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!

 

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!

 

 

I’m Back!

Hi everyone! Finally back after a long spell of inactivity. My mother became very ill just after Christmas last winter and I’ve been extremely busy helping with her care. She hasn’t improved, but she is able to sort of rock along now in a rehab facility without needing me to be in almost constant attendance. I do still spend a lot of time with her, but not every waking moment as I did for months. So, I have time to write again now. Yay!

I finally managed to finish Book 6 in my Forever Cowboys series and published it on Amazon a couple of days ago. The title is Finding Forever and it’s twice as long as the other books in the series. Not quite sure why, but the story unfolded and as books usually do—took on a life of its own—so I just let it go where the characters wanted to go until it was done.

I’m considering sharing some of my recipes with my readers along the way in blog posts here. Why? Well, I suppose because I love to cook my old favorite, tried and true recipes and love trying new ones, as well, and would enjoy passing them along to you. Not every day, but several times a month. Nothing written in stone right now, I’ll just play it by ear and see if y’all are interested. 🙂

I’ll also be having some contests and giveaways along the way, and I hope you stay tuned and save my blog to your favorites so that you can check in often to keep up with the happenings here.

Here is the Amazon link to Finding Forever, which is only $0.99, the introductory price for a few days until it goes to its regular price of $2.99: Finding Forever

 

Best regards,

Hope

Cowgirls are Forever

 

 

Book 4 Cover Cowgirls are Forever

As you may or may not know, the first book in my Forever Cowboys series is Cowboys are Forever.

Book Four has a little different spin, it’s Cowgirls are Forever.

But not to worry, there’s a handsome, sexy cowboy as a hero! This is a lighthearted romp of a story about a cowgirl and total tomboy named Charlotte Carpenter—Charlie, as she is known. Charlie has been running the Snake River Ranch since she was just 17 when her dad had a stroke. Now, at 21, she’s a confirmed bachelorette with no plans or wish to marry. She’s never even had a date!

Enter Chaz Elliott, who has just bought the old Lucky Star ranch that adjoins hers. Former rodeo star turned heart throb movie star, Charlie thinks he’s a rhinestone cowboy with his snooty model girlfriend and rude Hollywood friends.

Charlie thinks she wants to be treated as one of the boys until she meets Chaz and then she decides that it’s high time she started being more feminine. She enlists the aid fo friends from previous books: Marielle, Samantha and Maeve, plus the always hilarious Bandy who, although a grizzled old cowboy, tries to help Charlie glam up for Chaz.

This book will be out within the next week, so I hope you get it from Amazon. Enjoy!

Life After Cowboys

Book 3 Cover Complete

I have two more cowboy western romance books in the pipeline, but am already plotting and planning ahead for my next series.

As much as I do love those sexy cowboys, there are so many other good stories just waiting to be written and I hope you’ll enjoy them just as much as the Forever Cowboys series.

How about a little hint what’s in store for my next series?

Well…you might say that the theme for several of the new books will be this: Opposites Attract. You can expect lots of romance and lots of laughs, as well. Nobody ever said that falling in love has to be a totally serious event.

The characters are easy to love and I think anyone who loves the romance genre will give these new books two thumbs up. You can also expect to find a few animals and pets in the upcoming series. As an animal lover and pet owner myself, I know how important our furry and feathered friends can be and what a huge part they can play in our lives.

So, if you’re an animal lover, too, you’re almost certain to like the new series.

Stay tuned for Two Times Forever, Book 3 in the Forever Cowboys series. I’m almost finished with it but my hero and heroine keep going off the path I have mapped out for them and insist on doing their own thing. But that’s okay—they’re ideas are better than mine!

Addicted to Love

blog pic love

Are you addicted to love?

Reading about love, that is? If so, you’re in good company. Statistically speaking, sales in the romance genre amounted to $1.8 billion last year. That’s billion, by the way, not to be mistaken for million. Billions are much bigger than millions. So, over a billion sales of romance books in one year is a mighty impressive figure.

According to a Nielsen study, women make up about 84% of all romance readers. RWA (Romance Writers of America) says that these are the top romance subgenres:

1. Romantic Suspense

2. Contemporary Romance

3. Historical Romance

4. Erotic Romance

5. New Adult

6. Paranormal Romance

7. Christian

The top tropes? Read on.

Top Romance Tropes

(1) friends to lovers

(2) soul mate/fate

(3) second chance at love

(4) secret romance

(5) first love

(6) strong hero/heroine

(7) reunited lovers

(8) love triangle

(9) sexy billionaire/millionaire

(10) sassy heroine

Taking a look at #3 on this list, “second chance at love,” brings me to my current work in progress in the Forever Cowboys Series: Two Times Forever.

This book has been subject to a series of unfortunate and unavoidable delays since its inception. I am, however, finally very close to publishing and will be sending out an email to everyone on my opt-in list when it goes live on Amazon. I think you’ll enjoy Maeve and Joe’s story, two people who have loved and lost spouses who died young and are afraid they’ll never be able to love anyone else as much as their dearly departed.

Life often holds many surprises, though, and a wealth of opportunities to find true love more than once.

In some cases, people may be held so firmly by the memory of a lost love that it’s almost like an addiction…..something they can’t let go or turn away from. This can make it tough to recognize and accept a new love and a new lover, as Maeve and Joe find out for themselves.

But if you’re a hopeless romantic who believes that love conquers all, you’ll love this story about second chances.

Here’s hoping that you stay addcited to love—stories about love, that is!