Romance was in the air at Cat’s Meow in Manheim at the end of September.
It wasn’t a couple’s first date, or even a long-standing partnership celebrating an anniversary.
It was the work of novelists.
The restaurant served as the meeting place for Lancaster’s Lady Jane Lounge, where romance novel writers read excerpts from their work, discuss the publishing industry, and share their challenges and accomplishments over lunch. . Novel readers in attendance were able to meet the friendly faces behind the signatures.
As people walked into the reunion, Holly Bush, historical romance writer and salon co-host, laid down the ground rules.
“First we have to chat – it’s a rule,” she joked.
She later said she had “missed her tribe” during the pandemic. The loud group certainly seemed happy to meet up in person as they laughed, empathized and showed support for each other’s creative endeavors.
Lady Jane’s Salon was started in New York in 2009 by authors Hope Tarr, Maya Rodale and Leanna Renee Hieber, as well as blogger Ron Hogan. It offers a series of monthly readings devoted to romantic fiction. There are now six satellite shows across the country, including Lancaster, which meets quarterly. Romance fans can find out about upcoming events at facebook.com/ljslanc.
“While we have a lot of local writers, we also have writers from New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Maryland,” said Misty Simon, mystery and para-villain author and co-host. “We like to keep the lineup as fresh as possible. “
At Cat’s Meow, four local romance writers read excerpts from their books. Carlisle’s Jennifer Bonds read a clip from her latest, “A Royal Disaster,” a cute, sexy, raunchy story about a sassy, accident-prone artist and dashing prince, women can’t resist me. “Jennifer uses turns of phrase that lock you into the scene,” Simon said.
Carrie Jacobs of Mifflintown, Juniata County, read her latest single from the Hickory Hollow series, “Luck of the Draw”. She creates worlds with “sweet little town romances that will tighten your heart but won’t make you blush,” according to her website. Her use of humor in the midst of conflict is refreshing, and the sexual tension isn’t far behind. Jacobs also said that marketing is the hard part of being a writer.
Geri Krotow, who specializes in romantic suspense, read the excerpt from “Stalked in Silver Valley”, which is part of her Silver Valley PD series. Organized crime, human trafficking, Russian gangsters, and steamy romance made the excerpt she read for the rest of the book cry. She said she draws much of her inspiration from her surroundings in Mechanicsburg; his military expertise stems from his former career in the Navy.
Historical romance writer Holly Bush has read her new tale “The Bareknuckle Groom”, which is set in Philadelphia in 1869. (Go ahead and judge this book by its cover.) This is part of her Thompsons of Locust Street series. . Thoroughly researched and vividly imagined, the book fleshed out the “pale and sculptural” beauty of high society Lucinda Vermeal and the sturdy and robust Scottish immigrant James Thompson.
The audience was enthralled throughout the readings, with “oooohs” and laughs, followed by a rave of applause at the end. Authors can get instant feedback on their prose, readers get a tantalizing taste of a writer’s storytelling style.
Bush writes a historic romance that takes place in the United States in the late 1800s and in Victorian England.
Most historical romances are about the dukes, not the common people, she added.
“They weren’t pretty and didn’t have a lot of teeth,” she says.
His characters are more down to earth, downright sexy and have their incisors.
To keep the historical component accurate, Bush does extensive research to make sure the scenes and actions are genuine. For example, she called the Port of Philadelphia for details on the mooring and disembarking of ships in the 1860s. To her surprise, they have a historian on their staff – with assistants – and he spoke to her at length. talked about the details she needed to make the description accurate and come to life.
The authors agreed that series books are popular; most books in a series can also be read as a stand-alone story.
“Cozy mystery is a hot genre right now,” Bush added. In the subgenre, the crime and sex take place offstage, making it a smoother way to enjoy the plot.
Naturally, a writer’s voice plays a big role in developing an audience.
“The voice doesn’t change, but I hope my ability to tell the story improves,” Krotow said.
Romance is a sub-genre of fiction that is meant to contain two people in a love story and an emotionally satisfying ending – in other words, “happily ever after”. In the United States, romance is a billion dollar industry and includes history, erotica, contemporary (over the past 50 years), romantic suspense, and Harlequin. It is second only to suspense thrillers in terms of popularity.
Like jalapeño peppers, there are different levels of warmth to the romance genre, from the scorching prose of the Fifty Shades series, to a risky ‘bodice ripper’, to ‘show, don’t tell’, clean stories and sweet. They all have their place and their passionate audience.
For a romance writer, changing the heat levels in her books can be tricky.
For example, Holly Bush shared that her 2011 book “Romancing Olive”, About the Journey of a Single Librarian, is a beloved story but fell into the high-necked “inspiration” category. Now, she says evangelical readers who read this first give her one-star reviews when they read her “sexy and regular writing” later.
Regardless of storytelling prowess, some people still view romance writing as “junk” and tasteless stories with little merit or value. Readers and writers of this genre would strongly disagree with this assessment.
Writers have spoken about the level of different cross-readings among romance fans, but other genre enthusiasts don’t often add romance to their regimen of books.
“Novel readers read a lot, which makes it interesting,” Krotow noted.
Ironically, writers of love stories don’t always get the love they deserve, even within the industry, like being invited to participate in panels, book signings and events. other marketing events.
Readers of novels can endure tasteless jokes and contempt from others, and even critical judgment “Are you reading this?” »Queries.
And yet, they persist.
As Writer’s Digest noted in an article on reading and writing romance novels: Romance is no joke. It’s an escape, it’s hope, it’s a community, a source of knowledge, a gathering of friends, an affirmation, it unites differences, offers representation, gives comfort and gives voice .
“Women love love books because life is hard enough,” said Bush. “I think romance writers bring joy. Sometimes we are looked down upon, but I don’t think bringing joy is a bad thing.