Why I Write Romance Novels

Last night, at writer’s group, we discussed with the group, what projects we’re working on. And as I opened up about the historical fiction that I so dearly love and have recently gotten back into writing, we discussed the aspects of romance in novels, especially in Christian novels.

Despite technically being labeled a “Christian romance novelist,” I hate, no despise, the romance genre. Why? Because 99% of it is graphic garbage, that focuses on the shallow end of lust. The entire group agreed.

So the question came up of what makes my work different, and how I can justify writing it if I hate the genre so much.

The answer: I use romance to tell a story, I don’t use a story to tell romance.

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Image credit: Marina Shemesh

That might seem a subtle difference, but it’s really not. In fact, it’s the most significant difference that exists in any genre. When your plot devices are used to tell a story, they work. When a story is used to portray a plot device, well, there is no story.

I use romance to tell the story of people. Nearly all of my fiction is biographical. Whether it’s the story of a girl in love with a rock star, like in Nobody’s Girl, or my first heroine, an abused child who ran away from home and fell in love with her rescuer, their romances tell the story that’s at the core of my being. The stories all come back to the one and only message I live for: the salvation offered in Jesus Christ to all.

My characters are often marginalized and betrayed by the people that they should be able to trust. They live through broken relationships, often abusive lives, and never have things easy in any department of life. Why? Because I can relate to them. I’ve been betrayed, abandoned, rejected, unwanted, abused, forgotten and ignored. And, since you’re alive, you have experienced most, if not all, of these tragedies yourself.

And romance is one things that nearly every human being on the planet has in common. We all want one–a beautiful, glorious, earth-stopping love story that changes us and everyone around us.

And that, dear readers, is why I use human love to depict heavenly love through earthly situations and struggles.

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Why I Tried Something New for NaNoWriMo 2017

Like those in every other profession, writers get into ruts. And though I wasn’t particularly in a rut this past October when I decided to try a whole new genre, I knew it was possibly a great preventative to avoid becoming rutted. So, the idea for the Eden Blum mystery series was birthed. I love reading a variety of genres, so I thought I’d try writing one of those that I thought I could never write: a mystery.

I decided to start with cozy mystery, as those are less “hardcore” than things like Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs write. I have vision for a stage play to write in the more hardcore realm, but a novel–my first mystery novel–wasn’t the place to start with hardcore work since I only had 30 days in which to write it (and no time ahead to research).

It was still intimidating to step into a new genre world, though. I kept thinking, “There’s no way I’ll pull this off.” I had always assumed I couldn’t write a mystery of any kind without years of research. Heck, I haven’t written any book before that wasn’t loaded with years of research and personal knowledge of the main topic. The “For the Love of Music” is saturated with knowledge from my own musical education, experiences, et cetera, plus the heavy research I did interviewing musicians, studying life and career histories of famous bands and musicians, and hundreds of hours analyzing music.

But this new book, the Eden Blum mystery, I just chucked it all in and did it without researching prior to writing.

It was an odd freedom filled with mild terror. “I’m not cut out for this genre!” echoed through my head a thousand times over that 30 days. “This is absolute rubbish!” chimed in my research loving self. But I pushed through the stupid voices in my head, and I did it. I wrote an entire mystery novel on my first attempt. I didn’t have to give up and abandon the idea–I didn’t give into the fear that I couldn’t do it.

The book will require hundreds of hours in editing and revising, but she’s still a book. And I’ve grown as a writer for taking that scary goal on and smashing it over the head with winning NaNoWriMo 2017.

What are some of the ways you’ve been pushed as a writer? Have you ever written something completely out of your scope before? How did it go?

It’s That Time of Year Again–NaNoWriMo!

Perhaps it’s a little sad that I have only kept up this blog during NaNoWriMo the last few years.  Perhaps it’s not.  Either way, that’s been the case this year again.

And, with 35 minutes left before I can begin my 7th novel (6th to win!) with NaNoWriMo, putting up another post seemed like the appropriate “time killer” as the minutes count down to midnight. (34 minutes)

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This year, I’m trying something new.  I’m writing, yet again, the first draft of my newest “For the Love of Music” series novel, but (33 minutes) I’m being “tagged” by my fiance as he writes a companion to the story of Meg Carter and Adam Orion.  I, obviously, am telling Meg’s side of the story, and Matt is writing Adam’s. (32 minutes)  We’ve had to hash through some outlining things together.  Key moments that must happen in both stories.  Key points in time where their lives intersect, even when geographically living far apart.

And (31 minutes) this is totally new for us both.  We both love collaboration, but have never tried to write the same story as someone else before, with a different POV.  A challenge, I believe, lies ahead.  And that thrills us both!  We’re (30 minutes) both thrill seekers, one could say, at least of this variety.  Challenge?  Yes please!  Adventure?  Of course!  Novel written in parallel with the love of my life?  Um, duh.

So, here we go.  All the best in writing, my darling Matt. (29 minutes)  Have fun with that writer’s cramp as you dash out those words with pen and paper.  I’m glad to use my laptop!

And, now, my pre-writing thoughts are spent, with 28 minutes left to go.  I say this calls for a pot of tea, a bathroom break, some more M&Ms, and the turning on of one fantastic playlist.  Here we go!  “One A Cappella Song” begins life in 27 minutes!

“The One I’m Waiting For” (NaNoWriMo Day 7)

7 days in and 25,005 words finished on this year’s NaNoWriMo entry, My Vienna.  And I haven’t a clue where this story is going.  I mean, I do.  The outline is there, the super short version of it is there.  The characters are there.  The plot is laid out.  But I don’t know what answers this story will give.  I’ve been writing it in bits and pieces, instead of linearly, like I usually try to do.  Some of that is because I had ideas for scenes right away and had to write them before I lost them.  Some of that is because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it this year.

And, honestly, I suspect more than half of what I’ve written will get cut in the revision.  Obviously, after I’ve written a lot more of the story.  But right now, what I’ve got is filling the story backward.  It’s almost giving me a God-like perspective Galadriel’s life after this big question comes in.  All the wonders, all the wanders, all the what-ifs.  And I know the answers to those.  If she goes in this one particular direction, then this will happen.  I have not written the other dimension, though–the one in which she chooses her own path, instead of following what she knows is right.  Maybe that will the second 25,000 words?

25,000 words in, Galadriel isn’t any closer to the answer she’s seeking, and neither am I.  But I’m okay with that.  I’m just going to keep writing and praying and reading God’s Word until I get there.  And then, Lord willing, both of our questions will be answered.

This song from Reliant K kind of says it…“The One I’m Waiting For.”

Galadriel, I’m waiting.  For you.  You’re the one.

Reliant K--writing inspiration from music

Reliant K–writing inspiration from music (can’t find copyright info, but found here: http://wallpaper4god.com/wallpapers/relient-k–trees_1403_1024x768.jpg)

Project DDD Publication Continues

I haven’t forgotten Daisy Meeks and Kane Sullivan.  I haven’t dropped the ball on getting Drop Dead Daisy published this month.  No, no, I’m still going.  In the midst of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to keep plugging away.  I’m ahead of NaNoWriMo by several thousand words, so I’m still doing well.  I can maintain this and do some editing.  I am feeling very much that My Vienna, this year’s NaNo novel won’t be remotely drafted by the 50,000 word line, so I’m okay with working on both at once.

9:40 That being said, I’m going to read aloud one more chapter tonight.  Chapter 26.

10:15 Well.  That went better than planned.  6000+ words, and I finished the final 3 chapters for the read-aloud.

And you know what?  I’m really happy with this book.  It still has a lot of work to make it what it should be, but this story is one that really speaks to my heart.  I’m nothing like Daisy, but I still relate to her and love her.  And I guess that’s what it’s about, right?  Hopefully my readers will love her as much as I do when she finally meets the world this month.

Zack's Bass Guitar (photo by Pixomar)--writing inspiration

Zack’s Bass Guitar (photo by Pixomar)–writing inspiration

“This Will Be Our Year” (NaNoWriMo Day 1)

NaNoWriMo 2015–Day 1

It used to be that when God wanted to teach me a lesson that I just wasn’t getting, He’d have me write a 2000-5000 word allegory. Now, it seems, He is having me write entire novels. Conveniently timed for NaNoWriMo (November) two years in a row now. Last year’s was “A Gargoyle in Evanston,” through which I sought peace and understanding of what the heck has happened in my life to bring me to this place I’m in right now…Chicago, not Australia (oh, land of my heart, how I yearn for thee!). And this year’s…well, I’m not ready to talk about it yet in detail, but I know it’s all about Him and me. A continuation of the theme He set for me on January 1st of this year… “This Will be Our Year.”

Currently, this year’s novel is in the “For the Love of Music” series, with the tentative title of a book I had outlined several years ago.  Not sure, however, if that’s what it will remain.  November will tell.

Words written: 3553

“This Will be Our Year”–the Zombies (writing inspiration)

Count Down Day 3: Project “DDD” Publication

Well, I’m not getting started until 9pm tonight.  It was a long work day, and a slightly crazy after work day as well.

Going to attempt to finish the read-aloud in the midst of packing for my weekend trip.  We’ll see how this goes!

9:00–read-aloud chapters 20-24.

10:45–calling it quits.  Ugh.  I wanted to keep going, to make it all the way through, but my voice is shot and my eyes are troubled at the thought of staying open.

I’ll try to squeeze some more in, in the morning before work.  We’ll see how that goes.

A Drumkit that would make Velma happy

A Drumkit that would make Velma happy–writing inspiration