Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Where Is the Love?

Publishers sometimes request submissions on a particular theme.

I really like that.

Measureably reduces the vast black void of the abyss.

Among several others, both print and e-pub, that I mentioned some days ago, was a call by Freya's Bower - the sister-house of Wild Child Publishing - for a winter magic anthology of love stories.

That call attracted me, partly because WC's magazine saw fit to accept works of mine in the past, but mostly because I admire a pair of WC's editors/writers - Karen and Michelle.

The quality of its writers/editors recommends the quality of a house.

Fine and dandy.

I've been toying with various ideas (reality read: beating myself about the head and ears) for several weeks.

The problem in producing a loverly story is me.

I tend to write romance as a sub-plot.

That will not do.

My efforts so far might make interesting chapters for my WIP - which is very nice and not at all wasteful - but do not satisfy the basic requirements for the anthology.

From what I've seen cruising around, I'm not the only one with this difficulty. It's not enough to suggest a romantic attraction between characters, or add a few scenes with heavy breathing.

Unless the romance between principals is the casus belli/cause celebre of the story, don't call it, consider it, claim it, a romance.

Four weeks remain until the deadline.

I may manage to adjust my focus. I may not.


Jon M said...

Here's hoping you find the adjustment of focus required Bernita. Romance, sheesh! I have enough trouble being romantic in reality without trying to write about it! :-)

Robyn said...

I have the opposite problem. I can't write anything without the romance taking over.

Anonymous said...

I can't do the "write a story about X." Never could. I once wrote a poem in high school about why I couldn't write a poem about the directed subject.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jon.
" I have enough trouble being romantic in reality" -
but should you admit that?

You'd be the ideal submitter for the anthology then, Robyn!

I must say that a story without some hint/suggestion of romance always lacks completeness for me.

Jaye Wells said...

Maybe it's like a crossword puzzle. The more you stare at it the less chance you have of coming up with a twelve-letter word for "scribe's nemesis." Best to step away for a couple of days. The idea will come while you're in your car or washing dishes. Never fails.

Bernita said...

I find it a good discipline, at least to try, Seeley.
And the topic guidlines are general enough: a winter's tale love story.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'm not the least bit romantic in real life, in fact I'm an anti-romantic. But I enjoy reading and writing it. However, my romances are subplots as well. I'm actually trying to write an erotic paranormal romance and the subplots keep trying to subsume it. So I know how you feel, Bernita.

Bernita said...

That's good advice, Jaye. Let the subconscious do its thing.

Bernita said...

That's it exactly, Written. Very frustrating.
Especially since I believe in "romance."

spyscribbler said...

But that's the problem! Very few romances today are romance-first. There's paranormal, there's romantic suspense, there's historical ... I just heard Kate Duffy at National say that they've been having trouble "packaging" straight contemporary romances to sell.

I stumbled across a straight romance the other month, and was shocked. As much as I read romance, I haven't read a lot of romance-romances in years.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good luck.

spyscribbler said...

Oh! (Excuse the soapbox, please!) Back twenty years ago, finding your true love and getting married was an acceptable goal. Nowadays, it's is or almost is a sign of weakness. One always seems to have to prove that the woman can live perfectly happy without the man.

I'm not saying people shouldn't be able to function independently, but the goal of a romance book is true love.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'm not particularly romantic by nature, either, though sex and love and that stuff always end up as a subplot.

I suppose I'm not interested in it as a main plot for reading or writing because I'm satisfied with my lovelife and have been lo these 21 years.

How about this for an idea: Take an old legend or classic story and put a new world around it. I just read a very intriguing sci-fi Romeo and Juliet retelling--in fact it nearly ended up in our zine!

Good luck.

sex scenes at starbucks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernita said...

Maybe that's why they are asking for short stories, Natasha!
Still, as long as the romance is the major plot with the paranormal/historical/mystery elements serving to justify/ explain/ enhance/promote the relationship, the book is a romance first.

Thank you, Charles...

Thank you, SS. I'm fond of mythic elements. Unfortunately the classic love legends are usually tragic, as in Tristian and Isolde, but I shall think on it.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, I can manage to write an entire novel without even a romance subplot just fine. I'll try get something of that sort in because the readers want it, but if I can't make it work, no romance, sorry.

In real life, I'm so totally unromantic that I never even bothered dating - thought it a waste of time I could better spend reading, taking long walks, riding .... :) And the older I get the more cynic I become about love.

The funny thing is that my parents gave a good example of a marriage that worked (until my mother's death). So I should know better. ;)

Amy Lavender Harris said...

I recognise that picture. Heh heh.

raine said...

I've been writing romance for a few years now, but must confess...the sub-plotting is threatening to revolt and take over. Love the romance, love hot, steamy scenes--but sometimes I just don't want it to be the star of the show.

But agree with Jaye. Maybe let the subconscious take over. It always surprises.

Bernita said...

You are a platonic individual, Gabriele.

I've a fair amount of romance in my life but, as I said, the single focus is quite difficult.
My chosen character is also quite cynical and simply does not expect it, which is fine, but other conflicts seem determined to upstage the romance.

Thought you would, Amy... your Geog 345!
Wanted to give Aggie another shot before relegating her to recycle!

Indeed it do, Raine.
I have the feeling all your comments here will help.

kmfrontain said...

Thank you for the vote of confidence, Bernita. :-)

On another note, my second book in the Loved Him set was released today. I still have to blog it. Been a couple of hell days beforehand, very little sleep.

Church Lady said...

Your brain just needs a little foreplay.

Is there anyone in your life you're even remotely attracted to (other than your spouse?) Since it's 'forbidden,' the tension will already be built in. Put a few daydreams around him, change your name, amplify your best and worst traits, and voila!

(At least that's how it goes when I'm riding in my car all alone....)

Good luck!!


kmfrontain said...

I was thinking about this romance after plot thing, and you know, Debbie Mumford writes this way. It's plot first, romance second. Works for me. Her stories are often rated sweet to tangy, and tangy only because of a few graphic scenes. And Faith has complained more than once she'd like to see some more stories in the sweet category. Yours might fit in the sweet category, Bernita, not because the plot is "sweet", but the sexual content is that way.

Bernita said...

You are a most original writer, Karen. And your comments and analysis here have always displayed much thought and acuity.
Congratulations on your release.
The combined jobs must be difficult at times.

Dear me, is the Church Lady advocating mental infidelity?
It's not including romance that is the problem, Chris, it is making it central.I need to reverse my usual structural approach.

Bernita said...

Thank you for that, Karen.
I had just decided that if I can manage a viable story for this antho, I probably should emphasize the "romance" between the couple and save the erotic scenes for another story.
Thing is, I have this complicated couple on the brain ( you've met them) and that affects my approach and construction, trying to be consistent within a larger plot.

Hiddle said...

The 'problem' writing this one may not be in the romance - the problem may be that you don't like winter.

SzélsőFa said...

I believe you can do it, Bernita.

I would not be able to bring love into a story where it has no place whatsoever...I think complete novels can go just fine without any romance) - on the other hand if the reasoning is that the novel should represent life...

The Anti-Wife said...

Write what makes you happy. Surely there will be a call for that in some anthology soon.

Sam said...

I'm sure you can do it if you decide to, Bernita!
I like the theme - a winter's tale love story. Too bad I have deadlines screaming at me. A lot of them. In unison. *sigh*

Bernita said...

But Hiddle, all I have to do to cover that is have my character not like winter either.

Thank you, Szelsofa.
The problem is to do it well.

It would make me happy to produce something acceptable, AW - but I know what you mean.

Thank you, Sam.
Quite a chorus.
It IS a nice theme.

kmfrontain said...

I love complicated couples, and I could see how doing a short piece about them might be difficult. There are so many things to keep track of.

And thank you regarding my release. :D The first day of sales went well, apparently.