Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Write Romance in Five Easy Decades

The Wedding Wager is Live!  

Megan leaves the hospital whole but in despair. Can Kevin heal her heart and still save the family fortune?

When people say romance is easy to write, I laugh and say, "Where's your book?" 

Romance is a lovely balance of human interaction, emotional transformation, and page-turning storytelling. For years, people (who didn't read romance) told me to concentrate on mystery and science fiction. Those were the genres that appealed to them. Those were the only stories they felt worth reading. It was no coincidence that many of these people worked at the same university where I worked. They considered romance to be fluff. "Oh, anyone can write that silly stuff!"

Anyone? Really? Again I say, "Where's your romance? Where's your novel about the hearts of two people falling in love?"

Try to tell them that Jane Eyre or Madame Bovary were romance novels and these academics will turn pale and sputter to defend "the classics." My personal theory about academic acceptance of mystery and science fiction is this: Academia is still dominated by men, and men like to read mysteries and science fiction. Female academics who read romance would never admit to that in the presence of their male colleagues.

Well, guess what? I don't work there anymore! I love romance, and I love writing romance! But it didn't happen overnight.

 After years of reading and yes, even studying romance novels, I finally plunged in with a romantic suspense called North Rim Delight. The stars of that book, Terri and Russ, now have their own mini mystery series. Well, I guess I can't call it a series until the second mini mystery is published later this year. But the point is, they moved into a mystery series because it's hard for the same people to fall in love in multiple stories. 

Even so, I felt that the inclusion of the suspense and the mystery forced me to pay less attention to the romance of the book. So I decided to try again, with a completely sweet romance. Because I love dogs so much, my characters love them, too. That inspired my next novel, Calin's Cowboy. The sweet romance was there, but the book also appeals to lovers of cozy mysteries as Calin and Derek solve the puzzle of Calin's forgotten memories when he pretends to be her fiance for her class reunion. Calin and Derek are dog lovers, and their pets provide many humorous moments throughout the book.

Then I read another lovely novel by one of my favorite writers, Sandra Edwards, called The Marriage Bargain. I loved it! I had so much fun reading it, I thought maybe I could write a marriage of convenience novel. After all, I had been reading them and studying the genre for ages. 

The Wedding Wager is my first offering in this genre, but not my last! I had so much fun writing it, even my editor commented that she could tell on every page that I was having a great time. And hopefully my readers will feel the same way.

So don't let anyone tell you writing romance is easy! It may be fun, but it takes all the skills you can muster as a writer to provide a satisfying romance novel.

My other titles:
And my dog books (as Linda White)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sir Darby for Kindle

How Perfect is Perfect?

by Linda White (Regina Duke's dog-showing alter ego)

Summertime is dog show season for those of us in the high desert. We spend the winter training indoors and taking classes. After Thanksgiving, we assume there will be no showing until Spring because we don't want to chance a snow storm in the Sierras on our way to a California dog show. Entries for dog shows close about three weeks before the show, so the weather can be, if you'll pardon the Reno expression, a crap shoot. As a result, we try to make every show in Northern Nevada during the summer.

With that attitude, I decided to work with Darby on the new AKC Rally Obedience signs.

He has been doing a great job with his tricks training, but there are no tricks competitions in our neck of the woods. And I really wanted an excuse to compete in the Reno Kennel Club show. 

Darby, however, reminded me of the reason we started doing tricks instead. He could care less about Rally! By the time his message came through loud and clear, I had already paid the entry fees. Two turns in the Rally Excellent ring. Off leash. Yes, I am a brave woman.

Because Darby was the only dog showing, I let Buster and Gracie stay at home. The show was local, there were no hotel rooms involved, and I knew I would be sleeping in my own bed that night. So it was Darby and me all day long.

Our first turn in the ring came around 9:00 a.m. I used my squeaky toy voice. I cheered him on. I laughed when he stared at me like I was a mad woman. He was the cutest dog in the entire competition, and in the end, he earned his first leg in Rally Excellent with a score of 73 out of 100 possible points.

I rejoiced because he stayed with me in the ring. (Remember last year's battle over leaving the ring???)
Our second turn in the ring came at 1:30. Darby was tired. I was tired. We did not qualify. But I rejoiced again because he stayed with me in the ring.

Later, sitting around with my friends and waiting for other friends to compete (so we could cheer them on), I found myself saying, "He just refused to take that jump. He stared off into space and ignored me. There's so much to work on."

Sympathetic nods all around. Then one of my friends asked, "Where is he?"

"Right here beside me, in his little crate." I reached down and he kissed my fingers. And at that moment, I realized that I was expecting perfection for two minutes in the ring, and ignoring the fact that I already had perfection the other 1,438 minutes of the day!!!

At six a.m., Darby ran to his crate, ready to go anywhere I wanted to go. He waited patiently for his breakfast, because I didn't want him to get an upset stomach from stress. We got to the show grounds, and when I asked him to potty, he peed. When I asked him to doody, he had a BM. (I'll bet your dog doesn't poop on command!)

At seven a.m. we walked around the indoor rings so he could get used to the floor and see what was going on. When the room got crowded, he let me carry him so he wouldn't get stepped on. When big breeds got too close or too personal, he ignored them, except for one HUGE dog that made him very nervous. In that instance, he gave a warning growl, and I removed him from the situation.

He waited quietly in his crate for his turn in the ring. He visited perfectly with other people and dogs, reminding me that he is, after all, a Canine Good Citizen®. He was a bit overwhelmed by all the goings on. I could tell, because he was too nervous to eat. But after we finished our second competition, he visibly relaxed and had a lovely lunch of boiled chicken.

We were there from seven a.m. until 6 p.m. and then he slept in the car (in the shade) while a friend and I went out to dinner.

One thousand four hundred thirty-eight minutes of perfection, and all I could talk about was the only two minutes of his day when he was not at the top of his game.

Titles are only a way to let people know we have fun with our dogs. And Darby and I have wonderful fun together every day. Darby is the perfect dog. 

(Also appears on the website . Don't forget to visit as well for new titles.)