Thursday, March 26, 2009

RITA Nominees

Yesterday was the day that the finalists in the RWA's RITA contest were notified - always an exciting day in the romance writing world. And I was specially thrilled to discover that three of my friends were nominated in the Short Contemporary Category for the Rita this year.

Two were Harlequin Romances - Both Jessica Hart and Barbara Hannay are former winners in the Traditional Category. And there was Medical from Lilian Darcy in the line-up, too

But if I'm allowed to be a little bit partial, my special cheer was for Anne McAllister. It's no secret to anyone who reads this blog that Anne is a very special friend of mine, and so I was thrilled to see one of her fabulous Antonides books on the list too. A book that you'll remember from the Here Come the Grooms Contest way back in January.

Antonides' Forbidden Wife was Anne's book in the now traditional contest that she, Liz Fielding and I have run for the past 3 years. I said then that it was a really good book and I'm so happy to learn that the RITA judges agreed with me.

I wrote about this book on January 20th - and I think I might as well copy here what I said then - so I can then say -'Can I pick 'em?' And also because it says something important about writing romance - whichever line you're aiming for.

. . . And what I had planned was to write about the book I've just been reading - and enjoying. And that's Anne McAllister's contribution to the Here Come The Grooms Contest, Antonides' Forbidden Wife.

Lovely book. I really enjoyed this one - an Anne McAllister classic. I'd say it was a keeper but then all of Anne's books are keepers for me. In much the same way that she's a keeper as a friend. But the best thing about this book is the important lessons that it has for would be writers.

Let me go back a couple of steps. I recently had an interesting conversation on a separate loop with some not yet published authors who were discussing the way of writing for Presents. And some of these writers had, as many of the would-be Modern/Presents writers I talk to have - strong opinions on what a Presents novel 'should be. As many of you know, I read for the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writers' Scheme (have I got all those apostrophes in the right place? I hope so). Anyway, many of those writers too have the very definite opinions on what a Modern Romance writer should write. They tend to be fixated on the wham bang impact of the novels - and I do NOT just mean sex here - they look at title buzzwords like revenge and forced and blackmail and unwilling and focus on the flash and anger and explosions of some of the stories. And the sex.

But the whole point about a romance is that it is about the emotional journey. It's the story of two people finding each other - and finding themselves along the way. And the word is EMOTION. Not revenge. Not anger. Not sex. Not even passion - unless as a passion. One of many passions. The range of Modern Romance - of all romance - is (and in the cases where it's not, it definitely should be) bigger and wider than the 'angry' emotions and the melodramatic moments that sometimes seem to dominate the stories - they certainly seem to dominate the stories that I get to read and critique.

Melodrama isn't emotion. Passion - sexual passion - isn't an emotion. It's what that creates or what the passion creates that is the emotion. The things, the responses it triggers off inside the mind of the hero or heroine. An alpha hero - we've been here before - isn't a bad, cruel, hard wicked man who has to be 'redeemed' by the discovery of love. He is a strong, powerful, hard, man who is sometimes driven by circumstances, by mistakes, by events, to make the wrong judgements and maybe even be cruel as a result. But he is above all a man of honour. A man who is capable of love (even if, like Santos in Cordero's Forced Bride, he doesn't actually believe it himself). He just needs to learn the way to get past the obstacles that keep him from recognising/believing in/expressing the love that is already there in him.

On Michelle Styles' blog today, (that post was on January 20th too)she makes an interesting point about putting emotion into a novel:
It is the old 10 percent rule -- the vast majority of readers will only get 10 % of the emotion you put in the book.

It's my experience that the emotions most readers do get are of the flashing lighting and banging thunder sort. Sometimes these drown out the softer, deeper, gentler - but infinitely powerful emotions that are what really make a romance what it should be - a love story and a relationship story. An EMOTIONAL story.

Which is where, to come back to the point of this posting, I would want to say to would-be writers - read Anne McAllister. Because it's in those emotions that Anne's writing excels. She creates wonderful strong, powerful, loving human beings in her heroes in particular. She doesn't write much - if at all - about revenge or blackmail or anger - but the emotions her heroes feel are strong and deep and very very masculine, very alpha, all the same. She creates honourable, strong (that word again) emotional men who are in conflict with themselves often as much as with their heroines. And the emotional reasons why they can't come right out and declare their love are as deep and important and powerful as any other more dramatic events.

Because very often the thing that keeps them quiet and hold them back is love itself.

Antonides' Forbidden Wife is a perfect example of this. You might start off wondering why on earth PJ ever let the past happen - but as the story goes on you begin to see exactly why he did. Exactly what his motives were. And you see that, just as conflict or strength sometimes shows itself in the quiet, deeper things rather than the storming thunder and lightning, so too love can show itself in a deep moment of silence, of giving that is stronger than passion.

I wish more of the would-be writers of Presents would study Anne McAllister's books and see the reasons why she's published in Presents and what her characters and stories add to the lione. A little more of that and little less clash and anger would add a great deal more emotion - and as the editor once said -

There are three things that sell - emotion, emotion, emotion.

Thanks for a great read Anne.

And congratulations again on this special nomination. I'll be cheering you on in Washington.

Here's the full list of nominees

A Mother’s Wish by Karen Templeton
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Special Edition (ISBN: 9780373249169)
Gail Chasan, editor

Adopted: Outback Baby by Barbara Hannay
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Romance (ISBN: 0-373-17526-4)
Meg Lewis, editor

Antonides’ Forbidden Wife by Anne McAllister
Harlequin Enterprises, Mills and Boon Modern (ISBN: 978-0-263-86478-6)
Jenny Hutton, editor

Falling for the Lone Wolf by Crystal Green
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Special Edition (ISBN: 978-0-373-24932-9)
Susan Litman, editor

Last-Minute Proposal by Jessica Hart
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Romance (ISBN: 13-978-0-373-17544-4)
Maddie Rowe, editor

Texas Heir by Linda Warren
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin American Romance (ISBN: 978-0-373-75230-0)
Kathleen Scheibling, editor

The Children’s Doctor and the Single Mum by Lilian Darcy
Harlequin Enterprises, Medical Romance (ISBN: 0-373-71454-8)
Bryony Green, editor

The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle by RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Special Edition (ISBN: 0-373-24933-0)
Gail Chasan, editor

The Right Mr. Wrong by Cindi Myers
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin American Romance (ISBN: 0373752032)
Wanda Ottewell, editor

For the rest of this year's nominations, go to the RWA site here
Congratulations to all the nominees

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Hi Kate,
That 10% rule is one I've not heard before, but well worth keeping in mind when writing and I can relate to the comments from other aspiring presents authors. So I'm off now to grab Anne's book, Antonides' Forbidden Wife from my TBR shelf, hoping to learn something from it.


Home Bio Books USA Readers Writers Contests Events Blog Links

Join Kate's Newsletter

Email Kate

Modified and Maintained by HR Web Concepts