Voice versus trends

Today’s blog musings were sparked by two things, a new review and the industry news from the RWA conference.

The Romance Studio did an outstanding 5 Heart review of Yule Be Mine. Reviewer Glenda says, “This book is just an absolutely fun read. I laughed my way through the dialog; written with such humor. For any girl who might have ever experienced Dates from Hell, this is the story for you. Certain little things are such fun, especially the questionnaire which is just delightful. Jordan is just the right amount of quirky; just perfect as the counterpart for Lukes character, and Luke is a darling. And the ring buying episode… ”

The interesting part to the topic is the rating. Overall rating of 5 Hearts, Sensuality rating, Very Sensual.

Why is this interesting? Yule Be Mine was my attempt to write a sweet romance. No kidding. And instead of sweet, it came out a Silhouette Desire/Harlequin Temptation level sensuality. My attempt to write Harlequin Temptation level sensuality, Love and Rockets, sold to Ellora’s Cave. I overshot the heat in both cases, and why? Because you really can’t fight your voice.

The current trend to hot romance suits my voice and I’m really happy about that. But I’m also glad that I’m not trying to write to suit a trend. The current popularity of erotic romance may wane in the future; trends do tend to be cyclical. But overall the lines that sell best tend to be the hottest, so I don’t see romance on the spicy side ever going away. And I do believe that whatever your voice, a good story always makes a place for itself, finds an audience, even sets trends in some cases.

I’m glad that there’s so much industry news being posted around the web for those looking for a good fit, but my advice to writers out there is not to try to jump on a trend, because even if you try you really can’t fight your voice. If you have it in you to write the hot stuff, go for it. I’ll be first in line to buy and read your book because it’s my favorite subgenre. But if you really want to tell a sweet story, buck the trends and follow your voice. There are sweet authors out there that I have loved for years. I’d rather they kept writing the books I love than try to change to suit the current state of the market.

The great thing about romance to me is the breadth and diversity. So many subgenres, so much variety, something for everyone. Trends come and go but your voice is a more reliable compass to follow.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

So last night we hired a babysitter and went on a date. Alone. No kids. For the first time in about a year and a half. We went to a restaurant and ate dinner without tending to any small people, feeding only ourselves. This meant we could actually make eye contact and have conversations of more than two sentences. And hold hands.

After dinner, we walked to the Uptown Theatre and bought tickets for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, our idea of a romantic date flick. This is a must have on DVD. The dialog is perfect. The physical comedy is beautiful, like the dance near the end with each disarming the other, knives and guns flying. Explosions, action, marriage counseling and true love, what’s not to like about this movie? Best hitman romantic comedy since Gross Pointe Blank. OK, so there aren’t a lot of hitman romantic comedies. But if they’re like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, there should be.

And on the seventh day…

On Saturday, we had a realtor show us a house that fit all our requirements.
On Sunday, we looked at other options and agreed the house was our best fit.
On Monday, we had vital questions answered by the bank, called the realtor, and made an offer.
On Tuesday, we signed and faxed back a five-inch-thick stack of paper.
On Wednesday, we waited.
On Thursday, we discovered the owner is in Mexico. Living in Mexico. And the realtor for the owner doesn’t have any way to contact said owner directly.
On Friday, we wondered why all those spammers out there keep sending emails about penis enhancement but never offer anything a couple planning a move really needs, like bulk-rate valium.