Flashback to late October, 2012. A former student stops by to visit his middle school English teacher (moi). He wants to thank me for sharing my love of creative writing with him. Says I’ve been an inspiration. He’s getting ready to write his first novel in a high school creative writing class for NANO month and is thrilled to share the details of what sounds like a terrific suspense thriller. All is going well until he says, “And my English teacher said she did some research and discovered that if she follows this formula, she can easily write a romance in a month and might even (after a hearty chuckle- hers) submit it." Eazy Peazy. Right?
Let’s just say I didn’t quite grasp the humor in that anecdote. It might have gone over my head. I had been teaching and writing on little sleep for the past two months- laboring over my Harlequin Heartwarming- THE FOREVER WISH while revising my co-authored YA for Spencer Hill Press - CAMP BOYFRIEND. It’s even possible I was wearing different colored shoes that day. I’m certain my socks didn’t match. They rarely do. But even so… that an educated person… a teacher of creative writing… would assume that Romance was formulaic; that it was easy?! Yikes. I asked him what formula she planned to use and, according to her, it was: “A girl moves back to her home town, falls for a guy that treats her badly and eventually discovers he loves her too. THE END.” See. Eazy Peazy. I nearly threw my mismatched shoe out the window. Argh!
As an author of both YA and Adult Contemporary Romance, along with screenplays, monologues, and comedy skits, I can attest that every form of writing comes with its own set of challenges and joys. And none of them follow a formula. (The Hangover Two might have been pushing it- but still…) Writing a deeply romantic story with relatable characters whose journey to love is a path readers want to follow, takes more blood, sweat, and tears, than hearts and flowers. (Though they are always appreciated, so fans keep them coming!)
My colleagues’ upcoming Heartwarming stories are incredibly diverse. We have stories ranging from an ex-Bachelor style contestant who gets a second chance at love, to returning veterans rediscovering themselves and romance through working with draft horses, a social worker whose crusade to save her ailing town earns her the key to a stoic man’s heart, a brave young woman who overcomes childhood trauma to aid the owner of her family’s former wildlife park only to fall wildly in love herself, and cancer patients whose newfound relationships give them needed hope. In fact- in all of these stories- love trumps all. If there was a ‘formula’, that’s as close as I’d venture.
Writing love stories that readers will root for and stay up all night to read, burn the cookies, the heck with the laundry, ‘kids just eat the leftovers ‘cause I’ve got to finish this book'….kinds of romances… not so EAZY PEAZY. It’s the equivalent of telling a comedian/actor, “Go get ‘em champ. All you have to do is make ‘em laugh.” HA! (Okay. I might have said that once or twice. But it was a joke. Seriously.)
I couldn’t be prouder or more fulfilled to write Romance. It is THE hardest genre I’ve worked in (YA and comedy being tied for second- and a close second). While LOVE is the destination, the fantastically different travelers and their journeys allow my creative spirit to fly where it will. In an earlier blog post, bestselling Harlequin author, Roz Denny Fox, wished for a warehouse in the sky for her many ideas. It’s a dream all Romance authors share as, despite the myth, there is no formula to fit them all. And thank heavens for that!
For all those who believe in a dreamful of romantic possibilities, today’s comment post giveaway is my copy of Anna DeStefano’s amazing Heartwarming A SWEETBROOK FAMILY and two friendship bracelets- one for you and a friend you hold dear. Please post a comment below to share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you J The winner will be announced on my author Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters tomorrow!