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Monday, May 20, 2013

A Disclaimer: Romance?

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Today I would like to talk a bit about romance, or perhaps a lack thereof. You see I have been using the word with regard to my forthcoming novel, and am unsure whether or not I actually should. I suppose we could talk about ad campaigning, and there’s certainly some truth in that. However, on the other hand I run the risk of ticking some readers off if they think there’s some bed-hopping or hot and steamy action going on. Let me set the record straight right now. There isn’t.

On the other hand, the condition of the heart is at the very forefront of the story. Two main characters have had their hearts broken by the separation of death. One took the wrong road in reclaiming what was taken away from them; another simply did nothing but attempt to allow the wound to scab over enough to face tomorrow. The plot of the novel takes us on a journey to see whether love might have its day...

“A dollar and a half for your thoughts,” Anne asked, catching me in mid-thought. She held her glass of wine in her right hand and lightly swirled the remaining contents.
“What?” I asked, glancing over at her smiling face.
“A penny for your thoughts sounded a tad cheap, so I thought I would up it for inflation and cost of living.” She sat back. “You were grinning just now. What were you thinking about? Something good?”
“I don’t know,” I lied, and then spooned the last of my dessert into my mouth. I fought the urge to lick the bowl. It was that good.
“Yes, you do!” Anne said. “You’re a terrible liar.” She set her glass down and folded her arms across her chest. “Give it up, mister!”
I glanced at Jason, who was watching the exchange with a curious look on his face, then back at Anne and shook my head.
“Must have been something good,” Anne said, refusing to let it go.
“Do you two need me to leave the room or something?” Jason asked.
“No!” I said, perhaps a little too loudly. A twinkle sparkled in Anne’s eye, so I kept my eyes off her. I suppose that made me even more suspicious-looking.
From my peripheral vision, I saw her stand and grab the plates to take to the kitchen. Leaning to my ear, she whispered, “Hmm?” and I knew I hadn’t heard the end of it.
“You know she’s never going to let that go, right?” Jason offered in a whisper when she left the room.
“I was afraid of that,” I mouthed to him.
“Good luck,” he mouthed back.
He got up from the table just as his mother came back to retrieve the fudge, strawberry and caramel toppings to put away. Fearing being alone with her, I quickly jumped from the table and followed Jason. For the next few minutes I was his shadow, and when he made a move to leave, I grabbed for his shirt, keeping him beside me. As if sensing this, Anne sent her son upstairs to get showered. I turned to him, feigning panic. He just grinned and waved melodramatically at me. When I turned back around, Anne was waiting for me with a devilish grin.
“Hi,” I said sheepishly.
“Hi there,” she replied. “How’s it going?”
“Fine.” We said nothing for a few moments. I snaked past her and began setting up to wash the dishes.
“That’s all you’ve got?” she asked. “After I went and made all of this food.”
“I told you it was fantastic!” I said without facing her. “Are you kidding me? I haven’t eaten this great in years!”
“Thank you, but that isn’t what I wanted to hear.” I could hear her move to the counter by the refrigerator and pour herself another glass of wine. “I want to know what you’re hiding.”
I filled one side of the sink with soap and hot water and bided my time while I attempted to think of a possible response. I filled the sink with dishes. “Why don’t you go sit down and relax?” I offered. “I’ll clean the kitchen.” I was stalling and we both knew it. I still couldn’t look at her.
“No, thanks. I’m fine right here.”
I felt myself growing embarrassed now as I anticipated her reaction. Perspiration formed on my forehead and it had nothing at all to do with the hot water I stood over.
“My, you are turning a bright shade of red,” she said before sipping from her wine.
“Please, Anne,” I pleaded, still not looking at her. “You don’t want to hear this.”
“Apparently I do.” I didn’t have to turn her direction to see her grin. Her voice said it all.
I sighed, utterly defeated.
“Come on,” she goaded me.
“I was wondering what it might be like to be Jason’s step-dad,” I said at last.
“That’s it? You don’t want to be with me. You only want to hang out with my kid?” Slowly I looked her way. She was grinning just like I suspected and kept her eyes on me over the top of her wineglass.
“Don’t be silly,” I said and looked for something to throw at her. A dish towel came in handy. I quickly grabbed it and tossed it her direction. She moved out of the way, but it would have missed her to her left anyway.
“I thought you were good at baseball. Jason said you were.”
“My throws are not usually that poor - only when I’m terribly distracted.” I sighed again, leaning against the sink and shaking my head at this incredible turn of events.
“What?” Anne asked. She lowered her glass and put on a more serious look, although still quite pleased with herself.
“Are you sure? I mean, are you really sure that you want to…”
“Oh, I’ve agreed to nothing,” she interrupted. She bent over and retrieved the rag from the floor, then approached me. I clammed up when she got close, but didn’t move an inch.
“Relax,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure you were interested. Now I know.” She laid the towel upon my head. “Now, hurry up and finish the dishes.”
“Yes, dear,” I said from inside the dish towel.
“Practicing already?” she asked as she stepped out of the room. “I like it.”

Is it romantic? I believe it is. Should it be considered a romance, albeit one of the paranormal kind? We’re two weeks away from discovering what the readers think. So far, the returns have come in favorably, as the following review demonstrates:

“This is an amazing book. I found it hard to put it down. Throughout the book I felt tearful, happy, terrified and surprised by a few twists. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good ghost and/or romance story...” My thanks to “Angelbear” for the review. I appreciate it more than you can know.

Seeing Ghosts is set to release on Monday, June 3rd. If you can't wait, the book is already available. *evil grins* I quietly posted it on Amazon a week ago so I could proof it. I guess I'm terribly sneaky that way. ;)

We'll talk soon.


  1. It's playful. I liked it. I wouldn't call it a romance, least not from this excerpt. Just because a book has romance in it doesn't mean that's the genre in which it fits. A murder in a story doesn't necessarily make it a thriller.

    Good writing and enjoyable dialogue.

    My blog at M.L. Swift, Writer

  2. What constitutes romance depends on the novel, and the author.

    For instance; you may not think of Stephen Kings Dark Tower series as a romance; but Roland Deschaine is a romantic. Physical romance did not work for Roland himself because of his dedication to duty as he saw it. He was already in love with the ideal of the dark tower before he met Susan. He was born to the legacy. He believed the hype. He would sacrifice anything and anyone to get there.

    The romance between Eddie and Savanah sustained him. Roland would do anything to see that life affirming romance fulfilled. Yet, he sacrificed it to fulfill his predestined life mission. It represented hope for the future, hope for humanity, and a fulfillment of purpose for Roland's sacrifices.

    Romance is an ideal James; a perfect love. It is not always fulfilled in the main characters life span. Or, the MC may have experienced it, lost it, and so has a comparable emotion to identify with.

    Life is romance.

    Did you watch the movie Constantine? Hancock? Or End Of Days? All were romantic movies. It was the love interest that drove the plot line, even though they did not end up with "the girl."

    Braveheart, Last of the Mohicans, Gladiator: all were romantic movies that did not focus on the love interest. Watch Steel Magnolias and Life As We Knew It, Love Actually. Even Shrek. Love is grown through a series of life altering events.

    I think this excerpt is "romantic." I don't know if the novel itself is a "romance" but I think you can safely draw readers in based on the "romantic" appeal of this excerpt.

    Are romance readers your target audience?

    If the main focus of your novel is the relationship between your 1st person POV character and a peripherary character, then it is a romance. Don't spend a lot of time developing the event that brought the two together. Focus the story line, and the circumstances and physical attraction that bring the character together. The movie Sweet Home Alabama is a good reference. on the physical attraction But, if a romantic interest exists between the MCs and the focus is a dead body and how it came to be dead is the focus then you have a Romantic suspense, Romantic paranormal, Romantic Crime Fiction . .you get the idea.

    So, what's the backstory with this excerpt: Are Anna and Him consistently thrown together to solve the mystery; or is their journey to discover a murderer an excuse for them to consistently be alone and vulnerable together?

    I found your excerpt here highly romantic. I'd have to read the rest of the novel or a synopsis to know if this was the only romance excerpt in the book.

    Me; I'm not a "romance" reader. I like romance in a story though. So, my vote for this excerpt is "romantic" and I hope to see other scenes like it in the novel. I'd stop reading this more for a lack of action than a lack of romance though.

    What audience do you really hope to cultivate with this novel, James? Are you willing to sacrifice one genre to achieve another? Do you really need to jump on one band wagon at the cost of another?

    Your posted review says this is a ghost story that includes a romance. Is this a ghost story?

    I'm just one reader James. You have to decide where you want your novel to reside on a shelf in a book store - even a virtual bookstore. Focusing on the romance appeals to one market. But I can't tell from this excerpt if its contempory, mystery, crime, fantasy sci-fi, dystopia, urban fantasy, paranormal.

    Its and angsty lovers scene that fits anywhere.
    Who is your target audience? Focus your marketing there.


  3. Always a difficult call, James. I've been told if there's a happy ending for the two involved, it's a romance. However, that rules out many books I've read that are obviously romance (Wuthering Heights would be one). You can always claim some romantic tension and be done with it, I suppose. haha

  4. I read once that if the plot exists to support the relationship, it's a romance. If the relationship supports the plot, it's not.

    Nice excerpt either way.

  5. What LD said. Paranormal romance is very hot right now so that might not be a bad label to use.

  6. I'd call it romance, but I wrestle with the same label in my books. Love and lost love is at the heart of the stories and to me that's what romance is. I'd at least tag it as such. Looking forward to reading it.

  7. This sounds more like a love story than a romance. And there is a difference. Like everyone says above.

    Oh...and I like this brief excerpt :)

  8. I liked the excerpt - great dialogue!

  9. OK, curiosity piqued. Bring it on!

  10. I don't know if it's technically a romance--because I just don't know too much about that stuff--but it is very romantic.


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