic, not Oklahoma). We were sitting in a smelly classroom at an English language school. When we introduced ourselves, I arched my brow (which he thought meant I had attitude) and he spoke with a deep voice and British accent. We started falling in love almost immediately.

A love story worth writing a novel about? Meh.

This month, a new line of romance novels (True Vows) is being published based on real-life experiences. Their tagline is “Life romanticized,” and they’re advertising themselves as a new subgenre of romance: Reality-Based Romance.

One of the first books out is Meet Me in Manhattan by Judith Arnold. It tells the story of high school sweethearts who split up and later reunite. You can see a pic of the real couple with Judith Arnold on the publisher’s blog.

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