September Thoughts

Cozy sweaters, tea in the evening, cool walks, and falling leaves. Just a short note to ask who else loves fall? Being a writer is a weird thing. Outside the leaves are turning colour and the air is cooler, but the story I’m writing takes place in springtime. Both are transition seasons. Spring is bright and loud and hopeful. Autumn is quiet and contemplative, fostering a sense of gathering up what we started in spring. One is a time to recover from the winter and the other is a time to prepare for the harsher weather to come. At least, on the Canadian prairies that’s the case.

Until next time…

Give Your Love A Book For Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day! A day for cards and chocolates, and who doesn’t love chocolate! But if your love is a passionate reader, remember to stop by the bookstore after you hit the flower shop and the card store.

The Top Five Reasons To Give Books For Valentine’s Day:

  1. Nothing says I Love You! like a well chosen book. Even a misguided choice will do. Giving a book says they understand and support your obsession.
  2. You can return books. Let’s face it, sometimes your significant others might know you love books but they’re clueless about what you actually like to read.
  3. Books don’t make you sneeze.
  4. There’ll be some of it left over the next morning, unlike the chocolate you inhaled.
  5. Books are full of good ideas, especially romance novels. They just might have a sexy suggestion or two for later.

Love Quote

Also, if you’re solo this Valentine’s Day, because, hey, you choose to be, you can take yourself to the bookstore and buy your own book! How about organizing a Galentine’s Day book club with flowers and chocolates for everyone.

Likewise, if you’re suffering this V Day, and are in need of comfort. You don’t even have to leave the house to find some solace, eBooks have you covered.

Love Quote

Thought Of The Week:

I read this article in the Chicago Tribune which ponders the future of the romance novel in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

“Romance offers that comfort read, but it also offers resistance. You have a lot of feminists who are writing romance, Alisha Rai, Alyssa Cole, Sarah MacLean, and they’re all putting that kind of thread through their books. Resistance has always been there. Women have always had to resist in order to get what they want out of life,” Beverly Jenkins

Go ahead and buy yourself a treat this Valentine’s Day and get that book you’ve been wanting to read. You deserve it.

What are you’re plans for Valentine’s Day?

My Favourite Romance Tropes!

Tropes are popular. Movies have them, television shows have them. Books have them. Look no further than the romance genre that’s never met a trope it didn’t like. Some of which we love and some we love to hate. That’s what makes taglines and covers so important. It’s the first indication of what you can expect to find inside the pages of a book.

Romance TropesMy Top Five Favourite Romance Tropes:

  1. Reunion/Second Chance Stories (Hands down my go to favourite trope! Bonus points if they take place in a small town! Sigh…)
  2. Badass Bookworm (Intelligence is a major turn-on for me.)
  3. Fish Out Of Water (Nothing makes me happier than a heroine or hero who finds themselves in a situation they never imagined without the appropriate skills to navigate it.)
  4. Nerd Hero (Heroes with brains? Glasses? A aptitude for math? Don’t talk to me until I’m done the book.)
  5. Beauty and the Beast (Always.)

My Top Least Favourite Romance Tropes:

  1. Enemies to Lovers (This scenario does not work for me! Not sure why!)
  2. Marriage of Convenience (I always think I’ll these ones and then I never, ever do. I think because they often have an unequal power dynamic.)
  3. Famous Hero/Normal Heroine (These leave me cold, for lack of a better term. That includes billionaire heroes, rock star heroes, sports heroes. I know, I’m weird.)
  4. Little Sister/Older Brother’s Best Friend. (The conflict often results from breaking a dated bro code and that doesn’t work for me.)
  5. Boss/Secretary (Just..yuck! Again, I never enjoy the power dynamic of these type of workplace romances.)

I guess you could say I definitely have preferences. I LOVE to root for the underdog. Intelligent characters are a must for most readers, but high IQs, geniuses, characters who are passionate or experts in their fields draw me right in. On the other hand, hardworking, salt of the earth, self-sacrificing characters who are just looking to keep their heads down and get the job done are also a favourite of mine.

romance novels

But any book with the word ‘bastard’ in the title – no, thanks. That goes for books with the word ‘submissive’ anywhere on the cover too. As you might have guessed from my least favourite list, any book where the representation of power is immediately perceived to be unequal is of little interest to me.

As for my own writing, BACKLASH definitely has a second chance at love feel to it. EXPOSED has a smidgen of a May/December trope. OFF THE GRID has both a badass bookworm (or smart, passionate doctor) and nerd hero vibe. And if you enjoy the family dysfunction trope, you’ll love the book I’m working on right now.

However, despite my lists, I’m always open to great writing and well-developed characters. And if a favoured author pens a book that looks like it might fall into the ‘nope’ category, I’ll definitely check it out. After all, we learn as much from books we don’t like as from the ones we do.

How about you? What are your favourite types of stories? Least favourite?

How To Get Noticed In A Downpour

It’s raining books. Yes, it is. Some three million books were published last year. Nightstands and shelves are stacked with books, digital and otherwise. A plethora of books is good news for book lovers. Choice is always a good thing. It also means a bevy of authors are busy vying for the attention of the book buying public. Most of us are struggling to stand out from the crowd, trying in vain to garner reviews which will influence all those lovely bibliophiles out there to part with their money. It’s a cut throat book-selling world to be sure. But how far is too far to go in reaching for elusive bestseller status?

Debunking The Bestseller: This post came to my attention through one of my yahoo groups. Soran Kaplan defends his decision to use a company called ResultSource to help him hit the bestseller lists with his book Leapfrogging from day one. He addresses the nebulous distinction of gaming the system versus working the system. I don’t even know what to make of this…I had no idea you could purchase these kind of services.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels: Susan Mallory answers questions about marketing and her decision to develop a Review Squad. Free books to two hundred of her lucky readers in exchange for an honest review. On Amazon the more reviews you have the easier it is to find you. Fair enough but, um, isn’t this a little like asking your friends or ‘a sure thing’ for a review? And aren’t these the kind of reviews we’re supposed to ignore?

Is it wrong or sketchy to influence public opinion? Or in this case lists and algorithms? It happens all the time in every aspect of life. Perhaps the real question should be do we buy books based on popularity? Of course, we do. That’s why there are lists. And Goodreads. Do we see a title on a bestseller list and figure it must be worth a little investigation because, well, it’s on a bestseller list? Do we wonder how they got there? Are positive reviews by readers just another way to pass on good news? Kind of like online word-of-mouth, only not really?

What say you?

* What follows is more preachy business about Freed to Read Week and one of my favorite authors.

The river flowed both ways.

Above is the first line of The Diviners written by Margaret Laurence. I should come clean and confess to loving Margaret Laurence to whom I was first introduced to in high school English class by way of her novel, The Stone Angel. I went on to discover A Jest of God, and The Fire-Dwellers. But it was her book The Diviners which grabbed my heart and never let go. Morag Gunn is a protagonist like no other.


The culmination and completion of Margaret Laurence’s celebrated Manawaka cycle, The Diviners is an epic novel.

This is the powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process – putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in time, the aloneness that had once been forced upon her becomes a precious right – relinquished only in her overwhelming need for love. Again and again, Morag is forced to test her strength against the world – and finally achieves the life she had determined would be hers.

The Diviners has been acclaimed by many critics as the outstanding achievement of Margaret Laurence’s writing career. In Morag Gunn, Laurence has created a figure whose experience emerges as that of all dispossessed people in search of their birthright, and one who survives as an inspirational symbol of courage and endurance.

The Diviners earned Margaret Laurence her second Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1974. It also drew great criticism from religious and conservative groups. They lobbied to have it banned from schools and libraries.

Writer Timothy Findley observed: “no other writer in Canadian history suffered more at the hands of these professional naysayers, book-banners and censors than Laurence.”

They hoped to ban The Diviners “in defence of decency”. I am eternally grateful they didn’t succeed.

Carnivalesque: The Stigma of Romance

We serving up a hot topic today and talking about the Stigma of Romance Novels. Come join my fellow Carnivalesque: Travelling Blog Show friends as we discuss the myths and realities of the romance genre! Stop by Janet’s Journal and hear what Jana Richards, Hayley E. Lavik, Joanne Brothwell, and I have to say about it!



The Travelling Blog Show: Romantic Fiction


WELCOME to Carnivalesque: The Travelling Blog Show! Five writers (Jana, Hayley, Joanne, Janet and myself) are creating a travelling blog show. See yesterday’s post for a more in depth introduction of sorts. You’re invited to join us every Thursday as we pack up our opinions and travel to that week’s host blog. Each Thursday we’ll pick a topic  for discussion.

Yay! This week I’m going to start things off with:

It’s called the romance genre, but what’s romantic about it?

Jana: What makes a novel romantic for me is emotion. It’s all about the feelings the couple experiences as they fall in love. One minute they’re on top of the world and the next they’re totally dejected because they believe their love can never be. I want to feel everything this couple is feeling, and experience all their highs and lows on their journey to love. I want to feel like I’m the one falling in love. A romance novel falls flat for me if I can’t feel those emotions.

Hayley: I’m probably in the minority about this, but my first thought goes to consent. Both partners expressed a desire to sleep with each other in the sex scene? Their attachments formed through natural circumstances, rather than coercion or pressure? Score! That’s so romantic!

So many romance plots (in any medium) seem to rely on the assumption that we, the reader/audience, know those two are going to get together in the end, so even if they’re reluctant in the moment, we know what’s best *nod*. This creates an alarming number of stories involving stalking, one-sided relationships where one partner is just the prize, and sex where one person says “No,” but it’s okay because we know they both secretly want it. Not cool.

In the middle of all this, if I find two people forming a loving, respectful, and consensual relationship, that makes me swoon every time!

 Janet: Back in the day (I swore I’d never use that phrase and, yet, here I am), when you went into the bookstore and zipped to the romance section you were sure to get, well, a romantic read. Virile heroes saving the damsel in distress. Romantic gestures to woo said damsel in distress. And you were always guaranteed a happily-ever-after! Now, I don’t think you can count on that! Some of the recent novels read under the romance genre umbrella lack romantic gestures. Sure, there’s a romance between the hero and heroine, but the sub-plot (because I firmly believe the main plot in a romance story should be the romance), steals the show! So, should some of these books being shelved under Romance, not be better described as, for example, Women’s Fiction with romantic elements? Romance genre = the story of two people falling in love = romantic = my take on the topic!

Joanne: If I was to really think about the word romance, what comes to mind for me is the emotional connection between two people. Wikipedia defines it as:  Romance or romantic usually refers to Romance (love), love emphasizing emotion over libido. The books I enjoy the most always emphasizes the emotional connection rather than the hot, steamy sex. Although having both is fine, as long as sex isn’t the focus.

I find human relationships fascinating. Communication within those relationships is even more interesting; the nuances in pitch and volume, facial expressions, and word choice between romantic partners. The meta-communication that tells you the most about the relationship is often so subtle it would be difficult to pick up as an outsider. Those are the things I enjoy reading and writing about. The complexity of emotional connections.

Karyn: For me romance novels (and I’m not sure that’s an apt term anymore) are about the growing relationship between the main characters in the book. There’s no surprise ending. The heart of the story is in the developing connection leading to a commitment of sorts. But where’s the romance? Because I keep getting stuck on that word.

By far the majority of the books I read have alpha heroes (romantic suspense or paranormal). I love them. If we’re talking fantasies here? Then I want commanding, and I want confident, and damn it, I want big…brains. We’re often talking life or death here. But more than that I want to read about an intelligent and mutually respectful relationship. In and out of bed.

In the end, maybe it’s more about me, as the reader, being romanced by the heart wrenching emotional journey of finding the right partner.

We’re moving the party to the comment section! Please, weigh in with your thoughts and opinions. We’d love to hear from you.