Vintage Romance?

I don’t want to talk about old-school romance books right now, but romances that are too modern to be classed as historical romance, and too old-fashioned to be classed as contemporary romance.

This has been on my mind a bit recently for a few reasons:

  • In an authors’ group I’m part of I came across several people who wanted to submit manuscripts set in the 1960s and the 1970s and the 1980s, but they had no idea who would even look at them.
  • I am currently working on my father’s Vietnam War commander’s memoirs (my father was in the armoured corps of the Australian Army), and I have the 60s on my mind.
  • June this year sees the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba – considered the second most significant battle Australia fought in Vietnam – and my father is helping to organise the entire national service/memorial (he also did the 40th).

There is so much potential for so many good stories set in the second half of the 20th century. It was a time with so much upheaval. The Cold War, the rise and fall of communism, Korea, Vietnam… Not to mention all the changes at home, with women’s changing roles in society etc.

And yet… where are these books?

I do know of one publisher who has actively been seeking these sorts of stories for years and years: The Wild Rose Press.

However, isn’t it time we start a wider market for these books?

The Week: 18th – 24th March

So. I have news. BIG NEWS. However, I’m not going to share it until everything is finalised. In the meantime, here are some silly pictures:

From my home office window in Canberra on Thursday afternoon. One of Australia’s scruffiest baby birds (that is about half a metre in length – so not so little). What a cute mess!

St Patrick's Day Dancing Canberra 2019

St Patrick’s Day dancing in Canberra last weekend.

Out Now: The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

My review of What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucile de Pesloüan

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucile de Pesloüan

My review of Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family

10 Romance Clichés

Uh, Book Depository?

10 Romance Clichés

Harlequin Publishing Logo

I randomly stumbled upon this blog post a little while ago, and thought I’d link to it. Usually when I see posts like this I disagree, but Harlequin editor Patience Bloom is pretty spot-on!

Bloom mentions clichés such as those bolts of electricity that always seem to be running up characters’ arms when they touch their true love, the “natural beauty” heroines whose routine consists of putting on lip gloss and nothing else, and those “curves in all the right places”.

You can read the whole post HERE.

Remember “Romantica”?

Wild Card (Elite Ops #1) by Lora Leigh

Around a decade ago, everyone in the romance community was talking about a new subgenre: “Romantica”. It was when romances started getting super-steamy, but they also had the classic romance-genre Happy Ever After. They weren’t erotica, but nobody had a better term for them.

Remember that? Because it was a term I used to use fairly often, and until a few weeks ago I’d totally forgotten about it. There’s not a great deal of purpose to this post other than to observe how quickly things in publishing change.

I was reminded of “Romantica” because I was rereading Smart Bitches’ hilarious 2009 review of Pregnesia, which was connected to a discussion about Lora Leigh’s Elite Ops series, which led me to read some old reviews of some of those books. I don’t remember much about them other than that the first one used the misogynistic term “dumb blonde” a lot, and ended with a scene involving surprise anal sex, where the hero commented that he’d finally “touched his wife’s soul”.

Things change so fast in Romancelandia that I doubt these any of these erotic romance books would be written the same way now, only a decade after they were first published.

In the years since, a certain Twilight fan by the name of E.L. James wrote some fan fiction about another blonde-hating brunette who got spanked by a billionaire, and suddenly “erotic romance” was in the mainstream everywhere.

Not all change is good. I’m growing increasingly annoyed with readers who one-star books – particularly historical romances – because the characters don’t perform like porn stars on the page, or because the heroine is a virgin (unmarried pregnant girls in the 19th century often ended up on the streets – or dead. There’s a reason there were so many premarital virgins). Amazing authors like Mimi Matthews have to self-publish because her books aren’t filled with the steamier stuff so many publishers demand.

I wonder what – another ten years on – we write, read, and talk about now will seem spectacularly outdated then.

The Week: 25th February – 3rd March

One of the cockatoos who lives in the front garden, coming to investigate the other birds on the back deck on Wednesday morning.

Australian Raven Bird Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 25th February 2019 2

A raven trying to steal my plastic container at lunchtime on Monday – caught in the act!

Argh! How is it already autumn?! We’re still having temperatures in the low to mid-thirties in Canberra (in the nineties, if you measure in Fahrenheit), but the leaves are starting to change.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Melbourne Production

My review of Lady Notorious (The Royal Rewards #4) by Theresa Romain

SYTYCW Blog: “Banish stylistic clichés!”

SYTYCW Blog: “Banish stylistic clichés!”

sytycw-logo harlequin so you think you can write

The So You Think You Can Write blog makes for an interesting read when editors weigh in on trends in publishing. They also give advice on things they’re tired of seeing in romance books, and they recently had a post about phrases that need to be retired.

One phrase that is starting to annoy me in historical romance is “gloved hand/s”. When it first started showing up in books I thought it was a great description (especially as a reminder that our historical characters dressed very differently). However, now I see it in every single book, and it has completely lost its impact.

Here are some of the things editors are sick of (and you can read the whole post HERE):

Her mouth formed a perfect O.

She bit her lip.

His smile didn’t reach his eyes.

She looked up from under her lashes.

She touched his hand and felt a jolt/spark of electricity.

(I’ve got to admit to absolutely despising the last one. People aren’t electrical conductors!)

The latest in the current plagiarism drama.

Edited to add a link to a lengthy article covering this in detail, if you have the time to read it.

Here’s an updated look at what Cristiane Serruya has plagiarised. The list of books/articles/etc. she has stolen from keeps on growing,

For heaven’s sake, she even plagiarised Outlander!

What is so incredible is that she got away with it for so long. It is also incredible that so many book bloggers – people who should have recognised these original books – were giving her four and five-star reviews and not even noticing!

Also incredible: Serruya was not only entered in the RITA Awards, but was a judge!

Cristiane Serruya has plagiarism scandal 1

Cristiane Serruya has plagiarism scandal 2

Hands Off My HEA: Talia Hibbert

There’s a great article over at frolic that I read a little while ago. This is hardly a new topic for the romance genre, but Talia Hibbert takes on the book snobs in a refreshing way.

Hands Off My HEA: Talia Hibbert

When someone says “Romance doesn’t require a HEA!” I don’t hear: “Help me, I’m confused”. I hear: “I enjoy romance, but I don’t want to face the misogyny that romance-lovers face,” or: “I enjoy romance, but I struggle with internalised misogyny that says I shouldn’t.” To me, these people are trying to twist the meaning of ‘romance’ so our genre can fit alongside more respected forms of writing.

I don’t want the respect of anyone who can’t respect romance. Because they’re often misogynistic, usually ignorant, and frequently snobs. Their respect means nothing. Romance is above their respect. It’s about love, connection, caring, and hope. It’s about strength and power, about difference and kindness, and most of all, about everyone’s right to live happily ever after. It’s a trailblazing genre that constantly shakes the table. Anyone who tries to undermine that in a desperate grab for societal standing can go and debate their mother, because they certainly ain’t debating me.

Click on the link to continue reading…

Harlequin: Romance Plot Clichés

sytycw-logo harlequin so you think you can write

Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write blog has had a lot of interesting posts to start the year, and this one about plot clichés is pretty funny – and easy to relate to.

You can find the whole post HERE, but below are a couple of the things editors don’t want to see:

“Anything to do with the heroine falling down or being clumsy.” Variation: “She’s daintily eating potato skins and some sour cream doesn’t quite make it into her mouth. The hero leans over and dabs at her lips, smirking over how cute she is.”

 

“Stories that start with the heroine driving back to her hometown and thinking about all the backstory that got her to this moment.”