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.

romance-novel-1404853006USd

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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Manuscript for "Nobody's Girl"

Manuscript for “Nobody’s Girl”

 

Since I have finished NaNoWriMo, it’s time to get to back to the book I’m still intending to be ready for publication this year…  Thought I’d share my basic steps for it now.  I’ll expand on the stages as I go through them with the book I’m editing now.  It’s the process I used to edit my book last year, and it worked well.  So, here we go!

  1. Rough draft
  2. Initial read-through
  3. Highlight modifiers and dialogue
  4. Cut out as many modifiers as necessary
  5. Break up into scenes
  6. Read each scene independently–asking “does this move the story forward”?, “is this scene complete as is?”, “is this scene well written,” etc.
  7. Remove unnecessary scenes
  8. Add missing information/scenes
  9. Second read through
  10. Build dialogue/internalization from narrated stuff
  11. Third read through
  12. Fourth read through
  13. Submit to proof-readers
  14. Fifth read through
  15. Take comments from readers and edit as needed
  16. My own proof-reading
  17. Final read through aloud with corrections

 

First Royalties Check!

Dollars

Dollars (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

No matter the dollar amount, that first royalties check is exciting.  And I am anything but displeased with my first check!  The only sad part is that I won’t be able to hold the check in my hands…oh, direct deposit, you have stolen something from me!  But, well, I suppose I won’t whine too loudly.  No pictures, sure, of that first check, but money in the bank right away…I can live with it.  And you came just in time for my trip to Washington D.C. in February.  Thanks amazon.com and Kindle!

NaNoWriMo Day 26/27: First Autograph

autograph

my first autograph

Well, today marks another milestone in my writing career: signing my first autograph as an author!  Using a pseudonym, my signature is a bit odd-looking, but they’ll live.  And I’ll get used to it.  As I progress, it will become second nature to me, right?

What about you?  What are some of the milestones you have come to as an author (published or not)? Which one(s) stick most in your mind?

NaNoWriMo Day 24: Get That Heart Pounding!

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of my favorite scenes in my book, “Nobody’s Girl” is the scene that makes my heart pound every time I read it…and I already know what’s going on and how the book ends.  But the reason I love it is because it does make my heart pound.  I love the moments when what I read takes over my mental/emotional process, and I lose myself in the story.  I have no control over my reactions…I cry, I weep, I blush, I whimper, I cringe, I laugh or even snort.  I can smell, feel, taste, see and hear the sounds and sights and textures of the scenes.  I can feel that hand of the imaginary character wiping the tears from my cheek or see that tanned fist handing me a tissue.  I can dance to the rhythm of Jack’s drums, feel the humming throb of Jamie’s bass guitar, hear the wah-wah pedal of Joey’s guitar whining away while Jeff’s keyboard sings to me.

And you know what?  Those kinds of scenes are my favorites in other people’s books, too.  So it’s not just bias.

If you’re still working away at your NaNoWriMo novel right now, I challenge you to make the next thousand words really count.  Tell your readers every smell, every touch, every sound and sight, every flavor in the scene.  Is that harmonious tinkling of the Bell Miner bird blending with the cries of the Magpies as they swoop down, sending your hair into your face as they attack you because it’s springtime and they’re nuts?  Is that maple syrup on the pancakes in the diner just across the Canadian border as sweet and sticky as she remembers from childhood when her daddy used to take her for breakfast every Saturday for their daddy-daughter date, back before he lost his arm in war and started stinking like a Scottish distillery?  Can your hero really smell the milky spit-up on his shirt and feel the plush red blanket in which his newborn son is wrapped, only two hours after his wife gave birth to him in an elevator when they got trapped by a maniac?  Does your heart stop when your protagonist’s cable car screeches toward a gap in the universe that didn’t exist three hours earlier?

A NaNo draft probably isn’t going to do all that (Kudos to you if yours does!), but you should have an idea for at least a few scenes where you might be able to really add some flavor and life to provoke actual physical reactions (crying, sweating, heart-rate changes, flushing, etc.) from your readers.  Keep your final days of drafting it out interesting by aiming for that!  Besides, going into that much detail will add heaps to your word count anyway.

NaNoWriMo Day 21/22: My Novel, “Nobody’s Girl,” is Now Available!

Nobody's Girl by Juanita Millhouse

Nobody’s Girl by Juanita Millhouse

Want to talk about inspiration for getting that novel written this month?  How about holding a printed copy of your novel in your own hands?  How about telling everybody you know that your novel is published?  How about being able to honor the memory of your father and writing buddy/hero by releasing your novel on the 5th anniversary of his death, on Thanksgiving Day?

That’s my story today as I proudly announce that today my novel, “Nobody’s Girl” is released to the public in both print and Kindle versions!

“Tess Brenner never would have imagined that she’d be in love with a rock-star. Of course, when she fell in love with Jamie Bennett back in fourth grade, nobody would have guessed the nerd with long hair would be one of the most popular men in the world just a few years later. But when Jamie and the band leave their hometown to tour the world, Tess must learn to live without that love. But can she? Will she ever forget the love that binds her heart to the lead singer of the Four Jays?”

To get a print copy, please check out my webstore page: https://www.createspace.com/3913109

Or, for a Kindle copy, check out: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AA2VSHW

 

Happy Thanksgiving!