For years I read romance novels that after a while all sounded and read the same. It was as if there was this gigantic pool of ghost writers churning out the same ideas month after month. Until the only difference I could find in the stories were the characters names and descriptions. On more than one occasion I held in my hands two books with identical covers -- except for the costumes and hair color on the two main protagonists. And too many times I would begin reading a book and stop to wonder... didn't I just read this? Or, after reading the back cover blurb before buying it, wonder... haven't I already read this?
It got to the point where I was having difficulty keeping my love of romance fiction alive. Where were the books that weren't historical? Where were the books that didn't deal in werewolves or vampires?
Where was the ROMANCE?
Why should I put all my time and $ into a book, only to find out it has a sad ending? And when a book claims it's a sequel to a story I dearly enjoyed, Let Me Know if the two main characters are NOT the ones I originally fell in love with!
Then a very wonderful friend told me WRITE THE KIND OF STORIES YOU WANT TO READ.
Oooookay! So I sat down and made up a list of what I wanted in a romance novel. It went something like this:
1. Good sex scenes, but not so hardcore that there's only sexual escapades, an "oh, yeah, I love you" thrown in at the end, and no plot. Romance inevitably leads to sex, but the act itself shouldn't be the driving force between the two characters. LOVE leads to sex, and LOVE makes it the best sex ever. Period. Once the characters realize the truth behind what they feel for each other, then stand back and be prepared for what comes next!
2. Believable characters and believable dialog. If I'm reading something the hero says, and it doesn't "echo" in my head, it's going to drag me out of that nice haze I tend to sink into whenever I get lost in a story. Forget the niceties of polite grammar. Everyday, ordinary people don't speak in correct English. (Note: If there needs to be a dictionary at the end of the book to explain some of the words and phrases used, it's way too much. Romance novels are escapisms, not courses of study.)
3. Put the characters through hell and back, but give them a happy ending, dammit! They deserve nothing less! The trip there will make it worth the wait.
4. I want the story to play in my head like a motion picture. I want to see the people move. I want to hear them speak. I want to experience what they're feeling.
5. Make it an easy read, but a fully entertaining one. Give people their money's worth. Book companies judge book size by word count, not by page number. A story with 30K-60K words is considered a novella. Over 60K words is a novel. Plus-size novels range anywhere from 80K-100K words and up.
6. If it's a SEQUEL, use the original characters. If the book doesn't have the same main characters again in the spotlight, then the book is part of a SERIES.
7. Finally, create heroes and heroines of a different ilk. There are hundreds of vampire and werewolf stories out there. There have been thousands of time travel cum historical novels written. Ninety percent of all sci-fi romance novels read like Star Wars knock-offs. Try to go down a different path. Find a different kind of relationship, and give it a different slant or challenge.
With all that in mind, that's what I tried to do. Every novel you find on my site has taken all seven rules and come up with something very different and very fresh for every book and series, I hope. I've received a lot of questions, comments, and emails from readers convincing me I have found a niche that had been crying to be filled for some time.
Give me a try. And if you already have, thank you! Try a different entrée on the menu next time!