Blog, Publishing, Romance

Tips on being a romance writer

I don’t have ALL the answers, but here’s what I’ve learned about being a romance writer.

Being a romance writer does require creativity. But, just like any other job, it requires some work. Here is what I’ve learned during my journey as a romance writer:

  1. Do the research.

    Romance researchNo, I’m not suggesting you do THAT kind of research. Surely you know enough about sex to get through a rough draft of sex scenes. And if you don’t, just fake it till you make it, like you did with that one boyfriend who thought the clitoris was a kind of dinosaur. What I’m suggesting is basically a professional form of eavesdropping. Observation and attention to detail are your best friends as a romance writer.

    Study couples—how they interact, how they speak, their body language, how they fight, and most importantly, how they make up. Take notes (discreetly) in your phone of phrases or actions that resonate with you. But don’t go too far. You don’t want to be that person dictating the scene in a coffee shop like a nature documentary narrator. The people around you are your greatest inspirations. Use them. You may even interact with them. If things go further than that, remember to use protection and at least offer breakfast in the morning. Yeah, baby!

  2. Grow some balls.

    Become your book characterThis is figuratively, of course…because…eww. I mean that the publishing world can be a tough place. If you’re a timid introvert who would rather die than socialize and promote yourself, this is going to be difficult. Of course, romance writers are notorious for living in their pajamas for days at a time—greasy hair pulled up in a knot, surviving only on peanut butter crackers and room temperature coffee—so that they can make deadline.

    But there comes a time when you have to put your big girl panties on (and pants too—sorry not sorry). You have to become that outgoing, social butterfly you’ve always avoided. If you have to, create an alternate persona for these times. Make her anything you want her to be, like a character from your book. Let her wear glasses or sexy underwear, whatever works. You’re the author; write your character’s personality. Inside, you can still be the hot mess that you’ve always been. But outside you’ll need to be a bad ass, confident writer with a tough veneer and a killer vocabulary.

    Once you’ve mastered this technique, it will also come in handy when you’ve got to face your five aunts who read your books and want to discuss blow job techniques over Thanksgiving turkey and green bean casserole.

  3. Don’t ever apologize.

    Love your smutMany times, the romance genre is dismissed as fluff. “It’s just smut,” they’ll say. When my first book was published and I told people I was a writer they would ask, “What do you write?” I would always look at the floor and mumble “romance novels,” in a quiet voice that was contrite and begging not to be judged. Right away this sent the message that I was insecure about what I wrote. That wasn’t the case at all! But our misogynistic society told me to be ashamed of romance, and so I played my role perfectly. Until one day, I realized… “I published a book! No, wait! I published THREE books! That is nothing to be embarrassed about!”

    There was a whole epiphany that followed with lots of internal monologue. There may have been dancing, a chorus of “I am Woman,” and maybe a crotch grab or two. I knew there was nothing to apologize for. I am proud of my books. I work hard. I invest time, heart and soul in everything I write. And it took me a while, but I know now that no one can tell me how to feel.

  4. Be original.

    Be a romance writerSomeone once told me that there are no original ideas anymore. I call bullshit. Sure, art inspires other art, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t original. A lot of things happen in real life that readers would be quick to call out as “unrealistic” in a novel. That’s where things get tricky. Keep your stories fresh and inventive. Find a balance between what works for your characters and what works in the world you’ve created. Sure, there are tried and true (and predictable) formulas that work for some authors (cough-Nicholas-Sparks-cough).

    But what works for one book writer, doesn’t necessarily work for you. If your story is reminiscent of others, then find a unique way to tell it. Don’t ever, ever, ever write to create a bestseller. Just when you think you’ve written an amazing new release of what’s trending now, the trend will change. Then you and your novel are left behind. Plus, if you’re writing just for the money… you’re in the wrong business. Most of us still have our day jobs. Basically, write for you!

  5. Make friends.

    Romance writers networkIt is a great time to be a romance writer. The romance genre is filled with authors of every race, sexuality, gender, and background. It’s so easy to find people to connect with. With the wide world of social media, it is easer than ever to stalk—I mean befriend—your favorite authors. Of course there are divas who exist in every profession. But I promise, most of us are super nice.

    Those who have been in the business for a while are almost always willing to offer advice or answer questions. It’s rare to find such a large group of women who empower and encourage each other so freely. You will find a reliable network in the romance writers’ community. Build your tribe and work to be a contributing member. These are friendships that will last a lifetime.

  6. Have fun.

    Romance writers' partyLastly, don’t take everything so seriously. Writing is a job, but it is an exciting one. It is something that makes you giddy when you sit down and get to spill your brain onto a keyboard. It grants us a high, an adrenaline rush, just to be doing what we love. And if it doesn’t, then you’re not doing it right.

    Learn about my next sexy adventure in Chaos and Control.

 


Season Vining is the author of romance novels, lives in the dirty South, has sriracha in her purse, needs more shoes, and doesn’t give a shit about the Kardashians. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Beautiful Addictions, Contests, Romance

Vote for Tristan

Tristan Fallbrook, the sexy bad boy genius hero of Beautiful Addictions, has been nominated as a finalist in the New Adult Crush Tournament. If Tristan is a book boyfriend crush of yours, please go vote for him today.

“The character of Tristan is amazingly complex, the bad-boy with the genius IQ, inked and infinitely intriguing. Cover those tats with an Armani suit, groom him to GQ perfection, and he would still radiate raw appeal.”

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“I want you. All of you. I want to possess you. I want to love you and protect you.”

TristanSign

Romance

Justin Bieber sells romance novels

fabio-underwear-top1
Fabio, the old face of romance.

I know what you’re thinking. What does “The Biebs” have to do with romance novels? It’s not just him, but every seemingly innocent boy that grows up to be a bad ass. While you may not be a fan, you have to admit that the kid knows how to appeal to girls (and some grown women too). On top of that, he has the ability and the audience to make the news with just a change to his haircut, or a notice that he’s finally, finally pulled up his damn pants.

In our grandmothers’ generations, there were certainly heartthrobs. They were doe-eyed boys with perfectly coiffed hair and winning smiles. They were conformists, squeaky clean, and generic at best. No offense, I’m sure they were swell. But they were merely a manufactured estimation of what sexist old men in the entertainment industry thought girls wanted–the boy next door, the gentleman, the humble and innocent. Their admirers were meager. In our mothers’ generation the execs loosened the reins a bit and let boys be boys–think Elvis Presley, James Dean, Marlon Brando. When the public was allowed to see the wholesome go wild, their wavering followers became fanatics with a collective scream and swooning sigh. Lesson learned.

The rockstars and actors of today aren’t kept on such a short leash. Sometimes there’s no leash at all. While girls may adore innocence at first, it’s that star’s fall from grace–tattoos, associating with strippers, a swinging door of revolving girlfriends, and underage drinking– that proves their undying love and willingness to stand by their man. Modern fangirls are a tried and true species. They are frighteningly faithful and wield their swords of customized memes and hashtags with the fierceness of an internet ninja.

The pre-teen and teenage girls of today are the romance readers of tomorrow. With the emergence of New Adult, we’ve already seen a shift from the bodice-ripping heroes of yesteryear to the troubled, tattooed, dangerous men of contemporary romance. In my novel, Beautiful Addictions, Tristan is exactly that–troubled, tattooed, wicked smart, and oh-so-sexy. You’ll want him and you’ll want to save him. It’s in our nature not only to want to help him, but also to want to be the reason for that change. We long to possess a love so strong, that he would give up all his wild ways to have us. The Beliebers who have compassion for the unsettled boy, faith in his kind nature, and an understanding that he just needs a good girl to set him straight, will look for that in their book boyfriends.

justin-bieber-got-a-giant-tattoo-of-his-moms-eyeballSo, thank you, Justin Bieber. Thank you to all those who came before you and all those who will come after you. Thank you for breaking out of the cookie cutter mold of who you were expected to be and becoming the party boy we want to tame. Thank you for transitioning an army of females from innocent girls to confident women who know exactly what they want. While we all appreciate your metamorphosis from teeny bopper to bad boy, watch yourself. On the sliding scale of dangerously desirable to lonely loser, you may be on a slippery slope. Reel it in and we’ll stay true, all the while looking for you in the pages of our next read.