As my first blog post, I should be telling you all about me, about how glamourous the romance writer's life is, how I've got a rainbow of feather boas in my wardrobe, how I live in a house that is only slightly more elegant than the decor pictured on the back of Barbara Cartland's novels ...
Snort. Yeah. I knew you wouldn't fall for that.
I've been at this writing business since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and I first got The Call in 2006. So, no, no private yachts. No feather boas. But I've had a jam-up good time writing for Harlequin, and I'm super excited to find a home in the Heartwarming line. And why, may you ask?
Honestly? Mostly because I am not called upon to write sex scenes.
Some women, it is said, love to write sex scenes. Steamy sex scenes. Shower sex scenes. Sex scenes that take place in telephone booths (not so much of that anymore) or on airplanes or in cars. And that is all well and good. I'm glad these women are able to write a Very Explicit Sex Scene so that those who want to read a Very Explicit Sex Scene can do so.
I am definitely NOT one of those women who can write like that. I would rather walk down Main Street of my hometown (which is mighty small and most everybody knows me) STARK NEKKID than to write and have published a Very Explicit Sex Scene and know that people are reading it. Or might, possibly, one day in the next hundred years, contemplate reading it.
On Twitter, I get teased about this -- good-naturedly, because my Tweeps all know and love me for the Goody Two Shoes that I am. Still, they ask variations of this, "What's the point of reading a romance where it's all just embers and no blazing fire-hot heat?"
I could argue that every reader doesn't share the same taste (which is true enough), and Harlequin Heartwarming fills a valid, important niche in the romance canon.
But I'd rather explain the REAL answer. It's not those Very Explicit Sex Scenes that keep romance readers flipping those pages. It's not the heat.
It's the CHEMISTRY.
We've all read books (well, most of us) where the main characters, um, well, you know, by page 3 and on every odd page thereafter, but it just seems like some sort of weird athletics for all the lack of real chemistry between the hero and heroine.
And then we watch a movie like SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, where Sam and Annie are apart for nine-tenths of the movie, and we swoon. Or YOU'VE GOT MAIL, and we swoon. Or ... whatever movie Tom Hanks is in. (Can you tell I'm a Tom Hanks fan?)
I don't know about you, but it's the chemistry, the zing, between the characters that does it for me.
It's like salsa. Take your brother-in-law's I-DARE-YA-TA-EAT-IT Habanero-laced Salsa. Sometimes, just to see your reaction, he even throws a Scotch Bonnet into the food processor, am I right?
Salsa like that, salsa that's hot for heat's sake is just ... hot. But salsa that's seasoned just right, with fresh cilantro and garlic and onion and zippy jalepenos, well, it's SPICY. It's got some CHEMISTRY going on, not a blow torch.
I know this well. I have a friend and critique partner, Tawna Fenske. We've been reading each other's words for ten years at least.
We are complete opposites in many ways. She would travel to Timbuktu tomorrow if she could do it on frequent flyer miles or a free upgrade with no hotel reservations whatsoever. I would feel more comfy with a minute-by-minute iteneray, with back-up plans in case I can't stand the hotel I've relentlessly researched on-line. She writes spicy romances that I could NEVER write. And me? I write wholesome romances that the ladies of my church can enjoy.
But BOTH of us are big on CHEMISTRY. If it ain't got that zing, it ain't got a thing. And her characters' relationships work because they sizzle with chemistry. Mine? I hope they sizzle with chemistry (but with more clothes on, thank you very much, LOL).
So whether books have a lot of "heat" or not, the real thing I believe that keeps readers flipping those pages and staying up way after midnight is CHEMISTRY. And Harlequin Heartwarming novels (hopefully including my Nov. 2013 SECRET SANTA) have boatloads of chemistry, just the right amount of zip and spice and warmth and tenderness and affection.
(And for those of you who want to help me defend my Goody-Two-Shoe Status on Twitter, follow me! You can find me @cynthiarreese )