A Brief History of Bodice Rippers

blogdimenovelHello all & Happy Saturday! It’s still miserably hot & humid down here in Dixie Land, but I saw my first flock of pretty lemon yellow butterflies this morning, so the end is nigh. The end of Summer, I mean. No Doomsday prophecies here, folks. Just glad tidings about butterflies & a very brief history of the romance genre.

By the way, in case you’re curious about the yellow butterflies, harbingers of Autumn, they’re called Cloudless Sulphurs. These butterflies migrate South every year toward the end of hot weather. They don’t get in a big hurry & you may see a host of them as late as December in the South. My heart is gladdened every year when I see them floating gracefully through the air, because I know our days of miserably high temps are winding down.

Moving right along, let’s touch on the history of the romance genre, also known as bodice rippers. I’m not sure that I’ve actually read a book about a bodice being ripped, although chances are that I have at some point in time. Nowadays rape is basically a taboo subject for romance books. But back in the day when Sweet Savage Love, The Flame and the Flower and others of their ilk were published, it wasn’t uncommon for  a heroine to be taken against her will and thoroughly ravished by the hero before they fell in love and lived Happily Ever After. It seems likely that our sexy but male chauvinist heroes did rip a few bodices.

FYI: The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, was the first single title romance published and sold as an original paperback in the US.

Mills and Boon, sold in the US by Harlequin Enterprises, published “category” romances and sold through direct marketing to readers as well as mass market outlets. These books were considered “escapist fiction” during the 1930s when they first appeared. Despite all of the old sayings about life back in the Good Old Days, if you stop and think about it, women didn’t have it all that good. They didn’t have most of our modern conveniences like dishwashers, microwaves or central heat and air. No wonder they wanted to escape!

But the history of the romance genre goes back further than the 1930s. Way back in 1740, a man named Samuel Richardson wrote and published a novel titled “Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded.”

Pamela is a maidservant whose mistress dies and shortly afterwards, the young master begins trying to seduce or rape her. She manages to escape several of his predatory plots to deflower her and eventually realizes she’s in love with him and as he reciprocates her affections, they marry and live HEA. It sounds like an exciting story although a member of the gentry marrying so far beneath him stretches credibility.

In the 1830s, paperback books named “penny dreadfuls” were all the rage with Victorians. These were usually sensationalized, highly illustrated stories and were much loved by the citizenry of that era. Penny Dreadful romances were often shared and passed from hand to hand by female readers who would anxiously  await the next installment in the serial type novels.

In the 1890s, books called “dime novels” came into being. These covered several genres including cowboys, mystery and suspense, detective stories and romance.

From Samuel Richardson’s Pamela to Brontë’s Jayne Eyre, Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice and of course an old favorite written by E. M. Hull, The Sheik, (if you haven’t read this one you should) on up to famous romance novelists such as Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer, Jayne Ann Krentz and many others….romance books appeal to a broad segment of the population worldwide. It has been said that the romance genre is the most popular and least respected of all. This might well be true.

But we don’t care what anyone thinks about romance books, do we? If you’re like me and adore reading a good love story, not to worry about what some of the more highbrow people in your social circle might think. Romance novels are the most widely read of any, so you’re in good company if these books are your genre of choice.

Happy reading!

 

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Happy Labor Day!

Hope all of you are having a safe and happy holiday. As for me, I remain sequestered in the house until I’m sure I can’t spread hand, foot and mouth disease.

Everyone says “I thought only cows got that.”

No, that’s hoof and mouth disease, thank you.

But anyway here I am, on the brink of cabin fever. I got some writing done today on my new book which will be the first spin-off story. The series will still be Forever Cowboys, but the newest books will also be “A Wolf Pass Diner Romance.”

I’m excited about this book. The hero was introduced in Book 6, Finding Forever. He’s a Native American cowboy named John Two Eagles. John was a champion rodeo rider and won some big prizes before he was injured and dropped out of the rodeo circuit. He worked for Trey Masterson, Marielle’s husband, for a few years and saved enough money between that job and rodeo prize money to buy his own ranch.

John is tall, dark and handsome with a body that won’t quit. He hasn’t built those 8 pack abs working out at a gym, either. His muscles are from working hard every day around his spread. When he was a rodeo star, he had buckle bunnies—rodeo groupies who follow rodeo riders like regular groupies follow rock stars—panting for him. But, while John has a healthy appreciation for a pretty girl, he has made establishing himself as a successful rancher his top priority.

So he’s dated a lot, but no serious relationships. John has a fixed idea in his head about what kind of wife he wants. No social butterflies or party girls, nobody too froufrou to help him around the ranch if need be during calving or branding season. He wants a down-to-earth, wholesome western girl who knows how to cook for a crew during roundup or drive the truck when there’s hay to be loaded and gotten into the barn loft. No pampered princess mincing around in high heels would fit in on ranch life, he’s sure of that.

Our heroine, Layla, is a friend of Lola’s that has come to visit and ends up staying in Wolf Pass for a while. A socialite who attended an exclusive girl’s school followed by an Ivy League college, Layla was born into old money and has never done a day’s work in her life. She does do a little volunteer work back in New York City and is on the board of several charities, as well, because she has been raised to believe that “their kind of people” are supposed to do these things.Slim and petite with silvery blonde hair and blue eyes, Layla is a beauty who doesn’t seem to have a serious thought in her elegantly coiffed head.

Layla knows that she’ll marry within her family’s exalted social circle—some Harvard grad with a prestige job in his family’s firm. Well bred with exquisitely charming manners and carefully groomed so that a career in politics might be ahead, her future mate will be someone suave and sleek. He’ll conform to what’s expected of him and take a wife who will be an asset to him in his rise to the top.

Does this sound anything like the type of female John Two Eagles has in mind for a future wife?

Does John sound anything like the sophisticated man in a designer suit who Layla sees as her future husband?

But from the instant John and Layla see each other at the Wolf Pass Diner, sparks fly and the air around them is almost electrically charged. Each considers the other unsuitable for a romantic partner, but they’re drawn together like magnets.

Any romance between these two is bound to be turbulent and full of excitement. I can’t wait to tell their story!

Well, time to watch a couple of episodes of Teen Wolf. I love this TV show and was hooked from the first episode. Now I’m in the fifth and last season and will be sad when I watch the last episode. Who knew werewolves could so nice….and sexy, too?

A Day in the Life of a Romance Writer

Hello All!

It’s Saturday night and I’m feeling a little lonely since I’m more or less in quarantine. My sister, who I spend a lot of time with, has come down with hand, foot and mouth disease. I know, I didn’t think grownups could get it either. Turns out they can, and she has.

But seeing as how I was around her several days last week and early this week when she was already contagious and didn’t know it, I’m subject to come down with it myself. Spreading it around to friends and family along with random strangers at the mall, restaurants, movies, yard sales and other public places doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do.

So, I’m staying in and keeping myself to myself until I’m sure I don’t have this dread disease. Frankly, though, since I started working at home writing books, Saturday is just another day to me in many ways. So I’ve managed to bear up under my enforced isolation fairly well and by my calculations, should be in the clear by Monday.

Or sick.

The Power of Positive Thinking

But, we won’t go there. I’m determined to practice positive thinking until my temperature shoots up, my throat gets raw and I break out in a painful rash all over my hands, feet and mouth. This is what happened to my sister and explains how this crud got its name.

But anyway here I am, so I thought I’d write a blog post that deals with what several readers have asked me: What is the process I use in writing a book? How do I start? Do I outline every book and lay it out chapter by chapter or scene by scene? What do I do all day? Do I have a self assigned minimum hours of work every day, Monday through Friday?

Q & A About Writing a Book

So, moving right along, do I have a certain process I use to write a book? No. I don’t have anything even remotely resembling a process. In fact, it’s all pretty haphazard, really. I’d like to say that my office is showroom neat and tidy, my work area policed daily to remove any extraneous items and that I might be found sitting at my desk with my back ramrod straight in perfect posture and so on and so forth. Sadly, this is not the truth. The area around my computer and monitor is often littered with anything from used Kleenexes to banana peels and half eaten candy bars to any number of other sorts of clutter. I’m not proud of it, but must wear the shoe because it fits.

How do I start writing a book? Usually, I have the germ of an idea that initially revolves around a hero and heroine. That’s it. I start by writing the first sentence. If I hit the wall that early in the game, it may be days or even weeks before I’ve cogitated on the new book enough to move past the first sentence and on into at least the first chapter. Sometimes I scrap that first sentence and start all over again. There’s nothing orderly or scientific about how I begin a new book. Do I laboriously outline a book, jotting down the action and even some of the dialogue? No. I tried that once and it stressed me to no end to try and stay within the confines of that blasted outline. Characters will lead the way if I let them. They’ll move the story along where it needs to go. It’s a natural progression that works much better for me than a rigid outline.

As to what I do all day and whether or not I have X amount of words that I feel compelled to write every day—no.

After all, part of the wonderful-ness about working from home and being your own boss is working when you want to and feel like it. I’m pretty self-motivated because no workee no eatee, or no power or water or internet access or other necessities of life. But I’m quite lenient with myself about when I work and when I don’t. Some days I work in my pajamas or a comfy old sweatshirt and pants. Some days I get dressed in real clothes but not dressed up, if you know what I mean. Do I put on makeup and do my hair just so and the whole enchilada to work here at home?

No. I have writer friends who swear they get up every morning and fix up just like they were going to work in an office somewhere. That’s perfectly fine if that’s what floats their boat but for yours truly—ugh. If I’m staying at home all day, working or otherwise, wearing a bra or shoes or any pants with zippers just isn’t on my agenda.

I start working after I drink a cup of coffee and browse the net for awhile, check my email, touch base with Facebook, stop in one of my favorite deal forums like Slick Deals, call and talk to my mom, straighten up the house, do some laundry, take care of Charlie and Goldie, my dog and cat, etc. etc. etc. There are always things to do before I buckle down to work and if I don’t do them, I can’t focus. So I’ve learned just to go with the flow and start my work day when I get around to it. I realize that if I claimed to have this fantastically organized schedule that included my perfectly regimented writing process of producing a new book, it would make me sound much more interesting.

But there you have it. In the words of the immortal Popeye, I yam what I yam.

Hope you’re having a great Saturday night!

 

 

Second Chances

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My third book in the Forever Cowboys series, Two Times Forever, is about second chances.

For Maeve and Joe, the hero and heroine, it’s about getting a second chance at love. But second chances are always a good thing, whether in love or life in general.

Think about it a minute. What if we only got one chance at something? In a few rare instances, there might times when one chance really is all you get. For example, let’s say you have the chance to see an old building scheduled for demolition. If you don’t take advantage of that opportunity before the building is knocked down….you don’t get a second chance.

These things do happen. But for the most part, regardless of what it may be, most of the time we all get a second chance at something that didn’t go well the first time around.

Love, perhaps, is the singlemost important area in the lives of most people where getting a second chance is vitally important. Very few of us have met the “love of our life” and sustained that relationship for life. Sadly, that isn’t the norm these days. Statistically, between one third and one half of all marriages in the US will end in divorce. If all of these couples only had one chance to find their forever love, this would be a disheartening state of affairs, indeed.

Fortunately, that isn’t the case.

Studies have shown that in the US, approximately 80% of all divorcees remarry, many within 4 years. So, there are all those people who found someone to love again. They got a second chance. In Maeve and Joe’s case, they weren’t divorced, but had spouses that died. Still, even in their situation, if there were no second chances for love, they’d be doomed to a loveless existence.

We’ve established that we are all given a second chance at love if we need it, but sometimes people can’t let go of a former love that was lost be it to divorce, the ending of a relationship or death.

In order to take advantage of second chances, we have to let go of the past. No one can move forward into a brighter tomorrow if they’re still living in yesterday. If you’ve been hurt, it might be hard to let go and take a leap of faith again, believing in happily ever after once more. But if you don’t break the chains of memory that bind you to the past when love went wrong, for whatever reason, you can’t be free to love again.

Maeve and Joe are both still in love with the memory of their lost loves. Can they get past this to find new love with each other?

Read Book 3 in the Forever Cowboys series, Two Times Forever, and find out.

I’m behind schedule but writing away to get this story published, so stay tuned!

Why Cowboys are Sexy

If you love reading about sexy cowboys, have you ever stopped to wonder just what makes cowboys so hot?

What, exactly, is the “It” factor with cowboys? Why do they figure so prominently in contemporary romantic fiction as well as historical romantic fiction?

Well, part of their appeal probably lies in their chivalry and manners toward women. Cowboys in general tend to revere womanhood and treat females as cherished treasures to be protected and nurtured at all costs. I don’t care how modern you are, ladies, within every woman there beats the heart of a female who responds to this reverence for her fair sex like a flower opening up under the sun and rain.

Most of us thrill to a man with courtly manners.

Here’s the thing about cowboys—not only do they have handsome manners but they’re strong and macho to boot. And speaking of boots, the cowboy ensemble is attractive: cowboy hats, boots, well worn jeans hugging a cute little tush, the whole enchilada.

Your average cowboy is a man among men with quick reflexes and nerves of steel. He can fight with his gun or his fists. He rides tall in the saddle with his head held high. He has a six pack and well muscled biceps that weren’t acquired with steroids and working out at the local gym. Instead, the cowboy has built up his remarkably hot bod breaking wild horses, throwing and branding cattle, pitching bales of hay and other ranch type chores.

Cowboys have a tendency to be the strong, silent type. They have a sexy drawl when they do speak. They’re often slow moving with measured, seemingly casual movements, but can move fast and strike like a rattlesnake when the occasion demands it. You just know that a cowboy’s slow, deliberate movements will carry over into the bedroom where he’s a lover who can last for hours, taking his time to make sure his woman gets the ultimate thrills.

Take Sam Elliott, for example. One of his most famous roles was that of a cowboy in The Sacketts, based on the series of western novels by Louis L’Amour. Not that Sam isn’t incredibly sexy in any part he plays. But as a cowboy, you could roll him in cow manure and I’d still be happy for him to hang his hat from my bedpost.

There may be all sorts of deep seated psychological reasons for why women usually find cowboys sexy. But maybe it’s enough just to know that they are and be glad there are authors who choose to write about these hunky heroes so we can read about them and fall a little bit in love with every one.

Check out this one in my upcoming Book Two in the Forever Cowboys series:

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For anybody who might notice that this one is a little bit different than the previous cover, I tweaked it. Same sexy cowboy, just a different background that I think illustrates his locale in Wyoming.

I’m working hard to get this sexy cowboy’s story finished by the first of April and it will be available on Amazon Kindle, so I hope you make time to read it. His name is Ben Connors. Isn’t he absolutely adorable while oozing male sex appeal from his pores?

 

Monday, Monday

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Happy Monday!

Many people dread Mondays because they mean going back to work. When I worked a traditional job, I dreaded them too. But now, as mentioned in my last post, I work for myself from home and actually look forward to Monday rolling around so I can get back to whatever writing project is in the works.

Right now my project is The Color of Forever. This is Book Two of my Forever Cowboys series and it’s coming right along. Samantha, the heroine, is pretty badly disillusioned about the whole happily-ever-after thing. Like many single women these days, she feels that she has kissed a lot of frogs without finding her prince.

That being said, this state of affairs may be about to end because Ben Connors, the hero game warden/cowboy is unlike any man she has ever encountered.

I confess to being a hopeless romantic. I enjoy reading romance and enjoy writing it, as well. My books are meant to be feel-good stories. Not aiming for War and Peace or even Gone With the Wind, (which happens to be one of my favorite books, btw) just want to write something that will leave you smiling and feeling all warm and fuzzy.

A brief rant: I have seen some of what I call genre snobbery lately about romance books. I’d like to expound on the difference between a romance and a love story.  For classification purposes, there is basically one major difference between a romance book and a love story. It is this: A romance book always has a happy ending. A love story doesn’t.

So by that standard, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austem is a romance. Romeo and Juliet isn’t. You get the idea.

If you don’t mind tearjerkers with unhappy endings, which by the way are some of the most phenomenal books ever written, you will probably enjoy reading a love story. Gone With the Wind falls into this category. The Horse Whisperer. Etc. But if you prefer optimistic, emotionally satisfying endings that’s okay, too. If you fall into the latter category of reader, you might be heartened to learn that you are not alone. The Romance/Erotica genre is the Number One best selling fiction genre. Numero Uno, as in First.

So, no need for the terribly highbrow attitude some people seem to have about romance books. As long as readers like to read romance, there will be writers to write it. No shame, no blame. Just stories that make you feel good with a little glow of satisfaction at the end when two people who meet and fall in love manage to overcome any obstacles in their way for a fairy tale finish that affirms or reaffirms your faith in true love that lasts forever.

End of rant.

I hope you enjoy Cowboys are Forever, available now on Amazon in the Kindle format. Free for Kindle Unlimited members and only $.99 otherwise.