Monthly Archives: April 2014
My publisher, Escape Publishing, is updating their website and revamping their categories for various books. They are looking for the right name to give a category of books that don’t quite fit into other categories, including some of my books such as Fast Forward, I Dream of Johnny, and Starstruck in Seattle.
Can you help?
What these books have in common is that they are set in the real world but have elements of something magical or supernatural, but are not full-on paranormals or fantasy books. They may be comedies or emotional dramas or mysteries, but all have a magical element that is crucial to the story, such as time travel, ghosts, wishes and magic lamps, illusions, premonitions, magic powers…etc.
If you come up with the winning title you can win a set of these books from Escape Publishing! So what do you think? Are they best described as Romagic, Supernatural, Alternate Reality, Other-Worldly, Romantic Illusion, or something else?
Have your say! Go to Escape’s blog and leave a comment with your email address to have a chance of winning the prize. Click HERE.
Here’s a question for you: Which of the following is a romance novel?
Answer: all of them. And each is a bestselling and/or award-winning book. Did you already know these are examples of the wide variety of romance fiction available, or is your perception of romance books limited to those with covers showing Fabio-esque men embracing buxom women?
I was inspired to write this post about the diversity of romance after reading Kat Mayo’s article on ABC’s The Drum in response to another article about romance feminism. Many of the comments on the articles showed just how many misconceptions there are about romance fiction. Some people look down on romance fiction as being ‘rubbish’, but many do so without having actually read books within the genre, or having read widely enough.
The view that romance novels give women unrealistic expectations about love and relationships and portray women that are disempowered beings desperate for a hero to rescue them is outdated. The majority of contemporary romance novels have empowered, strong, relatable women as characters, and often represent issues and challenges present in real life. And what’s so unrealistic about finding happiness with someone in a romantic relationship? It happens to many. Yes, there is divorce and broken families in society, but there is also love, commitment, respect, and satisfaction.
These books do not give women unrealistic expectations, they provide entertainment, relaxation, inspiration, and an example of what is possible. And they are FICTION. They are not a How-To guide on finding love. Just as crime and thrillers take readers on an intriguing, suspenseful journey with a satisfying conclusion, romance novels take readers on an enjoyable, emotional journey with a happy ending. There is nothing wrong with that.
Everyone is entitled to their own reading preferences of course, and not liking romance (or sci-fi, or fantasy, for that matter) is perfectly okay, but labelling all books in a genre as ‘rubbish’ is an opinion often given without adequate and fair appraisal of a variety of recent books in the genre. In many cases it is based on assumptions and stereotypical perceptions influenced by what people have seen in movies or in the media.
…So what makes each of the above mentioned books a romance? Regardless of the sub-genre or plot, they each have a romantic relationship as a crucial part of the story and a happy ending where the couple ends up together. It is about the journey, not the destination. Without the romance element the story wouldn’t quite be complete. The romance element may be the main component and driver of the story, or it may be a lesser though still significant part of the story.
Let’s look at each example…
Fast Forward is a time travel romantic comedy, with the main plot centring around a 25-year-old model stuck in the body of her 50-year-old self in the future. At first impressions, there doesn’t seem to be anything romantic about that, but crucial to the plot and her growth as a character is the development of her relationship with her future husband. Because the story wouldn’t be the same without the romantic element, it is not only a comedy and a paranormal/time travel story, but a romance. Some may also classify it as women’s fiction or chick lit, because of the story’s focus on the woman’s journey (however, there are male fans of the book too!) 😉
“A wonderful story that delivers a very powerful message underneath the humor and love – it’s not often that a romance novel makes me stop and think of my own life and choices, but Fast Forward does just that, which just adds to its appeal!”
Holiday Affair is a category romance (from Entangled Publishing’s ‘Indulgence’ imprint) in which the hero discovers his new neighbour and co-worker is the woman he had a one-night-stand with on a tropical holiday. A *category romance is a shorter novel (usually around 50,000 words) that adheres to certain guidelines and themes of a particular line or imprint, so readers know what to expect in terms of character types, settings, and/or heat level. In category romance, the romance is the main plot. There may be a small number of secondary characters and possibly a minor subplot, but not at the expense of the main romance storyline. *Note: Many people have the misconception that all romance is category romance – ie, the Mills & Boon type of book. Mills & Boon books are category romance, but not all category romance is published by Mills & Boon.
“A delightful tale of two people who have more in common than they think, but are scared to believe it. Neither one of them trusts that love-at-first-sight really could happen on vacation, even though it’s obvious that they are made for each other. Wonderful descriptions of the vacation scenery and a neat inside look at the academic world. I look forward to more from this author!”
Outback Dreams is a single title Australian rural romance about two best friends with dreams they’re each working towards, whose relationship becomes romantic and changes everything. In comparison to a category romance, a single title romance is a full length novel and contains secondary characters and sub-plots as well as the main romance. Rural romance is a popular genre about the lives and loves of people living and working on farms and in rural communities.
“OUTBACK DREAMS gently highlights the issue of having a family member with Autism and how it can affect the whole family … a perfect blend of romance, believable conflict, perfect miscommunication and a happy ever after”
Half Moon Bay is a romantic suspense novel written by airline pilot, Helene Young, about a woman running from her past who returns home to help her community, and an ex-soldier with secrets and trauma connecting him to her. Just like other thrillers, crime, and suspense novels, romantic suspense has all the plot twists and turns that keeps the reader turning the pages, but also focuses on the developing romance between the main characters as they deal with challenging circumstances that could either tear them apart or bring them closer together.
“I, too, have shied away from the “romance” genre, thinking Mills & Boon. However, I am now a convert to the romance / suspense genre, especially Helene Young’s books. Handsome men, whose characters develop into more than just a pretty face, alongside strong independent intelligent women are characters you will connect with.”
The Rosie Project is a hugely successful romantic comedy about a genetics professor with social difficulties who creates a questionnaire to see if he can find a wife, and one who is perfect for him. His perceptions about life and mishaps along the way create the comedic element, and with the plot revolving around finding a wife, romance and finding out if he’s capable of true love is a big part of the story.
“It is not the typical boy meets girl love story formula, and that is what makes it so good. What a refreshing take on the autism spectrum: it is varied, complex, but real and workable for many individuals. Lastly, what hope this book delivers: there is someone out there for everyone.”
…As you can see, there is much diversity in the romance fiction market, and these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Romance spans many other subgenres including historical, steampunk, paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, erotic, contemporary and more. It is written mostly by women, but also by men, and read by both men and women. It can be about the variety and complexity of life, career, family, war, illness, history, time travel, mystery, or sexuality, with the uniting factor of how love impacts on the challenges and choices people make in life. Romance is diverse, and so are its writers and readers.
I’d like to propose a challenge for anyone that perceives romance books as ‘rubbish’: Read several current books in the genre before making that claim. Try the ones mentioned in this article, or read the winning books from the Australian Romance Readers Association Awards, and if you still think they’re rubbish, fair enough, at least you’ve read enough of a variety to make that personal judgement. But maybe these stories will entertain you and enlighten you as to the variety and depth of talent and storytelling ability in the romance fiction industry, which, by the way, keeps the book industry alive.
Happy reading! 🙂
Yay, a birthday! Another year to celebrate being alive – yippee! That’s what I think on the 14th April each year (see my overjoyed expression below). Then reality hits… Oh. My birthday. Um. Hmm… another year older (see my
overjoyed freaked out expression below). How does the time go so fast? Wasn’t it only recently that I was youthful and firm with skin all …dewy and stuff? What happened? Gravity and time, that’s what happened. Gravity – you suck. Except for the fact that you keep us on the ground instead of flying around in chaotic, uncontrollable astronaut fashion. Then again, that could be kinda fun. Occasionally. Except during meal preparation time… “Stay in the frypan, onions! And you naughty chicken breasts – stop floating towards the television! Don’t make me come get you!” And if I was boiling potatoes at the same time I’d also be dodging floating pellets of boiling water and looking like an uncoordinated ninja.
But seriously, a birthday is a blessing. A privilege. And although physical ageing is inevitable, the mind and heart can stay as young as you wish it to be. And when I blow out that birthday candle tonight (one candle, because who can be bothered counting them all out once you’re over a certain age? 😉 ), I’ll be wishing for health and happiness for myself and my loved ones. And maybe some other things but I can’t tell you because then they might not come true! 😉
Sooo, I better go enjoy my day. Oh hang on, I have an idea. I’ll share a couple of snippets of birthday scenes from my books. Yes, that’s a good idea for a birthday blog post. Rightio, off to find them…
Apparently only two of my books have birthday scenes. My other characters never age. Damn them.
Here are snippets from FAST FORWARD and THE JANUARY WISH:
Fast Forward, birthday excerpt from chapter 15:
I opened more presents, including a heat-sensing automatic temperature-adjusting blanket from Kasey and Max, along with a donation on my behalf to the Ants Have Feelings Too research foundation, and watched more amazing moving birthday cards, until only one thing remained on the present table. A white envelope.
It seemed strange that among all this technology, paper still actually existed. I slid my finger under the seal and pulled out a plastic card about the size of a book … if books still existed, I certainly hadn’t seen any around the house.
“Oh, whoops, that was supposed to be for later,” Will said. “Ah, might as well have it now, then.” His face went slightly pink.
“What is it, Kel?” Elaine asked with curious eyes.
“It’s a … ” I began, my cheeks becoming hot.
Ryan came over and plucked the card from my hands. “C’mon, the suspense is killing us!” He read the card and grinned. “It’s a couple’s intimate photo shoot at Image of Desire studios.”
“Woo-woo!” Regina said and a few cheers and whistles escaped the mouths of my guests, as Will held out his hands.
“Now calm down everyone, it’s just a makeover and photo shoot for married couples, nothing raunchy.”
“Yeah right,” Ryan exclaimed. “Have you seen the portfolio on the gift card? Look.” He pressed a button on the card and a slideshow played, showing various couples wearing minimal clothing embracing in imaginative positions like strands of spaghetti clinging to a fork.
A makeover and photo shoot I could handle, but with Will? Doing…that? My stomach lurched as I attempted to steal the card back from Ryan, who was holding it up in the air for everyone to see, keeping it out of my grasp. “Give it to me, son, that’s enough of your teasing,” I said in a motherly voice and interestingly, it worked.
“Sorry, Mum. It’s just funny, that’s all.” He handed me the card and I shoved it back in its envelope as Will mouthed a red-faced ‘sorry’ at me. I flicked my hand as though it was nothing and then re-opened Diora’s gift in an effort to distract myself—and everyone else—asking the nearest person to help me latch the necklace around my neck.
“There is another present, Mum,” Ryan said in a more serious tone.
“Huh? But you already took me bungy jumping.”
“You went bungy jumping?” Marge Simpson leapt from her seat, her beehive wig almost toppling forward.
“Didn’t you know?” Homer asked. “I told you yesterday remember, when you were baking that soufflé?”
“Darling, you should know by now to never talk to me when I’m baking, especially a soufflé, I won’t remember a thing for the concentration it requires.”
“Yes, she sure did,” Ben said. “She was awesome!” Ryan glanced longingly towards Ben and smiled, before turning back to me.
“This is something extra special, I’ve been planning it for a while,” Ryan said.
Oh dear God. Don’t let it be skydiving, or hang gliding, or a one-way trip to Mount Everest. Please!
The January Wish, birthday excerpt from chapter 28:
‘You have to, it’s your birthday!’ Joyce said. ‘And the waiter needs something to put a birthday candle on,’ she added.
Mark nodded in agreement. ‘You know you’re getting old when you only get one birthday candle. It’s too much hassle to count out the correct amount,’ he said with a charming smirk. ‘Either that or there’s not enough room to fit them all on,’ he added. Everyone erupted in laughter and Sylvia kicked him under the table. He simply grinned, then winked at her. ‘Just teasing,’ he said. ‘You look great for someone your age, Sylvia.’ She kicked him again.
They say that one of the best signs that someone is recovering well from illness is the return of their sense of humour. Sylvia wondered if the same could be said for grief. When she’d first met Mark, his humorous charm had attracted her, but after their discussion about his wife’s death, he’d lost that charm. He’d become quiet and serious. Lately though, she’d begun to see a subtle re-emergence of his sense of humour. Tonight, it was obviously back in full force.
‘Look Sylvia, there’s lemon meringue pie.’ Joyce held the menu in front of Sylvia. ‘And coconut panna cotta with raspberry coulis and almond biscotti. Or what about Death by Chocolate?’
Maybe she could fit in some chocolate. ‘That sounds like a good way to go,’ Sylvia replied. ‘I mean, in terms of dessert choice, not death,’ she added with a chuckle, and hoped the mention of death wouldn’t upset Mark. She’d tried to keep their few discussions at work lighthearted, but that was difficult considering her profession. The subject of death was bound to come up occasionally. Thankfully, Mark didn’t seem rattled in the slightest, and in fact continued to mock her ‘old age’ by suggesting she tuck her napkin into her shirt collar and ask for her dessert to be pureed for ease of consuming.
‘Is the naturopath allowed any dessert?’ Sylvia asked Mark.
‘Of course. All things in moderation,’ he replied. ‘Tell you what, I’ll splurge on Death by Chocolate too.’ Mark placed his menu down on the table and signalled a waiter.
As the waiter made his way towards the table, Sylvia noticed Grace outside the restaurant. Strange, she thought. It’s a bit late to change her mind about joining them for dinner. Well, she could always just have dessert; there was room to pull up another chair. Sylvia was about to wave at Grace to come inside when a sense of dread filled her stomach. Grace looked different. Ghostly, in fact. And she was clinging to the window. A strange facial expression crossed Grace’s face as their eyes connected. Fear mixed with relief, Sylvia recognised. And within moments of their gaze locking on each other, Grace’s eyes rolled back and she slid down the window like a raindrop losing its grip on the glass.
~ Hope you enjoyed the excerpts! To check out the books or any of my others, here is my page on my publisher’s site with all the links: This one here. Go on, you know you want to. 😉
Until next year… 😉
If you haven’t yet got a copy of my heartwarming women’s fiction and coastal romance novel FEBRUARY OR FOREVER, or would like to send an inexpensive gift copy to a friend to give them a boost, now is the time! It is on special for only 99 cents on Amazon. The deal may not be available in all countries though, so please check the relevant links below:
Amazon.com.au link: http://www.amazon.com.au/February-Or-Forever-Juliet-Madison-ebook/dp/B00HQ5ZEHQ/
This book is the second in my linked Tarrin’s Bay series, but is a complete stand alone so you don’t need to have read the first book, The January Wish, beforehand (though you can if you choose!).
FEBRUARY OR FOREVER is set in a small Australian coastal country town and has romance, friendship, family dramas, and secrets, and revolves around the premise – what if your favourite celebrity fell in love with you? Think about your favourite singer, actor, or celebrity, or your fave from long ago… can you imagine what it would feel like if you met them and romance blossomed? That was what I tried to capture in this story. Chrissie is a hardworking single mother with a challenging six year old son, and has loved Drew Williams’ music (and um, his ‘personality’) for eighteen years, ever since he won a television talent show and shot to international stardom. Now he’s back in The Bay where he grew up, with plans to escape his busy life for just one month. But can one month become forever when he and his private yoga teacher Chrissie fall in love?
Discover the beautiful and enticing Tarrin’s Bay… join Chrissie and Drew at Serendipity beachside health retreat, the enchanting rural property of Honeydew House, the quaint Miracle Park, and the secluded part of the beach on a starry moonlit night…
Here’s what people are saying about FEBRUARY OR FOREVER:
- “Brilliant! … February or Forever is a fun, heartwarming story that will stay with me for a long time to come. It left me smiling at my eReader, making “woop” sounds all the way through and of course, made me cry. It’s a modern day fairy tale about a girl meeting her celebrity crush.. except that it’s nothing like that. And it’s why I loved this book so much.” ~ Maryline VP
- “This book brought out all of my emotions from laughing to crying. Highly recommend read.” ~ Sbart61
- “I totally loved this book! … Honestly, I’m not the one to drool over fictional heroes, but man..Drew really won my heart. He’s gorgeous, successful, yet such a friendly, kind, family guy. It was really nice to read about a normal celebrity for a change.” ~ Ananda
And here’s a little snippet from the book:
Motherhood had taught Chrissie to be a great multi-tasker. She could cook dinner, answer Kai’s ridiculously difficult questions about outer space, and do her one hundred bi-weekly calf raises while writing the next day’s shopping list. ‘Good, that’s better,’ she said, taking her hands off Drew and letting him sustain the pose. ‘I don’t want to see any more of those spaghetti arms.’
‘You going all Dirty Dancing on me?’
Drew’s posture loosened slightly as he chuckled. ‘Just don’t put me in the corner if I do things wrong.’
Chrissie laughed. ‘Don’t worry, nobody puts Drew in the corner.’
Drew eased out of the pose and turned to face her. ‘My puns are rubbing off on you.’
‘If only it was your singing ability.’
A smile formed on his lips.
‘How do you know Dirty Dancing so well, anyway? I thought it was a chick flick.’
‘I’ve seen it. I have a good memory.’ He shrugged. ‘And anyway, Sarah was obsessed with it as a young teenager, she had it on VHS and watched it over and over again on the only television set in the house. The script and songs are ingrained into my subconscious memory.’
Chrissie found herself swaying playfully side to side. ‘Are you a good dancer?’
He held his arms out to the side. ‘Am I a good dancer?’ he asked confidently as though he was Johnny Castle himself. ‘I’ll let you be the judge of that.’ He waltzed over to her in a sexy swagger and grabbed her, tipping her torso backwards.
‘Whoa!’ Chrissie straightened up. ‘Wasn’t expecting that.’
‘Expect the unexpected,’ Drew said dramatically, placing one hand on her waist and the other on her hand, in dance position. He stepped forwards and she moved with him, he turned and changed direction and she followed, trusting his lead, until she stepped on his foot.
‘Ouch! Lucky you weren’t in heels.’
‘If I was in heels I would have fallen over back there.’ She pointed to the direction they’d come from. ‘How those ballroom dancers do it I have no idea.’ She broke away from his grasp. ‘Anyway, this isn’t exactly yoga now is it? You, Mister, should behave.’ She jabbed her finger towards his chest.
‘You were the one who asked if I could dance. And besides, what’s wrong with mixing up the classes a little?’
‘So you want to…dance with me?’
‘Why not?’ He shot her a cheeky grin.
She matched it with one of her own. ‘Then there’s only one thing that’s missing.’ She walked over to the corner table and plucked her phone from her bag. She went to scroll through the iPod playlists but opted for YouTube instead. When she found what she was looking for she placed her iPhone in the speaker dock on the table, pressed play, then turned to look at Drew.
His face lit up in recognition when the music began. The unmistakeable song, The Time of my Life, filled the room, its slow, breezy start encouraging her to saunter across the room towards him. Drew eyed her with anticipation, curling his finger to entice her closer, then her body was against his, captivated by a playful eagerness in his eyes.
>>To read more, get your copy here…
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The Best Australian Blog competition is on again! While we await the official list of finalists, there is a People’s Choice category, and if you so wish, I’d love for you to consider voting for this blog!
To vote for me in the Best Australian Blogs 2014 – People’s Choice category, simply click on the banner below, or visit this url HERE.
The blogs are listed alphabetically, you can find mine in the F-K category. My blog name is: Juliet Madison.
You can also vote for any other blogs you like too, or you can vote for one, it’s up to you. **Make sure you click right through every page till the end where you click on ‘done’, in order to register your vote.
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