What a busy month it’s been! Are you familiar with RWA (Romance Writers of America)? It’s a wonderful writers’ organization some 10,000 members strong, with chapters all over the world. Each year, RWA sponsors a contest for books published during the past year (the Rita) and also the Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers. If you see “Rita award winner” mentioned on an Amazon book listing, on a book cover or on the inside as part of the author’s bio, you can tell that the book has received the highest honor in RWA.
Judging for both the Rita and the Golden Heart is now over, and I made sure my judging was done before I had knee surgery on March 7th. A fortuitous decision, given that my pain meds afterward tended to make me tired and fuzzy! And as soon as I was functioning better, I needed to complete my book revisions for An Aspen Creek Christmas, which will be out this November. Needless to say, the day after I sent in my revisions I was relieved to take a deep breath, get on a plane for the Bahamas, and look forward to a few days in the Caribbean. My husband occasionally earns such trips through his job, and this one was timed just right! The photo is from the airplane window just moments before landing.
Still hobbling around with a cane, I probably looked like a decrepit old lady, but seeing the beautiful turquoise water, enjoying the sunshine and bobbing around in a pool–when back home, the temps were still hovering around 40 degrees–was a lovely break from writing.
For about two hours. And then I began to think. The Bahamas are a romantic get-away destination. Research! :)
There were couples of all ages there–from twenty-somethings who appeared to be honeymooners, to those who could easily have celebrated well beyond their golden anniversaries. Honest, I wasn’t snooping! :) But with so many people around, it was impossible to avoid inadvertently observing the occasional interactions. Their expressions. And a few of them sometimes made me think about future characters. That model-perfect woman in her mid twenties, for instance–with a paunchy man in his sixties. What was the backstory there? Or, what about the couple who sat through a dinner at a table near ours one night, and spoke not a single word to each other?
Even in the airport, the people watching was fascinating, and sometimes sad. A couple lashing out at each other with pure venom while going through security. Or, while waiting for our flight at the gate…the middle-aged East Indian woman who sat not ten feet away from us, and suddenly burst into loud, distraught tears. Two young women with her immediately hovered, with great concern–and consoled her in a rapid-fire foreign language. I was careful to turn away and afford them the greatest amount of privacy possible, given the tight crowd, but still couldn’t help but wonder about the heart-wrenching situation she was dealing with. Which again, made me start thinking about plots and characterization. Given that I need to plot a new book and write the proposal (three chapters and a detailed synopsis) by April 15th, leaving my solitary cave (office) and being out amongst real, live people was definitely inspirational! :)
And while I’m thinking about all of that, I would love to hear about what you like to read! Are there certain types of plots you absolutely love–or any that you abhor? What makes you want to buy a book after you skim the descriptive blurb on a back cover?
God’s blessings for Easter to all the wonderful talented writers. People watching is fun and educational – whether at a restaurant, local bookstore / library, or the beach / park.
I am drawn to a book by its cover, before I even read the blurb. I abhor the dark gloomy covers of today, because the world and news in its present sinful state is dark and gloomy enough. I think the cover for Love Blossoms is inspirational – the blossoms show hope and the couple portrays love.
I dislike the stereotypical romance, maybe because I have been reading romances for the last 50 years (since I was 14). Even though I read romances for entertainment, I want to be challenged – learn something new and different (traditions or customs, new outlook on scripture or life or relationships, new part of the world, pet rescue, sustainable farming, etc.). That is why I am not fond of cowboy or Amish romances. I have traveled from coast to coast and to nine foreign countries and unless on is in northern Indiana I have little interaction with cowboys or Amish.
Best wishes and keep writing.
Roxanne Rustand says
Your comment on covers highlights why authors are so concerned about good covers–those of us in traditional publishing pray for a good one and wait with bated breath to see what the art department comes up with! :) While, those in indie publishing can make sure the artwork is something they love. I think most covers on inspirational novels tend to be good, because they aren’t trying to portray over-the-top passion.
Thank you for your thought provoking comments on the types of romances you enjoy!
Hello. I enjoy reading clean, non-violent stories. Love stories that have characters who rely on God are stories I enjoy, too. I love to laugh, so, humor is always good somewhere in the story, even if the whole book is not a comedy. :-) Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!
Roxanne Rustand says
Happy Easter to you, too, Melissa. I so agree. My favorite authors are the ones who can write a strong, compelling story, with a good sense of humor!
Margaret Nelson says
Recently, it seems like all the romances I’ve read have been emphasizing the physical aspects of the hero – how handsome he is, how strong his muscles are, how good he looks with his shirt off, and how well he kisses the heroine. I get a little tired of that. I prefer books that emphasize character and personality, not physical attractiveness!
I also do not like stories that are full of tension from page 1 to the very end. I much prefer some pauses, breaks in the tension, minor resolutions along the way. Otherwise I’m exhausted at the end and decide not to read that author again :-)
Roxanne Rustand says
Your comments are so interesting, Margaret–and I agree. Going beyond just the shallow attributes of appearance makes a book so much more engrossing! And as for the tension, what an interesting take on that, too. I think a lot of authors are really intent on keeping the tension high in every scene, figuring it will keep the readers turning the pages….but maybe some of us go to far. You’ve given me a lot to think about!
I like the occasional “fluffy” clean romance just for fun, but the type I like most are the ones that aren’t afraid to deal with real life issues. Those speak to my heart and I believe help a lot of people who may have gone through or be going through whatever situation(s) are addressed in the book. I still like my happy endings, though. I don’t like books that leave me hanging.
Roxanne Rustand says
I so agree on books with endings that keep the reader hanging! :)
Merrillee Whren says
Roxanne, I enjoyed your descriptions of the folks you saw and the ideas that they might inspire. My hubby and I honeymooned in the Bahamas many, many years ago. I’m with Renate. I’m not very fond of Amish stories, and they seem to be everywhere. But it’s a good thing that there are stories for every taste. Just the comments here show that readers have a ride variety of stories that they like.
Roxanne Rustand says
So true Merrillee—it’s so interesting to hear about the wide variety of tastes readers have.
You must have had a lovely honeymoon!
Katy C. says
I like a wide variety of romance and chic lit. Romantic comedy is probably my favorite, but really I like it all as long as it’s not too suspenseful. Oh, and happy endings are a must (or at least bittersweet endings). I enjoy westerns, royalty stories, and marriage of convenience stories. I don’t read much Amish fiction though I do like Cindy Woodsmall’s Amish books. Really, as long as a story is well-written, true to the time period, and has a happy ending, I will probably enjoy reading it. (Oh, and for me, covers can be interesting, but are usually not a huge draw or deal breaker. If the book synopsis is interesting and the book has a good title that’s what draws me.)
Shelia Hall says
I love a book that holds my attention throughout the book. If a book just rambles on about nothing for 2-3 chapters I drop it like a hot potato. Happy Easter to you and all my fellow readers
Linda Herold says
Happy Easter! I agree with you that people watching is fun! Everybody has a story! When it comes to choosing a book, believe it or not, I tend to go for books that have appealing book covers! If I like the cover, I usually end up liking the book!
Jill Weatherholt says
You have been busy, Roxanne. How exciting to be a judge…time consuming, but exciting. I hope you’re recovering well after your knee surgery. My sister had surgery on her knee about ten years ago and she’s been doing great. I love reunion stories. I’m not a big fan of the Amish stories, although they seem to be very popular. Wishing you and your family a blessed Easter!
Your vacation sounds like fun! I appreciate authors, because I like to read! I enjoy historical fiction, Amish (my best friend in nursing school was Mennonite, but dressed like the Amish), some stories with nurses and doctors. I don’t want something too scary, I look at the cover, reviews, and synopsis to see if it is a clean story. It is frustrating to start a book that I can’t finish reading because it is too graphic in the romance for me. Thanks for what you do. God bless and lead you!
First of all Roxanne, this thought comes to mind…..You know you’re a writer when you call people watching research!! :-D HAHA!! I’ve heard so many other authors say that a vacation is good ground for future books, guess it really is true *smile*
My favorite genre, well a toss up really, is historical and suspense. I love marriage of convenience, mail order brides, and lost loves reunited. Suspense, I’ve been reading a lot of SWAT or ex-SWAT themes, men who are rescuers (search & rescue) or the like, and military (ex or otherwise). I’d have to say my favorite though are the rescuers, because what woman doesn’t want that type of hero to swoop in and save her? Absolutely swoon worthy :-)
As to what makes me buy a book, it really depends. If it’s an author I know, that’s pretty automatic for me. If not, I go by the cover then read the back blurb, if it’s interesting enough I’ll pick it up. If it’s a Love Inspired book, well that’s a given yes for me :-) . And sometimes I go by the publisher too if I’m not familiar with the author. The one requirement for me, it must be Christian, that’s non-negotiable!
There you have it!