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On Writing Romance

 

I was on the radio earlier this week (thank you, News 95.7 and The Sheldon MacLeod Show !) promoting my Spy Games series and one of the questions was about romance writing and why I chose it. (My husband once asked me the same question, btw–“Shouldn’t you *be* romantic?!?”)

But honestly, that’s not what interests me the most in my writing.

My contemporary books come in with a fairly even mix of romance and plot. I’m as interested in my characters’ daily lives as I am in their developing relationships.

(And I don’t only write romance. I have a dystopian fantasy series—previously published as the Demon Outlaws, now rewritten and with brand-new covers!—coming in the fall of 2017, and they have much more plot to them now. They’re no longer classed as romances.)

I have a background in social anthropology however, and it’s the snapshot in time that fascinates me about romance novels in general, both from a macro and micro perspective. For example, romance novels track the feminist movement. When I started reading them in the 1970’s, heroines were secretaries and nurses, and submissive to the more powerful heroes. We then saw the rise of the “bodice rippers” which showed women asserting themselves more. Now heroines are CEOs, doctors, pilots, (and spies!) and the relationships are more of a partnership. There’s room in these books for the alpha hero, but also the beta. These trends are reflected in the other genres, but I write contemporary romances so I’m talking about what I know best.

Culturally, romances also show glimpses into today’s society and what’s happening in daily lives. They reflect what’s relevant to the Real World. Characters are using Blackberries. (ßThat’s meant to be a dated reference. Who uses Blackberries anymore?) They’re traveling to popular destinations. We now have same-sex romances and multi-cultural romances. You see a lot of romantic suspense involving Navy SEALs. A few years ago, they were all searching for Osama bin Laden… I got tired of those so I wrote about Canadian spies. (If you want to know why, then read more about me here. It turns out I have useful knowledge!)

Even the romantic relationships themselves are snapshots. “Falling in love” is the first step to a lifelong commitment. Women’s Fiction (a separate genre) often follows what happens next in human relationships–or perhaps the murkier, messier side of them.

I know I have a lot of writer and reader friends out there. What’s your take on romance? Why write it? Why pick one up to read?

Why would you not?

Thank you to Syd Gill Design

 

Interview with USA Today Bestselling Author Roxanne Snopek

Today’s interview features the incredibly talented, USA Today Bestselling author Roxanne Snopek. She’s a fellow Canadian, and although she lives on the west coast, she’s a prairie girl at heart. Between us, we’ve got this country represented.

*Go Canada.*

Roxanne and I write for the same publishers. We’ve also had a few romantic getaways together. Las Vegas, New York…  She keeps insisting they’re called “Romance Writer Conferences,” but whatever. I got to hang with her and tell complete strangers we’re buddies and that’s all that matters.

Did I mention she’s beautiful as well as talented?

Roxanne’s latest release is THE CHOCOLATE CURE from Tule Publishing.  I’m lazy as well as Canadian, so I’m offering two links to purchase (and I highly recommend you do!): Amazon and Kobo. But it’s available at other online retailers, too:

As a head’s up, the next book in the series, THE CHOCOLATE COMEBACK, releases in April. I scored an advance copy and trust me, you won’t want to miss it either:

So now we’re going to turn things over to Roxanne. She’s answering 10 nosy questions:

  1. What is your least favourite author question? And what is your response?

When are you going to write a “real” book? (Holding up my latest book) What is this? A bagel?

  1. What is your least favourite author task? Tell us why you hate it.

Updating my website. Because the entire time I’m doing it, I’m aware that anyone half my age could do it in a quarter of the time it takes me, with 100% less muttering and fist-shaking.

  1. Who’s your favourite—of your own books—female and/or male character?

I love my tortured hero Zach Gamble in HIS RELUCTANT RANCHER. He’s got the weight of the world on his handsome shoulders and, when Des, the female lead, finally FINALLY gets through to him… this tough, stoic cowboy cries. I love Zach.

My favorite female character, I think, is Carrie Logan, from FOREVER YOURS, SWEETHEART. She overcomes her fear of dogs to help the hero get his Belgian shepherd to the vet after a bear attack. You know me… I’m a sucker for people who help animals in need.

  1. Which book could you have worked on forever?

Holy smokes. I could work on them all forever. They could all be better, to my eye. But at some point, I tell myself, “Roxanne. This is the best book you can write at this moment. Stop it now or you’ll go blind.”

  1. You’re a USA Today bestselling author. Tell us about THE MOMENT you found out, and I’m feeling magnanimous (actually I just wanted to use that word) so tell us about the book too.

Okay, the moment I found out… I WAS ALONE IN THE HOUSE!!! There was no one but the pets to hear me scream! And then the phone rang and it was my hairdresser, congratulating me! She happened to be online and was one of the first to see my announcement. I’ll add that I’ve been going to her for years, and when she learned I was an author, felt duty-bound to read one of my books. Courtesy, you know. She told me later how shocked she was to discover that she loved it! Reading had never been a particularly enjoyable pastime for her and she says that I am the author that got her hooked on it again. <heart-clutch!> She reads all my books now. Oh, and the book: THREE RIVER RANCH, my very first romance novel. Wild mustangs, a pregnant heroine, forced proximity, marriage of convenience and a Labradoodle! Also (buffing nails and looking casual) this past year THE MILLIONAIRE DADDY PROJECT also hit the USA Today list. Just sayin’.

  1. Which book would you love to re-write? Why?

My first mystery novel. I love the story but it’s got some enormous problems that I’m not sure are fixable. For one thing, the worst thing that happens to the protagonist is that her dog gets sick. I mean, no one wants their dog to get sick. But great conflict this is not.

  1. What’s your favourite childhood memory and does it ever come back to haunt you? (In a good way—leave the rest for the therapists.)

Getting the Scholastic catalog at school! My parents always let me order new books, and it was so exciting. The possibilities! The choices! My parents read to me a lot as a child, and always encouraged my reading addiction. Now, whenever I get my BookBub newsletter, I feel a bit of that same thrill.

  1. We complain a lot to each other about writing-related stuff—storylines that aren’t working, characters who aren’t cooperating, when there’s no wine in the house… So why write? Why not do something easier?

I can’t tell you how often I’ve asked myself that very question. But it comes down to the same reason I’ve done anything hard, like homeschooling our kids, or Bikram yoga or resisting Cheezies: it feels so good when it’s done! J There’s nothing like seeing a brand new book with my name on it!

But seriously, despite recurring episodes of head-banging panic and self-doubt, I believe in it. I believe this is what I was meant to do, that I have something to say and that my life path is to keep trying to say it, fail, try again, fail more, succeed a little, try something new, connect with one reader at a time and keep working to uncover the essential story that lives within me.

Also, having been a human resources manager, I know a bad employee when I see one. All those ideas, you know. I’d never last.

  1. What’s your favourite pastime? And keep it clean. My kids read this.

Eating and drinking rank pretty highly, especially with friends. And I love to bake! My husband loves my cinnamon buns… oops. Too racy? Sadly, baking is not a friend to middle-aged metabolisms so I don’t do much now. Although I baked butter tarts this past weekend, during Snowmageddon 2017 and they were amazing. Between the shoveling and shivering, I figure we worked them off.

  1. And for the last invasion of privacy: What’s your favourite thing about each of your children?

Wow. Let’s see. Each of them is so passionate, in different ways. My oldest daughter is working on her first novel and is a yoga instructor. My middle daughter is a maternity nurse who likes to garden. My youngest is an artist who’s studying Psychology. I love watching their lives unfold!

Bonus question:  (OK, so maybe #10 wasn’t the last.) What’s a little-known fact about you? What’s your dirty secret? (And my usual disclaimer—I’m pretty sure CSIS stalks me on-line so keep that in mind.)

I’m a certified amateur dream interpreter. Make of that what you will, CSIS.

 

Thank you, Roxanne!

About Roxanne:

Born under a Scorpio moon, raised in a little house on the prairie, USA Today Bestselling Author Roxanne Snopek said “as you wish” to her Alpha Farm Boy and followed him to the mountain air and ocean breezes of British Columbia. There, while healing creatures great and small and raising three warrior-princesses, they found their real-life happily-ever-after. After also establishing a successful freelance and non-fiction career, Roxanne began writing what she most loved to read: romance. Her small-town stories quickly became fan favorites; print editions of her latest series were recently launched in France.

Check out her work at her website!

There’s More of Me to Love

I have a shiny new red bicycle!

 

Not exactly as shown

Not exactly as shown

It’s no big secret that writing is a sedentary and solitary occupation. It’s possible I spend way too much time at the computer–although my word count contradicts me. Consequently, I might have put on a few (and I’m understating this) pounds.

The Foreign Guy and I have been trying find an athletic activity to do together, but our options are limited. We don’t share the same interests.

I love to run. I plan to get back into running. But arthritis has settled into a toe I broke years ago, and for the past few months, running has not been an enjoyable experience. Plus, the Foreign Guy hates to run. HATES it, despite being a sports-minded guy and a  speedskater in a former life.

Love the pink

Love the pink

I got a side eye when I suggested yoga. We both hate it, but I’m willing to stretch while watching television at night. I wouldn’t call what I do yoga–not in the traditional sense–but at least I’m off the sofa. He doesn’t care what I call it. He’s having no part of it.

This isn't exactly as shown either.

This isn’t exactly as shown either.

I can’t swim and I have no desire to learn. Which is funny because I spent fifteen years of my life at pools with my sons for swimming lessons, training sessions, and competitions.

That leaves us with bicycling.

The Foreign Guy grew up on a bicycle. He can bicycle circles around me. The last time we visited his family, I was rear-ended by another cyclist (who’d never seen a grown woman take three tries to get a bike in motion), drove into his friend’s parents’ shrubbery, and narrowly avoided being taken out  by a car hauling a trailer. Good luck was with me that day.

So in between books being written, and books being released, (for the latest, check out www.paulaaltenburg.com), I plan to take up a new hobby and lose the winter muffin top.

And before I forget, Her Spy to Have is on sale for 99 cents for the month of July! Plus, the third book in the series, His Spy at Night, will be coming in September.

Be sure to leave me a note and tell me how you plan to get your exercise this summer.

What’s your favourite activity?