Yes, That's A Crusie

Poor Micki walked into the buzzsaw when she said the draft I posted didn’t sound like a Crusie yet. So I thought I’d expand on the issue here because what she meant was a perfectly good criticism, she just phrased it in an unfortunate manner. (IT’S OKAY, MICKI.) What that kind of comment almost always means is, “This book isn’t like the book that you wrote before that I like,” and that’s a perfectly good criticism. I’m good with that criticism. “I liked Faking It better than this,” is absolutely valid. “I know you wrote this, but this isn’t your writing” isn’t valid.

Isn’t that kind of picky? What’s the big deal? Continue reading

Questionable: Endings

S asked:

I’d love to hear more about endings. About how we wrap things up in a novel in general. I’ve heard terms bandied about like ‘the obligatory scene’ and a ‘circular ending’. I’ve been told the ending is written in ‘falling conflict’ not ‘rising conflict’. What are romance writers expected to do structurally, compared to other novelists when ending a book? Also, do we have to give the reader a Happy-Ever-After? I’ve noticed in my critique group how everyone ties everything up neatly at the end of their book but I prefer it if some things are left unanswered – is that a bad idea? I always think there’s nothing left for the reader to think about after they finish the book, if every question in the book is answered. Are we supposed to answer every question? How does the story question relate to endings? Are we supposed to resolve the hero’s wound? What about the emotional arc and the ending? How is a sub-plot wrap-up different to the main plot wrap-up? Really, what I need is a Hoover and access to your brain…

JenniferNennifer: I vote with S for more about endings, not because I am going to write anything, but because so often I have read a book that was good for the first 3/4 and then ……… either an additional conflict is introduced, which just feels like it was put in to keep the book going a requisite number of pages, or the relationship quits growing while we wrap up the plot and it is less satisfying.

Continue reading

Questionable: Romantic Conflict

Beth Matthews asked:

How do you come up with goals for your characters in a straight contemporary romance? . . . if there’s no suspense element, no capers. Can the romance itself be the goal? Or is it better to be an external goal? So, for example, in Bet Me is Min’s goal to have a date to her sisters wedding? Do the hero and heroine both need goals? Or do you pick one person to be the protagonist and focus on their goal to drive the story?
Conflict starts with conflicting goals, right? Well, I’m having trouble getting my building blocks in a row. Can people please talk about how they formulate conflict and goals in their contemporary romances? Pretty please?

Continue reading

The Fun of It All

I’ve been e-mailing with a friend who’s struggling with her romance novel. She’s very smart and she’s studied hard and she loves the genre, but she’s having a hard time understanding how to write romance, which I can understand because it’s a damn hard thing to do. So at first I gave her a pep talk on following her instincts: Continue reading

Bet Me Cover. Again.

The frog is now history, so we tried a new cover which was gorgeous (see first cover below) but which did not, to my eyes, say “romance,” and since Bet Me is probably the last straight romance (as in not women’s fiction) I’ll ever write, I thought it should say romance. So SMP’s art department went back to drawing board again and sent the second cover, which I think nails it.

What do you think? No, don’t hold back, I know how shy you guys are with your opinions . . . Continue reading

What Does a Romantic Comedy Do?

Last night, Lucy and I watched The Apartment as the tenth movie in the Popcorn Dialogues historical survey of romantic comedy, and we were . . . bemused. We stumbled through the podcast and then called it a night, and I went straight to bed because I was exhausted, which could also have had an effect on my bemusement, but when I woke up this morning, my head was full of “What happened?” My brain was trying to synthesize the viewing last night with our earlier middle-of-the-night lovefest for Down With Love, and with the Dowd op-ed discussion, and with some things Rox and I were talking about in the comments. What I’ve finally managed to boil it all down to is that when we established our definition of rom com for the purposes of PopD, we only answered one of the questions we needed to which was “What is a romantic comedy?” The second question, and possibly the more important one, is “What does a romantic comedy do?” Continue reading

Booklist Rocks

The fabulous John Charles of Booklist gave Maybe This Time a starred review.

Starred Review: The plan did not include ghosts, or working, even temporarily, for her ex-husband, North Archer. The plan was for Andromeda “Andie” Miller to march into North’s law office, return a decade’s worth of uncashed alimony checks, and depart to begin her bright new romantic future with writer Will Spenser. But somehow Andie ends up taking care of North’s two young wards. The kids have already gone through three nannies, one of whom claimed Archer House is haunted, but Andie figures she can manage for a month. Until she starts seeing ghosts herself. Six years after her last solo effort, Bet Me (2004), RITA Award-winning Crusie triumphantly returns with a bewitching tale. Graced with deliciously original characters (including a housekeeper who could give Mrs. Danvers a run for her money), imbued with addictively acerbic wit, driven by a wildly inventive, paranormal-flavored plot that offers a subtle literary nod to Henry James, and featuring two protagonists who just might get their romance right the second time around, Maybe This Time is Crusie at her very best.

— John Charles

Bad Mothers

Robin just put a thought-provoking post on the Bad Mother in romance fiction over at Romancing the Blog, and I was writing a comment on it that went way too long and rambled. So I came back here to take the time and space to figure this out rather than sound like an idiot in her comments. You really need to read Robin’s post in its entirety but here’s her central question:

. . . is it a bit odd how many bad mothers there are in a genre that so strongly validates and celebrates domesticity and fertility? Or is that exactly the point?

Continue reading