Tag Archives: Regency Romance

Noelle Pierce: Feedback on REACHING FOR THE MOON

Posted by August 29th, 2014

Noelle PierceNoelle Pierce, who’s been an active Book Country member since it’s beta-days, won a one-on-one manuscript feedback session at RT14. We chatted at the convention about her Regency Romance REACHING FOR THE MOON, which began as a NaNoWriMo Project.

I love the premise of this novel: Lady Anne Marwood is to marry Thomas Oakes, a noted ladies’ man with far less noble birth. Thomas and Anne were once friendly acquaintances–in fact, in another novel by Noelle, set in the same world, the two of them conspired to make a match between each of their best friends. But due to an embarrassing incident at a ball, they’re now engaged, however extremely wary of one another. Thomas doesn’t believe he’s good enough to marry Anne, and Anne believes Thomas feels she’s trapped him–and now hates her. Additionally, strong-willed Anne is completely horrified at the prospect of her husband having mistresses, common to men of the era. Continue reading

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Writing in the Christmas Spirit with Elisabeth Fairchild

Posted by December 20th, 2013

The Christmas SpiritWith the holidays approaching, we’re steeped in the Christmas spirit–the smell of pine trees wafting through the chill air, people buzzing about, doing last-minute holiday shopping, and gorgeous holiday displays and decorations. 

How do you convey the wonder of the holiday through fiction? We invited author Elisabeth Fairchild to talk to us about writing in the Christmas spirit and her regency novel by the same name.

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How do you define the Christmas spirit?

For me, the heart and soul of Christmas is in humanity’s finest expression of light, warmth and joyful giving in the heart of a dark, cold, season of endings. The Christmas spirit warms even the loneliest of souls given we open our hearts to a sense of wonder and celebration, choosing to interact positively with the world around us.

I usually set out to have a memorable Christmas. Often, the best of plans go awry. Writing any book is, for me, a search for heroic and historical truths. In THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, I focused on the Yuletide season’s potential for hope, magical moments and joy in a reality I think we can all relate to–where the best of plans for “the best Christmas ever” are turned upside down.

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Member Spotlight: Meet Romance Writer Samantha Jane

Posted by September 30th, 2013

Samantha Jane photoRomance writer Samantha Jane has been on Book Country right from the site’s launch in 2011, workshopping books and eventually going on to publish her first novel, PHYSICAL THERAPY, via the Book Country publish tools. PHYSICAL THERAPY, a contemporary romance, was released two weeks ago. I wanted to chat with Samantha to find out what life’s been like since she published her debut, and what’s next for her writing.

LS: You’ve got a lot of different genre interests as a writer: Contemporary Romance, Regency Romance, Romantic Suspense . . . very impressive! What draws you to these 3 categories, and are there other categories you are planning to try next?

SJ: I have always been big on variety, especially as a reader. While I love to see the struggle of couples of today and how everything plays out, I’m a person who tends to live in the past—and the historical novels with pirates and gypsies and lords and ladies definitely fit that bill.

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The Regency Romance Flag

Posted by May 15th, 2013

A Taste of What’s Coming to the New Book Country

I’m so pleased to get to show you the first of many of the exciting changes coming to Book Country.

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This is the gorgeous new drawing for Regency Romance.

Once writers choose a genre (or a genre chooses you), it becomes a home. It’s where writers spend days and nights creating characters and stories for the world to embrace. Your genre is the country filled with people who love to read and write what you do.

Every country needs a flag.

While we love the current genre map, we wanted to give you a flag that you could hold high as you imagine your book. A flag that could become your calling card as you connect with other writers just like you. A flag that you could carry as you workshop your book and navigate peer review. A flag that could fly outside your home as you hold your published book in your hands.

That’s what we’re unveiling today. Regency Romance writers, we hope you like your new flag.

I’ll share more in the upcoming weeks.

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Love Is in Our Writing

Posted by February 14th, 2013

Brandi shares her Valentine’s Day challenge.

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Happy Valentine’s Day. The day when couples stock up on flowers and candy and wine and candles and teddy bears and hearts and cards and lingerie and things that are pink and red.

And romance. Lots and lots of romance.

My wedding anniversary is at the end of February, so my husband and I have never felt the need to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We joke that every day is Valentine’s Day, just another opportunity to dedicate ourselves to each other. Even when I was dating, it wasn’t that big of a deal for me; I always thought I was more Noir than Regency Romance.

Then I read a Regency Romance, the excellent Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter. Holy moly. Sexiest proposal ever. (Hint: it involves the placement of an emerald necklace under the protagonist’s skirts.) A sweet, romantic and sexy scene of the couple looking at the stars. The moment when he saw her in that breathtaking dress.

And it inspired me.

How could I bring this level of intensity and passion found in the best romances to my own work? How could I strengthen my characters’ intentions and connections to one another?

I have a scene that I’ve written that I know is missing something. I’m going to borrow from Ravishing in Red and see what happens if I add a moment when the characters really look at one another. What will seeing each other cross the room do to them? What will they say when they peer into one another’s eyes? I don’t know, but I’m going to give it a shot.

I’d like to challenge you, too. Find one thing from romances that can help in your own work. Write a scene with it, and let us know what you discover.

©iStockphoto.com/Joe Biafore

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What Makes a Great Romance Hero?

Posted by February 4th, 2013

Craft a male character that makes readers swoon.

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It’s unthinkable to write a successful romance novel or romantic story arc of any kind without a stormy, steamy romance hero. The plot may be fascinating and the writing style accomplished, but if the male lead doesn’t give me heart palpitations the book is a flop.

Last week, I urged our Facebook followers to pick the best romance hero in fiction. There were representatives from different genres—urban fantasy (Jericho Barrons), contemporary romance (Gideon Cross and Christian Grey), paranormal romance (Zsadist and Edward Cullen), and even classic literature (Mr. Darcy). The majority of you voted for (who else?) Mr. Darcy. Austen’s legendary hero just turned 200 yearsPride and Prejudice was published on January 28, 1813—so I was surprised when he so unabashedly overtook modern-day heartthrobs like Christian Gray and Edward Cullen.

Why is Mr. Darcy, who we never even see plant a kiss on Elizabeth’s lips, so universally loved? What makes a successful romance hero?

While there are nuances, there are three main characteristics great romance protagonists share with Darcy :

(Warning: Spoilers to Pride and Prejudice ahead.)

The Flaw

A truly great romance hero is not out to please anybody. He tends to be brusque and unpleasant—deeply flawed. Look at Edward Cullen from Twilight or Christian Grey from 50 Shades of Grey. Like Book Country member Danielle Bowers hilariously noted, “Christian Grey has more issues than National Geographic Magazine.”

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What Romance Editors (and Readers) Want

Posted by November 1st, 2011

Writing a romance novel? The NAL editorial team gives us a tutorial on the romance market: today’s hottest subgenres and what they’re looking forHere’s what the romance editors want:

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When I was in romance editorial, it astounded me how many submissions I received that had nothing to do with what I was actually looking to acquire, or even that fell outside of the genres in which my imprint specialized. Sometimes the manuscripts hooked me despite this fact, and I fell in love with the writing or the story or the potential I saw for the story. But there was nothing I could do; if it didn’t fit for our list or the market, my hands were tied.
As an author, even after doing all your homework–researching the market, reviewing an imprint’s recent publications, checking Publishers Marketplace for an editor’s acquisition history–it can still be difficult to figure out if what you’re submitting will give the editor what he or she wants. Particularly when it comes to such a robust and diverse genre as the romance market.

With this challenge in mind, Book Country asked the romance team at New American Library (NAL) to share a little bit about their experience with submissions and what specifically they hope to find among the pile:

Most editors at NAL find that when we’re looking for new talent, the biggest problem with the submissions we receive is not that they’re badly written (because many of them are very well done) but rather that the books are not the kind of stories that readers are looking for.  The romance reader is very particular in her tastes and preferences, and trends tend to dominate the market.  If you want to attract a big readership among romance fans, it’s crucial you know what kind of story they are looking for in the current market.
To help you figure out how to do that, the editors at NAL want to offer you some friendly advice about writing romance and positioning your book:

First, make sure you’re writing a romance novel and not a women’s fiction novel! Romance novels have as their central focus the relationship between the hero and heroine of the story.  Their developing romantic relationship forms the backbone of the book’s plot. Most often this involves a man and a women meeting and having a powerful attraction; however, there’s an obstacle getting in the way of their relationship. Frequently, each character has an internal conflict that she or he must overcome. The end goal is for this couple to reach their HEA, or happily ever after, together (with realistic complications along the way). In other words, they meet, they have a conflict, and they must react and develop in response to it before the book can reach a satisfying conclusion.  These conventions are common to romance novels across the board and can act as a helpful rule of thumb to guide you according to what readers will expect to see in your romance novel.

You also need to remember that most romance readers buy according to subgenre, based on themes, settings, or time periods.  The most popular subgenres in romance change over time, and the best way to identify what’s most popular in the romance market at a given time is to watch the bestseller lists. Our job as editors is not only to follow the trends but anticipate them, while your job is to write a great book people want to love.

Right now, some of the most popular genres in romance (and the ones our editors are most excited about) are:

Vampire romances
This means a love story where at least one of the main characters is a vampire, with supernatural powers and an immortal lifespan. The setting can vary. J. R Ward‘s “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series was at the forefront of the vampire trend from the start and remains a beloved favorite among paranormal romance readers.

Regency-set historical romances
While settings for historicals can vary, England is the most popular setting. Regencies are romances that are set during the Regency period in England, which strictly speaking was from 1811 to 1820.  Historical romance readers will expect these novels to be historically appropriate, meaning that the characters should act according to what was expected in society at that time. Some of Penguin’s bestselling Regency romance authors include Jo Beverley and Jillian Hunter.

Scottish-set historicals
Ever since the release of Braveheart, we have seen a high demand for romances set in Scotland.  The most popular time period is definitely medieval, but the Jacobean era (1603-1625) works as well for this subgenre. Bertrice Small’s “Border Chronicle” series is a fabulous example of the historic Scotland setting.

Shapeshifter romances
These are paranormal romances in which at least one of the central characters to the romance can shift shape into another form.  Shapeshifting characters might be dragons, werewolves, falcons, coyotes, the list goes on… To name two examples from NAL’s popular shapeshifter romances, we publish Michele Bardsley’s “Broken Heart” novels and Deborah Cooke’s “Dragonfire” novels to great acclaim.

Paranormal romances
Paranormal romances are ones in which the love story features a character with otherworldly abilities (in addition to but not excluding being a vampire or shapeshifter).  There are witch romances, fallen angel romances, mermaid romances, demon romances, among many others.  Sylvia Day’s “Renegade Angels” series and Regan Hasting’s “Awakening” novels will give you a great idea of the fallen angel and witch trends, respectively.

What we call “gentle fiction”
Gentle fiction is a subcategory of contemporary romance, which means a romance set in the present day. These are love stories set in a small town setting with lots of quaint charm and heartwarming emotional elements. The heartwarming sense of town life and the gentle tone of the emotions really set this subgenre apart from other mainstream contemporary romance. They are the most popular kind of contemporary romance at this time, and have no paranormal elements. One visit to JoAnn Ross’s “Shelter Bay” series and you won’t want to leave this wonderful town!

Western romances
Heroes from the Wild West hold much appeal, whether it’s a contemporary cowboy romance or a historical western. There’s just something readers love about a charming cowboy!  One bestselling example from NAL’s list is Catherine Anderson, who writes both contemporary and historical Westerns.

Romantic suspense
Romantic suspense has a fast-paced storyline with lots of action because the romance between hero and heroine takes place in the face of some kind of danger that threatens one or both of their lives. The suspenseful nature of the plot is almost as important as the romance, and there is usually a mystery to solve. These novels are usually contemporary settings and are always real world stories.Shannon K. Butcher’s “Edge” novels and Christina Dodd‘s “Bella Terra Deception” series give a great example of the kind of high-octane action and edge-of-your seat suspense readers look for in this genre.

Urban fantasy
While not technically romance, Urban Fantasy novels often involve a strong love story that appeals to romance fans. Whereas the third person point of view is common in the other romance genres, urban fantasy often takes a first person point of view. And the mystery that’s driving the plot and the action is almost as important to the novel as the romance itself.  The characters in these novels are very tough, and the stories may contain violence.  Lee Roland’s Viper Moon thrills with a captivating voice and a complex urban fantasy series world.

As you can see, there are many subgenres currently driving the market from the editors’ perspective, so make sure your novel fits into one of them. Or if you are trying your hand at something different, remember to keep your story within the conventions of a romance novel in the first place and understand that your story really has to be something special if it colors outside the lines. Editors love to find fresh new authors with budding talent, so give them something they can work with!

Romance is not the only genre where editors have specific interests though…

Our next installment of “Giving Readers (and Editors) What They Want” will focus on the mystery genre. 

Stay tuned!

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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